Murder

Book Review: Final Resting Place by Jonathan Putnam

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Earlier this year, the Crooked Lane publishing company suggested several books that I might be interested in reading. Final Resting Place: A Lincoln and Speed Mystery by Jonathan F. Putnam is one of those books. It is the third book in this mystery series and will be published in July 2018. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and took on this historical novel today. At first I was a bit apprehensive… it had politics (which I don’t normally like or discuss) and some basis in fact (I know a bunch about this time period, would it all line up?)… how would it all materialize as a book to read ~180 years after the fact. But rest assured, Putnam has done well!
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The book takes place in the late 1830s when Abraham Lincoln was still a practicing attorney and just entering into politics. His best friend, Joshua Fry Speed, serves as his Dr. Watson during the day and his bed-mate at night. No… I’m not suggesting anything was going on there, nor is the author. I bring this up only because it reminded me that people would sleep in the same bed together back then. As an avid genealogist, I find this entire time period in America fascinating. Disputes over territory with Great Britain, kicking Native American off their land, Whigs and Democrats having duels (remember Burr and Hamilton?). It’s like a rich history lesson and I seem to be on a kick reading several historical fiction novels lately.

In this caper, elections are front and center. When the current Town Land Recorder is killed, it appears like a political opponent had something to do with it. Throw in backstory about Lincoln’s first fiancee (all real!) who died of meningitis, a decade-old feud over who loved her, and Honest Abe’s rough & rude father and step-brother, there are tones of side stories to keep this plot moving along. The pace is good, a fair balance between life nearly two centuries ago and the need for some expediency in action in modern times. The trial was eye-opening. The duel was amusing. But the camaraderie within the primary characters and between the protagonists and antagonists was quite strong.

Resurrection of long-dead actual people as fictionalized characters has been done before. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Here it definitely did. This story had a very palpable voice and connection. I could feel the tension between the political rivalries. I could see the respect they still shared for one another (something lacking in today’s leaders) and the differences in how men and women were treated. Putnam paints a good picture of life in America in 1838, and you feel transported to the tenacity people demonstrated to get ahead but still follow the rules. A few people misbehaved, but they apologized and often received fair judgment and punishment.

The book contains an afterthought chapter from the author who describes what is real and what was potentially fictional. I LOVE this part, as I could see where he drew a line in what he would make up or keep strictly accurate. This is the kind of approach I wish other authors would take when writing historical fiction, as sometimes readers like to know where the line has been blurred. Kudos to Putnam for generating some interest in a time period we only ever attribute to the Civil War. There were a lot of expansionist activities occurring in the Midwest during this time period, and the true nature of our political parties beginning to veer off into different directions was taking place. But we also saw the birth of law and trials. The courtship between men and women. And then ways in which people traveled from one part of the land to another.

All in all, a very exciting read. It fit well into my expanding genre selections, showed some opportunity for a great series to explore on the literary forefront, and gave me something analytical with many hidden truths to think about. Thank you for sending this book my way!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton

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I am a frequent cozy mystery reader and often search out new series. When Vikki Walton‘s new ‘Backyard Farming’ mystery series fell into my lap, I jumped on the chance to read the first book, Chicken Culprit: (Backyard Farming Mystery Series) (Cozy Mystery). Walton is a new author for me, but one I enjoyed getting to know. In this caper, a ~40ish woman moves to a small Colorado town known for homesteading. As the story evolves, we learn she has a lot more connections to it than we originally thought — always makes for a good mystery. I’ll leave it at that so the suspense grabs you enough to check it out. I give this debut caper 3.5 out of 5 stars and will gladly continue reading the series.

 

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Walton notes a sort of tongue-in-cheek approach to the story, which I definitely see in the style and humor. At first, it threw me off a little but I settled into the tone eventually welcoming the approach as an easy and enjoyable read. The main character has a strong personality and doesn’t hide her concern over some of the interesting / wacky neighbors she meets, including a potential chicken killer, then a real killer, and a girl who says ‘like’ as often as any Valley Girl I’ve met before. (And that’s quite a few!) I like to learn when I read a cozy mystery, hence why it needs a catchy theme. This is my first farming book where I can gain some useful information if I ever move to the country (a distinct possibility!).

I can’t speak too much about the characters without giving away critical information, but there are several fun twists which I didn’t expect. There’s a bit of culture and life-experience more than I’ve seen before in a cozy, but I liked it a lot. I found the banter between the sheriff and the main character, Anne, amusing. Sometimes I think he’s a meanie, other times, he has potential. All-in-all, there’s a good level of diversity and range in the characters. Walton has a few things to work out with the setting and relationships in the book, but it’s off to a promising start.

Kudos to a new series. I look forward to checking out more.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Lord of the Pies by Nell Hampton

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4.5 stars! When I read the first book in the Kensington Palace Chef mystery series, I was immediately hooked by author Nell Hampton‘s style and characters. In this second book, Lord of the Pies, I’ve found another fantastic winner. American transplant Carrie Ann Cole is chef for the Duke and Duchess of York in Kensington Palace. Everything points to them being Will and Kate, but you’re never 100% certain. It’s really not important who they are as much as the fact that readers know it’s English royalty.

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Carrie Ann runs one of the 4 separate palace kitchens and finds herself often in competition both in and out of the kitchen with her colleagues. In this caper, someone spying on her is found dead after apparently eating one of her pies. When she’s tossed into a televised competition for charity purposes, another mishap occurs leading to someone’s eventual death down the line. Carrie’s just trying to keep her job, but someone seems to want her gone from the palace. Luckily, the sexy chief of security and the hunky head of gardening protect her in the background as she tries to decide which ones she really wants. Unfortunately one has a serious girlfriend, but something’s about to change there soon. Throw in some affairs, rogue reporters and crazy colleagues looking to get ahead in the game, Hampton’s got another fine story for us to devour.

The two dicey concerns… I absolutely need to make a pie right now as there were too many references throughout the book. (I’ll get you for that, Hampton!) The other — the ending was too quick. The story was driving closely to reaching 5 stars because it was just so intricate and well-paced, but then there was a rush in the last 20 pages to push through finding the culprit(s) and backstory. It was good, but it could have been a bit more evenly covered, as well as a total wrap-up on what happened with a character who seemed in the midst of things and then disappeared. That said, I adore the main character. She may be in my top 5 of cozy sleuths. The background and setting are well-developed and I like the intrigue behind her boss and the royalty she rarely interacts with… you know one day they will beg Carrie Ann to help them solve a crime for someone close. And I can’t wait to read about it… many thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane, for sending me a copy of this book, as they know I love my cozy mysteries!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Time, Tide, & Trouble by Carolyn Dean

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Author Carolyn L. Dean created the Ravenwood Cove Cozy mystery series just a few years ago and has been publishing 2 or 3 books each year. I enjoy the setting, characters, and lighthearted romance and mystery stories. I am trying to catch up over the next month so I’m current on the series. In this fifth book, Time, Tide, and Trouble, main character Amanda Graham, owner of an Oregon bed and breakfast inn, takes a step forward in her relationship with local cop, James. Two reasons I enjoy these stories… the handsome cop and I share a name, and Amanda’s last name is one of my own family names (and the name in my second book) just spelled differently (mine is Graeme).

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These books are shorter than the typical cozy by about 15% and focus both on the romance and mystery angles of the story. In some ways, they’re less about the plot and more about what’s going on in the life of some cool characters you enjoy getting to know. It took me about 90 minutes to read last night, curled up in bed just before going to sleep. I like the evolution of the inn and how the backstories come out on the characters throughout the novel — not just in the beginning to setup the crime. The crime is often less important in these books, but still helps push the overall story along. In this one, Amanda makes stronger connections to a few people in the town and learns how to build roots in her new home. I look forward to picking up the next few books to read in April. I can easily picture everyone in my head as I’m reading, but there’s not an overwhelming amount of detail – a good balance. Between 3.5 and 4 stars… rounded up to 4 as I would recommend the series.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay

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When I need a go-to, guaranteed solid and sure-fire cozy mystery, I look to Jenn McKinlay for her wonderful settings, characters and plots. In the seventh book of the Library Lover’s mystery series, I found another good read with Better Late Than Never. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars and round it up to 4 on Goodreads and Amazon.

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It’s Amnesty Day at the Briar Creek Public Library where Lindsey receives hundreds of overdue library books, including one that was last handled by someone who was murdered–and the crime was never solved! Lindsey quietly investigates in the background while trying to keep famous actor Robbie Vine from convincing her to be his girlfriend. She also spends more time with Sully, and there’s an actual decision in her love triangle in this book. While playing detective, Lindsey meets tons of staff at the local high school, learns more about the brother of another supporting character, and finds herself discovering someone isn’t who they say they are… shocker! LOL

McKinlay always delivers characters you can believe and whom you want to know. The setting is cozy and makes you wish you lived in the town, minus the murders. The plot was strong in the beginning, but the case was solved too quickly. It was humming along with a few potential suspects and then BAM, the “I know who did it” scenario happens… but there weren’t enough clues along the way. The book was 50% focused on her relationship issues which meant less time for the crime. In some ways, I’m cool with that, as I like Lindsey and it’s always fun to just read about her life. But I think it would have been better with another 2 chapters leading readers around a bit before she guessed the killer and found herself in his/her clutches.

I’ll keep reading as I’m a fan… maybe next time it will be even stronger. I have her Hat Shop series books on my shelf saying ‘read me now please’ but I can’t listen until after I finish my Agatha Christie Readathon I’m hosting in April 2018.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Dangers of Gingerbread Cookies by Laura Levine

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The Dangers of Gingerbread Cookies, a novella included in a 3-story book, written by Laura Levine is a fun holiday cozy mystery to read. It’s an in-between read that’s part of a larger series focusing on Jaine Austen. In this caper, she’s visiting her parents for the holidays and becomes stuck in the middle of her family’s often meddlesome ways… her cat has decided Jaine’s mother is perfect and Jaine is awful. Jaine’s father is getting in trouble while trying to protect Jaine. And a doctor leads 4 women on until he finally dies during a play rehearsal while acting in a lead role. It’s a short ~100 page story, but fun and easy to read. Jaine sometimes talks directly to the reader but it’s adorable in a charming way. I like her spunk. It makes me want to start reading the entire series. There are only 8 so far… maybe I can handle it!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: What Happened in Vienna, Jack? by Daniel Kemp

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Why This Book

I’m beginning to read more from a few publishers that publish other books I’ve enjoyed, and this author is under contract with one of those companies, Creativia. What Happened in Vienna, Jack? by Daniel Kemp fell into my lap while it was on sale via Amazon last month, so I allotted it to February and made it a current read this week. I always look forward to clever and complex thriller and suspense fiction, and this one hit the spot. Kudos to the author!

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Approach & Style

I read this ~350 page book via Kindle Reader on my iPad over four days and six hours. It is a British period piece focusing on a few decades in the mid-twentieth century involving a spy, military, police, murder, intrigue and war. And that’s just the beginning! The language is very intricate and detailed. The story hops through the past and the present. It focuses on a few different critical characters you get to know little by little — or all at once! But my favorite part is how it offers up a true British nostalgia and ambiance.

Key Thoughts

Espionage and murder… could it get any better when it comes to solving a mystery? Author Kemp provides all the suspense and thrills in this very descriptive story. Main detective Patrick is very charismatic in an offbeat way, but he will also stand out as a highly intelligent and trustworthy confidante you enjoy sharing the read with. He’s not quite the narrator, but you get that feel from how the book is written.

I appreciate the skills necessary to weave together this type of tale. When you have multiple decades and secrets to track, it could be easily confusing. But it’s not. There are many twists and turns, surprising reveals, and eye-squinting characters who make you wonder… ‘what’s going on here?’ — but soon enough you start pulling the past together. Then the ending portion kicks in… and you’re back to guessing all over again!

I enjoyed this read. It’s partially in my typical reading choices, but it’s more of a spy novel that I’m used to… think a bit James Bond like. I am more a horror thrillers chasing serial killers or historical fiction type of reader. But this bring some elements from both and offers a good tale with a what feels like a realistic setting. I’m sure the author’s career helped played a big role in developing this story. Add in the various facts / stories we all know about World War II and how the ‘underground network’ works, then you’ve got a strong read.

Summary

I’m impressed with the author’s ability to weave a highly complex plot over multiple time periods and characters, in particular how well written the language in the story is. I recently learned it’s part of a book series, where two are already written and a third is on the way in the future. Very exciting for any true British crime fan!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.