Murder

Book Review: The Ghost by H. Berkeley Rourke

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The GhostThe Ghost by H. Berkeley Rourke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Ghost, a thriller, is the first novel I’ve read by author H. Berkeley Rourke. It will not be the last because I find myself very in-sync with his writing style, plot, and characters. Imagine a rapist is loose on a college campus where the administration refuses to do anything but squash all reports? They’re afraid of the school’s reputation and will do anything to keep it under wraps… until the latest victim dies after attempting to report the truth to campus security. All bets are off then, and Rourke takes you on a wild ride of deception, corruption, and salvation. We’ve then got a serial killer on our hands, fellow readers.

From perusing the notes at the beginning and end of the book, I learned this was partially based on some realities, of course, with appropriate author liberties. To think that any administration would keep something like this quiet is abominable. I want to believe that level of dirtiness doesn’t exist, but unfortunately it does. Rourke takes the basic elements of a failed system to show how victims can easily be further harmed after a rape, if proper action and treatment isn’t received. By putting readers at the center of the crimes, we’re almost experiencing the pain ourselves. I wanted to throttle the campus security officers, then the administration, and finally, a few other players who did the least they could. A great writer makes you feel that way; it’s never just the plot alone.

Rourke is direct and blunt in his style. There are no flowery passages that weave you through the life of a victim or the rapist. Through mostly third-person (we do get some passages from the rapist in poetry / first-person narrative), we follow every ‘logical’ step to get from the initial attack to the capture of the villain. I make a point of saying this because the author ramped up the suspense by doing this. I kept flipping pages because the action was so clear, I felt some of the racing heart moments when the cops were getting close to solving the case or discovering the corruption. I loved that approach. Some other stories focus for chapters on the secondary impacts of the crimes (which are also great reads), but it was here where I felt wholly involved and invested in the chase-down-the-bad-guy-and-kill-him mode.

The protagonist, a female cop whose family comes from Mexico, adds a strong arc from both her personal stance on the crimes and the focus / goals of her job. She’s likable, forceful, and crosses the line where necessary to get her job done — always to protect the victim and catch the criminal. It makes you wonder whether always playing by the rules when trying to capture the bad guy is worth it… true, we have to worry about the law and punishment being fair, but still… when the creep is as bad as this one, do whatever’s necessary to stop him! Rourke delivered this story with passion, and while some may want more of the emotional side in what has happened to the victims, this isn’t that type of story. This is the procedure and passion of nailing the rapist to the proverbial wall! Really, really enjoyed its conclusion too.

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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 stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Cold Woods by Karen Katchur

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Cold Woods (Northampton County #2)Cold Woods by Karen Katchur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cold Woods is the second book in the Northampton County series by Karen Katchur. I read the first book last year because it took place not too far away from where I’d gone to college years ago. When I stumbled upon the second book in the series on NetGalley last week, I immediately requested the book as I’d really enjoyed the first one. While the two book are part of a series, you can easily read them separately, but as I always recommend, read them in order to have the best possible experience.

The weather is often not a friend to crime. Sometimes it distorts the time of death or covers a body for decades, but at others, it can be helpful for preservation of clues. Katchur latches on to this theory and shares an explosive suspenseful thriller about a ~30-year-old murder. Everyone assumed the victim had just run off, but the truth was hidden in the deep snowy woods… along with two key clues and a myriad of problems. Three women each with a daughter. Their husbands or fathers left years ago for various reasons. The women helped each other, but their daughters weren’t sure what to do. One escaped. Two stayed. Of those two, one accepted her fate, and the other fought it. Fast-forward to the present when one of the mothers has passed away. Then the dead body is discovered in the woods. Who is he? Who killed him? What secrets are these six women hiding?

The connection between the books is Detective Parker. In the first book, he fell for a witness and compromised the case. Now, they’re together, but something isn’t working out properly. He’s afraid of screwing up again. His new partner doesn’t want to let it happen, but she’s got her own baggage. As they investigate the case and learn to trust one another, history might repeat itself somewhere along the way… and it’s usually not a good thing. Wow! What a roller coaster ride where I truly couldn’t decide which of the six women killed the victim. Even though one has recently died, the story is told in two different time frames, so we have a stronger picture of what happened ‘back then.’

All I can say is my gender is full of creeps! I know stuff like this happens in reality, and often it’s so fictionalized we don’t quite know truth from lie, but honestly… why are men often drunken idiots? I’m a happy drunk. Not that occurs frequently, but still! I felt for the women in this story. A single man had an effect on so many lives, any one of them could’ve been the culprit and I would believe it. Ultimately, the truth comes out, but not necessarily to the right people. I love those kinds of dramas — when someone confesses to protect someone else, and it may or may not be true. When we finally get the full story, it was highly satisfying… kudos to Katchur for delivering a palpable sequel that kept me guessing the entire time I read the book.

There better be a third installment. I’m not hugely fond of the detectives, but the author’s writing style, connections between characters, minute focus on details, witty yet troubling dialog, and innate understanding of why people do the things they do… all coagulate as a riveting story I couldn’t put down. I read it in three hours without taking any breaks longer than a few minutes to refill a water glass or nod when someone asked me a question in my house. “Leave me alone, I’m reading a good book,” I once countered. When that happens, you know it’s solid writing and story development. When’s the next one?

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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 stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

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Eaves of Destruction (Fixer-Upper Mystery #5)Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eaves of Destruction is the fifth book in the ‘Fixer-Upper Mystery’ cozy series by Kate Carlisle. In these books, Shannon, a ~30ish construction business owner, solves crimes as an amateur sleuth while helping renovate a wonderful seaside town in California. In this edition, the local town inspector causes trouble at several of her job sites and finds himself murdered in the neighbor’s orangery (sun room / conservatory). Whodunit!?!

Shannon is a fun protagonist. She pokes fun at herself but also knows when to be serious, just like the series itself. Obviously, if this many murders occurred in a small town, and the same person found the body all the time, she’d be locked up for some sort of charge to prevent anything else from happening! But this is a book, and there needs to be some level of recognition for that fine line of reality versus fiction. Of all the cozies I’ve read, this one is near the top of the list of those that manage that balance quite adeptly.

The victim was mean and ruthless, he just invaded people’s homes to inspect work even when it wasn’t time or he didn’t have permission to enter. The culprit was semi-believable, but I wish it had been someone else. The family we’re focusing on is interesting, and I liked the addition of Amanda, a new contractor who helps save the day when too many jobs turn up. I liked that we saw more of Shannon’s friends and their personal relationships with the men and/or families in their lives. I was glad to see the connection between the sheriff and Shannon turning into something much more easy-going.

The ending was a little over-the-top, but it made me laugh and I enjoyed how it all came together. I have already ordered the next one in the series and will read it in early April. My goal is to be caught up as soon as possible because the seventh book comes out later this year. BTW, it was adapted into a TV series in case anyone is interested in watching it. Maybe then I can shift over to the author’s other series.

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Book Review: A Mersey Maiden by Brian L. Porter

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A Mersey Maiden (Mersey Murder Mysteries, #3)A Mersey Maiden by Brian L. Porter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Mersey Maiden is the third book in Brian L. Porter’s clever and complex ‘Mersey Murder Mysteries’ series set in England in modern times. I’ve read all six novels that have been written to date and am looking forward to the seventh when it’s published in the near future. While the books focus on Detective Inspector Ross and his special investigation team in and around Liverpool and the River Mersey in England, this story takes us from the end of WWII to modern Germany and the USA, covering at least 4 murders that happen during the crux of the story. (There might be others in history, but those are not the direct focus, and I’m not giving everything away!)

What stands out most in this book is the sheer volume of research and planning that went into the story’s production. Of course, there are the normal red herrings, clues, and interesting twists, but the details are intensely thorough and well-plotted above his norm (which is quite high). To develop a story of this caliber, Porter had to carefully lay small and discrete elements that collide together like a fireworks explosion near the end. But it’s not just once or twice…. the levels and layers keep popping in the last 10% showing what we think we understand isn’t fully fleshed out until the finale and then some. It’s like a wonderful roller coaster ride where you think you’ve hit that last and final mega-drop, but then you get the jaw-dropping surprise of yet another one!

From the precise use and design of submarines to life-threatening diving techniques, Porter challenges readers to navigate the murky English Channel and how it’s changed in the last ~70 years. What if a small watercraft was sunk but never found? What if it contained secrets Hitler wanted to keep hidden? What if information had been passed through generations until love was questioned between people who knew nothing of the past? Porter handles it all adeptly and provides a bevy of side stories about each of the detectives or investigators working on this case. Many of our favorites have big steps in their personal lives or moments that clarify how good they truly are.

This was a very well-rounded and easy-to-read installment in the series. It might be my favorite, but I’m neck-and-neck with another that also gave me all the amazing reader feels. Looking forward to the next one with great excitement.

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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 stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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: Honey Homicide by Vikki Walton

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Honey Homicide: A Backyard Farming MysteryHoney Homicide: A Backyard Farming Mystery by Vikki Walton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Honey Homicide is the third book in Vikki Walton’s ‘A Backyard Farming Mystery’ series. I’ve read the previous two and wanted to read this one, so I stayed current on the series. I enjoy learning all about beekeeping and other farming activities, so it’s a nice change of pace from other books I’ve been reading.

In this caper, Kandi and Anne are trying to help their friends survive a string of burglaries, fires, and corruption occurring somewhere in the town. It takes place in Colorado, and there are some pot growers who may or may not be behaving properly. When the cops get involved, and a few bodies start showing up, something is definitely out of sorts. Anne tries to manage her friendship with the sheriff only to find he’s accused of the crimes this time! Who do you trust? For Anne, she’s slowly falling in love with him, so she’ll do what’s necessary to protect the man.

Walton’s characters are cute. She has a nice balance of dialog and narrative to tell the story. I like getting to see the improvements on the inn. And it’s great how everyone works together to solve the crime and help each other survive in the town. Of the three so far, the second is my favorite, but this has fun elements with the bees and the police corruption. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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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: Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie by Tyler Colins

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Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie?Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie? by Tyler Colins

Last year, I read the first book, The Connecticut Corpse Caper, in the Triple Threat Mystery series by Tyler Colins. Her second book, Can You Hula Luke Hilo Hattie?, is even better. Colins is one talented author who can weave a complex plot and help readers fully visualize a setting.

In this caper, our three heroines have formed a private eye agency in Hawaii. They’d solved the murders in the first book as regular citizens, so why not make it a full-time job? It was too much work in California or Connecticut to get their licenses, so Hawaii became the new home. Great idea! Fun backdrop. Hilarious characters. First, they need to bring home a runaway, hooked-on-ice teen. Second, they need to prove a man’s wife is cheating. Unfortunately, it isn’t your typical case, and when the wife turns up dead, the mystery is gonna be way more complex than our heroines thought.

Colins has created a bevy of intense and charming characters. I love ‘Cash’ who seems like a very cool dreamboat. Each time I got to know a new character, they end up getting killed off! Maybe it won’t happen this time…. but like in her first book, the body count keeps rising. It’s a fun way to keep readers on our toes. My favorite aspect of the author’s writing style is her descriptions, whether of people or settings. It’s way more than you’d normally see in a book, but it fits very well. I have a beautifully clear picture of who’s talking or moving about the book. I find myself drawn to the action, too, but it’s a very complex plot to keep focused on.

I also see strength in transitions between scenes. It’s rarely over-simplified or brash. It ends in the right place, and I roll into the next scene without worrying what happened in between. I also find the dialog to be rather strong… quick puns, not wordy, direct but full of imagery and thought. I can’t wait to see what third adventure the ladies find themselves embroiled in… no matter what the plot is, I’m sure it will create loads of fun and memories. Great job, Ms. Colins!

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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 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.

Book Review: A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

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A Most Curious Murder (Little Library Mystery #1)A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Last year, I won a copy of the second book in the ‘Little Library Mystery’ series by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli. I ordered the first book, A Most Curious Murder, from the library last week and attempted to read it. I like reading books from a series and getting caught up before the latest one is launched. In this series, Jenny moves back home after a bad divorce only to discover things in her hometown are a little strange. A little person has moved next door to her mother and someone’s destroyed the small library Jenny’s father built since there wasn’t a regular public one in town.

Jenny meets the neighbor, Zoe, and they try to decide if they like one another. When Zoe’s dog goes missing, they begin to bond. Another neighbor is murdered, and his family, a well-to-do and well-known one in town, acts quite strange. Someone had it out for them. What was really going? Jenny has to protect Zoe from the cops when it looks like she might have gotten revenge with a garden hoe after the other neighbor took her dog. Did she kill him? From here, the stories unfold like a typical cozy and introduce readers to the world of Bear Falls.

Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with both books in this series. I went back to read the first just in case it was a timing issue, but I had the same concerns. I don’t like the characters as much as I normally do in a cozy series. The author’s intent to make Zoe a bit strange works in some cases, but the conversations she has are almost always over my head or too cryptic. It works on a couple of levels but it’s not a good match for my reading style and preferences. That said, the author is a strong writer and creates a fun town. It’s a good mystery, so there’s bound to be the proper group of readers for it. I wish it much success!

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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 stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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.