Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder by Amy Lillard

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I received a free digital copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder is the first in A Main Street Book Club Mystery Series by Amy Lillard set in small town Mississippi.  Arlo Stanley owns a book store with a coffee shop attached along with her friend Chloe.  The entire town is getting revved up for a big reunion, which is seeing the return  of a local boy who has “done good” as a nationally known crime writer.  Arlo and Chloe both knew him in high school and when he ends up dead on the doorstep of their shop, Chloe finds herself in jail and Arlo launches an investigation to free her friend.

A well done southern, small town setting with a nice cadre of side characters in terms of both the book club members and the Chief of Police, Mads, and the PI, Sam, as possible future love interests.  The mystery is well done with plenty of red herrings.  I was firmly convinced I knew who did it and I was completely wrong!  Enjoyable start to a cozy mystery series.  I look forward to more in the series.

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Taking Pity by David Mark

23398659  Taking Pity is book 4 in the Aector McAvoy series set in Hull.  This follows Sorrow Bound, in which things end in a pretty dark place for Aector and his family, who mean everything to him.  In Taking Pity Aector’s boss is taking every measure she can to keep Aector’s wife and daughter safe even if it means he can’t see them or know where they are.  On orders, she distracts Aector by having him look into an old case that never went to trial, the perpetrator has been held for 50 years under the Mental Health Act instead.  The events and characters  from Sorrow Bound with some new additions continue to roll forward in a menacing death march through this book as Pharoah works to hold onto her job and her ethics while keeping people she cares about alive.

This was really well written, with mounting tension throughout the book.  I think it is one of the best in the series so far.  I do think you need to read the series in order to appreciate it.

Death in Profile & London Rules

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Death in Profile had some interesting characters and the crime itself was engaging, but the gaps in the police knowledge were unbelievable.  On top of that, the whole Lord Peter Whimsy story line as a “treatment” for mental illness outlandish and more than a little off putting.

London Rules is the 5th book in the Slough House series by Mick Herron.  In this outing, someone is trying to kill Roderick Ho of Slough House, not that he notices.  The other Slow Horses and their fearless leader, Jackson Lamb, do though.  As the Slow Horses circle the wagons to protect Ho, a connection is made to terrorist activities occurring in the country and this draws unwanted Regent Park attention to the Slow Horses.  This was a great read is an excellent series, perhaps my favorite so far.  Jackson Lamb is in particularly fine form here.  Highly recommended, but you need to start the series from the beginning to really appreciate it.

Good Bait & The Next to Die

 

Good Bait is, I believe, my first John Harvey crime novel.  This was on my TBR and I don’t really remember adding it or why but when I saw it at the library I picked it up.  DCI Karen Shields is running a team investigating the death of a Moldovian boy and she is not even sure if she can find it on the map.  At the same time, DI Cordon is about to get enmeshed in a missing person case in Cornwall at the request of the mother of his former dog walker.  The story lines and detectives contrast really or stand in relief of one another rather than interconnect.   Very well plotted and paced mystery story lines here.

The novel has a big cast of rich characters and explores a large web of gang warfare, organized crime, with prostitution and trafficking featured prominently.  There are literary  and musical references, hence the title Good Bait, a well known Jazz number. A book written rich in detail.  I really enjoyed this one.

The Next to Die by Sophie Hannah, I will admit I picked this up thinking it was a stand alone not the 10th in a series.  However, I don’t think that can be the entire reason it didn’t work for me.  Half the plot seemed like things you’d see in a bad TV soap.  Charlie’s sister and the secret boyfriend, the way some of the character’s behaved, the killer was just tedious, the unfunny comedian, the strident feminist journalist, ho hum.  It was really a struggle to read this.

Let’s Fake a Deal & Claws of Action


I received digital copies of both of these titles for free from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

Growing up on military bases, Let’s Fake a  Deal, with its military life based theme appealed to me.  Sarah is a former military spouse, who still lives close to the base and is somewhat entwined with military life through being in contact with military spouses and through volunteer work.  She is currently supporting herself by running a yard/tag sale business.  She finds herself in a spot of trouble when it turns out she is selling stolen goods at a yard sale and the people who hired her have disappeared.  This is the 7th in the series, so I am sure that I was missing quite a bit of the back story of Sarah, her brother and the other recurring characters.  Fun cute cozy with an interesting theme. 

Claws of Action is the fourth in the Cat Lady Mystery series.  The series is centered around a cat shelter ran by Lara and her Aunt Fran.  In this installment, the shelter is under attack by a particularly vicious health inspector, who is trying to close them down.  When the health inspector ends up dead, there are plenty of suspects to go around.  In between caring for her feline charges, Lara investigates the crime, and the more she learns about Evonda Fray, it seems the more suspects she has.  Good mystery read especially for fans of animal themed cozies.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sirens by Joseph Knox

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This was one of this month’s reads over at the English Kindle Mystery Club on Goodreads.  I will say that I waited and picked it up from the library rather than purchasing it mainly because the blurb really didn’t sound like my thing, I didn’t expect to like this.

Aiden Waits is a disgraced detective, caught breaking the rules one too many times and now he has been put into a corner where accepting the assignment of infiltrating a criminal organization undercover is really his only option.  Whilst on his undercover operation, an MP with a missing daughter decides to throw his weight around and say, “You know while you’re undercover with no back up in this incredibly dangerous situation could you just check on my runaway daughter who is hanging out with the gangsters?  You know, in your spare time.”  This sets up  the avalanche of tragic and dangerous events that follow.

This was really a great read.  I finished it in one sitting.  There are some really well drawn characters here.  The sense of place and the dismal nature of thug life along with the feelings of being entrapped within it are portrayed clearly.  There is a feeling of menace and inevitableness hanging over the story.  Aiden is a complex man and detective and it will be interesting to watch him over the course of further books. I am really happy this was picked by the club because it is not a book I would ever have picked on my own from the description!

Death of a Chocolate Lab, Amanda Cadabra & the Hidey-Hole Truth, The 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and Blood Sisters

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Super busy time of year for me, the end of the school year and all that so the last few days I fit in some reading but haven’t really reviewed.  So some short, reviews…

Death by Chocolate Lab is the first in a pet sitter cozy mystery series featuring sisters, one of whom is launching a pet sitting service and the other is a successful vet.  There are some charming animal characters, hint of perhaps a romantic interest, some family tension to further future subplots, and people from the town to serve as recurring characters.  Well written, an intriguing mystery with a lead character who serves to represent the many over educated- under employed of her generation.  I enjoyed this and will read more in the series.

Amanda Cadabra & the Hidey-hole Truth came highly recommended to me by several IRL friends, however they are all big Harry Potter fans and that is just not my thing.  I can completely see why Harry Potter fans would love this and would recommend it for them.

Mine is actually titled The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle .  Parts of this were well written and very engaging, I was pulled in at the start and  enjoyed reading it.  The entire world of Blackheath was well designed and immersive.  Then, when you get close to the end and the truths about Blackheath, Anna, and Aiden are revealed it just didn’t work at all for me.

Blood Sisters is a study of relationships built on guilt, lies, love, and secrets.  Alison, Kitty and Vanessa left for school one day and only one of them, Alison, went on to live a somewhat normal life.  Kitty was institutionalized and Vanessa died.  The book wends its way through the lies told or memories forgotten by Alison, Kitty, Crispin, Alison’s mother and others and the impact they have on final tragic events.  A good psychological read.