End of July Books

The Last Woman in the Forest is everything you want in a suspenseful thriller read. There is a building sense of menace and dread building throughout the story. Marian Engstrom is a strong female lead, not someone charging blindly into danger with no regard to her safety. She is led by reason and strong sense that secrecy helps no one. Nick Shepard is the retired officer that she reaches out to for help in uncovering the truth, whatever it may be. The story is set in various wilderness environments as Marion works with an organization that trains and uses rescue dogs to help track animal populations. There is danger from human and animal predators alike, as well as from the harsh environment. Great read and should appeal to mystery readers, especially ones who like dogs and the outdoors.

The Rocky Road to Ruin is a really good start to a new cozy mystery series. There is a lot to like here . The setting, small town Connecticut, the theme, ice cream, and the plot. Riley returns home for a funeral and stays to assist her friend with the family business. When a murder occurs, Riley is concerned that her friend is implicated. With some misdirection and a cast of quirky characters it takes some unraveling to finally unmask the culprit and solve the case. I will be reading another in this series.

Dead Man’s Grave is the first in a new series and an excellent police procedural. The story begins with an old school gangster, who is still the head of a brutal gang family network, goes missing. The family uncharacteristically involve the police in a search for him. DS Max Cragie and DC Janie Calder discover the gangster’s body and have to report the murder. This sets off a brutal chain of events as the family wants revenge. The police want to close the case. The killer’s family want protection. Great characters and fast paced, well written story. I will want to read more in this series.

The Receptionist is a story about three unlikeable characters, Emily, whose parts are told in first person, and her husband, Doug, and his latest mistress/receptionist Chloe, whose parts are both told in third person. There is tension in the beginning where you definitely get a sense bad things are coming. And the end is a roller coaster ride, in a good way. The middle is just so-so. All the Doug and Chloe tales just dragged a bit for me. I was more interested in Emily and her dog truth be told. Great ending. Overall about a 3 star read.

Apple Cider Slaying is the first in the Cider Shop Mystery Series. Winnie and her Granny are struggling to keep the family Apple Orchard afloat. Finding a neighbor dead on the premises is not helping. Especially when Granny doesn’t really have a great alibi. Once Winnie starts digging into the murder a little bit trying to point the finger away from Granny, she makes herself a target of the killer. Fun start to a new series.

The Diva Paints the Town is the third book in the Domestic Diva Series. Sophie’s neighbor dies and as a final request asked her to prepare a specific meal for his heirs. Antics ensue as clues are left as to his death and perhaps his estate? Sophie finds herself drawn in to what appears to be another murder, until it doesn’t. Lots of questions and misdirection Much the feel of a older manor house mystery here. I enjoyed this but I thought the first and second book in the series were better than this one.

Death By Jack-O-Lantern is the second book in the Abby McCree Mystery Series. Abby is being kept busy by all the demands of various committees and volunteering “opportunities” in the town. Meanwhile Tripp is busy trying to help a homeless veteran, Kevin Montomery, who is dealing with some mental health issues. When an unpleasant local farmer ends up dead, Kevin is on everyone’s radar as the likely suspect. Tripp gets himself in hot water defending Kevin and Abby takes it upon herself to investigate. A respectful treatment of PTSD and mental health of veterans. A solid second book in this good series. A fun Halloween read.