Monday, December 11, 2017

Needles and Pearls

Title: Needles and Pearls
Author: Gil McNeil
Published: May 11th 2010 by Voice
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: Beach Street Knitting Society #2

From time to time, I need to take a break from my usual murder/suspense/thriller books and visit the calmer sides of life. I cannot say that Jo Mackenzie's life of running a knitting shop in the seaside village of Broadgate and raising two bickering boys is calm, but it is definitely a break that I enjoy.

Jo’s philandering husband was killed in an accident right after he admitted to an affair and wanting a divorce. With the world, and his mother, not knowing the truth and thinking that he was a saint - Jo must carry on with her boys, her stitch and bitch group, a life in need of repair, and a little gift that is the result of a very brief tryst with photographer Daniel Fitzgerald.

Jo needs nothing from the father, she may not be wealthy, but she had decided to take life on on her own terms, which do not involve tracking down Daniel, or asking for money. Her life is too busy with knitting clubs and school projects, two weddings to plan, and a shop that needs to be rebuilt. The baby on the way is just another thing in her life that she will get to, and what she does not yet know, is that this unexpected arrival maybe be the one thing that will bring her life full circle.

Of course, Gil McNeil adds in a new love interest that started out as a friendship and after a bumpy start, Jo can see the chance of a do-over. Her grandmother was given a second chance and her anxiety ridden best friend is about to partake in her own adventure, so why shouldn’t Jo have another shot at her happily ever after.

Granted, this is only book number two in the series and with Jo’s chaotic life, anything can go wrong, but for now, she is definitely allowed the hope that she is feeling with her little family.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Title: Marathon
Author: Brian Freeman
Published: May 3rd 2017 by Quercus
Format: Hardcover, 408 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Jonathan Stride #8

Taking a nod from the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, Brian Freeman expands his story by pointing out how rumors and hatred can turn a town like Duluth, Minnesota, upside down and drag the innocent into a web of deceit and lies.

Near the finish line of the Duluth marathon, a bomb explodes and with it, countless lives have been changed. Dawn Basch is in town stirring up trouble with her First Amendment speeches and finds the Muslim community an ideal target to blame for this attack. With no real justification, and social media stoking the fires, cab drive Khan Rashid is targeted as a person of interest and FBI special agent Gayle Durkin is called in to find their suspect.

All of this turns into a major cluster as Jonathan Stride, Serena Dial-Stride, and Maggie Bei race around Duluth in hopes of finding the truth before more innocent people are killed. Dawn Basch does not care who is caught in her crossfire. She has an agenda and she knows who is responsible, yet Freeman would not make it that easy for his readers. There are twists. There is even a time or two that the reader is lead down a wrong path, or maybe it was just me trying to tie up loose ends, but in its conclusion, there is still a gasp or two.

This is a fast read. The characters are real, their pain is apparent on each page, and Brian Freeman does not pull any punches. There are times where you hope that the hero of the day will ride in and save the innocent, but the fact that he does not, leads more credence to the pain that both the town and its people have to endure.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Lady in Shadows

Title: A Lady in Shadows
Author: Lene Kaaberbol
Published: December 5th 2017 by Atria Books
Format: eBook, Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Madeleine Karno #2

Dreadful. That is the only word that I can come up with to describe this long and drawn out book. Trying either to shock the reader with the subject matter or to lure them in with the detailed gynecological practices of a villainous doctor in 1880’s France, or if that is not enough, the unbeknownst relationships of Madeline Karno’s fiancĂ© – which really served no point. The book should have been wall-banged within the first 100 pages.

Trying to disguise a failed, what we now call a cesarean section, as the acts of a French Jack the Ripper, Madeleine Karno, who we were introduced to in ‘Doctor Death’ begins to see tell tail signs and sets off to find the hideous person brutalizing the local prostitutes all in the name of science.

Lene Kaaberbol goes into curious detail about the time and place, but tends to go overboard for shock value. The doctor at the center of this fiasco reads more like Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz Angel of Death, in his need to find perfect subjects to rebuild France’s dwindling birth rates. Then throw in a person from August Dreyfuss’ past, and a photographer with his own naughty secrets, and those that should know better but do not do better when it comes to those in need.

Considering how I loved her first book in this series, this was a torture to read. The gruesomeness of the subject matter was not the issue for me, but rather how drawn out it all was. How in the end she tried to tie her storylines together and how unrealistic that it all played out. If there is a third book, I certainly hope that she tries not to throw too much in in hopes that something will catch the reader and that she reduces her fillers to keep the story flowing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Vanishing Season

Title: The Vanishing Season
Author: Joanna Schaffhausen
Published: December 5th 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 288 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Joanna Schaffhausen is a gifted writer, every time I thought that I had this puzzle put together, a new piece was added sending me down a new path with a new suspect in mind. I love it when an author does not intentionally mislead a reader but rather lets little parts slip in that opens up new directions to explore.

As a child, Abby Hathaway was abducted and held captive by a brutal man that liked to keep souvenirs. FBI Agent Reed Markham was determined to find this psychopath before he could claim another victim. A bond was forged between these two in a harrowing rescue. Now twenty years later with Markham mirroring John Grisham and Abby, going by her middle name of Ellery, a member of the Massachusetts’ Woodbury Police Department, their world’s collide again when Ellery calls on him when people start disappearing every July around Ellery’s birthday and cards appear that let her know that her secret is no longer safe.

Though a twisty tail, the plot does not follow the unreliable narrative that so often befuddles this genre. The reader is given the bits and pieces that move the intrigue along, without insulting your intelligence and at the same time, making your brain work sorting out the details and at the end you realize a giant clue was given to you in the beginning that you had brushed away as unimportant fluff.