Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Highwayman

Title: The Highwayman
Author: Craig Johnson
Published: May 17th 2016 by Viking
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Longmire 11.5

Though only a novella, The Highwayman reads more like a full novel. There is only one story line, but there are enough characters and intrigue to keep the reader fully involved.

Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear, affectionately called the Cheyenne Nation, are on a call out to have a little talk with a patrolwoman in a nearby jurisdiction. On some evenings, at 12:34am, she hears a distress call – officer needs assistance. The strange thing, it is her call number that is asking for assistance. A call number that used to belong to a deputy that was killed on the job 36 years ago. She knows that she is not crazy, but yet, no one else can hear the call. Radio signals can be a bit sketchy in the valley, but she swears that she can hear them.

With Walt’s past, he is the last person to say that someone is crazy, so he and Henry spend a couple of nights on patrol with her and hear nothing. The time is coming to have a talk about job stress and loneliness -- that is until all hades breaks loose and Walt is in a fight for his life and the Highwayman comes to his rescue putting to rest a long untold story.

I love the Walt Longmire books much more than the television series. The books can relay more of what is going on in Walt’s head and the dialogue there is more interesting than what can be spoken. Henry’s matter of fact way has the reader verbally agreeing, along with Walt, that the answer is plausible if a bit of a stretch for everyone involved.

I usually complain about half books, but this one is well worth the time. An Obvious Fact, the next in the Longmire series, is due out in the beginning of September and I am sure that it too will be packed with humor and headshaking wonder that can only happen between Walt and the Cheyenne Nation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Witnesses

Title: The Witnesses
Author: James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
Published: July 19th 2016 by BookShots
Format: eBook, print length 136 pages
Genre: Suspense

I might be in the minority, but I like the idea of Bookshots. Sometimes you just want something that is short and to the point without too much fluff or wild tangents that so many authors fall into so they can fill pages.

Patterson and DuBois keep you guessing throughout this book. Three of the four family members, that are on the run, have reason to have a hit squad after them, but whom is the actually target is not reveled until the end. There are a couple of moments where I found myself saying, “wait a minute, why did that just happen, shouldn’t that be different”, but in the abrupt end, it all made perfect sense.

There was too much of a neat bow for my liking, but I understand why it happened that way. Maybe there is future potential for a full length novel with the Sanderson family, but we will have to wait and see. Then again, I wonder if this is yet another marketing plan for the industrious James Patterson to test drive future writing partners.

As a heads up, the last twenty percent of this book revolves around new and upcoming releases.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Title: Clawback
Author: J. A. Jance
Published: March 8th 2016 by Touchstone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Ali Reynolds #11

Well, at least she seems to do a bit of research for the main topic of her book, other than that, they tend to be on the superficial side.

Bob and Edie Larson, Ali’s parents, have retired and on the advice of their longtime friend and financial advisor, they have invested their lifesavings in Ocotillo Fund Management. Hearing on the news that the SEC have closed them down, Bob heads over to Dan Frazier’s house to find out what is going on only to find both Dan and his wife dying from stab wounds.

After stumbling over their bodies, Bob’s 911 call has him arrested for their deaths and since Ali and her husband own an internet security company, they leap into action to find not only the missing funds but also who is responsible for the deaths.

This is book eleven in the Ali Reynolds series and unless you have trudged through her previous books, you might be lost as to all the interpersonal relationships. I will continue to say that the only shining character in this series is Leyland Brooks and unfortunately, other than making a meal or two, he has no real presence in this book which is a true shame. Sister Anselm only makes a brief appearance and there is a brief mention of the characters and situation from the previous book, which was not necessary at all.

This is yet another series that I do not know why I continue, but yet I do. It has to be in hopes that one day Brooks and Anselm will team up and take on a case themselves. They would be a dynamic duo that will have the readers laughing and cheering all the way to the end.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

All You Need Is Fudge

Title: All You Need Is Fudge
Author: Nancy Coco
Expected Publication Date: July 26th 2016 by Kensington
Format: eBook, Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Kensington for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Candy Coated #4

Interspersed with fudge and other culinary recipes, the reader is subjected to the repeated rehashing of the same storyline. Two wealthy beautiful girls, from the same small island, who completed their whole lives – even though one claims that there was no competition, homecoming queen, lilac queen, went to the same college, the same sorority, dated the same man, may or may not have had an argument the day prior and now one is dead and the other is charged. There may have been a witness, or was that a bit of diversion, but with Allie McMurphy on the case, there is no doubt that this long winded book with a convoluted ending that has your head spinning only to remember that there was once a small, almost forgettable clue, in the very beginning.

Nancy Coco’s books are on the superficial side. The conversations between characters have no depth and read more like a high school creative writing project. There are a couple of side stories going on, but they do take a backseat to the main murder. I am not sure if the author was trying to distract or to give some characters more meaning, but they are thrown in there never the less. Unnecessary aspects are overly described – doe a reader really need to know what type of lock the key fit in? Characters are cardboard cutouts that can easily be transplanted from one book to the next. Unless you are looking for a mindless read, I suggest that you pass on this book and for that matter this series by Nancy Coco.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Body Double

Title: Body Double
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Published: November 17th 2004 by Ballantine Books
Format: Hardcover, 339 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles #4

If it wasn’t for the boring middle parts of this book, I would have enjoyed it more.

What begins with a body in a car parked in front of the home of Dr. Maura Isles, a woman that resembles Maura so exactly that her own colleagues were convinced that it was her, suddenly twists when Maura herself steps out of a cab and everyone is left shocked and speechless. Who was this woman in the car and without a doubt she has to be related to Maura in some way.

Maura was an only child. There were no siblings, but yet DNA does not lie. Now Maura is on the precipice of dark secrets and lies. Genetics do not make a person, which in this case is the only relief that Maura garners since her hereditary ties are disturbing and disgusting.

From the onset, what appears to be separate cases are intricately woven so that the ending is both devastating and pleasing. I cannot say that this is a favorite series since I spend half my time mentally separating the television show from the novels, but I do find myself going back from time to time to check in with this different set of Rizzoli and Isles.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Woman in Blue

Title: The Woman in Blue
Author: Elly Griffiths
Published: May 3rd 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Ruth Galloway #8

When it comes to Elly Griffiths, you have to have her book in one hand and a dictionary in the other. An author that pushes vocabulary levels, which is not a bad thing, but does hinder your reading flow.

Many ingredients are thrown into this story pot. While cat sitting, Cathbad sees a woman dressed in blue and white reminiscent of the Virgin Mary in the adjoining cemetery, when he goes to investigate, he comes upon a woman with a beautiful glowing face. The next morning, Chloe Jenkins body is discovered along a road that is heading to the Sanctuary, a rehab center for the wealthy. Thus begins the newest Ruth Galloway novel.

This is a book of secrets. It seems that everyone has one and even if they do not know that they are holding a secret it is there floating somewhere in their past. Combine that with jealousy and revenge and you quickly have DCI Nelson and his group of investigators running all over Walsingham trying to figure out what exactly is going on.

Ruth is trying to do her best to stay out of this investigation and I think that is what caused this to be a boring read for me. There are glimmers when an old college friend, Hilary Smithson, asks her to read letters that have been sent to her. Letters that threaten women that are becoming priests, letters that imply a woman’s place is in the home, letters that have a very dark and scary tone.

Strangulation is the murder of choice in this book. Three blonde haired blue eyed woman, two of which die are strangled. With all of them, one comes too close to home for DCI Nelson and when it does, yet another secret is revealed.

It is finally Ruth that puts the puzzle together which is surprising since she spent most of the book completely out of character obsessing over both her parenting skills and wistful over a man that, though he is the father of her child, is married to another woman.

I like Ruth better when she is a no holds barred kind of woman. When she sets her sights on a problem and sets out to solve it. None of the bumbling head in the sand and hope they all go away persona that was prevalent in this book. For me, the Ruth Galloway series is slowing down a bit, all the previous characters are there, but they have turned into singular dimensional cardboard cutouts with no deep hook that keeps me fully focused.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Grave Prediction

Title: A Grave Prediction
Author: Victoria Laurie
Expected Publication: July 26th 2016 by NAL
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Psychic Eye Mystery #14

After reading Victoria Laurie’s last book in her Ghost Hunter series (which was her best by far), I wanted to see if she had stepped up her game with her Psychic Eye Mystery series. I do have to say that it is on par with her last in this series, Sense of Deception, and there were even parts where I found myself laughing out loud.

In addition to her work consulting with the Austin FBI cold case division, Abby Cooper is now being loaned out to the Los Angeles division. A group of hardnosed detectives that have no interest in her so-called abilities. When Abby hits the ground running and gives a very brief reading in the elevator, she slowly wins over Special Agent Hart. She has a case that is going nowhere and with a bit of help things begin to come together nicely. That is until Abby is asked to work on a series of bank robberies that quickly escalate (or deescalate depending on your view) when she is drawn to a field that is being leveled for housing and she detects graves and bodies. Still trying to prove herself as a true asset, Abby has a tough uphill battle that might just come down to the wire for both her and the bodies that will fill the graves.

Whether it is claircognizance or clairvoyance, Abby needs all of her gifts to get to the bottom of these cases. She is being challenged, but that is nothing new. With Candice, the type of friend that everyone should have by their side, this duo is facing down both an evil sociopath and a very dysfunctional family. Abby and Candice may not play by all the rules, but when it comes to protecting those that need it most, they will do what it takes.

I love the Psychic Eye books that include Candice Fusco. The teaming up of Abby and Candice makes for an interesting romp and Candice’s humor and matter of fact timing keeps me both engaged and laughing throughout the whole book. Ms. Laurie, we need to see more of Candice.

Monday, July 11, 2016

I've Got Sand In All The Wrong Places

Title: I've Got Sand In All The Wrong Places
Author: Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Expected Publication: July 12th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Essay
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
This was a bittersweet read for me. The last couple of books I listened to while driving my daughter back to college. We would laugh and look at each other and laugh some more. This year, showing her independence, she did not come home for the summer and I spent my time laughing and getting misty all on my own. I will not say that Lisa and I have shared all of the same experiences, but raising a daughter has lead us down a couple of the same paths.

I love the essays, the insights into a relatively normal life. I do tend to roll my eyes when Lisa talks about money concerns and when Francesca laments her boyfriend issues and that she is only twenty-nine and not thirty. Oh, to have those problems.

Thank you Lisa for pointing out that being an empty nester, and enjoying it, is not a bad thing. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about enjoying my free “me” time and it is nice to know that others feel the same way about it as I do.

Francesca, with the trauma that you have gone through, you really should consider being a victim support advocate. You have a story to tell and can relate to the distress that others are going through. “Courage does not exist without fear”.

Thank you to this writing team for bringing hilarity and sentiment to everyday situations. I look forward to many more summers of your adventures.

Friday, July 1, 2016