Tag Archives: mystery

May It Please The Court by Daniel Maldonado – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an ebook I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book May It Please The Court by Daniel Maldonado to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

May It Please The Court by Daniel Maldonado

Here is the book blurb.

After a Sweet Sixteen ceremony, Reyna Clifton – the mother of the birthday girl – is found severely injured at the bottom of the grand staircase of the Regal Phoenix Resort and Spa.

The Clifton family blames the resort for Reyna’s fall, and sues for negligence. Daniel Mendoza and his firm are called in to defend the lawsuit, but when Mrs. Clifton is found dead in her hospital room, Daniel’s suspicions arise.

With the help of his legal team and a private investigator, Daniel is determined to find out what really happened to Mrs. Clifton. But who would have wanted to murder her, and is there some other foul play involved?

The book is mainly set in the US, but with a strong Puerto Rican culture running through it. The story starts at a “Sweet Sixteen” party held at the Regal Phoenix hotel for Alejandra, daughter of Reyna and Anthony Clifton with lots of family and friends there. However I found this party to be so unrealistic that it put me off the book before I had even got into it. I have never come across anyone who spends a fortune on such a glitzy affair which is more choreographed than most people’s weddings. And when I was that age, there would have been no way I would have wanted my friends to meet my immediate family, let alone my other relatives.

But to give it the benefit of doubt, perhaps this type of party is typical of Puerto Rican customs, as the author goes into a lot of descriptive detail on the dances and cuisine. Or maybe it is a US thing which hasn’t made it over to this side of the pond.

The second chapter didn’t help to put me in the mood for this book when the reader is introduced to Dana, Anthony’s old girl friend from years ago, who wants him back. I would have been siding with the strangers who didn’t believe Dana needed her dog to be categorised as an “emotional support” dog.

Plenty going on at the party from stolen kisses to outrage to tears to secrets. And then disaster as Reyna falls down the stairs and is badly injured.

Weeks in hospital. Can things get worse? In a word yes!

We’re already about a quarter of the way through the book before we get introduced to Daniel Mendoza who you would assume to be the main character, being named on the cover. Daniel has been hired by the hotel chain to defend against a negligence claim.

So was the hotel at fault or was it something more sinister?

May It Please The Court is available on Amazon in paperback, hardback, ausiobook and kindle formats. A legal thriller which sadly did not hit the spot for me.

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Regardless of the Consequences by L D Lauritzen – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an ebook I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Regardless of the Consequences by L D Lauritzen to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Regardless of the Consequences by L D Lauritzen

Here is the book blurb.

Sheriff Lance Tallbear’s half-blood Apache heritage leaves him struggling to find his place in a world where neither white nor Indian wants or readily accepts him. He faces the world his shaman father turned away from and acknowledges the one his shaman grandfather prays he’ll return to.

Tallbear’s new case uncovers a mysterious plane wreck discovered in the Superstition Mountains that turns out to stir both his life decisions and ultimate direction. Along with his troubled FBI partner, Brad Hanley, they face a myriad of obstacles in their journey to the truth.

The skeletons at the site hold the clues to not only who the killers were but also why the people died. Tallbear quickly find the crash site hides a deadly secret that reaches out of the distant past to threaten the lives of all who seek it. He will need to use all his skills and experience to discover the answers and stay alive.

The story set in Arizona starts at Hawk’s cleansing ceremony by introducing us to Sheriff Lance Tallbear who is torn between his police career and family duty as the heir-apparent to his Apache shaman grandfather Gray Eagle.

But not long after Hawk discovers a hidden plane containing corpses, in the Superstition Mountains, which has crashed long ago. The case ends up with Tallbear who discovers that the crash victims have been shot.

The story then jumps to California. Meanwhile Thomas Kane from the CIA and FBI Agent Brad Hanley want in on the investigation. Who has jurisdiction? Why are they interested in deaths over 50 years ago? Tallbear refuses to hand over the case to Kane but finds an ally in Hanley.

Plenty of twists and turns in this page turner as the victims are identified and we get introduced to more characters. Secrets abound. More deaths follow. Culture is woven in.

Regardless of the Consequences is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats. A compelling read indeed..

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Dark Ride Deception by Mark S Bacon – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an ebook I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Dark Ride Deception by Mark S Bacon to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

Dark Ride Deception by Mark S Bacon

Here is the book blurb.

Is Tom Wyrick Dead? The computer genius is missing. So are his priceless tech secrets. Time for Lyle to go undercover again.

Tom Wryick’s mind-bending technology will rocket Nostalgia City theme park decades ahead of the competition. But the computer genius is missing. So are his secrets. Is he dead? On the run? His billion-dollar, breathtaking discovery is the Perception Deception Effect.

An FBI agent theorizes the People’s Republic of China is responsible for the disappearance.The Nostalgia City CEO, however, is convinced a rival theme park is behind the theft. He drafts ex-cop turned theme park cab driver Lyle Deming to fly to Florida to find the missing computer scientist and recover his secrets.

Does this have anything to do with the severed human finger Lyle finds in his cab?

Back in Nostalgia City, park executive, 6’ 2” Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, is persuaded to investigate the death of an actor starring in a Vietnam-era crime movie being filmed at the Arizona park. Nostalgia City is a meticulous re-creation of a 1970s small town.

Shrugging off jet lag, anxiety, and oppressive Florida humidity, Lyle goes undercover using a parade of false identities to snoop behind the scenes at another theme park’s engineering and computer offices. He’s forced to jump from one covert scheme to another as his identity is exposed, his safety jeopardized.

In the meantime, Kate confronts a mentally unstable actor—fresh out of rehab. But she may be forced to give up the murder case—Lyle needs help.

Kate and Lyle have little time to explore their nascent romantic relationship as both their investigations turn deadly, threatening them and the future of Nostalgia City.

Dark Ride Deception is the fourth title in the Nostalgia City series, but it works perfectly as a stand-alone read. I haven’t read any of the earlier titles yet.

Nostalgia City is a theme park in Arizona based on a full-size recreation of a 1970s small town, so everyone is discouraged from visibly using their mobile phones and other modern technology.

The book starts with taxi driver Lyle discovering a human finger whilst cleaning the back of his cab, not the usual sort of thing for a fare to leave behind. And certainly a new way to try to hook the reader into a story.

Meanwhile Lyle’s girlfriend Kate who works on Nostalgia City’s PR is coordinating arrangements for a movie to be filmed at the theme park, including smoothing things out with some of the actors.

Lyle is an ex-cop and Max Maxwell, CEO of the park lets him in on the secret that future park technology plans have been stolen and the developer Tom Wyrick is missing too. Max wants Lyle to find Tom.

But when one of the actors dies, allegedly a suicide, Kate’s friend Steph believes he was murdered and asks Kate to investigate.

As the book progresses, it feels like two stories intertwined, from both Lyle and Kate’s viewpoints. Is there a connection?

Dark Ride Deception is available on Amazon in kindle format. A thrilling mystery with plenty of twists and turns. I can definitely recommend this read.

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If She Dies by Erik Therme – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an ebook I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book If She Dies by Erik Therme to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

If She Dies by Eric Therme

Here is the book blurb.

How far would you go to right a wrong?

Nine months ago, Tess’s five-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. The driver, Brady Becker, was sentenced to two years in prison. It didn’t make Tess’s pain go away.

Brady also has a daughter: A twelve-year-old named Eve who walks to Chandler Middle School every day. Tess knows this because she’s been watching Eve for the last three weeks. It isn’t fair that Brady’s daughter gets to live, while Tess’s daughter does not.

When Eve goes missing, all eyes turn to Tess, who doesn’t have an alibi. But Tess isn’t guilty.

Or so she believes.

The story starts creepily with Tess stalking a 12 year old girl Eve, persuading the reader to think the worst of her. Eve is the step-daughter of the driver responsible for killing Lily, Tess and Josh’s five year old daughter in a car accident, which Tess cannot come to terms with.

Meanwhile who is sending Tess anonymous mail? Who has desecrated Lily’s grave? Who is spying on her? And who is snooping around outside their house? Why is she lying to Josh? Has he moved on? Is he hiding something from her? Is Tess getting paranoid about everything?

This book is very much a slow burner as we gradually get introduced to other characters integral to the story. And then Eve disappears…….

If She Dies is available on Amazon in hardback, paperback, audiobook and kindle formats. A compelling read indeed..

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Malamander by Thomas Taylor – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Malamander by Thomas Taylor. To find out more about the author you may visit his website. I discovered there that he illustrated the original cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Here is the book blurb.

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

This is the first book in the Eerie-on-Sea series.

When you open the book, there is a map of Eerie-on-Sea, a seaside town, which I kept referring back to as I read the story. I do love a map to illustrate a tale.

The story draws you in with fabulous descriptive language right from the start as we get introduced to young Herbie, who is the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. His usual remit is lost luggage but the mysterious girl Violet Parma comes especially to see him, declaring she is lost and wants to be found, although obviously not by the scary Boathook Man from whom she hides.

Mystery, adventure detective story, myth, legend, monster, fantasy – this book has it all. The characters and settings are all portrayed wonderfully.

Malamander is a great book, targeted at readers from about age 9-12. A captivating read. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out what happens in Gargantis, book 2 at Eerie-on-Sea. And the author is currently writing the third title Shadowghast, which will be published later this year.

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Prove It: Murder in the Mix by Hannah R Kurz – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Prove It: Murder in the Mix by Hannah R Kurz to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Prove It Murder in the Mix by Hannah R Kurz

Here is the book blurb.

When a tragic mixer mishap results in the closing of a beloved bakery, new mom and upstairs neighbor Stephanie Wu is sure of two things: One, she misses their cappuccinos. And two, it was no accident. But time is running out for the sleep-deprived sleuth. Can she solve the murder and figure out pumping before her maternity leave is up? With a baby at her breast and a killer at her back, life and living above The Likable Daisy will never be the same again.

The story is set in and above a French-Lebanese bakery, The Likable Daisy in New York. New mum Steph lives in one of the three apartments above the bakery with her husband Henry and two-week old baby Madeline.

She loves the baking smells and sweet treats. In fact she and Henry seem to be always eating, starting with a cooked breakfast, numerous daily treats, lunch and a big dinner. Steph is breast-feeding but what is Henry’s excuse?

So when Henry goes back to work after his paternity leave is up, naturally Steph’s first solo trip out with Madeline is downstairs to the bakery for a pastry and a cappuccino, catching up with staff and regulars.

But next day the bakery is closed. Owner Sameed had been found strangled by his own tie, wound in the mixer. The police have it down as an accident, but Steph is not convinced. It doesn’t add up and she believes he was murdered.

So we have a new mum amateur sleuth focussing on suspects and clues. I think this is the first time I’ve come across a new num in that role, but it worked perfectly.

I loved this cosy foodie murder mystery. And what a great corny title.

Prove It: Murder in the Mix is available on Amazon, in paperback and kindle formats. A great foodie cosy mystery. This is Hannah’s debut novel and she is currently writing the second Likable Daisy mystery, which I’m really looking forward to.

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Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning to review, which is a very different genre to his previous book The Colonel and the Bee which I read a couple of years ago.

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning

Here is the book blurb.

Seeking to rediscover herself after a divorce, a detective-minded woman embarks on solving the small mysteries of a Midwest neighborhood, only to learn the secrets hidden there are more horrifying than she could have ever imagined.

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place for her to sort through her pain and move on with her life.

But Francine quickly discovers the “idyllic” neighborhood is hiding a number of disturbing mysteries. Behind every door and window there’s marital strife, simmering grudges, and a secret so terrible, someone will kill to keep it quiet.

Francine rewrites her prescription from relaxation to investigation. If she can remember how to trust herself, she might discover what’s hidden in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again, assuming she stays alive long enough to be in it…

This story is set in 1989 when Francine house-sits for her sister Ellie, whilst trying to get her life back on track after a messy divorce. Before Ellie and husband Pete leave for their own holiday, they throw a party introducing Francine to all their neighbours.

Francine bonds with Ellie’s best friend Laura-Jean and elderly Roland Gerber at the party, but why does Magdalena throw a cocktail in Francine’s face? Following in the footsteps of her heroine Nancy Drew, this is the first mystery that Francine tries to investigate. She gets Laura-Jean to give her a gossipy tour of the neighbourhood, which helps to build a picture of all the characters. The neighbourhood feels very much in period with the time it is set.

But one thing leads to another, as Francine makes more discoveries. There are certainly some very unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming.

Initially I wasn’t sure what to make of this story, but it certainly grew on me as the storyline developed.

Hawthorn Woods is available on Amazon, in paperback or Kindle format. A psychological suspense filled mystery.


About the author

Patrick Canning is the author of three novels, including Cryptofauna (2018), The Colonel and the Bee (2018), and his latest, Hawthorn Woods (2020). He has also published several short stories. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys playing beach volleyball, following space exploration, and losing at bar trivia. Patrick lives in Los Angeles with his dog Hank, who some consider to be the greatest dog of all time.

To find out more about the author you may visit his website.


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Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Jimmy Coates: Killer by Joe Craig. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Jimmy Coates Killer by Joe Craig

Here is the book blurb.

An eleven-year-old boy discovers he has strange powers, and a future that holds mystery, adventure – and death!

Bending his knees, Jimmy let go of the windowsill and slowly tipped backwards. Surely this is impossible, he thought, even as he could feel himself doing it. He pushed out with his legs and the thrust sent him flying backwards into the air… Then his fingers locked on to the cold wire of the fence, poised in a perfect handstand on the top.

Who are the mysterious men chasing Jimmy across the city?
Why are they after him?
What are Jimmy’s parents keeping from him and who can he trust?
And how come he can suddenly do all this really cool stuff…?

This is the first book in the Jimmy Coates series and was published back in 2005.

The story begins with Jimmy discovering he can jump through the upstairs closed window and fall onto the concrete feeling no pain, when trying to evade the strangers who have mysteriously arrived at his home to take him away from his family. He hides under the car, as they lead his parents away but his older sister Georgie manages to run off.

He eventually makes his way to the police station, but they seem just as suspicious as the others, so he legs it out of there.

Why is everyone after him?
Who can he trust?
How has he suddenly got these mysterious super powers?
Where have his parents been taken?
Where is Georgie?

Gradually things become clearer to Jimmy but it doesn’t make his decisions any easier. Plenty of twists and turns to come in this story set in the Neo-Democratic State of Great Britain.

Jimmy Coates: Killer is an excellent book, targeted at readers from about age 10-14. A great read that had me immediately adding books 2-7 to my TBR list.

Spoiler Alert. The only disappointing thing is when you reach the back of the book and it mentions the website www.jimmycoates.co.uk with lots of fun activities, secret files, etc, but when I visited, all I found was a Google map to explore Jimmy’s World. However the map features locations from all books in the series.

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The Girl Behind the Wall by Bruce Wetterau – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Girl Behind the Wall by Bruce Wetterau to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Girl Behind the Wall by Bruce Wetterau

Here is the book blurb.

Did Edgar Allan Poe know more about murder than he revealed in his bizarre stories of murder and mayhem? Was he in fact guilty of killing a girlfriend in a fit of rage many years before he became famous? Bruce Wetterau’s taut thriller weaves a murder mystery worthy of Poe himself as it follows Poe through actual events in the last months of his life. The year 1849 saw the real-life Poe dealing with his alcoholism, failing health, poverty, and painful memories of his recently deceased child-bride wife. His life had become a psychological pressure cooker, with severe anxiety attacks and bouts of strange hallucinations. The Girl Behind the Wall opens in early 1849. Poe is being tormented by frightening visions about murdering Annabel Lee while he was a student at the University of Virginia. Afraid of the hangman’s noose, Poe knows he can never tell anyone about the repressed memories haunting him. But a newspaper reporter named Sam Reynolds has overheard him talking erratically about Annabel while in a drunken stupor. That a man as famous as Poe could be a murderer would be the scoop of a lifetime and Reynolds will do anything to get it. Flash forward nearly two hundred years to the present. The book’s hero, Clay Cantrell, accidentally uncovers damning evidence–Annabel’s skeleton and a locket from Poe–behind an old brick wall at the university. While the mystery of Annabel’s murder and Poe’s strange visions unfolds in flashbacks, Cantrell and friends launch a search of their own for the truth about Annabel’s death. But another murder mystery much closer to home overtakes them when a cold-blooded serial killer named the Raven claims his first victim, a UVA coed. Obsessed with Poe, the Raven stages his murders with clever ties to Poe’s works. Clay tries to stop the murders and soon winds up in the Raven’s cross hairs. Though this isn’t the first vicious killer Clay–an ex-Army Ranger–has fought, he doesn’t know the Raven has a diabolical plan to execute him. Will Poe finally reveal the truth about Annabel, or will he take the secret to his grave? Can Clay escape the Raven’s plot, find what drives the Raven’s murderous obsession with Poe, and at last answer the question, who killed Annabel Lee?

That is a long blurb and I initially wondered if not having read any of Poe’s works would impact on my appreciation of the story. I’m not sure that I have even seen any films based on them either. But not so, there is plenty of information regarding Poe including references to his works throughout the tale. The author has certainly put a lot of research into his story.

This is the third title in the Clay Cantrell series but works fine as a stand-alone read. I haven’t read either of the two previous titles.

The story starts in 1849 with New York reporter Samuel Reynolds discovering Poe drunk amongst the garbage in an alley, muttering about Annabel. We then skip to the present day where Clay Cantrell and friend Mac Harper discover a 190 year old skeleton walled up at the University of Virginia. A locket on the skeleton is inscribed with “My beloved Annabel. Your devoted Eddy. Oct 1826”.

Putting two and two together, Clay and his friends start researching into Poe’s history, to try to determine whether it was Poe who killed Annabel.

Meanwhile, modern day serial killer, the Raven strikes and all his murders are staged with links to Poe’s works. For instance , The Raven is a famous poem by Poe.

The story continues to switch back and forth between the present day and 1849.

The Girl Behind the Wall is available on Amazon in both kindle format and paperback. A good mystery, with some great twists.

The book also contains a timeline of key events in Poe’s Life in 1849 to show where fact has cleverly been woven into the fiction.

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Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Here is the book blurb.

On holiday in Cornwall, Simon, Jane and Barney Drew discover an ancient map in the attic of the Grey House, where they are staying with their mysterious Great-Uncle Merry. They know immediately that it is special. But it is much more than just a map. It is the start of a quest to find a grail, a source of great power that could contain – or resurrect – the powerful, age-old forces of evil in the world. And the Drews are not the only ones searching for it.

This is the first book in the award-winning Dark Is Rising Sequence. It is a classic written in the 1960’s, but remains a thrilling read today. I was an avid reader as a child, so I am surprised that I never read any of Susan Cooper’s books back then.

It starts with Mr and Mrs Drew and their three children, Simon, Jane and Barney arriving on the train in Cornwall. Their Great-Uncle Merry (Professor Lyon) has rented an old holiday home in Trewissick from Captain Toms, whilst he is abroad. Rufus the dog and Mrs Palk the housekeeper both come with the house. Simon, Jane and Barney discover an ancient Arthurian treasure map, written in medieval Latin, whilst exploring in the attic. But Mr and Miss Withers from the yacht in the bay who initially try to befriend the Drews are also after the treasure, along with other bad people.

Danger, decoys, burglary, chases, night time adventures, snooping and kidnapping ensue whilst the children with Great Uncle Merry’s help try to follow the quest for the grail.

Over Sea Under Stone is a fabulous book for older children and teens. A great page turner which weaves Arthurian legend into the story.

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