Book Review: The Birthday by Carol Wyer

The Birthday by Carol Wyer

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BOOK INFO
Title: The Birthday
Author: Carol Wyer
Publisher: Bookouture
Publish Date: September 27, 2018

BOOK BLURB
When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward . A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that ended very badly.

Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?


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MY REVIEW
A five-year-old girl goes missing at a birthday party. There are no leads, until her body is discovered two years later. Shortly after the discovery, other girls who attended the same party go missing. A new detective is especially interested in solving this case, since her last missing child case did not end well.

The first book in a new crime fiction series. Detective Natalie Ward is lead investigator of the case. She’s a wife and mother dealing with her own family issues, but incredibly dedicated to her position as detective. Natalie is not perfect, but she is smart, tough, and determined. Great traits in a female protagonist. She clearly has more to her backstory, and, hopefully, that unfolds more as the series progresses.

An intriguing mystery that kept me guessing. This is the first book I have read by Carol Wyer, and I look forward to reading more in this series. Clever, gripping, and suspenseful.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Manual for a Murder by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias

Manual for a Murder by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias

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BOOK INFO
Title: Manual for a Murder
Author: Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias
Publisher: Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias
Publish Date: June 24, 2018

BOOK BLURB
Marina, a 38-year-old accountant in a crumbling relationship, falls in love with a charming colleague who is married with a son. The two begin a torrid relationship. One commits a murder.

Oscar, a homicide detective, is assigned to the case. He is a man dedicated to his work and to his family, and he likes to joke about and mock the typical American police series.


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EXCERPT
You know, Marina, I have worked in this profession for a long time, and I know that sometimes we think that the only solution is for someone to disappear, a mere accident, a murder, and, even though we know this idea is stupid and crazy, we are unable to see anything beyond that. It’s just like insects with light. On a summer’s night, we can watch these insects drawn to the light again and again. The insects know it will lead them nowhere – in fact, they can even get burnt and die – but it’s their nature. I think it’s called phototaxis, the internal substance that makes them attracted to the light. But I’m not sure; I’m no expert on animal fauna. But the point is that we humans also become obsessed when we cannot find a solution. We find ourselves in the deepest darkness, and when we see a light, even though we know that this light is a mirage, an illusion that will only harm us, we cannot stop thinking about it, and no matter how hard we try to forget about it, we cannot put it out of our minds; it keeps on coming back until we let it become the focus of actions. It was the light that blinded you, Ms Fonseca. And however much you thought you had committed the perfect crime, you did not. That is why you are here today.

MY REVIEW ★★★☆☆
Marina has an affair with a married coworker. After their affair ends, her former lover’s wife is killed. Oscar is a police detective investigating the death. When Oscar finds out about the affair, Marina is added to the suspect list.

This story is divided into three parts. The first and last are from Marina’s point of view and the second is from Oscar’s point of view. The two different viewpoints add a little more intensity to the story than if only one was presented.

I read a translated version of this book. There were some parts that read a little awkward, and that slowed the flow of the story for me. This is a short book though, so it was still a fast read.

Dark, clever, and tragic. A good read for mystery fans.

I received a free ebook from the author’s website during a limited time offer.

Book Review: Her Final Hour by Carla Kovach

Her Final Hour by Carla Kovach

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BOOK INFO
Title: Her Final Hour
Author: Carla Kovach
Publisher: Bookouture
Publish Date: August 23, 2018

BOOK BLURB
Melissa Sanderson is the perfect wife and mother. She dotes on her daughter, and lives in her dream home in a quiet cul-de-sac in the suburbs.

But looks can be deceiving.

Something is amiss in that house – all the neighbours think so. Some say Melissa is having an affair. Others say she’s been drinking too much.

Then one night, sirens wake up the whole neighbourhood.

Melissa Sanderson is dead.


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MY REVIEW ★★★☆☆
A woman is found murdered in her home. The woman was a wife and mother, and the murder scene doesn’t add up with the life the woman appeared to be living. Detective Gina Harte is assigned the case, and soon realizes there is more to the case than originally thought.

Her Final Hour is the second book in the Detective Gina Harte series by Carla Kovach. I have not read the first book in this series, but this one was easily read as a standalone.

This book opens with a prologue of a woman being sexually assaulted in 1993, then the current story starts with a woman’s murder in 2018. Her Final Hour is told with multiple viewpoints, so the reader is aware of not only Gina’s investigation, but also those involved with the crimes. This works fine for the story, and it’s nice to get points of views from both sides. There is an extensive cast of characters, and plenty happening to keep the reader engaged with the story.

Gina is smart and tough. She has a difficult past that involves a lot of abuse, so she relates to the victims of the crimes she investigates on a personal level. She’s also stronger for surviving her past and making something with her life.

A dark and twisty mystery. Good for fans of crime fiction, especially for those who enjoy books with strong female detectives.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

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BOOK INFO
Title: Burning Ridge
Author: Margaret Mizushima
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publish Date: September 11, 2018

BOOK BLURB
Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime—and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.

Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?

A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her—but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.


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MY REVIEW
Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner, Robo, are called to work the case of a burned body found in the wilderness. As Mattie and other officers search for evidence, they also discover three additional bodies. To complicate matters, Mattie soon discovers she has a connection to the burned dead man.

The fourth book in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series by Margaret Mizushima. I have not read any of the other books in this series, but Burning Ridge is easily read as a standalone.

Mattie works as a police officer in a small town. She is a hard-working officer, and close to the local community. With a good heart, Mattie wants to help those she believes to need a little more in their lives, but she is also cautious and wary of strangers and new developments in town. As a bonus, she is seeing the charming local veterinarian, Cole.

A solid mystery. Realistic characters. Plenty of action, and a little romance. A lighter, less graphic crime fiction read. Engaging and suspenseful.

I received an ARC of this book from Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Winter Gets Hot by David M. Hamlin

Winter Gets Hot by David M. Hamlin

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BOOK INFO
Title: Winter Gets Hot
Author: David M. Hamlin
Publisher: Open Books
Publish Date: December 6, 2017

BOOK BLURB
Winter in Chicago journalist Emily Winter is the first reporter on the scene of a gruesome murder in the offices of CARD, a civic organization that investigates corruption in City Hall. Although she has proven herself to be a skilled reporter with at least one headline making story to her credit, her new TV boss assigns her to a more “ladylike” beat—lifestyle and feature stories.

Determined to overcome the sexism that inhibits her career, Emily works her way into hard news coverage, including the story of the murder at CARD, but she faces major obstacles on all fronts as she pursues the killer.

As the case twists and turns, Emily navigates the city she loves, relishing Chicago’s architecture, neighborhood restaurants, culture and her beloved, if hapless, Chicago Cubs.

Winter Gets Hot by David M. Hamlin
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MY REVIEW ★★★★☆
Emily is a journalist in Chicago. She does the lighter, fluffier pieces for the news station she works for, but she yearns to work on more hard hitting news. When she is the first reporter at a crime scene, she thinks she finally has a chance at a real news story. Unfortunately for Emily, the current crime news reporter is putting up a fight and doesn’t want her working on the story. Emily is not easily discouraged, so she works on not only reporting the crime, but solving it too.

This is the second book with the character Emily Winter. I have not read the first book, Winter in Chicago, but Winter Gets Hot is easily read as a standalone.

This story takes place in the late 1970s, and Emily deals with a lot of sexism in the work place. With her high standards for work ethic and career goals, she is ready to show the men that there is room for a woman in the news room. A smart, resourceful, and determined female protagonist.

Emily is an enjoyable character to root for. A solid crime mystery, with mostly realistic interactions. My only complaint was the conversations with her husband. He used odd phrasing that seemed dated, even for the 70s. Though it was sometimes humorous, it broke the flow of the story.

An enjoyable, quick read. Good for fans of lighter crime fiction with a female sleuth.

I received a free digital version of this book from Book Glow in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Cross Your Heart by Kierney Scott

Cross Your Heart by Kierney Scott

Cross Your Heart
by Kierney Scott

Detective Jess Bishop is back! Jess was injured at the end of book #1 in the series, Forget Me Not, and has been on leave while recovering. Since Jess is always on the job, she continued to look into cases, and discovered a link in some cold cases involving children. Once reinstated in her position at the FBI, she brings the case to her team, but is not allowed to reopen the cases. That all changes when another child is reported missing. Jess and her team work to connect the cases of the missing children and find their killer.

This is the second book in the Detective Jess Bishop series by Kierney Scott. Jess is a FBI agent. She’s smart, determined, and damaged. I’ve read the first book in the series, and enjoyed this second book even more. This book can be read as a standalone, but the first book does introduce more of the characters backgrounds and personalities, plus there is the whole thing about how she got injured.

Smart, gritty, and fast-paced. Great for fans of crime thrillers, especially ones with strong female characters.

I received a digital copy of this book from Bookouture and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: When the Serpent Bites by Nesly Clerge

When the Serpent Bites
by Nesly Clerge

Frederick Starks and his wife are separated, but he’s never forgiven her, or the man she had an affair. Starks confronts the man, and things get out of control. So out of control, Starks is arrested, tried, convicted, and sent to a maximum security prison. Starks is used to being the one who holds the power, but in prison, he faces a much darker side of life.

The 1st book in The Starks Trilogy by Nesly Clerge. This story ends in a way that made me want to read the next book.

The writing was great. A very engaging story of a privileged man ending up in a maximum security prison. The first part of the novel covers the trial and the second part is about prison life. Both were interesting. I liked that the trial part was included, but it wasn’t the focus of the story. The focus is always Starks, and the decisions he has made in the past and how he reacts to his current situation. He likes to have a plan and have everything in order, and his life is turned upside down in a moment of violence. During his time in prison, he reflects upon his past, while still trying to maintain control.

Starks is not a likable man. He is an entitled, controlling misogynist. I kept waiting for him to gain some redeeming qualities, but he never did. My main complaint about Starks is that he never takes responsibility for his actions. It’s always someone else’s fault. However, I wanted to like Starks. I plan on reading the next book to see if I’m all wrong about him.

I received a digital copy of this book from Shayla Raquel in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Yesterday’s News by R. G. Belsky

Yesterday’s News
by R. G. Belsky

Clare is a journalist who made her career with a missing child story. She had incredible access to the family, and had exclusive after exclusive, and even won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the story. It has been 15 years since the child went missing, and the young girl was never found. Clare is now a news director for a TV station, and the girl’s mother has never stopped looking for her child. When the mother contacts Clare, saying she has new evidence in the case, she also says she will only talk to Clare. Clare jumps back into investigative journalism and searches for the truth behind the girl’s disappearance. During her search, she deals with a motorcycle gang, a popular politician, other cases of missing children, and many dark secrets.

The story is told from Clare’s point of view. The characters were all well developed, and the story was intriguing enough to make this a fast read.

Good for fans of crime fiction and plot twists. A complex mystery with plenty of twists and turns. I love twists in a story, but this book had too much going on for me. On the plus side, some twists were completely unexpected and I didn’t see them coming at all.

I received a copy of this book from Oceanview Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is expected to be published in May 2018.

Book Review: The Echo Killing by Christi Daughtery

The Echo Killing
by Christi Daugherty

Harper is a news reporter in Savannah, where she works nights following crime activity across the city to catch her next story. After responding to a call to a murder scene, Harper is on a story that is eerily similar to another murder that happened 15 years earlier… the murder of Harper’s mother, which was never solved. Harper sees the connection between the cases, but the police don’t want to hear about it. Investigating this current story brings back memories for Harper, many of which she has tried not to think about for years. As Harper works to uncover the truth behind these crimes, she jeopardizes current relationships in her personal and professional lives.

Dark story. Great characters. Picturesque setting. The mystery was complex and twisty, but not hard to figure out. The characters were well-developed, and I especially liked Harper. She was strong, smart, and a real go-getter. I love mysteries that take place in cities like Savannah, with such a rich history, the setting adds to the story.

A fast-paced crime mystery. I’ll be keeping a look out for the next book in this new series.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is expected to be published in March 2018.

Book Review: Forget Me Not by Kierney Scott

Forget Me Not by Kierney Scott

Forget Me Not
by Kierney Scott

FBI Detective Jess Bishop is working the case of a serial killer. The killer’s style is the same as an old case that Jess has spent years trying to forget. While she searches for the killer, she tries to cope with unpleasant memories from her past and deal with current personal drama. Her old partner, Jamison, has returned to the FBI and they are reassigned as partners. This brings complications into Jess’s professional and personal life.

An interesting crime mystery novel. The mystery part of this book was a very entertaining read, so a great book for fans of FBI mystery stories. I was not a fan of the personal drama in Jess’s life, mainly the drama between her and Jamison.

Jess was smart, but damaged. She definitely had some personality quirks, which made her somewhat unlikeable. Mainly, she was struggling with personal issues, some of which were not that interesting. However, she was a smart and solid agent when it came to solving cases.

A nitpicky complaint – the main character is Jessica, who goes by Jess, except for one person calls her Jessie. I didn’t like the going back and forth between Jessica and Jess. Pick one and stick with it. This probably bothered me more than it should have.

A smart and gritty crime mystery. I’ll likely read more of this series.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.