The Impossible Girl

The Impossible GirlAuthor: Lydia Y. Kang

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A dark historical mystery that is perfect for fall reading!

Every era has a dark side and New York City in 1850 is no exception. People with abnormalities die all the time, but now people want to know more about these abnormalities, they want to dissect the people and see what made them occur.  In fact, there are plenty of people to pay nicely for such a body.  From aneurysms to blocked arteries to being born with multiple appendages, these are worth big money to explore and then display to the public.  Cora Lee is the only female resurrectionist and she plays the game well.  She stays one step ahead of those looking for bodies to purchase.  After all, she has to.  She was born with two hearts.

This was definitely a welcome change in my reading schedule. It was almost like a forced shift from light summer reading to a dark, fall read that keeps your mind spinning throughout the night.  This book just had a little bit of everything: grave robbing, freak show abnormalities, expected murders, and a cat and mouse game.  Kang always brings together a well told story that will keep the reader intrigued from beginning to end.  This story flowed better than some of her past books and kept me pretty well hooked throughout, which was probably the subject and timeframe of the story.  If you enjoy a little more on the darker side of a novel, give this one a try!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Mystery of Three Quarters

The Mystery of Three QuartersAuthor: Sophie Hannah

Series: New Hercule Poirot Mystery #3

Publisher: William Morrow Books

Release Date: August 28, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Hercule Poirot is back and in top form!

The legendary detective Hercule Poirot was having a normal day when he is suddenly approached by someone who is angry with him for accusing him of murder in a letter. Knowing he has sent no letter to this individual, Poirot is frustrated that someone has used his name to play a prank.  Then someone else shows up with the same accusation.  Soon two more come forward.  The more Poirot thinks about it, the more intrigued he becomes.  All four have been accused of the same murder and all four proclaim innocence.  Some research shows that the victim of the murder is in fact deceased, but the death was ruled accidental as he was ninety-four years old and fell asleep in the bath.  But Poirot cannot help himself.  Someone must believe it is a murder and have known that this act would intrigue Poirot to find out the truth.  So he sets out on an investigation to learn the truth with Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard.  At first, the investigation provides more questions than answers.  In true Poirot fashion, he always figures out who committed the murder, if there actually was one.

I felt like I was reading one of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels through the whole book. I didn’t even know that someone had started up a continuation of the series, but I’m glad that she did.  I enjoyed everything about this book.  The way it was narrated kept me turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.  Each character was solidly developed and played out their parts beautifully.  The connection to Poirot was imminent and carried throughout the story.  I love old mystery novels and that was just what this felt like.  The personalities just clicked like they were supposed to.  It was a clean read all the way through, which is a rare find these days.  I’m happy to say that there is a new follower to this series and I recommend all readers give this a try!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Formula of Deception

Formula of DeceptionAuthor: Carrie Stuart Parks

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A troubled past, a prideful family, a government conspiracy, and a serial killer all collide for an incredible mystery!

Murphy Anderson’s sister’s body was never found, but she knows that she died at the hands of a serial killer. A killer that she helped put in prison, but not without having a scar left on her face from his knife.  But she’s changed her name and escaped to Kodiak, Alaska to try to piece together where her sister’s body might be and hide from the killer should he ever escape.  When the police learn that she has worked as a forensic artist (little white lie), they ask her to help draw up a sketch that a dying man remembers from ten years ago concerning five bodies he found on a remote Aleutian island.  She reluctantly agrees to help diagram the island scene for the police and discovers an Quonset hut from World War II with a body still inside.  As she finds herself pulled deeper into this cold case, people around her begin to die.  What is someone trying to protect?  And how many will they kill to keep it secret?

Any book set in Alaska automatically intrigues me. Maybe it is just someplace that I want to visit.  Maybe it is because my grandfather was stationed in the Aleutians in World War II doing work that still hasn’t been declassified.  Either way, I was ready to read this book.  I’ve read several of the Gwen Marcey series and figured this would be a standalone book, which it is to a point.  However, having read the other series, there is a tie in that only followers of Parks will see for what it is.

Murphy, very much like the character Gwen Marcey, has a troubled past that seems to follow her wherever she goes. She is also an artist like Gwen and would not have been in this situation to help solve the mystery were it not for Gwen.  If I haven’t got you interested in the other series, then what more do you need?  Right off the bat, I took to Murphy; however, I felt that something was amiss that is quickly discovered early on in the book as well as something that is discovered late in the book.  The supporting characters quickly rotate through the book and I never really got to know any of them well enough before they were either dead or somehow removed from the storyline.  Even so, the story flowed well and I enjoyed the overall mystery of what happened during World War II that continued to set events in motion seventy years later.

The only drawback I had was that the ending gave me some whiplash with twist after twist. I would have like to have seen it tied up a little more firm.  But it is a great book that has clean content that several readers will enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Every Wicked Man

Every Wicked ManAuthor: Steven James

Series: The Bowers Files: The New York Years #3

Publisher: Berkley Publishers

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

For the first time, I found myself crying at the end of a Steven James book! Every Wicked Man is the final book in the Bowers files and I am sad to see this series end.  Steven James has created one of the best series out there and fans will love the way things come to an end.

Patrick Bowers is called in on a case when a senator’s son commits suicide and the video is shown live online. It turns out this is not the first video shown online like this. As Patrick looks deeper into things, he discovers a mystery that ties into a centuries old code that might be the key to solving his case.  Not only is Patrick having to deal with one of his most difficult cases ever, he is also having family issues.  His new wife is off on a spiritual retreat and he feels she is keeping something from him.  Tessa, his new stepdaughter, is as obstante as ever and he is doing his best to find a balance of being an FBI agent and a family man.

When it comes to finding a good book that is hard to put down and keeps the pages turning faster than you would have thought possible, there is on one better than Steven James. I have loved the Bowers Files since the very beginning and am sad to see it come to an end. I understand that all good things must come to an end and this is a very fitting end.  We get to see the origin of how Patrick really becomes a father and what happens to his wife that shapes him into the agent he becomes in the later Bowers Files.  Almost all of our favorite characters are back, Tessa, Christy, Calvin, and Ralph.  These origin stories have been very enjoyable as a way to better understand the team we have grown to love.  Steven James has a way of drawing readers in and making them connect with the story and characters like no other author I have ever read.  It is such a rare occurrence to find a book series that spans eleven books and is still as good if not better than when it began.  Some may look at the book being over five hundred pages and feel a little turned off but it reads faster than most half its size and with his writing style James moves the story along smoothly.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a great suspense read by one of the very best authors ever.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Sold on a Monday

Sold on a MondayAuthor: Kristina McMorris

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Release Date: August 28, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A riveting tale of how everyday choices can have a massive ripple effect for those around us!

Ellis Reed has been working as a reporter in the social section of the Philadelphia Examiner in depression era 1931. He didn’t plan to have this gig; he hoped to be one of the top feature reporters, but he will take what he can get when so many people don’t have work or money.  In route back to Philadelphia from an assignment, he sees two kids on a porch with a sign indicating that they are for sale.  Troubled by the sight, Ellis takes out his camera and snaps a photo that will forever change his life.

Lily Palmer works at the Philadelphia Examiner as the chief’s assistant. When she collects the photos that Ellis Reed has developed, one photo of two boys for sale breaks her heart.  Recognizing the excellent shot, she slips this into the chief who calls Ellis in to write a feature to this story.  Even though this become Ellis’s big break, the consequences of the photo become devastating.  Lily is distraught by the role she has played in this and teams up with Ellis to try to right what has turned out so wrong.

This was an incredible story that I couldn’t put down. Even the synopsis had me hooked.  There is so much at work in this story.  Ellis is your typical hard working individual that never seems to get ahead.  He finally gets his big break and almost has it snatched away from him, but he still manages to get it, but he has to compromise his values to make it happen.  From there it becomes just a little bit easier to keep chipping away at those values until you find that your no better than the people in the story you’re writing about.  Once Ellis essentially hits rock bottom in his life, he realizes that the has to turn this back around and make some tough choices.

Lily in much the same way has made some past mistakes that she is making up for in life. Fortunately , she has a very supportive family to help her make her career dreams a reality.  She has an ulterior motive for helping Ellis throughout the story, but it is very understandable when it is revealed.   Ellis and Lily have an undeniable chemistry throughout the book that isn’t forced, more built up with tension as the reader continues through the story.

There is a mystery that surrounds this story that isn’t revealed until about halfway into the book. At that point, it just adds to the lure of the story and about doubles the reading pace because it’s so intriguing.  There is some very mild language throughout the book, but nothing that should sway any readers.  This is probably going to be my top pick for historical fiction this year by far!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Murder at the Flamingo

Murder flamingoAuthor: Rachel McMillan

Series: Van Buren & DeLuca Mystery #1

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 10, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intriguing historical mystery set in Boston’s North End in the 1930s. Could Van Buren and DeLuca be the next Sherlock & Watson?

Hamish DeLuca has fought bouts of nerves all his life. But after freezing up in the courtroom on his first case, he gets tired of feeling as thought his father is trying to protect him and buys a train ticket from Toronto to Boston to visit his cousin Luca Valari.  Lucas has a magnetic personality, yet a troublesome past.  Even so, he easily conjures influence and people invest in his ideas.  The newest one is to open up a new club in Boston called The Flamingo.  Luca believes it will be wildly successful and launch additional clubs across the county.  Hamish can’t help but get caught up in the excitement, but soon realizes that not everything in Luca’s life is as it seems.  People seem to be following him and claim that they will catch him.  But what could he be up to?

Regina Van Buren, or Reggie for short, is tired of living of the life that her parents have planned out for her. She is spontaneous and wants to become skilled at several things, not just being a high society housewife.  When her suitor suddenly announces their engagement without even asking, she slaps him across the face and takes off from New Haven to Boston.  There she quickly realizes that she may have bit off more than she can chew, but manages to find a boardinghouse and get work for a man named Luca Valari.  As a secretary, she takes phone calls from men that are trying to hunt him and tells them about the great Flamingo Club that will be opening soon.  She and Luca’s cousin Hamish quickly strike up a friendship over cannoli and begin to work together to determine what sort of business Luca is really in.  On the club’s opening night, one of the cigarette girls is found dead in the basement.  Although the police rule it as an accident, both Hamish and Reggie believe otherwise.  Can the solve both the mystery around Luca and who killed this poor girl?

It’s not often that I find a book that can actually transport me to the location of the setting. But this book did just that.  The descriptions that McMillan gave took me to Boston during the time frame when clubs were beginning to pop up all over the place.  I could see the Flamingo and walk along the cobble stones in the north end.  I cycled through Back Bay and felt the breeze off the water.  I also quickly related to Hamish through his personal struggles and could feel the same emotions as they were splashed across the pages.  However, I do wish there had been a third member of the detective group.  I have become accustomed to some enjoyable banter between characters and just didn’t feel it was quite there with Reggie and Hamish.  I’ve seen some authors throw in a another male character to the mix that breaks it up a bit between the romance and sleuthing and it works quite well.  Even so, this is definitely an interesting new series that I will be following.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Hotel on Shadow Lake

Hotel on Shadow LakeAuthor: Daniela Tully

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Release Date: April 10, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Intriguing past/present mystery mash up with a forbidden romance.

Maya Weisberg grew up in Germany and shared an intimate bond with her grandmother. When she took a trip over to the United States for a year, her grandmother disappeared a month into her trip, but her father never told her because she knew she would come back.  Feeling betrayed, she left Germany upon her return and never came back, until they found her grandmother’s remains.  To make matters more interesting, her remains were found about 70 miles north of where Maya was staying in New York when she disappeared.  Filled with remorse, Maya decides to make the trip back to New York to the Montgomery Resort close to where she was found.  While there, she discovers that her grandmother was murdered.  The Montgomery family that runs the resort is full of secrets and any one of them could be tied to her grandmother’s death.

I always enjoy a good past/present mashup that involves World War II Germany and this was no exception.  Throughout this book the characters are mysterious, treacherous, deceitful, and downright nasty.  But in the end it makes for a very intriguing mystery.  The whole Montgomery family itself could be its own book.  I enjoyed getting the read the backstory into the family history almost as much as the story itself.  It was easy to see that the author has had experience in the film industry as it almost played out like its own movie.  Add that it is a book clean of language or graphic sex and several readers will find it very enjoyable.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.