Eight Perfect Murders

Eight Perfect MurdersAuthor: Peter Swanson

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With one plot twist after another, Eight Perfect Murders delivers a fun and clever thriller that readers will highly enjoy!

Malcolm Kershaw has always been a lover of mysteries but stopped reading them after his life got interesting enough. He now works at a small bookshop and helps write blog posts for the bookshop. When one of his posts titled, “Eight Perfect Murders” which includes the best of the best fictional murders such as, Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Strangers on a Train, and others attract the attention of a killer and then the FBI. The FBI agent is looking for more information to tie the killings together and the killer is playing a game with Malcolm. The only way to protect himself is to investigate the killer before more ties connect to him. Malcolm feels the knot tighten around his neck with each passing moment.

After reading Before She Knew Him, I was pulled into Swanson’s writing and couldn’t wait to see what this one would bring. While the previous story pulled me in and kept me guessing until the very end, Eight Perfect Murders fell a little flat for me. The story itself was well written and enjoyable but didn’t leave me guessing and yearning for more. Malcolm had a lot of history that played into all he was going through and reflecting on the story I noticed a lot of little clues make more sense to what happened throughout. I haven’t read any of the stories referenced in the book, which might have helped me to enjoy the story more. There are also a lot of minor characters that could have probably been cut, as they haven’t lingered on my mind after finishing the story. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a mystery that ties into older classics, especially if you have read some of the them.

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

Ghosts of the Missing

ghostsAuthor: Kathleen Donohoe

Publisher: Mariner Books

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A mystery that had so much potential, but with a slow start that fell flat for me.

Adair spent her childhood in Culleton, New York, a town with a lot of history. She moved to Brooklyn to leave her past behind and try and make it as an artist. It doesn’t take long though before she decides to return to the old Moye House, a writer’s retreat, to see what she can accomplish. However, she is not the only one staying at the Moye house; Ciaran is staying at the house with hopes to solve the mystery of what happened to her sister, Rowan Kinnane who also happens to be Adair’s best friend. Together they work to investigate what really happened.

I wanted to like this, I really did, but after the first hundred pages of crossover between time periods and characters, I just found it less and less interesting. The mystery itself was intriguing but the set up just didn’t come off the way as intended in order to enjoy the story. I really wanted it to start off with a bang and quickly draw me in, but it takes a while to really get traction. Some readers will likely enjoy this book as they may enjoy a slower beginning that builds up tension in the story to the end. I feel that if Donohoe would have gone with less switches between time periods and points of view, it would have been easier to follow and connect with the story and characters. The mystery was what pulled me in, and I love mysteries, but unfortunately this just wasn’t my cup of tea. I recommend it to readers that enjoy the journey throughout the book instead of the final destination.

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

Collision of Lies

Collision of LiiesAuthor: Tom Threadgill

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

One of the best thrillers I have read in a very long time. It’s hard to call a book unputdownable, but that perfectly describes Collision of Lies.

When detective Amara Alvarez overhears an argument between a couple on her day off, she feels compelled to see if she can help. She quickly discovers it is much more than a disagreement between a husband and wife. Their son was on a bus hit by a train three years ago. He and everyone onboard was killed and they have had to live with the loss for the past three years. That is until they received a text from someone claiming to be their son needing help. With these new clues, the authorities try to open the case without getting many others involved. If this was no accident, then whoever was behind it had to have help from people on the inside. Time is running out as Amara rushes to convince others of her theory and save the lives of as many as she can to reunite families with the ones they lost.

Tom Threadgill is a fresh new voice for me in suspense writing. Collision of Lies started with a bang only to pick up speed and not stop until the final pages. I loved so much about this book. The story was compelling, the characters were relatable and easy to like and cheer for, the pace was fantastic, and the overall plot was unique and exciting. I was surprised how well Threadgill wrote a female lead protagonist as he captured Amara beautifully. I felt like I was right there with her at the office or in the field trying to solve the crime. Her interactions with others played out seamlessly; it didn’t matter if she was having a family dinner or dealing with her boss at work. I believed every interaction and her behavior added up exactly how I pictured her in my mind. It is so hard in the age of movies, television, video games, apps and so forth to read something and be able to picture the scenes in your mind as vividly as I did here. Most of the time it is easier to watch something than read to get the mental image, but for those readers that love to see it play out in their minds, this book will be a welcome addition to their shelf. This is the first book I have read by Tom Threadgill but will for sure not be the last. I recommend this book to readers that love a great suspense read, but make sure you don’t have any plans for a few days because you will not want to put this one down.

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

Ghost of the Bamboo Road

Ghost of bambooAuthor: Susan Spann

Series: Shinobi Mystery #7

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Release Date: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

I forgot how much I’ve missed these characters until I picked up this book!

As Hiro and Father Mateo make their journey to Edo to warn Iga assassins that their cover may have been comprised, they must stop in a rural mountain village along the way. Another Iga assassin has been stationed here to watch the travel road. They stop at the local ryokan to stay the night and discover that they owners are completing a mourning period. Hiro immediately senses that something is off about this village and wants to find the operative and leave as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that night there is a murder in the burial yard. The innkeeper’s mother is murdered and the village residents believe that a vengeful spirit is responsible. Another murder soon follows and the residents believe that the visitors are responsible for angering the spirit. Father Mateo’s servant Ana is soon accused of theft as well. In order to appease the local Samurai, as well as prove there is no such thing as ghosts, Hiro and Father Mateo begin to investigate the murders and the theft. Hopefully they will find the operative as well and all be able to continue their mission.

It has been quite a while since I had a Hiro and Father Mateo mystery. Way too long actually. I hadn’t realized just how much I had missed their constant banter and adventures. As a reader, I have enjoyed getting to watch the professional relationship between the two become much more personal. Even though they still don’t agree on everything, they can be respectful of each other and work together. This is a lesson from 1566 that could be applied to almost everyone in 2020. I also appreciated that this book focused on the mystery and a showing of Japanese customs as several of the previous books have done. One drawback that I had from the last book was the amount of detail that was given to describing the temples. I know that the author had just finished a pilgrimage and visited several of the temples, so the details were fresh on her mind, but it took away from the overall story. That said, every time I hear there is a new Shinobi mystery coming out, I get excited to continue the journey. I hope it takes several more books to complete the series.

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

Echoes Among the Stones

echoesAuthor: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wright continues to deliver intriguing time slip mysteries, but goes a little different this time.

Aggie Dunkirk reluctantly agrees to return to live with her grandmother after she receives a letter that she broke her hip. Of course, once she is there, she finds that her grandmother lied just to get her to come. Even so, after losing her job in real estate because her team didn’t keep up their licenses, she doesn’t have much of an option. She takes a job as a secretary at the town cemetery where she will work alongside an archaeologist to remap the burial plots after a heavy rain has disturbed several areas. But as they begin work, strange things begin to happen. Files at the cemetery go missing. A skeleton appears in her grandmother’s yard. Bone fragments are delivered to both her and the archaeologist. And maybe most mysteriously of all, a pink rose continues to appear on the grave for a woman named Hazel Grayson. She wishes she could talk about it to her grandmother, but she has been acting even stranger than usual.

Decades prior in 1946, Imogene Grayson’s world is turned upside down when her sister Hazel is murdered. She worked in a beauty salon, but always dreamed of being a glam girl in Hollywood. Hazel’s death shatters her core and devastates her. Her brother is a deputy sheriff in charge of the investigation but isn’t making much progress. Genie decides to begin her own investigation and starts working at the artillery powder plant where Hazel used to work. Shortly after, the post office is bombed. Then the town hall is burned down. One day on her walk home, she is almost run over by a black pickup truck. It seems that someone is out to make sure she doesn’t find out the truth about her sister’s killer.

Having read all of Wright’s books, there were some comforting similarities that I’ve found in her previous writing. She always manages to reveal a twist that occurs in the past setting that completely shifts the train of thought about what happened. However, this particular book had something a little different too. One of the main characters is common to both time periods. She is young in the past and elderly in the present, but it is her story. This subtle change really brought the story out a little more.

A common theme in this book is learning to put your faith in God and not in a relationship. Both Aggie and Genie had such strong relationships with someone that was taken from them and it utterly devastates them both. Only when they finally manage to let God have control are they actually able to move forward. This is a hard truth to accept, but many will find this book useful.

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

Top Mystery Fiction for 2019

Merry Christmas to all our followers!  We have a special gift for everyone today in sharing what we think are the top picks for Mystery Fiction this year!  Everyone have a safe and happy holiday!

Girl behind red rope

 

1.  The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

Teaming up for the first time, father and daughter Ted and Rachelle Dekker deliver an intense and fascinating read that will leave fans thirsting for them to team up again and again and again.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

the eighth sister

 

2. The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

Robert Dugoni’s newest series starts off with a stellar story that will hook readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Another well-crafted story by one of the very best.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Gryphon Heist

 

3. The Gryphon Heist by James R. Hannibal

Readers are set up for a thrill ride full of suspense, danger, mystery and so many twists and turns they won’t be able to stop until the very last page!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

alistar ainsworth

 

4. The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth by Leonard Goldberg

This series has quickly become a crowd favorite.  If you are a regular sleuth, these will keep you guessing till the final reveal!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

a bitter feast

 

5. A Bitter Feast by Deborah Cromble

Don’t let the fact that this is the 18th book in a series deter you from selecting this title, because it may hook you to go back and read a few of the previous novels.

Read the full review here.

Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen.pngAuthor: Terri Blackstock

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Terri Blackstock has done it again with another thrilling story that pulls at the heart-strings in the most suspenseful ways! Smoke Screen had all the right moments that kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime!

After his father is convicted of murdering the preacher, and father, of the girl he has been dating in his hometown, Nate Beckett leaves the lies and rumors behind. It’s been fourteen years and his father has been released from prison. After an injury, Nate takes a break from his work as a smoke jumper, which brings him back home. Coming back home means he will have to face the girl he left behind, Brenna. When his father was accused of the murder, their relationship changed. Brenna is having a hard time dealing with the news that her father’s killer is free and her ex-husband is suing her for custody of her kids, which threatens to send her over the edge. Turning to alcohol to get through the hard times she runs into Nate at her lowest. The spark between the two is still there. With wildfires breaking out across the state and close to home, things have become much more complicated. Nate and Brenna work together to find out the truth from the past and keep her family from falling apart.

Terri Blackstock brings a different type of suspense with Smoke Screen. This is a mystery with a romantic suspense angle, but the suspense here comes more from the drama within the families. Nate with his father coming home and his feelings for Brenna with her problems with her ex coupled with the possibility of losing her kids brought up the suspense. As the story progressed and we see Brenna struggling and dealing with hardships, my heart was in my throat with anticipation. This was such a different form of suspense than most, which made it more special to read. So many characters in this book where unlikable, but they were supposed to be that way and Blackstock wrote them so perfectly. Even so, many of the same characters were very relatable which is hard to do. Making one or two characters is relatable is one thing but being able to fill the pages of a book with so many of them is difficult. Each twist and turn was perfectly placed and the story flowed so well I couldn’t put it down. This is one of my favorites by Blackstock, and I seem to say that after each one which I don’t see that changing anytime soon with the way she always seems to surprise me. I recommend this book to fans of a great mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in at all the right times.

A Bitter Feast

a bitter feastAuthor: Deborah Cromble

Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: October 8, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fun mystery set in the English countryside.  Does an autumn read get better than that?

Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James have been invited by Gemma’s coworker Melody out to Melody’s parents’ estate in the English country for a harvest festival.  What Gemma hopes to be a restful weekend is abruptly changed when her husband Duncan is broadsided in his car by a local retired hospital administrator named Nell Greene.  Unfortunately, Nell does not survive the crash.  But what is more mysterious is that there was a man in her car who appears to have already died prior to the impact.  As Duncan and Gemma join the local detective investigator to make sense of the situation, another mysterious death occurs.  It will take everyone to figure out what is really going on in the small town of Lower Slaughter and hopefully they can figure it out before more deaths occur.

I thought this book was a stand alone, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that it is actually the 18thbook in a series.  Don’t let that deter you from selecting this title, because it may hook you to go back and read a few of the previous novels.  At first I was a little overwhelmed because there are so many different points of view, several within each chapter.  However, after about fifty to seventy-five pages, the characters voices really fleshed out and the story really took off.  I enjoyed getting to see so many supporting characters build out their flaws and really get developed.  As I said earlier, I’m going to have to go back to some of the previous novels and discover more about these characters.  There is some occasional foul language as well as some implied sex between characters, but nothing graphic.  Even so, I still recommend this to mature readers that enjoy a good mystery with a British setting.

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

The Glass Ocean

Glass OceannAuthors: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Very intriguing time-slip mystery that will keep readers turning the pages to discover the truth!

Set between 2013 and 1915, three women find themselves entangled in the tragedy of the RMS Lusitania.  In 2013, Sarah Blake is beginning to see that she is running out of money from her big-time book deal five years ago.  She was enjoying being offered talk shows and interviews, but now must settle for the occasional book club.  Her mother has Alzheimer’s and the nursing home bill is looming over Sarah.  When she opens her great-grandfather’s trunk that was found in the wreckage of the Lusitania, she discovers that a new chapter in history could be written.  Unfortunately, she will have to obtain help from a disgraced member of British parliament to do it.

In 1915, Caroline Hochsetter yearns to return to her home of Savannah, where she can enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the south.  Unfortunately, she is stuck in New York with her husband who seems to be out to prove that he is just as well off with his self-made fortune as the old money families.  He decides that they need to set off to England in first class accommodations aboard the Lusitania to sell an unfinished piece of classical music that also happened to be a gift to Caroline.  Caroline tries to convince him to not sell the piece nor make the trip to England as the war is escalating between the Germans and Britain. The only bright spot is that a good friend of hers is also on the ship, whom she discovers she has developed romantic feelings for, but can Caroline take charge of her own happiness?

Con artist Tessa Fairweather is trying to get out of the family line of work, but there always seems to be one more job she gets pulled into.  When her sister convinces her to steal a music manuscript from Caroline Hochsetter, she believes that she can finally put the past in the past.  Unfortunately, the manuscript isn’t where it should be the night she enters the house and in order to obtain it, she will have to board the Lusitania.

This was an incredibly interesting story.  Sometimes three points of view can be a little intimidating, but it worked great in this case.  Each story was uniquely crafted and brought out great character development for each of the main characters.  I often found myself wanting to continue one of the stories further but realized that I was going to have to read the next chapter in a different point of view to really get the whole picture.  Everything wound together perfectly spiraling toward a collision until the truth was discovered.   Great story.  Would love to read another book by these three authors.

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

The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth

alistar ainsworth

Author: Leonard Goldberg

Series: Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #3

Publisher: Minotaur

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great story, great mystery, and great pace!

 One stormy night, the occupants of 221b Baker Street receive an unexpected visitor.  An old colleague of Dr. Watson, Dr. Alexander Verner, comes to them with an extraordinary tale.  He was requested to make a house call to someone complaining of stomach pains, but not before he was blindfolded and taken by carriage to the house.  Once there, he realized that the patient did not have stomach pains and was actually signaling for help.  Unfortunately, he was unable to convince the captors that the man needed to be hospitalized, so upon being returned to London, he came strait to the Watsons and the daughter of Sherlock Holmes.  As the crew begin their investigation, it quickly becomes apparent that this is yet another national intelligence case and it appears to involve German spies as well as a group of unorthodox code breakers for the Royal Navy.  As the group unravels the clues, it seems that the German’s always have a head start which can only mean one thing, someone on the inside is working for the Germans.  With no time to spare, the group works alongside Scotland Yard and Naval Intelligence to rescue the victim before secrets can be released that will be devasting to Britain’s success in the war.

 These books are quickly becoming my favorite mystery series.  The demeanor between the three main characters is always entertaining.  I always find myself wandering how Joanna will end up solving the case.  She is intelligent, attentive, and very persistent.  Her character reminds me of Sherlock himself and I enjoyed getting to see the glimpse of her son in this novel.  He is very headstrong, but she knows what is best for him but allows him to make his own decisions, even if she might have had a bit of play in determining the outcome.  The story is very entertaining and the mystery will have you wrapped up quickly in trying to figure out the whole story, which only Joanna can truly unravel.

 Although this is a series, it easily reads as a standalone.  Fair warning though, if you do read this first, you will probably want to go buy the first two!  If you’re a fan of Holmes or just love a good mystery, give this a try!

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