Close to Home

Close to HomeAuthor: Robert Dugoni

Series: Tracy Crosswhite #5

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Robert Dugoni delivers the next series installment getting Tracy involved with the Navy in a case that could sink more than one career, and life, if she’s not careful.

When Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite is called to the scene of a hit-and-run death, she doesn’t expect the case to lead her to the Navy. The suspect is a serviceman at the local base, which causes the local Judge Advocate General Corps to get involved.  The case is then transferred to the military court where the key piece of evidence goes missing.  Tracy has made a promise to the family of the victim that she will make sure justice is served for the death of their son, giving her no other option than to pursue the case. The further Tracy digs into the crimes, the more connections pop up to recent heroin overdoses.  With each new clue, Tracy, and those around her are put in danger and not everyone is guaranteed to make it out alive.

The Tracy Crosswhite series has become one of my absolute favorites. I love the way Dugoni has taken this character and made her someone the reader wants to cheer for and strive to be like in so many ways. Close to Home is the fifth in the series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.  There are references to the first book in the series, but nothing about this book makes it necessary to have read the entire series.  For me, this was more of a mystery than a suspense thriller.  There was not the usual edge of my seat, can’t wait to see what is going to happen next moments.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s just different from the way Dugoni has written these books in the past.  I enjoyed the way he spent extra time building up a few of the secondary characters we have seen throughout the series.  I really enjoyed the different tone to the story with incorporating the military and JAG lawyers.  I am a big fan of military shows and novels and thought this fit in so well with the writing of the characters already established in the series. It will be interesting to see if any of the new characters introduced here make it to the next in the series.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for an excellent mystery that will leave you guessing and cheering with the way the story comes to an end.

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

Portrait of Vengeance

Portrait of VengenaceAuthor: Carrie Stuart Parks

Series: Gwen Marcey #4

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Things get personal for Gwen as she finally unravels some of her own history.

After returning from her previous assignment in Kentucky, forensic artist Gwen Marcey is looking forward to some vacation time with her new romantic partner Blake, whom she also met in Kentucky on the previous case. However, a new case so close to her own childhood story has struck a nerve that she can’t refuse it, which may jeopardize her relationship with Blake for good.  A double homicide and a missing four-year-old girl on a tribal reservation in Idaho echoes a memory of when she was fourteen.  But as she investigates the case, memories from her past begin to unravel and she starts to realize the truth she has held onto may be all lies.  With her best friend, Beth, and trusty dog, Winston, Gwen sets events that started over thirty years ago, back in motion.

This was another exciting story that landed the main character in continual peril. Gwen finds her share of hardships in both her professional and personal life.  This book gets really personal for Gwen as it deals with the death of her parents and her life in-between.  There is a lot of irony in that the people she meets are somehow all connected to her past, but that may happen more often than it gets credit for.  Even so, there is a lot of area history included in this book that made it interesting to account for the current murders in the area. And as in previous books, Ginger and MaryAnn come to her rescue again, although likely for the last time.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you need to read it to find out.

I was a little disappointed that the after the connection that Gwen and her daughter made in the previous book, there was little this book built on that. Her ex-husband is still a piece of work that shows up with the occasional phone call and in her thoughts.  Other than seeing Gwen continually build up her esteem, it’s almost like the last book didn’t happen.  I hope to see more of what went on previously show up in the next installment.

If you enjoy a good mystery with some humor and history thrown in, grab a copy and enjoy!

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

The Assault

The AssaultAuthors: Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, & Alton Gansky

Series: Harbingers Cycle #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second installment in the Harbingers series brings the team into even more danger and turmoil while testing their faith in each other and a higher power.

Bill Myers starts things off this round with The Revealing, where the team has traveled to Rome to find a mystical spear that is thought to have been used by Hitler and as well as have pierced the side of Christ during the crucifixion.  The team has to travel through hidden chambers to avoid those sent to keep them from accomplishing their goals.  Frank Peretti continues the story in Infestation.  In this installment, the team has to tackle a monster that is unlike anything anyone has ever seen before.  In Infiltration, Angela Hunt takes the team to rest after being attacked and wounded.  Finally, Alton Gansky’s The Fog brings forth a supernatural mist that attacks anything in comes in contact with, including the team and those they are trying to protect.

In another interesting compilation, these four authors are brought together to do what they do best, tell supernatural thrilling stories that will leave the audience thirsting for more. You have to enjoy the paranormal and supernatural to enjoy this book.  The authors all write with such creative power in their characters and how they tell their stories it will bring everything together as if it isn’t unbelievable.  For some, this might not be considered a Christian book with the way it gets so dark, but there is a spiritual element to it that the audience will resonate with.  These four authors are the top in Christian supernatural fiction and bringing them together gives a tale like no other.  Each author gives his/her unique voice and writing style to a different character that brings the whole group together and ties the different elements of the story in a nice little bow.  If this were another set of authors, I don’t believe it would work.  These four have found a way to come together and weave a story that is worth reading and waiting for more to come.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a deep, dark, supernatural thriller that will test the limits of your imagination and leave you aching for more.

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

The Sorbonne Affair

The Sorbonne AffairAuthor: Mark Pryor

Series: Hugo Marston #7

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fantastic behavioral analysis mystery that will have people wondering who the murderer could be.

Hugo Marston is a former FBI profiler who now works at the US Embassy in Paris. While attending a funeral for a famous American movie star who spent her last years in France, Hugo is approach by Helen Hancock, a famous American romance novelist.  She believes that she is being followed and soon finds a hidden video camera in her hotel room.  Since she is American, the embassy allows Hugo to investigate the matter alongside the Paris police.  Soon thereafter, one of the bellhops, also an American citizen, is found dead in the stairwell and it is discovered that his computer was set up to record Helen’s room.  However, it appears that nothing of note was recorded or uploaded, so Helen goes back to teaching her writing class while Hugo tries to figure out who killed the bellhop and why he would want to record Helen.  Only when a sex video of Helen and one of her students appears on the internet do things start to heat up.  As the investigation probes deeper, two more murders of American citizens take place with the only connection pointing back to Helen.  Can Hugo use his profiling background to determine what is going on before another murder takes place?

This was my first Hugo Marsden novel and I must say it was an exceptional read. I was quickly hooked by the story and let it take me for a ride.  The main characters all had a great connection that keep the book flowing quickly.  However, I am going to have to go back and read the previous six installments to get some history between them.  There is a lot going on that I need to pick up more on.  It was also my first novel that had an adult transgender character, which made it interesting but didn’t close it off.  The mystery was never lacking and keep me looking around the edges to figure out how it happened.  It never really pointed at one individual, but the reveal made me feel satisfied with how it played out.  I’m really looking forward to reading more in this series.

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

A Crime of Passion Fruit

Crime of passionAuthor: Ellie Alexander

Series: A Bakeshop Mystery #6

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A delectable treat that readers are sure to fall in love with before the end of the first chapter.

In the middle of a major remodel and expansion at Torte, Jules Capshaw is trying not to get caught up in the madness and stress. When her estranged husband contacts her begging for her to come to the cruise ship he works on and take over as a temporary pastry chef, she wonders if it could be just the distraction she needs.  She is hesitant to be back in her old life and routine with Carlos but finds it hard to resist the trip.  Before she can settle into the ship, she finds a dead body onboard and the trip takes a sour turn.  Jules is knee deep in the investigation with a killer on the loose and a mystery to be solved.

I stumbled upon the Bakeshop Mysteries earlier this year and must say I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy them. This is the type of book you can sit by the fire or curl up on the beach to read and just get lost in the story.  It is the epitome of a cozy mystery. A Crime of Passion Fruit is another great addition to the series.  I loved taking the main characters, Jules, her mom, and the professor to a new setting on board the cruise ship and solving the new mystery.  The description of the cruise ship and how working in the kitchen and feeding such a large number of people on a daily basis was done so well I felt I was there, and I have never been on a cruise.  At first I was thinking the mystery was going to be hard to follow, being out of their normal setting and so many new characters, but everything fell into place in just the right way and at just the right time.  Ellie Alexander has figured out the perfect recipe for a great fun read that is hard to put down and even harder to forget.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good fun mystery that will keep them thinking and even give them a laugh or two at just the right time.

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

Over Maya Dead Body

Over MayaAuthor: Sandra Orchard

Series: Serena Jones Mystery #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A murder hits close too Serena’s family and she finally realizes who she loves!

Serena is finally taking a vacation with her family to Martha’s Vineyard to attend her father’s friend and his daughter’s engagement party. But when they arrive, the house has a police cruiser out front and they discover that her father’s friend Jack has had an accidental fall down a set of beach stairs and is deceased.  But things don’t quite seem to add up.  Now his son is missing, but when Serena checked customs, she found he landed the day before and his cell signal shows he is on the island.  Suddenly, Nate shows up to support Serena in the investigation, which is sort of weird.  Next, Tanner shows up too, at her mom’s insistence.  As the investigation continues, they discover a connection to an ancient Mayan vase.  Then the fiancee’s son is killed with a connection to drug dealing and the daughter looks guilty too.  Can Serena ever just have a day off?

This was the best book of the entire series. It kicked off with a bang and didn’t let up to the end.  This one was probably her most emotional book as the murder was very close to home for her.  The setting of Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t bad either.  There were a lot of things wrapped up in this book.  A little spoiler alert, but Serena finally makes a choice between Nate and Tanner.  We discover Nate’s past and why he just appears to be a jack of all trades.  And we finally get the real deal on crazy Aunt Martha.  Maybe she’s not so crazy after all.  Trust me,  you will thoroughly enjoy this fun filled mystey!

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

Betrayal at Iga

betrayal.jpgAuthor: Susan Spann

Series: A Shinobi Mystery #5

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This is quickly becoming my favorite series!

With Portuguese being evacuated from Kyoto, Hiro must take Father Mateo and his housekeeper Ana with him to Iga, which is the last place he wants to go. Everyone at Iga is trained to be a spy and an assassin, but at least Father Mateo should be safe.  After they arrive, Iga’s leader Hattori Hanzo invites the guest to a feast.  Also arriving at Iga are four emissaries from the nearby Koga clan, which Hanzo hopes to form an alliance with to stand against the new shogun.  During the second meal course, the lead emissary suddenly starts retching and dies shortly thereafter from poison.  Immediately the Koga clan blame Hanzo.  After much deliberation, it is decided that Father Mateo and Hiro have three days to determine who the killer is in order to maintain peace or start a war.  But when everyone is a trained assassin, can anyone be trusted?

I absolutely love this book and this series. These are some of the best stories with the quirkiest characters that I have ever read.  It’s hard to explain, but the way that everyone plays off of each over is masterfully done.  Father Mateo and Hiro’s demeanor is hilarious at times that you can help but laugh out loud.  Add Hiro’s family and it is almost like watching a samurai soap opera unfold.  Finally, Hiro’s past life’s story comes to life that has always been hinted about in the previous books.  We’ve heard about Neko and finally get to meet her.  And his mother and grandmother and some odd characters too, but make the story great.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in this story that I almost forget it is set in 1565. Even so, the historically accuracy is spot on and makes the reader feel like they are right in the middle of it.  I highly recommend this book for mystery lovers and those who just love a good read.  There is some history in the previous books, so I would suggest starting at the beginning, but don’t let that hinder you if you want to start it now!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The comments and views stated in the above review are my own.