Entertaining. This is a book that is somewhat deep in a series – Book 5 – and never once shies away from that fact. It has a wide range of established characters and storylines, but Keim does a remarkable job of making sure the reader understands the relevant histories, no matter if they’ve been a long time fan or if this is your entry point to this series or even this author – as it was both for me. Indeed, it is arguable that perhaps Keim does *too much* rehashing of prior stories- more in repeating a few sentences (with variation, not copy/ paste, at least not obviously) about whatever relevant fact such as how characters met or why another character is so problematic, etc.
And yet, despite and perhaps because of all of this, this book absolutely works as a continuation of its world and as a showcase for the author’s style and tone. Those that enjoy ensemble casts with a lot of characters and a lot going on will thoroughly enjoy this book, those who prefer fewer characters… probably won’t like it as much. But the storylines all interweave remarkably well, particularly with the narration being solely driven by one character’s perspective and the primary focus being that character and her business partner and friend – who enjoy catching up in stolen moments via the titular event.
Ultimately a strong book about friendship and defending the hurting, this tale is very much recommended.
This review of Margaritas At The Beach House Hotel by Judith Keim was originally written on June 8, 2021.
Intriguing Mystery. Explosive Ending. This was my first book from Holten, and thus obviously I hadn’t read the prior three books in this series. And yet this book totally works. Yes, there are references to prior events, but they are explained enough to keep the current story going without overburdening the current story with prior details. If you’ve ever started in the middle of a military technothriller series ala Tom Clancy or Dale Brown – similar feel here.
Overall, the world is interesting in that you get a typical-yet-not detective and an entire cast of well developed characters all working together almost in an ensemble fashion that works so well in so many mediums. Holten shows herself adept at the technique of using the final sentences of a chapter to hook the reader into reading the next, and indeed uses the final chapter of the overall book to similar effect – the reader is left almost breathless in desperate need for the next book.
If you’re open to police procedurals at all, particularly those set in the UK, you’re going to enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you should really give this book a chance – the characters are that strong. Very much recommended.
This review of Dead Secret by Noelle Holten was originally written on March 10, 2021.
Slow Burn Family Mystery With Explosive Twist. Let’s get a common criticism dealt with up front: No, this is NOT a Jane Doe novel. That dispensed with, this *IS* a great example of Stone’s ability to tell more than one type of story in more than one way. What we get here is a compelling slow burn family mystery involving killers, rapists, mistresses, and one confused kid. Told in dual timelines from the modern era and the 80s, we see mom and daughter explore their situations and come to startling revelations – though neither is quite prepared for the explosive revelation at the end of the tale. This picks up some of the creepier elements of Christopher Rice’s Blood Music while spinning an engrossing gothic – in the classic sense of the word, involving a foreboding building – mystery all its own. Very much recommended.
This review of The Last One Home by Victoria Helen Stone was originally written on October 25, 2020.