Controversial Real Life Bleeds Into Story. I fully cop to the title of this review being clickbait, but it is also 100% true. Yet again Bratt brings elements of real-world cases and her real-world life into this particular series, and in this particular case the most obvious direct real world connection is also one of the more controversial things Bratt has ever done in her actual life since I’ve been reading her books since 2018 or so. But revealing exactly where that moment is in the book and what the direct connection is to her real life would be a spoiler… so read this book and see if you can spot where it might be, then follow Bratt on her social media channels to see if you were right. Yes, I’m plugging both the book and the author here, because to be quite honest both are equally great – even if I personally 100% disagree with the choice made both in the book and in real life – but Bratt manages to tell both stories quite compellingly, and it is her books and her life. 😀
One word of caution though: This *is* Book 6 in a series, and in this case you really do need to read the prior books first to really have any real understanding of exactly where we are in this tale. Some more words of caution about the actual content: There is stalking, possible gaslighting, bullying, and a touch of animal neglect here (all on the part of the bad guys, to be sure), but Bratt manages to show these as exactly that – actions not to be condoned. Still, if those are absolute no-go issues for you for whatever reason, know that they’re here.
Overall though, this was yet another compelling entry in a series that manages to combine both police procedural and family drama elements quite well, all while showing off the merits and perils of both policing and small town life – which is something few other books I’ve ever read have done quite so well. Very much recommended.
This review of Nobody Told Me by Kay Bratt was originally written on August 10, 2023.
Bone-Chilling Survival With Lots Of Moving Parts. This is one of those excellent lost in the wilderness/ lost in the blizzard survival tales that also happens to be a chase tale that is actually a story about family and breaking generational problems. So clearly, there is a LOT going on here, and a LOT of moving parts. And the non-moving parts – the wilderness and to a lesser extent the blizzard – are given their own fair respect here as well, both in the area natives’ respect for them and in the out-of-towners’ disrespect. One of Brennan’s most complex stories I’ve yet come across after working a couple of her other series over the last few years, this is truly an excellent tale of a different type from her, with her usual excellent execution in all aspects of the story. You’re going to *feel* the impacts here, from the coldness of the wilderness – and the coldness of some of the characters. Which is great, for a summer release during several consecutive days of “Excessive Heat Warning” events. 😀 Very much recommended.
This review of North Of Nowhere by Allison Brennan was originally written on August 8, 2023.
Solid “Locked In” Mystery Asks Serious Questions. This is one of those “everyone is trapped in the house, and everyone has secrets” kind of mysteries that classic mystery lovers will love, and newer mystery lovers that are all about the shock value/ twist… eh, your mileage may vary. I personally thought the ending was particularly well done and while not *overly* shocking in *who* was involved, was brilliantly executed in *why* they were involved. Which gets to the whole “asks serious questions” bit, as the “questions” indicated in the description… are *NOT* the only questions raised. This book has a lot of meat there for those who *want* a deeper psychological dive, particularly in probing their own consciences – but it also offers enough directly in the text that if all you want is a few hours of classic mystery escapism… that is all you have to take from this particular tale. Which is usually a sign of a particularly strong storyteller, when they can give both readers what they want in the same story. This was my first book from Cross, and most likely will not be my last. Very much recommended.
This review of One Night by Georgina Cross was originally written on August 1, 2023.
Extensive Focus On COVID Mars Otherwise Intriguing Story. The break about 1/3 into this book to focus on mostly new characters for another 1/4 to 1/3 or so (before coming back to at least some of the original characters) is a bit jarring and could potentially be off-putting to some readers, but to me it actually felt like an interesting way to tell this particular story, as well as the larger story of the Detective this series seems to be based around. No, the biggest problem for me – and the reason for the star deduction – is the extensive use of and discussion of COVID in its various forms. Quite simply, even in July 2023, I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. In ANY form. AT ALL. I’m beginning to become at least slightly more tolerant of passing references to it, but this particular tale used it quite heavily both as a plot device and in showing various actions related to it.
And yet, again, to be crystal clear: Ignoring the narrative break and COVID, this is actually a fairly inventive book about a serial killer and the detective that is trying to stop them. Indeed, this particular killer could well have been made into almost a new Moriarty, for a new Sherlock Holmes in this particular detective. But alas, this tale does hold forth to crime/ police procedural genre conventions, and this is instead more a “freak of the week” tale that is so common in the genre. Still, quite promising indeed, and with a Detective that actually stands out a bit from the crowd in her own way. Very much recommended.
This review of The Cove by Gregg Dunnett was originally written on July 25, 2023.
Quite Possibly More Demented And Disturbing Than The First. This is one of those police procedurals that directly deals with the fallout from the first book – so make sure you read that one first. But then it goes even darker, even more twisted, even more tense. And just when you think this thing couldn’t *possibly* get any more twisted, dark, or tense… it very clearly is *still building* to some final showdown, likely in the finale of the series – whenever that might be. Overall truly a great work that is bound to piss off at least some, particularly in polygamous Mormon circles, but shows a great deal of care in showing that the evils perpetrated here are not “mainstream” Mormonism. Very much recommended.
This review of Lost Little Angels by Holly S. Roberts was originally written on July 18, 2023.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at an explosive tale that is an immediate sequel to the events of the book before it. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Two Little Souls by B.R. Spangler.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Explosive Tale But Make Sure You Read Book 8, Their Resting Place, First. Without revealing any actual details, all I’m going to say here is that this book picks up immediately after the prior book in this series – and because of that, you really need to make it a point to read that book first.
Here, our team has several problems to work through – both professionally and personally. The case they find themselves involved in is even more time sensitive than most of their prior cases, and yet the team’s personal priorities are also in a state of flux. Spangler manages both sides of the police procedural format masterfully here, combining both to excellent effect to create quite possibly one of the best complete books of this series to date.
Overall truly a compelling tale that won’t quite leave you with that “I NEED THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT THIS SECOND” feeling from the prior book, but will still leave you satisfied and waiting anxiously for the next book to come out anyway, as you want to learn what happens next in the lives of our investigators. Very much recommended.
After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Two Little Souls by B.R. Spangler”
Pulse Pounding Criminal Innovation. This is the book that cements the Lexi Bennett series as must read, as it starts off feeling a touch like a disaster flick – everything is normal-ish, except that someone has jumped from a tall building seemingly intentionally. Then the deeper into the story we get, we find an almost Kilgrave level villain (though to be clear – just a human, no superpowers)… and this is where the story *really* takes off, becoming ever more inventive, ever more cat and mouse almost perfect spy thriller type… except that this is a police procedural where murders are being investigated. The ending sequences are some of the most inventive and innovative of all, going particularly dark even. As in, I’m not sure even Preston and Child get *this* dark and twisted, even with Diogenese Pendergast. Which is high praise in that particular arena, because if you like that particular style… you *know* how good Preston and Child are there. Belsham here *may* have truly bested them. Seriously.
Ultimately, this is one of those tales that you’re going to need and light and funny comedy to bring back your mental balance from, and for those that struggle with suicidal ideation… perhaps not the book for you until you deal with those issues. Still, very much recommended.
This review of The Girl’s Last Cry by Alison Belsham was originally written on June 30, 2023.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that is a solid and compelling introduction to a new British police procedural series. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Girls On Chalk Hill by Alison Belsham.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Solid Introduction To New British Police Procedural Series. This book is exactly what I note in the title – a solid introduction to a new British police procedural series, one with a couple of interesting hooks that will be interesting to see exactly how they play out throughout the series. The first being that our lead Investigator is a triplet with a haunted past (which we learn about through this book), the other being that while she is a British national, she has spent several years prior to the events of this tale being trained by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation and working with them. Neither are exactly typical elements of any of the fairly numerous series I’ve read within this exact space, and both contribute to helping this particular series stand out a bit from the pack.
The pacing is near frenetic, starting even with our opening chapter featuring a somewhat shocking and certainly atypical book opener within the police procedural space – much less the very first scene of a brand new series.
Overall, one of the better books within this genre I’ve encountered in quite some time, and I’m glad I already had book two on hand to also read as an Advance Reviewer Copy when I finished this one. Very much recommended.
After the jump, the “publisher details” including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Girls On Chalk Hill by Alison Belsham”
Dark Side Of Hollywood. This book is perfect for those types that love the darker stories of Hollywood, and particularly the stories about how demented and depraved some “wholesome” childhood stars become as adults. At under 300 pages, it is a fairly quick read, but with every chapter coming from a different character’s perspectives – and several of them, to boot – this may be one that is too complex for some to follow. And yet, that storytelling mechanic actually works well for this particular tale, particularly the deeper into the tale we get. In the end, it even becomes a bit of a mindbender trying to determine who is actually responsible – so again, people that like their endings all tied up in a bow… probably not your thing either. Overall an interesting tale that keeps the reader engaged, and one that will work well for those darker summer moods. Very much recommended.
This review of A Fatal Affair by A.R. Torre was originally written on June 4, 2023.
Hunter and Hunted – But Who Is Who? This is one of those books that seems like it wants to take on Big Ideas, but in its brevity… eh, those Big Ideas are more sacrificed to telling a more compelling and less potentially divisive story, while still hitting some of the high points of the Big Ideas. Ultimately, this is a book whose main characters are very finely drawn and nuanced… and whose lesser players are almost cardboard caricatures. Still, Heard here uses the main characters, their varying histories, and the island setting (through at least half the book) quite well indeed to craft a suspenseful tale that will keep you on the edge of your beach or pool lounger just enough to keep your feet in the water… without giving you a heart attack before you can finish the book and dive in. A couple of bits in particular are more mind-bending than others, though those are quickly moved on from and the more cat and mouse nature of the book again reasserts itself. Overall a solid, mildly pulse pounding book that will be quite enjoyable as a vacation read and one that should be able to be devoured almost no matter how little reading time one may have on a summer break or vacation. Very much recommended.
This review of You Can Trust Me by Wendy Heard was originally written on May 26, 2023.