#BookReview: Only Girl Alive by Holly S. Roberts

Creepy Series Starter. This one has a more rare premise than any detective story I’ve ever encountered: Set in Utah, the lead detective here was raised in the polygamous – and heretical, according to current LDS doctrine as I understand it – branch of the Church of Latter Day Saints, aka Mormons. Her squad is sent in to deal with particularly sensitive investigations primarily involving this group, and in this particular case actively involving her former family. Which is interesting enough, but then you get into the truly creepier/ seedier side of humanity generally and this particular sect specifically, and it gets truly… icky, let’s go with. There is a LOT of crazy to unpack here, and a lot of childhood trauma for our lead detective to try to handle in the process. Overall the mystery itself is solid, but this is clearly yet another in the police procedural genre where you’re coming into this for the team/ personal dynamics as much as for any given mystery, and Roberts does a great job of setting that up and setting it in motion. The *one* criticism is that our lead Detective is constantly referred to as “Detective Sergeant”, which is a British position and not an American one, at least per my own knowledge of American policing. (Which in some areas is quite extensive, but admittedly exact ranks within departments and peculiarities among States in those ranks is not one of them. It is *possible* that this rank exists in Utah and I am simply unaware of it, and it is a minor detail anyway, though one that can throw the reader out of the book when encountered.) Overall an interesting tale well told, and I’ll be looking forward to the next book in this series. Very much recommended.

This review of Only Girl Alive by Holly S. Roberts was originally written on November 24, 2022.

#BookReview: Charlie by James Beltz

Interesting Twist On The Series. With the first two books in this series – which is held together primarily by being the adventures of a buddy cop pair – the mysteries were of a more paranormal nature. With this one, Beltz creates an interesting challenge as a storyteller while taking the series in a more science fiction direction. This ultimately still has the same general tone and structure from the first two tales in this series, and thus series fans will most likely still enjoy it. And hey, for those that like tales with interesting characters, this is absolutely one of those as well. Keeping this review completely spoiler-free is challenging even on this end… *because* of the challenge Beltz gave himself as an author. So it will be interesting to read future reviews of this tale as they come out to see how they handle that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Overall this was a solid yet also very different book in its series, and the series feels like Beltz could take it almost as long as he wants to – even though he is very open about having written these first three books back to back to back all at once before releasing them a month apart several weeks later. Very much recommended.

This review of Charlie by James Beltz was originally written on October 1, 2022.

#BlogTour: Taken Before Dawn by B.R. Spangler

For this blog tour we’re looking at the most intense Casey White series book yet. For this blog tour we’re looking at Taken Before Dawn by B.R. Spangler.

You Probably Won’t Want To Read This Right Before Bed. In this next chilling installment of this series, we get what is quite possibly Spangler’s most chilling villains to date – and the most direct threat to Detective Casey White since I picked up this series around book 4 or so. One sequence in particular, taking up somewhere around a quarter of the book or so, is so truly chilling that the title of this review was warranted – you’re not going to want to try to go to sleep while reading/ soon after reading this particular section. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll be a bit oblique and note that there is a popular horror franchise that is actually *less* chilling, though around the same type of idea, as what is going on here. Before and after this section, the book is actually more of a “standard” Casey White series police procedural. We get to see the team doing its thing both professionally and personally, including how later developments in the series (again, being vague to avoid giving anything away) continue to play out. Certainly one of the better books in this series, which is saying quite a bit itself, and arguably the best to date – which is saying *quite* a bit. I know this thing releases almost a full month after I’m writing this review, but BR… Imma need number 8 like, *now*. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BookReview: Little Sister by Gytha Lodge

Solid UK Police Procedural Thriller. I picked up this book because I was invited to based on my reviews of other similar books, not knowing that it was number four in the series. As such, it was readily apparent in the beginning that if this was the start of a series there would likely be prequels down the road… or this was deeper into the series (which turned out to be the case). That noted, for me it was still easy enough to follow along with where each member of our police team was in their journeys. Though for those more sensitive to any hint of a “spoiler”… eh, you’ll want to make sure to start with Book 1.

What I *did* find in this book is that for the most part, if you are a fan of this subgenre of mystery/ thriller, you’re going to like this book and (likely) this series as well. If you’ve never experienced this subgenre before, this is a pretty solid example of it with a compelling mystery, tense thriller moments, and relatable characters.

Overall a solid work, and I look forward to seeing what Lodge has in store for the team next. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

This review of Little Sister by Gytha Lodge was originally written on July 5, 2022.

#BlogTour: The Wrong Victim by Allison Brennan

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid new entrant deep in a series and this new entrant happens to be set in the tranquil and beautiful San Juan Islands of Washington State. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Wrong Victim by Allison Brennan.

Solid Mystery Deep In Series. While this is only book 3 in the series, as heavily as the first two are referenced it actually feels much deeper in. So up front, my recommendation is actually to go back to the beginning of this series and start there, if you haven’t already. But once you get here… this is a solid mystery with a lot going on both within the mystery and town it is placed in – this band of FBI cops travels the country, and this particular mystery is set in Washington’s San Juan Islands, familiar to many from Discovery Channel’s long running Island Life show (which I watched – for months, over meals – on Discovery+, for those that may have missed it and want to get a feel for the real islands here). Both the islanders and the FBI team prove interesting characters, but the series depth *really* shows through in the interactions between the FBI team. The choice to almost go Disaster Movie-esque and show the victims of the murder first was actually quite bold and refreshing, and overall this book simply worked so much better than Brennan’s previous effort I reviewed, The Sorority Murder – which worked well enough for what it was and had some unique things going for it, this was simply a better executed story here to my own mind. Overall a great story, and perfect for any fans of long running police procedurals. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BlogTour: The Lighthouse Girls by BR Spangler

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid yet unexpected entry in this great police procedural series set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Lighthouse Girls by BR Spangler.

Another Solid Entry In Series. With Book 5 (The Memory Bones) wrapping up the core long-term mystery of the series (and this book spoiling that reveal early, so be forewarned if you haven’t read that book yet), I wondered then if Spangler was closing out the series, not really seeing how it could move forward. Here, in a sense Spangler is offering more closure, with former teammates returning and (without going *too* far into spoiler territory) another teammate’s death in this tale – while not yet offering any hint of any further long term mystery. Still, this is a murder mystery series with heart, and I’m absolutely along for the ride in Book 7, whatever Spangler decides to do with that. Start earlier in the series if you’re new to it – possibly all the way back at Book 1 (Where Lost Girls Go), but I personally started at Book 4 (The Crying House) and found that to be a reasonable entry point as well. When you do, you’re going to want this book on hand anyway, just to come back to a now-favorite storyline. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BlogTour: Crimson Summer by Heather Graham

For this blog tour we’re looking at the second book in a series that has an interesting take on the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse as cover for murder. For this blog tour we’re looking at Crimson Summer by Heather Graham.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Strong Police Procedural With Overarching Mythology. Read Book 1 First. Upfront, I’m disagreeing with most other reviews currently on Goodreads for this book. Yes, technically it *can* be read as a standalone, as there are more than enough spoilers from Book 1 to give you what you need to follow along here. But with this being an overarching mythology involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and who each horseman is and who is controlling them… this is absolutely a series that is best started with Book 1. And then, of course, you’ll want the next book and the next and the next, until you’ve finished the series – no matter how long Graham keeps it going. (Presumably no more than 6 or 7 books or so, with a potential Book 5 revealing the mastermind, Book 6 unveiling the mastermind’s true plot, and a final showdown in Book 7. Though all three of those last things could be done in a single epic tale.) Great for those who love at minimum nation-trotting creepy action tales that span the US. This reader in particular is a sucker for such tales, and is looking forward to seeing where this series goes from here. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the prologue of the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BookReview: Treachery Times Two by Robert McCaw

Santa Blows The Case Open. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking (accurately) that Santa is never once mentioned in this police procedural/ mystery set in Hawaii and showing off many elements of its land and people not often seen by non-Islanders. But I swear the connection is there, at least for me – you see, there is one particular clue that blows at least part of this case wide open. It tells Koa, our hero, that all is not as it seems – and an *eerily* similar situation, wherein x happens (though not the exact particulars and certainly not in a murder investigation), is how I learned that Santa wasn’t real nearly 30 years ago. So that was cool for me personally, and shows that just that thing *can* actually lead to life changing real-world events. Overall truly an excellent book of its type, one that shows a great layering of plot and characterizations in order to show just how complex we all are – even when we look like we’re not. Very much recommended.

This review of Treachery Times Two by Robert McCaw was originally written on January 7, 2022.

#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Little Girl Gone by Amanda Stevens

For this next entry in the Twelve Days Of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a *very* slow burn romance that serves as a solid series starter. For this entry, we’re looking at Little Girl Gone by Amanda Stevens.

Solid Series Starter. Ok, so I use that same title a fair amount. But it applies so often! Here, Stevens focuses primarily on the investigation, as police procedurals tend to do, while establishing at least her primary leads fairly well, and giving readers reasons to want to continue to invest in them. Arguably one weakness is that this is a *very* slow burn, second chance kind of romance that may or may not meet the strictest “rules and regulations” of the genre in that regard. So for the absolute genre purists… read and decide for yourselves here. For the rest of us, this was a solid story all around, one that resolves its primary mystery while allowing enough to remain open that we’ll want to come back to this world again – which is exactly what a Book 1 is supposed to do, so kudos there! Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten

This week we’re looking at the newest entry in a police procedural saga that ultimately deals with some issues that have been in the real-world headlines. This week we’re looking at Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten.

Brutal Killings Ripped From (Somewhat Dated-ish) Headlines. Without going into spoiler-y territory, there are themes here that have been in the headlines and have been massive scandals over the last few decades – and which I believe even bigger scandals lay ahead, particularly in the direction this book ultimately goes.

The murders here are again particularly brutal, though perhaps not quite as straight up creepy as from Book 4, and this time no team member is imperiled – and yet Holten still manages to ramp up the tension almost as if they are.

This is labeled as Book 5, so that alone tells you that it *is* part of a series, and somewhat deep into it at that, but as a police procedural (even a British based one), it is still episodic enough that you can jump into the series with any particular episode, then backfill to see how the relationships amongst the team got to the point you first encountered them. And on that particular front, there are a couple of great reveals in this particular book, one from Jamieson herself and the other from another teammate in the closing paragraphs.

Yet another thrill a minute read that will keep you invested through all of its 400 pages. Very much recommended.