#BookReview: The Trap by Gregg Dunnett

Silence Of The Lambs Homage With Twists. This is one of those books that I honestly never would have connected it with Silence Of The Lambs had other reviewers not pointed that connection out, but it absolutely does fit here. Of course, along similar lines one could also connect this tale to the legendary Sherlock Holmes tales, which ultimately most modern detective tales come from in some way or another. Honestly, the connection I made while reading the book itself was to Starfield, a long awaited game that finally released nearly three months before this book did, and which I’ve been playing quite heavily since. *That* connection will only make sense after you’ve read this book *and* played that game all the way through at least once though.

Overall, this is a pulse pounding thriller, one where a brilliant detective faces off with an equally brilliant – and possibly moreso – serial killer. In this case… the showdown that we were promised in Book 1 of this series, The Cove. The murders here are particularly brutal, and our heroine has quite a bit in common with that famous 19th century detective in several ways, making this quite the compelling tale.

As to whether a Book 3 may be coming… I love the fact that the author actually weaves into the tale here a discussion of why that may not actually be a great idea… and yet… I ultimately still think I want to see it anyway. So we’ll see what Dunnett and his publisher do next.

Very much recommended.

This review of The Trap by Gregg Dunnett was originally written on December 31, 2023.

#BlogTour: Pray For Her by Holly S. Roberts

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a pulse pounding thriller with one of the best prologues I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, this prologue makes the case for *every* book having one. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Pray For Her by Holly S. Roberts.

Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Goodreads, Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype):

Now THAT Is How You Do A Fucking Prologue! Seriously, I don’t normally tweet out or contact the author when I’m reading a book. After *this* prologue, I immediately had to tweet out how awesome it is, particularly given the various discussions in Boolandia regarding how many readers skip prologues or don’t enjoy them or whatever. I don’t mind books that don’t have them, but a well written one can really get a reader curious and/ or excited about the story, and this is one of the best written ones I’ve ever encountered.

Beyond the prologue, this is a tremendous tale, one that has been set in motion since the very beginning of this series – everything is now coming to a head, and Bennett and her team are about to be challenged like they’ve never been challenged before… and by the one person who terrifies Bennett more than any other.

Filled with pulse pounding action and intrigue, this is one of those mystery/ police procedural tales that really shows the true power of how great these particular types of stories can be – and yet, still, to get the full impact here, you really do need to begin at Book 1 and read through this point. Trust me, when you do you will absolutely devour this particular tale as well.

Overall a remarkably strong tale that could well serve as a series finale – or, equally, could simply serve as a trilogy conclusion and allow the series to continue on. I for one am very curious to see which direction Roberts (and possibly her publisher) will go there. 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.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Pray For Her by Holly S. Roberts”

#BlogTour: Our Sister’s Grave by B.R. Spangler

For this blog tour, we’re looking at the latest pulse pounding thriller in BR Spangler’s Detective Casey White series that introduces a new idea into the series for the first time. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Our Sister’s Grave by B.R. Spangler.

Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype, Goodreads):

Pulse Pounding Thriller In And Out Of The Water. This is one of those coastal murder tales where there is actually quite a bit happening both in and out of the water – and our team is right in the thick of all of it, after a diver dies underwater. With this tenth entry into the series – written loosely enough that if one doesn’t mind spoilers about the team’s relationships, nothing about (most) of the prior mysteries is spoiled here, meaning it is mostly ok for new fans to start here and work their way back, should they so choose – Spangler actually manages to incorporate a few things not seen in prior books in this series, including a few particular cultural touchstones that it is genuinely surprising that it took him this long to use, given the region he has chosen to set this particular series. And man, when he *does* incorporate them… he almost makes me want to drive up I-95 a few hrs and get to the Outer Banks this weekend myself. Even though I am in no way, shape, or form a diver of any sense involving diving underwater. 😀

Overall another solid entry in this series, one where yet again the stakes are raised in so very many ways. 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.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Our Sister’s Grave by B.R. Spangler”

#BookReview: Starting Over by Kay Bratt

Starting Over. Yes, the title of my review and the title of this book are the same, because I want to emphasize just how well Bratt titled this particular story. Yet again, we get a pulse pounding crime unfortunately based on real-world events in the South, in this particular case (as the prologue shows, so no real spoilers here) an abduction from a Walmart parking lot. And there is a lot of action in this particular case, including hiking through one park I’m very familiar with and another I’ve been to a few times – Amicalola State Park and Unicoi State Park, respectively, both in the North Georgia mountain region. In particular, the camping areas, trails, even the hike-inn that Bratt mentions were all part of my teens in particular, with several trips out there from my home town not very far away.

But as always with this series, this tale is about the small town and family relationships as much as it is about the crime of the book, and it is here that we truly get a sense of this series – that was supposed to end here – is actually “starting over”, in all the best possible ways. We get a return to the true roots of this series, but with everyone involved in different situations than they were in at the actual beginning of the series. Being told with Bratt’s usual careful yet evocative styling, this book will leave you particularly glad the series is “starting over” rather than concluding here as was originally intended. Very much recommended.

This review of Starting Over by Kay Bratt was originally written on December 8, 2023.

#BookReview: The Innocent Angels by Alison Belsham

Another (Mostly) Solid Entry In Series. This was a solid entry in the series for the most part, though perhaps it did have a touch of pacing issues. And yet I’ve struggled for nearly a week now to come up with words to put “on paper” about my experience with the book. Perhaps that is more on me though, as I really do think I’m reaching the limits of my own “hyper reading” abilities as new/ more pressing interests and needs come to bear in my life.

The book itself was intriguing in so many ways. The manner of murder, the placement, the investigation… and the personal, for the team. Specifically, I actually particularly enjoyed how an injury Lexi suffers at the beginning of the tale is worked throughout this story and isn’t just some random detail to make her “more relatable” – although it certainly does, to anyone who has ever trained for and ran a half marathon themselves. (Though to be clear, I managed to run 2 of them – separated by several months – completely injury free, back in my own running days. But getting injured during training or racing is actually a very common thing that I simply managed to be lucky enough to avoid.)

There were enough callbacks to the earlier books here to link it in series without being a spoilerfest for those books, so readers new to the series actually *could* enter it here – but I still recommend going back to Book 1 and entering the series there. On the other end, there wasn’t any real sense of continuation *needed* by the reader, so while I hope this series continues, it also wouldn’t feel incomplete if it ended as a trilogy. Still, here’s hoping we get many more books here, as I really do like the writing style and characterizations.

Very much recommended.

This review of The Innocent Angels by Alison Belsham was originally written on November 15, 2023.

#BookReview: Nobody Told Me by Kay Bratt

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.

#BookReview: The Cove by Gregg Dunnett

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.

#BookReview: Lost Little Angels by Holly S. Roberts

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.

#BlogTour: Two Little Souls by B.R. Spangler

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”

#BookReview: The Girl’s Last Cry by Alison Belsham

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.