Tag Archives: humor

Book Review: The Gail Force by Robert Lane – Smart, Sassy, Satisfying Suspense

gail-forceThe Gail Force

by Robert Lane

Jake Travis is back, and knee deep in trouble due to a woman. She showed up at his place, the little slice of paradise on the water, disrupting his world with her tears and anger over the murder of her husband. She wants revenge; Jake wants to keep her alive.

Her husband accidentally ran across information that could have made him rich. Instead he decided to take the high road and went to the authorities. They put him and his wife in protective custody, but that ended up deadly for more than one person involved.

Unable to walk away from the puzzle, Jake goes undercover to help the Feds frame the man they think is responsible for the killings. That is when the lines between the good guys, bad guys and double-crossers blur. The job is becoming more deadly each day, as it draws Jake deeper down the rabbit hole.

As he becomes more embedded he finds another damsel in destress. She is either very dangerous or in more trouble than the original client. Jake enjoys champagne, fishing, his best friend Morgan and loves his girlfriend Kathleen. Is he willing to give any of the things he cares about away to save someone that may not need or want saving?

I love Robert Lane’s style. He is a smart, savvy writer that entertains and surprises me every time. The plot lines are solid; he gives the readers all the information without the need for red herrings but with enough twists and turns to keep us guessing. The characters are well developed and multi-layered, making them come alive on the pages.

Lane has given Jake a sense of humor laced with sarcasm that helps break the tension of the plot. This is done masterfully, allowing the reader to take a breath, chuckle and consider the possibilities of the situation. Some of the comments and one-liners are in the middle of deadly situations. Like when Jake thinks to himself, “When did green carpet come back in style? Why?”.

This is the fourth book in the “stand-alone” Jake Travis series. While all of the books feature Jake and his friends, it is still appropriate to call them stand-alone novels as it doesn’t really matter if you have read the previous books to thoroughly enjoy this one. I have read three of the four, and none of them build on previous plots to the point of confusion. Characters have become more developed, and if you choose to read this one first, you will love it.

But if you choose to start at the beginning, add them to your Christmas list. Reading these four books would be the great way to start the New Year. If you can wait that long.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Karma’s a Killer – Cozy Mystery Full of Critters and Karma

 

Karma's a KillerKarma’s A Killer
By Tracy Weber
277 pages

Yoga teacher Kate Davidson has her plate full. She owns and teaches classes Serenity Yoga and even though she is successful, owning a business is not a walk in the park. That is why she wonders why she is standing in Seattle’s Green Lake Park getting ready to teach a “Doga” class, which is basically yoga for dogs. It is against her better judgement, but she is willing to look silly to help raise funds for Dogma a local no-kill animal shelter. And her boyfriend Michael organized the event so naturally Kate wants to help make the event fun and profitable.

Right away her Zen is challenged by a group that is protesting the idea of a shelter, especially one with animals other than dogs and cats. An altercation soon has the potential to turn dangerous when the protesters become reckless. During all the mayhem that ensues, someone dies.

Kate finds out the woman arrested is claiming to be her estranged mother, Dharma. She is conflicted over helping the woman that abandoned her, but Kate cannot let an innocent person go to prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

Once again, Kate knows better, but has to jump into an investigation to find the real killer. She enlists the help of Michael, who is a reluctant participant. She assures him all will be well, especially with her protective German Shepherd Bella on the job. But when someone messes with Bella, Kate throws caution out the window to find the perp before someone else is hurt.

This is a perfect cozy mystery. Kate is an entertaining amateur sleuth. She is funny, flawed and loveable. Her past isn’t really pretty, but she doesn’t dwell on it. Her relationship with Michael isn’t always a romp in the park, but true to life. Then there is her pogonophobia, which leads to humorous situations. I love the rest of the characters. A particular favorite of mine is Dale Evans, the goat farming lawyer. He is a hoot and even bakes Bella goat cheese treats.

Karma’s a Killer is the third book in the Downward Dog Mystery Series. I have not read any of the other books in the series, but was not confused or “lost” at any point. I highly suggest this book if you are a fan of cozies, animals and/or are into yoga.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.


 

 

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Filed under 5K races, Book Review, cozy mystery, Critters, dogs, Karma, Yoga

Book Review: Bye, Bye Love by K.J. Larsen – Perfectly Plotted Fun

Bye, Bye Love

By K.J. LarsenBye-Bye-Love-cover

218 pages

PI Cat DeLuca has a habit of annoying the police while in pursuit of cheating spouses. She owns the Pants On Fire Detective Agency that is known for catching lying, cheating spouses. Cat seems to stumble into trouble and over dead bodies routinely. Lucky for her she has a long family history of Chicago cops to help her even when she doesn’t think she needs it.

After a particularly hairy stakeout situation, Cat decides to unwind with a run. Even though it is late, she feels safe running in the park with her partner Inga – who happens to be a beagle. Cat literally lands face first on a dead body. The only problem is the bad guy is still around and zaps her before she can get her tazer out. By the time she is able to call the police the body is missing.

Even though her father is an ex-cop, her brother is a current cop and her uncle is quite probably a dirty cop, Captain Bob of the Chicago police department doesn’t believe Cat.  He makes the big mistake of letting Cat know how little he thinks of her detective skills. She vows to find the killer herself and hopefully the body that went missing and made her the laughing stock of the Ninth Precinct. Lucky – or unlucky for her – she saw the guy she thinks is the killer. But of course that means he saw her also. Now she is hunting for the killer, looking for the corpse and trying not to get killed herself.

Zany circumstances force her into predicaments that include going to a biker bar, being ambushed by a mobster and into dead people’s homes to search for clues. Her assistant Cleo tends to make things worse, but her heart is in the right place even though she often ends up in the wrong place.

While all of this is going on, her pushy mother keeps trying to guilt her into marriage and starting a family. To complicate matters more, her boyfriend’s parents are coming in to meet her parents. It is planned to be one happy family dinner. The question is how will ex-hippy vegetarians get along with meat loving Italians? Cat can see the impending train wreck and tries everything she can think of to not be on board when it happens, but nothing works. She is going to have to have dinner and hopefully make it through the evening without losing her boyfriend in the process.

This is K.J. Larsen’s forth book in the Cat DeLuca Mystery series. It read great as a stand-alone novel, just enough background info to let people new to the series get up-to-date, but not so much as to become repetitious to readers of the series. This witty read kept me laughing with one-liners and outlandish situations that could actually happen if a PI had bad luck and crazy friends, foes and family. Here are the other three, because I know you are going to want the series. I do!

Liar, LiarSome like it hotSticks and stones
K.J. is actually three sisters, Kari, Julianne and Kristen Larsen. This award winning trio writes under one name and if you didn’t know it was more than one person, you could not guess by the writing. The sisters brilliantly combine their efforts to create a fun series with quirky characters both human and animal.

If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Mysteries, you will love K.J.’s Cat DeLuca. There is a perfectly plotted mystery among the poker games and car chases. The twist at the end was masterful; I totally did not see it coming.

Bye, Bye Love is a fast paced, fun book. I especially liked all of the Chicago references since I live in the burbs and have seen many of them myself.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under Book Review, books, Chicago, Mystery, poisoned pen press, series, Writer & Book Reviewer

Book Review: The Koala of Death (spoiler alert – the koala is innocent!!)

The Koala of Death

By Betty Webb

266 pages

Trouble is afoot for the keepers at Gunn Zoo. Teddy Bentley, one of the zoo keepers, finds one of her coworkers floating outside her houseboat. The corpse, Koala Kate, was the face of Gunn Zoo to locals because she appeared on a TV show and published a cute blog about life at the zoo.

Police quickly arrest Outback Bill, another one of the keepers. He insists on his innocence, and it appears Teddy is the only one that believes him. That is until there is another murder at Gunn Landing Harbor. This victim was a close friend of Kate, even though they seemed like an unlikely pair.

Joe Rejas, Teddy’s boyfriend and local sheriff, wants her to keep her nose out of the investigation. Especially after two murders steps away from her boat. Kate had secrets and one of them must have something to do with her death.

Teddy has troubles. Joe and her mother aren’t happy with her detective activities. After a scare, she finally agrees to go stay at her meddling wealthy mother’s home, but continues to snoop. To compound Teddy’s troubles, she has to replace Koala Kate on the Good Morning, San Sebastian show as well as continue the blog. And her mother is trying to hook her up with a rich man instead of keeping her nose out of Joe and Teddy’s relationship.

All of these elements plus a liberal sprinkling of kooky back up characters, both human and animal, make this a really fun book. The mystery is a great whodunit. There are suspects and secrets both silly and scary. Scattered throughout are interesting facts about koalas and other zoo animals. This makes a perfect mix for a delightful read.

The Koala of Death is Webb’s second Gunn Zoo Mystery, but the first one I’ve read. I have read one of her other books, Desert Rage. As you can tell from the titles, the zoo series is meant to be more lighthearted. Webb is a masterful writer who does humor and murder equally well. I love an author that can entertain, surprise and touch my heart. One of my favorite lines in Koala of Death is “Alzheimer’s wasn’t only a thief of memory, it was a thief of the heart.”

On a personal note, thanks to my son Mark, who gave me The Koala of Death for Christmas this year after I mentioned that I wanted to read this series. The title made him laugh, and choose this book for me. I loved it!

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under Book Review, books, Mystery, poisoned pen press