Tag Archives: mystery

Book Review: One Taste Too Many – New Culinary Cozy Series

One Taste Too Many

By Debra H. Goldstein

Sarah Blair’s ex-husband, Bill, is dead. The bigger issue is that her twin sister Emily has been arrested for his murder. The police think that she purposely fed him something that he was highly allergic to, then instead of attempting to save him like she claims, she watched him die. Sarah knows that is as far from the truth as it can get, so she is determined to find out if this was just a horrible accident or someone really did murder Bill and frame Emily.

But that isn’t her only problem. Sarah has custody of RahRah , the cat that her mother-in-law loved and Bill hated. Sarah and RahRah are two peas in a pod. RahRah is not a cat that loves many people, but he adores Sarah. The feelings are mutual and they are happy to have each other. That is until documents surface giving RahRah to Bills current girlfriend – who really doesn’t want him, but wants to collect the money specified in Bill’s will to care for the feline.

All of this turmoil is set during a food festival. Emily is a fantastic chef and Sarah can’t boil water without instructions. As the girls start investigating, another dead body turns up. Emily is targeted as the killer again. Sarah doubles her efforts to clear her sister’s name, get back her beloved cat and find the real killer. She will go to any lengths to accomplish her goals even if she has to do something she fears more than the killer’s revenge – cooking!

­One Taste Too Many is the first book in the new Sarah Blair Mystery Series. The cast of characters are interesting and diverse. It is fun to peek behind the kitchen doors of the chefs in the story. Because Sarah works for a lawyer, we get to see how justice is served as well.

I love a book that gives me so many likely suspects I cannot figure out who the murderer is until the last chapters. This is a culinary cozy that mystery lovers will enjoy. Cooks of all levels will enjoy the recipes at the end of the book.

Ms. Goldstein is an award winner author. One Taste Too Many is the third mystery she has written. She also writes short works of fiction that have been published. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Sarah Blair series.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Don’t Forget To Breathe – Captivating YA Psychological Thriller

Don’t Forget to Breathe

By Cathrina Constantine

Leocadia, Leo to her friends, is adrift in a life she doesn’t like but chose to enter. Up until last year she was an honor student. But after she found her mother murdered in their home and was assaulted by the killer, she withdrew from her grieving father and most of her friends. Her father drinks to numb his pain and she sometimes uses illegal substances to make it through the day.

A part of her still wants her former life, even though nothing will bring back her mother. She is cleaning up her act at school, stopped smoking, doing her homework again and hanging out with her best friend who never gave up on her. In the past year, Leo befriended a new kid, Henry, who was having trouble fitting in. He wants to be more than friends, but Leo does not feel the same towards him. Henry used to be her go-to guy to smoke a little weed with, but now that she is clean, she feels sorry for him, but is not attracted to him at all.

Nora, her best friend who never gave up on Leo introduces her to Becket Kane. Becket is one of the star football players at the school who has had his eye on Leo. They make a cute couple, even though Henry is always lurking in the shadows. Besides, Leo has had a really awful year and her mom’s killer is still on the loose, how can she get involved with a guy that could never understand.

When Henry persuades Leo to come to the local haunted house that is across the street from the home she lived in until the murder, she is unsure about facing her demons. But when she finds a picture of her mother in the infamous haunted house, along with some fresh flowers she is terrified.

Is the killer close? Will he strike again? Is it someone she knows? All of these questions and more are superbly spun into a tale of lies, deceit and death.

This novel moves at the speed of light, twisting and turning until the shocking last pages. It is a must read for any mystery/thriller fan. The characters and plot fit together seamlessly and it was impossible for me to figure out who the real bad guys actually were until the end. I had my suspicions, but when the motives are revealed, the subtle surprises gave me that “ah ha” moment every reader loves. It is a perfectly plotted psychological thriller, with no loose ends to leave the reader hanging.

This is the first novel that I have read by Cathrina Constantine, but not the first she has written. It is no wonder that Don’t Forget to Breathe is an award winner of the Literary Classics 2016 Gold Award, the 2016 New Apple Medalist Award Winner for YA/Mystery-Thriller and received the Literary Classics 2016 Gold Award.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: New Cat Cozy Mystery

Fool’s Moon

By Diane A.S. Stuckart

Ophelia and her brother Brandon have been dumped unceremoniously in a cardboard box far from home. The two cats lived with an old woman who loved and took care of them. Then something bad happened to the old woman and her mean son put them in a box and took them to a place they have never been to before. The cats are not used to traffic, other animals and having to find their own food. Fortunately for them, they find new owners but were lost to each other.

Ruby is now Ophelia’s human. She is a Tarot card reader, and Ophelia seems to have a knack for helping her out with her readings. When the housekeeper from the old woman’s house comes to have her fortune told, Ophelia and Ruby think that the old woman’s death may not be an accident.

Ophelia’s unlikely new canine friend Zuki is willing to help her find her Brandon and help solve the mystery of who killed the kind old woman Ophelia and Brandon loved. This decision will put all of them in danger. Especially after someone else turns up dead.

This cozy mystery is told from the point of view (POV) of the animals. This includes Ophelia, Brandon, Zuki and other assorted stray dogs, birds, chickens and fish. It is not a children’s book, but almost reads like one. The content of murder and complexity of the plot to find out who the murderer is would not be for children.

I love animals. Books featuring them are among my favorites. I loved the cozy series The Cat Who by Lillan Jackson Braun. I knew what the cats were thinking but the POV was from the human characters.  For me, they work well as sidekicks, even when they save the day by biting or jumping on the bad guy I can go with it. But for me, having the point of view totally from the animal’s perspective did not work. It is different and some of you may really get into it.

Reading the Tarot cards and explaining them was interesting. Who doesn’t like a little bit of fortune telling in a novel? It is a great way to foretell disasters waiting to happen. I would have enjoyed more of that part of the story instead of animal conversations.

All in all, Fool’s Moon has a solid plot and fits the bill for a cozy mystery. Just because I wasn’t fond of the POV, it doesn’t mean you won’t love it. This is the first book in the new Tarot Cats Mystery Series by Diane A.S Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon. She is a New York Times bestselling author with her Black Cat Bookshop Series. I plan to read the first book in the Black Cat Bookshop series because I loved her style of writing, but could not get past the children’s literature nod of writing from the cat’s POV in the Tarot Cats Mystery.

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 © 2018 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Past Tense – New Jack Reacher Novel

Past Tense

By Lee Child

Lee Child’s fan favorite character, Jack Reacher, is back. He is in a tiny town in Maine looking for his roots. The home of his family may have the charm of small town America, but tiny towns like this can be clannish and Reacher is an outsider. But never one to back down from a challenge, he quietly researches his family. That is up until circumstances radically change in the blink of an eye putting a target on his back.

One of the many skills he has is hearing something wrong in his environment that will wake him out of a dead sleep. The domino effect of him investigating the noises he heard and coming to the rescue of a woman in trouble becomes his problem faster than a heartbeat. This act of kindness, done in only a way Reacher could, lands him on the wrong side of the law in a town he needs to stay in to help find his family. He understands it is a longshot, but never one to shy away from a challenge, he is determined to finish what he came to accomplish.

Meanwhile, a young couple from Canada is traveling through the area with a car that should be in the junkyard instead of on the road. When it gives them too much trouble to continue on, they are forced to stop for the night. Lucky for them it is by a small motel. But their luck soon turns bad as they find out the car will take more time to be fixed than they thought. Basically trapped in the small secluded motel, they become more and more uncomfortable. Soon it is clear something is desperately wrong with their situation. The owners appear to be keeping the couple isolated from others which makes them afraid of what might happen next.

Soon Reacher and the couple will meet. But when someone else brings weapons to the party, everyone knows bullets will fly and men will die.

I am a fan girl of Lee Child without apologies. His characters, quite notably Jack Reacher, are full of life and energy. They pop off the page with life. The perfect plotting will leave you guessing right up to the end. You will find yourself reading late into the night to see what happens next.  Spoiler alert – Reacher survives the book. But of course all Reacher fans know that going in. Much like James Bond, he lives to die another day and we all expect him to.

Because Child is one of my favorite authors, I have read many of his books. My favorite is always the one I have just finished.  Each time I read one of his books, I am reminded how he can pull me into the story with his eloquent turns of phrase that never intrude on the story he is telling. If you have only seen Jack Reacher on the big screen, invite him further into your life by reading one – or all of Child’s books. You will enjoy the depth of the character and story so much more. In my opinion, the book is always better than the movie.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Drowned Girl – Thought Provoking Mystery

The Drowned Girl (previously published as Only One Life)

By Sara Blaedel

Officer Louise Rick travels an hour out of Copenhagen to a small town to help the Unit One Mobile Task Force investigate the horrific murder of a young girl. She was found submerged in the bay by a local fisherman. Suicide is out of the question as she was tethered to a concrete block. Was this an act of random violence? Was she killed by someone she knew? Or was this an honor killing?

The dead teen is Muslim. Her parents live by the rules of their religion, which makes the investigation much more difficult due to their lack of cooperation due to fear and tradition. Unfortunately, information comes to light that may point to a private side of the young victim. Her parents may have found out about her secret which could have brought dishonor to their family.

Enter crime reporter Camilla, close friend of Louise. She jumps into the story and latches onto the honor killing theory. Her editor wants more of this angle, but the deeper Camilla dives into the lives of the Muslim families, the more she wants to help them by finding the truth. But her articles are stirring up a hornet’s nest of preconceived notions that will result in a bigger divide between Danish and Muslims. Will this lead to more violence?

Not only is this a solid mystery, but the thread of prejudice that affects the different groups of people is woven throughout the plot. This multilayered story makes the reader pause to think about listening more and learning more about others they may fear or dislike without foundation.

Some books that are translated from a different language are difficult to read. The Drowned Girl is not one of those books. The flow and read was perfect. Even though this is the first novel I’ve read by Blaedel, it is not the first mystery featuring Louise Rick, but I never felt as though I didn’t know enough about the characters to fully understand the story. Actually, it was quite the opposite. Not only were the main characters shown doing their jobs, but personal lives, hopes and dreams are woven throughout to bring them to life and enrich the story.

This intriguing mystery is entertaining and thought provoking. The plot kept me guessing until the last chapters. Just when I thought I knew who the killer was, my theory would be debunked in the next chapter. This is a perfect multilayered book. If you like depth of characters and the tough topics in Jodi Picoult books, you will love Blaedel’s writing style.

Sara Blaedel is a prolific Danish author, who now resides in New York. She is the recipient of several awards including the Golden Laurel, Denmark’s most prestigious literary award.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher/author in connection with Killer Nashville in return for my review. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Honolulu Heat – New Mystery by Rosemary and Larry Mild

Honolulu Heat

By Rosemary and Larry Mild

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Honolulu Heat opens with the Wong family enjoying another beautiful day at home in the paradise of Kauai. Suddenly a hurricane warning is broadcasted, changing the course of their lives forever. The family of three becomes four as the neighbors were away for the day, leaving their young son with the Wongs. They never made it home in the storm, so Noah became theirs.

The family moves to Oahu to be with extended family as their home in Kauai is currently uninhabitable. They are happy in Oahu and decide to make it their home. Noah grows up with love and family, but as soon as he becomes a teenager his rebellious nature lands him in trouble.

It starts out as small infractions. He is involved in tussles with other kids, troubles at school and disobedience at home. But there is another side to him. He is loyal to his adopted family extended family and cares about what they think of him. Unfortunately, the influence of some of his friends will soon put him on a collision course with the law.

Finding himself on the run after his involvement with a murder, Noah ends up in Chinatown tangled up with both a mob boss and an extortionist, both of whom have killed many before and are in a turf war that Noah unwittingly is a part of.

Noah has no place to run or hide, but when he finds out that someone he cares about may be killed, he has to try and get back to someone that will believe in him enough to help stop the violence. Risking everything, he has to prevent another murder or die trying.

Honolulu Heat is a like Scared Straight on steroids. Noah makes bad choices like any kid his age, but basically he is a good kid. He feels guilty about the trouble he has brought to his family as well as his girlfriend.

There are interesting subplots. The lives of the mobster and crime boss are woven into the story adding more and more tension until the last pages where the authors tie up the storylines in a satisfying end.

I like the style of writing of this husband and wife team. The setting of the Hawaiian Islands is interesting and fun to read about. It is the second book I have read from these authors, but the first in this series. The story itself worked well as a standalone novel. I was confused at times trying to keep track of the the number of characters introduced. Honolulu Heat is the follow up novel to Cry Ohana and features the same characters.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Long Road to Mercy – Baldacci’s New Series Not to Be Missed

Long Road to Mercy

By David Baldacci

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher/author in connection with Killer Nashville in return for my review. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

FBI special Agent Atlee Pine is a loner. She specifically requested an assignment in a tiny office in Shattered Rock, just outside of the Grand Canyon. Pine began her life as a team with her twin sister, but no longer works well with others. Just her and her administrative assistant are perfect for her loner lifestyle. She doesn’t mind hard work or long hours. As a matter of fact it suits her well, leaving less time to think about the serial killer that abducted and most likely killed her twin sister Mercy when they were young children.

Pine gets a call that there is a missing person and a dead mule at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A missing person is not that unusual. Hikers wander off and go missing, but it is extremely unusual to have someone from a group disappear leaving a dead mutilated mule in his wake. As Pine begins investigating she begins to see the disappearance is just the tip of the iceberg in a much bigger plot with huge ramifications.

It sounds like an impossible riddle:  What do the Grand Canyon, a dead mule, the Russian and Korean governments, a possible kidnapping and/or murder and a lone FBI Agent have in common? Baldacci weaves an intricate tale full of action, adventure and intrigue. His characters travel the United States in their quest to find the truth, trying to live long enough for justice to prevail.

I have read many books by Baldacci, and am very excited to find he has begun this new series featuring Atlee Pine. She is a character that has many sides and secrets. Some of them are hers, and some are truths that have been kept from her. I am anxious to find out more.

Baldacci’s latest page-turning thriller lives up to his reader’s expectations and beyond. It is hard pressed to find anyone who has not heard of this award winning, NYT Best Selling author. There is a reason for the accolades; his books are complex yet easy to read. I learned more interesting facts about the Grand Canyon than I’ve heard before, making me want to visit the only one of the Seven Natural Wonders that is located in the United States.

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