Book Review: Over Maya Dead Body

Book Review: Over Maya Dead Body

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra OrchardAfter being surprised by Another Day, Another Dali, I was keen to pick up Over Maya Dead Body, the third book in the Serena Jones Mysteries Series by Sandra Orchard.

FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a bit of R & R and a lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But when a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring interrupts her picture-perfect trip, she’s soon entangled in the investigation.

Propelled into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them a boatload of romantic complications–and even a secret or two?

Similarly to the previous book in the series, it was the characters that stood out to me in Over Maya Dead Body. Read more

Book Review: Murder Is No Accident

Book Review: Murder Is No Accident

Murder is No Accident by A H GabhartMurder Is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart, captured my attention with it’s witty tagline: “If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky—with a dash of sinister—you’ll love going back to Hidden Springs to find out whodunit this time.”

The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn’t realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she’s not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room.

Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

Overall, Murder is No Accident was a fun jaunt to a small town with all the characters that involves. Coming from a small town myself, there were definitely times I could relate, despite never having investigated a murder. Read more

Book Review: Pursued

Book Review: Pursued

Pursued by Lisa HarrisNikki Boyd is back in action in the third installment of The Nikki Boyd Files, Pursued by Lisa Harris.

Nikki Boyd’s flight into Nashville was routine–up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing–and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

I will readily admit that I sometimes struggle with willing suspension of disbelief, but I do try. Pursued stretched my capability though. One of the major incidents within this novel could be fodder for an entire book, one after another is just too unrealistic. Plane crash? Held hostage? Targeted by a sniper? All in a few days work in Nikki’s life apparently. Read more

Book Review: Another Day, Another Dali

Book Review: Another Day, Another Dali

Another Day Another Dali by Sandra OrchardAnother Day, Another Dali surprised me.

The world of art theft can be a deadly game–one that Serena Jones understands all too well.

When FBI Special Agent Serena Jones takes on the case of a forged Dali painting as a favor to her grandmother, she assumes it will be a typical investigation. Hopefully collaring the thief will also mean finally measuring up in her grandmother’s eyes. But the deeper she delves into the forgery and the suspects surrounding it, the less typical it becomes.

The Dali isn’t the only painting that’s fallen prey to the forgery-replacing thief, raising the possibility of a sophisticated theft ring — one with links to dirty cops, an aspiring young artist, and the unsolved murder of Serena’s grandfather. To make matters worse, someone connected to the forgeries seems to be determined to stop Serena’s investigation — no matter the cost.

Another Day, Another Dali gives the plucky Serena Jones–and readers–a new high-stakes case to crack. You won’t want to miss a single brushstroke!

Never having read anything by Sandra Orchard, I didn’t fully know what to expect with this novel. Read more

Book Review: Dressed for Death

Book Review: Dressed for Death

Dressed for Death by Julianna DeeringHaving read Rules of Murder a few years ago, when I had the opportunity to check out the latest in the Drew Farthering Mystery series by Juliana Deering, Dressed for Death, I snatched it up.

Amateur detective Drew Farthering and his young wife are invited to a special Regency-era house party being hosted by old friends. While a bit unusual (no vehicles allowed, only authentic Regency era resources), the fun is unabashed. Until someone dies. Was it a drug overdoes? An accident? Intentional? Was it murder? Drew sets about to help his friend (and satisfy his insatiable curiosity) by solving the puzzle. But what he finds leads to more bodies and more questions…

I think perhaps jumping straight from book 1 to book 4 has caused me some issues. I felt as though I was expected to know some of these characters (even secondary characters), their relationships and quirks before I opened the pages of this book. Truly, I think there is a way for authors to neither bore their followers nor leave new readers in the dark, so I was somewhat disappointed that I felt like the new person in the Farthering world, unaware of who the players were.

Otherwise, though, Dressed for Death, was a fun affair — if murder can be considered fun! The Regency era party sounds delightful. Who wouldn’t want to dress up and pretend to live in another era for a weekend of fun and frivolity? But the illusion comes to a crashing halt when Drew’s best friend’s fiancee is found dead. Read more

Book Review: Tangled Webs

Book Review: Tangled Webs

Tangled Webs by Irene HannonHaving read some Irene Hannon in the past (Guardians of Justice series), I was excited to jump into Tangled Webs, her latest novel. Tangled Webs is the third in the Men of Valor series.

Finn has packed away his combat instincts — but he may need them again when danger begins to stalk his quiet hideaway . . .

After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn’t on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana’s foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action — ready or not.

Not having read the first two of this series, I was pleased to see that I had no trouble diving right into the Men of Valor world. Read more

Book Review: The Raven

Book Review: The Raven

The Raven by Mike NappaI had never read anything by Mike Nappa when I picked up The Raven, the second in the Coffey & Hill series. The concept of classic literature and crime drama piqued my interest, for I both love literature and enjoy a good whodunnit. I was diving in on the second in a series, which always poses problems, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t impede my enjoyment of the novel.

As part of his street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience’s pockets while they watch. It’s harmless fun–until he decides to keep the wallet of a prominent politician, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds compromising photos of the councilman and his “personal assistants,” The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named “Nevermore.”

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues to rescue The Raven from a wild card bent on revenge.

I was glad that while some readers may be familiar with the main characters, namely Trudi Coffey and her ex-husband Samuel Hill, Nappa did a good enough job of introducing the characters and their intricate back story that it wasn’t necessary to have read the first novel in order to understand the second.

Coffey and Hill proved to be interesting characters, Read more

Book Review: Catching Heat

Book Review: Catching Heat

Catching Heat by Janice CantoreCatching Heat by Janice Cantore is the third installation of the Cold Case Justice series.

The deaths of her parents appears to be settled — or as settled as it was going to be — so detective Abby Hart is prepared to move on. But when a key confession witholds information, Abby can’t stand the injustice. Now a part of the newly formed task force to address cold cases, she learns that it’s harder to let go than she thought.

Meanwhile, private investigator Luke Murphy is ready to blaze ahead with the first lead assigned to his new cold case team. Struggling to keep Abby’s focus on the case, he worries her seeming obsession might become deadly. Read more

Book Review: The Jazz Files

Book Review: The Jazz Files

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch SmithThe Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith is an engaging and delightful read. (Ironically, the first book I selected after my Fiona was born was authored by a Fiona.)

Shortly after arriving in London in 1920, Poppy Denby takes a position as an assistant at a newspaper — hoping to start her own career as a journalist. But when the political editor drops dead, Poppy begins a journey unlike anything she imagined to learn the truth about the article he had been working on, one with very personal ties to her own family. But her determination to dig up the past puts her and those she loves in danger…

I enjoyed reading this well-written mystery and getting to know the characters of this new series by a new-to-me author. The heroine, Poppy, is easy to like and relatable — she isn’t an expert at much of anything, but she has spunk and determination. Her friends are a smattering of personalities and generations, each unique and likeable in their own way. Read more

Book Review: Rules of Murder

Book Review: Rules of Murder

Rules of Murder by Julianna DeeringThe new novel Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering presents the affable, young country gentleman Drew Farthering in his first attempt at solving a murder.

During a soiree at his family home, a man is murdered and Drew embarks on a quest to use the knowledge he’s learned from popular mystery novels to solve this real-life crime. With his best friend, Nick, at his side and the beautiful and intelligent American girl, Madeline, to impress, Drew leaves no stone unturned in his hunt to find the killer.

The novel is lighthearted and reminiscent of the popular murder mysteries of the 1930s. However, Deering lost credibility with me along the way as not one, not two, but three murders take place at the Farthering home. The plot leaves something to be desired as clues become almost too obvious to the reader and the mystery is quickly unraveled.

The characters are endearing and incredibly likable, perhaps too likable. At times, Drew just didn’t seem realistic–finding out that his mother isn’t who he thought she was (or his father, for that matter) hardly fazes him. And the death of loved ones that he respects and trusts? It provides him with an entertaining mystery to solve, barely making an impact emotionally. That’s just hard to believe.

Madeline is purported to be a strong character, intelligent, independent and dogged in her determination, but more often than not she is portrayed as fearful, utterly dependent on others and often satisfied to be left behind. What could have been a winning character simply didn’t impress. And the relationship and budding romance between Drew and Madeline is sweet, but oversimplified.

Unfortunately, the characters hardly seem to grow or change at all over the course of the novel, creating a lack of depth. And themes of faith are portrayed only briefly and in terribly cliche moments.

In all, Rules of Murder is a lighthearted and fun step back in time, however I hope any forthcoming Drew Farthering mysteries portray evolving characters and more stimulating plot lines.

I received a complimentary copy of Rules of Murder from Bethany House Publishers, but I was not otherwise compensated for this review. All writing, thoughts, and opinions are solely mine.