Leine Basso travels to Thailand and Tanzania in her anti-trafficking work, under circumstances that require her to forge an alliance with an Afrikaner poacher, a complex and fascinating rogue. A tightly structured page-turner with vivid settings and compelling characters, Cargo deals with some of the worst in human behavior: cruelty to fellow humans and to wildlife, motivated by greed. The harm to animals takes place offstage—the reader isn’t forced to watch—but the aftermath is tragic and appalling, and the scenes detailing a trafficking victim’s ordeal haunted me. This is an intense read, but I still recommend it. The last line troubled me, though. It’s closure, full-circle justice of a sort, but it’s disturbing, too—not healing.
Lois Winston’s Crewel Intentions is a mini-sequel to the first book in the Anastasia Pollock crafting mystery series. It’s light, tight and cozy, with the mystery neatly set up and solved in a few chapters. Anastasia is as delightful a narrator as ever, with her humor and knowledge of crafts. A fun read for anyone who enjoyed Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, and is curious about what happened to Erica next.
Many of Winston’s books are listed on this site with buy links:
DV Berkom’s Let Sleeping Dogs Lie is a chilling mystery/thriller set in the Arizona desert.
Skinwalkers, A woman kidnapped by a bad boyfriend. Clues in petroglyphs behind an abandoned gas station.
I kept wondering how Berkom could tie it up in twenty-three pages—it just kept rolling, getting more intense. But she pulls it off brilliantly. This was my first venture into the Kate Jones series, and won’t be my last. A boxed set is in my Nook and I’ll be reading it soon.
Buy links and information about Berkom’s other books can be found at http://dvberkom.com
You’ll also find some of her work on the mystery page on this site.
Never bought an indie book before? Try it. A lot of readers haven’t, but it’s a low-risk adventure. I’ve paid as much $14.99 for a traditionally published e-book that I didn’t like, and I just paid $8.49 for one that’s only 67 pages. (Fortunately, I like it so far.) The most I’ve ever paid for an indie e-book is $4.99 and I’ve liked almost all of them. The only way I take traditional or indie publishing into consideration as a factor in choosing a book is that I love indie prices. Of course, there are a lot of other factors that go into my choice of a book, and this may explain why I’ve had such a satisfying indie reading experience. The following criteria have helped me find some great writers.
- Have people whose opinion I respect given it good reviews? These might be people I know well on Goodreads, reviewers I follow on Booklikes, or personal friends, but they are all people who care about quality. I found Martyn V. Halm’s compelling Amsterdam Assassin Series this way. I’ve reviewed on one of the short stories in this series on this site, and all the books and singles on both Goodreads and Booklikes.
- Is the author a member of Sisters in Crime? http://www.sistersincrime.org This has been a 100% reliable way for me to find good mystery authors. (By the way, though Sisters in Crime started as an organization to support women writing in the mystery genre, we have male members.) The organization educates its members with classes and workshops and discussion groups, and local and national chapter meetings. SinC’s “Guppies” group—short for the Great Unpublished—has many published authors who continue their membership because of the support they get and can give to new Guppies. I’ve never read a SinC member’s book that let me down. SinC members whose books I’ve reviewed on this site include J.L. Simpson, DV Berkom, Anna Castle and Diane Vallere. I’m currently half-way through SinC member Lois Winston’s hilariously inventive cozy mystery, Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun. Even the title made me laugh. Look for a favorable review coming soon.
- Did the book earn a B.R.A.G. Medallion? This award for the best in indie writing isn’t a contest—it’s an ongoing process. Books submitted to the Book Readers’ Appreciation group are read and evaluated by numerous people, not just one or two judges or critics. I’ve never read a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree book that let me down. DV Berkom’s and Anna Castle’s books mentioned above earned B.R.A.G. medallions. (So did my murder-less mystery Shaman’s Blues, but of course I haven’t reviewed my own work.) If you’ve never read an indie book before and you like #mysteries and thrillers, you could start with one of these books. I think you’ll get your money’s worth—probably more.
To find the books not linked to reviews, Shaman’s Blues and Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun (and many more) go to
It’s a cliché to say a book was hard to put down—but this one was really hard to put down. The story concept is original, and Berkom is a master of pacing. Every scene is crafted to move the plot and keep the reader wanting to know what happens next, with a balance between intense action scenes and suspenseful scenes of quiet tension that build to the next explosion.
Leine Basso, a former assassin, is now working to rescue victims of human trafficking. When she tangles with the traffickers, her skills from her old profession are needed. Leine is a kick-ass heroine, but not super-human. She networks with people who can help her accomplish a mission, and those networks are set up early in the plot so none of the events becomes a deus ex machina twist. With everything set up so precisely, the Body Market peaks with one of the best surprise endings I’ve read in a thriller—and yet another one, if you read the bonus short story at the end. (You should.)
The scenes in the point of view of Elise, the kidnapped teenager Leine is trying to rescue are even more gripping than those in Leine’s point of view, because this girl has no weapons, no training, no access to people who can help her, and no experience outside of her Beverly Hills rich kid world. I never knew if Elise would survive, or how, though I could see the roots of her strength beneath her spoiled-brat surface.
This book recently received a well-deserved B.R.A.G. Medallion, which is given in recognition for the best in indie writing. To learn more about the B.R.A.G. Medallion go to http://www.bragmedallion.com/
Berkom has such an extensive list of publications I can’t fit them all on this site. You’ll find The Body Market on the mystery page—it’s both mystery and thriller—and can find sales links for Berkom’s other books on her web site. The newest in the Leine Basso series, Cargo, came out August 1.
The first Leine Basso thriller, Serial Date, is currently free, and when I went to Barnes and Noble to download it I was pleased to discover the Kate Jones series as well. I’m looking forward to reading more by Berkom.