Review: Ant Farm by James M. Jackson

There’s nothing predictable or same-old-same-old about Seamus McCree or the kind of crime he investigates. He’s not a solo PI, but a former stock analyst working with a sophisticated group of investigators with expertise in financial crime.

Seamus is likeable and multi-dimensional. He’s a risk-taker when it comes to his own well-being and quite the opposite when it comes to his college-age son, Paddy, a computer whiz and hacker. The father-son relationship adds depth to the story.

I appreciated how the energy of the scenes and chapters was orchestrated, with a range from intense and adrenaline-pumping to quietly intriguing. The writing is tight and polished, the plot original, and the characters complex. The romantic subplot was a surprise but believable.

Ordinarily, I dislike the anonymous point of view. However, Jackson handles this device skillfully, giving the anonymous perpetrator enough of an identity and personality that one senses a person driving the events rather than the author playing tricks on the reader. In many books that use this device, the villain’s POV scenes could be subtracted without losing anything except spoilers. In Ant Farm, the anonymous POV chapters create a suspenseful layer of events in which the plot advances. I’m impressed.

And I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I’ll be buying it as soon as it’s liberated from Kindle Unlimited, along with the rest of the series. It won’t be too much longer. Meanwhile, Ant Farm is free on all e-book retail sites.

Review: A Thin Veil by Jane Gorman

In this mystery with a thread of political scandal, the red herrings are as intriguing as the path to right solution. The explorations of the minds and lives of Washington D.C. residents—public personalities, behind-the-scenes influencers, low-level staff, and people in neighborhoods the power-players and tourists seldom see—give the book much of its strength. Jane Gorman does her research in depth yet never comes across as having to display her efforts. D.C. comes to life in all its dimensions as vividly and naturally as her Polish settings did in A Blind Eye.

Some of the new characters introduced in this book are worthy of their own series, should the author ever be so inclined: Ramona Davis of the D.C. police, her family, and her mentor Sam Burke, now in Diplomatic Security.

I’m a little concerned about Adam’s personal life. (Yes, I’ve become one of those reviewers who write as if the characters were real people.) That’s half of why we follow series, though, isn’t it? We like the plots and the way the mysteries unfold, and we also get attached to the characters.

http://janegorman.com/books.html

 

Dog Days of Summer #Mystery Sale #99cents

At least half of these books are published everywhere (I wish all of them were!), and the landing page makes it easy to see which are. No clicking on a book only to be disappointed that it’s not available for your preferred e-reader. Author Ann R. Tan organizes excellent promotions, checking the quality of the books to be included. Many of them look like the kind of mysteries my readers enjoy, and all are marked down to 99 cents for three days, July 27, 28 and 29. Snake Face, book three in the Mae Martin series, has never been discounted before and probably won’t be discounted again, so this is a great time to get a copy. Happy summer reading!

Bargain Boxed Set from Ten Great Mystery Writers

sleuthing women 3-D.2

Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder…

Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.

Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy Alter—Real estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.

In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom…until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.

The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends’ funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn’t realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.

Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan Santangelo—Carol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.

Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME’s On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.

A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP Dahlke—When her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.

Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather Haven—Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.

Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie Hansen—When the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.

Buy Links

Kindle   Nook   Kobo   iTunes

*****

My thanks to Lois Winston for providing the guest post above. I was eager to promote this set, knowing her work and that of some of the other authors included. I can always count of members of Sisters in Crime for polished, masterful mysteries. Happy reading!

Amber Foxx

Review of Lies: Secrets Can Kill by Linda Lovely

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Set in Keokuk, Iowa in 1938, Lies gives a deeply felt portrait of life during the Great Depression, especially a woman’s life. At a time when a married woman working was frowned upon, Cat Reedy Black is seen as taking a job a man could have had. She’s a math whiz, able to do her job in a bank better than most men (or women) could, and a bit of a social outsider for reasons not only related to her work, but her poor choice of a husband, and simply being herself when “brainy” was not cool for women and girls. Early in the book she reflects on how there is something noble about numbers, how true and reliable they are compared to people. As the story progresses, the reader learns Cat has good reasons to feel this way.

The police officer protagonist, Ed Nelson, is working for a dangerously corrupt place chief, and has his own agenda for doing that job. The intersection of Ed’s and Cat’s stories begins when someone murders her husband.

A love story and some humor between friends keep the novel from being overly dark, but this is a serious look at American history and the pervasive sexism that our society took for granted as simply the way things were not so long ago. The interaction of poverty, fear and corrupt power is shown with insight and compassion. The setting is alive, the town real in every detail, from its sounds and smells to its culture and expectations. This complex sense of place is one of the book’s greatest strengths. The plot is paced relentlessly and tightly constructed, with a knock-out finale in a dramatic setting. It would make a good movie.

The only thing I didn’t like was the author’s choice to show a number of scenes from the point of view of an unnamed, vaguely described antagonist. This is a common and accepted convention, done by many writers, but it’s a device I’ve never cared for even when as well-written as it is in this book. It’s soon clear who this character is, so withholding the identity didn’t seem necessary.

This is a suspense novel more than a mystery, a race against time between killers and potential victims. The question isn’t “who-done-it” but “will they do it again?” I recommend it highly and readily forgave the occurrence of one my personal pet peeves. It kept me up at night, and its characters and issues are well worth your reading time.

Sales links for this book and more by this author can be found at http://www.lindalovely.com

March #Sales E-book #Bargains in Mystery, Suspense and Thriller

The following books are bargains right now. Everywhere, not just Amazon. Book title links go to Goodreads for more about the books. Sales links take you Barnes and Noble, Kobo, the iTunes bookstore, and/or Smashwords. Review links go to my reviews on this site. (I didn’t review my own book, of course, so there isn’t one for The Calling. See Goodreads for reviews.)

A-Blind-Eye-Web-MediumMystery mixes with political intrigue for an American in Poland

A Blind Eye by Jane Gorman

review

Sale dates: through end of March

Sale price: 99 cents

Kobo

Nook

iTunes

 

KJTS_Vol1_2500 copyIntense Thrillers

Kate Jones Thrillers Series, Vol. 1 boxed set of the first four novellas by DV Berkom

sale dates: through the end of March

sale price: 99 cents

review of a Kate Jones short (second half of review)

Kobo

Nook

iTunes

Smashwords

 

callingebooknewInnovative twist on the mystery genre: no murder and a touch of the mystical

The Calling by Amber Foxx

Sale dates: through March 26th

Sale price: 99 cents

Kobo

Nook

iTunes

 

FUNDAMENTALERROR 2Suspense with an unforgettable protagonist, introduction to the Amsterdam Assassin Series

Fundamental Error by Martyn V. Halm

Free everywhere all the time

Review

Kobo

Nook

iTunes

 

Review: A Blind Eye by Jane Gorman

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This is a cinematic, complex book, yet also tight and focused. The protagonist is a Polish-American Philadelphia policeman visiting Warsaw as part of a Sister Cities delegation. While there, Adam Kaminski hopes to learn more about his ancestry and culture, and wonders if he might even find relatives. Find one them does, and this leads him into an entanglement with the Polish police, members of the government, and dark secrets from the country’s past. His newly-found cousin, an investigative reporter, is certain that his daughter’s death, ruled a suicide, was in fact a murder. An idealistic and energetic young woman with a passion for politics and justice, Basia Kaminski may have learned too much about some high-ranking, influential people. Her father’s life is in danger as result of his inquiries into her death, and as Adam gets involved he puts his own life at risk as well.

Gorman knows how to pace for maximum effect and portrays her characters and her setting masterfully. She uses details of sight, sound and scent to create a powerful sense of the characters’ experiences. From the wintry streets and public parks to pubs and milk bars, from private homes of all walks of life to the halls of government and the deep recesses of the national archives, the setting is so alive it’s almost like a character itself. The romantic subplot is perfectly interwoven with the mystery, each dependent on the other.

One scene shifts to the perspective of a character whose point of view is not otherwise used, a choice that I found distracting, but that’s more a matter of my preference than a problem in the writer’s style. The quality of her research is outstanding. I highly recommend this book for readers who like political intrigue, dramatic locales, and mysteries with depth and substance.

To read more about her series and some fascinating background on this book, go to http://www.janegorman.com

 

Two Reviews: Short and Sweet, Short and Scary

WinstonCrewel Intentions

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:

https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-mystery

https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-romantic-suspense

https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/short-story-singles-and-collections

LSDL Cover copy

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.

https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-mystery

Review: The Body Market

Berkom_The Body MarketIt’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.

http://www.dvberkom.com

https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-mystery/

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.

Review: Murder by Misrule, by Anna Castle

History, Mystery, and Mastery of Both

 CastleMurderbyMisruleElizabethan England comes to life in this colorful, tightly plotted murder mystery. It follows the classic conventions of the genre creatively. When the plot takes a surprise turn—it’s a big surprise. The characters are three-dimensional and original. The middle-class working women give depth to what could have been told as a man’s story and still worked well enough. The young lawyers-in-training are complex, lively characters, and their tutor Francis Bacon is the perfect historical personage to cast as a detective, with his knowledge of law, his scientific thinking, and his strong, somewhat quirky personality. It was fascinating to meet the great thinker at twenty-five years of age, early in his career.

Anna Castle did her research. Her dialog feels true to the times without being stilted or archaic. She portrays the clothing, the social customs, the law, law school and the manners of the queen’s court, as well as the details of life for the working people, without being pedantic, integrating the details into active, suspenseful scenes. I double-checked the one thing I thought might be an anachronism—a song—and found that it actually is that old. I should have trusted her. An author this good wouldn’t mess up a little thing like that. From the brightest and wittiest scenes to the darkest, every page rings true. The dances and the masque and the scenery were wonderful. The scenes in Newgate prison were grimly accurate. If you’ve ever doubted that an indie book could be as polished as a traditionally published work, give Murder by Misrule a try. I think it could change your mind.