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:

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

You’ll also find some of her work on the mystery page on this site.


Review: Ghosting by Martyn V. Halm


The latest in the Amsterdam Assassin series is the best yet. Like the others, it strikes a balance between action thriller and psychological suspense. The immersion in Japanese culture as well as Amsterdam life is masterful. There are layers upon layers of complex manipulation, making the imagery of strategy games, both chess and the Japanese game of go, key elements in setting the tone. As always, Halm writes both love scenes and fight scenes with intimate realism and finesse. Neither the sex nor the violence is gratuitous. Both are part of the development of deep and intriguing characterization. Halm portrays the protagonists and antagonists in their full humanity, with no sense that one side of the law or the other is inhabited by morally superior people. It’s not even clear that there really are two sides to the law. The story reveals a multi-dimensional moral universe, nothing as simple as good vs. evil or cops vs. criminals, in a plot that flows from Jamaica to the Netherlands and back with unending suspense.

I’m reviewing early because I recommend reading this series from the beginning and reading the short fiction as well  All the prior works lead up to this one. Though each novel tells its own complete tale and reaches a resolution, reading the books in sequence lets the reader follow a unique and compelling set of characters through a larger—and habit-forming—story. Start now. Ghosting comes out December. 1


Additional sales links on the author’s web site:

Other books in the series:


Review: Deadly Occupation: A Michael Stoddard American Revolution Mystery


A Different Angle on History and Mystery

 I’m a fan of in-depth, accurate history, with a particular interest in the eighteenth century American South, therefore I had high expectations for this book. I’m happy to say it met all of my history buff needs. I didn’t find a single anachronism or inaccuracy—even things I thought had to be wrong turned out to be right. (Did you know that the use of the word “lousy” to describe feeling poorly dates back earlier than the 1780s?) Adair uses her knowledge smoothly, never slowing the story while still effectively setting every scene with the right touches of period detail.

A novel set in North Carolina during the American Revolution with a young British lieutenant as the protagonist gives American readers a new slant on our history. Shortly after British troops occupy Wilmington, Michael Stoddard’s commanding officer asks him to look into the disappearance of a local woman. From that first inquiry, Stoddard begins to trace weapons smuggling and possibly kidnapping and murder. He is not a stereotypical hero. I liked his physical ordinariness, his persistence, and his dedication to his work as a special investigator for the British occupying forces. He’s open-minded for his times, but not so much so as to seem modern. He struck me as too forceful at times, and he misses a few things he should have seen. This mix of flaws and goodness makes him human. He’s not a genius or a saint. He’s a hard-working man in a difficult situation, someone I think most readers will be able to identify with and root for.

The plot is complex and fascinating. The main and supporting characters are fully developed. I especially liked Private Spry, Stoddard’s assistant in the investigations. I also found the romantic subplot realistic and enjoyable. There are a number of strong female characters in this book.

The intertwining mysteries were more than enough to keep me interested. I would have liked the book better without the flashbacks and backstory about Stoddard’s unfinished dealings with a very disturbing fellow officer. I’m a first-class wimp when it comes to reading about that kind of villain, and I’m not fond of long flashbacks, so this material briefly took me out of the story. It looks like it’s a continuing plot thread weaving through the whole series, and I expect other readers may like the idea of an ongoing conflict with a nemesis Stoddard seeks to finally defeat. The book was otherwise a compelling page-turner, and this one shortcoming in my view is due entirely to my personal tastes, not the author’s skill in telling a story. She has mastered that art, and history buffs should get hooked on this series.

Buy links:





Kindle UK


Author’s blog and web site:

Why Review?

I review almost everything I read on Goodreads and Booklikes. If it’s an indie book available on all e-book retailers, I review it here as well. If it’s a mystery set in New Mexico, I feature it on my other blog, . The first reason is I do this because I like to read well-thought-out reviews before I shop and this is a way to pay it forward. Reviews by bloggers and regular readers persuade me more than professional reviewers writing for Kirkus or the New York Times. I prefer the quirky things that readers have to say that bring out the flavor of a book. These honest and highly individual responses help me consider my book choices. I’ve never been able to condense a review down to one line, but I’ve read some that do it well and I admire that skill.

Another reason I review is that when I like a book, I want to tell people about it. I may mention a few flaws in a three-star review, but by Goodreads standards, that’s still an “I liked it” review.” I’ve given a few two-stars to books that I thought were worth finishing in spite of flawed writing because of plots and characters I cared about. Talented authors with bad editors sometimes can still hold my attention. I take no pleasure in writing bad reviews, though, so I seldom post anything less than a three-star. This isn’t for the author’s sake, but for my own. I can’t sacrifice my time to books I don’t like. If it looks like a one-star in the making, I exit by page forty.

Maybe the most valuable aspect of reviewing for me is that it makes me think about a book. I might find myself exploring the deeper meaning of a book and its social implications, or I might notice the author’s technical skills in plot development, character creation, and language, even things like the way he or she executes transitions between scenes. This makes me a better book club member when we discuss a book, it makes me a better writer, and most of all a more appreciative reader when I start paying close attention to the next book.

Read a good indie book that’s available everywhere? (By that I mean it’s not exclusive to Amazon.) Interested in being a guest reviewer? Let me know.

Two Reviews: The Daisy Dunlop Mysteries




Lost Cause (Daisy Dunlop Mystery #1)

This is the kind of book you could read nonstop. Witty, naughty, fast-paced, well-plotted. Think of an R-rated British I Love Lucy with a whole tangle of mysteries—a missing heir, insurance fraud, a man with a secret, and murder—and you’ll get a sense of what you’re in for. Daisy is a colorful character. She’s smart, attractive, accident prone, inquisitive, and happily married to a man who wants to keep her out of trouble, though the job he finds for her does nothing of the sort. It was refreshing to read a book where the passionate romance is between husband and wife, parents of a teenager. The twists and turns of this story surprised me constantly. The contrast, conflict and repartee between Daisy and her employer Solomon kept me entertained. This is the only book I’ve ever read where a shot was fired that made me laugh out loud. It was a perfect punch line for the whole plot. When you get to it, you’ll know what I mean. I think this is the shortest review I’ve ever written, but with a plot like this, it’s hard to say more without spoilers. I’m hooked on Daisy Dunlop and look forward to keeping up with the series.

Lost and Found (Daisy Dunlop Mystery #2)

Would the sexual prowess of a poodle really incite someone to murder …?

This line from the blurb made me laugh. Many events in the book made me laugh, too—especially the method by which Daisy enacts a heroic rescue near the end. I still laugh thinking about it.

The humor is natural and authentic, coming from characters, relationships and situations, and is funnier for being so genuine. While this is essentially a comic mystery, the murders are handled with realistic seriousness and there are moments of human connection and caring that are true to life rather than risible. When there’s sex, though, it can be hilarious. Daisy and Paul’s marital romance continues to be one of the delights of the series, along with Daisy’s conflicted working relationship with her husband’s best friend Solomon.

The author is incredibly creative. The plot is full of unexpected events and original, colorful characters from beginning to end. And as for the poodles? Read the book to find out.

Buy links (and other great books)

Lost Cause is currently FREE and Lost and Found only $2.99.