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Currently Browsing: mystery/suspense
Apr
4

Review: Blow Down by JL Merrow

Review: Blow Down by JL Merrow Blow Down Author: JL Merrow Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Several months have passed since Tom Paretski got engaged, saw his best friend married, found out his “Dad” wasn’t really his biological father, and became the resident hero by saving a barmaid from dying in a fire. Now something of a minor celebrity thanks to news coverage exposing his psychic “gift,” he’s in demand for more than his plumbing skills—this time finding himself obligated to unearth a stolen necklace for a recently-wed, high-ranking member of the local diocese (who nobody seems to like very much). At least his life’s not boring. As was the case with the previous titles in the series, Blow Down begins with the discovery of a corpse. Poor Tom’s knack for finding dead bodies hasn’t subsided at all, and has once again placed him in the crosshairs of a murderer. With multiple suspects all capable of rampant greed, hatred of the deceased, or both, this was an interesting crime for Tom and Phil to crack. Although, in truth, I had more fun waiting to see what they, and the other returning characters would do than I did trying to puzzle out the mystery itself. One aspect of the earlier stories I wasn’t sure about, but which I thought was among the most enjoyable parts of Blow Down was Tom and Phil’s relationship. While they’re still learning about each other outside of their shared past, I found the teasing, protectiveness, and fondness that’s so evident between them to be endearing. In fact, the entire narrative is more affectionate than its predecessors, yet it maintains the familiar and comforting level of snark that has so strongly contributed to the personality of the series as a whole so far. Though I wasn’t able to get quite as wrapped up in the mystery of Blow Down as I was in the previous stories, it moved things along just fine. Despite the entirely new group of characters introduced for the purpose, there were somewhat limited options when it came to the sinister narcissism that seemed most indicative of the killer. While there’d be no story without the whodunit, it felt more like a vehicle for everything else that’s going on with Tom, rather than the objective of the narrative. Having missed the original publication of The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, I admit that it has been nice to read them so closely together. As someone who is unfamiliar...
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Mar
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: A Tommy and Tuppence Mystery Partners in Crime Author:  Agatha Christie Narrator:  Hugh Fraser Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #2 Genre: Mystery Source: Library I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this second novel in the Tommy & Tuppence series. However, I should have never feared.  Though the time had jumped forward a bit, I enjoyed the eclectic nature of the series of mini-mysteries. Partners in Crime is an apt title as Tommy and Tuppence go under cover as… detectives.  Yes, after their success in the previous novel, her Majesty’s secret service request they take over the Blunt’s International Detective Agency to squirrel out more secrets and plots.  After being young newlyweds for a while, they feel they are ready to take on this exciting challenge, especially as Tuppence is feeling restless and a bit bored with life.  While they wait for the villains to make their move, Tommy and Tuppence fill their days with taking on real cases and solving them.  It was really delightful how the story progresses.  I enjoyed watching Tommy and Tuppence work together and at times at odds – trying to outdo the other. Hugh Fraser does an excellent job of bringing these characters to life; Tuppence’s effervescent personality and Tommy’s cautious nature.  He easily varies his voice as well as consistently making it easy to discern different characters.  His performance enhanced my enjoyment of this novel. For fans of Agatha Christie, I recommend this novel and the Tommy & Tuppence series.  It’s a more lighthearted mystery/detective genre.  I especially enjoy listening to this series as Hugh Fraser narrates it.  Considering the bit of a hint for the next chapter in their lives, I look forward to the next novel. My Ratings: Story: A Narrator: A Overall: A About the Book: Tommy and Tuppence Beresford were restless for adventure, so when they were asked to take over Blunt’s International Detective Agency, they leapt at the chance. After their triumphant recovery of a pink pearl, intriguing cases kept on coming their way: a stabbing on Sunningdale golf course; cryptic messages in the personal columns of newspapers; and even a box of poisoned...
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Mar
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Squirrel on the Train Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #2 (Iron Druid Chronicles) Source: Purchased Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries is a seriously funny series of novellas told from the point of view of Oberon the Irish Wolfhound, faithful companion to Atticus, the Iron Druid. This time around Oberon and his furry companions discover a squirrel (the most evilest of creatures) that followed the gang from their home into the city, staying on the train the whole ride. Of course, knowing the squirrel is up to no good, the dogs chase it down, leading the gang smack dab into the middle of a murder investigation. Kevin Hearne is a mad genius for coming up with such hilarious and creative adventures for Oberon and his buddies. Having the mystery shared via his POV is masterful and so much fun. Even if don’t read the Iron Druid Chronicles, I think you would find Oberon enduring. But for those familiar with this extra special wolf hound, the story is amazing. The overall mystery is interesting and ties in some surprising aspects from Atticus’s past. I love how the hounds bring their own brand of sleuthing to the case, which truly wouldn’t have been solved without them. The humor is off the charts funny. But it’s Luke Daniel’s performance that makes this clever story an absolute joy! He has such unique voices for each character, developed and honed over the course of at least a dozen stories. I love that his character voices remain distinct and intact over the course of years. I found the audiobook of The Squirrel on the Train to be a breath of fresh air and the perfect answer to this cold and snowy day. My Ratings: Story: A Narration: A+ About the Book: Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body—or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself. The police, hampered by human...
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Mar
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Djinn Haven series To Catch a Stolen Soul  Author: R.L. Naquin Narrator: Chandra Skye Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Djinn Haven #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio I’m so glad that I picked up this new urban fantasy series, Djinn Haven.  Kam’s adventure was funny, fascinating and intriguing.  Left with a bit of a cliffhanger of intrigue, I cannot wait to listen to the next novel. Though To Catch a Stolen Soul is a spin-off from another of Ms. Naquin’s series, I did not feel as if I was missing out on any back story.  That being said, with the freshness of this world, I’m interested in picking up the previous series, Monster Haven.  The world is rich with a mix of paranormal creatures, the Hidden.  Kam is a Djinn soul chaser.  It’s her job to chase down souls that for whatever reason when released from their bodies did not move on to the next realm.  Kam is very much a free spirit, only ensuring she has what she needs.  She’s tough but tenderhearted and compassionate.  I liked how she didn’t rely on her powers as much as her own ingenuity.  Her humor and crafty intelligence is endearing as it is intriguing.  Though not a detective, she finds herself in the role and not doing a half-bad job of it. The plot of the missing reaper and murdered Hidden food-truck operators was compelling.  The darker moments offset by Kam’s wit.  The detective narrative flowed well and though the culprit was fairly easy to puzzle out, there were plenty of twisting nuances that kept the novel gripping.  Plus, we also have Kam’s mysterious intended that is trying to find her while she is trying to stay on the run.  I’m further intrigued by the “Master” that held Kam as a prisoner (think genie in a bottle – only for Kam it was a box).  The relationship she cultivates with the fellow food truck operators along with her own hitchhiker adds richness to the overall feel of the novel. Ms. Chandra Skye’s narration was complimentary to the personality of Kam.  I enjoyed how she not only conveyed the story but added depth to the personalities of the characters.  Though her voice, I was able to immerse myself in the world.  I look forward to listening to more of her performances. As I said, I eagerly look forward to the...
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Mar
7

Review: Heat Trap by JL Merrow

Review: Heat Trap by JL Merrow Heat Trap Author: JL Merrow Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Having enjoyed the first two Plumber’s Mate Mysteries a great deal, I was happy to jump into Heat Trap fairly soon after finishing the second story. And while the half-year interim in the timeline is plenty long in some ways, certain aspects of Tom’s life appear not to have progressed much at all. Granted, Tom was dealt a tremendous shock at the end of Relief Valve, but I was left feeling uncertain at times as this narrative unfolded. Tom continues to be a likable character, even though I was disappointed by some of his reactions, especially towards Phil. The two have been together for more than six months at this point, during which time they’ve exchanged both house keys and “I love you’s,” and are making plans for the near future. Rather than appearing more solid, however, it felt as if Tom’s faith in him was too easily shaken when tensions began to escalate, resulting in him keeping Phil at a distance in the process. Phil, on the other hand, I liked more than ever. While I was initially skeptical of his interest in Tom—his seeming lack of regret over his earlier treatment of Tom being a sore spot—his affections in Heat Trap are indisputable. He has the anxious, yet hopeful demeanor of someone who has already put his heart on the line unreservedly, and I couldn’t help but be firmly in Phil’s camp for most of the story. Happily, some of my other favorites are back, and better than I remembered. Darren and Gary, in particular, are delightful in their pre-wedding bliss, and I honestly would have been glad to see them turn up in even more scenes. Tom’s sister, Cherry, is also a more constant presence in his life now, and was a lot of fun when she popped up. The mystery in Heat Trap involves some noteworthy characters from Tom’s preferred pub, “The Devil’s Dyke,” and it was nice to gain more insight into their roles, as well. Overall, I had mixed feelings about Heat Trap. While I don’t think it shows Tom in an especially favorable light at times, I was thrilled with the way things seemed to be going for him and Phil by the end of the story. The mystery itself was likewise interesting, although it felt secondary to the relationship struggles Tom is trying to come to terms with....
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Feb
27

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day Dead Eye Author: Alyssa Day Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Tess has lived in Dead End her whole life. Although the town is no stranger to the weird and unexplained, she’s a bit of an oddball; able to see a person’s death when coming into contact with another. She runs a pawn shop, which she is now partial owner, and genuinely loves her job. Jack, a tiger shifter, has been away for ten years, leading the human resistance against vampires and working side by side with the Atlanteans. He recently discovered his uncle (and only family member), Jeremiah, was murdered, and after being back in Dead End for less than a day, another dead body is dumped at the door to his deceased uncle’s pawn shop. Now Jack is determined to figure out what’s going on. I absolutely enjoyed reading Dead Eye, the first in Ms. Day’s new Tiger’s Eye Mysteries (although the book was previously released). The story is shared by the first person POV of Tess, and features Jack, one of the heroes from the Warriors of Poseidon series. There are so many delightful surprises in this one… and not at all what I expected after reading the Warriors of Poseidon. Dead Eye is filled with light-hearted humor and has a cozy-mystery vibe. The mystery of who killed Jeremiah and what is happening in Dead End builds slowly and clues delivered sporadically. Tess and Jack do a great job of seeing the interconnected strings that tie everything together. While it’s not a surprise who did what and why by the time the master plan is revealed, it unfolds in a way that is thoughtful and interesting. Tess is a great heroine. She’s an “average Joe” (with a weird gift of being able to foresee a person’s death), who rises to the occasion. She finds courage when she doesn’t expect it. She’s kind and good, but has a wicked side when it comes to seeking vengeance against those who’ve done harm to innocents. Jack compliments her in many ways,  bolstering her and allowing her to be more. Their attraction is slow-burning but obvious to the reader. Dead Eye is a fabulous, engrossing story filled with great humor, interesting adventures, and a hint of romance that has the potential for some serious heat. I found myself cheering for Jack and Tess. I enjoyed meeting all of Dead End’s denizens, with all their quirks and flaws. The...
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Feb
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder’s a Witch by Danielle Garrett

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Murder’s a Witch by Danielle Garrett Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Murder’s a Witch Author: Danielle Garrett Narrator: Amanda Ronconi Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries #1 Genre: Paranormal Mystery Source: Tantor Audio Holly, a powerful witch, has been tossed from the Haven, a secret system of living for paranormals. She’s been placed in a communal home for displaced paras, living in the small town of Beechwood Harbor. Working at a coffee shop to make ends meet, Holly is shocked when she shows up for work only to find her grumpy boss Peg murdered in the back alley. When her best friend is named as the primary suspect, Holly uses her witchy ways to get to the bottom of this mystery. Murder’s a Witch is a fun, entertaining story. This is the first time I’ve selected an audiobook primarily because of the narrator, and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the small-town, cozy paranormal mystery with a slight blossom of romance. Even though at first, I found the house infighting annoying, and the characters a bit over-the-top, I grew to like the residents of Beechwood Harbor. Holly is a bit of a mess, and she has secrets, of which we learned very little. Hopefully those answers will come in time, but the immediate mystery of who killed Peg was engrossing. I liked listening as Holly worked to put all of the pieces together. I loved the light-hearted nature of the story, watching friendships develop, seeing Adam’s genuine interest in Holly, etc. Some of the storylines were a bit cheesy – like the vampiress beauty queen, but mostly it is a good mix of fun. As I mentioned, I picked up this story because, while it looked interesting, the narrator is one of my favorites: Amanda Ronconi. She does a wonderful job with the story, creating and maintaining unique and fitting voices for each character. Ms. Ronconi succeeds with the quirky, first-person female lead, and Holly is no exception. I’ve become familiar with most of her voices, yet never did I confuse Murder’s a Witch with another story. In the end, I enjoyed my first visit to Beechwood Harbor. I like that there is still a lot of unknown around Holly, like why she was kicked out of the Haven system, and with town newcomer, Nick… I feel like there is more to him than meets the eye. I will definitely pick up future titles of the Beechwood Harbor Magic...
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Feb
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: A Tommy and Tuppence Mystery The Secret Adversary Author:  Agatha Christie Narrator:  Nadia May Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #1 Genre: Mystery Source: Library With the release of the new Kenneth Bragnah Murder on the Orient Express movie, the nostalgia I felt over watching a remake of one of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries has spurred me to finally read one.  All of my experiences of Agatha Christie has been via movies or very short stories.  There is something to be said to listening to a classic novel and reliving it all over again – learning something new and finding out what may have been left out of the film version.  As I wait for the more mainstream Agatha Christie mysteries (Hercule Poriot and Miss Marple) to become available at my library, I discovered a mystery series I’d never heard of – Tommy and Tuppence Mystery series.  Beautifully narrated by Nadia May, I fell in love with the antics of Tuppence and the solidarity of Tommy. Tommy and Tuppence are old friends.  They grew up together and have stayed in touch over the long years.  In their (I’d guess) mid-twenties, they are finding it difficult to maintain a good job now that the war (WWI) has ended.  As they catch up since their last meeting, they decide to start the New Adventures Limited – where they would advertise that they would do anything if the price is right.  Before they are even able to put their advertisement in the Times, a gentleman overhears and offers Tuppence a job.  Thus begins their first gig in their new entrepreneurial endeavor. Tuppence was a breath of fresh air.  I enjoyed her plucky optimism and exuberant spirit.  She balances the more cautious and thorough nature of Tommy.  However, they are both exceedingly bright and clever.  Tommy is exceedingly quick witted and was surprisingly quick when sleuthing out clues or trying to escape the henchmen.  Tuppence is dogged and determined, willing to do anything to sleuth out the clues.  It was delightful to follow their bumbling through this case of murder, espionage, and potential political upheaval.  All woven intricately by the mysterious “Mr. Brown”, an elusive character not unlike Keyser Soze who seems to be the puppet master at the center of this web of deceit.  With the addition of several other characters, Ms. Christie did an excellent job...
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Feb
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twinkle Little Star by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Twinkle Little Star by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Twinkle Little Star Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #4 Genre: Mystery/Suspense with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio Twinkle Little Star is another gripping thriller in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I continue to truly enjoy this sci-fi mystery series as I never know what to expect next. Just when you think everything has gone back to normal…well as normal as it can be for Sage realizing too late she is in love with Marlow, that school and life move on even when you are still mourning your best friend’s death, and your roommate isn’t the bestie she acts like.  Then Sage accidentally kills another student.  She was driving (while a bit emotional) and a woman just suddenly appears in front of her car.  As Marlow arrives on the scene shortly after with Sage’s brother, he discovers that this is not a straight forward case of vehicular manslaughter.  Picking up what he thought was Sage’s phone; he is transported to another location. After glimpsing someone in the shadows he is suddenly back at the scene of the accident.  Was this woman accidentally sent to the wrong location at the wrong time or is something more sinister going on? I am again surprised at how quickly I inhaled the latest Nursery Rhyme Suspense story.  Marlow and Sage’s geeky interests and intellectual endeavors are charmingly addictive.  The competition for the New Scientists Innovation Award was a fascinating element to the plot.  I enjoyed how it brought Marlow and Sage back together and highlighted the tension between Marlow and Dakota’s new relationship.  Marlow brining his father into the mystery revealed even more secrets and reasons behind the connection Sage and Marlow seem to have.  I really enjoyed how the plot flowed and twisted as the mystery was solved but more questions came to light. I continue to enjoy the dual narrators and can’t imagine listening to this story without them.  They are becoming the true voices of Marlow and Sage.  The personality of the characters as well as the inflections they provide in their performance assists in bringing Twinkle Little Star to life.  In many ways, I feel that this series should only be heard rather than read.  Both narrators continue to expand and bring this rich and intriguing world to life. I...
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Jan
18

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hickory Dickory Dock by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hickory Dickory Dock by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Hickory Dickory Dock Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #3 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio Hickory Dickory Dock is another gripping thriller in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I continue to truly enjoy this sci-fi mystery series. After the events of the previous book, Life is But a Dream, I wasn’t sure what to expect next.  Following Sage and Marlow on their summer break wasn’t it.  However, geeks will be geeks and as Sage continued to work on her mathematical theory she finally breaks through.  In trying to consult Marlow about this latest amazing discovery, she inserts herself between Marlow and his burgeoning romance with Dakota.  Though Marlow tries to keep his distance from Sage out of respect for Dakota, all bets are off once he witnesses a murder through Sage’s “window”. I enjoyed that we learned more about Sage and her family as well as Marlow’s.  There were quite a few discoveries, and I liked how it’s obvious their families have had an effect on them (good and not-so-good).  Marlow’s relationship with his mom is bittersweet and the discoveries made in this novel help him to heal.  With Sage’s interference, I’m not sure how Dakota and Marlow will be able to move on, but there is hope.  However, it is sad to note that Sage is feeling a bit of regret in not pursuing something with Marlow, but I liked how she is willing to let it go and work at being friends with Dakota. The future murder mystery Marlow and Sage fall into is utterly gripping.  It was fascinating how far our world had fallen and how plausible the downfall of the United States was.  I was utterly gripped by the dystopian world that Marlow and Sage found themselves in – though how the mathematical equation could equate to a window into the future still baffles me.  However, I can easily ignore it as I was consumed by trying to figure out who the murder was as well as how they were going to get back to their own time.  It truly felt like a race against the clock. I continue to enjoy the dual narrators and can’t imagine listening to this story without them.  They are becoming the true voices of Marlow and Sage. ...
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