Book reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine March 2015 Edition

ASSAULT AND PEPPER

By Leslie Budewitz

New cozy mystery series seem to be coming out of the woodwork for 2015, and this is yet another going by the name of The Spice Shop mysteries, that will have readers truly enjoying this new expansion of the genre.

Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop, has come up against some trying times in her not too distant past. Pepper has left her marriage and lost a job that she loved due to a corporate crash, and is now the owner of this spice and tea shop located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. She has a yen for preparing creations of spice and tea combinations that bring the customers in for a cup of her refreshing tea one right after the other; not to mention, visits from other shopkeepers and a group of regulars that frequent the Market.

Somehow, you knew the peace couldn’t last… A panhandler by the name of Doc, turns up on her store’s doorstep holding a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, leading to the unveiling of a crime where the police arrest one of Pepper’s employees, Tory Finch, for murder. Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but is not giving any clue as to why she feels that way. Pepper is sure that Tory is innocent and decides to investigate, but with that choice comes her own name being added to the killer’s ‘to do’ list.

Now a little something for the gourmet, as there is a new amateur detective in the area named Pepper with a recipe box filled with spices and other scrumptious foods. Set in Seattle, this is the perfect read for a few hours of pure enjoyment, because along with a first rate story comes ‘Recipes and Spice Notes’ that the Spice Shop recommends. As you enjoy the read, look forward to creating dipping sauces, Frittata’s, and other mouth-watering dishes in your very own kitchen.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE STRANGER

By Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben’s latest thriller, “The Stranger,” starts off with a simple sentence, “You didn’t have to stay with her.” That’s what Adam Price was told by the middle-aged man wearing a baseball hat. Adam had no idea that from that single statement the life that he had grown to love would be burnt down to the ground. Forced to confront his wife, Corrine, Adam was now caught in something much bigger and much more dangerous than even he could ever imagine. After his wife suddenly disappears sending only a text message, Adam searches for answers.

Coben puts the reader on an emotional rollercoaster from the first page. He begins to peel back the layers of the story, so when the reader thinks they have it figured out; Coben pulls back the curtain to reveal yet another twist. Very few authors have the ability to deliver powerful characters with a plot that forces the reader to keep turning the pages until the end, as Coben keeps the suspense at such a high pace the reader not only wants to keep reading, they have to.

“The Stranger” could already be placed on the short list of the best books of 2015.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

 

A FIRST DATE WITH DEATH

By Diana Orgain

Georgia Thornton is a former member of the police department who is now starting a job in the industry of Reality TV.

Coming from the ‘protecting and serving’ realm, Georgia is now the not-so-proud star of a show called “Love or Money,” in which she is trying to locate her dream man from a group of men who are looking for either, of course, love or money. It seems that her former fiancé, Paul Sanders, also a policeman, left Georgia at the altar which leaves her to think that she has nothing to lose, except maybe her self-respect. Gearing up to have ten first dates with these guys so she can make up her mind which one will be the winner, Georgia pretty much figures, “What can possibly go wrong?”

Well…her first date is to go bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. And when her date takes the dive, the cord is messed up and he ends up being lost in a tragic fall that ends her date in a massively horrible way. The first victim is replaced by Paul Sanders…surprise, surprise, but he is definitely not looking for a career in TV. He arrives because he suspects the accident was no accident, and is working undercover to find out who, exactly, is trying to upset the show and take peoples’ lives in the process.

Not long after Paul’s appearance another bachelor is killed, and the show’s bosses don’t want to cancel the program because it’s beginning to earn far better ratings. After all, bloodshed seems to pull viewers in. The bachelors, oddly, are willing to stay, but Georgia only agrees to go on in order to put her ex-police talents to work to help find out who’s unhappy with the cast.

A fantastically fun read; first in a brand new series that not only offers humor and suspense, but also makes sure to not solve the puzzle until the last pages.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

PUZZLED INDEMNITY

By Parnell Hall

Cora Felton, the chief protagonist in Parnell Hall’s hilarious Puzzle Lady mystery series, is the sweetest, most soft-spoken, honest, ladylike character I’ve ever read.

That is a complete lie.

Cora Felton, beloved by thousands of adoring fans as The Puzzle Lady, is a total fraud. She couldn’t construct, much less solve, a crossword puzzle to save her life. She also smokes like a chimney (look out, in this book she’s trying to quit), lies like a rug, and swears like a trooper. And, in case you think I’m in danger of running out of clichés, she drinks like a fish, too. She’s also a sometime detective with a very active love life. In other words, a true role model for the over-fifty crowd.

In “Puzzled Indemnity,” number fifteen in Hall’s series, Cora is bored. Her love affair with a NYC detective has fizzled, and the only case the local police ask her to investigate is a liquor store robbery. So when attorney Becky Baldwin asks Cora to check out whether her client, Brittney Wells, is about to be killed by her philandering husband to collect on a million-dollar double-indemnity insurance policy, Cora jumps at the chance.

In a blink of an eye, Cora tracks the husband to a NYC love nest. Then a car explodes in front of the local police station, and it looks like the victim inside is the husband. Brittney is in big trouble when it turns out that the insurance policy was on her husband’s life, not hers.

“Puzzled Indemnity” is a delight. I can’t wait for Cora’s next adventure!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

BLOOD INFERNAL

By James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

As readers open the final installment of The Order of the Sanguines series, the well-known heroes are not at their best. As usual, this team of authors are on the move, taking the heroes from Italy to Egypt to the Czech Republic, on to France and Nepal—offering up an itinerary that will make any reader’s head spin.

In this highly anticipated finale, the Devil is ready to break free and get out of Hell, due to a Sanguines’ betrayer who actually believed what Lucifer told him. Unfortunately, evil is about to take over good in the world and things are looking bad for the good (or any good that happens to be left).

The Sanguinists are monsters that have converted to the Blood of Christ, and archaeologist, Dr. Erin Granger, is hot on their trail. Granger is still trying to crack the code of the prophecy held within the Blood Gospel, the sacred book written in the blood of Christ. Helping her is Sergeant Jordan Stone, Warrior of God; and Father Rhun Korza, a Sanguinist Priest. The odd trio must come up against Legion, a new enemy that can change identities at will.

The trio go on the hunt and visit all the aforementioned places until they come face-to-face with the Devil himself. The lead up has been long and bloody, and this final showdown between good and evil will call forth the big bosses at war (Lucifer and the Knights of Christ) to see who will finally come out on top.

From the first book on, this has been an extremely well-written tale, offering intellectual ingenuity that these bestselling authors are known for. The recipe for this series has been a cast of vampires, demons, supernatural creatures never before seen, and a betrayal that will make the blood run cold. If you have not read the first two, get them now in order to really succumb to this incredible adventure.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

BY BOOK OR BY CROOK

By Eva Gates

Lucy wants out of her job at the Harvard Library and is looking for a new place at a very historical library located at the Bodie Island Lighthouse on Bodie Island. Here, on the outer banks of North Carolina, is where she spent all of her summers as a child with her Aunt Ellen, Uncle Amos, and their daughter, Josie. Lucy has decided she wants to escape Boston. Let’s just say that she and the Harvard Library are in a relationship that has not been going well. So Aunt Ellen lands her the job at the Lighthouse Library, which includes the extra-added benefit of an apartment located on an upper floor of the lighthouse.

This wasn’t an easy job to get. In fact, when the Board Chairman spoke to the librarian named Bertie about spending library money to hire Lucy, the woman had been strongly against it. But Lucy soon arrives and a private party commences given by the library for staff, board members, and local dignitaries in order to view a new collection they have on loan for three months. The collection is being talked about everywhere. It should be, considering it’s a complete set of Jane Austen’s first editions.

But before the party is over the Board Chairman has been killed and Bertie becomes suspect number one. Lucy does her best to help Bertie clear her name while checking out everyone who even knew the dead man but, unfortunately, there were many, and Lucy soon discovers that they all had a motive for murder. And as the Austen collection begins to ‘disappear’ book by book, Lucy faces not only a killer but also an extremely intelligent thief.

This great book is the first in a series. The setting is lovely, seeing as how the Bodie Island Lighthouse is not only a real historic landmark but is also still a working lighthouse. Therefore, the plot, characters, and locale make for an extremely creative story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT

By Hallie Ephron

In 1985, a young woman named Deirdre Unger gets a call from her father to come help him get his house ready to sell. A screenwriter, he and Deirdre’s mother had a career in Hollywood, with movies being made from their collaboration of words and characters. They were never the ‘top dogs,’ but they were certainly ‘pups’ that other stars loved. Unfortunately for Deirdre, when she arrives at her father’s home she finds him dead in the pool; a victim of an extremely odd murder.

Deirdre and her brother, who is a nice guy but definitely the money-grubbing type, must face detectives in order to clear themselves and figure out what the heck happened. Their mom, who divorced Dad a while ago, is one of those free spirits living on a retreat, and is eliminated as a suspect almost immediately. As Deirdre goes through her father’s belongings, secrets that include a yellow dress stained with blood and sexy photos of young women are discovered.

One of the photos is of Deirdre’s old friend, Joelen Nichol, who is the realtor her father had hired to sell the house. She is also a girl who long ago confessed to killing her own movie star mother’s boyfriend. This is the exact same night that Deirdre was hurt in an accident and has to walk with a cane. As the story unfolds and clues are uncovered from the 1963 murder, Deirdre must face a slew of issues as she tries to figure out who her friends really are, and what enemy may be out there lurking, just waiting to shut her up for good.

The Hollywood lifestyle—from the glitz and glam to the grit and deceit—are all wrapped up in a perfect package by this award-winning author. And taking a drive through Old Hollywood, fearing and admiring that coveted 90210 area code, will be something readers will not forget.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

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