“Bum Rap” by Paul Levine review and more.


By Paul Levine

This is a terrific new Jake Lassiter mystery—the ex-NFL linebacker turned lawyer.

At one time, Jake was on the opposite side of the courtroom, standing trial for a murder he did not commit. So he certainly has an in-depth view of the justice system. Now, being a lawyer, Jake has had it with clients that are actually very guilty and the shifty lawyers that somehow get them off. He is so annoyed that he’s just about ready to throw in the towel and run away from it all; leave Miami behind and move on to greener pastures.

But, as fate would have it, Jake is not free to leave. He receives a call from Victoria Lord, partner in the legal team of Solomon & Lord. It seems her partner, Steve Solomon, has been arrested for murder, and the only person who can clear him is nowhere to be found. Steve’s alibi is a bar girl (AKA: Lady of the Evening), that Jake and Victoria have to find before the FBI catches up with her or she’s killed by the Russian Mob. Jake is very sure that if he doesn’t find her first, Steve’s case will be lost. Remembering his days on the gridiron and the good advice he got from his college football coach: “Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody,” Jake decides that is exactly what he intends to do.

Solomon is not the most fun of clients, and Jake is the only one who seems to be able to tell the man to shut up and actually get away with it. With the prosecution getting in the way, the FBI lurking around every corner, and the Russian Mob bringing up the rear, this tale is about as action-packed as you can get. Covering the rainbow of emotions from funny to fear, author Paul Levine has definitely done it again with this extremely likable character.

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



By Robin Kirman

Three main characters, Charlie, Georgia and Alice, offer up three very different personalities in this extremely interesting tale. Enrolled in Harvard University, they each have a different background and a very different reason for being at the prestigious school.

During their time at Harvard, each of these students meets up with Rufus Storrow, a professor who has a relationship of sorts with each one of them. Rufus is a somewhat odd individual whose personality can go from sticky sweet to rage in an instant. He is surely the perfect example of a sociopathic case. But is he?

During their college times the three students also knew a victim, a senior girl who was brutally murdered. Each of them were spoken to by the authorities concerning the crime, but the main suspect turned out to be Professor Storrow. After graduation, the three students go their separate ways but are unable to forget the murdered girl and how they saw the teacher that they all liked lose his job and have his reputation completely wiped away. Over the next ten years, their lives are unveiled as this odd trio from Harvard wrestle with their own choices in life.

The author does a great job telling of the murder and the effect it had on Georgia, Charlie and Alice. Readers will have a tough time putting this book aside for even a minute as the story has everything that the mystery lover looks forward to. There is most definitely a crime to solve, and by telling the tale from the viewpoint of the students who had to go on and live with the end results of the crime, and the privileged world of Harvard where friendships come and go, keeps the reader riveted.

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



By Lea Wait

Angie Curtis has returned to Haven Harbor, on the picturesque seacoast of Maine, to take over running the family business, Mainely Needlepoint, which does commissioned needlework for decorators and other high-end clients. Angie’s happy to give up her old job as an assistant to a private investigator in Arizona for a quiet life in Haven Harbor.

Like many New England towns, Haven Harbor has its share of beautiful antique houses. One such house, which has fallen into disrepair and is reputed to be haunted, is Aurora, a crumbling Victorian mansion which has been sitting vacant for more than twenty-five years. Aurora was once the summer home of the wealthy Gardener family, and was the scene of the mysterious death of Jasmine Gardener when she was only seventeen.

Hollywood actress, Skye West, decides to buy Aurora and restore it to its former glory, setting the whole town abuzz with speculation. Skye approaches Mainely Needlepoint and asks Angie to appraise the estate’s collection of needlepoint pictures, each one done after Jasmine’s death by her grieving mother, who always maintained that her daughter was murdered. The more Angie examines the needlepoint, the more convinced she becomes that each one contains a clue to solving the crime.

“Threads of Evidence” is the second in Maine author Lea Wait’s Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series. Like all of Wait’s previous mysteries (she also writes the Antique Print Mystery series), it offers a wonderful sense of place and characters right from the very beginning. Highly recommended!

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



By John Rector

Wrong place, wrong time or right place, right time? That’s the big question that haunts Nick White in “Ruthless.” While sitting in a lonely bar, a beautiful woman takes a seat next to him and asks, “Are you him?” Thinking he’s part of a flirty pick up, he plays along, answering, “Are you her?” Before the mysterious beauty departs, she leaves an envelope and tells him that he will get the other half when the job is completed. If Nick was smart, he would have told her she had the wrong person, given the envelope back and walked out of the bar and her life forever—but Nick has never been admired for his decision making skills.

Inside the envelope, he finds a lot of money and a girl’s name and address. What transpires next will change his life in ways he could never imagine. Deciding against the desires and advice of his father, a retired police officer, Nick doesn’t let it go. For once in his life, he is going to do the right thing.

The right thing becomes much more complicated than he imagines. Every time he thinks he knows who the bad guys are, he gains information that has his mind doing flips and his imagination spinning in every direction.

John Rector has written a riveting thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page and changing your mind on who the bad guys are. Maybe there is no such thing as innocent people. Maybe everyone is ruthless!

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■



By Robert Ellis

Detective Matthew Trevor Jones is just beginning a new job, receiving a pretty good promotion that has placed him in Hollywood Homicide. Matt is celebrating and waiting for a friend to show up so they can paint the town when he receives a call from his Lieutenant offering apologies, telling Matt that there is a new homicide call and everyone else on the job is busy, so he must cancel dinner and get to work. Matt, of course, says he will, sending a text to his friend saying the evening is off.

Matt heads for the scene and the first one there lets Matt know that the killing is a real mess, the victim unrecognizable. The car the victim is found in checks out as being a loaner from a dealership. Inside, the victim’s phone is ringing, and when Matt picks it up to see if he can identify the body that way, his very own text flashes back at him: The victim with no face is Matt’s friend—another policeman by the name of Kevin Hughes.

Matt’s new partner, Denny Cabrera, is not sure that Matt should even be on the case but the Lieutenant disagrees. Soon a person is arrested for the crime: a teacher having an affair with one of his students who just happened to be killed. But creepiness commences as the arresting officers begin to die off one by one. A murderer is continuing what looks to be a very personal killing spree, showing the cops that an arrested man may just be completely innocent of the crime.

Extremely intelligent, highly thrilling and, at times, graphic. This is an incredible story written well by a writer who knows just how to keep the reader in the loop, even at the most confusing times, while delivering a remarkable story.

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



By Anna Loan-Wilsey

For lovers of mystery with a historical flare, this is a true treat. Her fans already know that author Anna Loan-Wilsey is a terrific wordsmith, and her featured character, Hattie Davish, is one that many people have already fallen in love with.

Hattie is a traveling secretary who works for a gentleman named Sir Arthur. But this time around, Hattie is traveling back to her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. Her friend, Virginia Hayward, has just lost her father and Hattie wants to help.

Hattie is also someone who very seldom misses anything, and while at the funeral home, she sees the plant ‘Agrimony’ tucked into the middle of a wreath. Hattie immediately wonders why the plant is there, seeing as it stands for gratitude. When she gets up to the body, she realizes something else; the dead man is not her friend’s father. Yes, the man has been in a bad accident and his face is disfigured, but Hattie knows the scar she sees is not the same. A switch has been made, and soon Hattie senses more than foul play, she senses that her hometown is not nearly the same one she left.

Knowing the body is not her friend’s father, Hattie wants to find out what on earth is going on. Her search leads her from her old school to the cemetery in town, and on to the home of the notorious outlaw, Jesse James. More doors open and Hattie finds herself following clues that lead her to tunnels buried under a lunatic asylum. And with each turn she takes, Hattie will get closer and closer to a true killer.

Although a standalone read, all of the Hattie Davish mysteries are fantastic. The writing and characterizations are true to the time period, and once you pick up one Davish mystery, you’ll be running to the library to get another.

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



By Mark Walden

Having thoroughly enjoyed Mark Walden’s first in the Earthfall series, it was a long two year wait for the follow up. I shouldn’t have enjoyed this series—it’s aimed at middle school boys—but a good book is a good book.

So when “Retribution” (Earthfall 2) arrived, I was chomping at the bit to discover if our young heroes would manage to free the Londoners from their trance-like entrapment which occurred in the first book after the alien Voidborns arrived on Earth.

This book takes place several months since the events of “Earthfall,” and Sam and his crew have discovered things are worse than they first believed. Not only have the Voidborn set up some kind of drilling apparatus, but they haven’t just invaded London; they have landed all around the world and are in the throes of setting up more of the device.

Sam’s group happens upon another resistance group who think they have discovered a way to destroy the enemy by implanting viral commands into the network that controls the Voidborn drones. Along the way Sam makes unlikely allies and enemies, and a new and very dangerous creature is unleashed upon the planet.

Walden has taken the classic “War of the Worlds” tale and developed it further, with new twists and a great reveal. Readers of young adult adventure and apocalyptic tales will enjoy this series. And if you have a reluctant young male reader, this series would be a great introduction to the adventure that can lie between the covers of a book.

Reviewed by Susan May www.susanmaywriter.com



By Anna Lee Huber

For readers who first fell in love with Lady Kiera Darby in “The Anatomist’s Wife” and “Mortal Arts,” this is book three. And the author has once again delivered an awesome mystery.

For those not up to date, Lady Darby has been through many things in her life; from losing her husband to being frowned upon by London Society because it was believed that her deceased love was an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own purposes. The Lady has continued to be judged in the eyes of others. Intrigue and murder mysteries ensued, as well as a romance with the enticing, Sebastian Gage, who quickly became the apple of readers’ eyes.

It is the year 1830, and Lady Kiera Darby and her brother are enjoying the Hogmanay Ball on New Year’s Eve when, just moments after midnight, a worker comes in and claims that the caretaker has been shot in an old abbey. The worker is correct. Not only is the man dead, there has also been a grave robbery of bones. Oddly enough, days later a ransom note is sent to the family so they can retrieve the bones…at a cost.

Kiera, with the help of Sebastian Gage, finds that this is not the first case of someone digging up old bones and ransoming them back to their families. But discovering who would choose which graves to rob and why the families targeted would be so frightened, will take a great deal of detection. As Kiera and Gage team up to look for clues and hunt down the baddies in this new caper, readers will hang on every word.

This is a team that is indeed well-matched, and their romance plays easily with the ever-expanding world of Scottish intrigue. Although each book is a stand-alone read, the Lady is best understood if you are aware of the incredible backstory that this author provided for her character; a character who is truly unforgettable.

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



By Barry Lyga with Peter Facinelli and Robert DeFranco

Can you imagine a world that is in total ruin: no clean water, no natural food, no trees, birds, or flowers? Worse yet, there is no history. The citizens believe this is the way it has always been. Ever since the Red Rain: a time so long ago, that no one knows when it happened, or why it was called the red rain. Well, Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Robert DeFranco have imagined such a world and have painted it in every color along the gray spectrum. They have etched a world of gloom in such a fashion that you will be riveted to the page.

Now imagine that there is one person in this world that’s different . . . colorful, imaginative, and full of life. Can you imagine the trouble that one individual could cause?

Deedra is a teenage girl who lives in this world. An orphan who spends her days working in a factory and her nights scavenging for anything salvageable. During one of her excursions, she meets a boy named Rose. Rose is different from any other. He looks different, smells different, and acts different.

She soon learns that he is different in many other ways, especially in the way he thinks. Maybe he is different in ways that can change the world. “After the Red Rain” is a microcosm of society. What happens when those in charge are threatened by something new and different? They become afraid, and their fear makes them go on the offensive. An offensive that could destroy all that is possible and all that once was, with only one person who can stop them . . . a boy named Rose.

Lyga, Facinelli, and DeFranco have delivered a post-apocalyptic, dystopian young adult novel that begs to be read.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■



By David Rosenfelt

This is the twelfth Andy Carpenter Mystery, and with each one David Rosenfelt writes, the more readers want to hear that Andy Carpenter will go on for at least twenty or thirty more novels. Each and every one of the Andy Carpenter books is a delight to read and this new one is no exception.

Andy’s friend, Police Captain Pete Stanton, finds himself arrested for the murder of a man named Danny Riaz. Danny just happened to have been an ex-convict and police informant, and Pete has the bad luck of being the first police presence at the scene of the crime. That, and more, ends up making Pete Suspect #1.

It seems that Danny had reported Pete for drug dealing, and as the case is checked up on, investigators find $100,000 worth of heroin in Pete’s house. Pete is sure that several recent deaths are contract murders, and Andy agrees. Andy is sure that Pete is being framed for Danny’s death and will not stop until he proves it.

In the meantime, however, Andy’s partner, Laurie Collins, asks him to foster an eight-year-old boy, Ricky Diaz, who is the murder victim’s son. And along with Ricky comes his dog, Sebastian—a Basset Hound. (One that graces the fabulous cover of this book).

Moving through this interesting adventure, the ‘Carpenter’ charm is at full-force. Humorous, as always, the conspiracy in this one intermingles with plot lines that keep the story fast-paced and a whole lot of fun. Both new and longtime fans will love everything from the New Jersey gangsters to the courtroom action to the author’s ever-present love of canines. (Rosenfelt rescues dogs and owns at least twenty-five Golden Retrievers, himself). All of it combines to make a perfect mystery. …Yet again.

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

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