“A Familiar Tail” by Deila James and more reviews

 

A FAMILIAR TAIL

By Delia James

A most memorable main character starring in this new series called, A Witch’s Cat Mystery, is Annabelle Amelia Blessingsound Britton. The name, a bit excessive perhaps, was also a good thing. This was grandma’s dying wish to have a namesake, and as Annabelle was on the way, her parents thought, why not? What can it hurt? Well, there was the fact that grandma with the long name was not departing the Earth anytime soon…maybe even never.

Some years later, Annabelle is now an artist and illustrator; unmarried, but not for lack of trying. She decides to spend some time in the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Upon arrival, she discovers a dark gray cat by the name of Alistair (AKA: The Spooky Cat) sitting in the front seat of her car; a car, by the way, that was locked up tight. Following him, the cat leads her to a fascinating little cottage. Inside, Annabelle finds that she is in the midst of a whole lot of trouble. Seems that once she crossed the threshold she immediately held a witch’s wand in her hand and realized that the furry cat was her very own familiar.

Annabelle comes upon a pleasant group of ladies who use spells, charms and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe from harm. Very soon after meeting this group, she finds out that Alistair’s previous owner died under extremely unusual conditions. When another local person is killed, Annabelle decides that since she’s in the position of being one who holds magic, she, her new friends, and Alistair must hunt for the culprit and stop the crimes before another soul is erased.

Much like Bewitched, the feline in this one is a blast, and Annabelle is perfect when it comes to magical thinking and doing in New Hampshire. It will be more than fun to follow her journey for a good, long time to come.

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

LATENT IMAGE

By Joshua Graham

Most books entertain, fewer inspire, while even less leave us asking questions. “Latent Image” is one of the rare few that will do all three and leave you thirsting for the next Xandra Carrick novel.

Xandra is a woman of many gifts, some earthly, others seemingly supernatural. An accomplished photojournalist, as well as a covert Secret Service agent, she is assigned the distinction of being President Jennifer Bradley’s personal photographer. Once ensconced inside the president’s inner circle, Xandra soon gains the trust of the POTUS’ son, Mikey.

In “Latent Image,” Joshua Graham takes us on a blistering thrill-ride through a maze of terrorism, intrigue, family bonds, and faith. Faith in each other, faith in our God-given gifts, and faith in ourselves.

A plot that could easily be pulled from today’s headlines, “Latent Image” reminds us of the good in people and shows us that sacrifice comes in many different packages. Joshua Graham has written a book not to be read, but to be savored.

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

 

DYING TO TELL

By T.J. O’Connor

In this series, Detective Oliver Tucker (AKA: Tuck) was killed when he got up one night and investigated a noise downstairs in his house. When Tuck “woke up,” he saw his own dead body and his wife, Angel, crying over it. At that point he knew that life, or now death, would never be the same. However, his faithful dog can see him and hear him. And now Angel can also hear his voice, yet the sight of him is not a gift she’s been granted. What Tuck now does is solve mysteries from the afterlife.

In this newest case, Angel is almost killed and a banker, William Mendelson, is found murdered in a hidden vault in the basement of his bank, where ancient Egyptian relics and World War II secrets are also held.

The “Detective for the Dead,” Oliver Tucker, knows that there is something fishy about Mendelson’s murder that goes beyond a slew of family secrets and old antiquities dating back thousands of years. So Tuck, with the help of Angel and one of his previous partners, is going on the hunt for Mendelson’s killer.

Tuck is guided by his grandfather, Captain Oliver Tucker I, World War II OSS, who is also dead. Captain Tucker is still on a mission of his own from the year 1942, as murderers and spies move down into a small town in Virginia. As the case continues, Tuck still has to get used to the distance between he and his wife…and the emotions within the plot are at times hard to handle.

In the end, this is a great ghost story, preceded by two others. And hopefully it is not the last, as readers will want to see Tuck again and again from the great beyond.

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

 

THE NEWSMAKERS

By Lis Wiehl

In spite of some professional delays in her career, Erica Sparks has at last gotten a break.

As the Global News Networks up-and-coming reporter, she is on her way to making her mark in the news business and is working on her first assignment when a dreadful ferry boat accident occurs in the middle of her live report. The fame that she garners from this accident has brought her to the attention of the ‘big’ news folks. Oddly enough, she once again finds herself in the right place at the right time when another dangerous event occurs and she’s able to break another noteworthy story. Although she’s excited over her successes, Erica is also beginning to wonder if these are really coincidences or something just a little more disturbing.

Think about it for a minute. What if newsmakers can, in fact, make news happen? And because of this, they have chosen a beautiful, gifted, talented, and very ambitious reporter to become the luckiest news hawk in town. Of course, there’s more to Erica’s story. She has come to New York to work but brings a terrible secret with her. And even more pressure comes when Erica’s producer, Greg Underwood, becomes more than attractive in her eyes.

First, the Staten Island Ferry crash. Next, an interview with the probable presidential nominee where the nominee actually collapses and Erica tries to save her with CPR while live on TV. Things like this make news ratings rocket, and everyone in the city knows who Erica Sparks is now. But as time moves forward, readers will go through a maze of twists and turns that will honestly make them gasp!

This book is distinctive, with a terrific plot and an imperfect main character who is spellbinding. Kudos to Lis Wiehl for imaginative, yet absolutely believable in this ‘me’ world, great writing. Wiehl has distanced herself from the pack with this one.

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

 

EVEN DOGS IN THE WIND

By Ian Rankin

The tale begins with a prologue in which two gangsters have entered a forest to bury a body. Sadly, things don’t go as planned. When one of the hit men opens the trunk to take out the corpse, the body actually jumps out of the car and takes off. A humorous moment that leads to the incredible story….

Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke has been called in to investigate a murder. The victim is David Minton, a former Lord Advocate (AKA: Chief  Legal Officer of the Scottish Government). To begin, it looks like a robbery gone wrong, until a note is found on the victim’s body that states: “I’m going to kill you for what you did.”

That evening, as Siobhan and another policeman, Malcolm Fox, are having dinner, they’re told that retired gangster, Big Ger Cafferty, has been shot at. The culprit missed, but Cafferty is refusing to talk about it to the police. So DI Clarke suggests bringing in Robert Rebus, a recently retired policeman, to help on the case. Rebus is actually excited about being called in. He’s missing the job and needs to be a part of it again. Telling himself that he is a ‘consulting detective,’ he agrees to speak with the gangster, only to find out that Cafferty has received the same note that was pinned to Minton’s body.

DI Fox, however, has been sent on another case. He must help a group of cops on a stakeout, keeping tabs on a Glasgow gangster and his son while they’re in Edinburgh looking for an employee that has run with a truck load of drugs.

This book is one in a long running series, going into the past and seeing Rebus’s early days with the police force. New DI Malcolm Fox is on the horizon and following very quietly in his footsteps, but Rebus is not ready for the nursing home quite yet. Another awesome Rankin tale, readers will be thrilled to see Rebus again.

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

 

FOUR DOG’S SAKE

By Lia Farrell

Chester Willis was a reasonably healthy individual who had diabetes that didn’t really bother him. He had been asked by his father, who suffered with congenital heart disease, to come and visit him as he wished to see his son before something happened to him. When Chester was coming to care for his father…he was the one who died first.

Yes, Chester was murdered, and finding out who the killer is will be almost impossible.  Chester dies on arrival at the hospital where Dr. Lucy Ingram works. The medical ‘powers that be’ call Chester’s death a suicide from an insulin overdose, but Lucy doesn’t think suicide played a part at all. Asking for another autopsy to be done, Lucy finds an injection site that proves someone else administered the lethal dose of insulin.

A few days later, Chester’s father does pass away and the family gears up for the reading of the Will. Chester’s father had left most of his wealth to his two sons. But when Chester died, the oldest son is now trying to contest the Will because he wants it all. The question soon becomes, who stood to benefit most from Chester’s early demise. The simple answer would be Rick, the brother, who is in debt up to his eyebrows and has a very expensive girlfriend. Brooke, a struggling massage therapist, made friends with the father before he passed. And the list of people gets longer as Sheriff Bradley and Chief Detective Wayne Nichols come onto the case. As there are secrets in everyone’s lives in this story, the law has a lot to do. The sheriff has a good team and really needs it.

There is a lot of action in this book, and the author gives a wonderful view of the motivation of a real killer. This is one fast-paced cozy that keeps you on your toes.

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

 

THE DIRT ON NINTH GRAVE

By Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson isn’t quite feeling like herself. In fact, after waking up in an empty alley in Sleepy Hollow, New York, with only the clothes on her back, a large diamond ring, and a mind-numbing case of amnesia, she’s not sure who she is at all. But with the help of generous strangers she lands a job at a local diner and a temporary name: Janey Doerr. Now she just needs to figure out who the heck she really is.

Janey is oddly comforted by the regulars at the diner, though she’s not entirely positive why some of them seem to be big, fat liars. They appear to know things about her, but no one’s talking. Nevertheless, their brand of comfort is just what she needs once she realizes she’s not like all the other girls. First problem: she sees dead people. Janey’s sure that can’t be good and equally positive she can’t tell anyone. The new friends she’s made would definitely hand her a one-way ticket to a padded room. She can’t even tell her new BFF, Cookie, with whom she really feels a connection, even though it’s strange that Cookie keeps calling her Charley.

One of the regulars at the diner—a dangerously handsome, otherworldly man—named Reyes Farrow, becomes the cause of below-the-belt frustration. He’s so hot, he’s on fire. Reyes is clearly in cahoots with the others to keep info away from Janey, but she’s not above using her feminine wiles to extract what he may be hiding.

Janey is working on finding out the truth, dealing with craziness in her life and trying to stay out of trouble, when someone makes an attempt on her life. She’s left with one choice: remember who she is fast, or die.

Jones can’t write fast enough for me. The unconventional cast of characters is just this side of perfect and their unexpected laugh-out-loud antics make you wish you could become part of the crew. Grab a pint of ice cream, put on comfy pajamas, and dig in.

Reviewed by Shannon Raab  ■

 

KARMA’S A KILLER

By Tracy Weber

Kate Davidson is a yoga instructor and loves offering her clients different kinds of classes at her studio. She strives to help people find the benefits of yoga, whether they are pregnant or old or new to the yoga world. But even Kate has never held a yoga class for dogs. She agrees to teach a “doga” at an animal rescue fundraiser and, although not really sure how to teach canines, is determined to give it her all. During the event, a fire and a drowning take place: not exactly a happy time for dog yoga classes.

The police make an arrest and Kate is relieved that the case was solved without her getting involved…until she finds out that the accused claims to be her long lost mother. Kate, along with her boyfriend, Michael, her best friend, Rene, and her German shepherd, Bella, set out to find the killer and prove her “mother’s” innocence.

The characters in this story are very well written. Kate is aggressive, smart, funny and a bit cynical. She is also extremely kind and an animal lover who will do anything to help the people and animals she’s close to. She loves her dog, Bella, and doesn’t think twice about doing what is needed to keep Bella in good shape. In other words, this is a wonderful story for dog lovers, with the other human characters being just as likeable.

There are two other books in this, The Downward Dog Mystery series; “A Killer Retreat” and “Murder Strikes a Pose.” These books are full of mystery, humor and friendships that are highly recommended to readers who want a good mystery and enjoy a fun cozy.

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

 

DEAD TO THE LAST DROP

By Cleo Coyle

This incredible series has now arrived at book number fifteen, and is still going strong!

As many readers probably know, the mysteries circle around a coffeehouse called, The Village Blend, located in Greenwich Village. Said coffeehouse has been owned by the same family since 1895, with Clare Cosi being the present-day manager and working for her former mother-in-law, Madame DuBois.

Clare’s daughter, Joy, has moved on to culinary school, and Clare’s ex-husband, Madame’s son, is a coffee buyer. And she now has a boyfriend who just happens to be an NYPD detective. Even though Clare is the manager and master roaster at the coffeehouse, she is not above serving the customers who come in for a cup of java and a little conversation.

This time out, Clare is visiting Washington, D.C. to open a new Village Blend. She’s also been invited to work with a curator at the Smithsonian’s “Culinary Salute to Coffee in America.”

Sadly, her new Village Blend D.C. is stressing her out, unable to make a decent profit thus far. That is…until the space gets a boost with a new fan who is none other than the daughter of the President of the United States. Clare becomes friendly with the First Young Lady, who has her own private agenda. All of a sudden, just as things are looking up, an employee of the State Department faints in the coffeehouse. Then, the President’s daughter comes up missing. The powers that be think that Clare had something to do with the daughter’s disappearance, and she and her boyfriend are now thought to be ‘enemies of the state.’ In other words, they better find the kid before everything comes crashing down.

When the end is tied up, you will love it! Then, not only are you granted an awesome read, but the last few pages are filled with delicious recipes that readers will devour as quickly as the story, itself. This is a 5-star tale!

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

 

A SONG FOR THE BROKENHEARTED

By William Shaw

This is the third and final chapter of William Shaw’s amazing trilogy, and after reading this fantastic book, it will be supremely hard to say goodbye to these characters.

Detective Sergeant “Paddy” Breen, after being shot in the shoulder while on duty, is recuperating in the Devon countryside with ex-DC Helen Tozer. Tozer is his one-time colleague who left the police department to help out on her family’s farm. After a while of recuperation, Breen begins to go a bit stir crazy without living and working in the much bigger city of London. More than a little bored, he starts to look into an old case that means quite a lot to Helen. A case that still makes Helen weep, considering her own sister, Alexandra, was assaulted and murdered.

Breen finds missing pages in the files and learns that there was a cover-up at the time of this death that involved a Sergeant named Milkwood, who has since transferred to the Police Drug Squad, and a wealthy landowner named James Fletchet, who was at the time having a secret affair with Alexandra. Now, of course, the man is in the elite tier of politicians and even harder to get at.

When Breen goes to London to follow up on the case, he becomes interested in the men who might have been active many years ago in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising. Going undercover in London clubs, he unearths connections between Milkwood and Fletchet during Kenya’s rough times in the 1950’s, and attempts to find links to the murdered Alexandra. When Milkwood goes missing, Breen is sure that whoever killed Helen’s sister is on the prowl once again.

This is the final tale, and if readers have not read the Breen and Tozer trilogy, it is definitely something you do not want to miss.

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

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