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Murder, She Wrote: A Date with Murder by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Jon Land

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Broken Chord: A Music Row Mystery by Alice A. Jackson

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Shortcut (The Cut Series Book 2) by Arnold Eslava-Grunwaldt

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Baby’s First Felony (A Cecil Younger Investigation) by John Straley

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Baby's First FelonyBaby’s First Felony brings back Cecil Younger and the wonderful setting of Sitka, Alaska. Before even starting the book, I would strongly urge readers to turn to the end and read through the A Guide to Avoiding a Life in Crime. The rules as outlined are referenced frequently, so you might want to keep a book mark there as well.

Cecil is called to the jail to arrange bail for a client who asks that he go pick up a box containing things that will prove her innocence which she left with friends. Two things about this cause Cecil angst. First, the box contains money. Lots of money. And secondly the place she left the box is the house where a friend of Cecil’s daughter’s friend is now living and a place that his daughter Blossom has run off to when her mother gets on her nerves. But that is just the beginning of Cecil’s problems. There are drugs a kidnapping and a murder to contend with causing Cecil breaks nearly every one of his rules as outlined in the book.

Along with the criminal plot is an interesting side story involving the use of humor as therapy for autism leading the book to be packs with jokes as told by Todd, the sort of adopted son of Cecil. Some of these are really pretty funny. There is a very brief note at the end of the book lending credence to this as a real therapy. This also brings in the very real issue of who has a right to post someone’s comments on line.

The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C.J. Box

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The DisappearedAs usual Joe Pickett, Wyoming’s favorite Game Warden, gets picked to move out of his normal bailiwick and has to work on a problem for the governor. But this new governor is not a fan of Joe nor is the governor’s right hand. Mainly because Joe is always solving problems but he is always causing other ones as he works. Usually he is not only tearing up state furnished equipment like trucks, etc. but he also tends to even run up against the legal system by doing things HIS way as opposed to by the book!

However because of the seriousness of the newest problem and because they have no one as good at solving problems the governor gives Joe an assignment that no one could solve. It seems that a very well-known British businesswoman has turned up missing instead of returning to England after her stay at a very exclusive guest ranch in Wyoming. And wouldn’t you know, Sheridan Pickett, Joe’s oldest daughter is working at the ranch as a wrangler after just finishing college. Joe is somewhat astounded by this since Sheridan was never the horse lover that her mother and sisters were. But it seems Box needed a “friend” in the right place for Pickett as the story evolves.

Murder on the Left Bank (An Aimée Leduc Investigation) by Cara Black

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Murder on the Left BankWhen a dying man shows up in Eric’s offices asking for help to right wrongs of the past by delivering a ledger to authorities, against his better judgment Eric agrees to help. Really his task is pretty simple. He would have his nephew deliver the ledger to the designated person and that would be the extent of his involvement. But from the beginning things go wrong. The nephew was on his way to meet his girlfriend so instead of making the delivery, he hid the ledger and went to meet his girlfriend. They were attacked and the nephew was killed. The room was tossed, but the ledger wasn’t found, Now Eric wants his nephew’s murders found and the notebook delivered.

Aimee Leduc has more than enough to keep her busy between raising her daughter as a single parent and running her private investigation business. After her father’s death, Aimee pledged to stick to cyber crimes and security problems, but when Eric Besson shows up in her office seeking help locating a missing ledger which may contain information that would implicate her now deceased father she is drawn into another dangerous case.

Flight of the Fox by Gray Basnight

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Flight of the FoxProfessor Sam Teagarden never expected what happened one weekend as he was relaxing on his sundeck: the appearance of an armed drone over his head. He managed to escape but had to witness the death of his beloved pet and his 11-year old neighbor. Teagarden is forced to go on the run, carrying with him a mysterious document sent to him by an old acquaintance only days before: an encrypted FBI file dating back more than 50 years. There was a note with the file challenging Teagarden to see if he could decipher it, just for fun. Unfortunately, the file contains secrets the FBI wants to remain buried and they know the file was sent to Sam. A black ops team is dispatched to eliminate the threat and the resulting chase will run the length of the Eastern seaboard. The information in the file could turn American history on its head. The question is, would Americans prefer total transparency or blissful ignorance?

The Candidate (Newsmakers) by Lis Wiehl and Sabastian Stuart

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The CandidateErica Sparks (who has appeared in several of Lis Wiehl’s books) is a top flight newscaster and is very keyed up about the upcoming presidential race. She realizes that this type of excitement just adds to her show’s audience and thus her ratings. She decides that she will spend a lot of time checking out all the possible candidates and see who is most likely to bring her more listeners.

It turns out that two of the top runners very quickly put just about all the other hopefuls behind and therefore make them of little value to Erica and her network. Erica is also mindful of the fact that her boss is constantly watching the ratings battle and truthfully is always looking for results whether they come by way of Erica or someone else.

To help solidify her position and hopefully even add to it substantially she decides to hone in on Senator Mike Ortiz one of the Democratic candidates. He is currently locked in a battle with Fred Buchanan of Pennsylvania and would make a prime candidate for a moderated debate on Ericka’s show. She begins making arrangements although it means that she is going to be spending quite a bit of time away from her eleven year old daughter, Jenny. Jenny has begun giving her grief anyway because since the divorce of her parents Jenny doesn’t feel either Erica or her former husband care enough about her wellbeing.

On The Corner: A Novel of Lifelong Friendship by S.J. Tagliareni

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

On the CornerDid you have a best friend who was there for you during the good times and difficult times in your life? This is the story of On the Corner.

Sal and his childhood friend, Michael have been there for each other. It is difficult to imagine what would have happened had they not been there to provide the emotional support to each other during the many events that took place over the years.

The reader will follow the story of these two men as they face many situations in life; marriage, deaths of loved ones, going their separate ways to college and reconnecting again.

Once you read On the Corner, it will make you really appreciate someone you might have known like Sal and Michael. Sometimes we take friends for granted but this story will make you take a second look at your close friends. Even if you have lost contact with a close friend, On the Corner will make you want to search for that person so you can reconnect again.

Matchup: The Battle of the Sexes Just Got Thrilling Edited by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

MatchupCompletely different concept. This is a book of eleven short stories written by twenty two different authors. Each story has one male author and one female author. They discuss the story they have in mind. Then they begin working together building this new story. And each story features one of each author’s main characters. Very interesting concept on writing and done very well.

The first is Honor & …… which is a story involving Joe Pickett (C J Box character) and Lee Coburn (Sandra Brown character). They meet up in an interesting fashion in Pickett’s territory (kind of) and have to figure out who and what is going on. Together after they realize that they are both lawmen, they do a great job of getting the job done!

The second story is Footloose with Val McDermid’s Tony Hill as one character and Peter James’s Roy Grace as the other character. This one is a little more difficult to read as it is about a crime in England involving human feet that are found in various places. Lots of English titles and characters.

Next up was Faking a Murderer. This featured Temperance Brennan (Kathy Reichs’ character) teamed with Jack Reacher (Lee Child’s contribution). Reacher as usual interrupts a trip to pal up with Brennan and solve a murder as well as get Brennan out of trouble.

The Book of M: A Novel by Peng Shepherd

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

The Book of MWhat if you had no shadow? What if in losing your shadow you lost yourself?

This mysterious apocalyptic fantasy tale draws you into it’s world and holds you there, shivering.

Ory and his wife Max have been hiding out in an abandoned hotel, scavenging for supplies and avoiding both the shadowed and the shadowless. But, then Max loses her shadow.
With the shadow, she will lose her memories over time. And she will gain a power to manipulate reality that is dangerous to her beloved husband. So she decides to leave him before she forgets.

Steep Price (The Tracy Crosswhite Series) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Steep Price. Tracy Crosswhite, an accomplished homicide detective in the Seattle P.D., is facing a major life, change in less than a year: the birth of her first child. In the meantime, two major cases are one her plate. The first is the death of a promising young Indian woman, Kavita Mukherjee, whose roommate, Avita, has just broken the news that during her trip home to India, she had gotten married to a suitor arranged by her parents. Kavita disappeared shortly afterwards. The second case being handled by the “A” Team is the fatal shooting of a community activist in a part of Seattle known for its high crime rate. At the same time, Tracy is dealing with her pregnancy no longer being a secret and the sudden reassignment to the “C” team of a seasoned detective in favor of a novice Hispanic woman who seemingly appeared from nowhere. Tracy is determined to see both cases solved and it will take all the team’s skills to solve both cases.

Bad Luck and Trouble (Jack Reacher, No. 11) by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Bad Luck and TroubleA somewhat different concept for Jack Reacher (one of Lee Child’s favorite cop-type folks). Usually Reacher pretty much works alone as he travels the country with no changes of clothes, a travel toothbrush, and little cash but he normally does have his bank info so he can get cash if need be.

He really is in luck this time however as he now has an ATM card but he is completely startled when upon making a withdrawal request he finds he has much more cash than normal in his account. The deposit of $1030 means to Reacher and his MP associates that someone is in trouble. In military jargon 1030 means someone needs help. The deposit was in fact made by Frances Neagley, who had worked with him for over ten years in his army career. She was brilliant, resourceful, tough, and a true right hand to him in his position.

Reacher knows that something is wrong but as he tries tracking her down in Chicago where she used to work he finds that she is currently in LA doing some type of work-related activity. He immediately heads for LA knowing that he can track her down. When he does she tells him that one of their group is not only dead but was thrown from an airplane. The man, Calvin Franz, was one of Reacher’s closest friends in the service. And now Neagley planned to find out who killed him and she knew Reacher would also want that satisfaction.

Reacher had been in charge of a small group of ranger-type investigators of which Neagley was one. On hearing of how Franz died she felt the other eight members of the group should be brought together and do the same type of work they used to do and not only find the killers but the reasons for the murder.