Expired Listings

Expired Listings by D.M. Barr

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Stories of the Indebted

Stories of the Indebted by Jorge P. Newbery

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First Kill

First Kill: An Eli Quinn Mystery by Robert Roy Britt

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5 Days to Landfall

5 Days to Landfall by Robert Roy Britt

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Tropical Liaison

Tropical Liaison by Richard S. Hillman

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Strong Cold Dead

Strong Cold Dead: A Caitlin Strong Novel by Jon Land

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Drone: An Eli Quinn Mystery by Robert Roy Britt

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Hmmm? – A Tale of Mysterious Murr-Derr and a Girl by Simon Plaster

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Limelight Kisses (Love Behind the Scenes Book 1) by Michelle Segal

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

Limelight KissesIn her romance novel Limelight Kisses: Love Behind the Scenes, author Michelle Segel presents a steamy tale of opposites attracting in modern-day Hollywood. Filled with classic genre twists and sexy bedroom scenes, Limelight Kisses is a tale that comparatively makes real-life Hollywood love-stories look like a box-office flops.

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After a brief prologue set in the present day, Limelight Kisses opens in the early 2000s, in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. Twenty-six-year-old Ryan Lancaster is there working as a production assistant on the set of the historical cinematic drama, Mrs. Woodbridge’s Daughters. After a female lead is forced to drop out of the film, Ryan presides over an open casting call, and in walks in the young and beautiful college coed, Katherine Walker. Although she’s only there to support a friend, Ryan, sunned by her beauty and natural charisma, has her take a screen test. It comes as no surprise that she is perfect, and immediately, despite of her lack of credentials, lands the part. After some initial hesitation, Katherine takes a leave of absence from school, and following heart her and her passion, accepts the part.

Closure: An Eli Quinn Mystery by Robert Roy Britt

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

ClosureAn overall thriller, Robert Roy Britt’s Closure, book one in his Eli Quinn detective series, catapults the series off to a great start as it entertains readers with an intriguing introduction to his hard-punching yet sentimental, tough-guy detective. As the premiere book in this hard-boiled detective series, readers will find their curiosity roused by its emotional richness, fascinating characters, hard-edged action and web-like intrigue.

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Expired Listings by D.M. Barr

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Expired ListingsThis is advertised as an erotic suspense thriller. In all possible ways this definitely qualifies on all counts.

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Dana Black is the main character of the work. She is a troubled adult working in real estate in the same company as her sister and in the same town as her mother did as well.

The only caveat is that this is erotica of a specific nature. There is no graphic sex, but there are adult situations throughout the book. From the beginning, where the murderer is dealing with a victim in their dungeon killing floor area, Barr spends a lot of time filling in the backstory until in the final chapter the surprise ending blasts into reality.

Stories of the Indebted by Jorge P. Newbery

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Stories of the IndebtedThe lives of too many Americans are absorbed by debt, becoming prisoners of a vicious cycle from which breaking free is difficult. However, Jorge P. Newbery offers an escape plan in the form of a book, Stories of the Indebted.

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The book is comprised of seven chapters, each revolving around how to handle specific types of debt. Jorge P. Newbery finds an engaging way to present information which can easily be perceived as boring or overly technical for those who are not versed in economics; he uses the art of storytelling to compel and teach the reader. With the help of his characters who seem as real as you and I, he shares their problems and also the solutions to each case. However, do not expect to read any classic success stories; as the author himself realized, these are not as efficient in grabbing the attention as stories about failures. The focus falls on how to rise once you have fallen and how to learn from your (and other people’s) mistakes.

First Kill: An Eli Quinn Mystery by Robert Roy Britt

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

First KillFirst Kill is Robert Roy Britt’s latest Eli Quinn mystery. Quinn is a former investigative reporter turned private investigator with a knack for solving crimes. His faithful dog Solo “the world’s greatest K-9 private eye” is always by his side. Quinn’s latest case involves a missing real estate agent, Joe Mack, in the small town of Pleasant, Arizona. Quinn is contacted by the realtor’s daughter who hasn’t heard from him since he arrived at a conference the previous day. Quinn takes the case and begins his search into the missing man’s disappearance.

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While delving into the mystery, he learns that Mack and his wife, Joanne are into the local swinging scene. Could some of the other swingers be suspects? Quinn does some sleuthing and learns of a swinger party. He crashes the party and discovers several other real estate agents attending. His suspect list is growing quickly. Along the way he has help from his friend, Beach, a former lawman and from his new love interest, Samantha Marcos, a reporter. He can also count on his German Shepard, Solo, to help out with the bad guys.

5 Days to Landfall by Robert Roy Britt

Reviewed by Teri Davis

5 Days to LandfallLiving along the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina, most people know how to prepare for hurricanes. Their communities understand the potential disaster and work well to minimize the amount of damage to the communities. They know that nature always wins. These communities almost can write a book about storm preparedness including evacuations.

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Hmmm? – A Tale of Mysterious Murr-Derr and a Girl by Simon Plaster (Review #2)

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

HmmmHmmm? by Simon Plaster is the latest brilliant satirical novel the author has written featuring small-town reporter, Henrietta, who lives in Henryetta, Oklahoma. In Hmmm?, Henrietta looks for love in all the wrong places, instead finding intrigue. She also finds many things that make her, and the reader, go “Hmmm?” in a novel that has many LOL passages, along with….a murder investigation, or, at any rate, a facsimile of one, conducted by one of the many humorous and larger-than-life characters in the novel.

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Hmmm? has a large cast of characters, revisiting many from past novels in the series, like Henrietta’s overly-dramatic mom, Wynona Sue, who works at the Best Little Hair House. She is looking for the love of her life, but she has an unrealistic set of expectations and instead has a series of flings with men like Professor Alexander Lehough, who is an expert on insects, was a star witness in a trial in a previous novel in the series, Tick, and has a split personality. His other personality is Zander, and Lehough often has conversations with him.

Alexander keeps Zander subdued by drinking something from a “brown bottle of powerful potion that would put the nagging pest to sleep,” but Wynona Sue overhears her lover talking to “Zander,” or at least someone she mistakes as being “Zander.” The person is really Charlene Lehough, Alexander’s estranged wife, who left him for a new lover, Virgil Carter. She heard that Alexander won a Nobel Prize, however, so left Virgil knocked out and duct taped in Texas to return and try to get her hands on some of money that comes with winning a Nobel Prize.

Alexander does not want anything to do with Charlene, anymore, and would much rather be with Wynona Sue. Wynona Sue convinces herself that Charlene must be the “Zander” Alexander has been having conversations with, though at times, she thinks that maybe “Zander” is a male who Alexander has been having a homosexual relationship with.

Wynona Sue hires a local resident, Max Morgan, who fancies himself to be a private detective, to find out more information about who Zander is, so she will know, once and for all, the truth. “Maximo,” a big fan of novels involving private detectives, decides to become one, himself, and his exploits and misadventures adds even more humor to this highly entertaining novel..

Hmmm? by Simon Plaster is subtitled “A Tale of Mysterious Murrr-Derrr and a Girl.” It is a novel that is, in part, slapstick comedy and in part, it draws from film noir movies and hardboiled detective novels. Hmmm? is a novel that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone book, though I highly recommend reading the other novels in the series, as well, because they are all gems that are well worth reading.

Tropical Liaison by Richard S. Hillman

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Tropical LiaisonRichard Hillman’s book opens in a state of political unrest. Thirteen-year old Rafael is hiding in the attic of his parent’s home after the Security Polic arrive. He hears loud, horrible noises before the quiet. Going downstairs to investigate, he finds his parents’ bodies covered in blood. He escapes and goes to the Freedom Front’s encampment. Twenty-four years later, an election was held in the small fictional island of Guarida . Claudio Sanchez comes to power.

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Emmanuel White Vidal, Manny to his friends, is called to a meeting at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He is asked to go down to the University of Guarida for a couple of years and is told that there is a strong possibility his cousin Rafael, who’s been presumed to have died in a house fire along with his parents many years ago, is still alive. Manny agrees to go to Guarida and makes plans to search for his cousin.

Strong Cold Dead: A Caitlin Strong Novel by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Strong Cold Dead“Nobody goes beyond this point, ma’am,” is the first thing Caitlin Strong is told in Jon Land’s superb and sensational Strong Cold Dead. And I probably don’t have to tell you what she does next in the eighth book featuring the stalwart fifth generation Texas Ranger.

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A gunfighter and loner hero in the frontier sense bred of the classic Western, Caitlin is no stranger to breaking the rules or gunning down bad guys. Strong Cold Dead features a weighty mixture of both, as she finds herself battling none other than forces of ISIS on Texas soil. It’s a long-buried secret on a mysterious Indian reservation that’s drawn the terrorist group here, thanks to a social outcast reaching out to them on social media.

Drone: An Eli Quinn Mystery by Robert Roy Britt

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

DroneImmediately absorbing and thoroughly entertaining, Robert Roy Britt’s Drone, the second book in his Eli Quinn detective series, capably resumes the series with the hard-boiled but well-intentioned private detective this time looking to solve a bold attempted murder of a public official.

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This was an entertaining narrative from the beginning, with Eli Quinn, private eye, officially opening his detective agency in the town of Pleasant, Arizona. Pleasant is a small town with seemingly not much going on. But across Arizona a growing population of illegal immigrants become targets of the Sheriff Horace Otto and other unhappy folks. Consequently, morality is thrown aside when the sheriff promotes a program to round up illegal immigrants and an evil element festers in the background.

Voodoo Child, Book One: Zombie Uprising by William Burke

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Voodoo ChildAround the globe and then landing in a small Caribbean island, this story traverses the world and more.

The action starts on the small island of Isle De Fantomas. It moves to the deserts of the Middle East and then back again. The plot is an interesting mix of horror, mystery and voodoo. The most intriguing part of this to this reviewer is the author’s respect for a small religion, voodoo, in this case.

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Yes, there are demons, devils, voodoo priestesses and hordes of the undead. They fill the pages and bring out a very mixed bag of horror and yet detailed practice of a little known religion. There are soldiers, military and mercenary troops and wickedly charming scientists and others not nearly so charming.

The Five Paths to Happiness: The Keys to Living a Happy Life According to Your Personality by Javier Ramon Brito

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The Five Paths to HappinessThe search for happiness is a central theme in our life paths; it seems to be the goal of mankind. Although many view it as a destination some, like Javier Ramon Brito, are here to remind us that it is in fact all about the road. In his book, The Five Paths to Happiness, he describes several means of materializing such an elusive concept.

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Unlike other self-help books which usually put forward a single universal solution, this one presents five ways, adding a layer of complexity to the approach. The author combines different disciplines and thought systems based on a common denominator (the number five) to outline his personal system. From psychology he takes the character structures, the five elements that govern everything (ether, air, fire, water, earth) from Eastern philosophy, also studying the interaction of these elements with the human body from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine.

When The Dragon Roars (The Starks Trilogy Book 2) by Nesly Clerge

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

When the Dragon RoarsBrimming with twists, turns, and non-stop drama, When The Dragon Roars by Nesly Clerge is a thriller ideal for any fan of prison-noir.

When The Dragon Roars opens with the protagonist, Frederick Stark, a.k.a The Dragon, at the nadir of his life. Having been betrayed by his ex-wife Kayla, a life one fraught with opportunities is now exceedingly limited. He is in jail, serving an extended sentence for placing the man who cuckholded him in a coma. But Starks is not one to let life get him down that easily—using the acumen that he had acquired as a CEO, he boldly, yet subtly, begins an attempt at ascension of the prison hierarchy. But things start to look hairy when the prison COs suspect him of the two inside job murderers—which he did have a heavy hand in executing.

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World Saver by Neal Goldstein

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

World SaverMeet Cy “LUVTR41N” Orbick, a teen hooked on the World Saver computer game, and the hero of talented author Neal Goldstein’s debut sci-fi novel. Cy’s father died while flight testing a plane in New Mexico, and his mother remarried her late husband’s best friend—Captain Trent, who happened to be manning the radar when Cy’s dad’s plane crashed. Cy aspires to solve the puzzle clues of the World Saver game, and to get hired at World Saver headquarters. Little does he realize his gaming chops will be put to use helping to save real worlds.

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The Good, the Bad and the Gauacamole (A Taste of Texas Mystery) by Rebecca Adler

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Good, the Bad and the GuacamoleFollowing the very entertaining Here Today, Gone Tamale, The Good, the Bad and the Guacamole finds the West Texas town of Two Boots gearing up for the annual Homestead Days celebration. Music is one of the main focus points of the festival and things get rolling with the well known singer Jeff Clark who just happens to be the ex flame of Patti Perez. Patti, for readers who may not have read the first book in the series, is the best friend and side kick of protagonist Josie Callahan. Patti’s relationship with Jeff is long over, but when he asks Patti to meet him backstage she not only goes, but agrees to meet him again after the concert as well. Fast forward to the next day, and Josie who is eager to get an interview with the singer, goes by Patti’s house where Jeff ended up the night before, and finds the singer face down in a bowl of guacamole and very, very dead. Patti immediately becomes the number one suspect and Josie leaps into action to find the real killer. Along the way, the author gives readers a glimpse into the country music industry which gives the book more of a Nashville feel than West Texas. This brings me to my one quibble with the book and for that matter the series.

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Phantom Evil (Krewe of Hunters) by Heather Graham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Phantom EvilWell, I thought I was going to be in the middle of a murder mystery but it turns out that I flopped into the middle of a ghost-murder mystery. Since I am not a believer in ghosts per se it was a bit of a difficult read. However it did have some good parts and was somewhat easy to read.

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Adam Harrison, a well-known paranormal investigator, is called up to check out the possibility of ghosts in a New Orleans mansion. He does not do the dirty work himself but instead brings in Jackson Crow, a Behavioral Sciences investigator for the government. Crow is given an assignment and a crew to investigate this mansion and try to determine if in fact there are ghosts or something like that involved the death of the wife of a senator from Louisiana. Many are speculating that she committed suicide by jumping off the balcony to her death. But others believe that someone pushed her.

Closed Casket: A New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by Sophie Hannah

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Closed CasketThe estate of Agatha Christie contracted with Sophie Hannah to write books featuring Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot. Closed Casket is set up perfectly for an Agatha Christie type mystery. The setting is a country estate where the family has been summoned for a big announcement. Also present at the request of the hostess are her attorney, Inspector Catchpool from Scotland Yard and the well-known Belgium detective Hercule Poirot. Before the guests arrived, Lady Playford asked her attorney to write a new will for her-a will which removes her children as heirs and replaces them with a dying man. There doesn’t seem to be any logic in this move as the Lady is in robust health and is most certainly expected to outlive her newly appointed heir. If he does indeed precede her in death, her children then inherit, so the writing of a new will seems to be for no other reason than provoking her own children. But why? And why was Poirot and Catchpool invited?

This a difficult book to review. The first six or seven chapters were very difficult to get through. Part of this was because the story is narrated by Inspector Catchpool from Scotland Yard who is an acquaintance of Poirot, and is sort of Hannah’s answer to Colonel Hastings in the Christie books. That relationship is the first sign of trouble. While one would expect the two men to work together and be friendly as with the Poirot/Hastings relationship, for most of the book the narrator makes them out more as competitors and the dialogue between the two is very stiff. The pacing of the book is also bogged down by Catchpool’s ongoing mental musings as to what Poirot must be thinking of him because of how things went on the previous case they were involved with together. Mental ponderings are almost always a drag to read through and in this case, they related to an entirely different book! But if readers stick with it through the beginning, while the novel’s premise is set and the characters are introduced, the book moves along much better.

Hannah is a skilled writer and her plotting ability shone through. This was a well-plotted book, with one of the most ingenious murders, both in method and reason, that I have run across. Hannah pulls readers along giving us many possible suspects and motives to choose from without cheating the reader with the final solution. For readers who are not huge Christie fans or can separate themselves from Christie’s Poirot and enjoy the book for what it is, this is a fine book. But if people are reading it and expecting a Christie-like puzzle solved by Poirot’s “little grey cells” they shall be disappointed. In fact, the case is solved more along the lines of the way Miss Marple, Christies’s other famous protagonist would solve things. Miss Marple relied heavily on human nature and figuring things out through the various characters’ ramblings whereas Poirot relied almost entirely on his own wits. Poirot as found in Closed Casket finds most of the information he needs for the crime’s solution through the other characters’ long, and at times tedious, stories.

Closed Casket is the second mystery written by Sophie Hannah using Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. As is often the case with characters continued by a second author, the results are hard to assess. On one hand, Closed Casket is a fine mystery in and of itself. Are Poirot fans going to find it up to Christie’s standards? Probably not. And there in is the rub. The book itself is fine, but Poirot and the way he solves the crime just doesn’t quite feel quite right when compared to Christie’s work.

All the Little Liars An Aurora Teagarden Mystery (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries) by Charlaine Harris

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

All the Little LiarsIt has been 13 years since we last visited Aurora Teagarden and if anything she’s even better with the passing of time. Lots of changes have come Aurora’s life. She’s newly married, pregnant and her half brother is living with her.

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