Category Archives: Mystery

Exhumation: An Epic of Existentia (Acts of the Sojourner Book 1) by S. A. Chapman

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Exhumation – Acts of the Sojourner – Act 1, An Epic of Existentia Chapman is writing an epic series about a mystical land of creatures, humans and many beings in between. The premise is worked out in the Act 1 of the Acts of the Sojourner.

Pious is an officer and head of the organization that provides some of the warriors for one group of the large city, Sanctuary. Act 1 is apparently all about his adventures as he sees his life changed from one of order and structure to one of chaos, trouble and loss.

Sanctuary’s politics are very subtle, stressed and with many machinations going on in all levels of existence for the people who abide there. There are Four Focal Towers that rise above Sanctum the center of Sanctuary. There are many factions, many of which are basically at war with each other in and outside of the houses of government and throughout the districts of this city.
There are numerous maps, illustrations and sayings that flesh out a campaign environment. All of the action and plots come from almost random directions. The plots interweave and twist and turn without apparent guidance. This goes on throughout the book and this is the first Act. There can only be a sense of wonder at the imagination that spawns such a complex and convoluted tale.

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag (Review #2)

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Bitter Season
Tami Hoag writes great murder mysteries but believe that she almost outperformed herself on this one! Not quite sure what the title means but the story line is enough to make one’s mind turn to a slightly Bitter Season!

It really is a great read but it is also very twisted and re-twisted. It all begins with Nikki Laska, a Minneapolis detective, who is working on her first cold case which she has requested believing that it will give her more free time at night to be with her two sons.

At the same time Sam Kovac, her longtime detective partner, has just been assigned a murder case where an older couple were attacked and killed by someone using ceremonial Japanese weapons including a Samurai sword which was very valuable. The man who was killed had been a college professor who was in the midst of a possible promotion in East Asian studies at the university where he taught. Strangely enough he was battling another professor for that promotion and also strangely enough that other professor was very much involved it seems with the murdered professor’s daughter. And that mix-up is just one of the many weird coincidents that begin occurring in this story.

Spots: A Tale of Star-Struck Misfame and Misfortune by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Spots by Simon PlasterSpots by the talented author, Simon Plaster, is his latest satirical novel featuring a small-town reporter, Henrietta, who is from the actual small town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. In Spots, Henrietta travels to Oklahoma City, where the novel is primarily set, to report on the days leading up to a TV awards show in which awards are given to the best actors/actresses in TVCs, or TV commercials, otherwise known as “Spots.” Because of this, other than Henrietta and her mother, Wynona Sue, many recurring characters from Plaster’s other novels in the series are not featured in Spots, but that is more than made up for with his cast of new characters, including ones from famous commercials, like William Shatner, the insurance gal, Flo, and the two guys who currently are in commercials for Sonic.

Watching the Dark: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson (Review #2)

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

Watching the DarkI was excited to find a new mystery writer to read, and based on some reviews was excited to read this book. Unfortunately this book was not what I expected. It was an extremely slow and hard read that could not hold my interest. I have read thousands of books and this was the longest it ever took to complete the book.

The novel starts out intriguing with a police officer being murdered. Unfortunately the author then spends more time focusing on describing small, inconsequential details of each scene then he does working on the main mystery of the novel. The novel itself is also convoluted because there are multiple different characters following multiple different story lines.

Cat Shining Bright: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Cat Shining BrightHaving never read one of Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s bestselling Joe Grey mysteries before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It turns out I was pleasantly surprised by her 20th book in the series. Joe Grey is one of several talking cats in this series of books. That’s right, talking cats! What an interesting concept for a book series. Joe Grey and his feline friends help the local police solve crimes, and only a handful of humans know that they have the ability of speech.

In this book, Joe Grey and his mate Dulcie have become parents to three active and curious kittens, named Striker, Buffin, and Courtney. Will the kittens be able to talk too? Only time will tell if they have this special gift.

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

AfterlifeDo you ever read a book and immediately think this would make a great movie? That is exactly what I thought while reading Afterlife, Marcus Sakey’s latest work. Well, it appears I was not the only one to think that as it is going to be a movie directed by Ron Howard. Afterlife’s premise isn’t exactly new ground covered. There have been many other books and movies done along the same basic story line, but Sakey turns it up a notch in both emotional tugs and suspense.

Will Brody is an FBI agent assigned to a task force in Chicago. He reports to Claire McCoy. The two have both a personal and a professional relationship which they manage to keep separate most of the time. This changes with an explosion leaving Chicago, Claire and Brody forever changed.

Vicious Circle (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C.J. Box

Reviewed by Allen Hott

vicious circleAs usual the action in Joe Pickett stories kicks in pretty quickly. In this one Joe, the Wyoming Game Warden, is in a plane trying to find Dave Farkus who has turned up missing in the mountains. Farkus who is always in and out of Joe’s life somehow appears to be lost and Joe’s boss sends Joe with the other searchers. The pilot is using FLIR which is a forward looking infrared device that picks up heat or light. Just as the pilot is turning to return to base Joe spots not only a figure down in the woods but then three flashes right near the figure.

However they do not have enough gas to circle around again so they head back to base. In the following days the sheriff decides that a posse needs to be sent out to where the body of Farkus is thought to be. Joe goes along with an undersheriff who appears to be acting somewhat strangely around the body when they find it. More later in the story on this.

Blood Memory Society by D.A. Field

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Blood Memory SocietyWho would have believed that Dr. Will Dunbar, would be involved in a national emergency of far reaching proportions.

While diving in the Bahamas, Dr. Dunbar, Will, is summoned to Washington by a friend’s desperate plea for assistance. When he sees his friend, Colonel Ross Chapman the years seem to disappear between now and then, when they were both at West Point.

Although Dr. Dunbar is about to become the head of reproductive medicine at the Mayo Clinic, his friend is able to sidetrack him into working on this issue.

For the first-time Dr. Dunbar hears of a secret organization, The Blood Memory Society, that the government has been running since the beginning of the government in the United States. In the current case, the society has been renamed the Inherited Memory Society.

The Force: A Novel by Don Winslow (Review #2)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The ForceThe Force,” by Don Winslow, introduces the reader to Denny Malone, a highly-decorated detective with the NYPD and lead detective of “The Force.” Winslow has created a vision of the world of law enforcement in the same way Puzo created a vision of the world of the Italian mob with “The Godfather.” “The Force” is the story of a detective who, while at the top of his game, made a few bad choices. Before long, Malone finds himself in a hole that he can’t get out of and he is forced to make a heart-wrenching choice. I have read hundreds of crime novels in my life and this one is by far one of the most realistic, keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Don Winslow is an accomplished author, having been nominated for such awards as
the Barry and Dily’s and winning the 2000 Shamus Award for Best Novel and the 2016 Steel Dagger. In 2012, Winslow won the Raymond Chandler Award, Italy’s top
Lifetime Achievement Award. Few authors have such an outstanding resume and
Winslow really shines with “The Force.” This novel deserves 5/5 stars.

*A copy of this book was the only compensation received for this review.*

Brooklyn Wars (Erica Donato Mysteries) by Triss Stein

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair
Brooklyn Wars
Erica Donato is student a mother and has a full time job working as a historian. Often it is her job which leads her to research interesting places or things in her Brooklyn neighborhood, but in Brooklyn Wars, it is writing her thesis which has Erica prowling around the old Naval Yards. And once again, her research lands her smack in the middle of a crime.

After attending a public hearing on a redevelopment plan for the former shipbuilding site, Erica decides to walk over to the part in question and look around. It is dark, deserted and frankly a bit spooky. Readers may quibble with whether it was a smart move on her part to walk down that path, but she did and that is where the story begins. While she stands looking at one of the old row houses, she hears a noise, catches a glimpse of someone running and finds a man critically injured. Erica immediately recognizes the man from the meeting she just left. The man dies and the police understandably want to talk with Erica, but they are not the only ones. Before long, what started as research for a chapter in her dissertation has morphed into a murder investigation and Erica immersed in the past life of the victim.