Category Archives: Fiction

Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel) by Sarah Paretsky

Reviewed by Allen Hott

HardballThis is quite a story. V.I. Warshawski (known as Vi) is a private detective who is asked to find out what happened to Lamont Gadsden by his aunt. Lamont has been missing for over 40 years. Though his own mother has no hope or desire to find out where or if Lamont is alive, his aunt “hires” Vi to do some searching.

Having worked for the police department and being the daughter of a deceased police officer, Vi does have the ability to do some very extensive searching. Her searching is not restricted to the Chicago Police Department but because of private investigating she is able to get into many areas to delve for information.

Many things happen to Vi though as she begins looking and most of them are pretty scary. There are also people killed and in so of these cases Vi feels it has occurred because of her investigation.

Further clouding up the picture is the arrival in town of her young cousin, Petra, who moved up from Kansas City to be closer to her father, Peter. As the story grows more and more involved it appears that somehow even Peter has some knowledge of the missing Lamont. And Petra, who really admires Vi, gets more and more involved in the whole picture.

The Otter of Death (Gunn Zoo Series) by Betty Webb

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Otter of DeathTheodora “Teddy” Bentley loves her work as a Zookeeper. It always provides variety even with boring tasks. While completing the annual “otter count” at Gunn Landing Harbor in California, Teddy discovers her favorite otter, Maureen is holding a smartphone. You think of the possible fun in getting a phone away from an otter.

When Teddy actual examines the phone, she finds that the camera had been in use recently capturing a crime in action, a murder.

The phone belongs to Dr. Stuart Booth, part of the otter census crew and a marine biology instructor. Stuart in not known for his good behavior, but has a tendency to sexually harass his female students who idolize him, at least for a while.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Teddy’s fiancé is Sheriff Joe Rejas. He is handsome, hunky and doesn’t like Teddy nosing into his business.

So what is Teddy to do when her friend, Lila, an accuser of Booth’s conduct, is arrested for his murder?

Dead Man Switch by Matthew Quirk

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Dead Man SwitchWithout a doubt there is plenty of action in this one. John Hayes is a retired special ops agent for the U.S. government but it seems that he and many former ops agents never retire. They claim to do so and the government claims they are gone but they continue to operate under cover. No one except a few at the very top of the U.S. security system knows how it all works.

This story starts as Hayes is working undercover amongst some Pakistani undercover agents when several U.S. special ops agents are caught by the Pakistani group. One of the special ops agents recognizes Hayes who actually pretends as though he is going to kill the agents. But instead Hayes turns on the Pakistanis and poof the U.S. guys kind of get away. Well, not exactly as the two agents are both pretty well beaten up in their escape. Hayes is even covered by a snow drift caused by the rescuing helicopter’s downdraft.

Hayes is pretty well frozen when he himself is rescued by his boss who pulled all stops to find him and get him back to the U.S. He is supposed to go back into retirement officially but since he is and has always been undercover he is still on call to the top dogs in Washington.

Thread the Halls (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery) by Lea Wait

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Thread the HallsAngie Curtis is looking forward to her first, of what she hopes is many, quiet Christmas holidays with Patrick West. Patrick is also looking forward to his first holiday spent with Angie. Both are anxious to see how their relationship grows during this holiday season. Unfortunately, his mother has other ideas.

Skye West is both a movie star and Patrick’s mother. She is planning on taking a break from her current movie, along with some co-stars, writers, and the director at her Victorian mansion in this small Maine town. Of course, a well-known and loved celebrity who rarely visits her home mansion, can come home for Christmas bringing along a few friends, or acquaintances, and it won’t affect the town people at all. Why would it?

Skye wants everything perfect. The mansion needs to be decorated for Christmas like a picture perfect Currier and Ives postcard, complete with a horse-drawn sleigh, needlepoint pillows, high-class meals available at all hours, and of course, carolers. Not to mention that to attend these events would require the proper outfits for Angie.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Reviewed by Teri Davis

VoxThe status of women in the United States has changed tremendously in the last one-hundred years with numerous examples of their proper relationship with men varying as much as each individual female.
The current President of the United States and his trusted Christian advisor changing women’s rights. All women are to be cared for my the head male of their family. For those married, that means their husbands. For unmarried women, the means their closest male relative.

In order to preserve the households of doting women, each female wears a bracelet limiting her speech to one-hundred words a day. Any word beyond that will cause the bracelet to shock the wearer with increasing strength as each word is said. Could you live with only speaking one-hundred words a day?
Young girls are taught in their own school. Naturally, they don’t need the level of education of their male counterparts. Girls learn additional home economics needed in their duties of being future wives and mothers.

Jean is a wife and mother of four children, three teenaged sons and one younger daughter. Every day the wife is expected to cook and clean. Women are not allowed to read books or to use a computer. Those are only for men.

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

Reviewed by Teri Davis

CarolineMany of us have either read, heard, or watched Little House on the Prairie. These stories are told from Laura’s perspective. Did her mother, Caroline see things the same way? For author, Sarah Miller, her hours of research recreates the Little House experience, but from Caroline, not Laura.
Imagine moving in a horse-drawn covered wagon, likely carrying the equivalent of your entire household in a large car or van, along with two young girls, ages four and five, and being pregnant. Also, you probably can only move about fifteen miles a day. Any takers?

Their adventure begins in the Big Woods of Wisconsin during February of 1870 with her husband, Charles eager to sell his land and move his family to the Kansas Indian Territory. The reason for leaving in February is the hope that most of winter is over and opportunity for owning a large amount of land, even if far from their family and friends. The hope is that the sooner they arrive in Kansas territory, the sooner they can build a house, establish themselves in this unknown land and possibly even plant before the following winter.

What Remains of Her: A Novel by Eric Rickstad

Reviewed by Teri Davis

What Remains of HerWhen a mother and her daughter disappear, who is the likely suspect? Naturally, most law enforcement would accuse the husband. There is a catch, the husband is a professor of poetry at a local college and seems to sincerely miss both every second of every day. No clues, no evidence, the two seemed to have disappeared from the planet.

Jonah Blum sees his world ripped from him when his beautiful wife, Rebecca and his daughter, Sally vanish. A family of three become a lonesome one. The community along with the media, immediately throw guilty verdicts at Jonah, but there is no evidence, just circumstances.

Jonah’s long-time friends, Maurice immediately enlisted the help of his deputies in the search. Also, questioned was Sally’s best friend, Lucinda, who also happens to be Maurice’s daughter.

Jonah leaves his home and lives as a hermit. For a quarter of a century, life for him is simply survival in a cabin in the nearby woods.

The Emerald Cave (A Vince Ramsey Adventure) by James McPike

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Emerald CaveMinistry of Jerusalem investigator Vince Ramsey is assigned to find an arms dealer who may be connected to a theft at archaeological dig in Lebanon. Ramsey’s investigation takes him and his girlfriend to France in pursuit of a way to find him. They find out that the arms dealer is pursuing a powerful artifact supposedly found by the Nazis and hidden in Antarctica. Ramsey heads to Antarctica, only to discover that someone has beat him there and has discovered the exact location of the artifact. It’s now a race against time to stop an ancient weapon from being used against the world.

The Tale Teller: A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel by Anne Hillerman

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Tale TellerNow retired, Joe Leaphorn is asked by the manager of a local museum to recover a missing item. An anonymous donor sent items to the museum but one of the items on the enclosed inventory is missing. Although he is still recovering from a severe gunshot injury, Leaphorn is determined to not let that hinder his efforts to solve this case. At the same time, Officer Bernie Manuelito and Jim Chee are tasked with solving a rash of strange burglaries in the area. The investigation takes a strange turn when Manuelito comes across a dead man while on her daily run at a local park. Unknown to Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito, their separate investigations will eventually collide in a tangled web of blackmail and revenge.

The Good and the Dead by Seymour Shubin

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Good and the DeadSomewhat similar and yet different. Ben Newman, who is a writer of true-detective stories, has “seen” a lot of different murder scenes and written about the culprits and victims. However as strange as it seems all of this kind of comes home to haunt him as he begins noticing some unusual happenings around his small world.

Starting out with the unusual death of his brother’s wife, Pat, who is found dead floating fully clothed on top of the water in their backyard pool. There doesn’t seem to be any motive nor does there seem to be any real evidence as to who did this. Naturally his brother is suspect but Ben doesn’t believe it to be the case.

Shortly thereafter there are several more deaths of people that Ben has known since grade school. One is a pharmacist, George Havern, who supposedly committed suicide although again the evidence doesn’t seem to really prove that either. Then Ellen Packler-Woods, who had just met and talked with Ben about the deaths of George and Pat, is found dead in her basement from possibly a fall but again nothing is proven.