Category Archives: Mystery

Big Numbers (Austin Carr Mystery Book 1) by Jack Getze

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Austin Carr is having some problems with his life. Because of monetary problems and a split with his wife, he is living in an old truck-mounted camper. The camper is parked in the lot of a bar where he spends a lot of time and the owner of the bar wants him out of the lot but seems to always succumb to Carr’s charm. Carr has also given him a few stock tips that paid off and he is hoping for more help in exchange along the way to pay for the parking.

Mostly Carr gets along well with Luis who is the bartender at Cruz’s bar and grill so that keeps him pretty well fixed for food and beverages. However Cruz still is very watchful because he isn’t happy with the camper truck in the lot.

It seems as a stockbroker he isn’t doing overly well although he has one client, Gerry Burns, who has been putting quite a bit of work Carr’s way. One day Gerry comes in to see Carr and first complains a bit about the market, like everyone else is doing in this particular slowdown. But then he drops a bigger bomb when he tells Carr that has pancreatic cancer and supposedly is dying.

Smoke Screen: A Novel by Sandra Brown

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Somewhat interesting story about a fire at police headquarters in Charleston. Actually four of the city’s top officials have been described as heroes for their part in getting people out of the building. However there were several deaths and one was a man who was being held on charges. Later it is learned that he had some information on someone in the governing hierarchy. And perhaps the fire was set intentionally to create a cover up for his death.

Britt Shelley, a very well-known television reporter who does many on the spot interviews, gets involved early on but in a strange way. It seems that she wakes one morning and the man next to her is not only one of the men who is looked on as a hero from the deadly fire but he is also dead! Britt claims she was given some sort of date rape drug in her drink and has very little memory of the entire night. She had met him for an interview about the fire.

Strong from the Heart: A Caitlin Strong Novel (Caitlin Strong Novels Book 11) by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

“Central, we’ve got a potential level one event.”

Good thing such things are nothing new for Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. And with that line from the prologue, her latest adventure Strong from the Heart is off and running at a breakneck clip that doesn’t let up until the final page is turned. This is the best thriller of the year, in large part for how it confronts Caitlin and company with challenges that are exceedingly rare for a genre novel.

I say that because not only does Strong from the Heart place the opioid crisis front and center, but the book does so with the series’ tried and true regulars front and center. Start with Caitlin’s surrogate son, now high school senior Luke Torres, being rushed to the hospital after snorting Oxycontin. Add to that Caitlin’s own dependence on Vicodin to get her through the pain from recent gunfight-related trauma and you’ve got the recipe for a thriller rife with characters at war with themselves as much as the bad guys who’ve hatched a typically nightmarish plot, typical for Caitlin Strong anyway.

These particular Washington-based villains have formed a drug cartel of mammoth proportions under the auspices of the government itself. Their dirty dealings are brought to light when an entire town on the Texas-Mexico border is wiped out in minutes. But a Caitlin Strong thriller is far more comfortable in the darkness and Strong from the Heart is no exception there, as we’re treated to a seemingly endless succession of morally challenged types, most notably a monstrous Native American named Yarek Bone who sports a condition that keeps him from feeling any pain.

An Equal Justice (David Adams Book 1) by Chad Zunker

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

David Adams is the quintessential rags to riches story. He grew up in a poor family and thru hard work managed to not only go to college but obtain a law degree from Stanford. He is looking forward to his new job at a prestigious Austin law firm. He is shocked to learn that a fellow associate he drove home after a company dinner has been found dead in his home. The associate’s last words to David were a warning to get out while he could. David soon realizes that all is not as it seems at his company. David is determined to find the truth but soon realizes that in doing so he may pay the ultimate price.

Bird in a Snare (The Lord Hani Mysteries Book 1) by N.L. Holmes

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Bird in a Snare is the foundation stone of The Lord Hani Mysteries, a historical series that plays out in Ancient Egypt. N. L. Holmes masterfully resurrects from the sands of time a tale of a humble diplomat and a proud family man, who finds himself adrift in the whirlwind of changing times.

This is a story about the life and adventures of Hani, a diplomat serving under the rule of Akhenaten. As a new horizon slowly creeps upon the land, Hani is sent to the distant realm of Syria to uncover a murder with grave political repercussions. During his mission to solve one murder, he encounters only more death, political corruption, and a fragile net of relationships between leaders. But before coming to any conclusions, he must return to his home, mid-investigation. The sun has set. And soon a new sun will shine over the kingdom. The successor who rose to the throne seems to depart from the comfort of the old ways, into a new territory; a new direction that does not seem to meet with Hani’s set life course. But, nevertheless one must adapt and above all, survive.

Bird in a Snare is well documented and offers a historically convincing depiction of what once was. N. L. Holmes world building skills melt together fiction and historical facts, in her reimagined set of events. She addresses Ancient Egypt from a macro level – mainly through state and religion – and the micro level of everyday life. But what is more, she unites these two spheres through the main character, Hani. Although the story revolves around a central figure, he is constantly surrounded by a colorful bouquet of characters, be that pharaohs, his scribe Maya, or members of his family. This psychological attention to character development is what truly animates the pages of the book.

Under the penname of N.L. Holmes, an archeologist and university professor by trade, brings her in-depth knowledge to the realm of historical fiction. The abundant knowledge of the author seeps into the text in a natural way and brings color to historical details. For all those who love to dive into historical fiction, keep an eye on Bird in a Snare and other writings by N.L. Holmes.

Fire and Vengeance (Koa Kane Hawaiian Mystery) by Robert McCaw

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Disaster tends to bring out the best and worst in people. For Chief Detective Koa Kane of Hilo, Hawaii, it also happens at the most inconvenient time. His Police Chief is away in California, preparing for gall bladder surgery. Being the senior-most member of the local force means he is now in charge and has to deal with whatever issue falls upon his community and the media. As far as Koa is concerned, all that is above his pay grade.

Weather frequently causes chains of problems from a hurricane with winds, thunder with lightning, and torrential downpours causing flash flooding.

The fissures on volcanoes open due to the cold and immense amount of water mixing with the magma reservoir creating steam under pressure.

At KonaWili School on Hualalai Mountain, Koa, along with his colleagues and firefighters, discover the dead and injured children and teachers. What could cause this disaster? Was it a bomb, a terrorist, or what?

The school site resembles a war zone. Students and teachers are in front of the building, drenched and injured. Helicopters from above are not safe flying in this weather. What is causing the problem? What is happening?

Almost Midnight: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries Book 10) by Paul Doiron

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Mike Bowditch, the Maine Game Warden Investigator, is on his way to the prison to see Billy Cronk, his longtime friend. Mike still feels he owes Billy because when two guys tried to kill both Mike and Billy. Billy was so enraged he beat the one guy to death so even though it was self-defense he did get sentenced to five years.

When Mike visits Billy he is asked by Billy to investigate a new prison guard who was transferred in by the governor. It seems that Billy now feels there is something going on among some of the guards and a few prisoners. He thinks maybe she is possibly there to sniff it out but then again she may be part of it. He wants to know so as to protect her if she is one of the good guys. Mike agrees and says he will look into it if he can.

Shortly after Mike leaves a major battle takes place in the prison and several people (including a guard) are killed. Billy is beaten up pretty bad but still alive. This adds to his theory and inspires Mike to begin looking into the problem. Because not only Billy but the new female guard are in the hospital due to the battle that went on.

The Subway by Dustin Stevens

Reviewed by Allen Hott

An interesting book although a bit long, especially in places, due to number of characters. Also lots of words lost in description as author builds places and things for happening. The story is totally believable especially in today’s world.

Tim Scarberry is in Government Witness Protection because he had given witness against a gangster, Eric Bannister, then during the trial and later his incarceration Bannister and his brother with two accomplices worked on a plan to get ahold of Scarberry for retaliation.

A female police officer, Talula Davis, found the body of Scarberry’s uncle where he had been brutally murdered by the Bannister group. She was fairly new on the job and was having a tough time with her supervisor who it appears did not want any women in his crew. Strangely enough at about the same time Scarberry was being checked on by his officer in charge of him, Deputy Marshal Abby Lipski. One major difference is that Scarberry and Lipski were in Washington where he had been sent to live in the Protection Program while his dad and Officer Davis were in Georgia.

The Offspring by Bill Pinnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Offering a read that simultaneously compels, repels, and excites, author Bill Pinnell’s The Offspring, peers into the dark side of human nature via family relationships, secrets, and racism, shown through a multi-layered, multigenerational, multi-perspective lens bringing together a set of characters whose lives intersect in interesting and at times intense ways.

First, the curiosity is piqued by an intriguing prologue which fundamentally sets the tone of this complex character-driven story, as a vivid memory quickly turns from pleasure to horror, within the mind of a character seemingly beguiled by scenes from the past. Next focus moves to the backstory of the romance between Lemuel Decker and Irene Baxter. Both are students at Logan High School during the 1940s in rural Nebraska. Set apart by an age gap and personality the two almost seem to be polar opposites while Lemuel is a shy athletic farm boy, Irene is pretty, popular, and outgoing. Because of the difference in age in school their paths rarely directly cross. However, once they do each makes an impression on the other not soon to be forgotten. Shy farm boy Lemuel holds a soft spot for the pretty and friendly Irene, but his timid demeanor continues to keep him seemingly hopelessly infatuated and at a distance.

My Sister’s Grave (Tracy Crosswhite Book 1) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Two very close sisters compete in everything with the younger one, Sarah, usually losing. However after a shooting competition twenty years ago that Tracy lost to Sarah, Sarah went one way and Tracy the other. Sarah however was never seen again until now when her remains were found in a partial grave.

It has bothered Tracy for all these years because Sarah, though she won the contest, had given the first prize to Tracy to make her feel good. What she didn’t realize is that not only did the gesture hurt Tracy’s feelings but then the next day Sarah would not be found.

Tracy had left the small town and was working as a detective in Seattle. When the news gets to her that some of Sarah’s body had been found Tracy heads back to the small town to see if somehow she can be of assistance in solving the mystery. She is doing it more for herself than for the people of the small town.