Book reviews of mysteries, thrillers, and other irresistible reads.
Etta Lawrence has staked everything on a year at a prestigious writing academy in the rainy Oregon woods. But truth be told, she’s an indifferent writer. She’s also distracted by her roommate’s distraught behavior and has a crush on the academy’s cook, a Texan named...read more
The second Dana Hargrove legal thriller is a well paced, polished, and highly enjoyable read. I liked the first Dana Hargrove book, THURSDAY’S LIST, but Kemanis has hit her stride with HOMICIDE CHART. Related post: Book Review: Thursday's List by V.S. Kemanis Dana is...read more
SOMETHING LIKE A DREAM by Robert Richter is an unusual novel that crosses genres between international mystery and politically oriented literary fiction. It’s the 1980s in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but the shadow of the 60’s and 70’s still hovers over Cotton Waters, a...read more
THE DOGS OF ROME is an unusual mystery, in that it has a narrow cast of characters, there's no climax, and the main character is not involved in the ultimate denouement. Does it work? I'll let you know. As soon as I decide. The main character, Alec Blume, is an...read more
THE ORIGIN OF MURDER by Jerold last is the latest offering in the Roger and Suzanne mystery series. The book is two parts travelogue to one part murder mystery, all with a nod to famed researcher Charles Darwin. You got the title's riff on ORIGIN OF SPECIES, right?...read more
FEDERALES is a short novel by Christopher Irvin that packs a hefty punch, slugging the reader to the heart with a story about Mexican corruption, violence, but also redemption and hope. It falls into the same "narco noir" literary category as Guillermo Paxton's CARTEL...read more
BY ITS COVER is Donna Leon's 23rd Commisario Brunetti mystery novel and it follows the series' tradition of immersing the reader in today's Venice. The mystery revolves around a crime rooted in Italy's ancient classics yet the country's modern problems of corruption...read more
I love writing mysteries and I love reading them, too. The ones that send me to new places around the world are some of my favorites and The Dublin Murder Squad has quickly become a fascination. IN THE WOODS is the first in the series. French, who is from Dublin and...read more
I have read all of the Harry Hole police procedural mysteries by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, but read them out of order. Which probably was a good thing . . . THE BAT is the first in the series, but was only recently made available in English and for Kindle. I was...read more
There are various subsets within the crime fiction genre; “tartan noir” for books set in Scotland and “Nordic noir” for those that take place in the Scandinavian countries. If there is a “narco noir” sub-genre for crime fiction set in Mexico, then Paxton is surely the...read more
Every once in awhile we come across books that we simply can't put down. FOR LOVE OF A CAUSE by Elly Michaels is one of them. In 1970’s Bolivia a small insurgent group is battling an undefined but assumed corrupt and brutal government. American suburbanite Annie...read more
THE REDEEMER by Jo Nesbo is the midpoint novel in the Harry Hole series set in Norway, picking up where the last left off and priming the reader for another just as fast as Nesbo can write it. I’ve been reading them out of sequence and this one both filled in some...read more
I wasn't the first to buy much-hyped thriller INFERNO by THE DA VINCI CODE author Dan Brown but I'm glad I eventually did. But you'll be surprised why. The Kindle verson of the book was pricey these days when great books can be had for $2.99. So I waited to read some...read more
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth is the eighth novel in the charming Isabel Dalhousie series by the prolific Alexander McCall Smith. Better known for the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series set in Botswana, the Isabel Dalhousie series is set in Edinburgh and has a...read more
BLOOD OF THE WICKED is the first book in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series by Leighton Gage. I’d never heard of the series before stumbling upon a reference to it in a Goodreads group. I was trying to see if I was the only one writing a mystery series set in the...read more
THE HANGMAN’s DAUGHTER by Oliver Pötzsch is a medieval murder mystery set in Germany. It is post-plague 1659, a few years after the end of the Thirty Years War, and children are being murdered in the small village of Schongau. It's the first in a series by the author,...read more
If ever there was a mystery author who I consider a role model, Donna Leon is it. Her Commisario Guido Brunetti series set in Venice has all the elements of a great mystery series: a perfect cast of characters starring Brunetti himself--the thinking man’s detective...read more
FALSE IMPRESSIONS by Canadian author Sandra Nikolai was a real gem, a nicely composed whodunit that shies away from gore and violence in favor of a dialogue-driven narrative in which the characters’ brainstorming sessions take center stage. Am I mixing metaphors?...read more
Each of these 3 exceptional books has universal appeal that transcends its roots, but for different reasons. The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters by Lorraine M. López In all honesty, I picked up The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters because it has an eye-catching cover. Luckily, the...read more
This review is dedicated to the people of Boston. I'm still surprised when I run across someone who is a mystery novel fan but who has never read a book by Robert B. Parker, creator of the Spenser novels that have come to define the mystery genre. His...read more
William Monk is back and better than ever in A SUNLESS SEA, the latest novel by Anne Perry about the amnesiac cop-turned private detective-turned head of law enforcement on the Thames River in 1860’s London. As always, Perry’s vivid descriptions put us right...read more
Books starring the depressed Swedish police detective Kurt Wallander are growing on me, but not as fast as the portrayal of him by British actor Kenneth Branagh. I like the book plotlines, the descriptions of rural Sweden, the nice balance of character introspection...read more
Ian Rankin is one of my favorite mystery writers, with robust, imaginative characters that are true to their environment, beautifully paced plots, and locations that I've visited and love despite the flaws he exposes. Up front I'll admit that I'm prejudiced in favor...read more
The Amazon.com description of legal thriller THURSDAY'S LIST doesn't do justice to what is a revealing dive into the legal tangles involved in catching and convicting foreign money launderers in the US. Set in 1988, with a pre-cell phone, pre-9/11 and pre-Patriot Act...read more
THE LOST ONES by Ace Atkins is a well-crafted police procedural featuring the new sheriff of a small Mississippi county. Quinn Colson is back in his home town, fresh from war, and his old high school buddies are, too. Not everyone has come back to gainful employment,...read more
Not only do I write thrillers and a mystery series, but I read them, too. I post reviews on amazon and Goodreads as well as on this site. Over the Shoulder by Jason Beech is a Goodfellas-type crime drama set in Sheffield, England, where a dysfunctional family of...read more
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