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review 2017-04-17 21:08
Police-procedural with touches of domestic noir and many stories to keep the intrigue going.
Cleaved: Grafton County Series, book 2 - Sue Coletta

I’m writing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with a copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

I have just finished reading Sue Coletta’s Marred and I wanted to see what happened next. Reading the two books back-to-back allowed me to think a bit more about the genre, the characters and the style.

Here we have again the married couple of Niko Quintano, now sheriff in Alexandria, Grafton County, New Hampshire, and his wife, crime novelist Sage. They moved trying to leave behind a tragedy but it seems it followed them, and in Marred there was more heartache and family loses for the Quintanos. Now, the couple has a child, their two kids (their beloved dogs, Rugger and Colt, which I didn’t mention in my last review although they play an important role), and they are enjoying life. The book doesn’t allow us to relax though, quite the opposite, as it opens with a terrifying scene, narrated in the first person from Sage’s perspective. She is locked up somewhere, small, dark and cold, floating in water, and can’t recall how she got there. And we, the readers, share in her anguish and fear and are thrown in at the deep end from the beginning. The book then goes back and we get to know how Sage ended up there. Her plight is linked to a new bizarre wave of murders that befall the county but there are several interrelated plots and all of them touch the different characters personally. What should have been a happy time for Sage and Niko turns into another nightmare and nobody is safe.

The story is told from several of the characters’ points of view, as was the case with Marred. Sage, the writer, narrates her story in the first person and is good at observing events, but especially at talking about feelings and analysing the impact their horrific experiences might have on all of them (including her 13 months’ old baby son, Noah, and their two dogs). Her husband Niko and Frankie, the deputy sheriff with attitude, wit and a fashionable sense of dress, also have their own stories, but these are told in the third-person.

I talked about genre in the previous review but I have to come back to it. Whilst the book works as police-procedural, due to the details about murder scenes and also to the lectures on the subject (the deputies in training come handy as a justification and a stand-in for the readers, and this time even Frankie gets to explain some aspects of forensic science), there is a lot of content that relates to family relationships and also to the effects of crime and trauma on the survivors, that put me in mind of what these days is called domestic-noir (although in standard cases, the guilty party tends to be part of the family. Not so here…). Although this aspect is more evident in the fragments narrated by Sage, Frankie also gets confronted with her own relationship and how it can be a source of conflict with one’s profession and moral stance (she’s still one of my favourite characters but she behaves in a more reckless manner that I had ever imagined she would and shows less concern for the law than I expected), and Niko also struggles to try to maintain his professional demeanour when faced with attacks on his beloved family.

There are several story strands and a variety of crimes, and readers will be kept on their toes trying to decide how they related to each other (if they do), how many criminals there are and what their motives are. Although the sheriff notes the difficulties and the limitations of law enforcement in the area as it is not a high-crime place, I couldn’t help but think of series like Murder, She Wrote or Midsomer Murders where a seemingly sleepy town is attacked by an epidemic of crime, courtesy of it being the setting of a series. Also, like in most stories where both members of a couple investigate crimes (professionally or not), at some point, one or both of them end up becoming victims, and this has been Sage’s lot from the beginning, perhaps more so in this book, as she has even more to lose now. This novel might cross over several genres but it does live up to the expectations of the readers and it will keep them turning pages.

The characters keep stumbling on the same stone over and over. If in the previous book they got into serious trouble for not completely trusting each other and lying (with the best of intentions at heart), they still do it here (perhaps not to the same extent) and there is a price to be paid for it. I felt like I do sometimes when watching a horror movie when you see the characters keep getting themselves into trouble, and you want to shout at them: ‘Don’t do that! Don’t be stupid!’ but they don’t listen. The murders are as gruesome as in the previous book and varied; we get a better glimpse at Frankie’s life and some of her connections, but there is more of the personal point of view and dramatic side of the story, at least in my opinion. The book has humorous scenes and the witty dialogue that’s one of the author’s trademarks, but it is also scary and tense, and even more terrifying if you’re an author yourself. (Beware of book signings is all I’ll say.)

Once again, the ending is satisfying (as a psychiatrist I’ll keep my peace rather than discuss the details) but has a hook and leaves readers with an eerie feeling. I wasn’t sure I was totally clear in my mind as to how the different strands fitted in, especially with so many things being hidden and not fully knowing who knew what.  I wouldn’t have minded one of those scenes à la Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, where the detective gives an explanation and everything is tied up with a nice ribbon. Although, perhaps it just shows that the rhythm of the novel is quite fast and if you blink, you’ve missed it.

Another novel by Sue Coletta with an irresistible story that requires a strong stomach but will be of interest to readers who like to dig into the character’s psyche and are after more than just a well-plotted book. Oh, and readers must like dogs too. Especially scary for writers.

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review 2017-04-08 17:40
Kevlar To My Vest (The Heroes of The Dixie Wardens MC, #3) by Lani Lynn Vale Review
Kevlar To My Vest (The Heroes of The Dixie Wardens MC) (Volume 3) - Lani Lynn Vale

You’re the Kevlar…

Behind the badge and the pretty face was a heart. A heart that bled just like the rest. A heart that was so in love with Viddy Sheffield that it was humiliating. Trance had been burned before by a woman that couldn’t handle the fact that he risked his life each and every time he went on shift. She was too vulnerable; somehow he had to convince his heart to let her go. His life would chew her up and spit her out.

To My…

Viddy couldn’t get the man out of her head. Just the thought of Trance put a smile on her face. And when he walked into the same room? Words couldn’t explain. God help her, but she was even in a relationship with another man. She shouldn’t be thinking about the sexy biker with the voice that made shivers dance down her spine.

Vest…

Then the unthinkable happens, and the sexy cop she can’t stop thinking about is there for her, giving her what she never knew she needed. One moment in time, and she finds herself falling for the man, lock, stock, and barrel. The two of them have a lot of work to do to make this relationship succeed. What they didn't know, however, was that there were people behind the scenes that were working to keep them apart. Sometimes the saying is true. You can’t always have what you want.

 

 

 

Review

 

There is lots to like about this book: the dogs, the sisters bickering, the hero.

The romance felt so good as a secondary romance in the last book in the series.

 

But Viddy does a lot of things it is hard for me to swallow for such a bright woman. The book doesn't give me enough time to reconcile those things.

 

Oh spoiler. Viddy changes in a way that I think is a cop out even though it takes place mainly in the epilogue.

 

So, I was disappointed.

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review 2017-03-22 18:50
Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall
Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

In the late 70's, I started reading horror in earnest, and I honestly thought I was familiar with most horror writers of the time. I was wrong. I'd never heard of Ken Greenhall until Valancourt Books brought him to my attention. Now, I want to get my hands on everything he's written.

 

Baxter, the bull terrier, is a sociopath. But he's just a dog, you might say! It's true, but he's observant, willful and extremely dangerous. With some portions of this book being from his point of view, the reader gets a clear look into what's going on in that doggie head of his. I know this book sounds cheesy, and perhaps like a rip-off of Cujo, but the facts are that it's not cheesy at all, and it was written before Cujo. Featuring keen insights into human behavior, precise but spare prose, and bringing to the reader a growing sense of dread and horror, I'm pretty sure this will be among the best books I will read this year.

 

My highest recommendation! You can get your copy here: Hell Hound

 

*Thanks to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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text 2017-03-21 17:35
I've read 50% of Hell Hound and...
Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

I'm torn between racing through to the end or slowing down to savor every word. I'm not sure how I missed Ken Greenhall back in the late 70's, since that's when I began to read horror in earnest. I only know that I will now try to track down everything he's written.

 

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review 2017-03-09 04:22
All You Need is Love!
Plenty of Love To Go Around - Emma Chichester Clark,Emma Chichester Clark

Plum is back with an all new adventure in Plenty of Love to go Around by Emma Chichester Clark!  Life is pretty great for Plum, also known as the Special One by her humans, Emma and Rupert.  She is even adored by the neighbor children, Sam and Gracie.  Until the day that Binky arrives....

Plum cannot believe her eyes!  Sam and Gracie are now the very proud owners of a CAT!  She is certain that no good can come out of this new addition.  Especially when Binky begins to follow her everywhere.

What is this poor pampered pooch to do?  Is it truly possible to be friends with a cat?  Is there really plenty of love to go around?

I was very excited to read the second installment in the Plum series and I was not disappointed.  Clark deals with the complicated emotion of jealousy from an animal's point of view.  I found this found this fresh perspective to be very entertaining as well as educational.

The illustrations are whimsical as well as adorable.  I love how Plum's eyes are so expressive!  I also love that the illustrations are hand drawn.  I feel that more and more drawing is becoming a lost art.

I greatly enjoyed following Plum on her journey through jealousy.  Children of all ages will fall in love with Plum and Binky.  This would be a great story to read before adopting a second pet or for parents who are expecting another child.

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