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review 2018-11-04 22:55
Brief Thoughts: Small Town Spin
Small Town Spin - LynDee Walker

Small Town Spin

by LynDee Walker
Book 3 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller

 

 

A YOUNG ATHLETE IS DEAD.
A TRAGIC SUICIDE?  OR FOUL PLAY?


A retired NFL quarterback's teenage son is found dead on a rocky shoreline near his family's Virginia home, and crime reporter Nichelle Clarke is called in on special assignment to handle the delicate story.  Just yesterday, T.J. Okerson seemed destined to follow in his father's footsteps towards gridiron glory.  Now his parents, close friends to one of Nichelle's inner circle, are blind-sided and grieving.

The sheriff of the sleepy Chesapeake Bay town is ready to stamp the case a tragic drug overdose and move on.  But Nichelle isn't so sure.

Determined and unafraid, she dives into the seedier side of the quaint island community.  Nichelle's investigation reveals an underground moonshine operation--and more suspicious deaths.  Soon she finds herself confronting a killer who will stop at nothing to keep Nichelle from uncovering the truth.



Small Town Spin is another solid story in this well-written cozy series that I'm happy to have been recommended.  As per usual, I love Nichelle's thought process whenever she starts investigating each case, and I love that she's so resourceful and confident.  I also appreciate the fact that Nichelle has kind of learned from her previous experiences and indeed DOES try not to be the TSTL.  As she mentions, she's not exactly looking to get herself killed or anything.  She just wants her story.

Unfortunately, danger just seems to keep popping up because she's so determined to get to the truth of each story.

Of all the books so far, I kind of feel like this is one with a meatier plot than the rest.  It's quite thought-provoking, even if the entire detailed outline of the murder mystery was quite convoluted.  Maybe Nichelle was following too many trails, I don't know.

Still, this was highly enjoyable!

On a side note:  the love triangle is quite prominent in this particular book than it had been in the previous.  I suppose I understand Nichelle's need to play the field a little bit.  But something about triangles just really ruffle me up.

On another side note:  I was chatting with my BFF about this series, wanting to introduce her to it if she were in the mood for a new cozy.  The topic of the love triangle came up, and then I suddenly admitted that I was really hoping that Nichelle and fellow reporter, sports persona Grant Parker would end up together.  I'm sure that's not going to happen, because the two have already friend-zoned each other; AND Parker is in a committed relationship.  Also, a lot of other readers seem to be rooting for the mafia boss...

But anyway, I just felt like Parker and Nichelle just clicked really well, especially after they finally started communicating more properly at the end of the first book.  Now the two are sort of partners in crime as he had helped her out, both in the previous book and this one.  And they seem to really understand each other.

While love interests, Joey and Kyle, will just tell Nichelle she needs to stop getting herself into trouble, Parker will offer his services to aid her investigative efforts.  I think I like that he doesn't immediately try to coddle her... then again, he's also not playing the role of over-protective potential boyfriend.

Anyway, another entertaining installment to the Nichelle Clarke series, and three more to go!

 

 


 

Halloween Bingo 2018

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/brief-thoughts-small-town-spin.html
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review 2018-10-22 20:30
Thoughts: Buried Leads
Buried Leads - LynDee Walker

Buried Leads

by LynDee Walker
Book 2 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller

 

 

It wasn't the first time I'd smelled a dead body, but the faintly sweet, acrid stench didn't get less putrid with repeated exposure.

The scene was quiet for a body recovery, just as I'd hoped.  Not another reporter in sight.


When an Armani-clad corpse turns up in a shallow grave in the Virginia woods, Nichelle Clarke is the first reporter on the scene.  The victim is a tobacco lobbyist with a mysterious past, and Nichelle suspects that his shady business connections are what's driving local politicians to push for a quick arrest.  She soon uncovers a web of astonishing corruption: A dark trail of illegal kickbacks and high-end call girls that stretches all the way to Washington, D.C.

For Nichelle, it could be the news story of the year.  But the power players at the center of the plot have everything to lose, and Nichelle's crusade for the truth lands her right in the crosshairs of the killer.



This second book in the Nichelle Clarke series was maybe a little bit more disappointing than I had hoped.  Sure, it was still written well, and I still like Nichelle.  But I think I would like her better if she didn't blatantly ignore warnings of danger just to trudge forward without a care.  As much as I hated the scene with the stuffed Pomeranian toy, I'm glad that it kind of gave her a wake-up call... even if she still didn't really see the danger in the story she was pursuing.  At least she was taking some action to keep her puppy safe, even if she wasn't taking steps to keep herself safe.

The story pacing and the writing is still winning, though.  As I stated, I still like Nichelle.  I like that she's smart, resourceful, and has a way with puzzles.  I didn't really care for her trying to edge into another co-worker's area though, because it left me feeling like she was trying to steal someone else's job.  She'd been spending time complaining about Shelby trying to steal her job since book one, so it felt a little contradictory.  At the very least, she DOES finally admit that she's not trying to steal Trudy's political beat, and goes to Trudy with questions as well as offers the scoop to her co-worker.

It's a little too convenient, however, that Trudy dismisses Nichelle's insights, thus giving Nichelle a green light for continuing her investigation, conscience-free.

I AM glad for the fact that Nichelle covers more than just the "mystery of the week."  In fact, there are more mysteries going on in this book than I'd expected, and enough to keep readers guessing for hours.  Simply the mystery of the missing white chocolate syrup was lingering in the background.

But to be totally honest, the ending wasn't really all that surprising to me, even if I didn't see it coming.  And I felt like it was kind of abrupt.  All the other incidents that Nichelle covered in this book felt like they should have been separate incidents, but everything tied together in the end, though.  I'm not sure if I like that everything ties together in the end, or if I would have preferred to see Nichelle working an article on an incident that had nothing to do with the "mystery of the week," just to show us that there's more going on in this world than the one big convoluted scandal that serves as the main conflict in this book.

Meanwhile, I'm not a big fan of love triangles, but I could smell this one coming a mile away.  I don't know how to feel about it at the moment, because not a whole lot of character is given to either male love interest--at least not enough for me to like one over the other.  And since I don't like triangles, I'm really hoping that this one doesn't keep up for too long and Nichelle either chooses one guy... or chooses no one.  At this point, you can kind of see her leaning more towards Mr. "Call Me Joey," though it could have just been because of the fact that she and ATF Agent Kyle have a history she's reluctant to get into.

At this point, I am kind of glad that Nichelle's world doesn't revolve around her love interests.  They're really just afterthoughts for her at the moment, even if she finds both of them attractive and alluring.

I'm still not digging the color commentary about Shelby's bedroom habits--nor am I feeling the necessity of Shelby's "Mean Girl" act.  I don't feel like it brings much to the table--Nichelle's urgent deadlines still stand whether or not there's someone actively vying for her position.  The fact that she's got a friendly rivalry going on with Charlie from News Channel Four also serves to keeps her on her toes as is.

Otherwise, this second book of the series wasn't bad.  It wasn't incredible, nor was it as exciting or entertaining as the first, but it was still enjoyable, and fast-paced enough that I finished it in a breeze.

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(any murder mystery)


Other possible squares:  Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-buried-leads.html
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review 2018-10-15 17:19
Thoughts: Front Page Fatality
Front Page Fatality - LynDee Walker

Front Page Fatality

by LynDee Walker
Book 1 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller

A fiery crash kills two young police officers. A horrific accident? Or something more sinister?

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke is covering the deaths of two young police officers near Richmond, Virginia. On the surface, it looks like a tragic accident. But as she digs deeper into the investigation, Nichelle realizes that all is not as it seems.

Evidence goes missing.

A prosecutor vanishes.

Someone is trying to cover their tracks.

Nichelle is struggling to put the pieces together, until a seductive Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. But each step closer to the truth becomes exponentially more dangerous. And her investigation soon transforms into a murderous game of cat and mouse.

 

 

On a side note:  I like the newer covers for this series.  It's been noted that LynDee Walker was able to get the rights to all of her books, thus giving her the opportunity to repackage her series.  Each book gets a brand new, grittier looking cover illustration, and the whole series gets a brand new title as well, having previously been known as A Headlines in High Heels Mystery, which I can see why it had been given this series title in the first place, but doesn't really show you that there's so much more to the story than Nichelle's love for fancy heels of all kinds.

 

Now, moving right along to the review:

 

 

Front Page Fatality is an extremely enjoyable and strong start to the Nichelle Clarke Crime Thrillers, and definitely has a lot of potential to continue on being great if the rest of the books follow along the same vein.

The story is fast-paced and the murder investigation keeps you on your toes.  To be honest, I really didn't know what to think and who I thought would end up the ultimate culprit of the murders, and of the drug evidence disappearing.  I wasn't surprised at the ending, but was kept guessing throughout.  As others have mentioned, this book feels much grittier than your typical cozy mystery, with constant action from the beginning, all the way till the end, and even a darker atmosphere than your typical, humorous cozies.  The characters are all interesting in their own way, and I hope to see more of them in the rest of the series.

I especially loved our heroine, Nichelle Clarke, who isn't the typical badass independent woman, nor is she a giggling, swooning damsel either.  Nichelle is resourceful, smart, and doesn't spend her time pining after the first man who gives her a mega-watt smile.  I also love that she's not out to be TSTL material, even though she DOES manage to get herself into trouble a couple times--at least she openly admits that getting herself killed was never the plan.

She also reacts appropriately when she finds a strange man in her home who shouldn't be there... sort of.  I would have liked a lot less talking and a lot more dialing of 9-1-1, but I'm guessing Nichelle had her reasons; though I don't really approve of her still finding Mr. "Call me Joey" attractive after he'd just broken into her home.  I DO appreciate her then spending the time searching her home and locking all of her doors and windows following that little incident, and keeping vigilant about it even a day or two later.

I also love Nichelle's relationship with Bob, her boss--a pseudo-father-daughter relationship, if you will.  I like how they kind of take care of each other.  I hope to see more of that in upcoming books.

The side characters could have been fleshed out a little more.  Grant Parker felt like he should have been more interesting than he actually comes off.  Nichelle's best friend, Jenna also feels like another tangent waiting to be told.  And then Nichelle's police detective source, Aaron ended up disappearing for a good portion of the book.  So, ultimately, as I'd mentioned already, I DO hope to see more of these people in future books, if only because there is SO much potential going on there.

The only one thing that DID bug me about this book were the constant commentary about Nichelle's co-worker, Shelby--it felt in bad taste, honestly.  What people do in their romantic and/or sex lives is no one else's business, and using that as an attack against Shelby so much was uncalled for and unnecessary.  No matter that Shelby was a big bitch to Nichelle all the time--you can dislike her for her general attitude and rude behavior, but there's no need to stoop to attacking her bedroom habits.

I had figured Nichelle to be above that, considering she'd been able to hold her tongue against Les, the temporary stand-in when her boss, Bob has a heart attack.  Les was a standard asshole who kept the insults coming and I had so, so wanted her to retort back at least once.  But she held her tongue every single time, even after he kept insinuating that she was playing hooky and not taking her job seriously enough.

Nichelle's behavior towards Shelby is a different matter, however, from the fact that Shelby's "sleeping with the boss to advance her career" side-fact had to be brought up at all.  Truthfully, I had been so ready to be happy about Nichelle and Shelby's relationship being one of friendly rivalry of some sort when Nichelle mentions how Shelby is good at what she does, and could even potentially work the police and crime beat if she got the chance.  But then we pull the slut-shaming card and I just felt a bit frustrated.

I appreciate that Nichelle and Charlie, a television news reporter, have the friendly rivalry going on, but Charlie barely makes an appearance in the book.  It would have been nice to see more of this between Nichelle and Shelby, rather than just making Shelby out to be the stereotypical "Mean Girl."

But anyway, this book was overall entirely enjoyable, and I was very satisfied with it.

 

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community)


Other possible squares:  Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-front-page-fatality.html
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review 2016-10-13 00:16
Lethal Lifestyles (Headlines in High Heels, #6)
Lethal Lifestyles - LynDee Walker

I've been a HUGE fan of this series from the word go, and I keep waiting for a mediocre book because statistically, every series has at least one.  Lethal Lifestyles wasn't it, although at the beginning, I thought it might be.

 

I'm not a fan of friend-in-peril storylines; they are the most used trope in cozy mysteries and I was over them years ago.  I'm also not a fan of weddings as a setting, so when chapter 1 starts with a dead guy at a rehearsal dinner and the friend is in peril by the end of chapter 3, I figured I was going to have to work at this one.

 

Uh-uh.  Not even a little bit.  The wedding theme was tucked firmly to the back after 5 or 6 chapters and what came next was just more of a thriller than a cozy mystery.  Not in the non-stop, bullets flying, TSTL kind of way, but thriller in sense that this is an incredibly complicated mystery and one of the first ones I've read that comes close to how difficult I imagine it must be in real life to solve a crime.  Nichelle would find one thread of the mystery, follow it, and find instead of an answer, another thread that took of in another direction.  This was NOT a linear plot, - there were at least 4 motives for this guys death - but man, it was NEVER boring.

 

I deducted a half-star because there was one small moment that felt way too coincidental, so it stuck out, and because there was a pivotal moment when the motive (if not the killer - had no idea about that until the end) became clear and it took Nichelle much longer to clue into it than it should have.  But these were small things.  The editing was, as far as I could tell, perfect.

 

In general, I can't say enough good things about this series; as a crime reporter Nichelle is in the perfect position be an amateur sleuth and she gets most of her facts from following the paper trails and doing legitimate interviews with people she reports on.  She has a lot of strong female friendships and a great romance in the making.

 

The only drawback is having to wait another year for the next one.

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text 2016-09-27 23:31
On sale this week for 0.99
Front Page Fatality - LynDee Walker

Just in case anyone is looking for new murder mystery series possibilities:

 

This is the first book in a series called Headlines in High Heels, and was nominated for an Agatha award for Best First Novel.  The series name makes it sound vapid, but it isn't.  It's excellent; one of the few series I look forward to over and over again.

 

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke's days can flip from macabre to comical with a beep of her police scanner. Then an ordinary accident story turns extraordinary when evidence goes missing, a prosecutor vanishes, and a sexy Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. 

 

The first book in ebook format is on sale this week for 0.99 across all the major outlets (iBooks, Kobo, B&N, Amazon).

 

I don't have a horse in this race; just thought I'd fling it out there to anyone interested since I'm a personal fan of the books.

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