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review 2020-06-23 03:11
A Serial Killer Hunt Goes to the Dogs
The Finders - Jeffrey B. Burton

One of the worst things about the way this Spring got away from me is that I've been unable to get to this book until now—from the synopsis, this was so far up my alley that it might as well have been titled The Finders: Meet HC's New Favorite Series. But the important this is that I got to it now, and that subtitle would've been pretty much correct. I can't imagine there'll be a new series this year that'll top this for me.


I've kind of tipped my hand there, haven't I? It's a good thing I don't pretend to write suspense, eh? Still, having established what I think about it—what about you—is this something you should read? Probably, yeah.


It's called the "Mace Reid K-9 Investigations" series, and the novel pretty much starts with the K-9 part, so I will, too. We meet a golden retriever puppy on one of the worst days imaginable for a young dog (or person). She's soon adopted by Mason Reid (call him Mace) a dog trainer who has a few Human Remains Detection dogs, in need of one more. This pup takes to HRD in a way that surprises Mace, she's more than a natural. I absolutely adore this dog. Mace does, too. He's in a pretty bad place when he meets this girl, and she's just what he needs to get out of it.


The other members of this pack would probably be as endearing if we'd got enough time with them—I'm going to leave their names out because Mace's names are so fun that you'd best read them (and the reasoning behind them) for yourself, I don't want to take that from you. There's a German Shepherd (Mace's descriptions of him are wonderful) and two trouble-making Collies.


There is a section where Mace describes the process that the dog goes through when scenting—probably not as technically correct as what Cat Warren gave in her book (adult or young reader's version*)—but as gripping (if not more so) and entertaining—and it really gives you an idea what's going on (as best as we can understand) during that process. Burton could've given us two or three more passages along those lines in this book and I wouldn't have complained at all.


* Either or both of which I recommend to anyone interested in this novel.


So, yeah, Mace is our narrator, he's got a great voice. You pretty much feel like he's a close friend telling you a story right away, and sitting around watching his dogs play while drinking cheap beer and eating pizza (preferably non-Hawaiian) sounds like a great way to spend an evening. He's funny, self-deprecating, smart, and driven (especially when the health and well-being of one of his "kids" is on the line). If I wasn't talking about an eARC waiting final revisions, this post would be littered with quotations--he is oh so quotable. His affection for his dogs and dogs in general, is right up there with Bernie Little, Andy Carpenter and anyone gutsy enough to try to feed and care for Clifford the Big Red Dog. Even if the plot was blah and the writing uninteresting, I'd have enjoyed meeting Mace (thankfully, that's not the case).


There are four cops in this book that Mace interacts heavily with—an unusual number, to be sure. Two are uniformed officers and two are detectives. Mace's relationship with each varies a little bit, but they're the kind of cops you want to believe fill our police forces. I don't know if all four of them will return in future volumes—but I'd be happy to see any or all of them again. I'll hold off on further discussion of them for the future when we get to know them a little bit more (assuming that's the case).


After Mace and his retriever find the remains of a serial killer's latest victim, something goes very wrong. This compels him to take a more active role in the hunt for the killer. Between his dogs, desperation, and a healthy portion of beginner's luck, he has remarkable success at that. Which ends up putting a target on his back—creating a need for more luck, his dogs, some more desperation, and the help of his police acquaintances/friends.


The plot moves pretty quickly—there's a time or two that your credulity might get stretched a bit further than you'd like. But if you roll with it, Burton'll reward you. The book moves quickly—even more than I realized a few times. Which isn't to say that anything feels rushed, it doesn't, you're on a roller coaster that starts quickly and doesn't let up. There were a couple of reveals that I didn't see coming, some plot twists I wouldn't have expected—in retrospect, I felt I probably should have seen it all, if I wanted to do something silly like stop reading the book to analyze and predict what's coming rather than just buckle in and read it.


So here's the thing about serial killers in fiction—I'm pretty much over them. I think I've been over-exposed to them, and by and large, I don't react positively to them. That's not to say I can't enjoy a Serial Killer novel if the plot is well done, the other characters are well executed, and so on—but I'm almost always apathetic about the killer himself/herself anymore. But this one? Initially, it seemed like this was going to be one of those books that I liked despite the killer. However, by a little after the mid-way point, the killer had won me over and had got me interested. I can't explain why without ruining the whole thing for you, so I won't. But color this jaded reader interested.


It's possible that I'm rating this a little higher than it deserves. If I was being entirely objective, I'd probably take off a half or maybe a full star from my rating. But this isn't an objective piece, or an objective rating—this is about how much I enjoyed this, how it appealed to me, entertained me and made me want to read on. For that, it scored really high for me.


A strong and fun central character, a collection of interesting police officers, a compelling serial killer, a well-paced plot, and four wonderful dogs. I can't think of anything else this book could deliver for me. I when I wasn't on the edge of my seat, flipping the pages as quickly as I could, I was reading as slowly as possible so I could relish the scenes with Mace and his dogs doing their thing. Now that Burton has established Mace's world and characters, I can't wait to see him explore it some and build on this really strong foundation.


Highly recommended. I won't pretend to assure you that you'll enjoy it as much as me, but I can't imagine anyone not liking this book.


Disclaimer: I received this eARC from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this. As always, my opinions remain my own.


20 Books of Summer

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/06/22/the-finders-by-jeffrey-b-burton-a-serial-killer-hunt-goes-to-the-dogs
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review 2020-02-09 15:35
The Confession - Jessie Burton

So many things happen by chance and so did the meeting of writer Connie and the good looking, younger Elise. I knew from the very first few lines that I wasn’t going to like this book (although I’m sure plenty of others will love it) and sadly that’s exactly how it worked out. It was tedious and long drawn out which is a shame as the blurb made it sound great, just the sort of thing I’d enjoy. Fabulous cover I thought. I didn’t care much for any of the characters so had no interest in where they were or what they were doing - sorry!

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review 2020-02-08 00:30
Far Away Bird
Far Away Bird - Douglas A Burton
Constantinople in 512 AD is an ever-changing and dangerous world.  Theodora is a young woman when chaos erupts between the factions and follows her father into battle.  When the dust settles, Theodora's father is dead and the women of the family are left destitute.  Magister Origen steps in saying he has a place for Theodora and her older sister in a theatre, however this is simply a facade for a brothel that demeans Theodora and Comita and eventually leads to rape.  Theodora escapes and returns to her mother broken.  They plead in the Hippodrome for mercy and are saved by a member of the opposing faction. Eventually Theodora finds the strength in her sexuality and earns a living through acting and prostitution becoming known as the Notorious Theodora.  Theodora's charisma attracts the attention of a spy ring and Theodora is trained to use her skills in order to collect information from high ranking clients.  With this position, Theodora learns how to harness true power within herself and discovers the benefactor who saved her family in the Hippodrome years ago. 
Far Away Bird tells the story of Theodora as a young woman before she becomes Empress.  Theodora's character is complex, emotional and raw and allowed me to feel every part of her journey.  The writing conveyed the joy, strength, sorrow and passion that Theodora carried with her in every step of her way.  In addition, the setting of Constantinople was brought alive from the busy streets, to the political factions, the Hippodrome and the theatres.  I do not know a lot about this time in history and enjoyed experiencing the variety of settings that the empire offered.  Theodora and Justinian's relationship was carefully crafted and both seemed to realize the consequences of their love.  At every turn of the way, Theodora's inner strength shone though.  Her story echoes the plight of many women throughout history and today and is a reminder of the power women can hold even when continually beaten down.  I can't wait to see her impact as an Empress alongside Justinian.
This book was received for free in order for a honest review.
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review 2020-01-27 13:42
The Finders - Jeffrey B. Burton

What is it about a book with a dog on the cover? Seriously, I have no control.


Mason “Mace” Reid is an average guy who teaches obedience classes for people & their four legged children. But his real job is training cadaver dogs to find human remains for police departments in Lansing & Chicago. He’s still reeling from an unwanted divorce & the recent loss of one of his “kids” when he gets a phone call from a friend who runs a dog rescue. Seems he may have an addition for Mace’s team.


After he hears her story, Mace agrees to meet the golden retriever & it’s love at first sight. He promptly names her Elvira (Vira for short) & takes her home to meet the gang. Delta (Dawn), Maggie (May) & Sue (as in “A Boy Named..) Hmmm…I’m sensing a theme here. Her training begins & it’s soon clear there’s something different about her. Vira not only learns at warp speed, she has a spooky ability to make connections above her pay grade.


Kippy Gimm is a cop in Lansing who she rescued Vira after finding her at a crime scene. That she survived is a welcome bit of good news. She & partner Dave “Wabs” Wabiszewski are struggling with their search for a young woman who’s gone missing. And she’s not the first.


When Kippy checks up on Vira, she meets Mace & is intrigued by his dogs. She sees a way to speed up searching the areas she & Wabs need to cover & wonders if Mace might be interested. He is. But one search in particular leads to an event neither could have foreseen. It’s kind of a good news/bad news situation. They find what they’re looking for but the end result is a killer now has Mace in his sights. And so the hunter becomes the hunted.


In alternate chapters we meet a cold, intelligent sociopath who enjoys his “work”. So when some guy with a bunch of dogs screws up his plans…well, it really can’t be tolerated.


This is a quick, enjoyable book. There’s a bit of a slump in the middle but plenty of info on the science behind cadaver dogs & their training makes for an interesting read. Some creepy scenes & a steady rise in tension lead to an action packed finale.


When it comes to the two legged characters, Kippy is the best developed. She’s a smart, determined woman with a low tolerance for crap. As for Mace, he improves as the story progresses. It’s almost as if the author & his MC had to get to know each other & as events unfold, Mace’s personality & voice grew stronger. He’s a disarming & likeable guy whose world revolves around his furry crew & their strong bond is the heart of the story.


But the real stars are the puppers. Sue is the regal veteran who thinks of Mace as a barely adequate employee. Delta & Maggie have some sort of psychic connection & enjoy gaslighting their Dad. And Vira is always two steps ahead of everyone else. Now if she could just get those dense humans to pay attention! It’s a solid start to the series & I look forward to the gang’s next adventure. And yes, Sue…I’ll bring peanut butter.




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review 2019-12-11 20:19
The Little House
The Little House - Virginia Lee Burton

Lately I have found myself really wanting to read things about self-reliant people living a solitary life in a simpler way (other than one fanfiction, I haven't found exactly what I'm looking for), but this book sort of spoke to my reading want. 


The ebook copy I got from the library did have a funky layout which I think impacted my enjoyment of the book. 

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