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review 2019-08-18 06:48
Quick Thoughts: Lethal Lifestyles
Lethal Lifestyles - LynDee Walker

Lethal Lifestyles

by LynDee Walker
Book 6 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller



The groom is the prime suspect in a murder at his own rehearsal dinner.  Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke doesn't believe he's the killer—but now it's up to her to find out who is.

When Nichelle Clarke is invited to be the maid of honor in her friends' Virginia vineyard wedding, she looks forward to the celebration.  The storybook ceremony has been planned to the tiniest detail, and the rehearsal dinner is going off without a hitch.

Until a dead body is found in a barrel of award-winning Riesling.

But when the dust settles, the corpse is no longer Nichelle's biggest worry.  There is a growing list of evidence pointing to her friend the groom as the killer.  Nichelle doesn't buy it, but finds herself the lone skeptic.

Wading through skeletons of past love and loss, Nichelle sets out to prove the groom's innocence.  But the journey forces her to face hard truths about how well she really knows her closest friends.

Can Nichelle track down the truth in time to save her friend from life in prison--or worse?  Assuming he is innocent, who is the real killer?  And more importantly, will they strike again?

I'm having a hard time deciding how to feel about this book.  On the one hand, this was an exciting, fast-paced read where the action just keeps the story moving forward.  On the other hand, you once again get Nichelle spending a lot of her time racing against the clock, the upper administration, her rivals, and now other mysterious higher powers, to find the truth in a murder mystery.  And once again, law enforcement is conveniently absent with no power to do any true investigating.

While I love that Nichelle is such a strong, resourceful heroine, I'm also exhausted after reading this book (and not only because I kept at it when I probably should have been sleeping).  There was SO MUCH going on in this book, and so much going on in Nichelle's life already, that I'm frankly kind of getting tired of the constant upward battle that she's facing off with with her weasel-y publisher.  And while I understand that the rivalries are fierce and probably necessary between her and other ambitious reporters, sometimes the battles get a little too catty for my liking... and maybe too repetitive.

BUT, on the other hand, I really DID enjoy the mystery in this book; sans all the office drama, I think I would have really loved all the action, the investigation, and all the strange twists that were thrown in.  I also loved that Nichelle and Kyle could team up and investigate the case together without romance or hurt feelings getting in the way--they DO make a pretty good team.

Unfortunately, speaking of the romance, I'm STILL not feeling Joey, the mysterious mafia love interest, now serious significant other.  I just don't see enough of him and don't know enough of him to care about this love story.  It's been six books into the series, and Joey is really taking the tall, dark, mysterious, and handsome love interest trope to a new level.  At some point, I feel like we need to start getting to know Joey more if I'm to believe that Nichelle and Joey are having a serious relationship outside of physical attraction.  And because of that, I'm actually warming up to Kyle a little bit more... even if I still like Nichelle's co-worker Grant Parker more.

At least we get to see Kyle on a more personal level and we're getting to know him better with each book.  His cockiness is also starting to grow on me, even if his over-protective streak is a bit tiring.

Apparently I'm hard to please.

As far as the series itself goes, I'm still very much enjoying it, so I'll definitely continue reading, even if I'm not planning on jumping into the very next book right away.



Booklikes-opoly 2019

Roll #20:
Square: The Stay-cation 6 | Read a book set in your home town, state, or country, or that you checked out of your local library, or that has been on your (physical) bookshelves since last summer.

How it fits:  This book takes place in my home country (U.S.A.)
Page Count: 372
Cash: $3



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/08/quick-thoughts-lethal-lifestyles.html
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review 2019-08-01 05:54
Some Thoughts: Cover Shot
Cover Shot - LynDee Walker

Cover Shot

by LynDee Walker
Book 5 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller



Cryptic online messages and a murder in a swanky condo complex don't strike crime reporter Nichelle Clarke as related--until a gunman sends a hospital into chaos.

When a body is discovered in a high-rise in Richmond, Virginia, crime reporter Nichelle Clarke races to the scene.  The victim is a brilliant doctor with an unusual past.  But before Nichelle can decide what to make of the murder, the local police radio is filled with a dreaded distress call.

There is an active shooter at a nearby hospital.

The gunman has taken hostages on a patient floor, and gives the police a single demand.

He wants to speak with Nichelle.

In person.

Cover Shot was another enjoyable installment of the Nichelle Clarke series, with more convoluted twists to Nichelle's investigation, and a sort of personal touch involving some emotional back story on Nichelle's part, even if only touched upon briefly.  This particular book was also a bit more subdued on the dark and gritty than the previous book was--you don't even get to see the first murder victim, and the entire "hush-hush" on the investigation thing almost made me forget that there'd been a murder victim in the first place from page one.

There isn't a whole lot to say, as Nichelle is as spunky, resourceful, and persistent, as usual... except I DO wish she would stop trying to get herself killed while proclaiming that she has no desire to get herself killed.  As an investigative crime reporter, TSTL seems to be one of her traits that I've learned to live with, and meeting unknown sources in back alleys is probably one of the few ways she depends upon for information.

Meanwhile, I absolutely enjoyed focusing more on the multiple lines of investigation going on, with two crimes occurring that verge together in the end to make sense.  Gone are the 'Mean Girl' cat claws and hissing between Nichelle and Shelby, and even Charlie seems more subdued after her first sarcastic insult at Nichelle.  Unfortunately, without those, the book seems to fade the two rivals out, as if their only purpose was to be rude and antagonistic to Nichelle.  But whatever, at least we can skip all of that, because Nichelle had more worries on her mind to deal with in the first place.

We've also set the romance on the back burner, as Nichelle had officially made her choice previously, so we got to kiss the love triangle good-bye... even IF I still don't see the chemistry between her and Joey, and even IF the male posturing still continues on.  In fact, the mystery mafia man still doesn't strike me as all that appealing, and it seems that aside from a mutual attraction, food, and sex, the two don't really have a whole lot in common.  And since Joey remains so shrouded in shadows, you don't get to know him well enough, and neither does Nichelle, to understand why he's the better choice.  Although in the long run, I suppose Nichelle's feelings on the matter are truly all that matter.

On the flip side, Kyle has grown a bit petty.

Anyway, another strong, solid entry into the series that I'm still enjoying!



Booklikes-opoly 2019

Roll #17:
Square: The Stay-cation 9 | Read a book that includes a visit to a museum, a concert, a library, or a park, or that the author's name begins with one of the letters in R-E-L-A-X.

How it fits:  Author's name begins with the letter 'L.'
Page Count:  360
Cash:  $3




Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/07/some-thoughts-cover-shot.html
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review 2019-07-29 13:43
Thoughts: Devil in the Deadline
Devil in the Deadline - LynDee Walker

Devil in the Deadline

by LynDee Walker
Book 4 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller



A human sacrifice unlocks a chilling mystery, and leads Nichelle Clarke into a world of unimaginable danger.

When Richmond Police find a young woman's bloody remains spread across a candle-lit altar in an abandoned power plant on the banks of the James River, they give crime reporter Nichelle Clarke an all-access pass in exchange for her help.

But the information Nichelle gets from the victim's friends only draws her deeper into the mystery.  Where did Jasmine come from?  How did she end up on the streets of Shockoe Bottom?  And why doesn't she have any dental records?

The answer trail stops at the front doors of a sprawling compound in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, where Nichelle finds a secretive cult leader and his devoted following.  It is a world where lies become truth, and money is the true idol. Money some people would do anything to keep collecting...

Even if it means murdering a nosy reporter.

Another solid entry into the Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller series by LynDee Walker that drew me right into the book.  The murder mystery itself is a bit gruesome in this one, and the subject matter was as dark and gritty as in previous books.  The truth is, this series feels less cozy mystery and more crime thriller, which makes it all the more intriguing.

I appreciate that our heroine, Nichelle is a level-headed, resourceful, smart, and tough main character.  None of that weird accident-prone traits for the sake of a few laughs that I've seen in other cozy mysteries.  Nichelle knows what's she's doing with herself and doesn't draw attention if she doesn't need to, and you can count on her to do her job properly.  She still has her moments of stepping into situations that she knows damn well are dangerous... but as an investigative crime reporter, I suppose I'll have to accept that it's all part of the job.

The murder mystery itself was quite twisty, and there were a lot of possibilities for the whodunnit.

As much as I enjoyed reading this book, there were a few quibbles that didn't work for me.

The murder mystery, while outlined rather well, ended up also including a lot of side tangents that felt a bit chaotic.  I didn't expect that some of Nichelle's personal history would be touched upon, and I'm glad that it happened, concerning her absent father and a brief mention of the tension between her and her mother and her grandparents... but the introduction of that felt a bit sudden.  Maybe we'll expand on that in the next book?

Meanwhile, I'm still not feeling the love triangle, if only because I'm still not feeling any chemistry between Nichelle and either of her two potential love interests.  And also, the truth is, I don't really care for love triangles, so I'm doubly not feeling this continued dragging out of the love triangle.  And even though we can clearly see that Nichelle is leaning more towards one man over the other... it's still not quite working for me.

On the other hand, when Nichelle and Kyle are bantering as friends, I'm quite enjoying, probably because the two have a history.  But when the romance swings around, it's hard to take it seriously if only because even Nichelle herself isn't feeling that spark with Kyle.  On the other hand, I'm personally not feeling the spark with Joey...  I was still holding out hope for Grant Parker... but he barely makes an appearance in this book, so no go on that one, and also he's got a serious girlfriend already, so boo... because I'd be loathe to make Nichelle an "other woman" character.

And so I'm glad that this book is more than just romance, and that the murder mystery as well as Nichelle's work as a reporter are the main focus.

I'm also extremely happy that we've finally got a satisfying conclusion to the newsroom "Mean Girls" stuff going on with Shelby.  Truth is, great female relationships are hard enough to find in a lot of books without purposefully including one as toxic as the one between Shelby and Nichelle.  From book one, I've felt that this particular part of the character interactions were unnecessary.  It's already been hard enough that there are upper administration, outside reporters, and lots of other influences threatening Nichelle's ability to do her job.  We didn't need a Mean Girl Shelby, and we didn't need the slut-shaming.  So I'm glad that Shelby and Nichelle have finally called a truce and have stopped sniping at each other.

Otherwise, like I'd already mentioned, the murder mystery and the writing and the book itself, is extremely solid, and enjoyable, and very exciting.



Booklikes-opoly 2019

Roll #16d:
Square: Who? (3) | Read a mystery or detective story, or a book with the word "who" in the title.

How it fits:  This book is a cozy mystery.
Page Count:  282
Cash:  $3





Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/07/thoughts-devil-in-deadline.html
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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 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 2018-10-15 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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