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review 2020-01-22 18:40
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen / Vicki Delany
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery) - Vicki Delany

In Rudolph, New York, it’s Christmastime all year long. But this December, while the snow-lined streets seem merry and bright, a murder is about to ruin everyone’s holiday cheer…

As the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows how to decorate homes for the holidays. That’s why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoo-in for best in show. But when the tractor pulling Merry’s float is sabotaged, she has to face facts: there’s a Scrooge in Christmas Town.

Merry isn’t ready to point fingers, especially with a journalist in town writing a puff piece about Rudolph’s Christmas spirit. But when she stumbles upon the reporter’s body on a late night dog walk—and police suspect he was poisoned by a gingerbread cookie crafted by her best friend, Vicky—Merry will have to put down the jingle bells and figure out who’s really been grinching about town, before Vicky ends up on Santa’s naughty list…

 

I tried to get ahold of this book for the Christmas season, but was way too late! But, since this author will be attending a conference that I will attend in August, I decided that I would read it anyway. I have previously read her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries, so I thought it would stand me in good stead to see what else she had to offer.

Imagine my surprise then, when I felt like I was re-read the Bookshop Mysteries! There are so many details in common. The protagonists are both young women who moved away from small communities and returned, both of them have set up speciality shops, both have best friends who run bake shops, both re-encounter a man they used to date, both have dogs that they barely have time for, both meet an attractive man who has newly moved to the community, both of them discover dead bodies, both have a member of the police force that they don’t get along with, and neither of these women trust the police to fully investigate the deaths. That’s a lot of overlap.

Don’t get me wrong--I finished the book. It was good enough to hold my attention to the end, although I was pretty sure of the destination. There were details that were delightful. This one is set in Rudolph, N.Y., billing itself as Christmastown USA. The main character is called Merry of course and her father (born on Dec. 25) is Noel and he is a dead ringer for Santa Claus. Merry’s dog, a young Saint Bernard, is called Matterhorn (though she calls him Mattie most often). Delany shows talent in naming her characters although I raised an eyebrow when the BFF in this one was named Vicky!

I realize that if you enjoy a particular pattern, you will enjoy a repeat of it. Witness myself and my obsessive reading of Ilona Andrews’ writing. Those novels too repeat a formula over and over and I shamelessly enjoy them. So, if you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries, I have absolutely no doubt that you will enjoy the Year-Round Christmas Mysteries and vice-versa.

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review 2019-10-23 22:28
Die on Your Feet / S.G. Wong
Die on Your Feet - S.G. Wong

Lola Starke is a PI with a trust fund. Not that she gets everything she wants—or doesn't want. Like being rid of her Ghost, Aubrey O'Connell, for instance. But in Crescent City, Ghosts are commonplace and Hosts are supposed to be happy about it. So Lola's learned to bide her time. It's served her well as a gwai girl raised in a Chinese city.

When two disparate clients won't take 'no' for an answer, Lola reluctantly agrees to both. She and Aubrey are quickly entangled in a murky puzzle of government officials, drug addicts, angry cops, and the gossamer threads of a dangerous plot. Soon enough, the past comes calling with bad news and worse enemies.

This is the '30s and this is Crescent City, where mah-jongg parlours and film studios hold sway. Where the City's highest official is a Ghost with unimpeachable power and a history with Lola's mother. Where secrets last only as long as it takes money to change hands—or a gun to pry them loose.

 

 

I read this book to fill the Ghost Stories square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.

I bought this book at the annual writers & readers conference that I attend because I heard the author speak in several sessions that I attended and I was intrigued by her description of her work. Unfortunately, the fit between my tastes and her writing isn’t the best, but it was still a decent read.

Wong has created an interesting world for her characters to inhabit--she doesn’t exactly specify where it is located, but with it’s mash-up of Asian culture, hard-boiled detective, and paranormal elements, we can assume that it is an alternate version of California. She works very hard to make Lola into a female version of Philip Marlowe. The problem is that it’s really difficult to write anywhere near as elegantly as Raymond Chandler, making the comparison of Lola and Marlowe quite unequal.

This seems to be a California that has been dominated by Asian influence, with Christianity and European culture being minority elements. It gives the Caucasian reader of European background a small taste of what it is like to be a minority group, a salutary experience.

Ghosts feature as major characters, but I found them to be much more limited than what I expected. The majority of ghosts are tied to a human host, although the ghostly Mayor of this fictional city has seemingly found a way to stay vital in the world without such tethering. I guess it is realistic that each ghost would have different abilities, just as each person does.

I’m glad that I finally read this book, which I’ve owned for several years now. I like to support local writers and I’m glad that I liked the book.

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review 2019-09-17 20:42
Killman Creek / Rachel Caine
Killman Creek - Rachel Caine

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

 

n excellent follow-up to the first volume, Stillhouse Lake. At the end of that first book, Gwen’s creepy, scary ex-husband & notorious serial killer, Melvin Royal has escaped from death row in Witchita and he could be anywhere. He underlines that uncertainty by texting her : You’re not safe anywhere now

Caine manages to maintain the tension in this second volume, ratcheting up the pressure on Gwen, who decides that she can no longer passively flee from her husband and the army of internet trolls and criminals who are making her life a living hell and threatening her children. With the support of a few friends and allies, she will turn the tables and hunt her ex-husband.

Gwen gets put through the wringer--Caine thinks up torments for her that are believable, but harrowing. I couldn’t put the book down, I had to know what happened. Some elements are predictable, but the author manages to give them her own twist that makes them feel right for this situation.

At the end of each book, Caine allows you to relax your vigilance just a little, giving a feeling of completion. However, unresolved elements of the story encourage the reader on to the next volume. I, for example, have now requested the third book from my library and I’ll be hard pressed not to read it immediately when it comes in!

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review 2019-09-17 19:46
When You Find Me / P.J. Vernon
When You Find Me - J. Vernon McGee

Visiting her family’s South Carolina estate, socialite Gray Godfrey wakes from a night out to an empty bed. Her husband Paul is gone and a thrashing hangover has wiped her memory clean. At first, she’s relieved for the break from her tumultuous marriage; perhaps Paul just needed some space. But when his car is found abandoned on the highway, Gray must face the truth: Paul is gone. And Gray may not want him found.

Her life is unraveling.

When a stranger named Annie calls claiming to know Paul’s whereabouts, Gray reluctantly accepts her help. But this ally is not what she seems: soon Annie is sending frightening messages and revealing disturbing secrets only Gray could know. As Annie’s threats escalate and Gray’s grip on reality begins to slip, the life she thought she had and the dark truth she’s been living begin to merge, leaving an unsettling question: What does Annie want? And what will she do to get it?

 

 

I read this book to fill the Psych square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.

This summer, I attended a readers & writers conference and enjoyed a panel discussion at which this author was a member. He made sharp, funny comments and I immediately decided that I wanted to read his novel.

Mr. Vernon, you have a dark & twisty mind. I like. This is a domestic noir that gives books like The Girl on the Train a run for its money. Every now and then, I’d think that I had things figured out. How silly of me! He even gets one more jab in during the very last paragraph!

A very entertaining psychological thriller. Mr. Vernon, I hope there are more books coming because I will read them with pleasure.

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review 2019-09-15 00:03
Sword and Pen / Rachel Caine
Sword and Pen - Rachel Caine

With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it's worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.

 

Fabulous! This is going out with a bang, rather than a whimper! I am not sure what it says about me that I adore dark fantasy, with plenty of battles, plots, backstabby treacherousness, and ingenious weapons. And don’t forget the Great Library! Having worked my whole career in libraries, they are near and dear to my heart.

This volume reduced me to emotional tatters by its end. I shed plenty of tears and just sat staring into space for a while after I finished it. What a ride!

Ms. Caine, you have certainly figured out how to make me into a happy reader. Between this series, the Stillhouse Lake series and the Honors series, I am overwhelmed with good choices for future reading. Long may you write!

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