A Convenient Death by Laurel Heidtman

Summary

When Tracy Andrews, night clerk at the Eden Quick-Mart, is murdered along with an elderly customer, there’s no shortage of suspects. Tracy liked men more than a married woman should, and her estranged husband, a Raven University police officer, knew it. Did he “lose it” and kill Tracy and her customer, did Tracy put too many demands on a boyfriend, or did a spouse of a married lover decide she’d had enough? Or was it a simple robbery gone wrong?

No one looks at the elderly man killed with her, but when someone breaks into his home, Eden police detective Jo Valentine takes a closer look. What she doesn’t find surprises her.

Characters

I liked Jo Valentine. She was tough and working through some stuff. All made for an interesting character. By contrast I found Ann’s chapters to be a little boring. At first they weren’t but as the story went on, they started to drag. There were a few other characters that came to the forefront including a chief of university police named Lou (woman). I liked the strong women in the book but it would have been nice to have at least one stronger male character—Dan came into the picture too late. Although Sticks (Jo’s partner) was close. Also the names: Ann and Nan, Edna and Eden. It was unnecessarily distracting and the story could have used more original names.

Plot

This is a very plot driven story. Steady storytelling punctuated by action scenes including an assault and a shootout! This book starts with a simple homicide…so you think. It balloons out quickly and just when you think everything has been uncovered…there is another twist!  It brings lots of different elements into a single setting. I thought it did a good job of showing what Detective Valentine had to contend with on an enforcement front without losing the personal piece. The police procedure seemed on point.

Overall

I guessed the ending but the author did a good job of misdirection. I was certain and then I hesitated, thought I’d gotten it wrong. Then I was positive, but it wasn’t until nearly the end. That was a job well done by the author. Lulled you into a state of calm and then starts to build the suspense to a crescendo.

Rating

4 Stars

A solid mystery that will keep you on your toes with each new twist. You might just get this one wrong!

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At the River’s Edge by D.R. Shoultz

Summary:

Sunset Peak, North Carolina is cursed by murder and captivated by moonshine money.

The unsolved shooting death of Mayor Hank Richards has a five-year curse hovering over the historic mountain community. Townspeople look over their shoulders in fear as neighbor accuses neighbor.

Rumors of buried moonshine money captivate those seeking unearned riches, but haunt Emily Edwards, the strong-willed granddaughter of the purported moonshiner.

Shortly following the murder of Mayor Richards, James Wolsey returns from college to help his mom manage the family’s hardware business. James and Emily are traveling diverse paths when they meet, but quickly align on a common course. If not for obsessed treasure hunters convinced Emily possesses a map, it seems their future together is promising.

The couple’s attempt to dispel rumors of buried treasure leads them to the gravesite of Emily’s ancestor beside the New River. What they uncover at the river’s edge propels them into the path of the mayor’s killer, and unleashes a chain of chilling events that forever changes Sunset Peak.

Mayor Richards’ murder will not be the last in the previously peaceful town.

Amazon Link

Character:

James and his mother are good main characters. James is a good person if not a little vanilla. Emily is a live wire. Unpredictable for sure but I liked her gutsy demeanor. You also get to meet the two law enforcement personnel trying to solve the murder. The story has POV switches.

Plot:

The story just drops you in without much explanation or set up. Beyond that I hesitate to say more because there are lots of twists and turns. A good murder mystery that doesn’t stop there. When you think you’ve figured it out there are two more twists. I think I can say that a pair of bumbling idiots for side villains.

Overall:

This story was interesting and I struggled with the writing style of this story: was it narrative or third person? It was never clear. Furthermore this story needs clearer breaks! Beyond that it was a very enjoyable read with very vivid characters and believable sequences of events. The author kept it a great length. Easy to read in a few sittings.

Rating:

4 stars

A solid mystery with interesting characters. Lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing!

Where did I get it?

I was gifted a copy from the author. This is a voluntary review.

Whiskey Kills by Lolli Powell

Summary

Big cities are known to be dangerous, but former New Yorker and bar owner Ricki Fontaine is finding the small town of Waterton, Ohio, is proving to be the murder capital of the world—well, at least her world.

The new Top Shelf is open for business, but business as usual for Ricki and the Shelf translates to another dead guy. Ricki’s friend, Ruby Fogarty, is charged with murdering her boyfriend by clubbing him to death with a bottle of whiskey. The police consider the case closed, but Ricki is convinced Ruby is innocent and sets out to find the real murderer. Although Waterton police detective Gabriel Russell is crazy about Ricki, he isn’t too crazy about her trying to do his job.

The killer’s not too happy about it either.

Characters

Ricki is fantastic. She is charming and stubborn. Her antics should get her into more trouble than they do, which tells me she is lucky. She touch and warm and so many things that all seem to fit! Gabe is…*fans self*…adorable. I love their relationship together and I hope they make it for the long haul. I’m a little iffy on how good of a detective he is during parts of the book but that was minor. The supporting characters are varied and vivid. Adam is just the greatest – so much love for him. Not to mention Ricki’s mom and stepdad! All around great characters.

Plot

At its heart this is a sleuthing novel – a whodunnit if you will. Yet it is so much more. It touches on social issues, family, grief, and greed. There is even romance – although I don’t get her obsession with eyebrows! Following Ricki as she fumbles around trying to help her friend out was nail biting and entertaining. Who killed Frank? That’s the first question and boy do you go on a journey to get that answer. As she digs deeper into the truth, even she is surprised by the ending! Plus she learns a bit about herself and how awesome Jasper (her cat) is. Good luck figuring out all the angles, because I missed some!

Overall

This book just grabbed on a wouldn’t let go. Despite its few drawbacks and some unrealistic moments, I just loved it. This is a book that you overlook its pitfalls because overall it was such fun and just pure entertainment. Plus it felt like you were with Ricki at times, and she was telling you what happened – recounting the events rather than reading a book which was amazing! This is what a good book is supposed to do. One I started I just had to know the ending and I have to say, I loved even that! I was surprised by the ending (no who did it), but by the accidental way in which Ricki stumbles upon the truth. I thought the book could have gone one of two ways and although I guessed who the killer was (mostly) I was in for a surprise! Things are not always what they seem.

Downside was this was book 2 in a series. I wish I had read the first book before this one because this book does give away what happens in the first book so I can’t go back now. If the first book was as good as this one, it must be worth reading!

Rating

5 stars

Such a fun read! I was completely absorbed and just had to finish it! It took me quite a bit longer to figure everything out and even then I missed some things. A great mystery read for sure!

This review is voluntary.

The Murder of Manny Grimes by Angela Kay

Summary

When three young boys stumble into Lieutenant Jim DeLong’s life one night during a winter storm, they claim they’ve seen a dead body by the swing sets of the Columbia County Elementary School. After he investigates, DeLong sees no evidence, not even a body. But were the boys telling the truth?

With the help of his oldest friend and mentor, former Naval investigator Russ Calhoun, DeLong sets out to find whether Manny Grimes is alive or dead. The further away he gets to the bottom of the mystery, the closer he comes to realize that his own life is falling apart.

Delving deeper into the murder of Manny Grimes, Lieutenant DeLong begins to unravel, losing his sense of control, falling into old temptations he spent years to overcome. Will he be able to move past his own demons and untangle the web of lies before it’s too late?

Characters

This book is filled with deeply flawed characters. There are no white knights in this dark detective noir. Chock full of moral ambiguity on right and wrong, Lieutenant DeLong does one thing right – solving murders. Calhoun is just as flawed. A womanizer with questionable friendship choices, he at least wants to make everything right by solving murders and fixing past mistakes. These are complex characters.

Plot

I absolutely love to be surprised. In the beginning of this plot I thought the author was going to play it safe. I am happy to report that is not the case! This book edges on reality that anything can happen to anyone at anytime. I was well over halfway before I begin the suspect the killer, even though their motives became clear to me earlier on, I still wasn’t sure who the actual killer was. That is the hallmark of a good murder mystery!

This book also explores DeLong’s personal life. Although it enjoyed parts of it, some of it felt long and drawn out. I’d have to stop myself from skipping forward to the next part that involved the mystery aspect. I’m wondering if DeLong’s paranormal encounter will continue into the second book – I sure hope so!

Overall

Part of it reminded me of an old hardboiled detective movies/books brought into the modern age. The only difference being that DeLong is actually a detective. The writing could be stilted at times but also felt very hard detective story. There were some errors, but most of it was punctuation. The author did an excellent job of building suspense, but I felt that the ‘personal drama’ aspects sometimes distracted from the growing tension.

The setting was consistent and added another eerie aspect of being deep winter. The author played this up well. At the end of the day the plot and flawed characters won out. It almost felt like a movie you’d watch on Netflix on a cold winter day. I don’t see why this couldn’t also be read on a cold winter day as well!

Rating

4 stars

If you like complex murder mysteries with a touch of drama, this is perfect for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.