Friday, February 9, 2018

The Promise by Robert Crais

The theme for our February Mystery Book Club was mysteries with service dogs.

We had read Suspect by Robert Crais which was the first Scott James and Maggie book. Scott and  Maggie are in the K-9 unit and Maggie is Scott's partner. I liked it so much I wanted to read another Scott and Maggie book.

The Promise is the  Elvis Cole #16, Joe Pike #5 and Scott James and Maggie #2, all rolled into one.

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I almost had a heart attack reading it, especially the end. Well not really but you know what I mean.

Here's what it's about:

"Loyalty, commitment, and the fight for justice have always driven Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. If they make a promise, they keep it. Even if it could get them killed.

When Elvis Cole is secretly hired to find a grief-stricken mother, he’s led to an ordinary house on a rainy night in Echo Park. Only the house isn’t ordinary, and the people hiding inside are a desperate fugitive and a murderous criminal with his own dangerous secrets.

As helicopters swirl overhead, Scott and Maggie track the fugitive to this same house, coming face-to-face with Mr. Rollins, a killer who leaves behind a brutally murdered body and enough explosives to destroy the neighborhood. Scott is now the only person who can identify him, but Mr. Rollins has a rule: Never leave a witness alive.

For all of them, the night is only beginning.

Sworn to secrecy by his client, Elvis finds himself targeted by the police even as Mr. Rollins targets Maggie and Scott. As Mr. Rollins closes in for the kill, Elvis and Joe join forces with Scott and Maggie to follow a trail of lies where no one is who they claim — and the very woman they promised to save might get them all killed."


Amy Breslyn's son was working in Afghanistan and was killed by a suicide bomber. She is a chemical production engineer. She wants to find out who was responsible. This average, middle aged, super smart woman is no one anyone would look at twice at or think twice about. She is trying to make deals with people who would know who is responsible and supply them with material to make bombs. Are the people she is dealing with who they say they are? 


Meryl Lawrence hires Elvis Cole to find Amy. Amy works for Meryl. Meryl says Amy stole a lot of money and disappeared. She doesn't want the police involved.


There is also Joe Pike, Elvis Coles' partner, with cameos of his cat. (Can't go wrong with a cat in the book.) Joe brings Jon Stone into the search. Jon was in the Army for 13 years, with 6 of those with Delta. He is now doing contract work for the government against terrorism. He is described as a "professional warrior."


This book is super suspenseful. It is the kind of book I was trying to read faster than I can read. Does that make sense? If words were objects in a room, I would have been tripping over them. The characters are complex. There are a lot of other characters and I found myself getting mixed up with some of the ancillary characters. Of course several of them were using other names. And I was reading too fast. No one trusts anyone. Everyone is after everyone else. 


*Robert Crais is an American author of detective fiction. Crais began his career writing scripts for television shows such as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, Quincy, Miami Vice and L.A. Law. His writing is influenced by Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, Robert B. Parker and John Steinbeck. Crais has won numerous awards for his crime novels. Lee Child has cited him in interviews as one of his favourite American crime writers. The novels of Robert Crais have been published in 62 countries and are bestsellers around the world. Robert Crais received the Ross Macdonald Literary Award in 2006 and was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 2014.






Sunday, January 28, 2018

Carrots by Colleen Helme

Found a new cozy series that I like.
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A Shelby Nichols Adventure. The first book in the series is called Carrots. 

Here's the blurb:

"Shelby Nichols is an average woman who is married to the only guy she ever fell for. Her life is organized and predictable, revolving around her husband and two children. All that changes the day she stops at the grocery store for some carrots. As the cashier rings up her purchases, a gunman is busy robbing the bank inside the store. When a customer grabs the robber’s mask, he is shot and everyone runs for cover.
Everyone except Shelby, who finds herself face to face with the killer. The next thing she knows, she’s lying on the floor with a bullet wound to her head. Luckily, the bullet only grazes her scalp, and she doesn’t suspect any lasting affects until later, when she suddenly ‘hears’ what people are thinking. With this uncanny ability, her life takes on a whole new dimension. Her kids think she’s bossy and too old to understand them, but that’s nothing compared to her husband. He says he loves her, but what is it about the redhead at work that he doesn’t want her to know? As if that isn’t enough, the gunman knows she can identify him, and he’s out to silence her forever. In her fight to stay alive, she is saved from certain death by a handsome hit-man with ties to organized crime. This pulls Shelby even deeper into danger, where knowing someone’s thoughts can not only hurt her feelings, but get her killed."

One headline I saw describe the book as "The Godfather meets Love Story".  I will throw in a twist of Lucy.

The bank robber is after Shelby. But the mob is after the bank robber. Shelby gets in the middle of that and the local mob leader wants to see her. Once he finds out she can read minds, he makes a deal with her. Of course the police need to interview her, since she saw the bank robber and the people that are after the back robber. Once they find out she can read minds, that want her to help them out. Then there is the new lawyer, Kate, in the law firm where husband is also a lawyer. She seems to be after her husband. Shelby uses her ability to try to find out what exactly she is up to.

All of these pieces are skillfully connected in the story. Shelby has to hide all of her connections to these people from everyone. There are humorous parts such as her disguise that isn't always on right. There is plenty of action...pretty much non stop. Yet it is a quick read.

There are 10 books in this series with 11 coming out next month. It looks like the characters that are introduced in book one continue. (Except the ones that don't make it to the end of the book.) I think it is a book that will grab hold of cozy lovers that like action and likeable characters. (There was a preview of the next book at the end of Carrots and I found myself ready to just read on. It jumps right in where the first book left off.)

About the author:

As the author of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, Colleen is often asked if Shelby Nichols is her alter-ego. “Definitely,” she says. “Shelby is the epitome of everything I wish I dared to be.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. “I love getting Shelby into trouble… I just don’t always know how to get her out of it!” Colleen lives in the Rocky Mountains with her family. Besides writing, she loves a good book, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.

http://colleenhelme.com/

(I received a free copy and published this review voluntarily)


Friday, January 26, 2018

The X-Files


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Let's talk about The X-Files for a quick minute.
Did you watch this TV show in the '90's?

I did and really liked it. It ran from 1993-2002 with a comeback in 2016. Season 11 has been airing on Fox on Wednesdays with four episodes so far.

It is so good that I wanted to give it a mention in case you were a fan and thought "nah, it can't be as good as the original series". 

Background: Created by Chris Carter
"The series revolves around Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who investigate X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal while Scully, a medical doctor and a skeptic, is assigned to make scientific analyses of Mulder's discoveries to debunk his work and thus return him to mainstream cases. Early in the series, both agents become pawns in a larger conflict and come to trust only each other and a very few select people. The agents also discover an agenda of the government to keep the existence of extraterrestrial life a secret. They develop a close relationship which begins as a platonic friendship, but becomes a romance by the end of the series. In addition to the series-spanning story arc, "monster of the week" episodes form roughly two-thirds of all episodes.
The X-Files was inspired by earlier television series which featured elements of suspense and speculative fiction, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Tales from the Darkside, and especially Kolchak: The Night Stalker."
There you go. Four of my favorite TV shows right there.
The original cast stars in the current 11th Season; David Duchovy (Fox Mulder), Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully) and Mitch Pileggi as Scully and Mulder's boss (Walter Skinner). We even have "the smoking man" played by William B. Davis (the main recurring villain.)
I especially liked the third and fourth episodes of this season.
Episode 3 - Plus One: "Mulder and Scully engross themselves in an investigation about a series of deaths caused by the victims being haunted by their own doppleganger."  
This episode is M. Knight Shyamalan creepy. A woman locked up in a mental institution plays hangman with her equally strange twin brother who is obviously a hoarder living alone in a creepy house. They play hangman telepathically. And the game is not friendly. If that's not creepy enough, people are being followed by their doppleganger, including Mulder and Scully. And they don't look friendly either. Mulder and Scully are trying to find out what is causing this phenomena. As usual, Scully has the scientific explanation and Mulder thinks it is a paranormal occurrence. This episode will make you want to cover your mirror.
Episode 4 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat: "While Mulder and Scully explore the concept of the Mandela Effect, the come to discover events that potentially led to the X-Files existence."
This episode was actually quite funny while following the theme of unexplained occurrences. A man keeps showing up mysteriously in the parking garage where Mulder lives, asking for Mulder's help and seems to have people coming after him. When Mulder asks the man his name, he replies "Reggie...something." He can't remember. He then becomes Reggie Something for the duration of the episode. Reggie is trying to convince Mulder that they knew each other, but "they" have caused alternate memories for large groups of people. Mulder asks Reggie "who's they" and Reggie replies "Dr. They". The episode has many of these quips delivered with a dry sense of humour that had me laughing. The best was when Scully finds Mulder tearing through boxes of old VCR tapes trying to find the first episode of The Twilight Zone. He tells her about how watching the Twilight Zone at age 8 inspired him to become interested in the paranormal. The funny part? They show Mulder at age 8, very animated, sitting on his parents couch with a bag of Jiffy Pop watching TV. He has the body of an 8 year old but his adult head. Hilarious. There are also the usual jumpy moments too.
If you were unsure about watching another season of The X-Files, I highly recommend it. You watch all of this seasons episodes on Fox online and Hulu.


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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries

Good grief!
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I haven't been here in awhile. I think my brain and my fingers are frozen. We are having a cold winter in Central Texas. Snow twice and now ice.

I do have a couple of books going but haven't finished one since Magpie Murders.

BUT Hallmark Movie and Mystery channel has lots of new mystery movies on this month. They started last week but reshow them and others are coming up. I am not going to paste pictures etc. from their website because the site is quite annoying. (Did you hear that Hallmark?) Anytime you go to another page, it starts a video, and often the same video over again. Seems like maybe they fixed that and replaced it with lots of ads. (equally annoying)

Anyhoo, here's what's playing this month and the website:

http://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/

Past Malice: An Emma Fielding Mystery
"When archaeologist Professor Emma Fielding is recruited to aid in a groundbreaking discovery beneath the Chandler Castle, she is swept into another mystery when she finds her colleague murdered in the crypts below. Taking over the job-- and making unsettling connections to an age-old curse-- Emma, her students, and FBI Agent Jim Conner soon find themselves in danger of being buried along with the secrets that fill Chandler Castle."

Last Scene Alive: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery
"A Hollywood film crew descends on the town of Lawrenceton, GA to produce a film based on a book written by Aurora’s onetime boyfriend Robin Crusoe. However, when the lead actress, who is playing Aurora is killed, the real Aurora and the Murders Club must investigate a long list of suspects."

Mortal Mishaps: A Morning Show Mystery - this is a new mystery starring Holly Robinson Pete, Rick Fox and a cameo with Al Roker who I believe produced or directed this. Looks good.
"Billie Blessings has gone from beloved chef, restaurant owner, and morning show segment host to #1 suspect in a murder case when one of the executives at the network dies from poisoning. When the head chef at Billie's restaurant is arrested and held as a suspect, Billie takes matters into her own hands by digging deeper into a mystery that could incriminate people close to her while risking her own life in the process."

What am I reading?
*Book One of Outlander by Diana Galbadon. It was recommended by a couple of my friends and I have seen it listed on Netflix. I want to read the first book before I watch it.
*Carrots: a Shelby Nichols Adventure by Colleen Helme. 
*The Promise by Robert Crais - TBR for our Mystery Book Club for February.

Stay warm. We are trying.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Inkitt

Have I ever told you about Inkitt?

I don't remember how I found Inkitt. It is a great site to read books (online) by new authors for free but it is a place for new authors, and established authors, to get published.

Here is the website: https://www.inkitt.com/

They have many genres to choose books from: Sci Fi, Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Romance, Children and several more. They have online book clubs you can join. You can submit your writings and they can publish it on their site. You can get help with your writing. You can join groups to discuss books.
Did I say you can read books for free? They just ask that you let them know what you thought of the book. I like this site because it is a great place to "grab" a quick read online. Check it out.

Here are the books I read on Inkitt:

Breaking Point by C.T. Mitchell
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"The Darkest Secrets Don't Stay Buried Forever.....Five Acts of Revenge....The Truth Will Come Out
All five victims are black, handcuffed and brutally murdered. But former UK resident Sam Thompson is different.
Cabarita Beach is normally a sleepy seaside village on the northern coast of New South Wales, Australia. But when Sam Thompson's handcuffed, charred remains are discovered, Detective Jack Creed soon realises he's on the hunt for sick, twisted individual whose killing spree spans up to a decade. The residents of the Tweed Coast are very nervous.....and so they should be. A serial killer is active!
The media is having a field day. The Chief Superintendent wants results yesterday. Creed needs more experienced crime fighters to solve these murder mysteries. Enter Detective Boston-Wright; female, no murder experience and a double barrelled surname - Creed's pet hate. This crime investigation will be fun!
Boston-Wright is determined to make her father proud and to stand tall in the male dominated Murder Squad. She unearths a vital clue that links a person to the killings. The arrest will cement her place on the team.....or possibly destroy it forever if she's wrong"



When The Clocks Stopped by Marion Eaton

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"No 1 in the Mysterious Marsh Series
1976. A long hot summer in the mysterious Romney Marsh in the South of England.
Hazel Dawkins, a feisty young lawyer, takes maternity leave anticipating a period of tranquillity.
Instead, the dreams begin.n them she encounters Annie, a passionate young woman whose romantic and tempestuous life was adventurously lived, more than two centuries previously, in the cottage that Hazel now occupies.
As their destinies entwine, Hazel not only confronts a terrifying challenge that parallels history, she finds herself desperately fighting for survival in a cruel and unforgiving age. Even more disturbing is the realisation that her battle will affect the future for those in the past whose fate is, as yet, unwritten.
Her only ally is Annie. Together they face events that echo through the centuries, events that are as violent and compelling as they are unexpected.
And, as the past collides with the present, the time for the birth of Hazel's child draws ever nearer."




Graves in the Garden: a Savannah Hartman Mystery by Lisa D. Jones

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"Texas born and bred, Savannah Hartman is a tough private detective and a lucky one at that. In the past few weeks she’s dealt with cheating spouses, thieves, gold diggers, surly employees, and psychos, just to name a few. Shawn Greenley (her best friend’s brother) has been arrested for murder after Sheriff Nate Russell caught him red-handed, or so it seemed. Join Savannah on a whirlwind ride of action and suspense and unveil the mystery!"

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Our Mystery Book Club selection for January 2018 is Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

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About: "When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder."


Anthony Horowitz has written Foyle's War and episodes of Midsomer Murders - my favorite tv series. He has also written episoses or Poirot, which was another favorite of mine.

Magpie Murders is a very clever book that I was not prepared for. It is really two books in one. Susan, the editor reads Magpie Murders, by one of their clients. We read Magpie Murders. The last chapters are missing. We don't know how it ends. Then we follow the story of Susan trying to find the last chapters and takes on the role of detective. Pretty clever.

Interesting things about the book: Atticus Pund reminds me of Poirot, writing styles of famous authors were described such as Agatha Christie, both stories are good. What I had trouble with was that first we read almost the entire book that Susan is reading. Then we read her story about the book she was reading. Both stories have similarities. By the time we get back to the book Susan is reading, I kind of forgot what was going on and confused the characters. I typically like books that go back and forth between characters or even time with each chapter. But I had trouble reading one almost entire book, then another and then going back to the first. But I read the whole thing didn't I.

If I could get better at reading like that, maybe I could read two books at the same time. That would be great. :)

If you like complex plots that make you think, lots of characters and great writing, I bet you would like Magpie Murders.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Best of 2017

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Every December for our Mystery Book Club meeting, rather than having an individual book to read, we share titles of books we have read and enjoyed. Oh and did I mention we also share snacks and treats? And bring books to swap.. have a great time, talking, eating and looking at books.

Here is the list of the books the MBC members shared this year. They are not all mysteries and they are not all fiction. Yes, some read books other than mysteries (but I am not sure why).

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading.

Title Author
The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death Corinne May Botz
The Originals: The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying
Squadron of WWII
Sarah Byrn Rickman
Never Salute With a Broken Garter Peggy Lutz
It's Hard to Salute Standing in a Wall Locker Peggy Lutz
Mississippi Blood Greg Isles
Boar Island Nevada Barr
The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery,
Death and Salvation
Jon M. Sweeney
Living in the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with
Migratory Birds
Scott Weidensaul
The Sound of Rain Gregg Olsen
Bone Box Faye Kellerman
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders Gyles Brandeth
At Home in Mitford Jan Karon
A Death in the Dales Frances Brody
IQ Joe Ide 
Their Lost Daughters Joe Ellis
The Girl in the Ice Robert Bryndza
Samuel Craddock series Terry Shames
Long Way Down, Saving Jason (?) Michael Sears
The Late Show  Michael Connelly
A Man Called Ove Frederick Backman
The Nightengale Kristen Hannah
The Wild Trees Richard Preston
The All Girls Filling Station Last Reunion Fannie Flagg
Lilac Girls Martha Hall Kelly
What Alice Forgot Liane Moriarty
The Thing About Jellyfish Ali Benjamin
Spenser series Robert B. Parker
Further Along the Road Less Travelled M. Scott Peck
Hillbillyelogy  J.D. Vance
The Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead
The Circle Dave Eggers
Ruff Cut Kasey Riley
Tess Winnet series, Alex Hoffman series Leslie Wolfe
When the Clocks Stopped: Mysterious Marsh book 1 M.L. Eaton
Brain Surgeon Keith Black
Being  Mortal Atul Gawande