Monday, November 11, 2019

Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima


First Line: Tonight, the stage had been set for love.

When a bomb explodes and the body of outfitter Nate Fletcher is found shot through the heart outside a community dance in Timber Creek, Colorado, Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are part of the investigation.

The investigation takes them to the ranch of Doyle Redman, whose daughter is Nate's widow, but before they get much further, they receive an emergency call from a man who's been shot in the mountains. Mattie and Robo are first on the scene, and both are disconcerted when they hear the ominous growl of a large predator they've never heard before. What on earth is roaming the mountains around Timber Creek?

The animal must be tracked and caught before anyone is hurt, and as new players emerge, Mattie begins to understand the true danger that involves everyone in Timber Creek.

Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 mysteries set in the high mountains of Colorado continue to impress me with their strong mysteries and charismatic main characters. She certainly knows how to set her stage: the tracking scenes in the high country had me on red alert, listening for the deep-pitched, rumbling growl of something that wanted me for dinner as I turned the pages.

The two main characters, Deputy Mattie Cobb and veterinarian Cole Walker continue to grow and change. Mattie lived through some traumatic incidents in her childhood and she's still working through the aftermath. In Tracking Game, Cole's two daughters are learning more than they want to know about the confusing and often devastating illness of depression. The secondary characters are solid, and I like the way the entire community reaches out to help others.

There are some excellent twists and turns in the plot of Tracking Game, so if you're in the mood for a strong mystery with three intelligent, likable lead characters (Mattie, Cole, and Robo) who live and work in a vivid high country setting, pick up a copy of Mizushima's latest Timber Creek K-9 novel.


Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima
eISBN: 9781643851358
Crooked Lane Books © 2019
eBook, 320 pages

Police Procedural, #5 Timber Creek K-9 mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey


First Line: Ted Oliver drove up Santa Monica Boulevard to Beverly Drive, then turned onto Summit and wound up the steep side of San Ysidro Canyon until he reached the ten-acre estate of beloved motion picture celebrity Bianca LaBelle, star and living embodiment of the Bianca Dangereuse serials, the biggest money-making movie franchise in the entire Western world.

No other human can fall into the deepest depths of boredom like a teenager, and Blanche Tucker is a fifteen-year-old who's bound and determined to get out of boring old Boynton, Oklahoma and away from her boring old family. When she meets up with film producer Graham Peyton, it's as if all her wishes and dreams come true at once. In no time at all, she's on the road to Hollywood with Peyton, sure that she's just a step away from fame and fortune.

But Peyton is a predator, not a producer, and it's only through quick thinking, hard work, and a bit of luck that Blanche does indeed find her way to Hollywood. Six years later, she's been transformed into Bianca LaBelle, the reclusive star of a series of wildly popular adventure films. When Peyton's remains are uncovered on a Santa Monica beach, is there a connection to Blanche/Bianca? Private detective Ted Oliver is determined to find out what really happened.

Long-time fans of Donis Casey's Alafair Tucker series about a crime-solving farm woman in 1910s Oklahoma just might remember Alafair's daughter Blanche from The Wrong Hill to Die On when Blanche was sent to Arizona to recuperate from a respiratory ailment. Of all Alafair's children, Blanche was the prettiest and the most dissatisfied with life on the farm. As far as Blanche was concerned, Boynton was just a flyspeck on the map and not worthy of notice, so she's the perfect Tucker rebel to start a new series.

Yes, Alafair and other family members are mentioned in The Wrong Girl-- and some of those "mentions" made me laugh-- but this is Blanche's show, and she turns out to be one very fine actress. The main thing I liked about her was that she admitted when she did stupid things and used her intelligence and what she learned at her mother's knee to get past the bad bits and persevere to get what she wanted.

The Wrong Girl is a departure for Casey. We move from Oklahoma slang to 1920s Hollywood slang. The outlook is fresh and spirited. Blanche is showing readers how fast the country was changing during the '20s. The chapter headings are the dialogue cards used during old silent movies, and I have to admit that the fast pace and all the action made me think I'd walked into an episode of The Perils of Pauline.

Yes, I really enjoyed The Wrong Girl. It's amazing how different a book can be from its predecessors and yet be so reminiscent of them. Blanche has chosen a completely different life from the rest of her family-- a life many of them would probably frown upon-- but she is a Tucker, and you can see this from first page to last. I'm looking forward to her next adventure with a great deal of anticipation.

The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey
eISBN: 9781492699217
Poisoned Pen Press © 2019
eBook, 256 pages

Historical Mystery, #1 Bianca Dangereuse mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley


 

Blind Search by Paula Munier


First Line: Henry Jenkins was lost.

It's a bad time to be lost in the Green Mountains of Vermont: it's hunting season, the most beautiful and dangerous time of the year. It's not the first time nine-year-old Henry has been lost, but this time he's seen something terrible.

Former Army MP Mercy Carr and her retired bomb-sniffing dog Elvis have found Henry after discovering the body of a young woman killed with an arrow to the heart. Mercy thinks the woman was murdered. She also thinks Henry knows something about it. But the young autistic math genius isn't talking.

It soon becomes clear that there's a murderer hiding among the hunters in the forest, and it's up to Mercy and Elvis and their other crime-solving friends, game warden Troy Warner and search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear, to find the person before the death toll gets any higher--and to protect Henry at all cost.

A strong mystery combines with strong characters in Paula Munier's second Mercy & Elvis mystery set in the Vermont wilderness. Speaking of that wilderness, it comes to life under Munier's pen. I can feel the snowflakes on my face, smell the trees, and hear the crunch of the snow under my boots as I follow the characters along on their search for a killer.

For those of you who may worry about a child being endangered in Blind Search, I want you to know that I was wondering about that myself. Without giving too much away, I'll just say that you shouldn't worry too much about that. Munier has it covered, and covered well-- and she still keeps the story exciting.

She also has her characters covered well. Henry took center stage for me, and I really liked how both Mercy and the two dogs related to the young boy. Elvis and Susie Bear are stars, which should please dog lovers everywhere. Troy and Mercy have their own baggage to deal with which makes a relationship between them somewhat prickly, and if there's anything that didn't sit well with me in Blind Search, it's the appearance of a character from Troy's past. It's something that's been done so often that it's tired and worn out.

If you're in the mood for a fast-paced, exciting story with strong, likable characters and two marvelous dogs, it sounds to me like you should pick up a copy of Blind Search. As for me, I'm looking forward to my next visit to Vermont to see Mercy and Elvis.


Blind Search by Paula Munier
eISBN: 9781250153067
Minotaur Books © 2019
eBook, 352 pages

Law Enforcement/Working Dogs, #2 Mercy & Elvis mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


 

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen


First Line: "Incoming air raid."

It's the summer of 1942 and Poppy Redfern's family home and farmland have been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. Wanting to do her bit for the war effort, too, Poppy trains as an Air Raid Warden in London, and now she's back in Little Buffenden.

Many of the villagers are worried about all the wild Americans on their doorstep, so Poppy often finds herself patrolling the streets at night attempting to ease her neighbors' fears as she tells them to fasten their blackout curtains.

When two young, popular women who were dating American servicemen are found strangled, the villagers know without a doubt that an American has to be the killer. Poppy isn't so sure. With the help of an American pilot, she sets out to do some investigating of her own and is surprised by the secrets and grudges she unearths.

I love a good historical mystery, and I am so thankful for writers like Jacqueline Winspear and Susan Elia MacNeal for their series featuring women in war. Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders, Tessa Arlen's first Woman of World War II mystery, is an excellent addition.

From the opening scenes in London where Poppy was trained during almost nightly air raids, I was hooked. From London, readers move to the village homefront during the war. Fear, shortages, ration books, distrust of any stranger, Arlen brings the setting to life as Poppy walks the streets of Little Buffenden in the light of day and the pitch black of night. Poppy is an excellent protagonist. She's not quite village and not quite gentry, so she can move about in both worlds-- although she does have to outwit her overprotective grandparents when it comes to her investigating.

The mystery in Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders although good, isn't all that strong. It was very easy for me to deduce the killer's identity, for instance. No, this first book in a series is more about setting the stage and having readers get a feel for the time period and to become acquainted with the characters, and in this, it succeeds. So much so that I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.


Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen
eISBN: 9781984805812
Berkley Prime Crime © 2019
eBook, 320 pages

Historical Mystery, #1 Woman of World War II mystery
Rating: A-
Source: Net Galley


 

A Body in the Bookshop by Helen Cox


First Line: Evie Bowes took short, timid steps along the frosty pavement York council had not seen fit to grit.

It's almost Christmas in York, but the season of goodwill seems to have skipped a few people. When Detective Sergeant Charlotte Banks is suspended on suspicion of assaulting a burglary suspect, it's obvious to librarian Kitt Hartley and her friend Evie Bowes that she's being framed... but why? Charlotte's boss's hands are tied due to police procedure, so it's up to Kitt and Evie to solve the mystery.

The first book in this series, Murder by the Minister, I thought a good mystery was slightly hampered by too much romance. I wondered what was going to happen in the second book. In a move that surprised me a bit, A Body in the Bookshop focuses on Kitt Hartley's friend, Evie Bowes, a shy woman who has been deeply affected by the events in the first book.

Is there romance in this book? Yes, there is, but it centers on the damaged Evie. Her dealings with both physical and emotional scars as well as her budding romance are dealt with great sensitivity, and I found it more appealing than Kitt's love life in the earlier book.

A Body in the Bookshop is a somewhat puzzling title since there is no body in the bookshop, but the mystery is a good one that contains some excellent misdirection. I also appreciate the fact that I'm getting a good "feel" for the city of York by reading Cox's books. The real problem for me with this series is that I'm not warming up to the characters, so if you're a character-driven reader like I am, you might want to take this into consideration.


A Body in the Bookshop by Helen Cox
eISBN:  9781529402247
 Quercus © 2019
eBook, 300 pages

Cozy Mystery, #2 Kitt Hartley Yorkshire mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


 

Friday, November 08, 2019

The Have To, Not Want To, Weekly Link Round-Up




The weather is absolutely gorgeous, and I'm still being good. What a pain in the neck! The only time I get out is to go to a doctor's appointment, and it seems that there has been a steady stream of home healthcare nurses coming here to the house to draw blood, check to see that I'm giving myself antibiotics the way I should be, and monitor my leg to see how well it's healing.

My leg is showing daily improvement, and it looks as though I may be entering the homestretch. I know that following doctor's orders is the major reason for this, but the sun is shining, the birdies are singing, the butterflies are fluttering, and the hummingbirds are chasing each other around and around and around. And there are gardens and zoos to visit, author events to go to...

Not all of them will still be there when I am finally sprung from house arrest, but since I don't want a repeat of this thing, books, movies, and knitting will have to do. I don't remember ever saying that I was tired of reading, but...

Heavens! What a thing to even think about saying! Let's get to the links fast!




►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄


►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄


►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄


►Fascinating Folk◄
  • Susanna Bauer, a crocheter who uses her skills to turn dried leaves into works of art.
  • A new Monopoly game celebrates women... but what about Lizzie Magie, the game's own overlooked inventor?
  • Wisconsin resident Julie Buckles headed to town and impulse-bought an entire bookstore.
  • Attica Locke left Hollywood to write novels. Now she's found success in both worlds. 
  • Kym Worthy, a Wayne County Michigan prosecutor, has fought for justice after discovering thousands of abandoned rape kits. (I watched a documentary about this and was so angry I think the lights dimmed in the house.)


►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • For decades, the Mississippi River town of Muscatine, Iowa was the pearl-button capital of the world.
  • The Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the first public library in the Americas, has more than 45,000 books dating back to the 15th century.

►I ♥ Lists◄



That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!


Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Being Good Isn't Easy Weekly Link Round-Up




You've probably noticed that my posts have been hit or miss this week. That's because I was being a bit optimistic about the infection I have on my leg. The oral antibiotics didn't work. My doctor sent me to the ER. For some reason, I thought they'd pump me full of drugs and let me go on my merry way. See what I mean about being optimistic? It comes from being healthy as a horse most of my life and being a novice in the ways of doctors and hospitals.

I was in the hospital from Thursday to Monday. I HAVE to keep my leg elevated if it's ever going to heal. This pretty much puts my lovely desktop computer out of bounds. I'm either in bed or here in the recliner. Denis bought me a laptop to tide me over until I'm healed and can be back to normal. Problem is, I do not like working on laptops. I've tried it more than once. So... I'll do what I can so you all know I'm still around, but it's going to take me awhile to get back to regular programming.

I'm going to be good. I'm going to keep my leg elevated even though the weather is gorgeous and it means that I will be missing out on all sorts of marvelous things to do. I'll pump my daily dose of antibiotics into my arm and ignore the fact that my butt thinks it's taken root to the furniture.

Hopefully, my desire to be good will last just as long as I need it. Wish me luck!



►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
  • These Sherlock Holmes films have gone missing. UCLA and Robert Downey Jr. are on the case. 
  • A privacy law expert on the evolution of cyberthrillers. (How do you live safely when there's nowhere left to hide?)
  • Why are books that shape? From codices to Kindles, why this rectangle stays golden. 
  • Literary Paper Dolls: Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.
  • Tonga is opening its first public library system with thousands of books donated from New Zealand.
  • The best 1990s rom-coms are detective stories in disguise.
  • People who read before bed not only sleep better but eat more healthily and make more money.
  • One hundred years ago, the country debated arming women to combat sexual assaults.

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄


►The Happy Wanderer◄

►Fascinating Folk◄
  • Ann Cleeves ended the Shetland series because it was "too painful" after the death of her husband. 
  • Polish street artist NeSpoon paints delicate, traditional lace patterns on urban buildings around the world.
  • Kursat Ceylan, a blind man, has developed an innovative interactive Smart cane with GPS navigation for visually impaired people.
  • Diet Eman, the Dutch Resistance fighter who helped Jews escape the Nazis, has died at the age of 99.
  • Karen Uhlenbeck, the first woman ever to win the "Nobel Prize of Math."


►I ♥ Lists◄



That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Shot Through the Hearth by Kate Carlisle


First Lines: Eight months earlier. "Have you ever been to a barn raising?" I asked.

Retired tech billionaire Raphael Nash loves retirement but just can't stay unoccupied for long. He's started the Marigold Foundation to help small companies and individuals who want to pursue humanitarian goals around the world. It's an exciting time for Lighthouse Cove as Nash hosts the first-ever global conference for big thinkers from every area of industry to give presentations on eco-living.

Shannon has played an important part, not only in renovating Nash's home but also in getting him ready for this conference. Things are going so well until Nash's old business partner comes to town. Now Shannon's got to put down her hammer and find a killer.

This light and fun mystery proves that sometimes a person is just plain crazier than you think, but when it comes to retired billionaire Raphael Nash's conference on eco-living, the ideas that are described are often every bit as interesting as the mystery and the characters.

It's nice to read about a billionaire who actually wants to do good and pay his good fortune back, but it's just as much fun to try to figure out who killed his old business partner. Shot Through the Hearth (love the title) is another strong entry in one of my favorite cozy series. Now it's back to waiting for the next one...


Shot Through the Hearth by Kate Carlisle
eISBN: 9781984804402
Berkley Prime Crime © 2019
eBook, 304 pages

Cozy Mystery, #7 Fixer-Upper mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley