REVIEW – Watch Her by Edwin Hill

Okay, i’m convinced. I need to go back and read the first two Hester Thursby novels because I am hooked! Watch Her is a sleepier contemporary mystery that really picks up after 1. A character is murdered and 2. Some family secrets all come to light in a heart-pounding final few chapters.

I really enjoyed Hester as a protagonist – she’s feisty and smart, but she doesn’t feel like a stereotype or charicature.

We get multiple perspectives in this book and that really worked to push the story along. Each character was different enough that I felt like I was getting a relatively comprehensive overview of the events of the book.

Content warnings: sexual harassment, death of a child, brief use of ableist language

Thank you Kensington Books and Books Forward PR for the ARC!

REVIEW – Murder in the Lincoln White House by CM Gleason

I bought this book last fall because I was intrigued by the premise, but it took me a year (and some change…) before I actually picked it up. I regret not reading this sooner! I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I loved this.

We follow Adam Quinn, who is part of President Lincoln’s security team. At Lincoln’s inaugural ball, a dead body is found (just a few yards from the POTUS, might I add). President Lincoln tasks Adam with investigating the murder, which takes him on a journey across DC where he meets some eccentric, fun and suspicious characters.

When a second dead body turns up inside the White House, Adam has to race against time to find the culprit before they reach the president himself. He ends up putting himself in harm’s way because someone REALLY does not want these murders solved…

There are clever little clues throughout the book, and Gleason does a great job of placing the reader directly in 1860s Washington. There are some hilarious scenes in this book (and some pretty gruesome ones, too). Overall it features a great balance of humor and mystery and suspense, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series!

REVIEW – Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

It’s been a little while since I read a good whodunit kind of mystery/thriller, and this was a great way to get back into the genre! Do Not Disturb is set in the Welsh mountains and the guesthouse (and town) are equal parts charming and sinister.

Kirsty moves her family out of London after a traumatic event. They decide to start fresh by purchasing a guesthouse (in America we’d call this a “bed and breakfast”) and going into business with Kirsty’s somewhat overbearing (but well-meaning) mother.

When Kirsty’s estranged cousin Selena shows up, some interesting things start happening (dead flowers left at the doorstep? No thank you). Kirsty is skeptical of Serena’s arrival, and the cousins haven’t spoken in years ever since they had a falling out when they were 18.

I was basically suspicious of EVERYONE at some point or another in this book, which made for a fun reading experience. Do Not Disturb is a twisty, spooky read, ideal for thriller lovers looking to get something just a tad bit different.

Content warning: sexual abuse/rape, attempted suicide, child abuse

Thank you Harper Perennial for the ARC!

REVIEW – The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

“That’s the problem with summoning demons, you see. Sooner or later, somebody else raises them against you.”

The Devil and the Dark Water was for sure one of my most anticipated books of the year. I loved The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and i’ll probably pick up pretty much anything Stuart Turton decides to write.

This book is a combination of Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean and Titanic (sound weird? …good.) It’s historical-ish fiction – set in the 1600s but not entirely historically accurate (but that’s not the point! Just enjoy the story for what it is.)

Arent and Sammy- the Bear and the Sparrow – are like a spin on Watson and Sherlock. Sammy is imprisoned on the ship for reasons unknown, and Arent is trying to find out why. There’s also a dead leper, the mark of a supposed devil/demon named Old Tom and some dead livestock to add to the fun.

Sara is married to a total jerk, who just so happens to kind of be in charge of this entire operation. There’s a relatively large cast of characters here, but each person is different enough that it’s not hard to keep them all straight.

What happens in this book? I really can’t tell you. It’s wild and fun and unique. You can’t really begin to try to solve the mystery of Old Tom, you just have to let Turton guide you through the twists and turns of the story. It’s not perfect, but it’s still an amazing read.

REVIEW – The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

“I don’t approve in happy endings in crime stories. Death should be shown as a tragedy, never anything else.”

The Eighth Detective is a unique murder mystery in which we are given seven “fictional” murder mysteries laced throughout a “real life” narrative. Editor Julia Hart is working with Grant McAllister, writer and mathematician, on republishing his book. You see, Grant wrote a series of murder mysteries using mathematical principles.

As Julia reads the stories, she starts to pick up on inconsistencies. And those inconsistencies slowly turn into clues that point to something far more sinister.

The murder mysteries are mostly interesting, if a bit too long at times. There was one in particular that I really enjoyed, but I thought the conclusion Julia comes to seemed like she was missing a main point of that particular story.

The writing can be a bit clunky at times throughout this book, and the overarching story is difficult to figure out before all of Grant and Julia’s secrets are revealed. But what it lacks in execution, it makes up in premise and it’s a relatively quick read.

REVIEW – The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The First to Lie is a twisty thrill-ride of a book! We’re introduced to two primary characters, Nora and Ellie. One is a glamorous pharmacy rep with a hidden past, and the other is a reporter for a new news station in Boston who seems to be alone in the world. They both have their secrets and things quickly unfold through each chapter. Throw in a pushy, nosy neighbor turned coworker, quick and impactful flashback chapters and a corporate coverup that has an unending ripple effect, and you have a recipe for a thriller that’s sure to delight readers and keep them guessing.

There are twists here that I called early on, and some that I never saw coming. Ryan’s writing is easy and smooth, and her short, punchy chapters kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime!

Content warning: infertility/fertility treatments, forced miscarriage/abortion

Thank you Forge Reads and Get Red PR for sending me an advanced copy of The First to Lie!

REVIEW – Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

When three bodies (two small children and their father) are found buried in the backyard of a church parsonage, Captain Linda Turner vows to track down their killer. The crime is one of the worst she’s ever seen and Linda ends up on a chase unlike anything she’s dealt with before. We also meet Ray Williams, a televangelist with a struggling TV show – that is, until one of his regular attendees approaches him with ideas to ensure the show’s growth and success.

I’ll tell you this much: you’ll know where this book is going pretty early on. You’ll spend most of your time just wanting to know how it all plays out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s important to know before you read. This isn’t really a twisty thriller, it’s a sleepy investigative novel that picks up considerably in the final third of the book.

This is one of those books that would make a great episode of Criminal Minds or another investigative crime show. (America’s Most Wanted, maybe?!) Our villain is truly despicable and readers will surely be anxiously waiting for justice. There’s also a strong theme of religion in this book, and using faith to manipulate others. The book is also set in the early 2000s and features some brief mentions of 9/11 and the Enron situation. The choice to have the events in the book take place nearly 20 years ago is an interesting one, but it makes sense given the general MO of the villain and the plausibility of their actions.

Content warning: murder/death of small children, brief mention of animal cruelty, narcissism, manipulation within a romantic/marital relationship.

Thank you Book Publicity Services for sending me a finished copy of Salvation Station!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Three Widows and a Corpse by Debra Sennefelder

Food blogger Hope Early is settled back into her hometown of Jefferson, Connecticut, except for the fact that she keeps finding dead bodies…

When a local real estate developer is found dead during the annual scavenger hunt, Hope inserts herself into the investigation (despite the warnings of her sister…and boyfriend…and best friend…and everyone else in town). The best part? Three women claim to be married to the murder victim, and they all had the means, motive and opportunity to take him out.

I really liked the mystery in this one! It kept me guessing and although I had a hunch early on, Sennefelder did a good job of throwing me off the trail. I also loved the secondary characters and the town in general. This book hits all of the quintessential cozy mystery elements, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a copy of Three Widows and a Corpse!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – 15 Minutes of Flame by Christin Brecher

{Available August 25, 2020} Someday i’ll get to visit Nantucket for real. For now, i’ll settle for “visiting” the island via Christin Brecher’s Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery Series!

15 Minutes of Flame is the third book in the series (and my second read – I still need to read the first book…). I was so excited to pick this up because it’s set near Halloween. You see, it’s been incredibly hot here in my state for a few weeks, and i’m aching for a cool fall breeze, pumpkin everything and spooky vibes. This fit the bill – complete with 150-year-old skeletons, ghosts (!?), a spooky old house and a murder to top it off.

There were some laugh out loud moments in this book (just get to the part where our heroine starts doing shots to get information from a suspect…) and the historical aspect of the story was a fun little touch.

Thank you Kensington Books for providing me with a NetGalley ARC of 15 Minutes of Flame!

REVIEW – The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman

{Available August 18, 2020} Oof. This was a lot. And it was a lot of things that didn’t work for me. I went into this expecting something a bit more thrilling and a bit more heart-racing and it just didn’t deliver. This book is LONG. Given there are a lot of descriptions of the island, a lot of repetitive incidents and a lot of buildup for a plot twist that could have been introduced 200 pages sooner.

The writing isn’t bad – this book just suffers from trying to accomplish too much, and in the end accomplishes very little. I also felt that the ending of the book didn’t uphold the overall vibes of the beginning. For how long the book is, the end wraps up a little too fast and a little too neatly.

Thank you Books Forward PR for the NetGalley ARC!