The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz and Kirsten Kairos (Narrator) – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

Book Blurb:

With each of his number-one New York Times best-sellers, Dean Koontz has displayed an unparalleled ability to entertain and enlighten listeners with novels that capture the essence of our times, even as they bring us to the edge of our seats. Now he delivers a heart-gripping tour de force he’s been waiting years to write – at once a love story, a thrilling adventure, and a masterwork of suspense that redefines the boundaries of primal fear and of enduring devotion.

Amy Redwing has dedicated her life to the Southern California organization she founded to rescue abandoned and endangered golden retrievers. Among dog lovers, she’s a legend for the risks she’ll take to save an animal from abuse. Among her friends, Amy’s heedless devotion is often cause for concern. To widower Brian McCarthy, whose commitment she can’t allow herself to return, Amy’s behavior is far more puzzling and hides a shattering secret.

No one is surprised when Amy risks her life to save Nickie, nor when she takes the female golden into her home. The bond between Amy and Nickie is immediate and uncanny. Even her two other goldens, Fred and Ethel, recognize Nickie as special, a natural alpha. But the instant joy Nickie brings is shadowed by a series of eerie incidents: An ominous stranger. A mysterious home invasion. And the unmistakable sense that someone is watching Amy’s every move, and that, whoever it is, he’s not alone.

Someone has come back to turn Amy into the desperate, hunted creature she’s always been there to save. But now there’s no one to save Amy and those she loves.

From its breathtaking opening scene to its shocking climax, The Darkest Evening of the Year is Dean Koontz at his finest. 

My Review:

When I first told my son I was reading a book by Dean Koontz, he said, “but Koontz is a horror writer, mom.” I explained to him that I was reading his new Jane Hawk series (including The Night Window, the fifth and final in the series) and that it was more action thriller, techno thriller. Indeed, I read the whole series, and another suspense standalone, The Good Guy. To be honest, I hadn’t read a horror book by him as I don’t read horror books.

The Darkest Evening of the YearThe one filament common to most of his books is that little edge of the supernatural and this one is no exception. That said, this one is a surprise for me but of course I was drawn to the dog on the cover with promise that it might include a canine in the storyline. It does.

Amy is apparently wealthy. She spends her time in the rescue of golden retrievers and she’s developed quite the rep—and certainly the mastery in rescue of the animals in some of the most dire situations. This time Amy rescues Nickie. Her boyfriend is horrified by the circumstances, but she successfully manages the retrieval of the dog. She has no idea she is part of a dark plan, but she does share some of her feelings regarding Nickie to her boyfriend, Brian. (Is it possible Nickie has been here before?)

What starts as eerie incidents escalate into a darker and darker chain of events that introduces Hope. POV’s switch to the head of Hope as she coyly manages her mother, something the ten year old Down’s syndrome daughter has learned to deal with. 

The antagonist charges head long into some of the cruelest, most despicable scenes of a mother imagined. The worst kind of depraved person a human can be posed against the most innocent, decent. Good versus evil personified.

While Amy separately deals with demons, they plan their perverse scheme, and it’s revealed there is more to Hope than conceived of. Indeed, if at first your heart broke for her, it just as quickly rose in pride for her astute management of the situation.

Nickie, the golden, did indeed prove herself a stout-hearted canine, more than just a beautiful companion.

Scratching my head. This is one devil of a narrative. Stomach-churning scenes at odds with triumph. My problem is the conclusion. Both the main characters as well as support barrel into the climax in one swooping, crashing plot crunch. And then it ends just as quickly. You can turn another page if you want, but the story ended. Just like that.

I’m a Koontz fan. Not a horror story fan. Most of my positive experience with this writer is the subtle, descriptive way he delivers the prose, so beautiful you can almost (almost!) forget the horrific circumstances. It’s hypnotic. And I’m compelled to look for the next Dean Koontz book.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Suspense Thrillers
Publisher:  Random House Audio
ASIN: B0010BA81O
Listening Length: 9 hrs 9 mins
Narrator: Kirsten Kairos
Publication Date: November 27, 2007
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Darkest Evening of the Year [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Dean Koontz - authorThe Author: Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

The Narrator: Kristen Kairos is a New York/LA-based voice-over technician, singer, songwriter, and percussionist who has toured worldwide and recorded with a variety of artists including Julio Iglesias, INXS, and David Lee Roth. While her speaking voice can be heard on numerous radio and television commercials, as well as character voices for animation and narration for audio books, she is currently singing, writing, arranging, and playing percussion with individual musicians and bands in the New York area.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Dog Eat Dog: An Andy Carpenter Mystery (Andy Carpenter Novel Book 23) by David Rosenfelt – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Dog Eat Dog by David RosenfeltLawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, work to free a man who risked it all to help a dog in need

Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, enjoy walking their dogs, Tara and Sebastian. By this point in their marriage, it’s routine. When out for one of their strolls, their simple ritual isn’t so simple anymore. Across the street, a man is mistreating his dog. Three things happen at once: Andy yells, Laurie runs to stop the abuse, and so does a closer passerby, who so thoroughly beats the owner that both are arrested when the cops arrive.

Andy scoops up the dog and takes him to the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization that’s always been his true passion. Meanwhile, at the police station, the passerby is identified as Matthew Jantzen, and he’s wanted for murder. Andy and Laurie are struck by the fact that Jantzen, a man on the run, would nevertheless intervene to help a dog, and decide to find out more.

Dog Eat Dog, the twenty-second installment in the Andy Carpenter series, features the charming cast of characters – old and new – that David Rosenfelt is known for and the dogs that accompany them.

My Review:

Yes! I was overdue for my Andy Carpenter fix and this is just the book to do it! Although most any in the 23 of the series would do it. Usually I go the audiobook route as the narrator, Grover Cleveland, IS Andy Carpenter—sells it completely. This time I was able to get an ARC from the publisher. And you know—it’s just as good. Must be the writing style.

Dog Eat Dog by David RosenfeltFor those of you who haven’t seen any of my previous reviews, Rosenfelt has created an attorney who, having the benefit of a substantial inheritance, has quit, or tried to several times. (He runs a dog rescue he and a partner call the Tara Foundation. He loves dogs.) But these cases just keep popping up. This one in defense of a man who came to the rescue of a man who was saving a dog from being beaten. Having been arrested, it was discovered he was wanted in Maine for a double homicide. He didn’t do it.

No, really. He didn’t do it. No clue who the victims were and two years ago? Can’t remember that specific night.

These books are just plain fun. Fast, witty, often sarcastic humor coupled with deeply layered well-plotted novels. These are never simple, open and shut cases. And yet—in this case, his DNA was found on the victim. How do you fight that?

Extradited to Maine, Andy will leave his safe haven in New Jersey where he is constantly mistaken as a New Yorker amid the happy discovery of lobster rolls. GEES! Just talking about them got me thinking—lobster rolls—YUM!

Of course he is going his get his team involved, his wife (ex-cop and private investigator) and her partners (part of the Carpenter K-Team spin-off) that includes Marcus who keeps his dialogue minimal (silent and deadly). She brings the (three) dogs, including the one newly rescued and they tie up some suites at the local hotel. He also has a computer guru genius (shhh, don’t tell me how you got this information).

Andy’s self-deprecating sense bounces between that and confirmation of his brilliance and in the meantime uses his wit to keep him safely investigating. Failing that—there’s always Marcus who has his back, not to mention his wife—she legally packs.

I always love it when they get to the courtroom—there are teachable moments, intelligent and full of fancy footwork, maneuvering, not to mention some memorable acting scenes.

I started reading (or listening to) this series back in 2016 and got thoroughly hooked. My last three were Silent Bite, Muzzled, and Dachshund Through the Snow. You can’t go wrong with either the print or audiobook. Thank you Minotaur Books and NetGalley for my ARC review copy. These are (always) my own opinions. Currently on pre-order.

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Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08FZ8RV1W

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

©2021 V Williams

Keeping Guard (Operation K-9 Brothers Book 2) by Sandra Owens – #BookReview – #Animal Fiction

Book Blurb:

Finding the future they deserve will mean leaving the past behind…

Navy SEAL Noah Alba is on extended leave after a terrible mistake resulted in the loss of his K-9 partner. He arrives in Asheville, North Carolina, hoping to get his head on straight before he returns overseas. When an old friend recruits him to train service dogs for veterans, he doesn’t feel ready. Still, rambunctious rescue dog Lucky is awfully hard to resist—as is the drop-dead stunning bride Noah encounters while hiking.

When she finds out her fiancé is only marrying her to gain control of her family’s brewery, Peyton Sutton’s I do turns into a hard pass real quick. But Peyton’s father and now-jilted ex are determined to force the match at any cost. Running away can only get her so far, until Noah—and his adorably fierce canine companion—step in as an unlikely protector.

Guarding a runaway bride in the close quarters of her downtown loft is no way to avoid a simmering attraction. But Peyton can’t outrun her ex, and Noah can’t outrun his past; they’ll have to find a way to move forward together, or risk making another terrible mistake.

My Review:

Ask anyone who has been following the blog for some time my favorite and they’d probably say, animal stories. The same readers would know the least favorite is romance. So, yes, the cover got me (the old bait and switch) and here I was, stuck in a romance labeled animal fiction.

Rich girl is controlled by an old-fashioned father (the business should go to a son) and, according to an overheard conversation, a fiancé promised the business if he’d marry Peyton. Not like she’s a dog. Actually, very pretty and smart besides being rich. Also, Peyton managed to become a Master Brewer—she’s no slouch when it comes to the business.

Keeping Guard by Sandra OwensPeyton escaped the wedding, grabbed a couple bottles of champagne, and found a lovely spot to sit, contemplate, and toast to having escaped a man with motives other than love. It is there that Noah happens on her. He’s suffering from PTSD and the guilt associated with the loss of a Seal buddy and military service dog—his fault. And actually, I enjoyed the first few chapters. It is cute.

Then the storyline begins to take shape. Actually, Noah is in horrible shape–mentally. Peyton has escaped her ex-fiancé, but Dalton isn’t that easy to shake. Noah, however, really has nothing to lose and Peyton quickly realizes that Noah gives her tingles. Her first experience with tingles and she’s not going to relinquish that real soon. Yeah, tingles.

I am not overly thrilled with either main character. Noah’s belaboring of his experience overwhelms. Peyton’s tingles get tiresome.

Perhaps the plot would have worked better for me if there had been more service dogs, less romance. The dog that is paired with Noah eventually wins him over—sweet boy. But the pacing slowed in the tingle portions and I would have liked more interest, more atmosphere, more tension. Just… more. Less tingle.

There are few surprises, the conclusion as predicted. I am, however, impressed with the author’s experiences, particularly that she’s also a motorcycle rider–a Harley—but I won’t hold that against her. Just that this is not my genre although I’m sure a romance fan would appreciate it. 3 stars

His Review:

Navy Seals are a close brotherhood. Being involved in close combat and losing fellow combatants can isolate and debilitate even the strongest of men. Noah Alba is a Seal who is home after losing some of his men in an operation. He is on medical leave assigned to a K-9 training operation to help him overcome battle fatigue.

Keeping Guard by Sandra OwensJack Daniels is a disabled veteran who heads up the operation. He knows that having the men help train the dogs also helps to reduce their battle trauma. A good service dog can help de-escalate the tension affecting the warrior. Hopefully it will work on Noah.

Payton Sutton is dressed in a very expensive wedding gown. She overhears the groom telling a friend; “the only reason I am marrying her is to get her father’s micro-brewery.” She grabs two bottles of champagne and escapes before the ceremony. The groom, Dalton, is a real piece of work whose first wife died after their wedding leaving him a small fortune.

Fate has Payton meeting Noah down near a river where she is enjoying the champagne and being thankful for realizing the situation in time. Dalton is not so easily put off and intends to complete the marriage no matter what! He will have the brewery and the owner’s daughter. Elk Antler Brewing will be his or else. He doesn’t care that Payton has become a Master Brewer.

Recognizing the bullying tactics of Dalton and Payton’s father, Noah steps in to help her. She is enamored with his physical prowess and like any white knight, he is not about to allow the situation to proceed. Sandra Owens keeps a very energetic dialogue going between herself and this seasoned veteran.  Noah is not looking for a relationship but circumstances dictate otherwise.

I found this read very entertaining; the storyline didn’t lag. I suggest it to any one who wants an easy, enjoyable read. 5 stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are our honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: 4 stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Military Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
ASIN: B08L82T3YM
Print Length: 277 pages
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Sandra Owens - authorThe Author: A best selling, award winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed death-defying stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.

A member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll, Sandra is a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.

You can connect with Sandra on Twitter @SandyOwens1 and Facebook at SandraOwens.94043. Her website is: http://www.sandra-owens.com

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams The CE and I

Dog Days by Ericka Waller – A #BookReview – Friendship Fiction

Book Blurb:

Dog Days by Ericka WallerGeorge is a grumpy, belligerent old man who has just lost his wife. She has left him notes around the home and a miniature dachshund puppy called Poppy. But George doesn’t want a dog, he wants to fight everyone who is trying to help him.

Dan has OCD but has channeled his energy into his career as a therapist. Afraid to acknowledge his true feelings, his most meaningful relationship so far is with his dog Fitz. That is, until Atticus walks into his life.

Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from the world. She distrusts dogs, but when she starts having to walk the refuge’s dog, Maud, things begin to change.

As three strangers’ lives unravel and intersect, they ultimately must accept what fate has in store for them with their dogs by their sides. Set against the backdrop of Brighton, Dog Days is an inspiring, unflinching, and deeply moving novel about life, and the way dogs can help us understand it, and each other, a little better.

His Review:

Three very different lives in a book of fragility and loss. George has lost his dear wife Ellen and has great difficulty extracting himself from his living room chair. Despair takes many faces and lonely despair is but one. George has never been a people person and his departed wife is the antithesis of his life.

Dog Days by Ericka WallerLizzie has escaped a brutal marriage. Running off with her son and living in a shelter for battered women is her refuge. She has a brilliant mind hiding behind secrets that she holds close to her chest. Her husband, Greg, has been abusive and she wants to hide that fact from herself and the world.

Dan is a practicing psychologist trying to help those who have lost their way. Atticus comes into his office and begins treatment. Dan remains professional although he is attracted to the handsome Atticus. His problem with Atticus is that he cannot get him to open up. Without a patient disclosing problems to be sorted, the psychologist is failing in his endeavor.

Three very different scenarios in one book. The lives of the characters do not intersect although they live in the same area. Lizzie is sympathetic, George is despicable, and Dan is pathetic. This author has taken these people and made a case for the trials and difficulties we all face in life. Her writing is entertaining and engaging.

How can anyone put up with a cantankerous old fuddy-duddy, George. Particularly, since he is a man who is only interested in himself and what life can give him. Betty, at the request of his first wife, tries to engage and help him. He is abusive and why she would put up with him makes for a very interesting narrative. She cleaned and cooked and fed him while being continually mentally abused.

CE WilliamsThe overall impression this book leaves is that opposites attract and sometimes we will put up with anything to be with the ones who attract us. Life has a way of equalizing our desires. Pain at times seems to be a cure for boredom. Ericka puts this into the each of the characters as well as the dogs in each characters care. Her endings are definitely worth reading and I felt the book made some pointed observations about how each individual handles the life and love they are given and the losses they incur. I highly recommend it. Currently on pre-order. 4 stars – CE Williams

Thank you to Alexis Neuville at St. Martin’s Press for my review copy. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars 

Book Details:

Genre: Family Fiction, Animal Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ASIN : B08FZ7FZYD

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: To be released May 11, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: Dog Days [Amazon]
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Ericka Waller - authorThe Author: Ericka Waller is 39 and lives in Brighton with three daughters, too many pets and a husband.

She is an award winning blogger and columnist.

When not writing she can be found walking her dogs, reading in the bath or buying stuff off eBay.
©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

Audiobook Reviews by Bestselling Authors #jdrobb #davidrosenfelt

Audiobooks by bestselling authors

Gotta temper the heavy with the light audiobooks and last week I enjoyed both. Here is a quick summary of Outfoxed released in 2016 by David Rosenfelt and Golden in Death released last February (2020) by JD Robb.

Book Blurb: Golden in Death An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) by JD Robb – In the latest thriller in the number-one New York Times best-selling series, homicide detective Eve Dallas investigates a murder with a mysterious motive – and a terrifying weapon.

Pediatrician Kent Abner received the package on a beautiful April morning. Inside was a cheap trinket, a golden egg that could be opened into two halves. When he pried it apart, highly toxic airborne fumes entered his body – and killed him.

After Eve Dallas calls the hazmat team – and undergoes testing to reassure both her and her husband that she hasn’t been exposed – it’s time to look into Dr. Abner’s past and relationships. Not every victim Eve encounters is an angel, but it seems that Abner came pretty close – though he did ruffle some feathers over the years by taking stands for the weak and defenseless.

While the lab tries to identify the deadly toxin, Eve hunts for the sender. But when someone else dies in the same grisly manner, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with either a madman – or someone who has a hidden and elusive connection to both victims.

My Review:

My first experience with this series and it was an eye-opener. I was astounded to realize this is Book 50. ACK! Fifty of these? Starting in 1995? And this is supposed to take place in 2061? Really! Somehow, I totally missed that.

Golden in Death by JD RobbI love getting into a unique premise and, for me, it was unique and well-plotted and I kept either my earbud or the wifi speaker handy. I can’t speak, obviously, to Eve’s evolving dynamics—her relationship with slobber-worthy Roarke.

You may remember I read Hideaway by Nora Roberts (I’m not sure which is the alter-ego) and found it a little syrupy. This series (and J.D.) alternates between offering slightly lighter scenes of banter or situation to downright serious and deadly scenes punctuated with profanity. While the other, of course, is a romance novel, this one would be classified as a near future police procedural. (Damn—I really never got that they’d progressed much further than they are today.)

The body count begins to escalate while the interviews become more intensive lending a stark tension to the narrative. Eve and her partner Detective Delia Peabody pursue leads, hit a brick wall, go around it, and find another lead. There are twists. It’s complex, compelling, and entertaining. Narration kept interest. The conclusion satisfying.

Recording Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Police Procedural
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07QQZW5JL
Listening Length: 13 hrs 50 mins
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Publication Date: Feb 4, 2020
Source: Local Library
Title Link: Golden in Death [Amazon]
 

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J D Robb - authorThe Author: J.D. ROBB is the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. She is the author of over 200 novels, including the futuristic suspense In Death series. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

♥ ♥♥♥♥

 

Book Blurb: Outfoxed by David RosenfeltDefense lawyer Andy Carpenter spends as much time as he can working on his true passion – the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization he runs. Lately Andy has been especially involved in a county prison program where inmates help train dogs the Tara Foundation has rescued to make them more adoptable, benefiting both the dogs and the prisoners.

One of the prisoners Andy has been working with is Brian Atkins, who has 18 months left on a five-year term for fraud. Brian has been helping to train Boomer, an adorable fox terrier the Tara Foundation rescued from a neglectful owner. Brian and Boomer are clearly a terrific match. In fact Andy hopes that Brian will adopt Boomer himself, once his sentence is up.

But one day Andy arrives at the prison to discover that Brian has used Boomer to make an ingenious escape, and man and dog are both in the wind. The next day the man on whose testimony Brian was convicted is found murdered. Brian is caught and arrested for the crime, though he forcefully asserts his innocence.

Suddenly Andy finds himself with a new client in Brian and a new dog in Boomer. And as he starts to dig deeper into the murder and the events leading up to it, Andy realizes he might be putting them all in far more danger than anyone had realized.

My Review:

Outfoxed by David RosenfeltNo, I don’t wish to hammer you over the head with books by David Rosenfelt. Really, my major go-to by him is the Andy Carpenter book series.

I have read a number of his other books, but for fun, fast, and fascinating legal two-step courtroom drama, I return to the Andy Carpenter series. They are clean and comfortable with a cast of support characters that seldom vary with the exception of the reason for the current mystery.

Andy is a well to do attorney (not all of it money from his cases), his wife Laurie, son Ricky, Willie, Marcus, and Hike. Each a force of their own. It’s a familiar and winning formula. Andy doesn’t want the case but feels the guy (or gal) is innocent.

Proceed with investigation,

Enter chuckle-producing snarky dialogue,

Continue with investigation,

Get dangerously close to be taken out (enter bad guys),

Continue with LOL moments, snarky dialogue, tongue-in-cheek observations,

Continue to courtroom drama, wring hands over witnesses, documents,

Add sarcastic quips,

Win case, go celebrate. Andy pays.

Did I leave something out? Yes, usually the beginning sets the stage for the plot which always sets a hook, grabs your interest and promises to be highly entertaining. And, of yes, he begins with those same self-deprecating remarks and cheerful scenes to the setting, players, and his two dogs, Tara and Sebastian. It’s not a K-9 series per se—it’s a legal thriller mystery series with a snarky attorney who loves dogs enough to set up a rescue with Willie (see above). The narrator, Grover Gardner, btw, is absolutely perfect. Nails it!

And I never fail to enjoy each and every one, a few of which are listed here: Silent Bite, Muzzled, The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, Rescued.

Recording Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B01H5U6F5Q
Listening Length: 7 hrs 18 mins
Narrator:  Grover Gardner
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Source: Local Library
Title Link: Outfoxed [Amazon]

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David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: David Rosenfelt, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, is a graduate of NYU. He was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. “Open And Shut” was his first novel; “First Degree,” his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and 35 dogs.

Are you a JD Robb fan? Rosenfelt fan? (I prefer the JD Robb books to the Nora Roberts books—not a romance fan.)

©2021 V Williams

The Keepers: A Mystery (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery Book 2) by Jeffrey B Burton – a #BookReview – #animalfiction

“I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.” – Will Rogers

Book Blurb:

The Keepers by Jeffrey B BurtonJeffrey B. Burton’s The Keepers is the next installment of the Mace Reid K9 series, featuring golden retriever cadaver dog Vira and her handler, Mason Reid.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection—that is, he trains dogs to hunt for dead bodies. He calls his pack of cadaver dogs The Finders, and his prize pupil is a golden retriever named Vira.

When Mace Reid and Vira are called in to search Washington Park at three o’clock in the morning, what they find has them running for their very lives. The trail of murder and mayhem Mace and CPD Officer Kippy Gimm have been following leads them to uncover treachery and corruption at the highest level, and their discoveries do not bode well for them . . . nor for the Windy City itself.

The Keepers is an exciting, fast-paced mystery filled with courageous dogs you’ll want to root for.

My Review:

Progagonist Mace Reid lives near Chicago and specializes in training cadaver dogs. Human Remains Detection. His alpha right now is a golden retriever he named Elvira—Vira for short. He is often called to Chicago for searches and that is what brought him to Washington Park in the middle of the night. (Living near Chicago and still finding it a fascinating city with such a reputation for dishonest government, and finding these books are loaded with smart, intuitive dogs pulls me in. This series doesn’t disappoint.)

“Many question whether ours is a city that can be saved. Others question whether it deserves to be.”

“…you either run Chicago…or Chicago runs you.”

I actually got to start with Book 1, The Finders, and was hooked immediately. Main characters and support characters alike, including the canine variety, all have well developed three-dimensional personalities. I love Vira, but still feel bad about Sam (Samantha—a GSD) from Book 1, now recuperating from injuries. And, by-the-way, this could function fine as a standalone, you’ll get info along the way that will catch you up if you missed Book 1.

The Keepers by Jeffrey B BurtonNot too much “cozy” (in the classic genre sense) about this cozy animal mystery—it’s a solid, hard-hitting action thriller from the first chapter. These are well-plotted and fast-paced narratives. Mace is not your ideal hero—he’s divorced, drinks some, swears, and tends to vomit when extremely scared. Not damaged—just not Superman material—but he loves his dogs. Five of them. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Must love dogs.” His new “just friends only” girl is CPD officer Kippy Gimm.

“There is honor in being a dog.” – Aristotle

The thing is, Vira is “gifted.” Or perhaps Mace is just so well tuned in to his alpha now, he knows when she is signaling more than just a dead body. Vira is also very protective. Which is good, because Mace and Kippy quickly get in well over their heads in this one with the systemic corruption of the government providing a powerful catalyst to flee the Windy City. NOW!

A complex two-level plot, the first of which is put to bed fairly easily while the second simmers into an explosive boil. I like that the dogs aren’t just background—their training and senses are explored and explained. Their specialized talents clarified and they have jobs to do and do them.  

This entry to the series is hard-hitting, serious, and at times raw, profane, with eye-popping comprehension. There are murders, description of torture, and language. There is some weakness in Mace this time that I don’t remember in the first book. He is now more likely “every” man—real, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes exhibiting a sense of humor. But he is definitely emerging as a real person. Sometimes I like him—sometimes I don’t. But I do love those dogs and my heart lurched at Maggie’s injury.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary uncorrected digital galley of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts. This book will be released next year. You can get place a pre-order now through your favorite retailer.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books

  • ASIN : B08FZB2D45

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: To be released June 29, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Jeffrey B Burton - authorThe Author: Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota. THE FINDERS, the first in Burton’s K-9 mystery series, came out in June of 2020 (St. Martin’s Press). THE KEEPERS, the second in his K-9 series, comes out in June of 2021.

Novels in Burton’s Agent Drew Cady mystery series include: THE CHESSMAN (MacAdam/Cage, 2012; paperback Harlequin Suspense, 2015), THE LYNCHPIN (MP Publishing, 2015), and THE EULOGIST (The Permanent Press, 2017). His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines.

Jeff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. He lives in St. Paul with his wife, daughter, an irate Pomeranian named Lucy, and a goofball/sweetheart of a Beagle named Milo.

Visit http://www.jeffreybburton.com to see more about Jeff’s novels and short stories.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

What a Dog Knows: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview – #animalfiction

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“I do not think anymore about what was. Only about what is.”

Book Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson comes What a Dog Knows, another heartwarming novel about humans and the dogs that change our lives.

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonRuby Heartwood has always lived a life on the move. As a traveling psychic, she makes her living working at carnivals and festivals and circuses around New England. It’s a life Ruby has made peace with—settling in one place has never been for her. She needs no one, and no one needs her.

Until one night, when she is camped by the side of the road in her trusty Volkswagon “Westie” van, a fierce thunder and lightning storm erupts. In the middle of the downpour, she hears a distinct voice telling her to “let me in.” In jumps a little black and white dog, and to Ruby’s astonishment, she can hear the dog’s thoughts. Has she been struck by lightning? Did the storm do this? Is she losing her mind?

It turns out, Ruby can hear many dogs’ thoughts. She decides to set up semi-permanent residency in the town of Harmony Farms, until she can sort out what is going on, and who the little dog, Hitch, belongs to. But some people in Harmony Farms don’t want her there. And it seems that events keep preventing Ruby from leaving. What secrets is this town keeping? Why was she meant to find this dog? And what has Ruby really been running from, all these years?

My Review:

Protagonist Ruby Heartwood is a traveling fortune teller, psychic, seer who reads tarot cards and tea leaves in her conical tent that she can easily disassemble, load, and leave in her little VW Westphalia when the festival or carnival is over. And she’ll soon be on her way except for the fierce storm that blew in and demanded she find shelter. During the storm, she hears a voice and opening the door discovers a little black and white dog with light brown “caterpillar” eyebrows. The distinct voice, or picture—images—is the beginning of her ability to “hear” the dogs thoughts.

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonIt doesn’t take long then that she is aware this dog, the one she’s named “the Hitchhiker” who will become her familiar, partners with her in helping to provide answers to other canine, and soon equine, dilemmas.

As luck would have it, a series of events occur to keep Ruby in Harmony Farms, first the Farmers’ Market and Makers Faire and then a succession of good links to further business, now sporting the new title of “animal communicator.” She’s been having increasing dreams of her mother, however, and she starts to seek answers, beginning to gather clues to the woman who left her in an orphanage in Ottawa as an infant. But the admonition to “find me, find you” keeps getting side-tracked.

If she has a good day, something like the Westie quitting strands her again. She is beginning to meet people, make contacts. Unfortunately, Polly is the local animal officer and her office has gotten a call regarding a show dog of the Hitchhiker’s description. Something else to keep her there until she can get that sorted out.

In the meantime, the reader is privy to a warm-hearted narrative with amazing characters, so well developed, all of whom you come to invest in. It’s easy to get caught up in Ruby’s search for her mother, the relationship with her daughter, the oft POV of the dog, his thoughts and feelings—so simple but so profound. No one writes dog like Susan Wilson. So much to identify with. The dog is a brilliant tricolor Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

The storyline grows in complexity as it does in emotion, wisdom, and tension. The harder her resistance, the easier to break—now she has too much in to walk away and all roads seem to lead back. I loved the character of Sabine, her daughter, Bull, Ravi and his Dew Drop Inn. Polly is special. It’s a lesson in confronting old trauma and hate, releasing the hurt.

The author has a beautiful, artful hand in setting up human to canine dialogue—you can believe it—the prose and the sensitivity so strong.

“Good news will keep, and bad news won’t go away?”

I have lapped up everything I could get my hands on since the first book I read by this author, including One Good Dog, Two Good Dogs, The Dog I Loved, and The Dog Who Danced, three of those as an audiobook. I believe, however, this might be her very best yet.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and am so grateful! These are my honest thoughts. Highly recommended! This book is currently on pre-order and I urge you to order your copy now at your favorite retailer.

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Romance Fiction, Women’s Literature & Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

  • ASIN : B08FZ94VJ7

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: To be released Jun 22, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Rosepoint recommended

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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