Finlay Donovan Is Killing It: A Mystery by Elle Cosimano – #Audiobook Review – Humorous Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five Stars 5 stars

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Book Blurb:

“Getting the job done” for one single mom takes on a whole new meaning in Finlay Donovan is Killing It, a deliciously witty adult debut – the first in a brilliant new series from YA Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano.

FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT…except, she’s really not. The new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head.


When Finlay’s overheard discussing the plot of her new novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet…and she soon discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart.  

My Review:

Is a mystery, contract killer supposed to be funny? Yes! This one’s a hoot! I totally devoured this audiobook, leaving the buds in while cleaning house (found more things to clean) and cooking dinner. One catastrophe after another, stupid decisions, and circumstances that force a situation you’d never find yourself in. Well, I wouldn’t.

But this is a crime-romance(?) writer having a major case of writer’s block, a divorced wife of a husband who found sweeter pastures with another woman, two children including a precocious four year old, an agent who won’t leave her alone, and bills piling up like snowflakes in winter.

And WHERE is that babysitter-housekeeper?!!

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle CosimanoWhen Finlay meets her agent at Panera’s (where she’s previously been banned) she is overheard discussing the mystery plot with her agent and is badly misunderstood by another desperate wife. Who leaves her a contract note with an attractive $$figure.

A normally intelligent albeit very desperate person, she won’t do it. But then, curious, she decides to check out the target. Just checking.

Well, you know how one innocent thing leads to another? And then that escalates beyond control, and trying to get out of the situation only makes it worse?

Enter Vero. Yah gotta love her.

In Finlay’s defense, it’s not like she is a professional. No clue what she is doing or who she is dealing with. She’s not stupid. Well, maybe she is and there is no way out. And you know how “word of mouth” works. It could happen.

I really liked Nick and Julian—great, possible romantic interests—and Vero is a keeper. Some of the scenes with the kids brought back memories as well as the noisy level of chaos. Her sister is another great support character. Loved the backfires of the plans, the twists, the dialogue and the way the narrator delivered the well-paced plot.

The only thing I didn’t love? Well, the conclusion was very satisfying—but that little bit in the epilogue? Ah, no. Overall, a rollicking good time, just roll with it. It’s not meant to be a “how to.” Heartily recommended—most especially in audiobook format.

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Fiction, Women Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio

  • ISBN-13: 1250241707
  • ASIN: B088KRYQXZ

Print Length: 363 pages
Listening Length: 9 hrs 59 mins
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

Add to GoodreadsElle Cosimano - authorThe Author: Elle’s debut thriller NEARLY GONE was a 2015 Edgar Award Finalist, winner of the ITW 2015 International Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was awarded the 2015 Mathical Book Award recognizing mathematics in children’s literature. Her novel HOLDING SMOKE was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and the International Thriller Award. Her novels have appeared on several statewide school and library reading lists. You can learn more about Elle at her website: http://www.ElleCosimano.com.

Photo courtesy of Powell Woulfe Photography

The Narrator: Angela Dawe is an actor and improviser working with the Annoyance Theater and Second City in Chicago. Originally from Lansing, Michigan, Angela’s career has encompassed stage, television, and film work, in addition to award-winning audiobook narrations, which include young adult, suspense, romance, and historical fiction titles.

©V Williams me

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

Hideway by Nora Roberts – An #Audiobook Review – #romanticsuspense

Editors’ Pick for Best Romance 

Book Blurb:

A family ranch in Big Sur country and a legacy of Hollywood royalty set the stage for Nora Roberts’ emotional new suspense novel, Hideaway.

Hideaway by Nora RobertsCaitlyn Sullivan had come from a long line of Hollywood royalty, stretching back to her Irish immigrant great-grandfather. At nine, she was already a star – yet still an innocent child who loved to play hide-and-seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared.

Some may have considered her a pampered princess, but Cate was in fact a smart, scrappy fighter, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bloodied, exhausted girl huddled in his house – but when the teenager and his family heard her story, they provided refuge, reuniting her with her loved ones.

Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a shocking betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years spent away in Western Ireland, peaceful and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul.

Finally, she would return to Los Angeles, gathering the courage to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night – one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance….

My Review:

Caitlyn Sullivan has a long, strong legacy of Hollywood royalty going way back so I guess it isn’t a surprise that she’d become a star already in her childhood. She’s experiencing one of many large family gatherings at her grandfather’s home in Big Sur at age ten when she is kidnapped.

Hideaway by Nora RobertsShe’s smart, however, level headed and brave and she manages an escape. In the process, she meets a ranching family that includes a young boy. Uh oh. Did I miss that this was going to be a romance? I saw Nora Roberts and thought I’d bite, but what did I get myself into?

This is one of those slow moving, although the first few chapters certainly set the hook quickly enough, romance that takes (predictably) years. Eventually, you just give up and think, “Come all, already. We know where this is going.”

In the meantime, we get all the middle story about her horrible mother, the slimeballs who kidnapped her, her foray into romance with guys from New York, her induction into her life’s work—which I gotta say sounded wonderful. I did get tired of the Sullivan dynasty money, the privileges, the estates, and the showers of love and support, rinse, repeat.

To sprinkle in some suspense—it is after all called a romantic suspense—she gets weird calls, veiled threats over the years. Not difficult to find her after she moves home. Heavily themed with family, love, and connection, there is also those darker issues of betrayal and vengeance. (And talk about patience…sheesh)

Glad I got to listen to it when I gardened, cooked, and cleaned. Not sure I could have stuck through all that middle minutia if I were reading it. My introduction to Nora Roberts and I’m sure her fans will appreciate this one. I enjoyed the multi-lingual narrator, January LaVoy (see her short video below–she’s lovely).

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Romantic Suspense
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B07YBJG9CL
Listening Length: 15 hrs and 45 min
Narrator: January LaVoy
Publication Date: Audible.com release May 26, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook selections)

Title Link: Hideaway [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five of Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Nora Roberts - authorThe Author: Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including Hideaway, Under Currents, Come Sundown and coming in November 2020 — The Awakening — the first book in The Dragon Heart Legacy. She is also the author of the futuristic suspense In Death series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

The Narrator: January LaVoy

©2020 V Williams V Williams

 

Wolf Pack (A Joe Pickett Novel Book 19) vs The Bitterroots (Cassie Dewell Book 5) by C J Box – #Audiobook Reviews #crimethrillers

Wolf Pack vs The Bitterroots - #audiobooks

I’ve tried a couple times to get an ARC from the publisher (through NetGalley) for one of this author’s Joe Pickett books. No, they said. Nuh uh. Nada. And then I discovered the series, or most of them, at my local library audiobook section and while some are on a waiting list, I managed to snag these two—back-to-back. Wow—same author, huh? But then I realized these aren’t the same series—not nearly (or the same narrator). And these two are apples and oranges—

Wyoming–the Cowboy State, Equality State and Montana–Big Sky Country

big sky country

Mountains and treacherous terrain, wild animals, desolation, and weather that can turn on a dime and leave you stranded. Common to both states. So, yes, I loved the descriptions of the locale, especially in Montana, having ridden my motorcycle through Lolo Pass—FUN road! It’s gorgeous up there. And frighteningly isolated. This my introduction to the author, plunked into the middle of both series, found either would work as a standalone as there is enough backstory slipped in to bring you quickly up to speed. However, as with all series, sometimes you can watch the evolution of the character(s) if you go back and start with the first.

Wolf Pack-Book Blurb:

Wolf Pack by C J BoxWyoming game warden Joe Pickett encounters bad behavior on his own turf–only to have the FBI and the DOJ ask him to stand down–in the thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times-bestselling author C.J. Box.

The good news is that Joe Pickett has his job back, after his last adventure in The Disappeared. The bad news is that he’s come to learn that a drone is killing wildlife–and the drone belongs to a mysterious and wealthy man whose son is dating Joe’s own daughter, Lucy.

When Joe tries to lay down the rules for the drone operator, he’s asked by the FBI and the DOJ to stand down, which only makes him more suspicious. Meanwhile, bodies are piling up in and around Joe’s district in shocking numbers. He begins to fear that a pack of four vicious killers working on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel known as the Wolf Pack has arrived. Their target seems to be the mystery man and everyone–including Joe, Nate, and others–who is associated with him.

Teaming up with a female game warden (based on a real person, one of the few female game wardens at work in Wyoming today) to confront these assassins, Joe finds himself in the most violent and dangerous predicament he’s ever faced.

Wolf Pack Review:

Joe Pickett is a Wyoming state game warden and he has his hands full dealing with unmonitored animal traps and drones driving herds of deer and elk to exhaustion, some to death.

Wolf Pack by C J BoxIn this case, the leg traps have initials on them—duh. Not too difficult then to find the owner and then discovers the drone’s owner as well. Joe has three daughters, the last of which is dating the grandson of the drone’s owner living out on a well fortified and secluded acreage compound.

One of the series main characters, Nate Romanowski is an experienced falconer and it doesn’t take much for the bird to bring down the drone—which doesn’t sit well with the owner. It’s not a pleasant confrontation and when he and Kate (another series regular) tries to corral his activities is brought up short by the FBI. Huh?

You know when the FBI gets involves, the case will go sideways, and it does. When bodies begin to show up, the case goes well beyond animal protection. The Wolf Pack is a far more serious threat than the four-footed fur-bearing animals and it’ll take some work to track them down. Can they really be more cunning than the wolves? Certainly more deadly!

It’s a dark and profane narrative, graphic at times, in a well-plotted novel, fast moving story on a collision course with an explosive conclusion. I won’t even mention the epilogue. I’m not sure I needed that. On the whole, a shocking introduction to the author’s writing style—glad I listened to this audiobook second!

Book Details:

Genre: Murder Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books

  • ASIN: B07JGB5PG9

Print Length: 381 pages
Listening Length: 9 hrs, 51 mins
Narrator: David Chandler
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Wolf Pack

Add to Goodreads4.39 average of 1,044 reviews

The Bitterroots-BookBlurb:

2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

The Bitterroots by C J BoxA riveting new audiobook from New York Times best-selling and Edgar Award-winning author C. J. Box.

Former police officer Cassie Dewell is trying to start over with her own private investigation firm. Guilty about not seeing her son and exhausted by the nights on stakeout, Cassie is nonetheless managing…until an old friend calls in a favor: She wants Cassie to help exonerate a man accused of assaulting a young girl from an influential family.

Against her own better judgment, Cassie agrees. But out in the Big Sky Country of Montana, twisted family loyalty runs as deep as the ties to the land, and there’s always something more to the story. As Cassie attempts to uncover the truth, she must fight against the ghosts of her own past that threaten to pull her back under.

With The Bitterroots, master storyteller C. J. Box delivers another audiobook featuring fan favorite Cassie Dewell from the Highway Quartet series.

The Bitterroots Review:

My first introduction to this author and the series, Cassie Dewell has separated herself from the police department, going out on her own as a private investigator. She is thinking this will give her some more latitude with her time as Ben, her son, and her hippie mother lives with her in Bozeman, Montana.

The Bitterroots by C J BoxHer last case left her with no small amount of PTSD and she still cringes whenever an eighteen-wheeler dusts her doors. She owes one to an attorney friend, so when she calls to pull in the favor, Cassie will grudgingly oblige—against every fiber in her being—the investigation into the rape of a fifteen year old. The attorney is playing defense and wants to know how strong the prosecution’s case is. Of course her client asserts his innocence. A quick perusal of the file has her convinced of his guilt—after all, look at all the evidence!!

But off she goes to Lochsa County to talk to his family and those officials connected with the case. The family appears to have a strangle-hold on their ranch and the area around them, including the officials. I got a strong sense of the more well known male dominated clans—and must say the mother of the girl is one hell of a character. No one wants to talk with her and she’s warned out of there.

In the meantime, her life continues to remain involved in her son’s activities as she continually referees issues between her mother and Ben. And then there is the big black semi who keeps showing up—to just sit and watch. Okay, he’s a creep.

After awhile, I had some sympathetic pangs for the accused and sorry that did not end well. I had a problem with the narrator, more than once, as she attempted different voices—the attorney in particular. And the mother of the victim…the way she handled the voice of the mother going into the conclusion was priceless. Did not see that coming!

Book Details:

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries, Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals, Women Sleuths
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio

  • ASIN: B07ND36RSR

 Print Length: 307 pages
Listening Length: 9 hrs, 49 mins
Narrator: Christine Delaine
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Bitterroots –
Cassie Dewell #4
The Highway Quartet #5

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4.02 average rating of 729 reviews

Overall Impression:

These will continue to be similar/dissimilar. While one is a great deal more established, i.e., long term main characters, locale-driven plots, atmospheric fast-paced and graphic (Joe Pickett), the other will build a strong female protagonist, character-driven plots, toned down language (somewhat) and exhibit more feminine issues and concerns. I didn’t care for the epilogue in the Wolf Pack but that same little ploy in The Bitterroots was a classic feminine “gotcha.” Oh, yes, that brought a smile to my face. But you know what? If I get a chance for another audiobook in either series, I’ll grab it.

C J Box - author

The Author: C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels including the Joe Pickett series. He won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel (Blue Heaven, 2009) as well as the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, two Barry Awards, and the 2010 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Award for fiction. He was recently awarded the 2016 Western Heritage Award for Literature by the National Cowboy Museum as well as the Spur Award for Best Contemporary Novel by the Western Writers of America in 2017. The novels have been translated into 27 languages.

Box is a Wyoming native and has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, a small town newspaper reporter and editor, and he co-owns an international tourism marketing firm with his wife Laurie. They have three daughters. An avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He served on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Box lives in Wyoming.

–from the author’s website

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Darkest Evening: A Vera Stanhope Novel: Vera Stanhope Book 9 by Ann Cleeves – An #Audiobook Review – #policeprocedural

“From Ann Cleeves – New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows – comes the stunning new Vera Stanhope novel, The Darkest Evening.” 

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves

Book Blurb:

On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. Though the road is familiar, she misses a turning and soon becomes lost and disorientated. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat.

Vera takes the child and, driving on, she arrives at a place she knows well. Brockburn is a large, grand house in the wilds of Northumberland, now a little shabby and run down. It’s also where her father, Hector, grew up. Inside, there’s a party in full swing: music, Christmas lights, and laughter. Outside, unbeknownst to the revelers, a woman lies dead in the snow.

As the blizzard traps the group deep in the freezing Northumberland countryside, Brockburn begins to give up its secrets, and as Vera digs deeper into her investigation, she also begins to uncover her family’s complicated past.

My Review:

Ugh! I really hate it when I discover a new author (to me) and then realize I had no clue just how well established or far-reaching the author is—apparently to the rest of the world. Why am I always the last to know?

So, my first experience with the author, much less the character of Vera, a DCI in Northumberland. She is a what? Gasp! Not just a woman—also a “mature” woman.  Well, not so sold or engaged in probably the first quarter of the book—not like there was a lot of backstory going on. After the initial scene—that of Vera discovering a car off the road in a snowstorm…with the doors open…with a baby strapped inside—things tend to bog down just a tad.

The Darkest Evening by Ann CleevesIt’s the estate of distant relatives, aristocrats with which her family was estranged, and they are having a party in the country house. No cell service, she slogs to the house with the toddler to notify her office and get some help finding the person who abandoned the car. Who would seek help but leave a baby with the doors open? They do find the mother’s body, but she didn’t freeze to death. Lorna Falstone had a history of mental health issues, including anorexia, and was a single mother.

It’s a small, tight-knit community with the haves and have-nots and few secrets—except perhaps for the identity of the baby’s father. Character-driven, a study in the dysfunction of the well-to-do as well as those working their land.

I was sympathetically engaged with Vera—she was fighting an uphill battle in her position—but now add her age to that and she sees her share of discrimination. She is supported by a team, that of DS Joe Ashworth (not so supportive) and DC Holly Jackman (guardedly supportive and) smart enough to watch the master at work and learn. Vera is often the target of Joe’s wife who says he works too hard and too many hours. I appreciated the character of Holly—she is content being unconsciously mentored by Vera—and she’s a sponge. There is a grudging and growing respect between both of them. Holly often sees the path Vera is taking—anticipating the path—and providing timely support.

As Vera continues to interview and investigate, gradually gleaning clues and pursuing leads, little secrets and family dynamics are peeled back and exposed. Vera leads with a strong protagonist, no-nonsense, take no prisoners attitude.

The well-plotted storyline leads inexorably to the perpetrator with one further casualty into the investigation and a thrilling heart-stopping conclusion. Janine Birkett does an admirable job as narrator, quietly adding emotion and tension. The atmospheric woodsy setting, dark and cold, hand-warming tea cups and biscuits or brandy paints a quiet, rural, but deadly setting and adds to the creepiness of the scenes bringing to the forefront the poem by Robert Frost:

“…The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

And I didn’t even know I was a (Robert Frost) Ann Cleeves fan. But I do now. And I’ll be looking for more of her books (and probably the TV series as well).

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, Women Sleuth Mysteries, Police Procedural Mysteries
Publisher:  A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:

ASIN: B084D6ZP74
 Print Length: 379 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs, 16 mins.
Narrator: Janine Birkett
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Darkest Evening

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

Ann Cleeves - authorThe Author: Ann [Cleeves] is the author of the books behind ITV’s VERA, now in it’s third series, and the BBC’s SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann’s DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann’s Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands…

Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

For the National Year of Reading, Ann was made reader-in-residence for three library authorities. It came as a revelation that it was possible to get paid for talking to readers about books! She went on to set up reading groups in prisons as part of the Inside Books project, became Cheltenham Literature Festival’s first reader-in-residence and still enjoys working with libraries.
Ann Cleeves on stage at the Duncan Lawrie Dagger awards ceremony

Ann’s short film for Border TV, Catching Birds, won a Royal Television Society Award. She has twice been short listed for a CWA Dagger Award – once for her short story The Plater, and the following year for the Dagger in the Library award.

In 2006 Ann Cleeves was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland Quartet. The Duncan Lawrie Dagger replaces the CWA’s Gold Dagger award, and the winner receives £20,000, making it the world’s largest award for crime fiction.

Ann’s success was announced at the 2006 Dagger Awards ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton, in London’s Aldwych, on Thursday 29 June 2006. She said: “I have never won anything before in my life, so it was a complete shock – but lovely of course.. The evening was relatively relaxing because I’d lost my voice and knew that even if the unexpected happened there was physically no way I could utter a word. So I wouldn’t have to give a speech. My editor was deputed to do it!”

The judging panel consisted of Geoff Bradley (non-voting Chair), Lyn Brown MP (a committee member on the London Libraries service), Frances Gray (an academic who writes about and teaches courses on modern crime fiction), Heather O’Donoghue (academic, linguist, crime fiction reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement, and keen reader of all crime fiction) and Barry Forshaw (reviewer and editor of Crime Time magazine).

Ann’s books have been translated into sixteen languages. She’s a bestseller in Scandinavia and Germany. Her novels sell widely and to critical acclaim in the United States. Raven Black was shortlisted for the Martin Beck award for best translated crime novel in Sweden in 200.
Bio and photo from Goodreads.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Reference and partial quote in the book from the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson – An #Audiobook Review – Family Life Fiction

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson - audiobook

Book Blurb:

Adam March is a self-made “Master of the Universe”. He has it all: the beautiful wife, the high-powered job, the glittering circle of friends. But there is a price to be paid for all these trappings, and the pressure is mounting-until the day Adam makes a fatal mistake. His assistant leaves him a message with three words: your sister called. What no one knows is that Adam’s sister has been missing for decades…that she represents the excruciatingly painful past he has left behind…and that her absence has secretly tormented him all these years. When his assistant brushes off his request for an explanation in favor of her more pressing personal call, Adam loses it. And all hell breaks loose.

Adam is escorted from the building. He loses his job. He loses his wife. He loses the life he’s worked so hard to achieve. He doesn’t believe it is possible to sink any lower when he is assigned to work in a soup kitchen as a form of community service.

But unbeknownst to Adam, this is where his life will intersect with Chance. Chance is a mixed breed Pit Bull. He’s been born and raised to fight and seldom leaves the dirty basement where he is kept between fights. But Chance is not a victim or a monster. It is Chance’s unique spirit that helps him escape and puts him in the path of Adam. What transpires is the story of one man, one dog, and how they save each other-in ways they never could have expected.

My Review:

Well, Mercy! I grabbed this book as I’d listened to three other audiobooks by the same author, The Dog I Loved, The Dog Who Danced, and Two Good Dogs. The latter actually introduced Adam March and his dog, Chance. All garnered 4.5 to 5 stars from me.

Adam is rich–he achieved that the hard way. A foster child, he came up rough and determined to succeed and he did. Along the way, he married well and they had a daughter they proceeded to spoil rotten. Adam, in the meantime, enjoyed his posh living to an extent but is not wholly happy. He has too many unresolved issues and when one effectively surfaces through his assistant, she is the target of his knee-jerk reaction.

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

Rather than landing in the slammer, the judge is astute enough to ascertain with what he is dealing and sentences him to community service at a men’s shelter. In the meantime, he has lost his family and most of his accumulated wealth. Adam is a protagonist not easy to like. He is not engaging but arrogant, spoiled,  and hostile. His thoughts are enough to anger the reader.

But this is a book that switches from Adam’s POV to that of Chance, and his POV is eye-opening as well. I thoroughly enjoyed those chapters devoted to Chance as he escapes his life as a captive dog fighter and progresses through street dog to pet dog. At first, he is determined to run the first chance he gets–away from this person who has accidentally saddled himself with a dog he doesn’t want. Someone who never had one and has no clue how to care for–much less a dog of Chance’s history, a pit bull at that.

The training of the human is not as easy as that of the animal, who intuitively learns how to survive. Adam resists any effort at friendship or camaraderie at the shelter, angers when he realizes the woman at the pet store identifies him as a target of her previous rancor. None of it was his fault–it was all a mistake–that wasn’t who he is…heard that before?

Getting Adam and Chance to meld was difficult. Not an easy transition for either. In the meantime, we learn of his grudging association with the men (both the director and the workers) as well as the men who populate the center and it’s harsh, but he gradually begins to relax. It is because of the association with one that he is compelled to retrieve the pitbull from a kill center. Unfortunately, it’s not the one he was sent to rescue.

Gina, from the pet store, becomes a haven, source of rational thought, and sees the potential in Chance–encourages Adam to keep him. The heart of the storyline, however, is the focus full on Adam, and how the support characters, including Chance molds the man. Adam learns of his father and sister, finds a real relationship with his daughter. It’s a story of loss and forgiveness, trust, humility, and humanity. The story of Chance pulls all the heart-strings and you’ll root for him whether or not Adam. The conclusion is one you want to deny; hope will not happen. Can this have a happy ending?

Apparently, there is a whole range of reviews for this one. Everyone’s an expert on dogs, rescues, or pit bulls. And most seem to have a better grasp of good fiction writing than I. But as the old saying goes, I know what I like. I’m a fan of this author. I really enjoy her books. They are always full of heart with a moral compass…the problem of the plot is getting us through the minutiae of the story to assume the reader will discern the message. It’s fiction–take it at face value and just enjoy it.

I got this audiobook through my well-stocked local library and enjoyed via OverDrive (thank you!) and am more than happy to heartily recommend. (The narrators do an admiral job and greatly lend to the enjoyment of this novel.)

Book Details:

Genre: Family Life Fiction, Animal Life Fiction
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B003AOVP1Q
 Print Length: 320 pages
Listening Length: 8 hrs 21 min
Narrators: Fred BermanRick Adamson
Audible Release Date: March 2, 2010
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: One Good Dog (Amazon link)

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: (From Amazon and Goodreads Author pages) SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels (one in progress), 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.

Married, two grown daughters and a granddaughter and two grandsons – plus four-step grands. Lives in Oak Bluffs, MA, on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

The Narrators:

Fred Berman - author
Fred Berman
Rick Adamson - narrator
Rick Adamson

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt (Author) Fred Berman (Narrator) – An #Audiobook Review #crimethriller

As promised, Book 3 in the Doug Brock Thriller series. (Hope you didn’t miss my review for number two: Fade to Black!)

Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt

Book Blurb:

Doug Brock hasn’t had it easy since his getting shot in the line of duty as a New Jersey state police officer. Between the amnesia and having to solve two murder cases, it hasn’t been the most restful recovery. 

Now, the cold-case department is checking evidence from a murder case Doug was investigating before the accident, but the DNA points to a man Doug eliminated as a suspect…and he remembers none of it. 

Doug begins to reinvestigate what turns out to be a series of unsolved killings and must retrace his steps to discover why he would have let the suspect go free. What he uncovers may be more dangerous than any case he’s faced yet. 

With Black and Blue, nationally best-selling author David Rosenfelt continues his thrilling new series featuring Doug Brock.

My Review:

As mentioned at my review of Book 2, Fade to Black, here is  #3 of the Doug Brock series, my sampling of a David Rosenfelt series outside of the Andy Carpenter series (which I totally fell in love with and you’ll get many more of those reviews). Doug Brock, a New Jersey state police lieutenant who was shot in the line of duty has returned to work, albeit missing ten years of his memory. He has gotten back together with his former fiancé, Jessie.

Black and Blue by David RosenfeltThis series is more serious in nature and, as I noted before, there were times I didn’t really care for protagonist Brock, although his fiancé, Jessie, is interesting, intelligent, tolerant, and patient. She owns a mountain of a dog named BoBo. Doug and BoBo have a kind of détente. He also is back with partner Nate Alvarez (a mountain of a man), and he and Nate seem to work effectively together, trading barbs from time to time.

Being a serious fan of Andy Carpenter, it was fun that he was incorporated into this storyline (although I wasn’t so thrilled with the person who did the narration for Andy–just not the same beloved voice).

Currently, Doug and Nate are working on a cold case. A dead body, shot through the heart by a high powered rifle. Not the first time this happened since there were more than one and ballistics confirm with the same gun. He was involved with the old case, although with his current condition cannot remember the details and has to go through the files. This isn’t the only problem they’ll have now though as Doug suspicions he may have interviewed him before and let him go.

I really like the series, but let’s face it, I’ve been spoiled by Andy Carpenter. This protagonist is not wholly sympathetic, although I can certainly connect with the support characters and if you aren’t used to the machine-gun hyperbole and tongue-in-cheek humor of that series, would probably find this one quite satisfying–enough male guffawing, sarcastic barbs, back-slapping, and beer to grease the plotline. The well-plotted mystery presents twists, turns, and red herrings, but it’s the characters that keep you reading and David Rosenfelt is great at developing good chemistry in his characters.

The conclusion ties frayed ends together very neatly. This novel could function quite well as a standalone as there are sufficient references to history to fill in the blanks. In any case, I’ll be tuning in to Doug Brock 4. Also, as mentioned before, I was approved by NetGalley for The K Team, Book 1, of a new spinoff series from Andy Carpenter featuring most of my favorite characters. (If you haven’t grabbed that one yet, better hurry.)

I received this audiobook download from my local library audio selection with no expectation of a review. But, you know I’m going to do it anyway.

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural Mysteries, Crime Thriller, Serial Killer
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio, Minotaur Books 

  • ISBN-10:1250133149
  • ISBN-13:978-1250133144
  • ASIN: B07KRGLYZJ 

Print Length: 304 pages
Listening Length: 6 hrs 22 mins
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Black and Blue
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

David Rosenfelt - authorThe Author: [David Rosenfelt-Goodreads author page] I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.

My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, “Ozzie and Harriet’s” clan seemed bizarre.

I graduated NYU, then decided to go into the movie business. I was stunningly brilliant at a job interview with my uncle, who was President of United Artists, and was immediately hired. It set me off on a climb up the executive ladder, culminating in my becoming President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures. The movie landscape is filled with the movies I buried; for every “Rambo”, “The Natural” and “Rocky”, there are countless disasters.

I did manage to find the time to marry and have two children, both of whom are doing very well, and fortunately neither have inherited my eccentricities.

A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It’s safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.

About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It’s total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group.

Fred Berman - authorThe Narrator: [Fred Berman-Goodreads author page] Age & Hometown: 39 (“but in meerkat years, that’s 25!”); Manhasset, Long Island

Current Role: Entertaining Broadway audiences as the hysterical meerkat Timon in Disney’s long-running hit The Lion King.

A Familiar Voice: An accomplished voiceover actor on more than 50 audiobooks, Berman says the key is not to impersonate or put on voices. “I cast the book in my mind,” he explains. “I say, ‘Who is this person?’ So, in my head, Judi Dench is playing this role. I don’t want to do an impersonation of Judi Dench, but I am channeling her in that moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Berman’s audio work ranges from children’s books to what he calls “fantasy romance novels”—and sometimes both in the same day. “One time, I went from the most ridiculously depressing book, The Painted Bird, about a kid wandering through the forests of Poland after World War II, to a romance book where I voiced the sexiest Greek man alive who always wears leather pants and no shirt in softcore porn scenes.”

The Dangers of Timon: Berman was initially cautious about taking his Lion King gig. “I have never gone into a long-running show, and I knew I couldn’t do [Nathan Lane, who created the role onscreen]. I wasn’t sure how much of it was going to be ‘This is a machine and you need to do it this way.’” Berman’s doubts subsided when he was given freedom to interpret the role his own way—though he still has one fear. “I tend to gravitate toward blue humor, so I always get nervous when I have to improvise,” he says. “Having kids [he has two] makes you check yourself more.” Instead, he says his mantra is, “Play the positive; play the love!”

Let’s Rock!: Though acting pays the bills, Berman’s true passion is music. The son of a bandleader, he began playing piano at age five and discovered the drums, which would become his main instrument, in fifth grade. “Until I got into The Lion King, I was playing in bands my whole life,” he says. His musical influences range from fellow Long Island native Billy Joel to Led Zeppelin. “I have a tattoo of [late Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham’s symbol on my left arm!” When pressed to choose between acting and music, Berman responds, “I love them both, but I have to be honest: There is nothing in the world like playing drums in a rock-and-roll band at a live concert. That’s what I thought.

©2020 V Williams V Williams