Fan Mail (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense Book 2) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Fan Mail by Daryl Wood GerberBook Blurb:

Local celebrity news anchor Gloria Morning is used to receiving declarations of love and praise in her weekly fan letters, but when a Lake Tahoe doctor is murdered and she gets an anonymous note telling her it was done for her glory, her appreciation turns to panic. Unsure of where else to turn, she enlists the help of novice private investigator Aspen Adams. No sooner does Aspen begin digging into who sent the macabre note than another murder occurs, followed by another note, and she soon realizes she’s up against a ruthless and deranged killer.

Working with scant clues and a puzzling array of potential suspects, Aspen is determined to unearth the elusive connection between the victims and her client. But as the body count grows and the murderer remains a mystery to both her and the police, Aspen discovers she’s gotten closer to the killer than she ever imagined, and now she must risk everything she holds dear to stop the killings, including her own life . . .

My Review:

The second in the series and not my introduction to this author, I was attracted to the Lake Tahoe locale, that beautiful jewel in the Sierra’s that divide the California-Nevada border with world-class mountain recreation and gaming on the Nevada side.

Fan Mail by Daryl Wood GerberThis entry to the series finds Aspen slowly ascending the ladder of her aunt Max’s private investigation office while juggling the niece she accepted into her home in Book 1. While it may not be necessary to begin with the first book, you might glean a bit more backstory for explanation into her current lifestyle. Candace, sister Rosie’s daughter, is fourteen and a teenager balancing with bouts of 30 and she figures rather prominently in Book 2. She can be alternately wise and intrusive, insightful and ignorant.

There are a number of support characters, including the detective boyfriend Nick, a slightly contentious relationship. He neither takes her theories very seriously, nor she his dismissal of her lightly. I didn’t think this was a match in Book 1 and maintain that opinion. Aspen has a well-educated, experienced background that she occasionally calls on for help in dealing with all the varied characters and possible suspects. That doesn’t keep her from making stupid, rooky (cozy) mystery mistakes.

Gloria Morning is a local celebrity of some note and reaches out to Aspen for help regarding the receipt of notes that have turned scary suspect when a local GYN is murdered. When a second murder occurs with another anonymous note proclaiming that it was done for her, Aspen kicks her investigation into high gear with the help of aunt Max.

This one has a high body count and numerous possible suspects which she begins to sift through. I still have a bit of a problem investing in Aspen, can’t quite get my head around where she is coming from. Candace was a bit annoying and Nick just isn’t there.

The well-plotted mystery moves, but not without repeating and rehashing theories, a little B&E of her own, and no license really to do more than deliver summons. She still hasn’t quite grasped the role of parent to her niece, either allowing her freedom to be off with her friends or dragging her to interviews where she should never be allowed. I guessed the perp early and the conclusion pulled into slightly reaching territory–not sure I was buying.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher: Beyond the Page

  • ISBN-10:1950461297
  • ISBN-13:978-1950461295
  • ASIN: B07YGS5WP1

Print Length: 282 pages
Publication Date:
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fan Mail

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Daryl Wood Gerber - authorThe Author: SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER, which comes out once a month and with a new release
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Tasty, zesty, dangerous!

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES and FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERIES. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES. In addition, she writes stand-alone suspense thrillers, including GIRL ON THE RUN and DAY OF SECRETS and DESOLATE SHORES. Fun tidbits: Daryl jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, and she hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. Also, as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to read, cook, and golf. She has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Thank you so much for visiting my page. Follow my PROFILE for important updates. And thank you for your reviews!

©2019  V Williams V Williams

Bad Memory (Jessica Shaw Book 2) by Lisa Gray – a #BookReview #suspense #thriller #badmemory

This series is classic #crimenoir PI fiction. Dark suspense, damaged protagonist prone to booze, electric.

Bad Memory by Lisa GrayBook Blurb:

Quiet towns keep big secrets.

Private investigator Jessica Shaw is leading a quiet life in a Californian desert community, where she spends her days working low-level cases. But when a former resident asks Jessica to help her sister, Rue Hunter—a convicted murderer whose execution is days away—Jessica can’t resist the offer.

Rue doesn’t remember what happened the night two high school students were killed thirty years ago, but everybody in town is certain she’s guilty. As Jessica looks for answers, she finds that local rumors point one way and evidence points another. And nobody wants to face the truth. Meanwhile, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking her—now more than ever, she knows she can’t trust anyone.

As Jessica digs deeper, she encounters local secrets in unlikely places—including the police department itself. But the clock is ticking, and Jessica must find the truth fast—or Rue’s bad memory may be the death of them both.

My Review:

My first in the series of two and I can see why Book 1 (Thin Air) has garnered over 2K reviews on Amazon. Yes, perhaps it would be good to start with Book 1 but I had no problem understanding where this woman might have come from. Of course, the name Jessica Shaw kept hauling me back to the Jessica Jones (TV) series, so regardless of any kind of description, all I could envision was young, pretty, dark and seriously bent, Jessica.

Bad Memory by Lisa GrayThe storyline revolves around a death row inmate due for execution, the sudden questioning of her own confession, and her sister’s desire to get at the truth–either way. I loved the way the author built a slow-burn, gleaning a small clue that somehow festers into an actual useable gem–something to build on.

Each chapter names either the main character or one of the many support characters and captures their view of the circumstances, whether currently, or back the thirty years that the murders happened. You get details filled in without being mired in minutia between solidly leading chapters. The hook from the beginning doesn’t let up and you’re in for the count. The reader might be guessing, jumping ahead knowing what’s coming, and then thwarted again by yet another twist or red herring.

But these are old secrets. Deadly secrets. And Jessica is racing again time to either stall an execution or supply those missing pieces of the memory that just doesn’t seem to form a whole picture. It’s complex. Far more than you might have thought. Realistic dialogue, engaging characters, and thoroughly well-plotted mystery, suspense, thriller.

Jessica might be just a bit difficult to invest in; perhaps you’d have to have walked somewhat in her shoes (and I hope you haven’t). She hasn’t been taught the latest defensive moves, barely owns a gun, and isn’t the deadly female whiz-bang of Dean Koontz variety. Jessica is vulnerable but savvy, smart, independent. The question is–can she save this woman due for execution?

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Definitely up for Book 3! My problems were a few edit misses and a couple contradictions a beta reader should have caught. Other than that, this one is totally recommended and predicted to do very well. Get in on (almost) the ground floor, or go back and start with Book 1. Either way, you can’t miss.

Book Details:

Genre: Private Investigator, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ISBN-10:1542092329
  • ISBN-13:978-1542092326
  • ASIN: B07Q8FD47T

Print Length: 311 pages
Publication Date: October 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Bad Memory
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Rosepoint Publishing:  4.5 of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Lisa Gray - authorThe Author: (Amazon) Lisa Gray has been writing professionally for years, serving as the chief Scottish soccer writer at the Press Association and the books editor at the Daily Record Saturday Magazine. Lisa currently works as a journalist for the Daily Record and Sunday Mail. This is her first crime novel. Learn more at http://www.lisagraywriter.com.

(Goodreads) Lisa Gray is a writer and journalist, and the author of the PI Jessica Shaw thriller series.

She decided at a young age that she wanted to write features for magazines and somehow ended up working as a football journalist for 14 years instead.

After too many winters spent freezing at matches and worrying about dodgy wi-fi connections, Lisa gave up football to work as a content writer at a national newspaper, where she had a spell as their books columnist.

An avid reader, she was hooked on Sweet Valley High and Point Horror books as a youngster, before turning to crime. Her favorite authors include Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Karin Slaughter.

THIN AIR is her debut crime novel and the first in a series about private investigator Jessica Shaw.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

 

Here Comes Santa Paws (A Melanie Travis Mystery Book 24) by Laurien Berenson – a #BookReview

Enjoying the Christmas Spirit with a light-hearted Christmas Season mystery.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson

Book Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Connecticut, but Melanie Travis finds surviving this December may take a real Christmas miracle when a yuletide murderer comes to town . . .  

As Melanie attempts to deck the halls in a house overrun by pampered Poodles, her event planner friend, Claire, is busy playing Santa—beard and belly not included—for the wealthiest clientele on Connecticut’s Gold Coast. A personal shopper gig in the affluent town of New Canaan seems like business as usual. Except Claire’s stylish stint comes at a higher price than she bargains for when she stumbles over her newest customer’s dead body on the job. Named a prime suspect for murder, she begs for Melanie’s help, then vanishes like cookies and milk on Christmas Eve . . .

Determined to track down Claire, Melanie, and her nosy Aunt Peg dash into a dizzying investigation that leads to even more questions. Why was homicide victim Lila Moran, a secretive woman with an untraceable past, permitted to live on a well-known socialite-turned-recluse’s private estate, and is Claire keeping her own incriminating secrets under wraps? Now, with a grinchy New Canaan detective on their case and disturbing clues piling up like presents beneath the tree, the crime-solving duo must rein in a sinister Kris Kringle before they’re the next ones on someone’s deadly wish list . . .

My Review:

It’s looking like Christmas in New Canaan,  a haven for some of Connecticut’s wealthiest and lucky Claire is in the cat-bird seat having created a personal shopper clientele list. Claire is the wife of Melanie’s ex and they’ve managed to forge a friendship in spite (or maybe because) of their shared history. When Claire calls Melanie for help in a panic, Melanie doesn’t hesitate to run to her aid.

Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien BerensonDelivering her client’s packages, Claire has stumbled on the body of Lila Moran in her client’s gatehouse on the property of a reclusive and wealthy socialite. It doesn’t take long before the police suspect Claire and Melanie, as well as her feisty Aunt Peg, are compelled to investigate the murder on their own. Melanie has a full house with a husband, two sons, five Standard Poodles and an irascible spotted rescue mutt.

It isn’t long before instigator Claire helps get Melanie in trouble with Detective Hronis and told to leave the detecting to the detectors. That isn’t going to happen with Aunt Peg either and together they begin the process of scenting out clues and interviewing. It’s an easy-going, well-plotted mystery and includes a number of well-developed characters as well as support characters.

Twists and red herrings are introduced, but each interview leads inexorably to the antagonist, whom you might have guessed. I suspected, but enjoyed the ride through the process with that light and fun writing style. While the dogs do not figure prominently, they do create asides and help break the tension with common doggy antics and support.

I started early in the series with a free offering from BookBub and then haven’t seen another until this one. Obviously, Melanie has evolved and the author’s biting sense of humor has bloomed and matured within her narratives. It’s easy to get involved with this protagonist and quickly run through the fun and fast book.

I was given this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy a light mystery with lovable canines and empathetic main characters.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mystery, Cozy Animal Mystery, Private Investigator Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

    • ISBN-10:1496718453
    • ISBN-13:978-1496718457
    • ASIN: B07MB475ZK

Print Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes Santa Paws
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Laurien Berenson - authorThe Author: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something. I always wanted to tell stories and I’m incredibly grateful that now there are people who want to read them. I think of the Melanie Travis mystery series as the saga of a woman’s life–with complications. And dogs. And love. And lots of laughter. We should all be so lucky.

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Award nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses. She can be reached at her website: http://www.laurienberenson.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

H_NGM_N by JC Gatlin #BlogTour #Spotlight #Excerpt

I am so delighted today to provide a spotlight/excerpt for you at my blog stop for H_NGM_N by JC Gatlin on the Sage’s Blog Tours.

H_NGM_N by JC Gatlin

Book Details

Title: H_NGM_N: Murder Is the Word by J C Gatlin

Genre: Private Investigator Mysteries

Publisher: Milford House Press

Publication Date: April 24, 2019

Print Length: 369 pages

  • ISBN-10:1620060604
  • ISBN-13:978-1620060605
  • ASIN: B07R43WLKY

Book Blurb 

H_NGM_N by JC GatlinEvery murder has a story.

Every story begins at home.

Tampa newscaster Tori Younger is saddened to learn her childhood friend, Brooke Martin, hung herself from the old water tower in their hometown. Tori hasn’t spoken to Brooke in years and doesn’t feel comfortable returning to attend the services. Then cryptic text messages from Brooke’s cellphone change her mind.

Attending the funeral, Tori confronts a past that still haunts her and questions the text messages haunting her now. Her investigation leads to a fact she suspected all along: her old friend didn’t commit suicide but was murdered. There’s no shortage of suspects either: Brooke’s angry husband who instigated a fight the night she died; Brooke’s high school principal who denies rumors they were having an affair; and a town sheriff who shares a stormy past with Tori and is blocking her investigation at every turn. The only witness appears to be Brooke’s five-year-old daughter who hasn’t spoken since the tragedy and continually draws the same graphic picture of the night her mother’s body was discovered hanging from that old water tower.

Tori knows one of them has Brooke’s cellphone and is texting her from it. Others are convinced it’s Brooke reaching out from the Great Beyond. Either way, someone from her past is playing a deadly game of Hangman.

Excerpt

_N  E_RLY  GR_VE

Saturday, June 23

Something—or someone—caught Brooke’s eye, and she leaned over the kitchen sink. With her nose pressed to the window, she studied the woods beyond the gravel drive. The dark oaks loomed over the brambles, and a breeze rustled the branches of the trees and the bushes, but she saw no one there.

Brooke scolded herself and laughed at her overactive nerves. Obviously, she’d imagined the movement. It wasn’t the first time. To be honest, she never wanted to live this far out in the Florida backwoods. It was too isolated. Too dark. Too quiet. And even more so tonight, it didn’t feel safe.

She looked down at the coffeepot that’d been sitting in the sink since early that morning. Turning on the faucet, she ran a sponge under the water and then saw movement again from the corner of her eye. This time she knew she saw branches move. She turned off the tap. The running water gave way to the stillness of the kitchen, and she listened. Her eyes focused. She blinked and peered closer to the windowpane. Searched the tree line.

The branches brightened—a quick flash a few feet off the ground. What the heck was that? A flashlight? She focused on the trees. A light glowed and shined in her eyes.

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About the Author

JC Gatlin - author

JC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida. In addition to regular fishing trips, he wrote a monthly column for New Tampa Style Magazine, then began penning several mystery/suspense stories. He also maintains a blog about the art of spinning a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat mystery yarn.

Coming from a large family with five brothers, JC grew up in Grapevine — a small Texas town just outside of Dallas. He moved to Tampa in 1999, and most of his stories feature the rich landscapes of Texas and Florida as backdrop. Sage's Blog Tours

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and thanks to Sage’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to spotlight this mystery!

©2019 V Williams Blog author