Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr – #Audiobook Review – #suspense – #TBT

Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr

Book Blurb:

From the vivid opening vista, high in craggy mountains, to the final haunting glimpse of a moonlit canyon, Nevada Barr’s first mystery, Track of the Cat, instantly caught the attention of readers and reviewers. Its popularity gained it both an Agatha and an Anthony Award.

The young naturalist, Anna Pigeon, has moved to the Southwest wilderness to be a park ranger. There, her days are filled with the physical demands of working in the Guadalupe Mountains and the satisfaction of living in this splendid land. Her peace is shattered one morning, though, when she discovers the body of another ranger deep in Dog Canyon. How did the usually cautious woman die? Although at first the evidence indicates an attack by a mountain lion, Anna soon suspects that there are craftier predators afoot in the wild grasses.

Fast-paced suspense and sharply defined characters will immediately sweep you up in the force of this compelling mystery. By the end, you’ll be nodding in satisfaction at the final twist and anticipating the next book in the Anna Pigeon series. Narrator Barbara Rosenblat’s performance highlights Anna’s savvy courage and determination to catch her prey.

My Review:

Hoping you are sitting down, though not necessary to clutch your heart. Yes, this is Book 1, the beginning of the Anna Pigeon series. Okay, okay, settle down. I did decide to go back to Book 1—on purpose—to see how the whole thing started.

If I had to be honest, Anna Pigeon isn’t exactly a protagonist you’re gonna love. She can feel detached, above it all. She wears blinders and unless the narrative is following her philosophy, she’s not into it. The quintessential maverick, oh, so attractive on the “bad boys,” but not at all on an independent female. Why doesn’t she just conform?

Track of the Cat by Nevada BarrYes, I was attracted to this series because it takes place at various national parks across the US. Oh, I love the descriptions of the parks, winter or summer, the indigenous species, the topo, the uniqueness of the park and the people. Ranger Anna Pigeon detects that her fellow ranger was not killed by a mountain lion—a set up—with the lion taking the defenseless fall. Poor thing.

I’ve read several others in this series, the last being Boar Island. She really doesn’t change. Her sister is an interesting character, also extremely independent, a NY head shrinker. Dang! Those must have been some parents!!

This one is set in the Guadalupe Mountains Nat’l Park in West Texas, dry, hot, arid desert conditions. Just about monsoon season. I’ve been in similar unforgiving conditions .Even in good physical condition, a major challenge, but Ranger Pigeon finds herself in death defying conditions while investigating the circumstances around the death of a fellow female ranger.

As always, I particularly enjoy narrator Barbara Rosenblat’s narration putting you on the edge, hanging on by fingernails into the conclusion. I do enjoy these novels, particularly the autdiobooks and feel each can be read as a standalone.

Book Details:

Genre: Women Sleuth Mysteries, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B0002T8XKS
Listening Length: 8 hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: July 29, 2004
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Track of the Cat [Amazon] 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

The Author: Nevada [BNevada Barr - authorarr] was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

Barbara Rosenblat - narratorThe Narrator:   Barbara Rosenblat has been narrating for more than 20 years, and even had the honor of performing the first book ever recorded at Audible in 1999.

She has also appeared on screen such as in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black as Miss Rosa. Rosenblat was born in London, England and raised in New York City. Upon returning to the US, she read books to the blind for four years at the Library of Congress.[2] On Broadway she appeared in The Secret Garden and Talk Radio. Barbara Rosenblat has narrated more than 400 audiobooks.

©2021 V Williams –

Spring Upon a Crime (A Seattle Wilderness Mystery Book 2) by ML Erdahl – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

 Roxie—“The hostess lacked certain social filters and either enjoyed pushing boundaries or didn’t recognize what they were…”

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Spring Upon a Crime by ML ErdahlWilderness guide Crystal Rainey leads a group of college students to a private campground amidst the awe-inspiring Olympic Rain Forest. The excursion is ruined when the charming hostess Roxie is discovered standing over the land owner’s body, murder weapon in hand.

Enlisted to investigate the crime to absolve her friend, Crystal descends on the quiet city of Forks to find loggers, developers, and eco-protesters circling the property, intent on either exploiting or protecting the bastion of old-growth forest. The list of suspects is intimidating. Can Crystal find answers in a community determined to keep her in the dark?

My Review:

Author Erdahl has embraced the cozy mystery genre and produced a sweet, clean mystery that is fun, confident reading. Protagonist Crystal is still faking her way through her wilderness guide gig finding gorgeous new backdrops in the Pacific Northwest of Washington and she is holding her own weight (and good-naturedly the initiations into mountain hiking). (My motorcycle buddy used to refer to the Pacific Northwest as the Great Northwet—she lived near Seattle and saw her share of rainfall.)

Spring Upon a Crime by ML ErdahlIn this episode, we see Crystal has put in sufficient time under her belt that she is becoming more secure in her role as wilderness guide. She’s a quick study and can hold her own with the more seasoned guides, this time into the Olympic Rain Forest. Unfortunately, once arrived with her college students at the private campground where they’ll spend several days, she discovers her friend and hostess Roxie at the scene of a very fresh murder. Not good.

The power struggle for land between loggers and developers is a very real one that has been in the news off and on for decades. Years ago, riding our motorcycles south after leaving Victoria Island down the Olympic Peninsula, we came across miles of clear cut forest. The stumps and devastation was depressing to witness. Of course, logging is a gargantuan business, and the fight between the two attracts environmentalists, “tree huggers.” So the storyline hit close to home and was a familiar one.

The characters are becoming more developed, more human, complete with foibles and strong suits, and the mystery progressed at a steady pace, bringing in descriptions of the scenic area, information about the mountains, and some history with it. Easy to smell that clean mountain pine scent and revel in the blue sky (when it makes an appearance).

It’s a clever and immersive story, bits of back story eased in, this can work as a standalone. (Read my review of Book 1, Winter Takes All.) There is a building of tension and twists, scrutiny of possible perps, and I must admit I didn’t guess whodunit going into the conclusion. A great follow up to the first in the series, just the right amount of atmosphere, romance, snappy dialogue, and mystery. And while Crystal doesn’t have a dog, she has a cat named ELF (an acronism), who is becoming an integral part of the engaging characters.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. Now available at your favorite retailer.

N.B. The author just posted receipt of a Five Star Award for Spring Upon a Crime from @readersfavoritecom.

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Book Details:

Genre: #cozymystery #AmateurSleuths #WomenSleuths
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc

  • ASIN : B08P87F6J1

Print Length: 213 pages
Publication Date: January 13, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

ML Erdahl - authorThe Author: Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily.

©2021 V Williams

The War Widow (A Billie Walker Novel) by Tara Moss – A #BookReview – #historicalfiction – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

The War Widow by Tara MossThe war may be officially over, but journalist Billie Walker’s search for a missing young immigrant man will plunge her right back into the danger and drama she thought she’d left behind in Europe in this thrilling tale of courage and secrets set in glamorous postwar Sydney.

Sydney, 1946. Though war correspondent Billie Walker is happy to finally be home, for her the heady postwar days are tarnished by the loss of her father and the disappearance in Europe of her husband, Jack. To make matters worse, now that the war is over, the newspapers are sidelining her reporting talents to prioritize jobs for returning soldiers. But Billie is a survivor and she’s determined to take control of her own future. So she reopens her late father’s business, a private investigation agency, and, slowly, the women of Sydney come knocking.

At first, Billie’s bread and butter is tailing cheating husbands. Then, a young man, the son of European immigrants, goes missing, and Billie finds herself on a dangerous new trail that will lead up into the highest levels of Sydney society and down into its underworld. What is the young man’s connection to an exclusive dance club and a high class auction house? When the people Billie questions about the young man start to turn up dead, Billie is thrown into the path of Detective Inspector Hank Cooper. Will he take her seriously or will he just get in her way? As the danger mounts and Billie realizes that much more than one young man’s life is at stake, it becomes clear that though the war was won, it is far from over.

His Review:

Post WWII was a turbulent time everywhere. Germany was in ruins, much like the millions of lives it had ruined attempting global domination. Our protagonist is a former war correspondent returning home to find work for women very scarce. She took over a Detective Agency after her father died and is working in Sydney.

The War Widow by Tara MossLike so many women after WWII she has lost the love of her life. Where could Ryan be? He disappeared somewhere in Austria. Not knowing the fate of your loved one is a cruel cross to bear and then a woman enters the detective agency and asks if she can locate her son. He is 17 and just disappeared one afternoon.

Tara weaves a very entertaining tale of mystery and intrigue in the Sydney area. The job won’t pay much but Billie needs to keep working to continue to pay her “Secretary” Sam Beaker. The trail leads to many interesting places in and around Sydney. I never knew the underbelly of Australia could be so seedy.

Taking the assignment and trying to locate the lost teenager takes many twists and both Billie and Sam are attacked many times. It is a real pleasure to read about the defensive tactics Billie employs. Never underestimate a woman with a well placed hatpin!

Australia like most countries post WWII is recovering from economic restrictions and rationing is still in place. Gas coupons are still necessary because the worlds’ fuel supplies are still being sorted out. Silk stockings and fine clothing were at a premium and Billie bemoans the loss of some of her finer things. It is hard or impossible to replace them.

This entire book kept me spell bound and very entertained. I even fell in love with the heroine although she would be my mothers’ age. I could see the rakish hats and Mode O Day dresses as she stepped out into the Sydney night life. These mental visuals so well presented by Tara entertained and satisfied my mentally visual sequence of events. It is an immersive and entertaining look back in time. Read and see for yourself. 5 stars – CE Williams

Thank you to Emily Canders, Senior Publicity Manager of Dutton & Plume for my complimentary review copy of this book. These are my unbiased thoughts. 

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Dutton
Print Length: 351
Publication Date: December 29, 2020
Source: Publisher through Net Galley
Title Link: The War Widow [Amazon] On Pre-Order Now
Also find the book at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Tara Moss - authorThe Author: Since 1999 Tara Moss has written 13 bestselling books, published in 19 countries and 13 languages. Her latest is the internationally bestselling historical crime novel The War Widow published with with HarperCanada, HarperCollins Australia, and launching in Dec 2020 with Dutton Books at Penguin Randomhouse US, and translated to German in Jan 2021 with AufBau as Die Jägerin.

Her first non-fiction book, the critically acclaimed The Fictional Woman became a number one national non-fiction bestseller in 2014, and her iconic cover design, featuring her face labeled with ‘fictions’ or stereotypes about women won Best Non-Fiction Book Design in 2015.

An experienced documentary host and interviewer with a passion for research and human stories, Moss has hosted the true crime documentary series Tough Nuts – Australia’s Hardest Criminals on the Crime & Investigation Network and Amazon Prime, Tara Moss Investigates on the National Geographic Channel and the author interview show Tara in Conversation on 13th Street Universal. In 2018 she hosted The Craft Of Writing series on RN (Radio National) Australia. She was also the host, co-executive producer and co-writer of Cyberhate with Tara Moss on Australia’s ABC, examining the phenomenon of online abuse, and she gave her address to the nation, ‘Cyberhate and Beyond’, at the National Press Club in 2017, putting the phenomenon of extreme online abuse and harassment on the national agenda.

Moss is an outspoken advocate for human rights and the rights of women, children and people with disabilities, has been a UNICEF Australia Goodwill Ambassador since 2007 and since 2013 has been UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Child Survival, and has visited Australian hospitals, maternity wards, refuges and schools as well as Syrian refugee camps in her UNICEF role. In 2014 she was recognised for Outstanding Advocacy for her blog Manus Island: An insider’s report, which helped to break information to the public about the alleged murder of Reza Barati inside the Australian-run Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre. In the media and through her page Tara and Wolfie, she brings advocacy and visibility to issues of disability and chronic pain, and the need to normalize mobility aids.

In 2015 Moss received an Edna Ryan Award for her significant contribution to feminist debate, speaking out for women and children and inspiring others to challenge the status quo, and in 2017 she was recognised as one of the Global Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life, for using her position in public life to make a positive impact in diversity, alongside Malala Yousufzai, Angelina Jolie, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet and more.

Her in-depth novel research has seen her tour the FBI Academy at Quantico, spend time in squad cars, morgues, prisons, the Hare Psychopathy Lab, the Supreme Court and criminology conferences, take polygraph tests, shoot weapons, conduct surveillance, pass the Firearms Training Simulator (FATSII) with the LAPD, pull 4.2 G’s doing loops over the Sydney Opera House flying with the RAAF, and acquire her CAMS race driver licence. She is a PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney, and has earned her private investigator credentials (Cert III) from the Australian Security Academy.

She is a mother, a wife and a dual Canadian/Australian citizen, and currently resides with her family in Vancouver, BC. She is a new signing with Aevitas Literary Management in New York. Visit her at taramoss.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Fortune and Glory (A Stephanie Plum Novel Book 27) by Janet Evanovich – An #Audiobook Review – Crime Thriller

Editors' pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

audiobook-Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

Book Blurb:

The twenty-seventh entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series isn’t just the biggest case of Stephanie Plum’s career. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

When Stephanie’s beloved Grandma Mazur’s new husband died on their wedding night, the only thing he left her was a beat-up old easy chair…and the keys to a life-changing fortune.

But as Stephanie and Grandma Mazur search for Jimmy Rosolli’s treasure, they discover that they’re not the only ones on the hunt. Two dangerous enemies from the past stand in their way—along with a new adversary who’s even more formidable: Gabriela Rose, a dark-eyed beauty from Little Havana with a taste for designer clothes. She’s also a soldier of fortune, a gourmet cook, an expert in firearms and mixed martial arts—and someone who’s about to give Stephanie a real run for her money.

Stephanie may be in over her head, but she’s got two things that Gabriela doesn’t: an unbreakable bond with her family and a stubborn streak that will never let her quit.

She’ll need both to survive because this search for “fortune and glory” will turn into a desperate race against time with more on the line than ever before. Because even as she searches for the treasure and fights to protect her Grandma Mazur, her own deepest feelings will be tested—as Stephanie could finally be forced to choose between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

My Review:

Cripes! What happened and where did the other Janet Evanovich go? Years ago, and I mean well before I even started reviewing, the CE and I used to listen to her audiobooks on our many trips. They made crossing the desert go faster, mountain ranges less hairy. So I was pretty shocked at this latest audiobook, and less you really have to ask—no, I  have neither read nor listened to others in this series. I just saw “Evanovich” and remembered the “old times.”

Fortune and Glory by Janet EvanovichWell, groan. Despite the amazing narration of Lorelei King using many voices and New Jersey accent, the protagonist left me a bit flat. Stephanie is a mess. She’s not terribly good at what she does, nor terribly smart. What she is—according to new character Gabriela Rose, is lucky.

Stephanie apparently is one third of the dreaded triangle (Ranger—fabulously rich and great in bed, and Morelli—Jersey cop). Lula is a strong “partner” in the bond business, and then there is Grandma Mazur, who is just plain obnoxious. It’s her recently widowed grandmother that has set her on the latest adventure—finding a fabulous treasure, joined by Potts (who is well past annoying into egregiously obnoxious).

If you can get past both grandma and Potts, there is a mystery that does hold interest and adventure as they tick off each of the nine(?) hints to the treasure held by members of the mob apparently known to good ole grandma. (Thank heaven mine stuck closer to gardening.)

Heavy into the New Jersey mob scene, the accents, food, and back alley streets definitely spun atmospheric illusions. The mysterious Gabriela held my interest as well and will apparently spin off on a series of her own. Thinking I might try that one but reading any of the previous 26 of this series? I don’t think so.

Book Details:

Genre: Women Sleuths, Organized Crime Thriller, General Humorous Fiction, Crime Thrillers
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio

  • ASIN: B085DQTY3P

Print Length: 318 pages
Listening Length: 7 hrs 13 mins
Narrator: Lorelei King
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: Fortune and Glory [Amazon]

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

Janet EvanovichThe Author: Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the co-authored Fox and O’Hare series, the Knight and Moon series, and the Lizzy and Diesel series as well as twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, Troublemaker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author.

 

Lorelei KingThe Narrator: Lorelei [King] is a multi-award-winning narrator of audiobooks, recording the works of best-selling authors Janet Evanovich, Darynda Jones and Patricia Briggs, among others. She is one of the first inductees into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame.

©2020 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Hunting Season: An Anna Pigeon Novel by Nevada Barr – An #Audiobook Review – #crimethriller – #TBT

“What’s the use of a load of manure if you can’t spread it around.” 

Hunting Season by Nevada Barr

Book Blurb:

When Anna answers a call to historic Mt. Locust, once a producing plantation and inn on Mississippi’s Natchez Trace Parkway and now a tourist spot, the last thing she expects to encounter is murder. But the man Anna finds in the stand’s old bedroom is no tourist in distress. He’s nearly naked, and very dead, his body bearing marks consistent with an S & M ritual gone awry. On a writing table nearby is an open Bible, ominous passages circled in red. It seems the deceased is the brother of Raymond Barnette, local undertaker and a candidate for sheriff, who wants to keep any hint of kinkiness out of the minds of the God-fearing populace. Ray may be hiding a house full of secrets in the old family homestead, but before Anna can start her investigation, she’s waylaid by malevolent poachers, peevish coworkers, and a suddenly turbulent romantic life. And when hidden agendas and old allegiances are revealed, it’s suddenly Anna’s life on the line.

My Review:

My introduction to the Anna Pigeon series, this audiobook also introduced me to the Mississippi Natchez Trace. Yes, of course, most of those in the US have heard of the Trace, the lush landscape of the south as well as the racial history, but like me—really don’t know the exact location, what it is (literally an early Native American trail)—fascinating as it is.

Hunting Season by Nevada BarrThis series started way back in 1993 and ended in 2016 after 19 in the series. Few garnered at least four stars but appear to have remained popular. In Book 10, protagonist Park Ranger Anna Pigeon is called to the circumstances of a deceased, oversized man left in a compromising position but the circumstances don’t make sense with the way he died. And, perhaps separately, or maybe not, poaching has become serious. When she has a deadly encounter on her way home and her vehicle is demolished, she steps up her investigation.

An additional problem is that her management position here was unexpected and the male co-workers are a bit disgruntled. And then there is her involvement with Paul Davidson, separated for some time from his wife who won’t grant a divorce. Perhaps she should take a more jaundiced eye to that situation. (Deep and heavy sigh…life is never simple…)

Okay, first, I must admit that so many times, it’s the narrator who makes or breaks an audiobook for me. And this narrator hooks you in and, I suspect, keeps the listener interested where a reader’s interest might wane a bit through the middle minutia weeding out the details of whose land is whose.

Intense investigation, witticisms, Southern mores, and history mingle to lull you into story listening mode, digesting the further development of Anna and particularly her main support deputy Barth—a character I really found engaging. Of course, Anna is engaging as well, an effective strong female in a male dominated position.

The pieces of the puzzle get scattered until finally drawn together in a heart-pounding conclusion. I have to admit, however, to having correctly guessed the perp, although it made perfect sense unless it was going to be one of those barely mentioned names in an off-hand remark as sometimes happens. Not this one, but the trip up the Trace is worth the time and I was thoroughly entertained and will look for another—probably closer to the end of the series this time. I listened as a standalone and at Book 10 gleaned sufficient information to progress toward Book 19. Recommended. 

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Women Sleuths, Suspense
Publisher:  Recorded Books
ASIN: B0002QUWR8
Listening Length: 10 hrs., 57 mins.
Print Length: 348 pages
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: July 22, 2004
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Hunting Season [Amazon]

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 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Nevada Barr - authorThe Author: Nevada [Barr] was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

Barbara Rosenblat - narratorThe Narrator:

Barbara Rosenblat has been narrating for more than 20 years, and even had the honor of performing the first book ever recorded at Audible in 1999.

She has also appeared on screen such as in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black as Miss Rosa. Rosenblat was born in London, England and raised in New York City. Upon returning to the US, she read books to the blind for four years at the Library of Congress.[2] On Broadway she appeared in The Secret Garden and Talk Radio. Barbara Rosenblat has narrated more than 400 audiobooks including:

– The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

– The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

©020 V Williams V Williams

Murder Ballad Blues: A Mystery (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 4) by Lynda McDaniel – a #BookReview #thriller #tuesdaybookblog

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

This is the fourth novel—a standalone novel—in the Appalachian Mountain Mysteries series. 

Book Blurb:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielLaurel Falls, N.C. 2005  A mysterious death in the North Carolina mountains. Then a second. By the third, the FBI finally gets involved. Trouble is, they’re looking in all the wrong places.

Abit Bradshaw has a theory, but of course the FBI doesn’t take him seriously. When he teams up with musicologist Wallis Harding, bluegrass music becomes more than something to practice and perform. It’s key to finding the serial killer.

Della Kincaid, a former crime reporter in Washington, D.C., can’t seem to escape her past. Now living in the small town of Laurel Falls, she’s busy investigating a fraud case that gets darker at every turn. She’s about to give up when a secretive whistleblower pulls her in again—and back to D.C.

Abit and Della team up once again to convince the FBI to help them with both their crime investigations.

Will Abit and Wallis discover the killer’s pattern … before he strikes again?

Can Della make sense of the whistleblower’s clues before the fraud case is closed for good?

You’ll love this suspenseful mystery because everyone longs to find justice in this crazy world. 

My Review:

Murder Ballad Blues by Lynda McDanielYou know I don’t often read a book straight through, but this one wouldn’t allow a lot of interruptions. Once again I was drawn into the characters, so richly described and developed. The main character is Abit Bradshaw, his POV, until we begin to alternate between his and that of Della Kinkaid, her POV. My heart aches for Abit, now a man—married to Fiona, “queen of the Irish gypsies” with a boy of their own. But he will fortunately never receive the sole-crushing emotional (and physical) abuse his own father meted out to him. He was “a bit slow” and that stuck at his school, his family, the town. And his name became Abit.

The mountains of North Carolina and the Appalachians have a reputation for being an enclave unto itself. Tight, suspicious. Abit was taken under wing, however, by those who saw more in him–a school more appropriate. It was discovered he had beautiful latent talents all his own. For one, he and his wife now play prominently in a bluegrass band they call the Rollin’ Ramblers.

Della is an ex-DC journalist, now writing a small column with a pen name and can’t help but notice the thread to a crime taking place under their noses. Additionally, their little corner of the world has recently experienced two murders and Abit begins to notice something. These things nagging at him, refuses to let go until he is totally, thoroughly wrapped up in what appears a diabolical serial killer. A lot of the music of the Appalachians came from Scotland and Ireland and one such became bluegrass. Tying the mystery to old folk ballads and numerology is brilliant.

The author skillfully assumes the dialect of the area, that particular form of speech, and seamlessly added the Cockney of a visiting Englishman. Dastardly things are afoot. The well-plotted storyline never misses a beat between the POVs and the active investigations, raising the blood pressure, tension, and urge to help. It’s immersive, engaging and leads to a satisfying conclusion without pages of explanation.

I previously read A Life for a Life and was hooked by these characters, most especially Abit—completely sympathetic. As an ARC member, I received an early copy for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoy this series, the author’s sense of humor, prose, and little pieces of fascinating locale and premise trivia. Unique and wholly recommended.

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Book Details:

Genre: Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books

  • ASIN : B08BG61CVC

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and Author Request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Lynda McDaniel - author
Lynda McDaniel

The Author: [Lynda McDaniel] I love writing page-turners–both fiction and nonfiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers and clients. I know I’m easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire my readers.

After all, we’re all busy these days, and I want to deliver value–whether that’s a gripping mystery filled with memorable characters or books on writing that give you the tools to write your own fiction and nonfiction. Both make me happy.

I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place–a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But living there changed my life in so many positive ways. Decades later, I realized that everything I value today, I was introduced to there. My Appalachian Mountain Mysteries–“A Life for a Life,” “The Roads to Damascus,” “Welcome the Little Children”–pay homage to the people of Appalachia who taught me so much. And to Mollie the Wonder Dog, who plays a role in both “The Roads to Damascus” (aka Millie) and in “Welcome the Little Children (as Millie and Mollie).

To keep up to date with Abit, Della, and the gang (and receive a free novelette that pulls back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls), head over to http://www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com. No spam, no pestering, just the free novelette, a 12-part serialized preview of my upcoming Book Four (via my blog), and special offers/updates.

Over the years, I’ve written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters and blogs. I’m proudest of the 18 books I’ve written. My nonfiction books include “Words at Work,” which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) I’ve also written two Amazon Bestselling Books: “How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write” and “Write Your Book Now!” (with Virginia McCullough).

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve lived all over this country–from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Santa Rosa, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning – a #BookReview – #Mystery #Thriller

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningSeeking to rediscover herself after a divorce, a detective-minded woman embarks on solving the small mysteries of a Midwest neighborhood, only to learn the secrets hidden there are more horrifying than she could have ever imagined.

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place for her to sort through her pain and move on with her life.

But Francine quickly discovers the “idyllic” neighborhood is hiding a number of disturbing mysteries. Behind every door and window there’s marital strife, simmering grudges, and a secret so terrible, someone will kill to keep it quiet.

Francine rewrites her prescription from relaxation to investigation. If she can remember how to trust herself, she might discover what’s hidden in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again, assuming she stays alive long enough to be in it…

My Review:

Well, here I go again with one of Patrick Canning’s books. This author writes such off-the-wall stuff you know going in it’ll be a ride. The question is just how crazy will this roller-coaster be? Answer: Subtle, confounding, twisty, and who can you trust?

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningFrancine is reeling from a devastating divorce in 1989 in San Francisco when her sister Ellie suggests a child/housesitting stay at her home in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois while they take a European vacation. It certainly looks benign enough, quaint, friendly, and attractive. A nice getaway when she needs one.

A bon voyage-welcome party turns a bit ugly, however, when one of the guests throws a drink in Francine’s face. True, you never know what goes on behind closed doors and there are certainly enough neighbors here to offer a variety of single and married, tempers, secrets, and fears. Her sister’s best friend Laura Jean is a strong ally and there are a number of interesting support characters. When Francine discovers the death of Brownie (a goat), she decides it’s time to start investigating the neighbors more deeply.

And what a smorgasbord of characters there are! You are not meant to like them all. Hers is not the only temporary stay in the hood and it is Bruno that brings a special light to Francine’s eyes as they collaborate together in his own secret research.

Francine is fragile and easy to invest in; Bruno a history teacher smothered in cliché right up to his bow tie and brown corduroy trousers and I really liked them both. Obvious red herrings, teenage boy, nasty HOA lady, ex-Marine. It’s a slow burn but weirdly compelling. What IS going on here? Are you confused yet?

The conclusion brings a shock you never saw coming and a head-shaking surprise you can’t compute. Yes, yes, you knew the one answer, but… I loved the little questionnaire questions her ex left with her at the beginning of each chapter setting your nerves to jangling and the tension rising.

“In most marriages, one or both partners are unhappy. [x] True [ ] False.
“I often think: ‘I wish I were a child again.’ [x]True [ ] False.
“I am so touchy on some subjects that I can’t talk about them. [x] True [ ] False.

The author’s writing style is beguiling, clever, and wily fun. Keep reading and watch his mind twist you in the wind. I’ve read one of his books before, The Colonel and the Bee back in July, 2018 and if I didn’t recognize that signature…um, just wait…of his, I wouldn’t know it was the same author–and I really enjoyed that one. This is a suspense thriller that leaves you shaking your head, just shy of a book hangover. A mystery thriller you shouldn’t miss. Totally recommended.

Rosepoint recommended

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Women Sleuths
ASIN: B08CS2RK9S
Print Length: 283 pages
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Direct author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Patrick Canning - authorThe Author: Patrick Canning was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois, and now lives in California with his dog, Hank.

He is primarily focused on turning coffee into words, words into money, money back into coffee.

Find him at patrickcanningbooks.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams