Toni

The way I see it

"The Leopard", by Jo Nesbo

The Leopard - Don Bartlett, Jo Nesbø, Jo Nesbø

Book # 8, in the Harry Hole Series 

Book # 6, in the Oslo Sequence Series

This novel is big and meaty, just over 600 pages, at first glance we may think it is a big long but in essence there is so much to it : a serial killer, a maverick cop, a plot with multiple threads and a large canvas to travel: from Hong Kong, Africa and Norway and of course several points in between. Mr. Nesbo did not forget Harry’s character requirements: melancholic, alcoholic, strong headed and anti- authority. This time Harry is teamed up with Kaja, an astonishingly beautiful woman colleague with problems of her own. As in all series we also find the requisite backstory.

“The Leopard” follows “The Snowman” where the horrific events at the end took an enormous toll on the Detective. It opens with Harry out in Hong Kong high on opium oblivious to everything and arm in arm with law-evaders. But his reputation as a tracker of serial killers is unsurpassable therefore he is asked to return Norway when the country is once again plagued by a multiple murderer. 

From its opening page, this case which brought Harry back to Oslo is frightening with details: a succession of women’s torture (and one young man), terror and death, in the heartland of the Norwegian mountains in the middle of winter. The deaths are notably gruesome. We cannot deny the author’s creativity when it comes to homicide. We have a few madmen in this story and it took time before Harry explains what is going on and finally the story advances from weird to weirder…another spooky gothic gloominess, good for nightmares. 

Mr. Nesbo is adept in planting seeds of the dénouement early in the narration and we do have plenty of fun twists, turns and red herrings to keep us glued to our seat although I admit to have found this to be wee bit longer than it should be.

"Flights and Falls", by R.M. Greenaway

Flights and Falls - R. M. Greenaway
Book #4, in the Blues Crime series

Once again I will say that this latest is one of those books you either love or hate and if you have lots of time on your hand tackle this convoluted mystery. 

As in her previous stories “Flights and Falls” is a characters driving mystery populated with many players and following them and keeping track of them can be a challenge, well it was for me. No doubts, this book is a progression of the overall story so to understand were things fall you really need to start with book #1( Cold Girl) and move from there. 

This latest starts when a red Chevette crashes in the woods along the treacherous Sea-to- Sky highway. The driver, a young woman is the only casualty and the people who had assisted her brutally attacked. An investigation is set in motion with endless hours of interviews and we find ourselves in an unspeakable cat and mouse game. Our usually main characters Cal Dion and his partner are on the backburner and the reins have been handed to Dave Leith and JD Temple in this open case. We go back and forth between the many threads and more characters come into play, more killings and more investigation….more mysterious witnesses, anonymous callers ….oh boy more people…Cal and Bosco are still engage in their little dance...will this ever come to a head and blow up….back and forth we go…. again….

Ms. Greenaway has penned once more a multilayered mystery that dilly-dallies too much for my taste but nevertheless offers a plot that is interesting and captivating. The style is original and is well said to push us forward in order for us to stay tuned till we reach the last chapter. The conclusion opens the door for a 5th book…I will be waiting for it…

Thank you Dundurn and NetGalleys for this ARC
 
 

 

"Valleys of Dry Bones", by J.F. Penn

Valley of Dry Bones - J.F. Penn
Book # 10, in the Arkane series 

Although this may be the 10th book in the series it can be read as a standalone. We are given enough background information to situate us without being overloaded with too much detail. Ms. Penn knows how to introduce her story with an expert penmanship and superb imagination.

This page-turning archaeological thriller explores at its fullest the two attributes the author is well-known to explore: the supernatural and occult. These two elements are blended into a religious mystery with an action adventure that is captivating from the start.

An ancient prophecy, an occult secret and the power to raise the dead is at the heart of this story. Voodoo symbols, secret society and a mystery that stretches to the Spanish Empire will have Jake Timber to New Orleans seeking for the Hand of Ezekiel but he will find out he is not the only one seeking the relics that can turn bones to living flesh. Morgan Sierra also plays a good role and with Jake they bring us on a fantastic journey that spans continents in their quest for the relics. Action driven, this story is very visual and also quite graphic not a dull moment throughout.

Ms. Penn does extensive research before she pens down a story and we see how her knowledge shines through her words once it comes to fruition. Once into her book you will be hooked. 

The plot is superb and well executed, the narrative is rich and flows smoothly and finally the characterization is well- drawn and appealing. 

This is another success, well-done Ms. Penn.

I received this ARC from the author for my honest and unbiased thoughts. 
 
 

 

"Valley of Dry Bones", by J.F. Penn

Valley of Dry Bones - J.F. Penn
Book # 10, in the Arkane series 

Although this may be the 10th book in the series it can be read as a standalone. We are given enough background information to situate us without being overloaded with too much detail. Ms. Penn knows how to introduce her story with an expert penmanship and superb imagination.

This page-turning archaeological thriller explores at its fullest the two attributes the author is well-known to explore: the supernatural and occult. These two elements are blended into a religious mystery with an action adventure that is captivating from the start.

An ancient prophecy, an occult secret and the power to raise the dead is at the heart of this story. Voodoo symbols, secret society and a mystery that stretches to the Spanish Empire will have Jake Timber to New Orleans seeking for the Hand of Ezekiel but he will find out he is not the only one seeking the relics that can turn bones to living flesh. Morgan Sierra also plays a good role and with Jake they bring us on a fantastic journey that spans continents in their quest for the relics. Action driven, this story is very visual and also quite graphic not a dull moment throughout.

Ms. Penn does extensive research before she pens down a story and we see how her knowledge shines through her words once it comes to fruition. Once into her book you will be hooked. 

The plot is superb and well executed, the narrative is rich and flows smoothly and finally the characterization is well- drawn and appealing. 

This is another success, well-done Ms. Penn.

I received this ARC from the author for my honest and unbiased thoughts. 
 
 

 

"In Too Deep", by Lynn H Blackburn

In Too Deep - Lynn Huggins Blackburn
Dive Team investigations book# 2

I received this book from the publisher Revell through the first reviewer program for my honest and unbiased thoughts. 

The blurb sounded good:

“When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren't prepared to find an encrypted laptop--or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant. Adam's team calls in Dr. Sabrina Fleming, a cybersecurity and computer forensics expert.” 

This book has an interesting premise and it started just fine but things went south and fell apart not long into it. What I thought was a mystery surely wasn’t... where was the suspense? In my books, “In Too Deep” is more of a Christian romantic fiction than anything else and a soft one at that. 

This should have been an exciting read but it was far from it. First, the two protagonists Adam and Sabrina had a thing for each other but never let on and this feeling went on well over the 1/3 of the book. Yuk, I was starting to get impatient. After all, wasn’t this supposed to be a mystery with suspense and some action….no no no, not for over 100 pages. Then here came the “God-ism” and prayers, the religious connotations are quite superfluous and just plainly cut into the flow of what could have been a good story. Although Ms. Blackburn did not over do this it was still bothersome. The plot had many holes and simply did not come across as realistic. Sabrina came up with answers based on what; there were neither explanations nor real investigation. The main characters were not bad players they were just too bland for my taste….The last few chapters brought some suspense and were captivating although it ended in what I would call a romantic dream…..awe…..“In Too Deep” is not a bad book at all. The story simply was not my cup of tea but it may be yours…
 
 

 

'In Too Deep", by Lynn H. Blackburn

In Too Deep - Lynn Huggins Blackburn
Dive Team investigations book# 2

I received this book from the publisher Revell through the first reviewer program for my honest and unbiased thoughts. 

The blurb sounded good:

“When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren't prepared to find an encrypted laptop--or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant. Adam's team calls in Dr. Sabrina Fleming, a cybersecurity and computer forensics expert.” 

This book has an interesting premise and it started just fine but things went south and fell apart not long into it. What I thought was a mystery surely wasn’t... where was the suspense? In my books, “In Too Deep” is more of a Christian romantic fiction than anything else and a soft one at that. 

This should have been an exciting read but it was far from it. First, the two protagonists Adam and Sabrina had a thing for each other but never let on and this feeling went on well over the 1/3 of the book. Yuk, I was starting to get impatient. After all, wasn’t this supposed to be a mystery with suspense and some action….no no no, not for over 100 pages. Then here came the “God-ism” and prayers, the religious connotations are quite superfluous and just plainly cut into the flow of what could have been a good story. Although Ms. Blackburn did not over do this it was still bothersome. The plot had many holes and simply did not come across as realistic. Sabrina came up with answers based on what; there were neither explanations nor real investigation. The main characters were not bad players they were just too bland for my taste….The last few chapters brought some suspense and were captivating although it ended in what I would call a romantic dream…..awe…..“In Too Deep” is not a bad book at all. The story simply was not my cup of tea but it may be yours…
 
 

 

"The Wrecking Team ", by Ty Patterson

Wrecking Team - Ty Patterson

Book#4, in the Gemini series

Beth and Meghan Peterson are at it again this time on their most baffling case, finding who is behind the attacks on a billionaire’s daughter.

Each book in this series is not very long around 200 pages thank goodness for that since there are endless action and more twists you can imagine thrown our way. Indeed the twins are good and are great side kick to Zeb Carter (the Warriors). These two have never lost a case they took on…no wonder they are superwomen. Angie the daughter is a hand full, a tantrum throwing heiress hard to control but Beth and Meghan can handle her and along the way find themselves in a gruesome game but they are not called the Wrecking Team for nothing and reading this story we find out why…

If you like unbelievable action, great characters, exciting and well-written plot doubled with never ending suspense, a developing cast of loveable characters including the amazing supporting staff, not forgetting the bad guys at their best, you will not be disappointed with the Gemini series. Each series written by Ty Patterson is interlaced so we have recurring characters helping each other in a game filled with snappy action with twists and sharp turns.

This fast paced action thriller is captivating to no end….loved it

"Last Call", by Warren Adler

Last Call - Warren Adler

“Last Call” is creative tale about two octogenarians who discover that even if there is snow on the roof there is still fire in the chimney…falling in love has no end date. Indeed love is love at any age.

The story features Harvey Franklin and Sarah Silverman two people with different background and views who met in a central Park dog park and immediately bonded over their love for poodles. But life became complicated as their meeting moved on. Harvey a long time widow had come to term with the loss of his wife but Sarah`s husband of 50 years has Alzheimer and she made him a promise to be at his side till his last breath and never place him in a long care institution. 

You can imagine how conflicted Sarah became about her relationship with Harvey and how Harvey reacted wanting to help her. This beautiful story of late love and passionate love affair of two polar opposites has triggered a multitude of emotions at time I smiled and other time tears ran down my cheeks and other I just shook my head. This is a well-written story with a clear message of acceptance very needed today. It is also uplifting to see at this stage of life love can be found even if there are no smooth roads to obtain it. Mr. Adler has as usual vividly painted every move, provides funny and terribly sad sequences and given us a very captivating story so realistic it hard to believe this is a simple story. 

Thank you Mr. Adler for the wonderful and smooth narrative that helped visualized and feel every move Sarah and Harvey experienced…With a last comment I would suggest getting a dog if you are lonely and want to meet someone……awe…:)

"The Shadow Killer", by Arnaldur Indridason

"The Shadow Killer" - -Arnaldur Indridason-

Book# 2, in Reykjavik Wartime Mystery

Against the backdrop of occupied Iceland with the American GI replacing the British Tommies “The Shadow Killer” will have Flovent, of the Icelandic CID paired with Thorson, an Icelandic-Canadian, investigating the murder of a travelling salesman killed in the head by a bullet from a Colt 45 and what remained of his forehead has a swastika dabbed in blood. But this case becomes more complicated when the dead man was misidentified and another travelling salesman may have been the suspected target.

The plot has two line of inquiry and we have a lot of interrogations going on with the detectives hectoring witnesses and suspects, maybe a little too much. The center theme is the “Situation” where young Icelandic women were forgetting their morals with young soldiers- here it is explored through Vera. The second theme explored is the interest of the Nazis as a super race a theory tested by Felix’s father on young Icelanders. These characters are important players in this mystery. As the story unfolds Flovent and Thorson are pulled further down the rabbit hole and the more their finding point to someone with military experience, the more turbulent their investigations become. This mystery veers one way then jolts in the opposite direction over and over again but the problem is that it takes for over to get going. To various strands are woven together and much territory covered before the case is solved. Interesting by the end if you have the patience to hang on……

"The Shadow Killer", by Arnaldur Indridason

"The Shadow Killer" - -Arnaldur Indridason-

Book# 2, in Reykjavik Wartime Mystery

Against the backdrop of occupied Iceland with the American GI replacing the British Tommies “The Shadow Killer” will have Flovent, of the Icelandic CID paired with Thorson, an Icelandic-Canadian, investigating the murder of a travelling salesman killed in the head by a bullet from a Colt 45 and what remained of his forehead has a swastika dabbed in blood. But this case becomes more complicated when the dead man was misidentified and another travelling salesman may have been the suspected target.

The plot has two line of inquiry and we have a lot of interrogations going on with the detectives hectoring witnesses and suspects, maybe a little too much. The center theme is the “Situation” where young Icelandic women were forgetting their morals with young soldiers- here it is explored through Vera. The second theme explored is the interest of the Nazis as a super race a theory tested by Felix’s father on young Icelanders. These characters are important players in this mystery. As the story unfolds Flovent and Thorson are pulled further down the rabbit hole and the more their finding point to someone with military experience, the more turbulent their investigations become. This mystery veers one way then jolts in the opposite direction over and over again but the problem is that it takes for over to get going. To various strands are woven together and much territory covered before the case is solved. Interesting by the end if you have the patience to hang on……

"Only Time Will Tell", by Jeffrey Archer

Only Time Will Tell - Jeffrey Archer

Book#1, The Clifton Chronicles 

If I would have listened to some reviewers I wouldn’t have touched this book but I did not and I am happy I have ignored all those so so reviews. In fact, I simply loved this story and found that Mr. Archer delivered a page-turning saga filled with twists and enough of a surprise at the end that I added book #2 to my library already. I am so curious to see what comes next.

The story revolves around the main character Harry Clifton, a boy growing up in the backdrop of docks in Bristol at the start of the 20th century. The story is broadly divided into parts, each dedicated to characters who take the story forward from their point of view: Harry, his mother Maisie, Emma Barrington, Hugo Barrington, Giles Barrington and Old Jack Tar. They all have their secrets, game and deceit. Young Harry has a beautiful singing voice and has the intelligence to further his education but without money he needed connections to gets through his schooling and to Oxford. He had all the help to do so…

The first part of the book is pretty much the every cliché you read about English boarding schools: sadistic prefects, social snobbery, cruel mockery etc. The prose is clear, smooth slipping along from page to page. The dialogue is your everyday lines. The driving force is the plot and the pace picks up fast when Harry gets out of school and so did my interest. The author excels in doling out tiny crumbs of suspense and keeps the tempo up to the last page where it ends with a really excellent cliff-hanger….I am not usually a fan of this kind of ending but here I make an exception….well-done. 

This story will appeal to those who love smooth suspense with moderate action.

"Only Time Will Tell", by Jeffrey Archer

Only Time Will Tell - Jeffrey Archer

Book#1, The Clifton Chronicles 

If I would have listened to some reviewers I wouldn’t have touched this book but I did not and I am happy I have ignored all those so so reviews. In fact, I simply loved this story and found that Mr. Archer delivered a page-turning saga filled with twists and enough of a surprise at the end that I added book #2 to my library already. I am so curious to see what comes next.

The story revolves around the main character Harry Clifton, a boy growing up in the backdrop of docks in Bristol at the start of the 20th century. The story is broadly divided into parts, each dedicated to characters who take the story forward from their point of view: Harry, his mother Maisie, Emma Barrington, Hugo Barrington, Giles Barrington and Old Jack Tar. They all have their secrets, game and deceit. Young Harry has a beautiful singing voice and has the intelligence to further his education but without money he needed connections to gets through his schooling and to Oxford. He had all the help to do so…

The first part of the book is pretty much the every cliché you read about English boarding schools: sadistic prefects, social snobbery, cruel mockery etc. The prose is clear, smooth slipping along from page to page. The dialogue is your everyday lines. The driving force is the plot and the pace picks up fast when Harry gets out of school and so did my interest. The author excels in doling out tiny crumbs of suspense and keeps the tempo up to the last page where it ends with a really excellent cliff-hanger….I am not usually a fan of this kind of ending but here I make an exception….well-done. 

This story will appeal to those who love smooth suspense with moderate action.

"Only Time Will Tell", by Jeffrey Archer

Only Time Will Tell - Jeffrey Archer

Book#1, The Clifton Chronicles 

If I would have listened to some reviewers I wouldn’t have touched this book but I did not and I am happy I have ignored all those so so reviews. In fact, I simply loved this story and found that Mr. Archer delivered a page-turning saga filled with twists and enough of a surprise at the end that I added book #2 to my library already. I am so curious to see what comes next.

The story revolves around the main character Harry Clifton, a boy growing up in the backdrop of docks in Bristol at the start of the 20th century. The story is broadly divided into parts, each dedicated to characters who take the story forward from their point of view: Harry, his mother Maisie, Emma Barrington, Hugo Barrington, Giles Barrington and Old Jack Tar. They all have their secrets, game and deceit. Young Harry has a beautiful singing voice and has the intelligence to further his education but without money he needed connections to gets through his schooling and to Oxford. He had all the help to do so…

The first part of the book is pretty much the every cliché you read about English boarding schools: sadistic prefects, social snobbery, cruel mockery etc. The prose is clear, smooth slipping along from page to page. The dialogue is your everyday lines. The driving force is the plot and the pace picks up fast when Harry gets out of school and so did my interest. The author excels in doling out tiny crumbs of suspense and keeps the tempo up to the last page where it ends with a really excellent cliff-hanger….I am not usually a fan of this kind of ending but here I make an exception….well-done. 

This story will appeal to those who love smooth suspense with moderate action.

"Fire and Blood", by Glenn Trust

Fire and Blood - Glenn Trust

Also under the title “The Redemption”

Book # 5, in the Hunters series

This story continues the saga that all started with” Eyes of the Predator” where George Mackey with Lyn and Clay played the center roles. Here these poor souls will face their demons and eventually find redemption. 

I am at a loss for words this time really what can I positively said when a story did not really appeal to you. Indeed although a lot is going on, no doubt about that, I found this to be rather a redneck story, one that is less thrilling and by far too raw for my taste. Violence at every page, never ending back wood language I must say it really represented what I imagined a hillbilly county to be. Mr. Trust does a great job representing the place and people he writes about whether they are the rednecks or the beautiful people of Pickham County, he indeed paints them vividly. But did this story pulled me in? Yes, in parts, but I got tired of the despicable acts the bad guys did, really too much. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for this type when I picked up the book. 

“Fire and Blood” may not be my favourite but I must note that the tempo is steady throughout, the characters played their roles perfectly and all ended superbly…the bad guys got what they deserved and the good guys also….

I still have mix feelings many days after closing the book, after all what do you say when at first you do not particularly like a book but you come to realize days later that the sequence of events are still vividly imprinted in your mind…isn’t a sign the story made an impact…..and that you did like the book in great parts….but I still sit on the fence with this one and leave it up to you for final judgement….

The saga will continue with book # 6 “The Killing Ground”.

"A Partridge in a Poison Pear Tart", by Leighann Dobbs

A partridge in a Poison Pear Tart - Leighann Dobbs

Lexy Baker Cosy Mystery book # 11.5

Grandmas playing sleuths at a retirement home after one of their own is found dead…murdered it seems by a cup cake….

I really don’t know when or where I got this book…it seemed it has been in my library for longer than it should have been….not totally my taste, a bit too simplistic but being short I think barely 50 pages it made for a fast read I didn’t mind adding on my phone. 

Grandmas helping detectives I doubt it but they were good at putting their noses where it did not belong and of course these old biddies solved the case for the poor detective that tried very hard to tell them politely to go play… bocce… shuffleboard or any other game old folks may play instead. 

Short and rather sweet, by far not literature but this little tiny story was so visual I still picture in my mind how these loveable ladies were dress, how they acted and the ways they acted. Cute and funny. 

"High Crimes", by Libby Fischer-Hellmann

High Crimes - Libby Fischer Hellmann
5th book in the Chicago PI Georgia Davis Thriller Series

With the US establishment in mind Ms. Hellmann penned an exciting fiction that brings her protagonist to hunt down those who were responsible for the assassination of the Resistance leader at a demonstration.

In alternate chapters and with a progressive time frame this suspenseful story tells us how step by step Georgia plunged into the case and how the perpetrator was recruited and managed to pull this terrible act. Lurking behind the scene and between the lines we see the disturbing situation the US faces at the moment where democracy is being chip away by a flimflam leader. The author uses soft words to melt into her novel the present situation. News to me: there is actually a Resistance Group. In this story 42000 members and some have fake profiles in order to infiltrate the group for their own agenda. 

This story is suspenseful and well written to provide all the intrigue one wishes for. Georgia is a wonderful PI, she is not afraid of danger, treats and bruises are part of the job. We do have secondary characters in the right-wing wealthy elites, gunman, tough guys and Georgia’s family members who all play their role to a tee. Georgia’s family life is atypical and the story tells us how she manages to share both her professional and private life in a meaningful way. The plot is solid and realistic with no silly or graphic action. The drama moves at a steady pace and held me captive from the moment I opened the first page. 

Once again Ms. Hellmann has provided us with a page-turner that flows nicely.