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Texas Dead

Texas Dead: A Mackenzie Michaels Mystery by [William Gensburger]

Texas Dead by William Gensburger follows cunning Detective Maxie who is tasked with solving a murder case that proves to be much more complex the more she digs. Maxie and her detective partner are investigating the death of a well-respected and liked citizen of Corpus Christi, Texas. The town is under a lethal threat of international terrorists and the council is compromised. No one can be trusted and Maxie is left on thin ice.

This story takes readers on an odyssey of love and friendship amidst the chaos of a harrowing crime. Maxie, the young detective thriving in her field of work, along with her good friend and colleague Jameson must work together with the victims’ cousin Devin, who might be a little more than friends with her.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not your average gritty murder mystery. There is plenty of humor injected into the story to make this hard-boiled mystery feel light and fun as well as deeply intriguing. The book uses real-life references like Covid-19 and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to keep the story feeling relevant. I can not hold back from appreciating the author’s talent in conveying a traumatic experience like paralysis in a motivational and rather cutesy way. The impossible romance between a handicapped person and a gorgeous woman has been depicted as so seamless, which makes me dream about a world without discrimination.

We are provided with vivid scenes and backdrops that really bring the story to life, but I felt they were sometimes lengthy. There is a variety of interesting characters in the story, but the number can be a bit to wrap your head around at first. But the story grows more interesting because of it, so I was enthralled with the story be the end.

Texas Dead kept me curious and captivated the whole time. This is a thrilling crime fiction novel with brave-hearted characters, intelligent decisions, and shocking revelations.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B093FZFMRH

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The Memory Bell

The Memory Bell by [Kat Flannery]

The Memory Bell follows a woman who is gifted an old family heirloom. But when a dead body is found outside of town and the heirloom is broken, things start going awry very quickly. In attempting to piece together the broken family heirloom Grace realizes that some pieces are missing. The hunt for those missing pieces will lead Grace down a dark road filled with shocking family secrets.

I was all set for a cozy mystery set in a small town. A simple mystery, a quirky character, a quick wrap up. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a deeply emotional and complex family drama at the heart of this crime fiction novel. This is a thrilling murder mystery that is effortlessly combined with a compelling family saga.

Author Kat Flannery provides readers with a fast paced story with a well defined mystery at the heart of the novel that slowly unravels as the story progresses, ensuring readers are constantly engaged with this spellbinding book. I’m from a big city, so the small town setting felt exotic to me (odd to say I know), but Author Kat Flannery is able to imbue the town with a mix of beauty and intrigue that serves as a fantastic backdrop to this intriguing whodunit story.

Grace and detective Bennet are well defined characters. Grace is a bit naïve at first, but this, to me, is what makes her character charming and what makes her easily endearing. This sets her up to be a character that is fun to follow because you always want to see how she’s going to react to the dramatic events and revelations.

The Memory Bell is a suspenseful murder mystery that will appeal to readers looking for a dramatic crime novel that plumbs the depths of a family with dark secrets.

Pages: 251 | ASIN: B094S7DJH3

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Game of Bones

Game of Bones: British Detectives (Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mystery Series Book 18) by [Geraldine Evans, Nicole covershotcreations, David Burton]

At first glance, the murder of University Administrator Rupert Hunter-York seems too good to be true. All roads lead to one Professor Babbington, an alcoholic professor with a less-than-savory personality (to say the least). With the mountain of evidence falling on Detective Joe Rafferty’s lap, he thinks that this is an open-and-shut case. It could have been if it weren’t for his right-hand man ​​Sergeant Llewellyn. Now it turns out that the case is far more complicated than what anyone could ever imagine. 

Geraldine Evans’ 18th installment to the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mysteries begins with a warning for its heavy use of British slang, and even offers a handy list in the back to familiarize readers. I’m happy to report that this is a smooth and readable novel, even for non-British readers. Anyone with a grasp of context clues can easily understand the narration and the inner workings of Rafferty’s mind.  

It’s him that we follow throughout the novel, and what a surprisingly cozy place it is for a grizzled detective. While he fusses over the case almost non-stop, we also see him worrying about his baby sister and yearning to get home to his beloved daughter Neeve. He is a flawed man, as we see how his biases can sometimes get in the way of the investigation. But that’s precisely what makes him lovable in the first place. He’s relatable and human and a well-rounded character. 

Speaking of well-rounded characters, Game of Bones is full of them. We’ve talked about Rafferty, but we can’t forget supporting characters like his partner Llewelyn and the babbling suspect Professor Babbington. Each character has such unique personalities reflected in their mannerisms and dialogue that they become imprinted in your mind despite how brief their roles may be. This applies even to minor characters like the icy Ms. Harriet Temple and the tight-lipped Professor Curtis. 

It’s the characters that truly shine in the novel, but I felt that the pacing could have been improved. While it starts in medias res and grabs the reader’s attention from the first sentence, the excitement level fluctuates. Fortunately, the characters that populate the Game of Bones makes it a worthy addition not just to the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mysteries but to the canon of mystery fiction as a whole. This is a gripping mystery novel that I highly recommend.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B079K6CNDM

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Her Sassy Attitude

Belinda M Gordon
Belinda M Gordon Author Interview

The Good Pharmacist’s Deadly Secrets follows a fae seeking a quiet life in a small town when she’s accused of murder and must unravel the pharmacist’s secrets before she’s arrested. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I had just finished the last book in a series and wanted to start a new one using the same world but tweak the genre to include one of my favorites—cozy mystery. Sloan, a side character in the first series, was the natural choice as a protagonist for the new series. Readers loved her, and her personality made her perfect to fill the role of amateur sleuth.

As far as the secrets she uncovers—My husband and I owned a Home Care business for years. During that time I came across several examples of adult children treating their parent rather poorly. Those of us in the office would scratch our heads and wonder ‘how could they treat their mother or father like that?’ Well, come to find out, sometimes the parent had mistreated their kids in the past. Most people assume everyone loves their parents, so I thought this would make an interesting story.

Sloan is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Thank you! Sloan is one of my favorite characters. I love her sassy attitude.

She first appeared in Xander’s Folly, the second book of my urban fantasy series, The King’s Jewel. I based my world-building in that series on the Celtic Mythology of the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann.

I started developing Sloan by researching the mythology around the Irish god Lugh of the Long Arm, whom she represents in the series. Lugh was the master of all arts and came to the Tuatha de Danaan as an outsider.

At first the character was going to be a boy, but I thought switching that up would make her even more interesting. Then I looked at her age, that fact she lived on her own and thought about how that would shape her personality. Although Sloan is in her twenties, the Sidhe are long lived and look much younger and their age compared to humans, so she is often mistaken for a teenager. But, she is an adolescent by Sidhe standards and often acts that way.

I wrote a about her character development in more detail on my website. If anyone is interested, they can read it here: https://www.belinda-gordon.com/readers-questions/where-did-sloan-murrays-character-come-from/

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

People aren’t always what they appear to be. This is true of Sloan and many other characters in the book. They are keeping secrets—hiding something from the rest of the world.

Another theme that always pops up in my books is family; what makes people family—it isn’t always blood relations—and how do they come together.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

A second Findale Fae Mystery is in the works, so Sloan and her cohorts will be back. But it won’t be my next release. My next book, coming out in November, is something totally different. No fantasy or mystery in this one. I would classify it as women’s fiction.

The title is Having It All and that’s kind of what it’s about. Dalia, a career woman in the ‘90s juggling her job, motherhood and marriage, believes she should be able to have it all with no need for give and take. After all, that’s what the women of her generation have been told to expect! Devote 100% to everything and do it all perfectly. And it’s working… until it isn’t. When things begin to fall apart, Dalia needs to decide what’s really important and what she can live without.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A Fae in hiding. A discarded backpack. A pharmacist murdered.

Escaping the notoriety she’d acquired in The Otherworld,Sloan Murray packed up her loyal cocker spaniel Max and left her fellow fae to settle in the small town of Findale.Sloan thought her new life in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania would change for the better, become quieter, less unpredictable––if only a small group of fae hadn’t followed her into this new world.

Still,Sloan’s enjoying her relative anonymity untilshe attempts to return alost backpack and ends up accused of murder. Suddenly, not only do half the town think they know who she is, they’re under the misconception she’s a dangerous killer.
Will Sloan and her fae friends unravel the dead pharmacist’s secrets before the obstinate Det. Moody arrests her for murder? Time is ticking, and if Sloan can’t find the real murderer soon, not only will she lose what’s left of her magical anonymity, she will lose her freedom forever.

The Good Pharmacist’s Deadly Secrets is a cozy who-done-it with a little something for everyone––humor, mystery, fae, and even a lovable dog!

The Good Pharmacist’s Deadly Secrets

The Good Pharmacist's Deadly Secrets (A Findale Fae Mystery Book 1) by [Belinda M Gordon]

Escaping the rumors of The Otherworld, in a small human town of Findale, Sloan, a fearless Sidhe warrior had finally settled down with her dog Max into a comfortable life. She works on gadgets and electronic repairs in a shop she had managed to put up inside an old dilapidated building, often visiting the busy little cafe nearby for her morning coffee. The townsfolk didn’t really notice the girl with purple hair and she preferred it that way. Until the day she got caught with a knife by the police, at the drugstore where the local pharmacist was murdered.

The story plunges into the action and piques the reader’s interest right from the start. A slight conflict arises, a speeding pickup truck tears through and Sloan feels terrified to look at her dog on the other side of the road. Relief washes over us as she discovers the tiny furry animal safe beside her. With such a powerful opening, the author already knows she has our attention.

The quick but steady pace of the narrative helps to keep us glued to the book, anticipating what would happen next. Character study seems to be one of the strongest points of author Belinda Gordon. The owner of the Apple Dumpling Cafe, Ida is a strong woman with a stern attitude, she has the courage to stand up for what she believes in. Even police officer Tommy finds it difficult to go up against her. When the whole town starts gossiping about Sloan’s involvement in the murder, Mrs. Krauss is the only one who still trusts her.

Little Padraig however is a rather endearing presence. His crazy antics at the school and in the neighborhood, as he chases Max around the backyard or peeps into windows of cars parked outside on the road, makes us grow fond of him. In Sloan’s otherwise dull life, he brings a little extra color and necessary chaos.

Although most of the characters have distinct personalities, I would have enjoyed seeing more opportunities for Sloan to fight back or demonstrate her warrior skills, befitting a legendary Blath Dorcha.

The Good Pharmacist’s Deadly Secrets is a spellbinding cozy-mystery novel with unique supernatural elements that sets up an intriguing who-dun-it mystery that is hard to put down and fun to unravel.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B087TDWTTW

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A Treasure Mystery

Dawn Brotherton
Dawn Brotherton Author Interview

Eastover Treasures follows Aury as she digs up a treasure with a mystery leading through history that may be able to preserve the history of the plantation. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Library of Congress has some great online resources. I was able to view old diaries, journals, and letters from soldiers, all online during COVID. I also reached out to the Science and Media Museum in the UK and to the College of William and Mary to verify I had worded things correctly when it came to the scientific information.

Aury is a character I enjoyed following. Was there anything that you pulled from real life to create her character?

The only thing I pulled from is my quilting experience. I love to quilt and started attending quilting retreats with the ladies from the Colonial Piecemakers in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was while I was on a walking break during one of those retreats that I came up with the idea for Eastover Treasures.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

To take my time. Every writer is excited to get the book on the market as soon as it’s finished. I took the time and ran it through my writers’ group numerous times, then had over forty beta readers give me feedback before I finally had it published. It was time consuming but well worth it.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have so many irons in the fire! I have a children’s picture book coming out early 2022, If I Looked Like You. My dragon story (title still forthcoming) is YA Fantasy and will be ready end of 2022. I’m currently writing the third book in the Jackie Austin Mystery series, Truth Has No Agenda. And, of course, I’ve started playing with the next treasure Aury will go in search of in Ithaca, New York, at the Finger Lakes.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Bookbub | GoodReads

When Aury and her fellow quilters uncover clues to a potential fortune, will they be able to untangle the mystery in time to save Eastover Retreat Center from financial ruin?
During their annual quilt retreat, gale force winds trap the ladies in a boarded-up manor house. Inside, the sewing sisters discover the diaries of the mistress of Eastover Plantation written during the Civil War and clues she left behind which started as a treasure hunt for her children. Following the clues, the quilters take a journey they never expected.
As Aury works closely with the owner of the retreat center, they dig up more than treasure when they follow the trail through history. Will it be enough to save Eastover and preserve the history of the plantation?

Eastover Treasures

Eastover Treasures by [Dawn Brotherton]

Eastover Treasures is written by award winning author Dawn Brotherton. The story follows Aury and her fellow quilters, as she tries to solve a series of clues for a treasure hunt that was devised in the 1860s. Eastover Treasures combines a mystery novel with a slight hint of romance, and is an interesting read.

This intriguing cozy mystery novel is set in the same geographical area, over two time periods. Geographically, Eastover Treasures is set on a piece of land and buildings in Virginia. The first time period is the 1860’s. The land and buildings make up a large plantation. The time period is stated at the top of the chapter, but this is also supported by rich detail such as clothing descriptions, technology (or lack of) and the dialogue and speech of the characters. Subsequent chapters transition into the past as the characters read diary entries written in the 1860s. The present-day time setting is indicated by the land usage – a motel and discarded house, descriptions of nearby towns and available technology (electricity, internet, speech). The two time periods are linked in numerous ways: quilts found in both the house and quilts the women are making, remnants of buildings that existed in the 1860s and present day relatives of the family that lived on the plantation in the 1860s.

There are many fascinating characters that color this spellbinding story –  both present day characters and characters in the 1860s. Characters in the 1860s include Mary and her children, Frederick, Thomas, Noah, Sarah. The reader gains some insight into Mary’s feelings and motivations through her inner monologue. However, large parts of her life remain a mystery until the end of the novel. All of the children and their actions feature in subsequent diary entries. In the present day, Aury and Scott are the main characters of the novel. Both are well developed an authentic. Aury, an avid quilter, is an accountant by trade, whom has had her interest piqued in the estate by a mysterious treasure hunt she and her friends found reference to in a diary. Scott, owner of the estate develops an interest in both the treasure hunt and Aury herself. As the novel progresses their friendship develops and grows naturally.

Eastover Treasures is an interesting and worthwhile read. The geographical setting is well described and draws the reader into the enthralling story immediately. The characters are authentic, relatable and even heartwarming, and the relationship between Aury and Scott becomes a sub plot within the novel that was engrossing in itself. This is an mesmerizing historical mystery story that was a delight to read.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B094D54C8R

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Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol (Skylar Robbins mysteries Book 5) by [Carrie Cross]

Skylar Robbins has been preparing for this for months. Daniel made a promise to be her partner in the next ACE adventure, and she believes he meant what he said. As part of the elite group of students who take part in the Accelerated Courses and Experiments program, Skylar and Daniel are no strangers to adventure and mystery. The only mystery right now, however, is how Hannah Hilton made it into the program and why Daniel seems to have forgotten that Skylar exists. What promised to be a fantastic summer is now looking like a huge disappointment. Will the trip to Koma Island turn things around for Skylar or will it be more than they all bargained for?

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol, by Carrie Cross, is centered around young Skylar Robbins–gifted and talented and a member of ACE. With all the angst and stresses of late middle and early high school years, she is the perfect protagonist for today’s young readers. It is refreshing to still see writers placing an intelligent and forward-thinking female lead in their stories, and Skylar rivals and surpasses the budding detectives many of us are used to–Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. Kudos to Cross for putting motivated and capable young women at the forefront of her series. Our middle school readers need to see this more regularly.

Mysteries need to pop. They need to move quickly and hold the reader’s interest, especially when younger readers are the group toward which a series is aimed. Cross is a master at this. Skylar thinks quickly on her feet, and her friendship with Alexa provides a nice sounding board for her ideas. There lies within Cross’s work an amazing little cast of characters that provides readers with plenty of opportunities to visualize a vast array of personality types. It’s nice to see such a well-drawn cast of characters–all having wonderful quirks and offering their own contributions to Skylar’s role in the story.

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Island Idol, by Carrie Cross is a rip-roaring young adult adventure/romance story that will keep readers on their toes. Centered around current technology and full of references younger readers will appreciate, this book has everything needed to engage readers and keep them coming back for more from Skylar and her gifted cohort.

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B08P5VXBQ5

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