Killing Your Best Friend by Valda Taurus is a thrilling murder-mystery set amid the rich backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness. Set in a rustic and remote small town – the type of place where everyone knows everyone’s business and residents befriend each other not wholly by choice, but by lack of alternatives for companionship. Ivan Kortnev is murdered in grisly fashion, with a screwdriver to the heart, and his best friend Alexander Gray, an ex-convict who spent a decade in prison for murder, is convicted despite his inability to recall events of the night. Detective Andy Mohr is convinced, even with lack of material evidence, that Gray is wrongfully convicted. Led by his unwavering and stubborn sense of justice, Mohr embarks on a journey to weave through the entanglements and secrets of Cantwell’s residents to uncover the truth about Kortnev’s suspicious death.
Detective Mohr is arguably the most dynamic character in the book. He is a clear protagonist, fulfilling the “hero” role in this riveting story. Highly independent, his ways of showing care and regard for others often are interpreted as sterile. A natural-born altruist, he has a penchant for ethics over glory and is resolute in his will to uphold what is just and condemn the unjust. In doing so, he is creative in his problem solving and will explore all avenues possible to prove his case, making him the perfect fit to delve headfirst into Gray’s peculiar case and the ominous secrets it holds.
The most palpable theme in this book is the human threshold for pain – what is a person capable of if pushed to their limits, and to what lengths will they go to gain control over their circumstances? An internal longing for something tragically unattainable is what motivates each of the characters to pursue their respective courses of action. This creates an interesting call to action; as the characters realize what they have become, they are forced to cope with this new identity, even if that means forging a completely new sense of identity.
The development of events in this book is slow to ignite, reflecting the progression of actual real-life murder-mysteries, many of which are known to span decades of investigation, if solved at all. The chapters are short and digestible, yet still provide important pieces of information that are instrumental in contributing to the greater story. This is the type of story that ages like fine wine – the longer a reader becomes immersed, the more the story is built, complete with plot twists and gripping revelations.
Pages: 298 | ISBN: 1480887382
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Miss Morris Must Die by Val Wilson is a mystery novel set in 1957 in Milford, England. Lady Felicity and Major Reginald Manners-Gore live in a large manor called Fig Tree Hall and they invite several guests for a murder mystery weekend. Their servants are required to take part in the fictional murder and give clues to help identify the killer. Six guests arrive, but shortly afterward, only five guests remain when one of them dies after suffering an unfortunate accident. Was it really and accident? Or was it murder?
I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in this book. There were several hints that I picked up throughout the story which led me to suspect the answers to various aspects of the mystery before the truth was revealed, but there was enough misdirection that it kept me guessing until the end. All of this made me feel like one of the guests trying to figure out what was going on. The fictional murder mystery was intriguing although the clues sometimes lacked clear connections. However I doubt I would have solved any of the clues if I had been one of the guests, although I didn’t quite understand how the clues were supposed to lead the characters to the ‘killer’ if the weekend had gone as planned.
I liked the characters of Becca and Peter, and the way they interacted together. Several of the women especially were self-centered and cruel. I’m glad that the story ended happily for Becca and Peter.
I enjoyed the overall tension and mystery building throughout the novel. Trying to crack the clues as they came is always a fun logic puzzle. However, it seemed odd that the murder mystery weekend continued as though nothing had happened after one of the guests died. Most of the characters showed little reaction to the death except to worry that it might ruin their fun. And then a murder attempt of one of the other guests was brushed aside.
But these oddities aside, this book is a perfect fit for any mystery aficionado looking for something in the vain of an Agatha Christie novel. This is one intriguing murder mystery I would easily recommend.
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Billy has only ever wanted to liberate the oppressed. He worked as a cop for ten years only to leave that behind and join the priesthood. About half a decade since he left the force and last spoke to his ‘brother’, he is called upon to help with the murder of his goddaughter Julia. He can feel the heavy presence of the devil in Capitol Hill Denver. He is determined to fight with prayer. William Yeats Butler is no weak person. He is a worthy opponent. He is a warrior. Will the killers of Julia be brought to justice? Can Billy and Laskey ever get overcome the past?
Set in the 1980’s this book is the first in a two book series. It’s an account of suspenseful mysteries with a bit of a narrative on spirituality weaved in. Written by a cop, you really can feel the intensity of a police investigation. The pain of knowing the victims on a personal level. The valor required just to get out of bed each day and prepare for this job. One can also clearly see the sheer sacrifice that comes with the job. Timony McKeever is a brilliant storyteller who has mastered the art of setting the scene using simple language.
There are so many characters to love. Moving away from the obvious, Billy, one cannot help but admire the double edged sword that is McDuff. MLM can be tough and mean but she can also be sweet and charming. It is so strange yet so compelling to experience. Laskey on the other hand is a faulty human being. He is great at his job and has better fashion sense now but the cracks in his personality make for some comedic relief. The author, it seems, has developed each character for the sole reason of building a rapport with the reader. To invite the reader into Capitol Hill as opposed to just watching events unfold from the sidelines.
The prose is succinct, and the dialogue is engaging because things are kept short. It is especially fun to see Laskey and Billy fall into their old relations so quick after they are reunited.
Be warned, there is quite a bit of profanity. However, it serves to set the tone of the book and is yet another thing that paints an accurate picture of interactions between brothers in arms. This is a book worth reading. If nothing else you will appreciate what it takes for criminals to be brought to justice.
Pages: 330 | ISBN: 1513648349
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Dawn Brotherton’s new mystery novel, The Obsession, tells two intertwining stories. Jackie Austin, a young woman in the Air Force, has recently bought a new home, although her career means she can’t spend too much time there. Jackie is the first female missilier, and her job takes her away from home a lot. Weird things start happening in her house, and she doesn’t know if she’s just being absent-minded, if someone’s pranking her, or if it’s more sinister.
Meanwhile, someone is murdering young women nearby. The police are doing their best, but the killer is crafty. It seems like a serial killer is targeting young single women, who are a lot like Jackie herself.
The novel is told in alternating, third-person sections, bringing both story lines together for an exciting finish. The author blends factual details of Air Force work to create a realistic setting for this mystery novel. Some of the subplots really rely on everyday details about Air Force life, like the “slam book” where bored workers can leave useful notes for the next shift, chat by pen with off-duty coworkers, or start nasty rumors. Jackie’s friendships and relationships were clearly shaped by military life and scheduling, and the experience of being a woman in such a male-dominated area. This makes Jackie an interesting and easily relatable protagonist, which in turn makes readers worry about her safety as the drama unfolds.
I particularly enjoyed the hints, because there was a great mix of foreshadowing and red herrings, and it was fun to try to figure it out along with Jackie. As the reader grows to care about Jackie, it’s hard not to view everyone around her with suspicion. When strange things start to happen, there are just so many possibilities! Is one of the guys at work joking around, trying to play a silly prank on a teammate? Is a male coworker jealous of her success and deliberately trying to frighten and unsettle her? Or is she the target of a killer?
Without revealing too many spoilers, I will say that I enjoyed Jackie’s good sense under pressure. Even when in danger, Jackie’s no damsel in distress. The novel blends some of the unique challenges of being a women in the Air Force with a murder mystery.
This is the first in a planned trilogy of Jackie Austin mysteries.
Pages: 213 | ASIN: B004J8HTH6
The Scopas Factor follows Mike Hegan as he finds himself in the middle of a double homicide and a kidnapping which sets him frantically searching for answers. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I can’t point to any one source for inspiration. There were many and I’m pleased they all managed to combine for The Scopas Factor. I’ve always been interested in art theft and forgery and I’ve been aware of the conflict in Laos as well as the looting of antiquities. I’d also read about Hmong women in the Minneapolis area creating story cloths. I bought one and framed it. Perhaps that moved me forward because when I saw the Mud Woman in my head all started to come together. I added Hegan from my first Hegan book A Woman to Blame*, started asking myself “what if?” questions, etc. The Gadsden flag, which in 1775 was the early motto flag of the Continental Marines, came into the story as a symbol of evil.
*A Woman to Blame has been re-edited and I expect it to be re-issued later this year.
Mike Hegan is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character?
I’m pleased you’ve found Hegan to be “interesting and well developed”. Wish I could tell you how well I planned to make him interesting and well developed. But there was no master plan. However he has evolved as a smart ass, and isn’t too keen on being told what to do (who is?). Since being incapacitated in WTB and regarded as expendable, he gravitates toward
I enjoyed the well thought out and intricate mystery that unfolds throughout the novel. Was this planned before writing or did it develop organically?
While there are many brilliant and successful writers who swear by them, I’ve never liked writing outlines. Each book I’ve written including TSF evolved organically. Lots of “what ifs” until it came together.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have lots of threads for another Hegan novel, but no story as yet. I hope to have a book by the end of the year.
A Hmong “story cloth,” a Revolutionary War battle flag, forged Picassos and a Russian drug dealer—finding the link between these disparate elements is the challenge Mike Hegan faces in The Scopas Factor, the latest mystery from Vincent Panettiere.
After his last investigation ends tragically, Detective Mike Hegan returns to Chicago from St. Kitts, hoping to put everything behind him. But his girlfriend, Diana, has other plans, and although he has no interest in the job opportunity she presents him—in a small northern California town, no less—he wants to please her. Upon his arrival in Weedley, he’s caught up in a kidnapping and two murders. A visit to Diana’s family in San Francisco only serves to deepen the mystery, as her father might be the link to a gang of antiquities thieves that might have something to do with the crimes in Weedley. And when Diana’s father disappears, Hegan takes off for Antibes in southern France, where he discovers that the mystery has only just begun.
Posted in Interviews
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In a world of espionage, deception, betrayal, terrorism, and murder, Dydre uses the next assignment Zsigmond gives her—the deliverance of new technology to terrorists—to escape his merciless grip.
Dydre, a single mother, is caught up in a world she doesn’t want. Her boss Clayborne Zsigmond—a black market arms dealer—uses her six-year-old son as a pawn to keep her in line. Visitation is a reward for her obedient behavior.
Forced to deal with the worst terrorists and dictators around the world, she uses disguises and a deadly poison to give her an edge in dealing with those that want to kill her. To stay alive she has honed her skills that few could defeat.
When an opportunity occurs to break free from Zsigmond, she moves fast but the risks she takes puts her on the firing line when her plan goes deadly wrong, and success looks bleak. Those she thought she could trust betray her. Not only is her life in jeopardy but also her son’s as she finds herself pitted against Zsigmond, his mercenaries, a double-crossing businessman, terrorists, the FBI, and a man from the Department of Defense.
Posted in book trailer
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Dom is a computer engineering genius in her own right. Rose’s instincts when it comes to human behavior are fine-tuned. Layla has the gift of an incredible memory. All three women are true forces with which to be reckoned and phenomenally good at their jobs. When Dom, a virtual recluse, is approached for help in solving a violent death, the lives of the three women quickly become entangled. Dom, Rose, and Layla reiterate that we are all one quick internet search away from an interaction we may or may not want.
B.J. Cyprian, author of Shadow Resistance, has created a world effortlessly blends fantasy and realistic fiction. With the elements of advanced artificial intelligence looming large in Dom’s storyline, readers are treated to science fiction laced with humor and heavily layered with relevant current events. While I’m not a fan of most historical fiction novels, I more than appreciate the references Cyprian includes in her characters’ story lines. Especially effective is the way in which the author works in the black and white doll experiment into Rose’s subplot. Cyprian knows how to hit readers where it matters. This is just one of the aspects of her writing that helps make her book so worthy of praise.
The entire scenario involving SARA is quite amazing. I don’t want to call SARA a character as it were, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention how incredibly fascinating her contribution to the book actually is. At times, Dom almost plays second string to the artificial intelligence she herself created. The back-and-forth between the two is entertaining to say the least and simultaneously frightening. To think that SARA is Dom’s only connection with the outside world is, in many ways, sad. In introducing Dom as somewhat of a hermit, Cyprian has given a certain richness to Dom’s story line and made her views of injustice all the more fiery.
Cyprian does a beautiful job of weaving history into every aspect of her plot. Page after page, she seamlessly meshes mentions of countless historical figures into the dialogue between characters. From impromptu history lessons given by Rose to the background revealed by Rose and Robert’s visit to Larry’s apartment, the book feels less like a lesson in history than a conversation on the front stoop of an elderly neighbor.
This unique work of fiction is a must read for anyone seeking technologically-based crime dramas. In addition, Cyprian’s work holds a special appeal for those who appreciate historical accuracies and current events woven throughout their fiction. The more I read, the more I found Shadow Resistance qualifies as a mystery. It’s impossible to fit Cyprian’s work into one slot–and I’m not sure I want to. It deserves a category of its own. Kudos to Cyprian on an outstanding first novel.
PagesL 648 | ASIN: B07NQKYGVP
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The Cabin: A Murder Mystery is a twisting murder mystery that follows a homicide detective trying to solve a case in his hometown. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
Buck Woods was a character I originally created as a back woods trapper when I attempted to write a story when I was 14 years old. I liked the name so I made Buck an NYPD Homicide Detective. Since I’m a fan of James Patterson and Stuart Woods, I decided to attempt a murder/mystery novel as my first book. I choose Orono, Maine for Buck’s home town just from looking at a map of the United States.
Before publishing the book, my wife and I took a trip to Orono to check out the location. By personally checking out the setting it helped me get the facts straight, and make the story more authentic.
Buck is an interesting character that I thought was well developed. What were some driving ideals behind his character?
I tried to develop Buck into a strong caring character that people can identify with. However, I gave him obstacles he had to deal with on a daily basis. PTSD from his Gulf War days, self-blame and feelings of guilt from the death of his teenage girlfriend, Doreen Warren and the murder of his NYPD partner, Cheryl Jenkins were a few of the challenges Buck had to work through.
I enjoyed the mystery that unfolded. Was this planned or did it develop organically while writing?
The Cabin: A Murder Mystery started as a rough idea. Once I determined what the story would be about, I sat down at my computer and began to write the first chapter. I walk every day for almost two hours.
This gives me time to think and plot my story and develop characters. I find this is the best way for me to write. I don’t sit down and plot every scene on paper like other writers do.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next novel is now completed and will be edited this April. The book is called New York City Murders. Homicide Detective Buck Woods returns to New York City and teams up with a new partner, a beautiful woman named Kristie Karlsson. The novel is a stand-alone sequel to The Cabin: A Murder Mystery.
Buck Woods, a stressed-out NYPD homicide detective and former Marine Scout sniper on sabbatical, returns home to Orono, Maine.
Upon arriving back in town, Buck meets up with his old high school friend, Detective Jim Barkowsky of the Orono PD. Jim invites Buck to stay with him, his wife, and their two children.
The next morning Buck and Jim go to check out Buck’s new home, an old run-down log cabin he inherited from his grandfather on two acres of land on Punshaw Lake. Upon entering the cabin, they discover the decomposing body of an unidentified man. The victim died from a single gunshot wound. It is obvious that he was murdered.
Buck and Jim set out to solve the murder by putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Unexpected twists, turns, and obstacles abound, leading to a climax that puts Buck’s life on the line.
Posted in Interviews
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