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Xanadu’s Cavern

Xanadu's Cavern (Epiphany Mayall, Psychic Detective Book 3) by [Mallory M. O'Connor]

Epiphany’s dreams hold as many questions as they do answers. When she lies down to sleep, the visions hit her almost immediately. This time, Epiphany’s vision is clearer than ever. The skull of what appears to be a wolf brings about some strong and foreboding feelings. She cannot quite put her finger on it, but this is not an average wolf–it is an animal like none she has ever seen. When she begins her research, Epiphany starts to realize that her dreams are leading her to something much more ominous. It’s not just an obscure fossil she has pictured. She may just have seen the clues to a murder.

Xanadu’s Cavern, by Mallory M. O’Connor, is the story of one psychic’s somewhat unwilling attempt to help solve the case of a missing environmentalist. Epiphany’s visions give her an advantage and serve as a guiding force as the search begins for Piers Waldon, the man with an overwhelming desire to protect the environment. Epiphany may be the only person who can answer the questions surrounding his mysterious disappearance.

I have to say the amount of science in O’Connor’s book is quite amazing for a story categorized as fiction. The author is more than adept at incorporating facts and pertinent bits of history into her writing. From environmental issues to historical accuracies, readers who crave truth in their fiction will appreciate O’Connor’s writing style.

O’Connor has chosen a topic that feels especially relevant given current events. The in-depth conversations between characters feel as much like interviews on reality shows or news stories as they do fictional exchanges. O’Connor has taken extreme care to keep her plot relevant, relatable, and engaging. Readers will be fascinated by Epiphany’s inner struggle to be of help while simultaneously fighting to understand how the gift of her psychic abilities could hold the answer to Piers’s plight.

It is worth noting that O’Connor writes primarily in dialogue. O’Connor is a master of this style. Her characters’ exchanges flow naturally and make reading move quickly from one chapter to the next.

Mystery-lovers will like the tone of O’Connor’s work while fans of realistic fiction will appreciate the nonfiction feel she has given her plot. Epiphany is a unique character in her own right and one to be remembered. Xanadu’s Cavern is an enthralling supernatural mystery that is superbly written.

Pages: 127 | ASIN: B09CDWZ4Z2

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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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Polish Dragon P. I. (The Lineage Sword)

Cindy’s brother was missing, along with the intricately forged sword that had been handed down through their family for generations. Carved into the hilt of this sword is a dragon with eyes that seem alive. So when she read about Tom Sipowicz, a P.I. nicknamed the Polish Dragon, it seemed only natural to hire him for the case. Tom soon finds out that there’s more adventure to be had here than he usually finds in his line of work. He ends up chasing leads to Taiwan and back while unearthing a wealth of knowledge about the culture, history, traditions, and superstitions of Cindy’s family and people.

Polish Dragon P.I. (The Lineage Sword) by Steve Zimcosky is a fast paced mystery filled with exotic locales that all seem infused with a sense of the supernatural. Zimcosky wastes no time getting to the meat of the story, introducing Cindy, the lineage sword, Tom, and a hint at his own background within the first few pages. From there the action is consistent, and Tom uses all his tricks to try and find the missing man. Paul is a law student reluctant to continue in the family’s martial arts business after the death of his and Cindy’s father. Tom calls in some favors from old friends in high places. Eventually, a letter from Paul himself helps guide the way, but not before a trip to Taiwan and visits to many of Cindy and Paul’s family friends. This provides readers with ample opportunity to meet intriguing characters as we wind through this short but well crafted mystery.

The Lineage Sword has a fascinating story that is layered and full of potential. I would have really loved this story to be a full novel so that we had time to explore different plot points, and give more breadth to events and interactions that feel only briefly explored here.

Polish Dragon P.I.- The Lineage Sword combines a curious mystery with an imaginative supernatural element that holds promise and will surely capture the attention of amateur sleuths looking for a quick but engaging read.

Pages: 85 | ASIN: B08VF7ZZ99

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Unring the Bell: The captivating new Verity Spencer thriller (A Verity Spencer crime thriller Book 3)

Unring the Bell: The captivating new Verity Spencer thriller (A Verity Spencer crime thriller Book 3) by [Trudey Martin]

Full of action and vivid detail, Unring The Bell is a thrilling crime novel that was hard to put down. Trudey Martin uses a uniquely engaging writing style throughout this story, slowly unraveling an enigmatic mystery that’s easy to follow but hard to crack. With short and engaging chapters, the story is plot-focused but builds an emotional connection to characters that seem grounded but alluring, especially our memorable protagonist Verity.

Verity Spencer as a character is quite intriguing and I find her to have a personality that is well defined, which I suppose should be as this is the third book in a series. There is more than what meets the eye with her character and she is definitely someone I would idolize in my teen years. What Verity dives into is a grisly murder mystery that, we come to find out, has many moving parts and a complexity that puts Verity to a nail biting challenge.

Unring The Bell by Trudey Martin is an emotionally charged story reminiscent of the Netflix show The Killing with a compelling investigate style and grim look at crime. This is a story that has a solid grasp of where it wants to go and its just taking readers along for the ride. With an almost dizzying complexity to the story, I relied on Verity’s skills to solve the crime.

Author Trudey Martin has written a thriller mystery novel that is perfect for fans of crime fiction looking for a story with a strong female lead solving a controversial crime with unconventional skills.

Pages: 309 | ASIN: B08JKTBSTK

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Love and Sabotage

Love and Sabotage by [Martha Tolles]

Love and Sabotage follows Marty Gregg, a new graduate beginning her first job. She is a female journalist in what is still a man’s world. To further complicate Marty’s life, her fiancé is away at war, stationed in the pacific during WWII.

This is a story that is easy follow, which is certainly a benefit in a mystery novel as riveting as this one. The novel is narrated by our captivating young protagonist Marty, and we follow the trials and tribulations she faces working in a male dominated industry whilst constantly awaiting word from her fiancé. As she follows a breaking story readers are treated to glimpses of the quaint town she lives in, and the complex relationships she has. There are delightful descriptions of the town, including many descriptions of the houses and buildings, as well as the gardens and trees. Author Martha Tolles cleverly integrates several community features such as the library that makes the setting feel realistic and like a character on its own. Set during World War Two, most of the references to technology, clothing and speech are consistent with this time period, which allows the reader to be immersed in the story.

I enjoyed the main characters in this story and felt that they were well developed. Marty, the young female journalist pinning for her fiancé Eddy who is away at war, feels like a trope but its given much more dimension with Marty’s unique personality. She is clearly dedicated to her job, this is shown by her thoughts, her conversations with others, and actions. However, it is clear that being a young female journalist during the war can be difficult in what is still essentially a man’s industry. We see her hesitation in dealing with her employer’s sexual overtones, as well as other men who are not accustomed to working with women. Understandably, her fiancé Eddy is never far from her mind, however we never really learn much about him. Another complex relationship is the relationship between Marty and her friend Grace. Their relationship encompasses both a personal friendship and a working relationship. We see Grace authentically try to support her friend from her employer’s advances, whilst still maintaining her own professional relationship with him. It’s a relationship that I thought was intriguing and wanted to see more of.

Love and Sabotage is a mystery novel that is easy to read and, because of that, is easy to get wrapped up in. The setting descriptions allow the reader to immerse themselves both in the town of Rye and the circumstances for civilians living in WWII. Fans of historical fiction will find plenty to enjoy in this compelling novel?

Pages: 182 | ASIN: B07MHQXKJT

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Bedeviled by Her Suspicions

Bedeviled by Her Suspicions (Zane Brothers Detective Series Book 2) by [Patricia Catacalos]

Bedeviled by Her Suspicions (Zane Brothers Detective Series Book Two) by Patricia Catacalos is a historical fiction mystery set in London in 1888. Isabel Haynes is a milliner who suspects that her cousin, Thomas Haynes Cutbush, might be the serial killer known as Leather Apron (Jack the Ripper), murdering women in Whitechapel. She enlists the help of the Zane Brothers Detective Agency to prove that her suspicions are wrong. Isabel feels drawn to Noah Zane from their first meeting. Noah pretends to be Isabel’s beau so that he can remain close to her. Can he protect her from harm as they search to find the truth?

I enjoyed reading this riveting historical thriller. I love mysteries that keep me guessing throughout the story. Part of this story is told from the point of view of the killer, and the few clues that are given match up with Thomas, but could also indicate several other characters. I was immediately suspicious of every man described with a handlebar mustache, since that was the only identifying physical feature that was mentioned about the killer. Although this is the second book in the series, it is not necessary to read book one to enjoy this story. This books can be read as a standalone mystery story. Book One, The Mystery of Her, features Noah’s older brother, Zachery. Book Three and Book Four both feature Noah’s younger brother, Evan.

While I enjoyed this story, I felt that the romance happened a bit too quickly for me, with Noah and Isabel declaring their love for each other within a week of their first meeting. I liked the historical Victorian setting of the story, which was vividly described, but I felt that some of the descriptions of actions were unnecessarily specific and distracted from the flow of the story.

With that said, Bedeviled by Her Suspicions is a compelling murder mystery that will appeal to anyone looking for an alluring mystery that will keep them guessing throughout this entertaining book.

Pages: 238 | ASIN: B01NCM4HJY

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Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale by [Ann Shortell]

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale is a thrilling murder mystery story that combines true facts with fiction in a compelling historical fantasy novel. The book follows the story of a young housekeeper, Clara Swift, who is sought by Prime Minister John A Macdonald to help find out who assassinated his master, Mr. McGee. Clara’s tenacity and abilities get her embroiled in a plot with national consequences.

Ann Shortell has creatively used a well known historical moment to tell a riveting mystery. Clara is an intriguing character right from the start. She’s smart and quick-witted and was someone that I empathized with along the nail biting journey she’s thrust on. Her perseverance and determination to seek the truth was something that kept me flipping pages. The story takes places in Ottawa Canada during the 1800’s and the time period is captured in striking detail.

Alluring characters in a memorable setting pulled me into the story, but the one thing that I think elevated this story above genre fiction was the theatrical mystery driving this dramatic novel. Ann Shortell is able to give readers just enough to keep them guessing, just enough to root for characters, and contine to feed you those bread crumbs until the finale. I am not familiar with the historical events discussed in the book, but still found the book to be entertaining. I will say that a reader may need a good respect for history and willingness to absorb the history and time period to be able to truly enjoy this novel as Ann Shortell really dives into the era. Like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, it’s still entertaining, but you’ll be engrossed if you know about, or at least enjoy, the history discussed in the book.

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale is an enthralling historical fiction novel that places an unassuming but sharp girl at the heart of a spellbinding mystery.

Pages: 332 | ASIN: B07BN2TNQ3

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Malachi, Ruse Master

Malachi, Ruse Master: A Detours in Time Character Spin-off (Book 3) by [Pamela Schloesser Canepa]

Malachi, Ruse Master is a spin-off to Pamela Schloesser Canepa’s Detours in Time science fiction series. It is a riving mystery novel following the adventures of an upstart assistant to a private investigator. This thrilling coming of age story follows a college dropout named (or renamed) Malachi as he tries to piece together a life using the unique verbal intellectual, and thespian skills he poses. Malachi is offered a job helping a private investigator with shadowy intentions, and the results are alluring.

Malachi, Ruse Master unfolds like a series of separate but dramatic anecdotes that cast a light on people, families, and their relationships. I liked how each chapter was its own nutshell mystery. It was easy to grasp and easy to follow, which I suppose places this book in the young adult genre, but unfairly as there is still some depth to the overarching themes present throughout the novel. I enjoyed the many different ways that Malachi was able to accomplish his tasks. They were always different and creative and something that I think makes this novel stand out from other sleuth novels.

Malachi is trying to eke out a living on the D.C. streets. While not as developed as the setting could have been, I enjoyed how the novel stayed focused on the captivating characters. This, in essence, is a character driven story that follows one young mans motivated rise out of the streets and into an intriguing job that allows his skills to flourish.

Malachi is a character that takes time to build and his journey is something that kept me picking this novel back up. Malachi, Ruse Master is an absorbing private investigator novel that fans of mystery books will surely enjoy. Pamela Schlosesser Canepa has written an engaging thriller that follows a young man with extraordinary talents who grapples with the consequences of life and his actions.

Pages: 160 | ASIN: B086VYJYZX

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