All Good Deeds

This is post number 25.

Cover:

all_good_deeds_cover

This is the first novel of a series by Stacy Green.

Plot:Former CPS agent Lucy Kendall starts taking the law into her own hands, but when girl goes missing, an old case puts her vigilante streak on hold. Will Lucy be able to find the missing Kailey before Lucy gets caught?

Passage:

“A group of laughing young women strode into Chetter’s, and for a moment, I was painfully aware I was becoming invisible. At thirty-three, I’m nowhere near old, but the sight of them reminded me how quickly time races forward. Tan and toned, every one of them still had the glorious firmness of their early twenties instead of the creeping softness of the thirties. The women commanded the attention of all the straight men in the bar. Except for Steve. He never noticed the hot women.”

Spoilers/Opinion: Pretty much everyone in this novel either is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, violent crime, or both, so everyone feels heavy. Lucy is a serial killer, and that is not a spoiler. She tries to kill someone in the first twenty or so pages in a manner that I do not understand. Her method of killing someone is to splash cyanide on them and hope they don’t remove their clothes for twenty minutes. Having watched too much CSI as a kid, I think she could find a cleaner and more sure way to kill someone without being caught. Lucy justifies murder by only killing confirmed pedophiles that escaped prison sentences, which is why she left CPS. I feel like she should just present her evidence to the courts since it is pretty solid but that would be boring apparently. This does help with the sense of urgency though, since Lucy is trying to work fast before cops start to notice her body count.

Early on, a girl named Kailey goes missing, and Lucy suspects Justin, a former case from her CPS days. Here is where I think the plot goes wonky. Justin allegedly committed his crime of killing and raping his friend when he was ten, in a manner that few ten year olds would have the strength and thought to accomplish. For some reason, no one questioned that he did it, and he served some time in juvie. Lucy thinks Justin is the worst thing ever despite the strange circumstances of his case and the fact that he had not committed a violent crime after the incident. Even I could see that he probably didn’t kill his friend ten years ago and would not be stupid enough to kidnap a girl in his neighborhood, and I have the detective prowess of a nose deaf blood hound. The worst part is Lucy is hung up on Justin until over half way through the novel when other suspects should be questioned. I know it’s not him, just move on!

The ending has a bit of a twist, but it does not feel satisfying. Justin reveals that his mother Mary was responsible for the death and post-mortem rape of his friend, but he was too scared to confess. Chris, Lucy’s ally, reveals that he and Justin had the same mother, and she was also just as abusive to Chris as she was Justin. They track down Mary, thinking she has Kailey, when they see that she set her house on fire. The police find the body of a child and man inside but cannot confirm it is Kailey. But wait, apparently Steve, one of Lucy’s targets, has had Kailey the whole time and was going to sell her on the dark web. What? This ending saddened me because if Lucy wasn’t hung up on Justin in the first place and killed someone when she planned to this whole story wouldn’t have happened. It’s hard to describe, but I feel like the author wanted to leave the door open with Mary, but still have a “happy” ending with Kailey being found and was running out of steam. If the body was Kailey, the ending would feel more satisfying, though sad, and Mary would still be a threat for a sequel.

Ratings: This is a Mystery novel, so the ratings are as follows

Surprises/Twists: 2/10

Problem Solving/ Finding Info: 3/10

Sense of Danger/ Urgency: 9/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 5/10

Overall, I give All Good Deeds a 5/10. The sense of urgency is there, but the protagonist was too hung up on one suspect to make the plot interesting. The twist fell flat and could have been fixed if it didn’t have a final turn.

Citation:

Green, Stacy. All Good Deeds: a gritty psychological thriller (The Lucy Kendall Series Book 1) (pp. 3-4). Twisted Minds Press. Kindle Edition.

Link to All Good Deeds

Sign Off

This is post number 24.

Cover:

sign_off_cover

This is the first novel of a series by Patricia McLinn.

Plot: E. M. Danniher is reassigned to a low profile news station after her divorce. A young girl asks Danniher to prove her father’s innocence in a missing person’s case. Can Danniher solve the crime before an innocent man goes to trial?

Passage:

“Shit. What did I expect? Of course everyone knew my business. They probably knew the dollars and cents on the divorce settlement. Along with the fact that Wes was dragging his feet on sending me my share of the proceeds from the sale of our cottage and his buyout of our house in D.C. The house was worth a lot more than the cottage, even though only a real estate person could describe it with a straight face as being on the edge of Georgetown. But it was the thought of no longer having the cottage that dropped a weight below my collarbone.”

Spoilers/Opinion: I had a hard time getting through the first 40% of this novel. The writing is fine, but the plot goes in circles without really going forward until the missing person turns up dead. Most of the clues that Danniher and her new station partner Paycik find are repeated after the body is found, so the first half feels redundant.

That said, the actual mystery itself has twists and turns, with several characters having motive to kill Foster. Until the last 15% of the novel, almost anyone could have killed him, which kept me on my toes. Danniher takes charge of the investigation and asks questions from all angles, whether or not the person she questions is directly involved. Her divorce and move to Wyoming confused me because she took a hit to her career because of her husband, but I am not sure why. Maybe I missed it, but unless her ex was the biggest producer this side of the country, I don’t see why he had enough sway to get her demoted.

I always hate when mysteries or dramas throw in a romance for a spicy touch mainly because the people who write mysteries do not know how to make a romance interesting or relevant to the plot. Paycik hints that he is interested in Danniher and there is a scene involving Burrell, one of the suspects, but for the most part Danniher stays single and focused on her case.The author shows restraint by sticking to mystery, so I commend Patricia McLinn. She also captures the feel of a small rural town well, with the feeling of being isolated yet watched by the citizens.

Ratings: This is a Mystery novel so the ratings are as follows

Surprises/Twists: 7/10

Problem Solving/ Finding Info: 8/10

Sense of Danger/ Urgency: 7/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 8/10

Overall, I give Sign Off an 8/10. Though slow to start, the plot picks up and actually keeps the reader guessing until end.

Citation:

McLinn, Patricia. Sign Off (Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 1) (pp. 43-44). Craig Place Books. Kindle Edition.

Link to Sign Off

Gone The Next

This is post number 23.

Cover:

gone_the_next

This is the first mystery novel of a series by Ben Rehder.

Plot: Insurance fraud videographer Roy Ballard starts what should be a cut and dry case; however, when he spots a missing girl in his case’s car, everything changes. Will Roy get in over his head as he digs deeper into a high profile kidnapping?

Passage:

“Mia backed her 1968 Mustang into a space at the front of the complex, near the exit. I parked the Caravan in a spot near the corner of Wally Crouch’s building, where I could see both his car and Mia’s. The plan was to sit for an hour or so and wait for Crouch to emerge. In the previous three days, he hadn’t left his apartment before ten o’clock. If he hadn’t left his apartment by 10:30 or so, Mia would reposition her car closer to his apartment and actually knock on his door, which would be risky. He might get suspicious.”

Spoilers/Opinion: In this novel, the chapters alternate between first-person for the main plot and third person limited for a kidnappers perspective. Both are done well and for good effect. Roy’s narration provides some character background and his problem solving skills. The kidnapper’s perspective, with a few interludes of witnesses and detectives, creates some suspense and ties into a twist, which I will discuss later.

Roy himself is a decent detective having found a job as an insurance fraud videographer. He landed the job after punching a former boss, and landed probation after driving intoxicated. His main demon, though, happened nine years before the start of the novel when his daughter was kidnapped. This sets up motivation for Roy to want to find a missing girl and examples of him not playing by the rules. Roy’s personality is okay, a bit trying too hard on occasion, but definitely good enough for having first person. The mystery itself is not too mysterious. Roy figures out that Pierce, his fraud suspect, has Tracy, the missing girl, within the first first-person chapter. A few minor twists as well as a tasering keep the feeling of danger constant.

For the most part, I like the plot, but there are a couple of parts that bother me. The third-person chapters assume that the kidnapper is Pierce, but in a twist it is revealed that it was Roy’s daughter’s kidnapper’s perspective. Throughout the whole novel, Roy agonizes over his daughter’s kidnapping, when in reality she was found nine years ago and is alive and well in Canada. I felt like the twist was not necessary and made the third person chapters feel pointless. I thought I was looking into what was happening to Tracy in real time, but instead I was hearing third person accounts of what happened nine years ago to a girl I assumed was dead and had no emotional investment toward. There was also a subplot with what Roy assumed was a former fraudster coming for revenge but really it was his former boss that. Roy points out the punching incident happened three years prior and the boss should just let it go. I agree. The subplot should have been skipped.

Ratings: This novel is a Mystery novel so the ratings are as follows

Surprises/Twists: 4/10

Problem Solving/ Finding Info: 7/10

Sense of Danger/ Urgency: 7/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 8/10

Overall, I give Gone The Next a 7/10. The perspective and plot kept my interest. Some minor flaws include the unnecessary revenge subplot and twist, but overall the novel is a pleasant read.

Citation:

Rehder, Ben (2012). Gone The Next [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. Retrieved 3/2/1017.

Link  to Gone the Next

 

 

Something Yellow: A Mystery without any Mystery

This is post number 16.

Background: Something Yellow is written by Laura Templeton, and is a stand alone novel. The cover has a picture of pink sneakers on top of a field of yellow daffodils.

Plot: Holly is a banker in Atlanta who moves back home to her small town in the Appalachian mountains. She has returned to help her terminally ill mother in her final months. 13 years ago, Holly’s sister Rachel went missing and her family had never been the same since. She had always blamed her ex-boyfriend Houston for her sister’s disappearance even though no one else thinks he is guilty.

Spoilers: The novel opens with a neighbor’s daughter going missing. Holly and her mother are disturbed as the girl has a similar description to Rachel. Holly tries to adjust to rural life, and becomes friends with the pastor who is also from Atlanta. The girl’s body is found, and at the funeral, Holly confronts Houston about how she still thinks he is responsible for what happened to her sister. Oliver, Holly’s brother, also returns to town to help take care of their mother. Holly investigates background on Houston and discovers that he is not responsible for Rachel’s disappearance. The local psychic tells her to talk to Oliver to find out what happened to Rachel, but Holly is distracted when the man who killed the neighbor girl is found and goes to trial. She starts going out with Houston again, and the psychic reminds her to talk to Oliver. After some holiday celebrations, Holly gets a lead on her sister’s mystery by visiting her former basketball coach. He confesses that he helped Oliver bury her sister 13 years ago in exchange for keeping his secret of molesting boys, including molesting Oliver. She confronts Oliver who confesses that Rachel fell and died, and he buried her because he didn’t know what else to do. He drives away, and then gets in a fatal accident. A short while later, Holly’s mother dies. Holly returns to Atlanta after breaking up with Houston, but he shows up at her door and whisks her away back to their hometown.

Passage:

I threw the term paper on the ground and jumped into the car quickly, before he could reach me. He ran after me as I backed down the driveway . Through the windshield, I saw him yelling. His open mouth made a black O against the twilight. I sped up, my tires throwing gravel into the air. I drove out of Bushy Creek faster than I’d ever driven in my life. The car fishtailed on the dirt road, and I nearly lost control as I rounded a sharp curve that ran right by the river. I didn’t slow down. Right then I’d just as soon die, be sucked down under the fast-moving waters of Bushy Creek, be knocked unconscious against the rocks, my car shattered to bits.

Opinion: When it comes to mysteries, I usually expect the main character to have some sort of drive to solve the mystery, but Holly just lets information fall into her lap rather than seek it out. There should also be a sense of danger or urgency to drive the story along, but the only motivation the characters had were to find closure for themselves. A few twists caught me by surprise like the coach being a pedophile, but having the psychic repeatedly tell Holly to talk to her brother took away the any shock factor the ending may have had.This made the story drag on and feel more like a lifetime movie on paper than a true mystery.

The romance between Holly and Houston felt forced, especially the end when he just shows up and she jumps into his arms like everything is okay. This is compounded by the fact that none of the characters are particularly interesting or do anything except die. Speaking of which, Oliver’s death actually made me laugh because of how abrupt it was; I mean, one minute he is confessing this horrible turn of fate with Rachel and how he was molested, and the next he just gets in a car and kills himself by crashing into a tree with no further explanation or pleas for forgiveness.

Overall the writing is not terrible. There is decent pacing, and the use of first person is used correctly although not to its highest potential to create suspense.

Ratings: This is a mystery novel so the ratings are as follows.

Surprises/Twists: 7/10

Problem Solving/ Finding Info: 2/10

Sense of Danger/ Urgency: 2/10

Creativity: 3/10

Plot: 4/10

Overall, I give this book a 3/10. The lack of drive for anyone to find out what happened to Rachel dragged out what little story there was, and having flat characters only made the problem worse.

Citation: Templeton, Laura (2013-09-28). Something Yellow (p. 148). Cup of Tea Books, an imprint of PageSpring Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Viridis: Sex, Drugs and Hot Air Balloons?

This is post number 10.

Background: This novel is written by Calista Taylor, and it is the first of a series. The cover art is of the main character. Also this novel is set in a steam punk England.

Plot: Phoebe has made a nightclub that dispenses her drug Viridis, which heightens all of a person’s senses. It is said that drinking a pure form of the drug can make that person orgasm. A man is murdered and Phoebe is one of the suspects since the man was last seen at her club. Phoebe’s ex shows up and the two rekindle their romance.

Spoilers: Phoebe’s former suitor becomes instantly jealous of her former ex, so he attacks Phoebe in her office. Her man then goes out and beats up the former suitor, who then threatens her beau with legal action. In order to prevent her man from going to jail, Phoebe agrees to sleep with her former suitor. All the while a cop is interrogating various members of Phoebe’s staff to find out why the man was killed. At one point, a mutual friend of the couple returns into their lives, and Phoebe and the friend admit that they kissed once while Phoebe and her man were broken up. Eventually, the mystery of the murder is solved; Phoebe’s brother had an affair with the deceased and someone caught wind of it and decided to kill both of them since the murderer saw the coupling as perverted. Phoebe is sad about her brother’s death, but still agrees to marry her man.

Passage:

Phoebe had been prowling the house since William left, trying in vain to ignore the sinking feeling in her gut. She was only too happy that Sarah and Martha were preoccupied in the kitchen. It was quite clear that they were shaken after being questioned by the inspector, and she could not blame them. She felt horrible that they were under suspicion, and how she would face them again, she did not know.

Opinion: This is another book that has almost too much going on, but I think Viridis actually pulls it off. The mystery of the murder had twists and turns that I did not see coming, but I could still believe that they could happen. I feel like the investigator’s plot line was by far more interesting than Phoebe’s plot line because he at least had some action not relating to a relationship. Phoebe’s relationship is her main concern rather than her business or her reputation. She has some interesting, personal moments like when she takes her birth control or makes a new potion, but for the most part, her entire world revolves around her man.

Subjectively, I was not a fan of the whole steam punk schtick. For one, the inventions are described in detail in order to show that they are both old school and technologically advanced, but I didn’t like reading pages worth of description for a steam punk computer. This really annoyed me, especially the part where I had to read paragraphs of adjectives for a hot air balloon-plane when the author could have just said that it was a zeppelin. Also, the whole point of setting a story in a time and place of extreme modesty is so that the characters have to work around these constraints and rules; all of the characters ignore the rules like Victorian hipsters, which undermines the world.

The writing is good for the most part. This story is written in third person limited perspective and switches between Phoebe and the investigator, which the author uses effectively. My only complaint is the fact that the author tries to create a Scottish accent for the main love interest and the mutual friend by phonetically writing it in the dialogue, but this only made the book hard to read and almost cringe inducing. She would have been better off just telling the reader about their accents and leaving the rest to our imaginations.

Ratings: This book is a mystery with romantic themes. As such here are the ratings:

Surprises/ Plot Twists: 8/10

Problem Solving/Finding info: 8/10

Romantic Development: 5/10

Creativity: 6/10

Plot: 6/10

Overall I give this book a 7.5/10. Viridis has a great twists and turns and effective writing. I am not a fan of the steam punk aspect, but objectively, this is a good novel that I do recommend.

Citation: Taylor, Calista (2014-02-15). Viridis – A Steampunk Romance & Mystery (The Viridis Series) (Kindle Locations 2173-2176). Daeron Press. Kindle Edition.

The Seventh Immortal: James Joyce has clearer plot lines

This is post number 9.

Background: The Seventh Immortal is the first book in a series written by J. M. Parry. The cover has what I assume is the main character wearing a bed sheet around her butt while looking at a metropolitan skyline. In the cover credits, apparently the cover was made from some chick in deviant art, and it sure does look it.

Plot: A woman wakes up in an emergency room and has amnesia. Creepy people talk about her and sedate her without any real explanation. After being set free by a male nurse, she learns her name is Kait and that she jumped off of a rooftop in a suicide attempt.

Spoilers: After leaving the hospital, Kait meets a lawyer who says she left him a package and that he witnessed her fall. After talking with him, she gives the lawyer oral sex. He confesses that he is married and that he needs to go to a church to confess his sin and feel less guilty. Once at the church, he and Kait are confronted by the church’s lead pastor and the creepy guy who sedated her in the beginning, and the lawyer guy is killed. Fleeing from the police who think she is responsible for a lot of stuff, Kait meets the male nurse at a restaurant where the waitress tells Kait that she can tell Kait all that she needs to know. After riding on the waitress’s motorcycle and trying to use it as a vibrator, Kait and the waitress meet the waitress’s boss. The boss tells Kait that she is an immortal with special abilities and that there are seven immortals in the world at all times. All of them have lived multiple life times, and they all fight each other for dominance. Kait then returns to the restaurant where the police, under the control of the creepy immortal, have surrounded it and taken the male nurse hostage. Using a magical attack, she temporarily defeats the other immortals and runs away with the male nurse.

Passage:

Kait began to explain everything that had happened since they parted ways at the hospital. She left out the more lurid details, and used the mysterious message written in her passport to explain her presence at the church. Paul was enraptured by her story, barely touching his food even as it arrived. Kait, of course, couldn’t dig in because she was too busy talking . By the time she got to the part where she actually shot Mayor Levin, the sweet smell of her stir-fried pork was almost overwhelming.

Opinion: By writing out all of the plot points, I was reminded of the fact that there is way too much going on in this story. For one, having amnesia from a failed suicide attempt feels unnecessary. If amnesia was replaced with simply discovering one’s powers for the first time, the story would have improved. Also the random sexual acts only serve to distract the reader. I mean come on, who the hell tries to get off while riding a motorcycle when their life is in danger?

The immortals in the story were a bit lame. Sure they healed quickly from mortal wounds and had special attack abilities, but all of them almost seemed annoyed at the fact that Kait had amnesia and wanted revenge rather than feel threatened or betrayed. I get that they all have lived for centuries, but a little enthusiasm goes a long way.

The writing is pretty good. This book’s author uses third person limited perspective correctly and does try to show more than tell. Some of the plot points and dialogue were a bit cheesy, but the writing helped me pull through and finish the book.

Ratings: I consider this book a sci-fi/ fantasy novel with mystery elements, although the mystery will probably disappear in the next installment since the identity of the character was revealed. As such the ratings are:

Powers: 4/10

Explanation for Powers: 6/10

Surprises/Plot Twists: 5/10

Problem Solving/Finding Info: 5/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 2/10

Overall I give this book a 4/10. The writing is decent, but the convoluted plot and unnecessary sex scenes make this story really hard to follow.

Citation: Parry, J.M. (2013-05-27). The Seventh Immortal (Hearts of Amaranth) (Kindle Locations 554-558). . Kindle Edition.