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

 

 

Mystery March

Hello everybody,

This month, I plan on focusing my reviews on Mystery novels. In the past, I have mentioned how mysteries are not my favorite, but I am hoping that by reading more that I will find some that I enjoy. Plus I need a break from Romance novels. If anyone has any suggestions for free mysteries, let me know, and I will review them. I hope everyone has a a great month and can enjoy the unseasonably warm weather!

Sincerely,

The Reader

Dare To Take

This is post number 22.

Cover:

dare_to_take

This the final romance novel of a series by Carly Phillips

Plot: Ella Shaw is stuck on an island with a hurricane coming. Her only chance of rescue is her best friend’s brother Tyler Dare, but their past makes her weary. Can Tyler prove he’s sorry for his actions, or will Ella struggle to find the strength to forgive him?

Passage:

“Tyler was glad to see that spunk still lived inside her. He found it easier to focus on this side of Ella than the vulnerable woman who’d pulled away from him in bed. He hated knowing that he’d hurt her, and even more, that the pain had stuck with her all these years. There was a lot he didn’t know about Ella and the woman she’d become. Any time his sister spoke of her, Tyler tuned her out, not wanting to deal with the lie between him and Avery or the self-loathing he always experienced because of how he’d behaved afterwards.”

Spoilers/Opinion: I know beggars can’t be choosers, but I wish this novel was not the last of a 6 part series. The family has quite a few members and I had trouble keeping all of the pairs straight. I can’t blame the author for this since she probably goes more in depth in the previous books, but I wanted to give a warning to people who want to jump into novel without backstory.

For a Romance novel, there is a decent amount of plot that does not involve Ella and Tyler hooking up. While in St. Lucia, Ella’s boss gives Ella a stolen necklace for safe-keeping. She does not know it was stolen, and as a result, she is put in a precarious position. Tyler has to come to her rescue because she was mugged right before a hurricane, and he is the only one who can get her out of there without a passport.Because he comes to her rescue and protects Ella when they return to the states, they rekindle an old flame. I like that there is a reason for the two of them to reconcile besides “just cuz”, especially with the taboo of sleeping with a sister’s best friend. From here the plot gets convoluted with two of the siblings having children, Ella’s father dying in prison, and a confrontation with Tyler’s dad. If the author chose one father issue and one sibling’s childbirth then the novel would feel more focused and less confusing.

For the romance itself, Tyler and Ella have some issues that they worked out. Ella lost her virginity to Tyler, and he turned her away after they hooked up. At first she did not trust Tyler or intentions, but they hook up and move past it. They both have daddy issues, with Ella’s using her and Tyler’s breaking up the family, that they work through individually. I like seeing character growth, so I appreciated seeing the pair move past their personal problems.

That said, Ella and Tyler don’t have much in common except their problems, and they only hang out to have sex. This gives the novel more of an erotica feel than a true romance. The scenes are explicit and frequent to the point of being distracting. If the author had written more scenes where Tyler and Ella connected on an emotional or intellectual level rather than just physical, I think the novel would have been more successful.

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

Relationship drama: 6/10
Romantic Development: 4/10
Hot love interest: 4/10
Creativity: 4/10
Plot: 6/10

Overall, I give Dare to Take a 5/10. I liked having more to the plot than just the romance, but I was confused with too many characters with similar traits. The couple works through some issues, but doesn’t have much going for them other than sex.

Citation:

Carly Phillips (2014?). Dare To Take[Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. Retrieved 3/1/2017