Tag Archives: mystery fiction

Book Review: Deep Water

16 Feb

518hst1tmal-_sx323_bo1204203200_An obesity treatment has been discovered, but before anyone can benefit, a dispute breaks out about who owns the discovery. David Marchmont, a patent lawyer, is asked to handle the case. There’s one big problem, though: crucial evidence is missing — evidence that might have a bearing on the clinical trial two years before.

David’s personal life has its own challenges. His daughter, Chloe, has a rare and serious genetic condition. His wife, Rachel, becomes friendly with a young researcher, Kate Flanagan, who is seeking a cure for Chloe’s disorder; Kate, in turn, becomes concerned that her lab colleagues may be cutting corners on the obesity drug.

As evidence of mishandling mounts — then disappears — Kate, Rachel, and David find themselves caught up in acute ethical challenges and personal danger. Is biotechnology outstripping our capacity to make ethical decisions?

 

Dr. Christine Poulson has lectured in art history and is familiar with academic life. A member of the Society of Friends, she is the author of several novels and works of nonfiction and is an active blogger. She is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

My Impressions: 

When I signed up to review Deep Water by Christine Poulson, I’m not sure what I expected. I guess I thought this book would be a medical thriller with lots of action, but short on character development. I was very pleasantly surprised by the depth of characterization, the complexity of the plot, the ethical and moral themes, and the very good writing of this thinking man’s mystery. Deep Water is a gem, and I am hopeful Christine Poulson will have a long fiction career.

Let’s first look at setting. Deep Water is set in Ely, England a place sometimes described as Silicon Fen. This very old cathedral town set in the marshes is home to high tech and biotech firms and labs. I liked that the author spent time describing the city and cathedral — it definitely added to the book. The characters are complex, flawed and very likable. I became invested in their lives. The mystery involves a clinical trial and patent case with some irregularities — an interesting premise that kept the pages turning. But this book has a bit more than the average mystery. There are moral and ethical questions that keep the characters and the reader engaged and thinking. While not an overtly Christian book as one would define it here in the US, Deep Water has a foundation based on a Christian worldview. Life has value, whether it is pre-born or born, healthy or medically fragile. The issues the characters deal with are not easy, but they are true to life. Deep Water is published by a British house, so there is a bit of language and social drinking that may not appeal to those who read only Christian fiction. I did not have any trouble with it.

A great blend of mystery and ethical questions, Deep Water gets a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

February 2017 Book Club Selections

1 Feb

February is the shortest month of the year, but we are never short of good books to read! Here are the two novels my book clubs are reading this month. Have you read them? We’d love to know what you thought.

 

By The Book — My Sister’s Prayer by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould.

51fzrfbcl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Virginia, 1705

Celeste Talbot is usually such a sensible young woman—until she falls for an English soldier reassigned to the Colonies. Leaving her Huguenot family behind, she sets sail for America, only to realize that her younger sister Berta has been kidnapped and forced on board the very same ship. Whom can Celeste trust? The dashing soldier? Or the vigilant carpenter who remains by their side in the perilous New World?

Virginia, present day

Madeline “Maddee” Talbot has her hands full when she agrees to take in her younger sister Nicole following a serious car accident. The young women grew apart when Nicole fell into drug addiction, and Maddee prays this will be the start of a better life for her sister. But as they investigate a trauma from their childhood, Maddee must keep a diligent eye on Nicole—and the shadowy figure watching them from afar.

From the Christy Award-winning team of Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould, My Sister’s Prayer tells an epic tale of two women compelled to protect their sisters, confront their fears, and navigate the muddy waters of betrayal to find true love.

Page Turners — Doc by Mary Doria Russell (currently $1.99 for Kindle!)

511ffqgk9plBorn to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian. In search of high-stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins — before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology — when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.

Book Review: What Happened on Beale Street

16 Jan

51wf7qpftbl-_sx322_bo1204203200_What Happened on Beale Street is an exciting addition to the Secrets of the South Mysteries from bestselling author Mary Ellis. These standalone, complex crime dramas follow a private investigator’s quest to make the world a better place…solving one case at a time.

A cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from New Orleans to Memphis, the home of scrumptious barbecue and soulful blues music. When they arrive at Danny Andre’s last known address, they discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the former choirboy they fondly remember.

Danny’s sister, Isabelle, reluctantly accepts their help. She and Nate aren’t on the best of terms due to a complicated past, yet they will have to get beyond that if they want to save Danny.

On top of Danny’s alarming disappearance and his troubled relationship with Isabelle, Nate also has to rein in his favorite cousin’s overzealousness as a new and eager PI. Confronted with a possible murder, mystery, and mayhem in the land of the Delta blues, Nate must rely on his faith and investigative experience to keep one or more of them from getting killed.

mary-ellis1Mary Ellis is the best selling author of seven Amish inspirational novels that include The Wayne County series and The Miller Family series. She grew up in Ohio close to an Amish community. Before becoming a full-time writer, Mary taught middle school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. All three of her Miller Family series books have made the CBA and CBD bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for 2010 and a runner-up in the 2010 Holt Medallion Awards.

 

My Impressions:

What Happened on Beale Street was By The Book’s January 2017 selection. We read book 1, Midnight on The Mississippi, in 2016 and really liked it. Mystery/suspense is our favorite genre, and when you combine it with potential road trip destinations . . . well, we are definitely in! The second book in Ellis’s Secrets of The South series features returning and new characters and a brand new mystery to investigate. These novels are standalone offerings, allowing the reader to jump in at any time. While those who read the book (yes we don’t always get the books finished before our meetings 😉 ) generally liked it, the general consensus was that it was a bit slow to develop. Also there are two mysteries being investigated, and we felt that the progress of the story lines often felt interrupted. Overall, though, we enjoyed What Happened on Beale Street and would recommend it.

In this second novel in the series, Nate is the main character. His character is expanded and he is introduced to a love interest. Nicki and Hunter, the two main characters from the first book, are given a secondary story line that was innovative and interesting. Although there is a mystery to solve with plenty of suspects and a stalking to thwart, What Happened on Beale Street was more about Nate and Izzy’s attraction. This is a romantic suspense where romance is front and center. In the end, the resolution of the crime was quick, almost too quick. However, I was ready for the mystery to be solved. One unusual feature of this book is that the victim was a genuinely good guy who everyone loved (at least almost everyone!). Many times authors make the victim the bad guy that no one mourns or often are glad they are gone. Danny’s character was revealed through those he had interacted with during his life. His death left a void in all the characters’ lives.

At least two more books in the series remain. We will probably be along for all the mysterious doings with Nate, Izzy, Nicki and Hunter.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Death in The Shadows

6 Jan

41ykxx2ymbl-_sx324_bo1204203200_When Father Gilbert traded in his detective’s badge for an Anglican priest’s collar, he never expected that murder would follow him. Even a church conference in the quant seaside town of Englesea offers no escape.

The vision of a dead woman, water dripping from her body, draws Gilbert into a mystery that seems straightforward, but soon entangles him in a power struggle between corrupt players who want to dominate the illegal sex trade in town. The victims are pawns in a game that extends to London and across international borders.

The dead cry for justice and Father Gilbert fights against forces hiding in the shadows. Can he champion the truth in time to stop more people from dying?

 

973492_origPaul McCusker was born in 1958 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, but spent his formative years outside of Washington DC in Bowie, Maryland. He was given his first typewriter early in his childhood and hasn’t stopped writing since. Although he received a college degree in journalism, Paul’s first love was writing sketches and plays for Grace Baptist Church. From those efforts came his published drama collections for the prestigious Baker’s Plays, and the Lillenas Publishing Co., Contemporary Drama Services, Group Books and Monarch/Gazelle Books in England.

In 1985 he moved to California where he worked with Continental Ministries and wrote plays for the nationally-renowned drama group The Jeremiah People. This led to his work as a freelance writer for the Focus on the Family radio drama called Family Portraits, which later became Adventures in Odyssey. Since joining the Focus staff as a writer in 1988, Paul has written over 300 half-hour episodes for Odyssey and has also written 22 tie-in novels. Paul is now Creative Director at FOF, which means he thinks up stuff and then writes it.

In addition to Adventures In Odyssey, Paul helped to create Focus On The Family Radio Theatre, writing and directing many of its productions. Milestones include the Peabody Award-winning Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom, all seven books in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, the acclaimed Father Gilbert Mysteries, the Audie-winning Life of Jesus, and The Screwtape Letters. Dickens’ Oliver Twist is his latest adaptation.

His novels include Epiphany (nominated for a ECPA Gold Medallion Award) for Zondervan Books, and You Say Tomato with best-selling British writer Adrian Plass. He has authored the popular Zondervan novel The Mill House, and its sequel A Season of Shadows. Paul recently penned a pair of medical thrillers, TSI: The Gabon Virus and The Influenza Bomb, with Dr. Walt Larimore.

His non-fiction includes Playwriting: A Study In Choices & Challenges and The Ultimate Youth Drama Book.

More recently, his connections with the writings of CS Lewis have strengthened, with the release of The Annotated Screwtape Letters and the new RT drama, CS Lewis at War. A companion book to that drama will come out next year.

Paul and his wife Elizabeth live in Colorado Springs with their two children.

My Impressions:

For fans of pure mystery, Paul McCusker’s latest Father Gilbert novel is a very satisfying read. I loved the British flavor, the complex characters and the thought-provoking themes that define Death in The Shadows. Father Gilbert is attending an ecumenical conference at a seaside resort town when he again is confronted with evil. Murder is the crime to be solved, but there is also the degrading and dehumanizing sin of human trafficking that is confronted. This novel struck a personal note with me. My daughter is employed by a non-profit that works to free women from the prison of sex trafficking. Death in The Shadows explores the very dark and ugly side of what many term victimless activity — timely subject matter.

Setting plays a big role in Death in The Shadows, with this novel having a very atmospheric feel to it. Father Gilbert is an intriguing character with a past that informs his present — he is former police detective who is now a Church of England priest. As in a previous novel featuring Father Gilbert, the supernatural is again a part of the story, which I found very apt. At one point Father Gilbert ponders the many realities that people confront, and the supernatural reality is one many dismiss or deny, yet is very real. The mystery unfolds slowly, yet this book is not one to be put down easily. You’ll want to keep turning those pages into the wee hours of the night.

A book to keep you puzzling and pondering along with Father Gilbert, Death in The Shadows is one I can recommend.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

January Book Club Selections

1 Jan

A New Year and new books to read! Yay! Here are the books that my 2 book clubs are reading this month. Have you read them? We would love to hear what you thought.

unknownThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen . . . 

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor―there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair.

You certainly wouldn’t open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy’s house is full of them), and . . . customers.

The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.

A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.

unknownWhat Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis.

A cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from New Orleans to Memphis, the home of scrumptious barbecue and soulful blues music. When they arrive at Danny Andre’s last known address, they discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the former choirboy they fondly remember.

Danny’s sister, Isabelle, reluctantly accepts their help. She and Nate aren’t on the best of terms due to a complicated past, yet they will have to get beyond that if they want to save Danny.

On top of Danny’s alarming disappearance and his troubled relationship with Isabelle, Nate also has to rein in his favorite cousin’s overzealousness as a new and eager PI. Confronted with a possible murder, mystery, and mayhem in the land of the Delta blues, Nate must rely on his faith and investigative experience to keep one or more of them from getting killed.

Book Review: Another Day, Another Dali

25 Nov

unknownA Fast-Paced, Keep-You-Guessing Whodunit with a Dash of Romance

When a valuable Salvador Dali painting belonging to her grandmother’s friend is mysteriously replaced by a forgery, FBI Special Agent Serena Jones is called in to investigate. Serena hopes finding the thief will also mean finally measuring up to Nana’s expectations. But when the evidence points to members of the owner’s own household, it becomes increasingly clear that Serena won’t be winning any popularity contests.

The Dali isn’t the only painting that’s fallen prey to the forgery-replacing thief, raising the specter of a sophisticated theft ring–one with links to dirty cops, an aspiring young artist, and the unsolved murder of Serena’s grandfather.

With plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments, Another Day, Another Dali gives the plucky Serena Jones–and readers–a new high-stakes case to crack.

 

press-kit-headshotSandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full tim . . . when not doting on her young grandchildren. Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at http://www.SandraOrchard.com or connect at http://www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard.

My Impressions:

Another Day, Another Dali is the second installment in the Serena Jones Mystery series by Sandra Orchard. Orchard’s intrepid sleuth gives a first person account of her adventures discovering stolen and counterfeit art and the bad guys responsible. Serena stumbles into trouble along the way, as well as a little romance from two handsome men. With family complications and clueless suspects a bit of humor lightens up the suspense. I enjoyed Another Day, Another Dali and give it a recommended rating.

Another Day, Another Dali starts out with a bang (or a close call) and the action continues with ambushes, murders, and other dangerous situations. But through it all main character Serena keeps her head as she attempts to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. I love Serena’s character. She is a trained FBI agent, yet she still has her share of doubts and fears. She puts up a good front of courage, but she shakes a bit in her shoes. Her two love interests, Nate and Tanner, are charming and sweet, and I went back and forth on which one she should pick. Other minor characters from the first book are interwoven through the novel, but this one can easily be read as a standalone. The mystery begins and ends within the book. There are a number of loose ends, however, which promise to be tied up in the future. I’m hoping Serena’s exploits continue for some time to come.

For fans of light mysteries, Another Day, Another Dali is a good choice. A quick read, this book is perfect to curling up with during the long winter nights.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Audiobook Mini-Reviews: Two by Christie

24 Nov

‘Tis the season for road trips and Agatha Christie audiobooks! My husband and I recently traveled to his mom’s for a pre-Thanksgiving visit and then on to a college football game. Accompanying us was Agatha Christie’s famed detective, Hercule Poirot. Hugh Fraser’s narration is a must for us, but the book he read, Appointment with Death, was not a hit. Poirot did not show up until the book was about 2/3’s of the way finished. He took the accounts of the characters and came to his conclusion, one that came out of left field for us. I think we would have enjoyed the book more if Poirot had been involved more.

It has been busy-busy at my house and finding time for exercise has been challenging. But with Hercule as a walking partner, I have a great excuse to get out and moving. Dumb Witness is Hercule at his finest. Colonel Hastings is also along for the ride and the story is told from his perspective. I love his little asides about Poirot’s idiosyncracies. The mystery kept me engaged and guessing and it was not far-fetched.

Do you listen to audiobooks while traveling, commuting or exercising?

What are your favorites?

 

51k1-ngydgl-_sx330_bo1204203200_Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sits the corpse of Mrs.Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist is the only sign of the fatal injection that killed her.

With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: “You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?” Mrs. Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met . . . .

 

 

51o-ktmw8xl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Miss Emily was old, rich, and afraid – and now, she’s dead. Her terrified plea to Hercule Poirot came a little too late. All that’s left is a house full of greedy heirs, and a very strange letter that could solve the mystery – or add to it.

This title was previously published as Poirot Loses a Client.