Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith

Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Their spark is immediate

Kingston McNally lost men when someone betrayed his team, and now he’s out for retribution. His quest for the enemy’s courier leads him to Cameroon and Allie Redding, a petite Peace Corps volunteer as stubborn as she is brave. Their attraction is immediate, but Allie has secrets of her own…and she’s not giving them up easily.

But their secrets could burn them both

Allie’s life has been spent hiding in plain sight, but she’s had enough of her cloak-and-dagger existence. On her way home, her plane is hijacked-and King saves her life. But that doesn’t mean she owes him anything…even if he is the most damnably sexy man she’s ever laid eyes on. He’s got black ops and secrets written all over him, and trust is a two-way street.

Flash of Fury is definitely a book you want to start when you know you have a few hours to sit and read without any interruptions. Of course I didn’t know that when I started it but I wish I did because with a book as exciting and action-packed as this one was there was no way I could put it down.

I was hooked from page one; immediately on the edge of my seat with my eyes glued to the page. Right then I knew if this book kept up with the same intensity and pace I’d be up all night until I finished it. It did and I was. As I turned the pages I felt like I was a part of the scene as well as friends with the characters.

Allie Redding, the heroine, was a lovable character as we experienced her bravery and vulnerabilities through-out the story. One must ask themselves if they could endure all that Allie did and be as strong as she was portrayed. I would like to think I could if I had Kingston McNally, the hero, by my side as Allie did. King was a hero in every sense of the word. The sparks between them were immediate and consistent. Gosh, what I wouldn’t do to be rescued and loved by Kingston, if only I could have been Allie for one chapter.

As intricate as the plot was, it remained comprehensible, engaging, and kept me guessing all the way until the end. Brilliantly done! In fact, this story is book one in a series, therefore some of the mystery is solved but the epilogue led me to believe that the next book will continue to solve the mystery. The next book we’ll get to know Jude Dagan, King’s teammate, a bit better. As much as I enjoyed Allie and King’s romance I can’t wait to read about Jude’s romance with Ella Banning, another teammate, as the suspense continues.

I’ll have to add the author, Lea Griffith, to my list of authors to follow because her writing was superb and I need to read book two. I need to know the truth about Ella Banning. Flash of Fury was a fantastic read and I highly recommend reading this riveting book!

Horror in Jordan’s Bank by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley and Wayne J. Keeley

Horror in Jordan’s Bank by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley and Wayne J. Keeley
Deadraiser Series Part 1
Publisher: Someday Productions LLC.
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (177 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Necromancy is an ancient black magic used for the purposes of communing with the dead. It is believed that practitioners of the dark art may harness the ultimate power of life and death and raise the departed for their own nefarious, malevolent purposes. It also is alleged that a true necromancer may realize the ultimate gift of mortality.

DEADRAISER is the tale of a present-day practitioner who achieves what others have been unable to do for centuries — to raise the dead. The problem is that he must sacrifice innocent victims in order to maintain his power.

Enter Fanchon (Frankie) Manning, daughter of the late movie star Erika Manning. She is the ideal sacrificial lamb for the Necromancer’s perverse desires. The only thing that stands between the Necromancer and the girl is Christopher McGuire, a lost soul who long ago has ceased believing in anything. In order to save the child, he must somehow rediscover his faith and summon the courage to take on the darkest, most sinister being imaginable.

Every small town has its secrets and Jordan’s Bank may have more than most.

For generations, horror has plagued Jordan’s Bank from the shadows. Now, with the homecoming of Frankie Manning, the daughter of the late movie star Erika Fanning, that is about to change. This is a story of real evil in our time and those that must confront it directly.

The authors do a fantastic job at taking stories that we have head in passing and bringing them together in a real story. The town of Jordan’s Bank sits almost in a bubble, separated from the passage of time. Life move slowly here, and this is just what the authors built on. Moving from the fast paced life, Frankie and family friend Christopher McGuire, adjust to the change in pace. Yet, the authors build around the dark horrors that the residents of Jordan’s Banks have seen, and often willingly committed.

This is the first novel in the series, and one that most readers will find very difficult to put down. The deep backgrounds, the flashbacks and the strong plotline tie the story together to keep the reader wondering what will happen next. The authors do a great job making the small town isolation feel “real” even in today’s modern age. This is definitely a horror story that has a modern feel but still transports the reader back in time with the fear of isolation.

The interactions between characters are very intense. The small town “us versus them” and distance to outsiders is very present, making the reader constantly guess who is behind what, or why information is not shared. This is a great study in small town life and fears of change, not only with the horror aspect, but with the ongoing fear of outsiders that the authors make so clear. In the end, the reader begins to wonder who, if anyone, in the small town can be trusted!

This is one modern horror story that you do not want to miss!

The Adventures of Dixie Dandelion by R. H. Burkett

The Adventures of Dixie Dandelion by R. H. Burkett
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Alone on a wagon train and threatened by the man who murdered her mother, Dixie Dandelion steals a horse belonging to an undercover Pinkerton agent and escapes to the town of Six Shooter Siding.

Hired at first to cook in a railroad camp, she begins to make friends, even the town’s soiled doves assist her when she buys the abandoned ranch. Determined never to depend on others, especially men, Dixie is torn between trusting Pinkerton Jackson McCullough and standing on her own.

But will this new independence be enough to save Dixie when the past catches up with her?

She’s on the wagon train heading west with her mother and stepfather. She can’ believe her stepfather would kill her mother but that’s what happened. And everyone says it was an accident. She knows when nightfall comes what happens next won’t be any accident. So she lays down fully clothed with her knife. When he attempts to rape her, she stabs him and runs…

The author writes a very good western tale. The girl is eighteen and has only the money she stole to live on. She goes to the nearest town, Six Shooter Siding. With a little luck and the help of cowboy back at the wagon train, she manages to get there and find friends. She even gets a job. But the man she stabbed isn’t through with her yet.

My favorite part of this story is watching Dixie mature. She appears braver then she is, most people thinks she’s fearless. She just doesn’t want them to think of her as weak. Weak women end up dead like her mother. I also enjoyed her father’s ghost visiting with her. She needs guidance and he’s there to help. They argue a lot but it’s amusing. Her father is right for the most part.

There’s a budding romance where she won’t ask him to stay and he won’t kiss her until she’s ready. She deals with Indians, a Chinese cook and his family, and soiled doves. The girls come to be ranch hands, learn to shoot, deal with animals and more. She even invites a retired buffalo soldier to be her foreman. Defending her property and animals and herself from danger turns out to be a challenge.

This is a tale that will keep you reading and hoping all the way through. I’d be happy to find more about Dixie Dandelion. After all, now she’s going to be a Pinkerton Agent.

The Eye of Nefertiti by Maria Luisa Lang

The Eye of Nefertiti by Maria Luisa Lang
A Pharaoh’s Cat Novel
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (208 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

The Eye of Nefertiti is both a stand-alone novel and a sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat. The time-traveling ancient Egyptian feline with human powers returns together with his beloved Pharaoh and his close friends, the High Priest of Amun-Ra and Elena, an Egyptologist’s daughter.

The cat is quick-witted, wise-cracking narrator as well as free-spirited, ever-curious protagonist, and the story he tells is an exotic, imaginative, spell-binding tragicomedy. The cat travels from present-day New York City to England, both ancient and modern, then to ancient Egypt, where he confronts a horrible demon and experiences a sublime emotion. Once back in England, he descends into a psychological abyss so deep only the Pharaoh can save him.

The Eye of Nefertiti interweaves feline and human, past and present, natural and supernatural. It contains numerous surprises, twists and turns, intriguing characters, both human and animal, fascinating revelations about ancient Egyptian history and culture, and an ingenious application of the Tarot and an Italian opera.

An Egyptian Pharaoh’s cat is brought forward in time with the High Priest and they find a new life in New York. The High Priest finds love and the cat discovers he is able to speak and walk like a human. A tarot card reading sets them on a path to Egypt’s past, but not their own time, where they must solve the mystery surrounding Nefertiti.

The storyline for this book is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, it’s written in the first person which can be a difficult concept, and this is proven in this novel. The cat is the narrator and I felt as if I was in a history lesson at school, listening to details of what occurred, rather than listening to a captivating story. In places the book came alive and these bits I enjoyed, but on the whole I found the delivery disappointing.

On the plus side, jumping from era to era in the ancient world adds a bit of spice to the story, and the idea of a cat with human attributes is fascinating.

The Twelfth Day by Alicia Dean

The Twelfth Day by Alicia Dean
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (98 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

As a teen, party girl, Sabrina Spencer was the lone survivor of a serial killer’s attack on her family. Her testimony put the killer behind bars, and she spent the following decade carving out a new life and trying to forget. But someone hasn’t forgotten. Two weeks before Christmas, she begins receiving bizarre messages with demented references to the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Handyman Josh Cravens is remodeling the lake house she rents each year to escape the painful reminders Christmas brings. While his dimples and blue eyes are hard to resist, he’s the exact kind of player she’s been avoiding since she outgrew her wild days. But the isolated cabin and threatening messages boost her paranoia to fever pitch.

As Christmas draws closer, she’s torn between finding comfort in Josh’s arms, and fear that he might be behind the twisted countdown to the twelfth day.

Sabrina hates Christmas time and anything else to do with the holiday season. To escape the horrifying memories, she decides to go away to the lake house and try to find some peace. But who is sending her the creepy texts? And are the two contractors working on her friend’s lake house – Josh and Dustin – really as nice as they seem?

I found this to be an interesting mystery/suspense story. I enjoyed the Christmas premise – and thoroughly enjoyed a Christmas story where the heroine pretty much hates Christmas – I found it quite refreshingly different. I also enjoyed how there were a few sub-plots mingled in with the main plot of the killer who murdered Sabrina’s family and held her captive a number of years ago.

I thought the cold and isolated lake was an excellent backdrop for the murder-mystery and with a strong set of secondary characters my interest was captured quickly. The sub-plots with such a cast of good characters kept me turning the pages eagerly, deeply invested in what would happen next. I was exceedingly pleased when a number of my guesses about the various plots turned out to be incorrect (nothing I love more than a mystery that keeps me wondering!) but I did manage to predict a few of the more clichéd aspects of the plot. Still, I found overall the mystery was refreshingly different and kept me on my toes, so I really enjoyed that.

There is plenty of – very antagonistic to my mind – chemistry between Josh and Sabrina. Usually it annoys me when the hero and heroine spend most of the story at each other’s throats and then magically decide they actually really like each other toward the end of the story. In some respects this really frustrated me. While there certainly was chemistry both Josh and Sabrina really did seem to strongly dislike each other so that made their eventual romance seem fairly unrealistic to me. Thankfully I found this story so heavily invested in the suspense/mystery aspect of the plot I could just ignore the small romantic sub-plot and I don’t believe this lessened my enjoyment of the story at all. I feel this is a really wonderful mystery/suspense story, I just personally found the romantic aspect of it lacking.

With plenty of interesting and strong secondary character’s and a few really intriguing sub-plots as well as an excellently written main murder plot I found there was a lot to enjoy about this story. I very quickly found myself invested in both the mystery and a number of the characters and would happily read more mysteries by this author. A good, suspenseful read.

The Golden Tup by Leslie W P Garland

The Golden Tup by Leslie W P Garland
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (88 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The Golden Tup: A dreadful tale of a young couple’s paradise being cruelly taken from them by latent evil.

“But whom sent I to judge them?”

Can evil be in a place? The tale opens with Verity, a farmer’s wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart – how, with references to Milton’s Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?

Small communities have long memories. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on what they’re remembering.

Gossip is everywhere. One of my favorite parts of the plot was when it showed just how eager some people are to believe anything they’re told as well as to spread it along to as many of their friends as possible. This wasn’t a topic I was at all expecting to see mentioned in a horror tale, so it was fascinating to see how the author tied together everything together. It is yet another reason why I enjoy his tales so much.

I would have liked to have a few more details about Constance and Matthew’s reaction to the evil they encountered. This was such an important part of the plot that I was a little surprised that it wasn’t given more attention. I always enjoy the challenge of figuring out what a narrator is hinting at without being directly told what’s going on, but I would have loved it even more if I’d had a few more hints to work with here.

With that being said, this is one of the scariest stories I’ve read in ages. One of the things I appreciate the most about Mr. Garland’s work is how much time he gives his characters to reveal their deepest secrets to the audience. This is the kind of horror that slowly sneaks up on a reader, and that makes it so much fun to read. I actually found myself getting more frightened after I’d finished the last scene and started thinking about that strange farm where Matthew and Constance lived again. There were so many details of their lives there that became much more alarming once I knew how those things fit together and what they meant. Sometimes there’s a good reason why old buildings have been abandoned, after all!

This book is part of the Red Grouse series, but it can be read on its own or out of order.

Give The Golden Tup a try if you’re in the mood for something bone-chillingly creepy.

Chaos by Julian Kincaid

Chaos by Julian Kincaid
Publisher: Critical Eye Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (256 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Aleksandr Zorin is a sadistic psychopath and one of the most prolific killers in United States’ history. Exploiting the flaws in an ineffective ViCAP database, he has remained invisible for nearly fifteen years. No one knows he exists. But that’s about to change in a horrifying way.

Special Agent Nicholas Keegan is a forensic criminologist working for the FBI’s Violent Crimes Squad in Minnesota. An expert in the field of abnormal psychology, he employs his unique expertise to profile and capture society’s most dangerous and violent offenders. An unusual case sent his way from a friend in California sets Nick on the path of a killer unlike any he’s ever faced.

An innovative overhaul of ViCAP reveals the staggering enormity of the case, and Nick quickly comes to a disturbing realization—his unsub isn’t just a killer. He’s a profiler.

Get ready to stay awake at night!

Nick Keegan is a veteran FBI agent on the trail of one of the century’s most prolific and graphic serial killers. Initially the scenes stack up and there are very few clues, modifications to the ViCAP database reveal scores of more victims all attributed to this one serial killer.

Chaos is an amazing story about a veteran FBI agent and a startling veteran serial killer. When their two paths meet, chaos ensues. Right from the beginning the reader will be immersed in detail and graphic visualizations of both the crime scenes and the deep lives of the characters. The author does an astounding job at plotting the backstory for each character and interweaving it through from past to present. Everyone has scars to bear and a history that adds depth and complexity to the overall story.

The great plot, deep backstories and strong descriptions make the world of the characters become immersive for the reader. It is advisable that the reader have some background in the criminal justice world when reading the book since there are many acronyms and descriptions that can be difficult and may detract from the overall enjoyment of the story if the reader is not familiar. This is not anything that cannot be looked up easily on the internet, but it may bother some readers. Also, the graphic descriptions of the deaths of victims and in some instances the torture of victims may disturb some readers. Do not let the high number of pages dissuade reading, the text in the electronic version of the book is very large, which makes reading very easy on the eyes, but makes for a higher page count then one would normally see.

Overall, Chaos was a fantastic read and one that you do not want to miss. Be aware though, the deep psychology and human nature portion of the book may make it so that you have a difficult time falling asleep at night!

January Mystery/Suspense Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ An Act of Murder by Mary Angela

An Act of Murder by Mary Angela
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (228 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

In the sleepy college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota, English professor Emmeline Prather is enjoying the start of a new semester. But when one of her students dies working on the fall musical, it disrupts life on the small, quiet campus. Although the police rule the death accidental, Prof. Prather has good reason to suspect foul play.

Unmasking the murderer proves much more challenging than finding dangling participles, so Em recruits fellow English professor Lenny Jenkins for assistance. Together, they comb the campus and vicinity for clues, risking their reputations and possibly their jobs. After an intruder breaks into Em’s house, Lenny advises caution—and perhaps a change of address. Em, on the other hand, is all the more determined to forge ahead, convinced they’re on the brink of an important breakthrough.


Haunted by Heather Graham

Haunted by Heather Graham
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (297 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Love is everywhere. . .

When does a gift become a curse?

Matt Stone doesn’t believe in ghosts. But there are those who are convinced his home, a historic Virginia estate that dates back to the Revolutionary War, is haunted. Pressured to get at the truth about some strange happenings at Melody House, he agrees to let Harrison Investigations explore the house. But he isn’t ready for beautiful, intriguing Darcy Tremayne.

As a paranormal investigator, Darcy has learned to believe in the unbelievable. And she’s given Matt fair warning: sometimes people don’t like the skeletons she finds. She never dreamed that the warning would apply to herself. For she’s about to discover that Melody House holds much more than a simple mystery form the distant past. What it holds is a very real and lethal danger, one that will cast her into a struggle against the worlds of both the living and the dead.

I love a gripping mystery with a convincing dose of romantic complications to make things interesting. This is my first foray into the writing of Ms. Graham and I think I made a lucky pick because this book knocked my socks off. Talk about an edge of your seat mystery where anyone or anything could be the killer. Is the killer a ghost? A disturbed entity from the town’s many onsite battles come to right a wrong? Enter an intrepid paranormal investigator with a past as fascinating as any ghost. Darcy is not a typical heroine and I was completely enthralled. When I first met her as a teenager, my sympathies were engaged almost immediately. They were firmly in her corner right after the funeral. The rest is a journey like no other.

Matt, the sheriff and male lead opposite Darcy is a facts man. He doesn’t believe in the paranormal and is a firm believer that everything can be explained by science, and usually a human is behind any crime. But he was forced to admit something weird was going on so he called a good friend in for help. First, he didn’t expect Darcy in place of his friend; his reaction was fun to watch. Second, the poor guy had a real hard time coming to grips that maybe, just maybe, his house wasn’t as safe and benign as he believed. Watching him slowly face the unimaginable was both painful and kind of funny, in a dark kind of way. He liked Darcy, but didn’t want to; he trusted her but didn’t and he wanted to believe her and in her, but that meant that he has to accept that he, as sheriff, and a take charge alpha male, did not have all the answers. Not only that, but you can’t cuff a ghost. Poor Matt. He was a bit discombobulated. The plot sure got interesting when he could sink his law teeth into something he could understand and deal with, but it wasn’t enough to solve the mystery. There was more, much more to come and I was glued to this book’s pages.

I enjoyed the slow buildup of tension, the red herrings and the challenge of trying to figure out just what or who could be behind all the weirdness at Melody House. I liked meeting all the secondary characters and Ms. Graham imbued her cast with unique and individual characteristics that contributed to the feel and flow of the novel. By the time I read three fourths of the book, I finally had an inkling as to a possible motive, victim and culprit. I was right on only one account which meant I was taken by surprise. I loved it!

Another treat were the sparks that ignite between Matt and Darcy. Of course it reached a flashpoint and their coming together was ever so satisfying. It wasn’t smooth, easy or without its bumps but it sure was romantic and passionate. Eventually, Matt comes around and a happy ever after is guaranteed. It’s who helped Matt past that final hurdle in believing that made me sniffle a time or two. I was filled with a lot of emotions at that point and I credit that to the excellent writing skill of Ms. Graham.

If readers have yet to discover Ms. Graham, then they are missing out. I was missing out. No more. Haunted has whet my appetite for more books by this author. This was an amazing read that’s made an indelible impression and I can’t wait to read more. I can wholeheartedly recommend this novel to romantic suspense/mystery readers everywhere. It’s a winner.

Nobody Knows by Susan Coryell

Nobody Knows by Susan Coryell
Overhome Trilogy, Book 3
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (258 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

With a successful writing career and blissful marriage, Ashby Overton is fulfilled and content at historic Overhome Estate in Southern Virginia until a stranger walks into her life. The arrival of Professor Ellis O. Grady coincides with a violent and bizarre turbulence emanating from the dark world of Overhome’s ancient spirits.

As paranormal events build into chaos, Ashby must use her sixth sense to sort out the real from the imagined in both the visible and the invisible worlds as, stirred into fury, the souls of Civil War slaves engage in a dangerous battle destined to reveal long-held secrets of the past.

What is the connection between the enigmatic professor, a slave-built chapel and a restored overseer’s cottage on Overhome Estate? Ashby struggles to find the answers before the spirits destroy her family’s heritage, and the lives of those she loves.

What are the spirits trying to tell the Overton family?

Ashby Overton is a historical romance writer who also happens to have experience when dealing with paranormal spirits. Ellis O. Grady, PhD Professor of Sociology introduced himself to the Overton family as a possible blood relative. His investigation stems from treasures and notes that belong to his distance relatives who were captured in Africa and enslaved by Burwell Overton. The Overton family, which happens to be big on their family history, takes Professor Ellis to the historical Jared Chapel. Jared Chapel served as the center of black social life and represented freedom of worship for Blacks in Overhome back in 1782. That historical site is at risk of being bought by a cold hearted developer, Sonny Slaughter. The spirits are restless and trying to get the Overton’s family attention. This is a story that offers an intriguing mystery, with a strong family unit and a community that is willing to stand together to preserve the towns historical site.

The book is well written, the character are developed and the unique plot kept my interest. It has a somewhat intriguing start but spent a lot of time introducing characters and talking about horse training. I like the diary entries because they were informative and helped narrate the story along by giving more details. The story is interesting and told with a variety of characters and events that all combine into a balanced story with the mystery being solved by the end. Strange things are happening and items are disappearing. The author did a good job of pacing the story and explaining so that it was easy for me to follow the story as it unfolds.

The book wasn’t only about family history and huntings. The author threw in a threat to Ashby’s marriage. Luke hires a young lady that seems more interested in him than in working at his veterinary practice. This plays out in the mist of the paranormal mystery and is resolved.

Even though this book is part of a series this can be read as a standalone. I was not lost and was able to complete the book without questions or confusion.

This was a satisfying read that I would recommend to the reader that enjoys a book that is a balance between mystery and paranormal.