The Charlemagne Connection by R. M. Cartmel

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The Charlemagne Connection by R. M. Cartmel
Publisher: Crime Scene Books
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (328 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

The second in the Commander Truchaud series finds the diffident policeman unravelling yet another mystery in the little Burgundy village of Nuits-Saint-Georges. A young German tourist seems to have gone missing. But what at first appears quite a straightforward affair soon turns dark when a decomposing body is found in the woods.

Another episode of murder, mayhem, violence and villany in the orderly vineyards of Burgundy.

In this very satisfying sequel to The Richebourg Affair,  R.M Cartmel again brings main character Commander Truchard to his home town of Nuits-Saint-Georges.

Logical, likeable Truchard is an old-style detective. He gathers facts, searches, interviews; and best of all, reveals his process along the way.

It starts with a missing tourist; hardly a dark or sinister case. Truchard might find the case petty–along with some other minor crimes–but things ratchet up rather rapidly. In the midst of investigation, he also must cope with pressing family matters, and a very legitimate concern about his ‘real’ job back in Paris. various things seem to conspire to hinder investigation, from language issues to the intrusion of his personal life. Still, he approaches untangling the crime with tenacity.

The mystery is at once unpredictable and believable. It was, however, the very revealing details about Truchard himself, and his family, that really piqued my interest.

The village and vineyards provide a charming and familiar backdrop. The discussion and knowledge of winemaking, the patience, dedication and importance of it, both to those in the profession and those just in the area. Wine; making, understanding, enjoying/quality seems to unite the various inhabitants of the village. Characters, from the young constable to an array of others all are well developed, and Lenoir is even amusing.

R.M Cartmel, and more importantly, his detective, Truchard, have stepped firmly into the ranks of Hercule Poirot, Richard Jury and Roderick Allyn. Mystery fans absolutely must read…and if you aren’t a mystery fan, Cartmel might well convince you. He is a skilled writer and this latest is easily the match of his first. I for one cannot wait for the next.

Shadows of Doubt by Mell Corcoran

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Shadows of Doubt by Mell Corcoran
Publisher: Mill City Publishing
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (427 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Humans sit comfortably at the summit of the food chain; rarely does any other animal get the advantage. But other people? Now there’s something to fear. In Mell Corcoran’s thrilling crime novel debut, Shadows of Doubt, women are being hunted, tortured, killed and their assailant leaves the same clue on each of them but it has no scientific explanation. Detective Lou Donovan must figure out this killer’s signature because he’s escalating and no one knows where he will strike next.

When the first victim appears in Shadows of Doubt, neither Lou nor her partner wants the case but it’s dropped in their laps. As soon as they make some progress, however, the case is taken from them and the explanation is weak at best. Lou won’t let go and tries to work below the radar but she’s foiled at every turn. It’s as if someone is watching her and knows her every move.

Shadows of Doubt is an exciting ride. It has everything a good crime book needs: a fiery detective with a blood hound’s sense, dark figures with dark pasts, twists, turns, and action. And then there’s the tall, gorgeous man. Lou and this mysterious stranger keep crossing paths and his presence disarms her. What she doesn’t know is that her effect on him is the same and therein lies the rub. If he can’t think straight, Lou will die.

How can I sum up Shadows of Doubt? Actually, I don’t think I can. When I read the synopsis I thought it was going to be a paranormal story but then as I began reading it, I guessed I’d been wrong but then…

Well, I won’t give away the plot because that would ruin it for you. Let me just say if you like your mysteries, especially police procedurals, on the gritty side then you’ll love this book. Half way through there is a great surprise and can I just say, if you do like paranormal books, then you’ll probably enjoy the reveal that I didn’t see coming.

I liked the main character Lou, she’s tough, sometimes funny and has that I’m not giving up attitude. The other characters were all fun too, especially Caroline who she teams up with.

One thing I really liked about this story was as you asked more questions while you were reading, more doors opened to the possibility that things might not be as they appeared. It’s certainly a page turner and don’t be put off by the 427 pages. During the second half of the book when you uncover something juicy, you’ll find yourself racing through the book.

The setting was also perfect for the book, almost like another layer on a well baked cake. This is the first in the series featuring Lou, I have another one to read and review, and I’m looking forward to seeing where her next adventures take her.

For fans of gritty mysteries with a healthy dose of the paranormal, I think this might be a good pick for you.

Backwoods Justice by Chuck Walsh

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Backwoods Justice by Chuck Walsh
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (262 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

While fishing with her grandfather, Rubin Sawyer, five-year old Christina slips around the bend of Doe Creek to chase a butterfly. In a heartbeat, she is snatched away.

When Sawyer helped put an end to a series of killings on Iron Mountain a year prior, he had no idea the hornet’s nest he’d stirred, being labeled as a traitor by the locals.

When a series of killings takes place on nearby Appalachian Trail, notes left behind in blood as a cat and mouse game ensues on the whereabouts of Christina, the local sheriff turns to big city detective Thomas Jordan and local mountain guide Emma Douglas as they reunite in this sequel to Shadows on Iron Mountain.

Backwoods Justice takes evil to a new level, as the head of Rubin Sawyer is demanded in exchange for Christina’s life. Meanwhile, the assassin’s taste for killing hikers grows, a killer more cold and calloused than Burley Greer, the one who abducted and killed young women in Shadows on Iron Mountain.

Come again to Iron Mountain as Jordan and Sawyer endure the justice administered in the backwoods of East Tennessee.

Set amidst the backwoods of Tennessee, this striking novel spins a mesmerizing tale of vengeful foes, and raging passion that could lead to a murderous trail set along the mountain trails. This novel is action packed from the very beginning. The detailed description the author gives of the mountains of Tennessee were so vivid, I could picture the scenery and the action as I read along. This was a book that held my attention through out. I was so pleased as I continued to read that the author kept up the pace with the action and mystery within the storyline. I enjoyed the writing style; the author really knows how to tell a story. He painted a picture so clear of the town, the people, the lakes and woods of Iron Mountain area that after reading I feel like I’ve actually been to the area. The locals even though unfriendly I can actually picture their lifestyle, attire and attitudes from the awesome writing. Even though some of the tourist characters didn’t last long in the book, the author still gave details and gave them a life and personality.

During a family fishing outing Rubin Sawyer’s granddaughter goes missing. With a history of being the mountain outcast, Rubin is set on finding his granddaughter. The mountain people don’t take kindly to outsiders, which becomes evident when hikers are found killed and no one is willing to talk to investigators. Kidnapping and murder investigation calls for experienced police and investigators, which in turn calls for more confrontation with the locals. Having worked a prior case in the area Thomas Jordan and Emma Douglas team up to help stop the killer on the mountain. Will all the attention from the murders be enough to stop the killer or will he continue on his quest for revenge?

This is a book that I am glad that I picked to read. I enjoyed reading the storyline. I am not a hiker by any means, but reading about the satisfaction of adventure and self fulfillment displaced through the characters I may look into giving hiking a try, minus the bears of course. This book is full of action, it gives a complete story that isn’t predictable. I will be sure to check out other books by this author.

This is an adventure that is sure to please any reader who likes to read about twisted revenge that includes plenty of action.

Shadows by Stella Barcelona

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Shadows by Stella Barcelona
Publisher: Self
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (398 pgs)
Heat level: Spicy
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Poppy

Cataclysm. Now. Run.

A cryptic, urgent text message turns the peaceful life Skye Barrows has created for herself and her sister into chaos. She must follow her father’s instructions to the letter, but Sebastian Connelly is blocking her way. Telling Sebastian what she must do is not an option.

What He Doesn’t Know Will Get Them All Killed

When a prison break in the midst of a security system upgrade threatens to destroy the reputation of Sebastian’s company, Black Raven Private Security Contractors, he goes on the hunt for escaped prisoner Richard Barrows – a delusional and paranoid computer software genius.

Sebastian’s mission: find Richard Barrows and return him to prison, but stonewalled by Skye, who refuses to give him answers, and with the added complication of her special needs sister, Sebastian finds himself always a step or two behind vicious killers.

Nothing About This Case is Normal

For Sebastian, it should be simple, but this case will test him in ways he never imagined. As probing interrogation becomes urgent protection, the search for Barrows forces Sebastian and Skye into a murky world of shadows and illusions.

Terrifyingly possible, Shadows is romantic suspense on steroids. It starts with a bang and never slows down.

Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for fans of the genre, this book was just amazing. The characters are so real, well-developed and rounded. All unique, with their own sets of characteristics and flaws. No cookie cutters here! Even the secondary characters were interesting and integral to the plot.

It’s hard to rave about the book without giving spoilers, but the author has serious writing chops. So much description that you’re thrust into the story, but it’s not intrusive, so reading is more like watching a movie … so smooth you don’t remember you’re in a book. She doesn’t miss the little details that matter, but do keep in mind this descriptive ability also occurs during the more violent scenes as well, so they can be pretty graphic and gruesome.

There is plenty of heat and sexual tension between Sebastian and Skye as well, and when it culminates in sex, it nearly blew my head off… lots of build up and tension there as well.

Seriously, I’m so impressed with this author and have gone back to buy Deceived. If that is as solid a read as this one, she’ll have earned a spot on my auto-buy list, and that’s not an easy place to land.

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Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen

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Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.

For the second time in his fourteen years, Teddy Clock finds himself orphaned. Having survived not one, but two massacres, he wonders what it is about himself that draws such tragedy. Left with nowhere to go and no one to care for him, Detective Jane Rizzoli steps in to both solve his case and get his life back on track. What none of them suspect is that he’s not the only one. Two other children have suffered – and survived – a similar fate. Is it simply tragic coincidence or something more sinister? They might not find out until it’s too late.

I’m going to start off by saying that the mystery portion of this novel is a touch far-fetched. That said, it’s written with the same drive and intensity as all the previous novels, propelling you straight into the story without a chance to take a deep breath first. When you add in the familiar characters with this powerful need to solve the mystery and comfort the children, you forget that the actual plot is a bit over the top. Well-written and engrossing, I found myself quickly caught up in the mystery, forgetting everything else. I was rooting for these kids to get another chance at a normal life with friends and loved ones like everyone else. It was the least they deserved after all they’d been through.

As much as I adored this novel, the lack of actual Rizzoli and Isles points of view was a bit disappointing. While I enjoyed the way the teens bonded together and tried to take things into their own hands, at times I missed Jane’s smart mouth and Barry Frost’s constant damper on Rizzoli’s temper. But overall, it was an enjoyable and engaging story. The author is a master at twists and turns, surprising you even when you think you’ve got it all figured out. I highly recommend this novel and this entire series to anyone who likes a consuming, action-packed thriller of a mystery.

Scarred by Xandra James

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Scarred by Xandra James
Publisher: Self published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (47 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Noelle Travis is unlovable. Scarred and damaged, she’s lived her life as a thief, always in the shadows, never allowing herself to trust in silly dreams. Now the man who viciously controls her wants more, and she has one chance at freedom. But when he pushes her into the arms of her ex-love, Sig, the tight hold she has on her own broken world crumbles around her and the consequences turn deadly.

Billionaire Sig Randall has everything…and nothing. Tired of the secrets he keeps close to his heart, all he wants is to feel something. When Noelle, the woman he left behind ten years ago, crashes back into his life, he knows it’s for a reason. Trouble runs through her veins and he’d move heaven and earth if she’d trust him again. Thing is, the problems of the past have a way of turning up in the present. And sometimes, to get a second chance at love, your heart needs to be ripped apart…

Scarred is first installment in the series, Broken Billionaires, and it comes with a “To be continued” sign at the end of the last page. Therefore it can be said that this is just an introduction. But it is a good introduction and fast and edge of the seat interesting.

In Scarred, Noelle and Sig meet after they have been apart for ten years. It is very obvious that somebody was involved in breaking them apart. Also they both keep some life-changing secrets. Sig’s life turned out for the better, and he is a billionaire. On the other hand Noelle’s life turned for the worst, and now she is forced to steal from him in order to get out of debt.

Since this is an introduction not much can be said about the characters, just that Noelle is a solo player but she is so deep in trouble that eventually she will be forced to turn to Sig for help. Also it is obvious that they are both still have feelings for one another.

The author made a good beginning of the story. She established a good sense of time and place and I was immediately pulled into this fast paced story. Now that I tasted it I want it more. I will keep a close eye for the second story in the series and I will definitely read it.

NYPD Red 3 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp

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NYPD Red 3 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (354 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

PROTECT THE RICH. SERVE THE FAMOUS. HUNT THE GUILTY.

NYPD Red is the elite, highly trained task force assigned to protect the rich, the famous, and the connected. And Detective Zach Jordan and his partner Kylie MacDonald-the woman who broke his heart at the police academy-are the best of the best, brilliant and tireless investigators who will stop at nothing to deliver justice.

Zach and Kylie’s New Year’s celebrations are cut short when they’re called to the home of billionaire businessman Hunter Alden, Jr. after he makes a grisly discovery in his townhouse garage. When Alden’s teenage son goes missing soon afterwards, and his father seems oddly reluctant to find him, Zach and Kylie find themselves in the middle of a chilling conspiracy that threatens everyone in its wake-especially their city’s most powerful citizens. NYPD Red 3 is the next sensational novel in James Patterson’s explosive new series, a thriller that goes behind the closed doors of New York high society and into the depths of depravity.

New Year’s Eve is a time for celebrations, resolutions, and good times. Everything fades into the background however when billionaire Hunter Alden Jr. finds the decapitated head of his chauffer in his garage. With his son missing and his chauffer dead, Hunter calls on the best of the best – the NYPD’s Red division. But not even New York City’s most elite task force can solve a mystery when the major players are keeping secrets from them. Will Zach and Kylie be able to find Tripp before it’s too late?

Zach Jordan has been one of my favorite characters since the first novel in this series. He’s finally starting to settle into some semblance of a relationship outside of the one with his partner, Kylie MacDonald. This makes me very happy as I really do love the woman he’s started dating. However, poor Zach is intent on beating himself up over every thought, action, or breath he might feel is even the least bit leading or inappropriate in respects to his partner. We’ve long known that he still carries a torch for Kylie – and that she’s moved on – but enough already. Please give this hardworking detective some closure and allow him to move on with his life. He’s too much fun and entirely too intelligent to be stuck in this endless loop of what could have been. All of that aside, he’s the kind of guy I’d be friends with in a heartbeat. He’s honest, he’s open, and on occasion, he’s needy and emotional.

I’ve mentioned in the past that Kylie MacDonald wasn’t exactly my favorite person. Thankfully, she’s finally starting to mellow out somewhat and become more of a real-to-life character for me. She’s not nearly as abrasive as she’s been in the past, and a lot of that comes from what’s happened to her husband over the last couple of novels, I think. Poor Spence, he’s really been the one to take a beating as of late. Hopefully the change in her relationship with Spencer is effecting some character growth for her. On the flip side, no matter whether I like her or not, she and Zach really do work well together, acting as two halves of one whole. He has the detective’s brain, while she has the gut instinct. Putting both together gives you a very powerful team.

Although I think that each installment in this series gets better and better, the added twist to this third installment was a bit too much. The double homicide, the kidnapping, and all of the usual elements in a James Patterson novel worked well. But the surprise of Project Guttenberg left me feeling a bit confused. However, if I put that last bit aside, the intense action and the nose to the ground police work make the story worth reading. The NYPD Red series is still one of my favorite James Patterson series to date.

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

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Gray Mountain by John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (368 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

Sometimes the scariest books are the ones that are true to life.

This is one of those books.

I love the work of John Grisham. He’s one of my go-to authors and auto-buys. I’ve only read a couple of his books I didn’t like and I’ve read them all. His writing flows well, but there are occasionally some hiccups. I don’t mind the hiccups. The story of Gray Mountain is engaging. I needed to know what was going to happen next. I read this book in one afternoon and am glad I picked up the book.

The book hit hard and hit home for me because of the general theme: bullies and those who don’t really understand trying to take on and destroy those who don’t agree with them. I could see people I knew in the characters and rooted for them to have happy endings, although I knew the plot might not go according to my wishes.

This book deals with the downturn in the legal conglomerate and the effect of Lehman Brothers on the economy. For many, this downturn is something they’ve dealt with and it did make the book relateable. This can be construed as an ‘issue book’, meaning there is an underlying issue being delivered to the reader. In this case, it’s the coal mining industry and the ecological devastation done by some of the mining practices. There are moments when the book could be a bit preachy, but it made me think about the actual people having to deal with these issues. I felt for the families having to deal with black lung, being blackballed by the major corporations and feeling like they have no voice. My heart went out to them.

Of all the characters, I loved the Gray brothers. Donovan and Jeff were pieces of work. Daring, dangerous, misunderstood and. . . yeah, sexy. I could see them and could picture them on the big screen. I loved Donovan’s desire to stick it to big business and Jeff’s devil-may-care attitude. The twists and turns concerning the brothers weren’t anticipated, but even when I didn’t like the plot twists, I understood why the things had to happen.

Although I really enjoyed the book, there were a few things that drove me nuts. Samantha, the heroine, needed to do some growing up. She was interesting, but she took some time for me to digest. Once I thought about her and mulled over my feelings, I realized she was a product of her upbringing. Although her tendency to shy away from things she didn’t understand and where she wasn’t directly told what to do did get on my nerves.

If you want a book that will make you think, then this might be the read for you.

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank

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Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (277 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There isn’t enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Rose realizes she’s wasted twenty-four years of living and makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt: twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before her vision comes true. She’s well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking, but won’t help with number fifteen– do more with a man. Joe’s new to town, but it doesn’t take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got plenty secrets of his own.

Somebody thinks Rose has something they want and they’ll do anything to get it. Her house is broken into, someone else she knows is murdered, and suddenly, dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn’t her biggest worry after all.

Rose Gardner has visions. She’s been punished by her mother, derided by friends and most people think she’s weird. So she doesn’t talk about them anymore. However, when the next customer at DMV sits down and she looks at him, she sees herself in a vision. She’s on the couch at home and she’s dead…

Ms. Swank starts the book with a great first sentence: “It all started when I saw myself dead.” She had my attention and she kept it until the end of the book. This is a great read. Rose is naïve, has never been kissed even though she’s twenty-four, and her mother still tells her what to do. She thinks about moving out but she doesn’t know where, nor can she leave her mother alone. Rose will grow up a lot before the end of this story.

The man she met at DMV is a bad man. He thinks she has something he wants and no matter how many times she says she doesn’t, he doesn’t believe her. When she finds her mother dead on the couch, she freaks because it should have been her. If she hadn’t gotten mad and went to the library, she would have been home during the attack.

There’s great interaction between family members and Rose has a crush on her new neighbor. But can she trust him?

Ms. Swank twists her tale around and keeps you on your toes trying to keep up. Rose and her family are in danger, the action happens fast, and the matter needs to be resolved in a week or she’ll really be dead this time. The suspense and the danger add to the story line as well as the budding romance with Joe. I turned the pages fast when reading this one and sat and read the whole thing in one sitting. I didn’t want to wait and see what happened; I wanted to know now!

The author did an excellent job on this story and I’m ready to get the next book now. Rose is a great character and I want to know her better.

The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

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The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (315 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Every crime scene tells a story. Some keep you awake at night. Others haunt your dreams. The grisly display homicide cop Jane Rizzoli finds in Boston’s Chinatown will do both.

In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female’s severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair—not human—cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel.

Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she’s the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil.

Cracking a crime resonating with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning—and a swift, avenging blade.

A grisly murder in Boston’s Chinatown leaves Detective Jane Rizzoli feeling a little out of her element. Unacquainted with the people and their culture, she finds herself relying on a new addition to their team, Detective Johnny Tam. But will the newcomer to homicide be enough to unravel this mystery with roots in ancient China? Jane Rizzoli, with medical examiner Maura Isles by her side, is bound and determined to see this one through to the end.

Jane Rizzoli is a hard character to like sometimes. She’s brusque and bold and puts a lot of people off, mostly other detectives. But I really like her. You knew from book one that she was a darn good detective and would do anything to prove herself. Even now, in book nine, she’s still pushing to do her best and make her name. Pairing her with Barry Frost was the best thing Boston PD could have done.

Detective Barry Frost, on the other hand, is likable from day one. Sweet and possessing more tact than Rizzoli could ever dream of, Frost is the perfect foil to Jane’s abrasive nature. I was happy to see some of the focus turn towards him during this novel because he’s the kind of guy you want to get to know better.

I wasn’t exactly sure why the author introduced Johnny Tam into this novel, but as we got deeper into the mystery, it made more sense. He’s Chinese and knows the people and the history of those living in Chinatown, easing the way for the rest of the Boston Police Department. His knowledge of Chinese folklore and ability to apply it to what was happening around them was fascinating. Folklore and mythology have always been an interest of mine, so being treated to a ton of stories I’d never heard before only engaged me further.

The Silent Girl ups the intensity of the Rizzoli and Isles series, cranking the tension up to eleven. One of the most engrossing novels of the series, I found myself unable to stop reading. If the characters continue to grow and evolve like they have been, this is going to end up being one of the best mystery series ever written. I finish one novel and find myself anxiously waiting for the next. I cannot get enough of Jane Rizzoli and her cohorts at the Boston Police Department.