Death on the Trek by Kaye George


Death on the Trek by Kaye George
A People of the Wind Mystery, #2
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Historical
Length: Short Story (148 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review ed by Astilbe

The Neanderthal tribe of Enga Dancing Flower must trek south to flee the approaching glacier, but the distance is long and the food is scarce. When a venerable elder drowns crossing a flooded river, Enga suspects that it was not an accident, and that a murderer travels with them.

Someone in this tribe is extremely dangerous.

The character development was fabulous. I especially liked seeing how Enga Dancing Flower had changed since I first met her. She’s grown in all kinds of ways since then, and her new status as a fully-grown adult showed in how she reacted to the newest crime that threatened her people. It was interesting to watch her figure out that something was terribly wrong once again. She didn’t have a lot of time to catch the murderer, so I was really glad that she reacted as quickly and maturely as she did as soon as she noticed the threat.

With that being said, there were a few times when I was a little surprised by how openly the main character went about trying to figure out who the murderer was. She knew that her list of suspects was small, so talking about the clues she’d uncovered with so many different people didn’t strike me as the smartest idea. Normally she was much more aware of danger than that. This was a minor criticism of a story that I otherwise really loved, though.

It was fascinating to read a mystery set in a time when there was no such thing as a detective, judge, trial, or prison sentence. Enga Dancing Flower has to figure out what happened to the murdered member of her tribe with only very limited experience solving this kind of crime. This meant that some of her techniques for finding new clues and trying to figure out what happened weren’t at all what I’d normally expect to find in this genre, but that didn’t make them any less effective. It was refreshing to watch this character put such a creative spin on on the process.

This is the second book in the People of the Wind series. While the plot itself technically can be understood if you haven’t read Death in the Time of Ice, I strongly recommend reading this series in order because of how complex all of the family and other relationships are in Enga Dancing Flower’s tribe. The narrator only goes over them again briefly here, so there was a lot of background information that I was happy to have remembered so clearly from the first tale. Already being familiar with that stuff made it much easier for me get absorbed in what was a pretty compelling mystery.

Death on the Trek was a fabulous read. I can’t recommend it highly enough! Anyone who enjoys prehistoric fiction or complex murder mysteries should definitely give it a try.

The Girl on The Beach by Morton S. Gray


The Girl on The Beach by Morton S. Gray
Publisher: Choc Lit Limited
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (255 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

After divorcing her abusive husband, Ellie changes her surname and she and her teenage son settle in a small seaside town. Her past rushes into the present when Harry Dixon, the new headmaster, reminds her of her son’s father, a surfer she met just before her marriage. She sternly told herself this wasn’t possible as Ben Rivers had died in a surfing accident before her son’s birth.

Ellie and Harry pull backwards and forwards as she tries to make him confess his real identity, while Harry is determined to remain in character as the headmaster. Things come to a head when the past rears its ugly head and threatens to pull their lives into oblivion.

This book is a delightful contemporary romance set in a seaside town in England. The angst of teenage life shows itself in the past and present allowing the flashbacks to Ellie’s teenage years to come to the fore.

A pleasant book, not too dark, but a little bit of mystery added makes the story more intense, and there is also a touch of danger in the final pages. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (353 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

DESIRE RUNS DEEP

Somewhere off the coast of Greece, a king’s ransom in gold, emeralds, and silver coins lies waiting at the bottom of the sea. Finding this ancient treasure would be a dream come true for marine archeologist Calista West. But that’s not why she’s here. She didn’t climb aboard Jonah Cutter’s magnificent yacht seeking fortune or fame. She’s come for revenge—against the sexiest, most seductive, modern-day pirate she’s ever encountered…

Like his famous half brothers, Jonah is a master of salvaging ships—and driving women mad with his movie-star looks and raw animal magnetism. Tall, dark, and devastating, he manages to make Callie forget her mission. Every moment they share under the hot Mediterranean sun is an erotically-charged adventure neither can resist. But when Callie discovers what he’s really after—the lost city of Atlantis—is it too late to change the course of her heart…or go all in with the lover of her dreams?

Looking for Atlantis! Wow, so not what I expected. Stormchaser is third in a series. I wasn’t aware of this when I selected it, and I had no issue following the story, though–as always–it will likely be a richer experience if you’ve read the others.

This is my second Cherry Adair book, and she definitely has a “way” that she writes. Regardless of the storyline, attraction between the H/h is hot, erotic and immediate. Looking for a seriously sexy story? Look no further.

Jonah reminds me of any good, fictional “pirate”. Yes, he’s the captain of a ship, but I could picture him hundreds of years earlier underneath the skull and crossbones. Dark, strong, mysterious. However, he’s far to honorable for that.

Callie isn’t as honorable, and it took me some time to warm up to her. She’s on his ship on a lie, a big one, and it was tough for me to forgive her for it because I liked Jonah.

The premise of the book was interesting, too … I love the idea of potentially finding Atlantis. It’s this big mystery that lingers and makes a person wonder. Very well handled by the author.

The only hiccup I had was the lack of a true connection between Callie and Jonah. Heat? Oh yeah, in spades. Lots of sheet time here. But that little “spark” that makes a romance reader’s heart go pitty-pat? I didn’t feel it authentically.

Still, Ms. Adair’s writing is strong, descriptive and very clear and visual. I’m only just now finding her, but thankfully, she has a full backlist for me to explore. And I assuredly will.

Smoke and Mirrors by Taylor Anne


Smoke and Mirrors by Taylor Anne
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (228 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Drug deal and Murder: In her fight for justice, Abby Monroe is forced to flee to protect herself and her family, seeking out the only man she’s ever fully trusted. Seeing him again threatens not only her safety, but her heart as well.

Injuries and Betrayal: After a close call with death, Graeme Tucker made some changes. No women, no danger. Just him and his beach bar. Until Abby shows up asking for his help and twisting his heart.

Lies and Deception: As Graeme and Abby struggle to stop a gang of ruthless criminals, old flames are rekindled. But all is not as it seems. Will Graeme stand by his word to protect Abby, or does he have a sinister agenda of his own?

Smoke and Mirrors literally caught my interest with the first sentence. I love when that happens. In fact I had to stop and make a decision – do I continue reading knowing it might be one of those books I’m not going to want to put down and I didn’t have much time at that moment? Or wait until I can sit uninterrupted? I chose to continue reading as fast as I could.

The heroine, Abby Monroe, is an average everyday woman who happens to find herself in a not so average predicament. The hero, Graeme, isn’t the average everyday man. In fact he has such an interesting history that when Abby and Graeme are together they are anything but typical. In fact the suspense/mystery surrounding them was spellbinding. When you consider the combination of suspense/mystery and their chemistry, it was a miracle I was able to put the book down when I had to.

It was a thrill to pick it back up the next chance I had. The pace was consistently swift and smooth, and the writing style was excellent.

So why the three point five star? I had a small issue with part of the plot. Without spoiling anything I will only say that I do not think Abby took the reality of her predicament serious enough. I felt she was selfish and irresponsible. In the real world when put in that type of situation, I’d hope the individual would heed the advice that was given by a professional and not act or think like they knew better. I do understand it’s a story and that the plot had to be written that way so she could meet Graeme, but I would rather have seen her meeting him with a different course of action. I have an issue when one person puts others at risk because of their own selfish thoughtlessness. Abby actually did this again later in the book and I will admit that it definitely resulted in more suspense. Perhaps that is what made it a great book. However, that hiccup over the heroine’s decisions didn’t set well with me. Thank God, Graeme was man enough to ensure a happy ever after ending!

I will say the plot twist at the end was a surprise that I didn’t see coming and was well played out. I am curious to see if Abby’s best friend, Lace, and Graeme’s best friend/co-worker, Cooper, will get a book of their own. I’d be interested in reading their story.

A Bodyguard of Lies by Donna Del Oro


A Bodyguard of Lies by Donna Del Oro
The Jake Bernstein FBI Series Volume 1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (453 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

FBI agent Jake Bernstein goes undercover to investigate an American grandmother suspected of war crimes during World War II. Jake runs into complications when his growing attraction to the woman’s granddaughter challenges his obligation to remain emotionally detached. As the investigation intensifies, a neo-Nazi group tries to prevent him from learning the truth as Jake struggles to stay alive long enough to either prove the woman’s guilt or exonerate her.
Despite Meg Larsen’s mounting passion for the handsome stranger, she suspects he is not who he claims to be and strives to protect her elderly grandmother. Eventually, Meg is forced to trust a man who has become both their nemesis and bodyguard.

Jake was itching to get out of the office. He might not live long enough to regret that decision.

Jake is very good at his job. He’s smart, attractive, and he has certain skills that make him a valuable undercover agent, especially when women are concerned. The assignment sounded simple enough, but the deeper he digs, the more complicated the task becomes. Jake becomes convinced he isn’t being told everything. Will he discover the truth before it is too late?

Jake strikes me as a man who has reached a point in his life where he is ready for a change, but hasn’t quite figured out what exactly he wants. All that changes when he meets Meg. Suddenly Jake finds himself wanting a more serious relationship. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Jake tries to keep his personal feelings in check, but he simply can’t help falling for Meg. Jake and Meg are well suited for each other, and I liked watching them get to know each other even though it was bittersweet. I knew he’d eventually have to tell her the truth, and I wasn’t sure their budding romance would survive. I do admire Jake for trying to be as honest possible with Meg. He gently leads her to the truth, never forcing anything on her. She is a smart woman and he knows she’ll eventually put all the pieces together and discover the truth about her grandmother.

Mary, Meg’s grandmother, is a very well rounded villain. I really enjoyed the chapters the covered her past and activities during WWII. It gave context and depth to her that really made her come to life in my mind. It would be easy to write Mary off as nothing more than an evil Nazi spy, but like all well-developed characters, she is a blend of good and bad. She did some horrible things, but also some very good things. I don’t like her, the choices she made, or the things she stood for, but she is also human. She cared deeply for her family, and she raised Meg in a very loving home.

I must admit that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending. I was convinced that Jake wanted something permanent with Meg. I hoped for a very happy ending for the couple, but was disappointed. I know that Jake and Meg care for each other. I can only hope that Jake and Meg find a way to a happier ending in the next book of the series.

I truly enjoyed reading A Bodyguard of Lies. The characters were intriguing, and the plot was well paced and exciting. I highly recommend A Bodyguard of Lies to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense.

February Mystery/Suspense Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ 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

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

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?

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Ready Or Dead by PM Kavanaugh


Ready Or Dead by PM Kavanaugh
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (59 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Fans of TV’s Quantico and Alias will love this sizzling prequel to the thrilling spy caper Die Run Hide.

New recruit Anika Washington has barely adjusted to the difficult training regimen at a global counterterrorism agency when she’s prematurely called up to complete her first mission. If she succeeds, she’ll become a field agent; if she fails, Anika’s out of the program. Abandoned at birth to a federal orphanage, Anika never wants to feel the pain of rejection again.

Complicating matters is the fact that she’ll be going undercover at a black-tie gala with Gianni Brambillo, the gorgeous and enigmatic Level 2 agent who seems to have taken a special interest in Anika. Armed with high-tech spy gadgets and quick thinking, the two of them will need to rely on each other to complete their plan successfully. It’s go time, and Anika must prove to everyone, including herself, that she’s mission-ready—or die trying.

Anika is a first-year recruit and at the end of her extensive training. With nowhere else to go, she’s determined to make the cut and become an operative. Can she pass the impossible odds?

I found this to be an interesting and fast-paced read. The shadowy “agency” training the special operatives puts Anika through her paces and makes for quite the adrenaline rush. I enjoyed watching Anika during her various, rigorous training and start her first mission. The author’s style of writing – along with the characters and situations – really made me think of an episode of the tv series “Alias”. There’s lots of action, a fair bit of cloak-and-dagger suspense/mystery and that whole “let’s save the world” spy/thriller action all through the book. While the plot wasn’t exactly fresh or new, I found the story itself compelling and interesting enough to retain my interest all the way through.

I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters – Anika and Gianni. I found both characters to be complex and interesting people with multiple layers. Curiosity about them both kept me happily turning the pages to discover what would happen next. I also liked how there were so many interesting secondary characters – other recruits both new ones at Anika’s level and Level One and Two’s with more experience and clearly more knowledge about the shadowy government organization that they were training and working for.

While there is a fair amount of chemistry between Anika and Gianni, there is no actual romance in this story (no kisses or any physical affection). I feel it’s important to note though that the story does end with a potential happy ending for these two characters. I’d be very interested to read any further stories set in this world and particularly about any further stories about Anika and Gianni.

Readers who like spy-type novels or action based stories should enjoy this short story as much as I did. I found the plot interesting and I greatly enjoyed the complexities of the characters and the agency they found themselves in. Recommended.

Shares the Darkness by J.R. Lindermuth


Shares the Darkness by J.R. Lindermuth
Publisher: Torid Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (225 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Office Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.

When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods, Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman’s life, as she searches for clues.

As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There’s illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time.And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there’s some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich, who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.

Still, Flora maintains focus on the murder, and despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Flora’s probing opens personal wounds, as she observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.

Everyone has their secrets, and secrets have a way of being found out.

When Jan Kepler doesn’t return home from a birding excursion the day before, a search reveals that she is dead. This is huge news for a small town and Officer Flora Vastine and the Swatara Creek Police Department have their hands more than full with illegal timbering and a rash of car thefts in the area. When an old classmate that has his own skeletons in the closet reappears, Flora struggles to keep her past from influencing her job.

J.R. Lindermuth does a great job at weaving the private and professional lives of the citizens of Swatara Creek together. Each character has a deep back story and it seems that everyone has something to hide. From Peg, Jan’s only close friend, to Flora’s boyfriend Harry, who seems to be acting a little more secretive than he should be, each character makes the reader re-evaluate what is happening within the story. The depth of emotions and the interconnectedness of each individual shows the complex diversity that J.R. Lindermuth has struggled to incorporate within the story.

The multiple events that occur pull the police officers in different directions and the reader is easily caught up in the small town life and various focuses of the Swatara Creek Police Department. J.R. Lindermuth uses great foreshadowing and strong dialogue to promote a strong story line. Some notable editing errors take away slightly from the flow of the read. Overall the various interwoven plots and strong character backgrounds drive home the depth of the story and draw the reader into the lives of those in Swatara Creek.

If you are a fan of a good mystery, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Shares the Darkness!

The Artie Crimes by Jan Christensen


The Artie Crimes Anthology by Jan Christensen
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (64 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When your profession is thievery, you’re bound to find trouble. Artie Applegate just wants to have simple heists with no complications, but the women in his life repeatedly keep that from happening. More often than not, Artie ends up trading his burglary skills for mystery-solving talents instead.

Collected here, for the first time, are four short stories previously released by Untreed Reads containing Artie’s many exploits as he attempts to pull off burglaries while solving a crime or two in the process. This collection also contains a brand-new Artie short story, “Artie and the Big-Footed Woman.”

Artie and the Long-Legged Woman

It’s been ten years since Artie had last seen his oldest friend, Henry – and the unforgettable, gorgeous legs of Henry’s wife. When Artie learns Henry might finally have bitten off more than he can chew, Artie tries to help.

I enjoyed this short story. Gritty and written in a very noir-detective style I was pleased that I could pick it up without reading any other of the Artie stories and not only understand what was going on, but also find myself drawn to the hard-boiled detective Artie. A great, quick read.

Artie and the Brown-Eyed Woman

While in the middle of a job, Artie witnesses a brown-eyed woman being kidnapped off the street. He gives chase, but can’t save her in time. Despite his best intentions, he finds himself drawn to helping rescue her. But is the beautiful, brown-eyed woman all she appears to be?

This is another good short story. I enjoyed the twist in the plot (didn’t see it coming!) and found the story fun and satisfying with an interesting plot and fun, complicated characters.

Artie and the Red-Headed Woman

While riding the bus home after a job, Artie bumps into an old childhood friend, Gina. The pretty red-haired woman looks incredibly sad and so for old times’ sake Artie decides to help her.

I really liked this short story – again there was a twist at the end which took me by surprise. The author has a good style of story-telling that I really enjoy, lean and crisp and a little noir-ish. In a very few words characters are made to come alive and the plot is quite gripping despite the short word count.

Artie and the Green-Eyed Woman

While leaving a job, Artie runs into a woman who convinces him to pick the lock on a nearby building. Even though he’s eager to get away – the woman drags him into a new mess, and Artie will need all his luck and wits to get out of this trouble.

I found this to be a great short story, with a very good lesson for Artie. I also enjoyed meeting Artie’s mother for the first time.

Artie and the Big-Footed Woman

While on the bus going home after a heist, Artie has some rotten luck when the zipper on his bag breaks and a big-footed woman nearby sees the jewels from his score. What will the mysterious woman want in exchange for her silence?

I enjoyed this story. I wasn’t at all surprised by the plot twist, but I still greatly enjoyed watching Artie deal with the tricky problem Liz presented. A great read.

Readers who enjoy straight mysteries with a hard-boiled, noir-like feeling should enjoy these short stories. I enjoyed them all and would happily read longer-length stories about Artie’s adventures and crimes. While there is a long-standing relationship between Artie and Josie there is no romance in any of these short stories – they are hard-boiled, old-fashioned, straight mystery/suspense style stories that I feel should appeal to a wide range of readers.

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!