Striking Range by Margaret Mizushima

Striking Range by Margaret Mizushima
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

A deadly secret is buried in the Colorado high country–and murder is only the beginning in the seventh gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

He was suspect number one–the man who tried to kill Deputy Mattie Cobb and may have killed her father thirty years earlier. But when Mattie and cold case detective Jim Hauck reach the Colorado state prison where they will finally get to interview him, he’s found dead in his cell. There’s only one clue: a map leading to Timber Creek and rugged Redstone Ridge.

Though she usually works with veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie’s K-9 partner Robo has just sired a litter of pups, who require special, time-consuming care at Cole’s clinic. Left to explore the map’s clue without him, Mattie and Robo journey into the burned forest surrounding Redstone Ridge. But before they can finish their search they’re called to help investigate the death of a young woman found in a campground filled with elk hunters. Identification of the deceased points to her having recently given birth, but the infant is nowhere to be found.

As a deadly storm descends upon the mountains, covering everything with a layer of ice and snow, Mattie and her team search for the missing newborn. The storm batters the area, taking its toll on the team and forcing the sheriff to call in reinforcements. When new evidence surfaces, they decide that finding the woman’s killer will lead them to her baby, making them even more desperate to solve the case.

Then Cole goes missing, stranded alone in the high country with a person that Mattie now suspects is the mastermind behind several murders, including her father’s. She and Robo take to the trail to find Cole–but the killer has a cold-blooded plan that threatens them all.

There hasn’t been a Timber Creek book I haven’t liked. I haven’t read every one of the series, which is my loss, but when you put a good female cop and a K-9 together I’m already picking it up as fast as I can. There is always a good story line to add to these neat characters. This time Deputy Mattie Cobb thinks she may have found the man who tried to kill her and who possibly killed her father. While hoping to speak with him, she gets a call that a young mother has been killed and her child is missing. Mattie and her K-9, Robo, are called in to help.

As you can see, there are a certain number of layers to this story. While I have read other books that made this confusing, the author seems to weave all of this into an intricate and enjoyable story. I can’t help but love Robo and the relationship between him and Mattie. I can’t help but be glad about the relationship between Mattie and veterinarian Cole Walker. It isn’t just layers of crime and plotting that Margaret Mizushima weaves together. By adding these relationships, it makes this series even more of an ongoing story. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is the interaction with Robo, or the budding relations with Cole Walker, it all gives the story a depth that keeps me turning the pages.

Striking Range is Book 7 of a series titled A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery. You don’t need me to tell you what a great book this was. The number of reviews on each book in this series will convince you. Wow.

Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving in the 80’s by Steven Manchester

Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving in the 80’s by Steven Manchester
Publisher: Luna Bella Media
Genre: Recent Historical, Mainstream Fiction
Length: Full length (267 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

It’s the winter of 1984. Twelve-year old Herbie and his two brothers—Wally and Cockroach—are enjoying the mayhem of winter break when a late Nor’easter blows through New England, trapping their quirky family in the house. The power goes out and playing Space Invaders to AC DC’s Back in Black album is suddenly silenced—forcing them to use their twisted imaginations in beating back the boredom. At a time when the brothers must overcome one fear after the next, they learn that courage is the one character trait that guarantees all others.
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This hysterical coming-of-age tale is jam-packed with enough nostalgia to satisfy anyone who grew up in the ‘80s or at least had the good fortune to travel through them.

This was just fun. That’s the first word that comes to mind. Although it is set in the 80’s, I don’t think there is a person of any age who couldn’t identify with various happenings or maybe I should say shenanigans. The actual format of an event of the 80’s might have been a little different but the same problems, even the same complaints still exist.

Steven Manchester wrote a memory story for some of us and a good fiction story for those of a different age. A belly-laugh type story full of fun and hard times too. Somehow people made them fun then, managed with what they had, while others before them thought they were spoiled.

Mr. Manchester’s “boys” or the three brothers in his story are a great depiction of how siblings interacted in pretty well every era.

A good read that evokes a lot of memories and a really good picture of the 80’s which is an era I don’t see as much literature on.

Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima

Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full length (282 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Two brutal murders, a menacing band of poachers, and a fearsome creature on the loose in the mountains plunge Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo into a sinister vortex.
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The investigation leads them to the home of rancher Doyle Redman, whose daughter is Nate’s widow, and the object of one of their suspect’s affection. But before they can make an arrest, they receive an emergency call from a man who’s been shot in the mountains. Mattie and Robo rush to the scene, only to be confronted by the ominous growl of a wild predator.

As new players emerge on the scene, Mattie begins to understand the true danger that’s enveloping Timber Creek. They journey into the cold, misty mountains to track the animal–but discover something even more deadly in Tracking Game, the fifth installment in Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

Tracking Game is a book in a series titled “A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery”. I can’t find that these books are numbered but I can tell you that this one can easily be read as a stand-alone. It’s difficult for me to not like any book that has dogs, veterinarians, and cops in it, but this one was also a good story. It had a good flow and it was one of those books where you look up and realize you’ve read half of it in a sitting. An easy to read page turner.

There is more crime detection here than there is anything I would call a thriller or action. I think that’s why I enjoyed it. There was plenty of interaction between the characters and their dogs, there was interaction between the vet and the cop (hint, hint). You know how we pet owners now and then wonder what our pet might be thinking? There’s even a couple of cute places in here where you get to find that out what Bridget, K-9 Cop, tries to tell you. A really good read in every way.

Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima

Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (279 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

On a rugged Colorado mountain ridge, Mattie Cobb and her police dog partner Robo make a grisly discovery―and become the targets of a ruthless killer.

Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime―and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.

Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?
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A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her―but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.

Mattie is looking forward to seeing her brother again after so many years apart. They share bad memories and she’d rather not relive them but seeing him would be good. She never imagined he’d be dead when she saw him next.

When Cole and his girls go for a horseback ride in the high country, he’s horrified when his dog brings them a boot with a remainder of a foot in it. That sets off a search. Not only do they find that victim, they find three more in other graves.

One of them was her brother, which she discovers when investigating the crime. The others were adults and children. Why would someone kill her brother and who would kill children? Also, why would they have used this alpine meadow for a burial ground? The rangers and the cops have their work cut out for them.

Mattie can’t figure out why someone would want to murder her brother. She better figure it out quick because she’s the next on the list. And there are more surprises yet to come.

This author always writes suspenseful stories that grab your attention. It’s fun to read about her interaction with her dog. She’s beginning to develop a boyfriend in this book and she needs a friend. She was abused in the past and hasn’t gotten over the trauma yet. Mattie is a complex character and she never gives up on a case. She’s someone to admire despite the baggage she carries.

This was a really good mystery.

Death Al Fresco by Leslie Karst

Death Al Fresco by Leslie Karst
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (320 Pgs)
Rated 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

It’s up to Sally Solari to serve up a killer before their family restaurant’s reputation goes up in smoke.

It’s early autumn in Santa Cruz and restaurateur Sally Solari decides an open-air painting class is the perfect way for her to learn more about Paul Gauguin, the inspiration for the restaurant she has recently inherited. But the beauty of the Monterey Bay coastline is shattered when Sally’s dog Buster sniffs out a corpse tangled up in kelp.
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The body is identified as Gino, a local fisherman and a regular at Solaris’ until he disappeared after dining there a few nights before. Witnesses claim he left reeling drunk, but his waitress swears the old man only had two beers with is meal. And then the fingers begin to point at Sally’s dad for negligently allowing an inebriated customer to walk home alone at night.

From a long menu of suspects, including a cast of colorful characters who frequent the historic Santa Cruz fisherman’s wharf, Sally must serve up the tall order of clearing her father’s name in Death al Fresco, Leslie Karst’s third delectable Sally Solari mystery.

Another killer of a culinary cozy murder, Death Al Fresco is aptly named. Delectable dishes do take center stage, from the trendy sorts like Sesame ginger cucumber salad and Tahitian sea bass, to heartwarming faves, like absolutely anything smothered in ‘Nonni’s Sunday Gravy.

Sally is a chef, a restaurant owner, and …an accidental discoverer of an untimely death. She not only recognizes the victim, but worries about the victim’s connection to her Dad’s restaurant. She’s got enough on her plate, what with her own head chef to deal with, and Eric, who she assures herself is not a love interest, and trying to make every situation, dish and advertisement she runs into ‘politically correct.’

Still, Sally is a sleuth at heart and tackles the mystery without hesitation. Its exactly what we readers expect – with a fun twist, here and there. The political-correctness thing can get a bit tedious, but given the gorgeous setting and strong, unique characters, this really is a solid mystery. The mild (and less predictable) romantic elements add a little something too.

Fans of the genre will enjoy this, and it comes with a bonus: a small batch of recipes from the storyline wrap up the book.

A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber

A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (340 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

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Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.

When personal and financial troubles force Mimi Rousseau to return home instead of following her dreams, she gets the break of a lifetime – the opportunity to open her own French bistro. Everything is moving forward and her future’s looking bright until a murder disrupts quiet Nouvelle Vie. Who would have thought that a killer lurked in Napa Valley?

Cozy mysteries are a favorite of mine. You always get quirky, lovable characters, a few over-the-top oddballs, and a murder. A Deadly Éclair does not disappoint in any case. Mimi is charming and likable and I loved that she bounced ideas off her goldfish. Her mother is nutty and her best friend is the kind of friend every girl wishes she had. Another enticing aspect to this book for me was that it’s set in and around a French bistro and the adjoining inn. As an avid cook, reading about Mimi’s special of the day and the recipes the author included only gave me more motivation to read this charming novel.

Although I know someone always has to die in a cozy mystery, I was upset with the victim in this first book of the series. Even though you don’t get to know him very well before he’s murdered, I felt devastated by the news. That’s probably Mimi projecting onto me, but I was still surprised that someone I thought would be a major player turned out to be the victim.

A Deadly Éclair has everything a good cozy mystery needs: charming and off the wall characters, a unique setting, and a mystery in need of solving! Plus, assorted hijinks and a hint of a romance along the way to spice things up a bit. Although this is my first novel by the author, it definitely won’t be my last. I’m anxiously awaiting the next in this series. Can’t wait to see what Mimi and her crew get themselves into next.

The 8th Circle by Sarah Cain

The 8th Circle by Sarah Cain
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (326 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

A year ago, Danny Ryan lost his wife and son in a car accident. He’s still reeling from the tragedy when Michael Cohen, his friend and fellow journalist, drives into the pond in front of his house with a bullet through his gut.

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If I had to sum up The 8th Circle in one word, that would be gritty. There’s lots of violence and people start dying in sometimes gruesome ways, as the plot continues.

The storyline grabbed me from the opening chapter, especially when the main character’s friend drives his car into his pond and is the victim of an obvious shooting. Speaking of the main character, that’s Danny Ryan, who is likeable from page one. You feel for his pain and you’re cheering him along as they story takes more twists and turns. Did his friend drive to his house to give him something, are the deaths of Danny’s wife and child somehow connected to what’s currently happening in Danny’s suddenly nightmarish world?

One thing I liked most about this story was the natural sounding dialogue. So what didn’t I like about it? There wasn’t much but sometimes the story jumped to another chapter and another character’s viewpoint, one we hadn’t been introduced to before and it somehow seemed jarring, at least it did for me. Also, it wasn’t until later in the story that a character that we had been introduced to suddenly got a voice in this story which also seemed somewhat jarring to me.

There is a huge cast of characters in this story and not all of them very nice people. Even some you thought were okay, turned out to be not so nice people who would do anything to save their own skin. This story will certainly have you turning the pages, trying to figure out who’s behind every misfortune and death that seems to be befalling Danny.

I’d recommend this if enjoy your mysteries on the gritty side.

Once Shadows Fall by Robert Daniels

Once Shadows Fall by Robert Daniels
Publisher: Crooked Lane
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (343 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

After years of paying her dues on the force, Beth Sturgis has earned her place as a detective for the Robbery-Homicide division of the Atlanta PD. Now, she’s heading up a major manhunt for a potential serial killer who’s working his way inward from the outskirts of the city. The copycat elements in the first crime scene lead Sturgis to retired FBI agent Jack Kale, who was responsible for apprehending and nearly killing the murderer known as the Scarecrow, the same Scarecrow who appears to be this new killer’s terrible inspiration.

They just chose not to listen; not only to the people around them, but to the penis as viagra prescription check out my pharmacy store well. The victims cialis discounts are attracted addiction temporary pleasures and remain separated from social life. The online availability and the cheapest cialis in india prices really helped patient to manage their issue effectively without any difficulty. As I went about my daily browsing I took every chance to sign up to ’10 Steps To This’ and ‘Seven Ways To That’ And how about the free downloads? It’s a popular list building technique to offer a free trail viagra sale uk pack of ED pills. A reclusive single father and university professor, Kale is trying to keep the demons at bay through therapy and avoidance. That is, until Sturgis shows up asking for his help. Against his better judgment, Kale is drawn into the most dangerous cat and mouse game of his life. Robert Daniels’s Once Shadows Fall, is a gripping thriller in the bestselling tradition of Silence of the Lambs and is sure to become a crime fiction classic.

A young woman has been looking for the right spot to take some photographs for her class. She’s been having trouble finding “the” spot, but an abandoned farm talks to her. She returns with her camera and is ready to begin taking pictures, she notices the crows are bothering a scarecrow. She tries to run them off but they return. Unfortunately, they are not crows. They are turkey buzzards…

Mr. Daniels writes a tough non-stop mystery novel filled with action, terror, and a couple of psychopaths. He takes a new Homicide detective and dumps a serial killer case on her. Then he throws in a survivor of a horror of the past who still has baggage and has not recovered mentally. Jack is very smart, but he has issues of his own. Helping her on this case will bring all those memories back again and he hasn’t done well at containing them in a box in head yet.

He gets involved because the deaths are similar to the ones committed by a killer he put in prison. The first three look like copycat crimes, then the pattern changes. The new killer has other little quirks. He’s just as deadly, though.

Before the book is done, there are three killers involved, all them insane, and it’s Jack and Beth trying to take them down. It’s hard to do with little evidence and unknown assailants. But if they aren’t quick, they will become the next victims.

The ending is breathtaking and you can’t stop reading. The killer has Beth. Can Jack get there in time? I liked the story, the historical references of previous serial killers, the budding romance between Jack and Beth, and how they confess their secrets to each other. A good relationship begins with a level of trust. That’s why the ending of the story was made me so anxious… recommended.

Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima

Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima
A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (311 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town.

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The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn’t careful, she and Robo could be next. Suspenseful and smart, Killing Trail is a gripping read that will have readers clamoring for more Mattie and Robo for years to come. Fans of Nevada Barr and C.J. Box will love this explosive debut.

Mystery, suspense and a canine…who could ask for more? The canine in this story is Robo, Mattie Cobb’s K-9 partner who helps her solve a case in the small Colorado community that she calls home.

I enjoyed the opening with its introduction to Mattie and how she came to be partnered with Robo. It’s clear that Mattie hasn’t always been the best dog handler which I felt made her more of credible character. It’s not long into the story that the duo is put to work when a young girl’s body is found. There’s also a dog who’s been shot which brings into the picture a newly single dad and veterinarian, Cole Walker. I liked Mattie’s character and her determination and vulnerability at times. I also liked Cole a lot. He too seemed full of hurt from his recent divorce and his struggle as a newly single dad. There was a hint that a relationship will develop between these two which I hope is the case.

And let’s not forget the mystery. I had several suspects in mind but when the first one wound up dead, it made me read on faster to find out if my other inclination was right. This is a fast paced mystery, well layered with clues and does keep you guessing. The two things I enjoyed about it the most are the setting and the cast of characters who came across as real people.

The author obviously did lots of research on K-9 training and how police officers work with their canine partners which added to the authenticity of the story. This is a series I’ll definitely be following, and if you’re looking for a new police procedural story, this is one I’d recommend you check out.

Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub

Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (279 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

After the death of her husband, Bella Jordan and her son need a fresh start. But on their way to stay with family in Chicago, they stop in Lily Dale, New York and a storm forces them to spend the night.

Brimming with psychics and mediums, Lily Dale is just the kind of quirky little town Bella’s late husband always talked about settling down in. So when the local hotel’s owner, Leona, passes away, Bella agrees to step in and help temporarily. The longer she and Max stay there, the more Lily Dale starts to feel like home.

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A chance for new beginnings is complicated by a mystery of a murdered lady. A newly widowed mom and her son get plunked right in the middle of it. How can a woman who is still hurting so bad able to be the catalyst for solving the crime? That is a good question and the answer can be found by reading this well-written and entertaining mystery filled with heartfelt insight into a woman who needs to stay strong for her son but isn’t quite sure how to pull it off. Bella receives help from a most unlikely cast of characters, which in turn creates an atmosphere of charm, acceptance and support. If not for the chill of death, this story would have just been quirky fun.

There is a lot of internal dialogue on Bella’s part because she’s human. She second guesses herself, gives herself pep talks and generally tries to make sense of this strange town of Lily Dale and the people she meets. Her character is easy to like, to connect with and to cheer for. There are two men who might be a perfect match for her but one is a suspect and the other just seems like a nice guy. As little as they are on stage, they do provide some plot movement, inspire some interesting mother/son moments and dialogue, and some pondering from a reader as to what further role they might have in any future books that might be told about Bella’s new life. Somehow life in Lily Dale isn’t as placid as it first appears, or as kooky.

The storytelling voice is hard for me to pinpoint. I had a tough time trying to figure out if it was third person, narrative, or a little of both. In the middle of the paragraphs, I got into the grove of the story and I was fine. When there was a chapter break or a shift in scene, it starts off a bit different than I’m used to. It jarred me because I’m used to a certain format, but the storytelling is so strong, the mystery too intriguing and the threads of clues the heroine discovers amazingly intricate, I could not stop reading.

There is a light brushing of paranormal in the novel that was a nice touch. So much could be explained away but it was the things that could not be explained by science or fact that fascinated me. The most poignant and tear jerking moment came at the end of the story. If that wasn’t beautifully paranormal, I don’t know what else to call it. Whatever other readers will label that moment, it gave me the sniffles and happy tears.

I enjoyed how Bella solved the crime, not so much because she had a knack for sleuthing, but because she lived her life, and in getting to know the other residents in Lily Dale, could pick up on things they could not. Sometimes an objective eye is all that’s needed, and the willingness to believe. The heroine is a doer, a mover and it holds her in good stead in this book, especially with the ultimate solving of the mystery. I didn’t figure it out when she did. I was still led along like everyone else so the confrontation was rather shocking. I liked that.

Nine Lives is not just a mystery, but a story of a mother’s determination to provide a life for her young son and the sacrifices she’s willing to make in order to accomplish that goal. The author created a lovely town in Lily Dale and it came across in the writing. The fact that such a nice town could be subjected to a violent crime is a powerful conflict and it works. That a regular woman, with no super powers, military training or martial arts, could outwit a criminal and win is a great reason to check out this novel. It’s how the characters are written; ordinary people doing extraordinary things and saving the day. It’s one of the best things about this book and why I definitely recommend it to mystery and nonmystery fans alike. It’s just that good a read