Six Dogs til Sunday by Lia Farrell


Six Dogs til Sunday by Lia Farrell
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (258 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

It’s January in Rosedale, Tennessee, and Mae December is preparing for her March wedding to Sheriff Ben Bradley. Mae, who boards dogs for a living, is also busy tending to her pregnant dog and scouting locations for the movie featuring the music of her former fiancé Noah West, who died in a car accident four years earlier. Fortunately the picturesque old house at the end of Little Chapel Road is for rent.

Just as filming is about to begin, a man is shot on the set, but manages to drive himself to the hospital, where he dies before he can ID his killer. He was a member of the film crew, but also a local, and circumstances point to his being a confidential informant for Ben’s predecessor, Sheriff Trey Cantrell, also the owner of the house turned movie set. At the time of the shooting, the victim had been stealing a large sum of money from a safe on the premises. Whose money is it, and where does it come from?

The Rosedale Sheriff’s Office not only has another murder case on its hands, but one that will dredge up a past long buried. How far will the guilty parties go to protect their secrets?

This family sort of reminds me of the “Real McCoys” except with class.

This was a fun, light read. I would identify it as a cozy but it had plenty of substance to keep a reader’s interest the whole time. It has some extra advantages because I like dogs but actually I think the word “dogs” is used more in the titles of the series than dogs having any meaning in the story. However dogs do exist in this story as well as cops and bad guys and weddings. Not a bad mixture at all.

This is a really good example of character development. I think I could name all of the essential characters who made up this story but more importantly…I think I know what they look like. That may sound crazy but good authors write well enough that you have a picture of the characters and their surroundings. I also think that once that has been achieved, you won’t stop reading. There might have been a scene or two that I thought could have been cut but the book didn’t seem long. On the other hand maybe those scenes are why I know the characters so well.

This is Book 6 in the series which is called “A Mae December Mystery”. There was not one time in this book the author left me unable to figure something out because of a previous book in the series. The story of the previous books was never given away but they seemed to fit in enough to not leave you hanging in this one. There is no question this book can be read out of order in the series. That being said, if you don’t have a reason you have to read them out of order, don’t. Start with Book 1 and read through Book 6. Maybe there will be a Book 7 by that time. I hope so.

Identity Thief by R. Franklin James


Identity Thief by R. Franklin James
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (258 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Probate attorney Hollis Morgan is branching out into criminal law. Pardoned after serving time for her then-husband’s white-collar crime, she knows something about the workings of the criminal mind. Hollis’ first criminal case quickly gets complicated. Her client is a young man initially accused of identity theft, but his charge soon includes murder. Hollis has a knack for detecting lies, and although Justin Eastland lies with every breath, she doesn’t believe he is a killer. Eastland is let out on bail as bait, and Hollis struggles to keep her client alive. She enlists the services of her young friend Vince, a former addict she helped get back on track, telling him to not let Eastland out of his sight. At the same time Hollis is handling a sensitive probate matter for a whistle-blower hiding from a revengeful cartel. It has not been easy for Hollis to learn to trust again, and in both these cases, a surprising number of people are not telling her the whole story. She thinks she can sort the truths from the half-truths and the outright lies, but how reliable are her instincts? Hollis’ sense of justice does not always consider the law. If she’s wrong, her clients aren’t the only ones who could lose their lives.

Absolutely wonderful characters…

This has a good storyline. One that flows well and keeps your interest. Plenty of twists and turns but not one hiccup. Nothing here that throws off your rhythm of reading; makes you have to turn back a page or two to see what you missed. Clean, clearly written, crime fiction.

However, the main reason I liked this book was the characters. The author did a good job of overall character development but she made me love some of the characters. Hollis is the main character. She’s feisty and strong and knows her own mind. Although she’s had some knocks in life, she has picked herself up and become a member of a law firm. Hollis has helped some people that were down on their luck in life too. One of those people is Vince and I came to love him too in this story. My point here is that this author made me care about these characters. I don’t have to like all of the characters, the result of that would make for a very boring book. However, I sure have to know all of the characters and be able to draw my own picture of them. Sort of like a movie in writing. That’s important to me as a reader. This writer accomplished that.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this sixth book in a series that R. Franklin James has titled the Hollis Morgan Mysteries. While this is the first I have read, I am positive that all of the other five must be an interesting read. I hope there’s another to follow.

A Murder in May by C. L. Shore


A Murder in May by C. L. Shore
Publisher: Wings ePress
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (352 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

When she learns about the murder of her childhood best friend, a nun join forces with a detective to find the killer. Their teamwork leads to progress on the case, but the killer proves elusive. Detective Jed McCracken sets a trap, and Sister Lucie becomes the bait. Will Sister Lucie outwit the murderer…or become the next victim?

A nun and a detective. Quite a combination.

This is almost what I’d call Crime Fiction since it involves a Detective using a nun to help him and the police with a case. A wife new to the convent having lost her husband in the line of duty teams up with her husband’s former partner. Makes for an interesting read.

My first thought about this book was that it seemed long. It is 352 pages and it did take me a little longer to read than other books. Could I say that there were a few “scenes” in this novel that could have been cut? Maybe so. On the other hand, I cannot say I was ever bored. In fact I was surprised that I was always eager to get back to it. There are not a lot of characters which makes it seem to me that the three that were in the spotlight could have been a little more developed. But they were each enjoyable and there was a lot of good dialog. It usually seems implausible that the police would work with a nun and a young lady working in a hotel but somehow this came across okay. I think this worked because it was well-written.

Since the characters were so likable, it seems that if they were fleshed out a little more, this would make a good series. Let’s hope we see book two.

Take the Bai Road by Erika Mitchell


Take the Bai Road by Erika Mitchell
A Bai Shu Novel #2

Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full length (255 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

After the events of Bai Tide, CIA case officer Bai Hsu is safely tucked away at Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Bored and frustrated, he’s starting to doubt he’ll ever return to the field until he’s given a difficult new assignment: Track and investigate the mysterious Ghost Cartel, who may or may not already have hooks in our government.

With secrecy of the utmost importance, Bai accepts the mission even though he knows he’ll be out in the cold. With no official cover, no backup, and no resources, Bai has no choice but to infiltrate a shadowy organization few know anything about.

Tangled in a conspiracy that will pit him against warring cartels in Mexico, this is Bai’s most impossible mission to date. It will test him, make him question himself and the organization he works for, and ultimately rip away everything that’s ever mattered to him.

This book is much more exciting than its title might sound.

This was a fun book. While it sounds like it might be set in Japan, it actually takes place in the U.S. and Mexico. This is a book about spies and fictitious CIA characters. It is a book about drug smuggling and it is full of action.

I have never read an action book with fighting scenes included that I could really visualize until now. I would tell you that action books are not my thing; nor am I very fond of Charlie Chan type of action but this author seems to be able to describe every move of every fight in a way that makes it interesting…visual. I can only describe this as very good writing. This book also never had a slow moment for me. The end of one chapter flowed right into the next. Every bit of this book was action-packed and humorous. There were quite a few characters in this book but I seemed to have no problem understanding nor remembering them; a classic sign of good character development. I love the type of character who “thinks” humorous asides in what I’ll call a type of narrative writing. In this book Li or Bai enjoy lots of those funny moments and so did I.

This is book 2. I think it read just fine as a stand-alone. However, I will definitely go back and read Book 1.

Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon


Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (249 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Boiok, and Scandal, the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.

Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor―and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy―and whether she may still be alive―is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought.

A really fun mystery including a chef but not one that gives you recipes!

I really enjoyed this mystery. Its main character is named Bel (short for Belfast) and she is a chef; come home to live with her parents after what to most would be called a culinary disaster. She is chief cook and bottle washer somewhat at Shamrock Manor. Shamrock Manor is their lovely old Irish home; one which has been restored to hold banquets and parties. I loved all of the cooking jokes and food preparation talk but this is not one of the trendy new mysteries that has a recipe at the end of every chapter; for that matter, it has no recipes at all.

What it does have is excellently described characters and a really good storyline. I would call this a cozy. I liked reading the interplay amongst the McGrath family, the few tussles and aggravations of living all together, with a healthy dose of genuine love mixed in. Definitely a storyline involved enough to make you think. I was surprised at the end just as we all want to be with a good mystery.

This is Book 3 and the series is called the “Bel McGrath Mysteries”. This third book can easily stand alone. I enjoyed it without ever feeling confused because of not having read the first two books. On the other hand, it did make me want to read Books 1 and 2.

Foam by Robert Neil Baker


Foam by Robert Neil Baker
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (329 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

It is 2009; the auto industry is imploding. Charlotte Kirby and car manufacturer customer Bill Arnold’s romance gets hopelessly caught up in the intrigue and in-fighting over her new urethane foam. Can it save her company and his career? Who is bent on ruining the project, violently if necessary? Charlotte loses an important player to a suspicious accident, and another defects to a rock band. Bill’s bosses and co-workers at his struggling employer launch selfish agendas. A friend dumps one key co-worker for another. The lovers are challenged by thefts, assaults, kidnapping, and a laboratory disaster. Time is running out, can they unmask the villain and learn the true secret of the foam?

Bet you could guess a long time and never figure out what this book is about from its title.

I am not going to ruin this book and tell you anything about what “foam” could possibly have to do with a mystery. While this is indeed a mystery, it is also a wonderfully funny spoof on the giant automakers of our country as well as those in competition from other countries. This story is basically about the plight of the automakers in 2008 with the rising oil prices and first and foremost, it’s about money. It’s about the competition between automakers to stay alive, to develop the best products, and to have them on the market first. The need to be secretive about those products was worse than football coaches hiding their mouths from the TV cameras.

There are scenes that are humorous and others that are realistic. There are desperate people facing failure and those trying to stick their heads in the sand. It actually reminded me of Hollywood where actors and actresses are all trying to stab their competitors in the back, while smiling in their face. It draws a good picture of how many businesses and individuals were affected by one or more automakers starting to fail. But still…it’s a mystery with even a little bit of intrigue and tongue-in-cheek mixed together.

This was a long read in some ways. It seemed to me that there were a lot of characters but in hindsight I don’t know that this is true. It takes a while to build a diagram in your mind figuring out who belongs to which company and for that matter who is “who”. I don’t think the characters are well-developed. I don’t mean to say that you can’t get a sense of the characters; I just think it was a little confusing. It was sometimes hard to determine which was mystery and which was spoof. Then again, maybe that was the idea.

Having said all that… long read or not, I read it all the way to the last page. The storyline kept me wanting to know what would happen next and which company ended up with the secret.

Smile and Walk Away by Danielle Riedel


Smile and Walk Away by Danielle Riedel
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (222 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Detective Duran thinks he’s searching for a missing woman. He soon finds out he’s pursuing the last remaining evidence of a CIA cover up. The police are looking for Velma Bloom, a young woman who has gone missing. All that’s left of her is her car parked in front of a house containing two dead Russian men. Velma is a twenty-five year old woman who loves her life of booze, sex, and cigarettes. But this sassy, over-educated waitress has a secret—a strange ability she’s never been able to understand. Answers come unexpectedly and from an unexpected source. Armed with her new knowledge, she sees her way to forging a new future. She only has one obstacle—making sure she stays alive. Now she has vanished, and rookie detective Jackson Duran is trying to find her. She hasn’t left many traces, and everything Duran discovers about her only complicates his search. What he does learn leads him to some sinister truths he never thought he’d know, and would rather not know.

In the blink of an eye or the breaking of a glass, your life can change into something you never dreamed it could be.

This was a fun book to read. This is a story full of intrigue, spies, every day folks, people with super skills, love interests, a little humor, rebellion and even a bit of naughtiness.

I enjoyed the characters that Reidel created in this book. There weren’t too many and I think that is why she was able to develop them in depth. Oddly enough, she made you like them all. That, as you can imagine, leaves you wondering all along which one will turn out to be the bad guy…or girl. The only aspect of this book that could make it difficult to read is the switching back and forth between characters and times in their lives. Sometimes that turns me off in a book but somehow the author seemed to keep this story moving smoothly. I think her skill in not adding too many characters and developing them so well helped the reader to keep everything straight. Not an easy thing for an author to do.

The main character, Velma Bloom was my favorite. She’s a redhead and wants to create her own way in life and that, in and of itself, made for a story interesting enough to keep me reading. As in the title…I smiled but I sure didn’t walk away from this book.

Courage Lost by R. Scott Mackey


Courage Lost by R. Scott Mackey
A Ray Courage Mystery, Book 5
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (258 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Private Investigator Ray Courage returns in his most complex case yet, one that readers and critics are heralding as the best in the hugely popular mystery series. Billionaires Isabella and Wyatt Carlyle have been estranged from their son for twenty years. With Isabella at death’s door, she wants to bring her son back into the family. Ray’s search for the now forty-year old son takes him to Monterey, California, where he encounters a cast of seedy characters more than eager to lead him to the heir of the Carlyle fortune. But his search is complicated by the seemingly unrelated murder of a rival private eye. At the same time, a young man is brutally attacked in Honduras and left for dead. Does this relate to Ray’s case? With a cast of memorable characters and Mackey’s graceful prose, this gripping page-turner delivers on every front and will have you guessing until the final page.

From the moment Ray Courage said “I smiled stupidly. Perhaps my signature expression.” I was curled up and ready to read this book.

I like my private investigators kind of caring, a little sarcastic, with a sense of humor and a little bit of a smart mouth. If you agree, you’ll like this story. I loved it. This book has pretty well everything you want in a mystery. There are of course, your standard good and bad guys; moments that make you smile and those that make you mad. There are plenty of twists and turns you did not expect here but all are quite plausible. A better way to say this is if you like Harry Starke or Michael McLaren or even Travis McGee you are going to like this book as much as I did.

This book was what I call a clean read. By that I’m not referring to the editing although I will say the editing in this book was superb. What I mean by “clean” is that everything fit together, the storyline flowed through the whole book. There was never a dull moment. This book makes your mind work and its characters are really well-defined. It makes you want to like the good guys and catch the bad ones. All of these many aspects existed in this book by R Scott Mackey.

I was very lucky to be the one to review this book about Ray Courage. This is book five. I sure intend to read the other four.

Cupid Mislaid by P G Barker


Cupid Mislaid by P G Barker
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (285 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Carolyn Cotter, talented big-city ad executive, confuses the house number of her destination with that of a famous music mogul on the same street. Suddenly she finds herself embroiled in a police investigation regarding a missing platinum statue.

Simon Bergman, an accountant for the music mogul, is pleasantly surprised to meet such a charming young woman at his boss’s party. He is less pleasantly surprised when she dashes off without a farewell. Finding her again, he becomes her ally in seeking out the real culprit.

Will what they learn about themselves and about life land them in jail, or in love?

Could you mistake a farewell party for a funeral? Depends on the circumstances doesn’t it?

This is a story of people and their jobs and the ups and downs of everyday life. This is also a story about the way we all know people can act when we need them; some let us down and some support us. Sort of like life. This was a good read that really had its twists and turns and sure surprised me.

I liked this author’s characters, the closest ones were really fleshed out. I often define this kind of character development as a good “picture”. It’s important to me to have a sense of their personalities and maybe even an idea of what a few of them look like, in my mind at least. I did feel as if a few “scenes” were somewhat repetitive in this book. It seemed to bog down a little in the middle but the author’s style was clean and there was a clarity in the storyline I enjoyed. The book did keep my interest and seemed to pick up quickly.

There was a little humor in this book. The kind I always enjoy, that somewhat sarcastic making fun of oneself in a narrative sort of way. The author did it here utilizing the main character, Carolyn, and did it very well. This was a fun book to read.

Shrouded Memory by Krista Wagner


Shrouded Memory by Krista Wagner
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (249 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

What You Don’t Remember Can Hurt You

After surviving a shark attack, Marine Biologist Rian Field becomes haunted by disturbing memories of a past traumatic incident and begins to suspect that the assailants may be those closest to her. But more chilling is her fear that they are somehow connected to the shark attack and want her dead. Rian must overcome her fear of sharks and uncover the truth before the past drags her into its shadows.

Can a large whale be dangerous in an estuary?

Estuaries are places where the salt water meets the fresh water. A place that holds all sorts of weird species. Why would Rian Field get her PhD in Marine Estuarine & Aquatic Life Studies in a place like this? She was even a little afraid of water. For that matter, why would she want to see and study the Great White shark? But…many of us have seen the movie Jaws and thoughts of such a movie have stayed with us for years. Rian Field had been fascinated with sharks ever since she saw the movie.

Just like I seem to know Rian and her thoughts, the author also did a good job with development of many of the characters. While I enjoyed reading this book, it does have a lot of flashbacks in the form of dreams, “bad guy thoughts” and memories. Sometimes that can be hard to follow or throw off the flow of reading. It was handled pretty well by this author. One thing that helped ease the flow of reading was that dreams, thoughts of the “bad guy” and regular prose were all done in different fonts. This made Shrouded Memory much easier to read than many books of its type.

This is a book full of relationships, good friends, and intrigue. I read it very quickly but not because it was easy. It was because I didn’t want to put it down.