The Manor House Murder

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US Publication – 11/8/2019

Description

Discover a new series of murder mysteries set in an idyllic English village. From million-selling author Faith Martin. Meet Monica Noble: the vicar’s wife with a taste for solving crimes. Please note this book was first published as “AN UNHOLY SHAME” under Faith Martin’s pen name JOYCE CATO.

THE WEEKEND TURN MURDEROUS Monica Noble and her husband Graham, the local vicar, are invited to participate in a high-flying church conference being held at a swanky manor-house hotel in their village. At the Saturday night dinner, the ambitious female cleric Celia Gordon tragically dies, seemingly of a peanut allergy. But when Chief Superintendent Jason Dury arrives on the scene he quickly discovers that it’s a case of murder. And Monica’s husband is the prime suspect. Other suspects include an eminent bishop, an archdeacon viciously opposed to female clergy, and his wife, the curator of a local museum, who is definitely up to something. But if Monica is to find out who killed Celia, and free her husband from suspicion, she must grapple with a very ruthless — and increasingly desperate — killer, putting herself and those around her in mortal danger. This is the third of a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with great characters and baffling crimes which will keep you gripped till the final page.

Perfect for fans of classic whodunits by authors like Agatha Christie, LJ Ross, TE Kinsey, and J.R. Ellis.

MONICA NOBLE was widowed young, leaving her to raise her feisty daughter on her own. That is until she met and fell in love with Graham Noble, a country vicar (pastor), who enticed her to leave her high-flying job in advertising in the city and move to the Cotswold countryside. There she found bucolic life very pleasant indeed — until murder started to rear its ugly head. And she discovered, to everyone’s surprise, that she had a flair for solving the most unholy of crimes.

My Thoughts

The Manor House Murder is the third book in Faith Martin’s Monica Noble, vicar’s wife and amateur sleuth series. Whether Monica and her husband Graham are at home, at work, or at play, it seems that murder has a way of landing right in front of this couple. Graham is speaking at a conference held at a local hotel. Monica is invited to join Graham for dinner on Saturday night, and even though there is a tremendous amount of tension between some of the clerics, no one suspects that murder would be served with dessert.

Unfortunately, Celia Gordon seems to succumb to an allergic reaction to peanuts, a tragic accident at first glance. But when the police arrive, Chief Superintendent Jason Drury discovers that a clever murderer had a hand in Celia’s demise. Can the police figure out this baffling crime or will Monica be called on once again to determine whodunnit and why?

Another enjoyable cozy mystery on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There are numerous potential suspects, including Graham. It took me a while to figure out the relationships among all the conference attendees, and I felt like I was missing some obvious clue. Indeed I was as the reveal arrived before I had settled on a suspect. My record with this series stands at one killer guessed, and two to Monica Noble! Maybe I will even the score when the next book is released!-

No Mercy

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Book Description

Police officer Ellery Hathaway and FBI profiler Reed Markham take on two difficult new cases in this stunning follow-up to The Vanishing Season.

No Mercy is award-winning author Joanna Schaffhausen’s heart-pounding second novel.

Police officer Ellery Hathaway is on involuntary leave from her job because she shot a murderer in cold blood and refuses to apologize for it. Forced into group therapy for victims of violent crime, Ellery immediately finds higher priorities than “getting in touch with her feelings.”

For one, she suspects a fellow group member may have helped to convict the wrong man for a deadly arson incident years ago. For another, Ellery finds herself in the desperate clutches of a woman who survived a brutal rape. He is still out there, this man with the Spider-Man-like ability to climb through bedroom windows, and his victim beseeches Ellery for help in capturing her attacker.

Ellery seeks advice from her friend, FBI profiler Reed Markham, who liberated her from a killer’s closet when she was a child. Reed remains drawn to this unpredictable woman, the one he rescued but couldn’t quite save. The trouble is, Reed is up for a potential big promotion, and his boss has just one condition for the new job—stay away from Ellery. Ellery ignores all the warnings. Instead, she starts digging around in everyone’s past but her own—a move that, at best, could put her out of work permanently, and at worst, could put her in the city morgue.

My Thoughts

Ellie Hathaway was the lucky one. Saved by Reed Markham, an FBI profiler, she is the only victim to survive being taken by a psychotic serial killer. But life for Ellie isn’t about how fortunate she was, but rather a daily struggle to overcome the nightmares and scars of her ordeal. She is currently on leave from her job as a police officer and attending department mandated therapy sessions.

Ellie quickly finds her attention drawn to two cold cases. One, a woman who was raped, and one, a young boy who died in a fire. While Ellie is supposed to be focusing on herself, she is a firm believer in victim justice and it isn’t long before she reaches out to Reed for help in solving these cases.

The story was fast-paced and plenty was going on between the two cases and the dynamic between Ellie and Reed to keep you flipping pages. Ellie may have once been a victim, but she is a strong and resourceful character now. One who makes some questionable decisions, but in her mind, for all the right reasons. This was the second book in this series, and I would highly recommend reading the first book, The Vanishing Season before diving into No Mercy.

 

My Review System:
5 stars – Absolutely loved everything about the book! It was unique or presented something differently, and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended.
4 stars – A really solid read that made me glad I read the book. It didn’t keep me up all night or make me abandon my plans, but I would recommend it without hesitation.
3 stars – An ok read and I might try another book by the same author to see if their writing style is a good fit for me.
2 stars – The book just didn’t work for me.
1 star – I have never read a 1-star book( yet, fingers crossed), but I would have to hate it to give it this rating.

Violet

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Book Description

“Violet begins with a quote from a Nick Cave song, which equals great promise in my mind, and does not disappoint. Scott Thomas does a great job of instilling that hint of something sinister lurking behind or underneath or just blended in with what’s familiar and ordinary. I know when Inkshares is behind something, it’s going to be good, and Violet is good in all the ways you want your great dark and creepy literature to be.” —Peter Win, co-owner of the Brookline Booksmith

For many children, the summer of 1988 was filled with sunshine and laughter. But for ten-year-old Kris Barlow, it was her chance to say goodbye to her dying mother.

Three decades later, loss returns—her husband killed in a car accident. And so, Kris goes home to the place where she first knew pain—to that summer house overlooking the crystal waters of Lost Lake. It’s there that Kris and her eight-year-old daughter will make a stand against grief.

But a shadow has fallen over the quiet lake town of Pacington, Kansas. Beneath its surface, an evil has grown—and inside that home where Kris Barlow last saw her mother, an old friend awaits her return.

My Thoughts

Scott Thomas’ Violet is a creepy tale mixed together with a healthy dose of grief. The accidental death of Kris Barlow’s husband and father to her 8-year-old daughter Sadie lead them to Pacington, Kansas to try and heal over the summer. Kris spent years with her parents at their cottage on Lost Lake, and though her mother died here, she hasn’t thought about this place in over 30 years. For some reason, she believes the place will be good for Sadie, though it is probably never a good idea to trust the childhood memories of someone consumed with grief, and Kris maybe a most unreliable narrator.

The cottage is in ruins, Sadie is speechless with grief, and yet Kris believes that a good cleaning and a few DIY repairs will make the cottage as good as she remembers. There is a lot going on in Violet. Creepy town folk, missing and murdered children, an isolated cottage on the lake, a mother’s tenuous grip on her own sanity, and a little girl, very much left on her own. Well, that is except for Violet, Sadie’s imaginary friend, who Kris seems to know well. I admit, seemingly mundane tasks are the basis of a slow start to the story, but as I progressed further into the story, the beginning made sense, and the tension kept gradually increasing until I had to know what was real and what was imaginary.I wound up enjoying my time with Violet, and that ending….what!

I entered a Shelf Awareness contest for Violet, and while I did not win an ARC, the publisher(thanks Adam), send me a DRC through Inkshares. I now plan to find room on my TBR pile for the author’s first novel, Kill Creek.

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My Review System:
5  – Absolutely loved everything about the book! It was unique or presented something differently, and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended.
4– A really solid read that made me glad I read the book. Didn’t keep me up all night or make me abandon my plans, but I would recommend it without hesitation.
3 – An ok read and I might try another book by the same author to see if their writing style is a good fit for me.
2– The book just didn’t work for me.
1 – I have never read a 1-star book( yet, fingers crossed), but I would have to hate it to give it this rating.

Save Me From Dangerous Men

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Book Description

An outstanding debut…If you’re a fan of Jack Reacher or Lisbeth Salander, you are gonna love Nikki Griffin.” New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston

Action-packed and razor-sharp – Jack Reacher would love Nikki Griffin.” Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Past Tense

Nikki Griffin isn’t your typical private investigator. In her office above her bookstore’s shelves and stacks, where she luxuriates in books and the comfort they provide, she also tracks certain men. Dangerous men. Men who have hurt the women they claim to love. And Nikki likes to teach those men a lesson, to teach them what it feels like to be hurt and helpless, so she can be sure that their victims are safe from them forever. When a regular PI job tailing Karen, a tech company’s disgruntled employee who might be selling secrets, turns ugly and Karen’s life is threatened, Nikki has to break cover and intervene. Karen tells Nikki that there are people after her. Dangerous men. She says she’ll tell Nikki what’s really going on. But then something goes wrong, and suddenly Nikki is no longer just solving a case—she’s trying hard to stay alive. Part Lisbeth Salander, part Jack Reacher, part Jessica Jones, Nikki Griffin is a kickass character who readers will root for as she seeks to right the world’s wrongs. S.A. Lelchuk’s Save Me From Dangerous Men marks the beginning of a gripping new series and the launch of a fabulous new character.

My Thoughts

Save Me From Dangerous Men had my attention before I read the first page. A bookstore owner by day, and by night, a defender of women. Nikki is the kind of person that anyone in trouble would love to have in her corner, and honestly, who wouldn’t like to have a strong, book-loving woman as a friend? I will gladly take two, please!
The story was fast-paced and even though there were times when I rolled my eyes at what Nikki managed to accomplish, I was still on board with this character. It is fiction, after all, and books just like movies can present characters that no average person could pull off in the real world. This was a fun, entertaining read at times and at other times, deadly serious. I could see myself joining Nikki’s book club, but I’ll settle for the further adventures of Nikki!
4 stars – A really solid read that made me glad I read the book. Didn’t keep me up all night or make me abandon my plans, but I would recommend it without hesitation.

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

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Book Description

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of welcoming strangers into your home.

My Thoughts

Elliot is in a word, nice. He enjoys his job and has purchased and restored a beautiful Victorian home. He opens his garden gates to support the local community on Open Gardens Day and finds the one thing that has been missing from his life, a partner to love. Gemma, a veterinary nurse, tours his garden, saves Elliot from anaphylactic shock from a bee sting, and soon after they marry and live happily ever after….not.

You see, Gemma’s parents and sister are relocating from France and they need somewhere to stay. It will just be for a couple of weeks, and Elliot is thrilled to meet Gemma’s family and gladly invites them to stay. But there is much more to Gemma’s family, and soon Elliot will be fighting for his sanity, as well as his house.

If you have ever had a less than stellar interaction with your in-laws, this is the book to make you realize it wasn’t that bad. I have to say I was quite surprised with all the twists and turns, and especially, the ending. On one hand, I couldn’t believe how quickly the story went off the rails, and Elliot’s solution felt a little off to me. But, after thinking about Here to Stay, I realized that it was a reaction to an unbearable situation, and who knows how someone would react. Ultimately, I enjoyed almost all of the read, and as this is the first book I have read by Mark Edwards, I am looking forward to seeing what else he has written.

I received a DRC from Thomas & Mercer through NetGalley.

The Whispering Room

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The Whispering Room is the second book in Dean Koontz’s Jane Hawk series. I am a Koontz fan and was prepared to give up some sleep to read this one. Luck was with me though, since I received my copy, right before a scheduled train trip. This was planned ‘awake’ time, so I was able to start and finish the book before I got back home.

Often with a series, it is difficult if not impossible to jump in at any point other than the beginning. While I certainly had more background information, I do think that if this was the first book you read, you wouldn’t be lost. Of course, if you enjoyed it as much as I did, you would probably go get the first in the series, The Silent Corner.

Jane Hawk is a former FBI agent gone rogue. She is totally alone and constantly looking over her shoulder since she had uncovered a mind-control conspiracy in the first book and is now a wanted fugitive. While there are many people determined to silence Jane, she is just as unwavering in her commitment to exposing the truth. That begets the question, can Jane survive against such terrible odds and will she find anyone she can trust? All the answers won’t be provided as the story ends, which is where the third book will come in to play.

I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that you could give me a book with no reference to Dean Koontz and I would know he was the writer. He has a very distinctive style and while I haven’t loved every book he has written, the good ones far outweigh those that didn’t quite resonate with me. Jane is one of those characters that I am hoping will triumph. As always in a Koontz story with evil villains, there are always some people who are good to the core and provide a beacon of hope when things appear darkest. For whatever reason, I kept thinking Hawk, Jane Hawk, so I am hoping that like Bond, James Bond, she succeeds. Koontz conspiracy theories are always way out there, or are they? In today’s world, hard to tell.

Thank you, Dean Koontz, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. It appears the publication date is now set for November 2017. Maybe treat yourself to an early holiday gift, just because, well who better than you and enjoy Jane’s latest adventure.

Lady in the Lake

Lady in the Lake takes us back to 1960s Baltimore where we come face to face with the blatant unfairness of societal norms. Your race, religious beliefs, and gender, ultimately decided what doors were open to you and what doors you wouldn’t even consider trying to open. Maddie Schwarz is a typical housewife and mother, who decides to push the boundaries by leaving her husband and son and her safe, secure, and boring life behind. She hopes to discover who she is as a person, one not defined by her parents, or friends, or family, but rather by her hopes and dreams.

Two events are central to Maddie’s story, Cleo Sherwood( the Lady in the Lake), and Tessie Fine( a missing young girl from a good family).Maddie finds one body and becomes obsessed with discovering the truth behind what happened to the other.Fate or luck or sheer determination land Maddie a job at a newspaper and she is determined to be more than an office girl. In her quest to secure her dream job, she interviews many people about Cleo. No one seems to care about a murdered black woman(except Maddie), though her investigation uncovers more than Cleo might have wanted to be known about her life.

Many different POVs are used to tell the story. If Maddie talks to a bartender, the following chapter will be told from his POV and I found it a very clever way to move the plot forward. I certainly learned more through these encounters, since what was held back from Maddie was explained in greater detail( can I say I especially enjoyed what the ghost had to say). What can I possibly say about Baltimore other than Laura Lippman’s words bring the town to life, and honestly, you could certainly classify it as another character in the story.

There was nothing about Lady in the Lake that made me furiously flip pages, but that was a huge part of its charm. I am a huge psychological mystery/thriller reader, but sometimes, you just want to slow down and inhale the details from a well-crafted tale. A great beach read and the author( who I have to say, I read all of her books with pleasure)really outdid herself. Highly recommended. July 25,2019 is the US publication date.