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All Book Reviews by Genre: Mystery

Three Times Lucky
Tumage, Sheila
4 stars = Really Good

Three times lucky is an amazing book filled with lots of epic adventure and mystery. Mo will become forever attached to you, as her and her best friend Dale will crack the case of Mr. Jesse's murder as the Desperado Detectives. Mo will forever search for her lost, Upstream mother, obsess over Lavender, and find that her real family was right in front of her the whole time! This is a great story for mystery book lovers and drama as well!

Reviewer's Name: Danielle
Took: A Ghost Story
Hahn, May Downing
4 stars = Really Good

Took: a ghost story is about a family the moves to a not well known tiny town. The town has a person named Old auntie and her hog named Bloody Bones. They have been haunting the town for over 150 years. It is up to the 13 year old, Daniel, to stand up to the witch and make her stop. I liked the book because there was a good mystery factor. Overall, I would recommend this book to kids who like mystery novels.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Bradbury, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good

Shift is a story about two boys that go cross country on their bikes and learn something not only about the other person but about themselves. The novel does a good job explaining what it’s like to lose friends and how to cope with it. I really liked this book because I was able to know what was going on and relate to some of the characters. Jennifer Bradbury did an outstanding job with the suspense factor of the story. Overall, I would recommend this story to a teenager who likes mystery stories.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
'Book Review: The Snowman'
Nesbo, Jo
4 stars = Really Good

Have you ever heard of Leatherface? Hannibal Lecter? Freddy Krueger? Good. Because if you like those kinds of killers and movies, then you will absolutely love this novel, The Snowman. The book follows the path of a detective with a dark past who is forced to hunt down one of the most deadly and disturbing killers he has ever faced, as he simultaneously struggles with the battle within himself. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy thrillers, horror novels, or anyone who enjoys getting a little disturbed sometimes.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
The Book of Lost Things
Voigt, Cynthia
4 stars = Really Good

Max's parents have dashed off on an unexpected adventure and left their 12 year old son Max behind, alone...well, his grandmother is around to watch over him, but she is busy being a librarian. Max has to fend for himself and picks up a part time job as a solutioneer (sounds like engineer, but much more mysterious). His first task is to find a lost pet and this snowballs into many intricately involved adventures that will keep readers turning pages with anticipation to find out what this determined young man will do next. The Book of Lost Things, by Cynthia Voigt, is sure to please children 9 - 13 who enjoy a good mystery.

Reviewer's Name: Barb
The Bookseller's Tale
Swinfen, Ann
2 stars = Meh

It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least by my friends) that a person such as myself, in possession of historical studies, must be in want of a good medieval mystery. Sadly, I found Ann Swinfen's first book in her Oxford Mystery Series to be only so-so, not even qualifying as good. I admit, too, that I am rather spoiled by having read many of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael Mysteries and all of Mel Starr's Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. Perhaps if I had not done so I would like this series better, but I cannot assess it any other way than having encountered medieval mystery before. The Bookseller's Tale opens with bookseller Nicholas Elyot of Oxford living a quiet yet sad life, his wife taken by the Plague, his widowed sister living with him (for the same reason, the Plague took her family) to care for not only him but his surviving children. All is going along fairly well until a young student who frequents is found murdered by Master Elyot, dumped unceremoniously in the river Cherwell. What ensues is a long trail of details to catch his killer by himself and the murdered student's academic teacher (why not the local Sheriff or Bailiff, I'll never know). The book is excellent at descriptions of how a bookseller's life in the mid-1300s would look. Who they might employ, who would be their friends (academics, it seems), and the layout of hearth and home and Oxford. In truth, it was more like The Time-Traveler's Guide to Navigating the Streets of 1350 Oxford than a mystery at times, Ms. Swinfen takes you on a twisty-turny journey through streets that I assume are mostly non-existent today. I would have preferred less detail of streets and business and more interesting plot, I found myself missing the intrigue of Ellis Peters and the straightforward style of Mel Starr. Not even illuminated books and stolen property were enough to spice it up, as I found myself plodding along on rabbit trails with Master Elyot. As a result I was rather bored about 2/3 through and didn't particularly care why the young man was murdered, though I did finish the book and went "Oh." at the end. But again, this could be just me. Maybe to others it will be exciting and the perfect accompaniment to a rainy afternoon and cuppa by the hearth.

Reviewer's Name: C. Marie
Truly Devious
Johnson, Maureen
3 stars = Pretty Good

Stevie Bell loves all things crime, true or otherwise. She loves to dive into the fictional encounters of the likes of Hercule Poroit and Sherlock Holmes almost as much as she loves to solve cold cases. So when she gets the opportunity to study at Ellingham Academy, site of one of the most famous unsolved murder/kidnapping cases of all time, she jumps at the chance. She doesn't get too far into her murder investigation, however, when a fellow student is found dead in the same tunnel as a murdered girl from before.

For the most part, this is just a straight-up mystery with a quirky setting and side characters, but it really works. The book goes back and forth from the events of the 1939 Ellingham murders to present day, and I found myself equally interested in both stories. Our main character, Stevie, is extremely likable, and gives us some smart, biting commentary about her life and her classmates along with a lot of interesting tidbits about past crimes and mystery authors. Stevie's classmates all have distinct personalities and are quite the diverse cast of characters. Students at Ellingham are selected for having some sort of ability or interest, and her roommates are an artist, an inventor, a coder, a writer and a YouTube star which makes for some fun interactions and conversation in the group. There's a bit of a meh romance, but it didn't detract from the rest of the book and it will be interesting to see where that heads in the sequel.

The main appeal here is the dual mysteries. Both were a lot of fun to read, and I was dead wrong about the identity of the present day killer which is always fun. Really, the only downside for me was the ending. It ends on a massive cliffhanger, and I actually wish a few things were a bit more tied up. I found it to be jarring and a bit off-putting. That said, I'll probably check out the sequel.

If you are looking for a really solid mystery featuring clever and engaging characters, then this is for you! You can put Truly Devious on hold now - thanks to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for the electronic review copy. If it weren't for that ending it'd be a 4 star read for me, but...3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Paper Towns
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The novel “Paper Towns” by John Green is an amazing journey that takes a boy named Quentin to places he never thought he’d be. It starts off with a girl named Margo sneaking into his room to then convince him to sneak out with her. They have an amazing night full of adrenaline. Margo made Quentin step out of his comfort zone and see a whole new world. But the next morning when Quentin wakes up, Margo is gone. She goes missing for weeks, and no one knows why. Quentin then starts finding clues left by Margo which starts his adventure to find the mysterious Margo. I enjoyed this book because something interesting happened every chapter and I couldn’t put the book down. This book is also about people in high school, so I can relate to it. This book is a drama/mystery novel which makes it very intriguing. This book was not very predictable, it tends to leave you in edge. I’d recommend it to someone who like to read high school stories. I also watched the movie before reading this and still loved the book!
Reviewer grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Reaghan D.
The Widow
Barton, Fiona
4 stars = Really Good

This book is dark, and it addresses most of the situations of what is happening in the present. However it gives the reader another view besides the victims, but everybody that is affected by the circumstances. It is really good, I could not put it down.

Reviewer's Name: Lourdes C.
Dekker, Ted
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Thr3e by Ted Dekker (great title after reading the book) is one of the greatest murder mystery novels out there. The book begins with the main protagonist, or so it seems, Kevin Parson. He receives a phone call from a psychopath in Killer named Slater saying that he has three minutes to confess his sin to the world or else his car will blow up. This is just one of the many events that take Kevin, Samantha, his greatest friend, and Jennifer, an FBI agent, through a world of mystery and motives. The twists and turns are the main attraction of this novel, as the reader won't expect what comes next. Character backstories also play a gigantic role in this novel, and all of them are well crafted to fit the plot. Anyways, I would recommend it to anyone willing to take the time to read a book.

Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
I Hunt Killers
Lyga, Barry
4 stars = Really Good

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of the world's most notorious serial killer. After his father was captured, Jazz has just been trying to live like a usual 17 year old. But when a new killer appears who seems to be trying to mimic his father, Jazz knows that it's only a matter of time before people start to believe he's the new killer. So he decides to join the police in tracking down the murderer, not only to convince the town he isn't like his father, but himself. I Hunt Killers has a good mystery, with plenty of twists, and is difficult to predict. However, it isn't the mystery that makes the story addicting; it's Jazz. While some of the minor characters suffer from a lack of proper development, Jazz's interesting (and disturbed) mind makes this book difficult to put down. He is a morally gray character, incredibly messed up, but sympathetic. His fears of being a sociopath are not without reason. In the hands of a different writer, his struggles could be seen as heavy handed or melodramatic. But here, he is written as completely believable. The mystery is a good one, but it's the protagonist (the likes of which you rarely see in a young adult story) that makes this book really good.

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
Brown, Dan
4 stars = Really Good

In this, the fourth installment of the Robert Langdon series, Dan Brown has continued to successfully marry science to art, albeit with the same tropes and trappings that occur in the book’s predecessors. With Inferno, we get the same race across Europe explored in Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, with the ambiguity of the antagonist’s motives that fueled The Lost Symbol . All throughout this adventure, the now-standard “female who is an expert in her field” accompanies Langdon as he tries to unravel the mystery and save the world. Langdon continues to be part Indiana Jones and part James Bond, that’s for sure.

Utilizing the standard “temporary amnesia” plot device, Brown refines his style while also increasing the stakes. While previous books in the series had potential impacts on the local and national levels, Inferno takes the antagonist’s plan to a global scale. With the main character as talented with memory as Robert Langdon is, taking away his recent memories was a good way to have him re-learn the situation at the same time the audience does. This also allows for some entertaining twists and turns as characters’ motives are revealed, often taking the plot in a quick 180° turn.

While much of the historical plot of Inferno focuses on the titular work by Dante, the scientific side of the story is incredibly relevant. Previous Brown books like Angels & Demons or The Lost Symbol certainly had some interesting scientific intertwining, but Inferno examines one of the most pressing issues within the scientific community right now. This issue, much like global climate change, has no easy answer, and Brown’s solution through the book’s antagonist is certainly a terrifying answer, even if it is probably the most humane way to go about implementing it.

The best book in the Robert Langdon series to date, I give Inferno 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Ghostly Echoes
Ritter, William
4 stars = Really Good

Ghostly Echoes is the third book in the Jackaby series. It covers the death of the resident ghost of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh. She was murdered ten years ago, and her fiancé (a scientist involved with some suspicious
people) disappeared. She has hired Abigail and Jackaby to investigate her death. But when a similar crime happens, they realize Jenny's case is connected.
Because of the fact that this not only deals with the murder of a liked character, but also includes peeks into Jackaby's past and how he became the seer, this is the darkest book in the Jackaby series. But it also has plenty of humor, mainly in the bantor between Jackaby and Abigail. They feel like The Doctor and their companion from Doctor Who, if they had to take up the role of Holmes and Watson for a day. This also tackles a whole new part of the world building. This always had folklore involved, but now it includes mythology.
As good as this was, there were some problems. I feel like this book series needs more details; I can't see the character's faces all that well. Also, it is implied that Jackaby has feelings for Jenny, which I think needed much more foreshadowing. I only got close friend vibes from them in the first two books. And the side characters still needed some development; they were important parts in the book, but they didn't make much of an impact on me.
Overall, I think this was the best book in the series thus far, and sets up the events for the fourth (and final) book well.

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
Hiaasen, Carl
4 stars = Really Good

Flush, written by Carl Hiaasen was about a boy, named Noah. Noah has a father who is in jail for sinking a boat called the Coral Queen. His father has been put in jail before, and never regrets what he has done because he believes that he is responsible for his actions, and it is worth it for what he has done. Noah is used to his father doing crazy stuff like this, because when Noah's father sees something that upsets him, he will do whatever he can to stop it, especially with people hurting and damaging wildlife. The reason he got recently put in jail is because he claimed that he saw the boat putting all of their sewage into the ocean water. Even though his dad does lots of crazy and unpredictable things, Noah thinks his dad would never lie to him about what he saw. He starts to investigate and tries to prove that the Coral Queen did in fact put sewage into the ocean. This book did surprise me in some ways, and the book got more and more interesting as it went on.

Reviewer grade:

Reviewer's Name: Riley C.
The Girl on the Train
Hawkins, Paula
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

I haven't always been a big fan of mystery, but this book changed that. The Girl on the Train is about a woman with some difficult events in her past who becomes a crucial part in solving a missing person case. This book resembles a psychological thriller, which keeps the level of suspense high. It shows multiple people's perspectives, which makes following the mystery so much more intriguing. I absolutely recommend this book, whether you like mystery or not. Chances are you won't be able to put it down.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen
4 stars = Really Good

One of Us is Lying is like The Breakfast Club, as it it involves a bunch of "teen movie stereotypes", during an interesting detention. These include Bronwyn, the "brain", Nate, the "criminal", Addy, the "beauty", Cooper, the "athlete", and Simon, the "outcast". However, the similarities end there, as one of them, Simon, dies from a suspicious allergy attack during the detention. Simon was the creator of the gossip app known as "About That," which shared other students' secrets and gossip. He had been planning to post about the other four before his death, making them all suspects in his murder. Or is it all a frameup? The reader has to decide whether one of the incredibly likable four leads is a lying murderer, or if they're all victims.

This book was very addictive. McManus' writing was detailed, and she was able to distinguish the four's voices as their own. No one sounded or felt the same, and each of their narratives were equally enthralling. Each lead character is a deconstruction of the stereotype they're based off of, and in a way, this is a deconstruction of the mystery genre in general; unlike most, it's more character driven than plot driven.

My main complaint is that some of these students seem overly capable in a way. Not just the four, but the supporting character's talents are beyond most high schoolers. It may have made more sense if the setting was in college. However, this is something I see a lot of in YA fiction today, so it doesn't overly bother me, and it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.

I recommend this if you like mysteries and character driven stories where every character, both leading and supporting, are developed, fleshed out characters.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
The Lost Symbol
Brown, Dan
3 stars = Pretty Good

After Dan Brown’s previous entries in the Robert Langdon series had covered the Illuminati and the Catholic Church, respectively, his next target in The Lost Symbol was the Masons. Unfortunately, as both National Treasure (2004) and its sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), were released before this book came out, the setting and concept seemed derivative in The Lost Symbol. Especially with the focus on the Masons’ “treasure” for the better part of the book, I was half expecting the chase to be on a larger scale than just hopping from one Washington D.C. monument to the next as the puzzle unfolds.

In a bit of a combination of Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol combines the exciting twists of uncovering the secrets of a Masonic pyramid with the pseudoscience of Noetics. Of course, the plot could have omitted everything about Noetics, and it would have stood just fine on its own, so I question why it was even needed at all, except for some familial drama and a series of wordplays near the end of the book. In my mind, the puzzle-solving element brought over from The Da Vinci Code was much stronger than the “science” brought over from Angels & Demons.

As for the book’s antagonist, I initially felt he was merely formulaic to the other enemies from previous Robert Langdon books. After all, when you have a self-motivated Illuminati Agent in Angels & Demons and an albino religious zealot in The Da Vinci Code when you have a tattooed Masonic muscleman as the antagonist in The Lost Symbol, you start to see the similarities. At least this time the antagonist had a great twist near the end. However, like some of the other “twists” in this book, if you were paying close enough attention, you would have figured it out before its reveal.

A procedural combination of the previous two books in the Robert Langdon series, I give The Lost Symbol 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Glynn, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The first time I was introduced to Alan Glynn’s writing was through the
film, Limitless (2011), which itself was based off his first novel, The Dark
Fields. While I enjoyed the film for its visuals, what really struck me as
interesting was the storytelling and characters Glynn created. Now fifteen
years after his first standalone novel, Paradime continues to show Glynn’s
talent in creating engaging plots and characters. Since I really enjoyed this
book, I will do my best to review it without spoiling it for anyone.

At its most simple level, Paradime is a modernized retelling of Mark
Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, or at least half of it anyway. Told from
the perspective of an out-of-work and out-of-luck cook, Danny Lynch, the
pacing of each of the three acts is steady and intense. Even if some of
Danny’s vocabulary seems a little advanced at times, he is the perfect
“everyman” to convey his peculiar circumstances to the reader. Those
familiar with Limitless will probably see many parallels between the two
stories, with the main exception being how the story ends for Danny.

Glynn’s writing style is very natural and easy to read in this modern
thriller. Each chapter left me wanting to read more and I found myself having
difficulty stopping because the pull of the plot was so intense. I also
appreciated the ability of Glynn to tie things up in an almost unexpectedly
expected way so that no detail in this book was left unused. While this may
have been the first time I’ve read anything by Alan Glynn, I am now
certainly a fan and will have to go back and pick up his other books to read.

A fast-paced and thrilling read, I give Paradime 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
The Rook
O'Malley, Daniel
4 stars = Really Good

One of the nice things about listening to audiobooks from my library (via the
Overdrive app), is that I can pick up a book and listen to it without really
knowing what it’s about other than a title and a cover. In this way, I
often have no preconceived notions about the book other than first
impressions. At this point, all I’m giving up to “read” the book is the
time it takes me to listen to it, and I have plenty of that driving to and
from work every day.

Since I had no idea what this book was really about, I was surprised at how
humorous it was. If I were to combine a few, better-known series together,
I’d say this is X-Men mixed with James Bond, with just a dash of Jason
Bourne all blended together in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. An odd
combination, I know. But somehow, it works here. The humor is markedly
British, but the characters and their powers are supernatural, to say the
least. Since this was merely the first in a developing series, I can’t wait
to get to book #2: Stiletto.

All this being said, there were a few structural choices to this book that I
often found confusing, which may just be part of listening to it in audiobook
form instead of reading it. First off, the decision to have the main
character afflicted with amnesia was an interesting way to essentially give
the audience what the character already would have known but had conveniently
forgotten. Secondly, because the letters from her former self were used as
backstory, these “flashbacks” were often confusing because it was easy to
lose track of which Mfwany Thomas (glad I had the audiobook for the
pronunciation of this name) was “speaking” at the moment.

An interesting premise with plenty of potential in future iterations, I give
The Rook 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
The Lincoln Lawyer
Connelly, Michael
4 stars = Really Good

While I saw the movie before listening to the audiobook, I must say that I
still really enjoy the main character. He’s one of those guys you love to
hate, but he’s trying so hard to do the right thing, even if it means
defending a scumbag who deserves a lot worse. Of course, since I had seen the
movie already, I had an idea how it was going to end, but couldn’t remember
the specifics. Perhaps that’s a measure of a great crime drama: all the
misdirection makes it difficult to know “whodunit”, allowing future
rereads to be enjoyable.

But, back to the main character, Mickey Haller, I think one of the reasons
this book was a breeze to listen to was because the main character’s POV is
so well written. You can tell that he has some baggage from his father, which
is partly why he defends everyone, regardless if they’re guilty or not. The
fact that Haller knows his way around the legal system and uses it to his
advantage to even get the guilty an innocent ruling just shows that he takes
pride in his work, even if it labels him as someone who keeps the crime on
the streets.

The plus to this audiobook was also the narrator, who was awesome in bringing
all the different characters to life with his voice acting. Even if the story
is told from the point of view of the eponymous “Lincoln Lawyer,” there
are plenty of interesting people in this book, and each one certainly has a
different “sound” to them. It’s the attention to these details that
differentiates a narrator just reading a book to you and a voice actor who
can bring the events happening in the words he’s speaking to life.

A great start to an interesting crime drama series, I give The Lincoln Lawyer
4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert