All Book Reviews by Genre: Mystery

The Writing on the Wall
Lichtman, Wendy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

For my review I read Writing on the Wall byWendy Lichtman. It is about a young girl and how she uses math in life. There is a little mystery though. There was a fire in one of the class rooms and someone thinks it was Arson. Instead of telling anyone they write it in an obvious place in code. I really liked how creative the author got with this book.

Reviewer Grade:8

Reviewer's Name: Paige C.
Stormbreaker
Horowitz, Anthony
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was suspenseful and amazing, it had several unexpected twists like when the main character finds out about his uncle’s job. This book is about a teenager whose uncle died unexpectedly. This book is a must read but it is a longer series. I recommend this book for a more experienced reader. Those readers will find it action packed and reading it is a worthy use of their time.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
One Mile Under
Gross, Andrew
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Colorado is the setting for best-selling author Andrew Gross’ thriller, One Mile Under. From the Roaring Fork River, which starts at the Continental Divide and runs through Aspen to Glenwood Springs, to the state’s eastern plains, the central theme of the book is water.

After being summoned by his god-daughter, a rafting guide, to investigate a suspicious white water kayaking death, security specialist Ty Hauch joins Danielle Whalen in search of clues to the fatality on the Roaring Fork.

The investigation leads to Weld County, where water is every bit as important to farmers and ranchers as it is to the outdoor recreation industry in the mountains, and there is one more player in this adventure - the oil and gas industry. As Ty and Dani soon find out, extracting ore from far beneath the earth’s surface involves water…and lots of it.

The controversial process is commonly known as “fracking”, an issue that is a hot topic in Colorado today. One Mile Under is fast-paced, educational and a really good read.

Reviewer's Name: Susan
Arsenic with Austen
Hyde, Katherine Bolger
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I really wanted to like this book. I read a review that said it was a literate, well-written, tightly-plotted mystery with shades of Jane Austen. I was ready for a really good mystery - and it had a charming cover. Each chapter begins with a quote from one of Austen's books, but that's where the similarity ends.

Fiftyish Emily Cavanaugh inherits loads of money, property and a library of hundreds of valuable and first edition books. The inheritance allows her to leave her position teaching college literature and move into her aunt's Victorian estate in Stony Beach, Oregon. What's not to like? Upon arrival she learns that her aunt's death may not have been natural, the other legatee wants her inheritance as well as his, the mayor and his realtor girlfriend want her land for a massive development scheme and the man she loved who vanished from her life 35 years earlier is the town's chief of police. A number of felonies occur in attempts to gain her property. Emily sees all the suspects as characters from Jane Austen's novels.

The book started well and had real possibilities, but the author seemed to lose track of her original ideas and fall back on predictable story lines. The conclusion wrapped everything up too quickly and unrealistically. Original or at least interesting plot lines weren't developed. This is Katherine Bolger Hyde's first book. She had a good idea, but lost it in the details. It could have been so much better.

Reviewer's Name: Susan
Genres:
Before the Fall
Hawley, Noah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Adult Fiction. Martha's Vineyard on a foggy summer night. A private jet carrying eleven people takes off for New York. Eighteen minutes later it disappears from radar. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs, a 40-something artist, and the four-year-old son of the wealthy David Bateman, the chairman of ALC News. How did this happen? A terrorist attack? Why was this has-been painter aboard this flight? The chapters highlight the backgrounds of each of the passengers, the pilot, co-pilot, the flight attendant and Bateman's Israeli bodyguard, guiding us toward the solution of this sad ending to so many lives. This author is also a screenwriter for Lies and Alibis, My Generation and The Unusuals, as well as a writer and produces for the series Bones.

Reviewer's Name: Vickie Sherwood
Serafina and the Black Cloak
Beatty, Robert
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Serafina is the Chief Rat Catcher at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. She and her Pa secretly live in the basement, where he is basically the electrical engineer of the place. Serafina's presence in the house is a secret so she mostly traverses the estate through tunnels and doesn't go outside. One night, she witnesses a man in a black coat magically abducting a child, which changes everything.

I listened to this book, and the narrator didn't really do it any favors. Her Southern accent was pretty terrible, but thankfully, she kept forgetting to use it. Narration aside though, this book had some problems. The author took a cool premise and an even cooler setting and then wrote a really boring book. There were kind of two main things going on that should have been really interesting, but weren't. The first thing was the identity of the man in the black coat, which was painfully obvious from the start. Had Beatty done a kiddo type version of an Agatha Christie novel (these are the people at the Biltmore estate...and one of them is guilty of MURDER MOST FOUL), I'd probably be typing a really different review right now. Alternatively, he could've played up Serafina's secret a bit more, and that might have made things more interesting. As it was, even though there was a lot going on, nothing of importance ever seemed to really happen.

I also found myself getting annoyed by a fictional Vanderbilt named Braedan (weird name for a kid of Dutch origins in 1899, dontcha think?) who is a bit of a love interest. Every part featuring him was pretty painful as Serafina basically becomes a useless quivering mess when he's around. Blegh. Oh, and at one point, a character says something along the lines of "you don't call girls heroes, you call them heroines" which, just, are you trying to say that girls can't be heroes? Because if so, gross. I'm paraphrasing, but that's what I took away from the statement.

But on the other hand... look at that cover! Gorgeous.

If 1.5 stars was an option, that's what we'd be doing here. I liked the beginning, the premise and the setting, but wish the author had done more with the latter two elements.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Mistress of the Art of Death
Franklin, Ariana
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Set in medieval England, Adelia, a female surgeon, is hired by King Henry II as a forensic expert to investigate a series of murders taking place Cambridge. Even though it is a fictional novel, Franklin adds lots of historical details to the story, creating multiple layers to the plot. The murders are not the only mystery in this story, the characters themselves have their own veil of intrigue making the story all the more exciting!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa S.
Awards:
Broken Monsters
Beukes, Lauren
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Broken Monsters is a thriller set in Detroit in which a detective investigates a serial killer who murders people with a nail gun and then attempts to meld their bodies with those of animals -- or at least, that's how it starts out. The chapters rotate between the perspectives of Gabriella Versado, the detective investigating the case; Layla, her teenage daughter (currently embroiled in a plot to lure out and expose pedophiles); Jonno, a journalist who quit his job and moved to Detroit to reinvent himself by reporting on their art scene; TK, a homeless man working to protect his friends and community; and our serial killer, who finds himself infected by a dream that seems to have the power to rewrite reality itself. While it initially seems like a pretty standard thriller, the murders quickly veer off into the realm of the supernatural. The book is a bit uneven as a result, ending up as a mix of magical undertones plus serial killer crime investigation plus family drama that never quite came together for me. The writing wasn't amazing by any means, but it got the job done, and the plot managed to keep me turning pages. Despite having heard some rave reviews from others, I wasn't wowed by it, but if you're a fan of horror/thrillers this is definitely unique.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
The Transmigration of Bodies
Herrera, Yuri
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Redeemer has an unusual profession: he's a "fixer," paid to calm tempers and smooth over the difficult situations that arise in the criminal underworld of the unnamed Mexican city where he lives. Armed only with a gift for talking his way out of difficult situations, he works as a sort of middle man. When our story starts, an outbreak of a new strain of flu has led to a state of emergency. The bodies are piling up, people are panicking, and most of the city is locking themselves up at home to let the illness run its course. The Redeemer would gladly join them, but duty calls. In the middle of all this, two feuding crime families have, through a strange series of coincidences, ended up with the corpses of the other's child (you might be getting some Romeo and Juliet vibes at this point). It's The Redeemer's job to set things right before more violence breaks out.

This book has been out for a while but was just recently translated into English. It's more of a novella -- just 100 pages long -- but I enjoyed the read and felt that it wrapped everything up in a satisfying way. The characters are interesting and well-drawn even in such a short space, and there was a good balance of humor and more sad, reflective moments as we move back and forth between The Redeemer's attempts to seduce his neighbor ("Three Times Blonde") and his investigation of the children's deaths. I would recommend this to lovers of noir, but I think it has a broader appeal as well.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Arrowood
McHugh, Laura
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Arden Arrowood learns that she has been willed her grandparents' grand house "Arrowood" along the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. She lived there until she was eight years old, when her two-year-old twin sisters disappeared. Arden, now an adult, has been haunted by their disappearance, since she was supposed to be watching them. Three men help or hinder her return: Ben Ferris, who was her childhood best friend next door; Josh Kyle, the founder of the website called Midwest Mysteries, who asks her help as he writes about her sisters; and Dick Heany, the caretaker of Arrowood, who claims he knew her parents. An engrossing read!

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
The Lost Girls
Young, Heather
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The summer of 1935 was one of unexpected changes for the Evans family at their house on the lake. The 15-year-old eldest sister defies their father and 12-year-old Lucy to make her own way. And, 6-year-old pampered Emily disappears. 60 years later, Lucy details that devastating summer in a journal, which she wills to her grandniece Justine, along with the lake house and a healthy investment portfolio. Justine grabs this opportunity to leave her unsettling live-in situation. She and her two daughters drive from California to the remote Minnesota lake. The chapters alternate between Lucy's journal entries and Justine's dilemmas: her mother arrives wanting money; her ex-boyfriend shows up; and her older daughter Melissa seems more and more drawn into Emily's story. An intense read.

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
Nothing Short of Dying
Storey, Erik
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book has recommendations from heavy hitters like Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver that make it sound like the greatest thriller they've ever read. I picked it up based on a good review and the Colorado setting, which I usually enjoy. Disappointing all the way around. Generic tough guy antics and prose that fails to capture the feel of Colorado's high country do not add up to the second coming of Elmore Leonard. And this guy's a native, so we can't blame it on the out of state writer doing it by the numbers. For a much better written crime story with a Colorado setting, read The Painter by Peter Heller.

Reviewer's Name: Alan
Midnight Riot
Aaronovitch, Ben
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Peter Grant has just finished training to be a PC (police constable) in London. Right as he's about to get assigned to the paperwork unit (not his first choice) he chats up a ghost witness to a gruesome murder. After that, he discovers that he has some magical ability, and begins training to be a wizard copper whilst trying to solve the murder.

This was so fun! If I were to describe it, I'd say it's like the Dresden Files (both are urban fantasy series about crime solving wizards) but like a billion times better. It's fairly similar in premise, but different in most other ways. It has a lighter tone, a more likable protagonist, diverse characters, and was just a more enjoyable reading experience for me. The author used to write for Doctor Who, so fans of that show may also like this read. My only complaint is that it read like an ARC. Did anyone bother to edit this thing? The grammar was terrible (some of which was probably intentional, but some of it clearly wasn't), and occasionally character names were just wrong. Like, all of a sudden, a character who wasn't in a scene would "say" something and it was clear that her name was just transposed with the other lady main character - this happened at least twice.

Anyway, lack of editing aside, this book was an absolute joy to read. I've already checked out the next in the series and would strongly recommend this to urban fantasy readers. 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
Steeplejack
Hartley, A.J.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Anglet is a steeplejack, a person who climbs buildings for a variety of work related reasons (chimney work, retrieval, the building of things, etc.). One day, at the end of a shift, she discovers a dead body on the ground. As being a steeplejack is quite dangerous, she isn't completely alarmed at first, until she realizes that the person did not die of natural causes - he had been stabbed in the back. After that, she takes it upon herself to solve the murder mystery as well as a few other mysteries that crop up along the way.

I feel like I should've liked this book more than I did. The beginning is extremely slow, but only due to the author having to do some serious world-building, which is something I often like. The world itself was pretty cool. It's a newly colonized version of South Africa, which made for a unique setting. Actually, the racism/discrimination bits were so well done as to be hard to read. The main character is likable. She's that lovely combination of fierce and vulnerable that is common in YA, but rarely successfully pulled off. Hartley pulls it off. He knows what he's about - this book was extremely well written.

So why didn't I like it? I'm kind of asking myself the same question here, but my overall feeling was definitely just "meh". I think that, for me, the book lacked any real tension or emotional impact. I liked Ang, but I never really cared that much about her, or anyone else in the story. I definitely didn't care about Berrit, the murder victim. Actually much is made about how NO ONE cares about Berrit and his life was one that wasn't going to be worth living anyway, so...who cares who murdered him, really? Aside from a few terrifying scenes featuring her would-be rapist/boss (and a few other emotional but spoilery scenes) the book went from action scene to action scene with no real emotional impact, and without feeling like it was fast paced. Somehow, in the midst of all of the action, the book felt like a really slow read, mostly because I just couldn't make myself care about the fates of most of the characters.

With a more compelling mystery and better developed characters, this book could've been very likable. Still, I think many will like it, and I'm definitely not opposed to picking up the sequel. 2 stars - it was ok.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Shine
Myracle, Lauren
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shine by Lauren Myracle is a teen mystery book about a girl named Cat investigating the viscous assault of her old gay best friend, Patrick. She lives in a back country kind of town where everybody knows everybody, so the sheriff decides to blame the crime on outsiders to avoid causing any drama.
Cat knows this isn't really what happens so she takes matters into her own hands and interrogates all her friends and a few tweakers, aka meth addicts.
Overall, the book was very good. I enjoyed the mystery and the plot twist.
It was a page turner that made you want to keep reading without any breaks.
Although the author stayed true to the language of "redneck" people, I wasn't especially fond of it because it seemed uneducated. Otherwise, everything about this book was good. The main character is easy to relate to because she is a reader and a smart girl that stands up for her friends, but also admits her flaws. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Kayla B.
Murder at Brightwell
Weaver, Ashley
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Amory Ames has left her philandering husband for a vacation by the sea with her erstwhile fiance on the pretense of talking his younger sister out of marrying her dastardly fiance. After a day of vacation, the dastardly fiance is murdered and the erstwhile fiance is suspect #1. Amory is convinced her old fiance is innocent, and works to clear his name.

At first, I was not at all sold on this book. The beginning is very slow and weighed down by constant descriptions of the sartorial choices of the many characters. The main character also initially comes off as a bit of a prickly doormat. Fortunately, about halfway through the book, the pacing picks up, the story gets really interesting, and our main character gets much less annoying. Her relationship with her husband, however, never ceases to be annoying because...did people not talk to each other in 1930s England? It was an unapologetically unhealthy relationship that was ultimately frustrating to read and was left (purposefully) unresolved at the end.

I don't read a ton of mysteries, but this one ended up being a lot of fun! Its kind of like an old school mystery where there is a cast of characters/suspects in one setting and you KNOW one of them did it...but which one? Based on what other readers have said, it's Agatha Christie-esque. I was able to guess the "who" but not the "why", and the book ended up being entertaining enough that I immediately checked out the sequel, Death Wears a Mask. I'd recommend it to mystery lovers who like their mysteries with a historical setting and a touch of fashion. 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
The Archangel Project
Graham, C.S.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

An exhilarating novel that puts you directly into the shoes of young October Guinness in a race against time and a fight against the government. When a man named Lance Palmer comes to October in her small New Orleans abode, she expects he's a good guy with his claim of being with the FBI, but she couldn't be more wrong. With motivation and determination, Lance Palmer and his crew will do anything to get rid of October because of her unique talent that could potentially leak extremely confidential information regarding the well being of the globe. Will she be able to ever live a normal life again? Will she ever outrun her past? With the help of ex-special ops and CIA agent, Jax Alexander, she just might. With gripping current events and a sense of constant danger, this book is extremely eye-opening and thrilling.
Reviewers Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Logan H.
The Face On The Milk Carton
Cooney, Caroline
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Each day a new face appears on the milk carton. No one gives it much thought. Especially not plain old Janie Johnson. Until one day she sees HER picture on the milk carton. After this she works hard to discover the truth. This book will give you chills of suspense. The book was bit strange at parts, but the overall plot was amazing. I give it a 3/5.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Neil Flambe and The Crusader's Curse
Sylvester, Kevin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Neil Flambe may be a very annoying person, but at least he's got his nose and his talent for cooking to back it up. But then all the sudden his talent starts to take a turn for the worse. At his restaurant, Chez Flambe, all of his food is being taken back, he get's complaints from his costumers, and all the sudden his restaurant has been forced to close down due to reports of food poisoning. Then to add on to all of his problems, Neil discovers that there is a family curse that has stopped Flambe chef's for centuries. Now he is being forced to go into a chef cook-off and could lose everything if he makes one mistake. Neil suddenly has stepped into a mess that even, he thinks, he can't cook his way out of.

I picked this book because as I first read this book, I couldn't put it down.
The author pulled me into all of the problems of the story making me engaged in the story quickly and slowly showing me how it was going to end.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Isabella P.
The Secret Adversary
Christie, Agatha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie is a spine-tingling mix of
mystery, international intrigue, and spy thriller. It begins with the sinking of the Lusitania when a mysterious man gives a girl he does not even know a package with instructions not to let it fall into enemy hands. The story then moves forward four years to 1919 when a pair of friends, Tommy and Tuppence, set out to help a rich man find his long-missing cousin. Quickly, though, the pair are swept up in an intrigue far beyond what they could have ever imagined and with consequences that could change their entire world. Like most Agatha Christie mysteries, the culprit is kept a secret until the very end, which turns what might be a typical spy story into an engaging mystery.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Grace O.

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