Mystery

Book Review: Murder Has Nine Lives

Author
Levine, Laura
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Jaine Austen has a trip to Hawaii with her parents on the horizon, and her new freelance writing assignment gets her a date with the company president's handsome nephew. Just when Jaine thinks her life couldn't get any better, her cat Prozac lands a starring role in a new cat food commercial. Visions of fortune and fame flitter in Jaine's eyes, but it becomes clear that the person who hired Prozac is in some shady dealings, and that the inventor of the cat food is an absolute a**hole (excuse my French). Just as the shoot is about to end, the inventor of the cat food drops dead on set, and it's clear that it wasn't accidental. With everything she was looking forward to now at stake, Jaine Austen must put on her detective gear to catch the culprit before they take a swipe at another victim.

This novel is Laura Levine at her best. At every point when I was reading this novel, I was unable to guess what would come next, and every step of the story had me full of anticipation and joy. It was pretty satisfying to watch Lance get his just desserts, as well as seeing the side plot with Jaine's parents not revolve around one embarrassing antic of Mr. Austen, but a human event that slides into chaos. The mystery, as I said, was handled incredibly well, keeping the readers guessing until the very last page, while still having a hearty helping of Laura Levine's hilarious humor. And let me tell you, while the climax was identical to all Jaine Austen mysteries I've read, I did not expect who the culprit was in the end. It was a plot twist I did not see coming! This is definitely a book I recommend you pick up as soon as you can lay your hands on it.

Reviewer's Name
Naomi S.
Genres

Book Review: The Axe Factor

Author
Cotterill, Colin
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Being cooped up with her eccentric family in a rural village on the Thai coast, Jimm Juree longs for something thrilling and interesting to happen in her life. And lo and behold, she gets it. She is assigned to interview a local European crime novelist named Conrad Coralbank (I legitimately almost wrote Colin Cotterill when typing this review up). At the same time, she finds herself in the middle of solving the disappearance of local doctor Dr. Somluk, who never returned from what was supposed to be a three-day conference, as well as the wife of Conrad Coralbank. All of this looks very suspicious to Jimm's family, who notice Conrad's disturbing attraction to Jimm quicker than a cheetah can run. With a monsoon headed their way, and a potential serial killer threatening Jimm's life, it seems like Jimm's entire world is in for some serious changes.

When I first read this book's description, I didn't have high hopes for it, given that the culprit seemed to be painfully obvious from the start. Half the fun of a mystery novel is figuring out who the culprit is, so having the culprit be handed over to you is a huge blow. With that taken into account, while I was intrigued by the book's premise, I felt like the book wouldn't have much to offer in terms of a thrilling mystery. But I was so, so wrong! The tension in this mystery novel is unlike any I've ever seen before, and the characters are written exceptionally well. Also, be prepared for a huge plot twist at the end, because Colin uses the obvious culprit facade to bring a plot twist you will not see coming. The climax was one of the best parts of this entire novel, not only because of the plot twist and how action packed it was, but because of how funny it was. I kind of want to see a climax similar to it in a Jaine Austen mystery. Just super saiyan. However, this book does have some major problems with dialogue. There weren't enough breaks to tell us who's talking, making the dialogue very confusing to read. The setting of the dialogue is also often made very unclear at first, and there are little interactions with the environment in the dialogue, making the dialogue seem like it's in a vacuum. But even with these dialogue hiccups, this is a book I highly recommend you check out. I'll be back again for books by Colin Cotterill soon, hungry for more.

Reviewer's Name
Naomi S.
Genres

Book Review: The Wrong Girl

Author
Casey, Donis
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This is a book well worth reading as it has all the mystery and glamor and humor a good mystery should have and it has people who help and show compassion for the girl in the story! It is also a story written with the correct facts of the era in which this story plays. I have read the other Donis Casey books and love how this one has come about. Its a follow up of Donis's other series. Can't wait to read the next one!!

Reviewer's Name
Sandra

Book Review: And Then There Were None

Author
Christie, Agatha
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

A stand alone mystery from the great Agatha Christie. This mystery is
inspired by an Olde English nursery rhyme about ten little soldiers. Reading
the poem can give clues as to what is happening and what happens next but the
mystery is bamboozling and enthralling the whole way through. It is a
complicated psychological thriller that takes an epilogue to understand.
Thrilling from start to finish.

Reviewer's Name
Elizabeth

Book Review: Murder in Her Stocking

Author
McKevett, G. A.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Stella Reid takes herself back to what she considers her best Christmas ever.
Stella had enough to deal with during the Christmas festivities, especially
with the recent vandalism of the McGill nativity display. Then late one
night, she discovers Priscilla Hart, the town bad girl, dying in an alleyway,
and it's clear she didn't go down without a fight. As a way of paying her
respect, Stella begins to investigate Priscilla's murder when almost everyone
around her seems to turn a blind eye, all while trying to ensure that she can
see her family during the holiday season. As the pieces of the puzzle come
together, Stella begins to realize who the culprit is-a culprit who even
thinking of the possibility of them committing murder breaks her heart.

G.A. McKevett released two books in 2018; this one and Hide and Sneak, the
next entry in her Savannah Reid mysteries. Out of the two books, this one is
what I feel is the better quality. It does a much better job of showing over
telling than Hide and Sneak, especially with Stella's grandkids. With both
the mystery itself and the subplot with Stella's family, this story does an
amazing job of being real, with just the right balance of heartwarming and
heartbreaking events to keep up that image. However, this story is not
without its flaws. As much as I loved how the culprit threw plot armor out
the window, I just felt like it came out of nowhere. I expected the culprit
to be at least somewhat linked to the evidence we saw, but I just felt who it
actually was was a failed attempt to mush two plotlines together. Altogether,
I was disappointed by the climax, especially with all the amazing buildup to
it earlier on. But hey, maybe my brain was just foggy from bacon withdrawal.
Overall, I highly recommend this mystery novel with every fiber of my
existence.

Reviewer's Name
Naomi S.
Genres

Book Review: Hide and Sneak

Author
McKevett, G. A.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency has a new case that takes them up in
the world to famous actor Ethan Malloy. His wife and child have gone missing,
and he's counting on Savannah and the rest of the agency to return them safe
and sound. The case is already a dire one, but when the family's nanny is
found murdered near a forest trail, the situation becomes even more severe.
Savannah is rushing both to find Ethan's family and catch the nanny's killer
before another victim is claimed. With paparazzi swarming at every turn and
evidence that leads to more dead ends than not, this is shaping up to be
Savannah's deadliest chase yet. Will she be able to apprehend the culprit
before the final seconds of the clock tick down?

G.A. McKevett released two novels in 2018; this one and the first novel in a
spinoff series. While I personally find this book to be the one of lesser
quality, it's not by much at all. The mystery is handled in a phenomenal
light, and I was off my seat with anticipation of what would come next. It
all ended with a culprit I didn't expect, but was obvious in hindsight, which
I feel is a clever way to go about a culprit in a mystery. The side plot with
Tammy's parents was also handled really well. However, the reason I feel like
this was the lesser novel is because I felt like it often relied too much on
exposition to drive the mystery forward, which kind of beats the storytelling
purpose of "show, don't tell". However, I still consider this one of G.A.
McKevett's best works to date, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone and
everyone.

Reviewer's Name
Naomi S.
Genres

Book Review: Pampered to Death

Author
Levine, Laura
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Jaine Austen is relieved to receive a gift trip to the Haven, a luxury resort
along the California coast, from her flamboyantly gay neighbor Lance.
However, upon arriving there, she realizes that the Haven is a fat
farm in disguise run by Olga, the Diet Nazi (her words and not mine). She's
sharing her "luxury vacation" with Mallory Francis, a famous movie star, and
her staff. While gracing the big screens is Mallory's job, her true calling seems to
be making enemies with everyone she comes across. So when Mallory is found
strangled by a piece of kelp during a seaweed wrap, the suspect list is
longer than Rapunzel's hair with added extensions. Not wanting to spend any
longer in Diet Hell than necessary (and yes, she does call the Haven that),
Jaine puts on her detective slippers once again to catch a culprit once
again. However, this will prove to be Jaine's most challenging cases yet, and
her chase to catch the culprit will put her life on the line more than ever
before.

Let me just get this off my chest. I-love-this series! It's so well-written,
and never ceases to amuse me. I love how this series waits until later than
most for the murder to happen,making the reader make assumptions on who the
culprit is before the murder takes place. However, every book I've read from
this series so far has a major flaw. While the actual investigation for each
book is individually unique, the main climax always follows the same format.
It goes as follows:

1) Jaine is left with no clear culprit until she remembers a piece of
evidence she missed
2) The person who seems like the furthest thing from the culprit is always
the culprit
3) Just as Jaine finds the culprit, they try to kill her
4) Something saves Jaine last-minute
5) The culprit is arrested

This book is no different. I really wish Laura Levine would break away from
this format, as it makes the series very repetitive. However, I just hope she
does it in future mysteries. But overall, I'd highly recommend this mystery,
especially for a good laugh. The mystery kept me guessing while still keeping
me relaxed, Jaine Austen is the most relatable protagonist ever, the sub-plot
with her parents is hilarious in an "I really shouldn't be laughing at this"
kind of way, and Prozac is-well, Prozac! Just make sure to have something to
strangle with (noose, execution chain, chimichanga, whatever suits you),
because I assure you that no Jaine Austen mystery has made me want to
strangle Lance more than this one by the end. You have been warned.

Reviewer's Name
Naomi S.

Book Review: Without a Trace: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon

Author
Starr, Mel
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This medieval surgeon/bailiff is back for another adventure in the 12th book of this series. Hugh de Singleton is called upon to use his sleuthing skills to locate a missing noblewoman and her maidservant who disappear "without a trace" while traveling in the company of others in a caravan. Hugh is stumped at every turn as no clues turn up in his investigation. Will this mystery be the one he cannot solve?

Reviewer's Name
Tammy

Book Review: The Man Who Was Thursday

Author
Chesterton, G. K.
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

On the surface, The Man Who Was Thursday has all the markings of a witty thriller satire. Unfortunately, as the subtitle of this work is “A Nightmare,” things don’t necessarily stay coherent to the end. It’s not that The Man Who Was Thursday is terrible, but rather that it loses focus and becomes absurd the longer it continues. And perhaps that’s the greatest tragedy of this book: that it could have been a solid story if it didn’t devolve into a nightmare at the end.

I certainly liked plenty of aspects of the early parts of this book. Infiltrating an anarchist society with day-of-the-week codenames. The revelation that few members of said society were actually who they said they were. The conspiracy and twists as the protagonists and antagonists get flipped on their heads. Of course, this last bit is when things started going downhill. Perhaps it’s that odd British humor that influenced the weird bits, but the story probably could have done without all the randomness near the end. In fact, making the whole thing into a nightmare lessens the overall impact of the story, since there is doubt that any of it happened at all.

I’m sure that books like The Man Who Was Thursday require extensive footnotes and analysis to understand. I’m sure this book is assigned to English classes as an example of deep and thoughtful prose. The problem is that I’m mainly reading for entertainment. I don’t have the time to sit down and pore over all the analysis of a book like this. For my money, I think I’ll stick to the James Bond series for spies with code names infiltrating secret societies. At least then, I know the result is closer to reality than whatever this book contains.

A weird book that could have been an excellent thriller satire, I give The Man Who Was Thursday 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.