Sunday, November 30, 2014

Neve & Egan Cases, Danse Macabre by Cristelle Comby

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: Neve & Egan Cases, Danse Macabre by Cristelle Comby.

Young Women go missing every year. Often they leave on their own, with differing agendas. Other times they disappear without a trace. As a parent, the vanishing women create a gap in their lives leaving them to think the very worst.

In Neve & Egan Cases, Danse Macabre by Christelle Comby we are introduced to a situation where a young ballerina has disappeared. Her mother has hired the Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan to help solve the mystery of her missing girl. While the police are on the case, they believe it is a simple runaway, and are tied up in a grisly murder, not putting much into the missing dancer case. Her mother, Mrs. Doughton, believes the worst. She knows her daughter better than anyone, and is convinced she has been kidnapped.

As the sleuthing duo look into the background and question the young woman’s friends they begin to understand their client’s conviction.  They also understand the difficulty of beginning a case already held by the police and must find a way to work together without causing interference.  The police are only too happy to release the case to their care, for they are working on the gruesome murder of a choir member.  They do not have the manpower necessary to tackle both cases at the same time.

When a murder case in another jurisdiction suddenly ties the murdered girl and the missing girl together, the police are no longer as happy to have the investigators aboard. Yet there is more going on behind the scenes that put the entire investigation in jeopardy.  Can they work together to decipher the clues before another young woman disappears?

Comby has done a great job of giving us a murder mystery with characters that draw you in. The teams of individuals working together are a mix of dynamic, shuttered, and fun, yet the differences seem to round out the type of brain power needed to solve the case. There is something humble and yet fierce about Neve and Egan, and their working relationship is both interesting and interactive, but in a strange way.  The flaws of each character make them human, and you find the peculiarities endearing.

The case itself is deep and muddy, with a macabre killer who has his own agenda. The killings are brutal and staged, and the killer does well staying under the radar. It is only the strange characteristics of the investigators that find the way to solve the mystery.  The interplay between the police and investigators is often tinged with a bit of humor, taking a bit of the horror away, but there is no doubt that a twisted killer is on the loose.

If you enjoy mystery and romance you will enjoy this work. If you are interested in puzzles and enjoy a chance to develop your own thoughts you will enjoy the red herrings and twists and turns introduced throughout.

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Danse Macabre Summary:
Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.

To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.

Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...

Cristelle Comby's Bio:
Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $11.99 paperback
Genre: New Adult, Detective Mystery
October 2014

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Three Strikes and You're Dead by Michael A. Draper.

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review" 'Three Strikes and You're Dead by Michael A. Draper.

Sports fans are the most loyal of factions. They back their teams and follow them all the way. Even when they are playing poorly, the ardent fans continue to root them on. As with all types of celebrity whether sports personalities or others in the limelight, there is also the possibility of that fandom to become adoration and even obsession.

In Three Strikes and You’re Dead by Michael A. Draper we follow a tense situation as a Baseball strike is underway. Differing chat rooms echo with dismay and even anger. Often money is the driving factor in the talks, and as with all sports there is great deal of figures being overpaid. When someone decides to stir the pot even stronger, they have an active audience of potential targets. At least one of those who cross the line from fan to obsession is bound to drop out.

America’s pastime has suddenly gained fame for another reason. Bobby Chapel is the first to die. His star is just rising and everything is coming up roses. Life has just opened the door to a lucrative future, and he is set to make his mark. Lured from his home town team by the prospect of more money, he seems to be the most likely choice to make a statement. When Bobby is found dead in his hotel room, electrocuted in the hot tub, the scene is set. As the perpetrator finalizes his work, he wonders only what his special friend from the internet chat will think of his work. Humming a tune, he cleans up his mess, and scatters a pack of baseball cards to set the stage. Knowing this is only the beginning he leaves his grisly work and heads home to decide where he goes next. For him this is now his calling and he will make the greedy players sorry for ever deceiving their fans.

Roseanne Kelly, Randy Larkin and Graham Dunne, having found success in finding the murder of Roseanne’s husband, are now in the business of investigation. The death of a baseball player seems to be the perfect foil for the start-up of their new business. With the FBI already on the case, can they convince the baseball commission of their own abilities? With Roseanne in the lead not only can they but they do, with the backing of their new agency chief, Fraser “Pete” Peterson. Can they help the FBI to corral the killer before another player dies?

Draper has taken the headlines of a Baseball strike and infused it with the obsession of someone willing to create chaos and use others to do his bidding. Killing the players takes his protagonist one step further in a plan to create pandemonium, and fear. Surfing the net to find those on the fringe, he is able to quickly adapt to their own personal needs. Money is the international language and he hits a home run immediately. His killer is clever and somewhat connected so the action is perfect.

If you enjoy suspense and action this you will find it in Three Strikes and you’re Dead. If you enjoy sleuthing than you will find this team of PI's fun and energetic with both humor and bravado.

This would be a great book for a reading club or discussion group. The idea of celebrity, fans and obsessions would create a great deal of information and ideas to debate.

Rating 4\5

This book was received as a free download from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Black Ice' by Becca Fitzpatrick.

Chance meetings can be just that, meeting someone at a point of time and never seeing them again. Yet there are also encounters that bring fast friendships, or possibly even danger.  
In Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, Lauren Huntsman has a chance encounter that changes her life. No one knows where she has gone, and her family is horrified. Yet she is not the only young woman to have gone missing.
Britt Pfeiffer is not worried about some random disappearances. As her class decides to take their break in Hawaii, Britt talks her friend Korbie into backpacking with her in the Teton Range. Korbie’s brother Calvin was Britt’s boyfriend, and suddenly he dropped her with no explanation. Korbie doesn’t know what happened, but when she agrees to the trek, Calvin also decides he wants to tag along. Calvin is very experienced in the outdoors, while Britt has done more rudimentary training. Unsure of how she feels about this unexpected situation, Britt and Korbie agree to meet him at their destination.
Wondering if she can figure out what happened to them, and determined to rekindle their relationship her plans go awry when they get stuck on their way up the mountains. Knowing that Calvin is on his way, they are not so much afraid of being on their own, but that they might freeze before he reaches them. Deciding to take their gear and hike the rest of the way to their destination, they get lost but stumble on a cabin that appears occupied as they begin to lose heart. Two young men inhabit the place, and agree to help them after much discussion. They seem nice and it doesn’t hurt that they are good looking. That is until the gun comes out. Suddenly they understand the dangers of the mountain in a new way.
Agreeing to help their captors find their way out of the woods, Britt knows that Calvin is on his way and will save them.  Stumbling upon a body in a hidden trunk in the room where she is kept, she begins to understand that she and Korbie are in way over their heads. The descriptions of one of the missing girls’ clothing match the clothes on the corpse in the trunk.  Can they survive long enough for Calvin to find them?
Fitzpatrick has given us characters that seem quite real, and the mistakes they make on the way while a bit sophomoric, seems to fit in with the character and age of the girls. On the surface Calvin seems like the knight in shining armor, but there is something wrong that you can sense from the beginning. Yet Britt has stars in her eyes and misses the strangeness that is noticeable to the reader.
The beauty of the wilderness shows through as well as the danger of the weather and terrain. To have trust in such a setting of someone unknown only shows how desperate and afraid the young women were on their own. Letting down their guard in the most inappropriate situation has put them in danger.
This work takes you into the darkness of a killers mind, but the red herrings have you guessing and wondering what is really happening. There is a chilling secret that slowly peels away, revealing the truth of who can be trusted.
If you enjoy mystery, suspense and romance you will find this a great read. The danger and beauty create a haunting mystery that even as it is revealed stays with you long after the book is done.
Rating 5/5
This book was recevied free for an honest review. All oninions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Wedding and a Funeral by Lauren Carr

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'A Wedding and a Funeral; a Mac Faraday Mystery' by Lauren Carr.

Many nuptials are conducted within the hallowed grounds and premises of the Church. Arranging the timing is often the most difficult, between the sermons, the pastor’s free time and juggling your own time constraints, the lure is still there.
In A Wedding and A Killing by Lauren Carr, we find another obstacle in play that most do not have to deal with. As Mac Faraday and Archie Monday finally decide the time is right, and schedule an unprompted wedding, they are put on hold when a body shows up. Yet this is not just any murder, this is the murder of one of the churches own. Found in one of the church offices, everything is put on hold as Mac and Archie find themselves in the middle of another murder. This one though hits closer to home, as everyone in the church is suspect, including their friend and pastor.
As the clues begin, the local police have their own ideas of the culprit. Yet Mac does not agree. When he gets his own attorney involved and the local suspect claims church sanctuary, the words begin to fly. However there is an overriding trust in Mac’s abilities that create a fissure in the storm, giving them all the time to look deeper then imagined.
Sometimes the simplest of answers are the hardest ones to find, and Mac and Archie are hot on the trail, for nothing can stand between them and their decision to marry.
This is a mystery of jealousies and wants. The deviances of those who claim to be church members give a wicked name to the exploits of their seething need. The characters of Mac and Archie remain true to our initial introduction, but those who serve the church in varying ways have the ways and means to create chaos. There is a mix of tragedy that transforms goodness into pain, and there is vileness that hides in a cloak of goodness. The red herrings are well done and take you in every direction.
As a crime fighting duo, Mac Faraday is a great character, and when matched up with his lady love, they are hard to beat.
If you enjoy murder mystery and romance you will want to find this work. Once you have enjoyed this triumph you will be looking for the other Mac Faraday mysteries by Carr. She twists in the romance so it is more about the mystery, but the romance creates a feeling of surety that makes you want more.
Rating 4/5
This book was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dislexic Dick by Richard "Dick" W. Kraemer

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Dyslexic Dick' by Richard "Dick" W. Kraemer.

Many choose to serve their country through the different branches of the military. Each has its distinct heritage, and those who have served often hold their training and abilities learned for a lifetime. Yet not everyone has the same experience.
In Dyslexic Dick by Richard “Dick” W. Kraemer, we are given a view of entirely different circumstances and experiences. Often what we know about the different branches comes from who we know a family member or friend who may have served. Many are silent and hold their time and experience close, not sharing that interval of their life with anyone except with friends they may have made in their own branch. Others let fly everything that may have occurred, and with everything there is both good and bad.
Dick has given us a view of his own experiences. Having found a way to enlist in the Marine Corp he finds difficulty with many of the training exercises, often due to a genetic marker called Dyslexia. Often more of a hard ship in school, reading is made difficult, but there are other side effects as well which he brings to light as he moves through training.  
Throughout the narrative, the author is very open about his anger, and his own activities, he is also unapologetic and very succinct in his view of his own experience.  He brings his own brand of humor as well as his diary like journaling and takes us on his passage as a young man through jaded eyes enlightening us to some of the pitfalls and decisions that occurred. He is open about his own activities, sometimes criminal in nature, as well as the drug culture of the time. He also discusses those in charge who may have crossed the line in punishment, often with their own hidden agendas.
His story deals with both his home life as well as his time abroad and discusses his romances and his heartaches. His accomplishments and his criminal activities are laid out in succession, and he is open and quite unapologetic about his past, as it is a part of who he is now.
Kraemer moves through the narrative relating his own experiences as he sees them, and recognizes both the good and the bad. Much of what is writing seems hard to understand, and yet human nature creates its own set of rules and each person carries the baggage of their past into their present, often creating who they become.
If you enjoy autobiographies and want to see a differing view of the military you may find this book to your liking. There is humor and yet there is pain and loss. There also seems to be a bit of overriding anger, suppressed but still showing through in places.
This would be a good book for a discussion group, I am sure it would create a great deal of controversy and conversation.

Rating 3/5

This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.