Death at the Manor – Book Review

A Lily Adler Mystery #3 by: Katherine Schnellman
Published on: August 9th, 2022

“Apparently, it wanders the halls of Belleford at night. Half their servants have quit in fear…” – Matthew Spencer.

Ghosts and murder. The latest book in the Lily Adler series turns slightly gothic when visiting her aunt in Hampshire. While there she learns that Belleford manor is haunted. Members of the family and staff having seen the vision of a “Grey Lady”. Rather than the family attempting to distance themselves from these rumors, they instead are promoting it and enjoying the notoriety. Mr. Thomas Wright, the son of the house, talks of giving tours. Thinking a tour might be a bit of fun, Lily and her friend Ofelia decide to visit Belleford and figure out the mystery. But while there the unexpected and unexplained death of Mrs. Wright, Thomas’s mother, occurs. Everyone, but Lily, believes it is the Grey Lady who has killed her.

Continue reading “Death at the Manor – Book Review”

Nine Lives – Book Review

Nine Lives by: Peter Swanson
Narrated by: Jacques Roy, Mark Bramhall
Published on: March 15, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow
Number of Pages: 340
Audio Book: 7Hrs 11 Min

Description

Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke – until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list. First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor.

FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next….

Review

I am a sucker for any book with a number in the title. It is obviously a ploy to grab my attention and I freely admit that it works on me. You add on a not so subtle nod to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and then I am doubly interested. So now that I’ve finished it, did it work for me? Yes and No.

Continue reading “Nine Lives – Book Review”

Still Life – Book Review

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1 by: Louise Penny
Published on: September 30, 2008

“Three Pines wasn’t on any tourist map, being too far off any main or even secondary road. Like Narnia, it was generally found unexpectedly and with a degree of surprise that such an elderly village should have been hiding in this valley all along. Anyone fortunate enough to find it once usually found their way back.”

My first Louise Penny book! I’ve read so many wonderfully written reviews on a few of her books that it was becoming difficult not to add her books to my list, especially since I enjoy detective stories/police procedurals.

Still Life is set in the small village of Three Pines, Quebec Canada. And when a retired teacher who also enjoys painting is found dead it sends shock waves throughout the close-knit community. To help solve the mystery of her death, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in and begin their investigation.

Continue reading “Still Life – Book Review”

The Post Script Murders – Book Review

Harbinder Kaur #2 by: Elly Griffiths
Narrated by: Nina Wadia
Published on: March 2, 2021

Before picking up The Postscript Murders, I had come to the conclusion that it was just not practical or possible for some of the main elements from The Stranger Diaries to carry over. This was mostly true with the story within a story format since the short story, The Stranger, was very unique to Clare, the first book’s main character. The short story not only introduced the gothic atmosphere, but the fictional author as well, both of which had a distinct presence throughout the book.

I mention this in hopes that no one goes in and is immediately disappointed. The Postscript Murders is a terrific murder mystery, but it does not carry over several elements that made The Stranger Diaries unique and memorable. It can be jarring. Once or twice, I thought to myself that it almost felt as if it were written by a different author, or was part of a different series.

Continue reading “The Post Script Murders – Book Review”

The Book of Cold Cases – Book Review

The Book of Cold Cases by: Simone St. James
Published on: March 15, 2022

“The wind groaned in the eaves. The handprint faded. The figure moved back into the darkness. And the house was still once more.”

Shea is a divorced, 29-year old receptionist at a medical office. Outside of work she has is obsessed with true crime and runs a blog called The Book of Cold Cases that has quite a bit of followers. But her blog is also therapeutic for her as it helps Shea work through a traumatic experience that occurred when she was a child. While at work one day, Beth Greer, a woman who was acquitted for multiple counts of murder back in the 70’s, walks into the office. Everyone believes Beth got away with murder and Beth’s attitude during the trial made her infamous. But Beth and the events fascinate Shea and she can’t help herself – Shea asks if she can interview Beth and get her side of the story.

Continue reading “The Book of Cold Cases – Book Review”

The Devil and the Dark Water – Book Review

The Devil and the Dark Water by: Stuart Turton
Published on: October 6, 2020

Surviving isn’t winning. It is what you do when you’ve lost.

The Devil and the Dark Water is a paranormal mystery inspired by the Batavia shipwreck of 1628. The true story of the Batavia is horrific. A shipwreck by itself would be terrifying, but it takes a further insidious and sinister turn even after the survivors find their way to a nearby island. If you ever happen to read the true account, you might actually think it is a bad plot of a horror novel, except in this case it happens to be true. Drawing on this, the author uses people/roles, names, and places to create his story. And while there are similarities The Devil and the Dark Water is not a retelling or accounting of the actual shipwreck, but is its own unique story.

Continue reading “The Devil and the Dark Water – Book Review”

The Black Orchid Girls – Book Review

The Black Orchid Girls by: Carolyn Arnold
Published on: February 10, 2022

Black Orchid Girls is the 4th book in the Detective Amanda Steele series that gives a solid story, but felt a little bland.

Early one morning a girl is found murdered in the Leesylvania State Park and Detective Amanda Steele and her partner Detective Trent Stenson are called in to investigate. The girl turns out to be a local college student, Chloe Sumner, with a heart for the environment and was frequently known to go to the park for the Mystery snail. Soon the detectives are given plenty of leads to begin their investigation, which include boyfriends, roommates, and rivals just to name a few.

Continue reading “The Black Orchid Girls – Book Review”

The Stranger Diaries – Book Review

The Stranger Diaries (Harbinder Kaur #1): Elly Griffiths
Published on: March 5, 2019

In Stranger Diaries, Elly Griffiths has written a wonderful gothic story that combines a fictional Victorian-era short story with a modern murder mystery.

Clare is the single-mother of 15-year-old Georgie. She teaches high-school English in the house where R.M. Holland, the long-deceased author of short-story The Stranger, used to live. In her spare time, she researches the various mysteries surrounding R.M. Holland, mostly relating to rumors about his wife and possible daughter. Shortly in, Clare learns that her coworker and friend, Elle has been murdered. DS Harbinder Kaur and her partner Neil are assigned to the case, however, they find plenty of roadblocks during their investigation as the people who knew Elle feel compelled to hide certain truths from them.

Continue reading “The Stranger Diaries – Book Review”

Deception by Gaslight – Book Review

A Gilded Gotham Mystery by: Katie Belli
Published on: October 6, 2020

Originally I wondered if the gaslight in the title was a reference to the actual gas-light of that era, or was a story about being gaslighted. Either way, I knew it was a story that I would be intrigued by, not to mention it having a terrific cover.

Continue reading “Deception by Gaslight – Book Review”

Her Final Words – Book Review

By: Brianna Labuskes
Published On: August 1, 2020

While only my second book by this author, it’s clear that the setting and mood are important characteristics to the stories she tells.

Her Final Words centers around a small town in Idaho called Knox Hollow. Within its borders is a church known for its strict doctrines and tight control over its members. While FBI Agent Lucy Thorne investigates the murder of Noah Dawson, this church and their beliefs are woven into the story. None moreso than their belief that there should be no medical intervention when someone is sick or hurt. The state’s Shield Law protects parents in these instances, but it is no less controversial. Throughout the story we learn how difficult it is for the small police department to coincide with this church.

One of the fascinating aspects of the book is how little we know of our main character, Agent Thorne. Often, this genre will provide a detailed character description along with a list of their flaws and demons. Instead, Agent Lucy Thorne enters the story with very little background given. As the story progresses we learn about who Lucy is not by her history, but by her actions and by how she interacts with Sheriff Hicks and Deputy Grant.

While Lucy’s narrative is the central POV, mixed in are chapter’s from the events leading up to when Eliza confesses to FBI. Initially, I feared I would get bored of seeing only one person’s flashback. So I was pleasantly surprised when the past events were told from multiple points of view. By doing so we are given an incomplete picture of what transpired that helps to keep us guessing until the pieces finally start to fit together at the end.

In general, Her Final Words comes across as a straight mystery/suspense story with no alternating story lines told. For me, this approach worked as it allowed me to focus only on the story at hand. Once started, I became engaged rather quickly and am glad I picked it as this month’s First Reads choice.

Rating: 4 stars

Description:

It seems like an open-and-shut case for FBI special agent Lucy Thorne when Eliza Cook walks into the field office. The teenage girl confesses to murdering a young boy. Disturbingly composed, she reveals chilling details only the killer could know. Beyond that Eliza doesn’t say another word, leaving a vital question met with dead silence: Why did she do it?

To find the answer, Lucy goes to the scene of the crime in the small Idaho town of Knox Hollow. But Lucy’s questions are only mounting. Especially when she’s drawn deeper into the life of the victim. Then a combing of the woods yields unsettling evidence that Eliza isn’t the only one in this close-knit rural community with secrets.

Getting to the truth is becoming Lucy’s obsession. And it’s a dangerous one. Because for the good folks of Knox Hollow, hiding that truth will take more than silence.