Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Killing at Cotton Hill, by Terry Shames

A Killing at Cotton Hill, by Terry Shames

A Killing at Cotton Hill, by Terry Shames

Samuel Craddock, retired police chief in the town of Jarrett Creek, Texas, gets a late night call from his elderly neighbor, Dora Lee Parjeter. Dora Lee is worried that someone is spying on her, but Dora Lee has a long history of calling Samuel with groundless fears. Yet, the next morning, Dora Lee is found dead, stabbed to death in her own kitchen, and Samuel Craddock is left with a terrible case of guilt. Since the town’s current chief of police is known to be an incompetent drunk, Samuel takes responsibility for investigating Dora Lee’s death. The prime suspect is Dora Lee’s grandson, Greg, and Samuel is pretty sure the kid isn’t guilty. Samuel starts digging into Dora Lees affairs, and finds that she is deep in debt and has a parcel of discontented family members. Soon, Samuel has his hands full with trying to keep Greg out of jail, getting Dora Lee properly buried, and keeping her family matters in some sort of order while trying to find her killer.

This is a terrific debut novel for fans of Agatha Christie. It is a gentle mystery, that is, one without graphic violence or situations. Yet, this is not a group of knitting circle ladies solving a mystery. This is a good, solid mystery with a serious, intelligent investigator. Samuel may live in a small town, but he’s capable of solving big crimes. The other people in the town are well-developed, interesting characters. And there are cows! I love cows.

I look forward to more Samuel Craddock mysteries. This is book one of what is already a four book series.

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Cop Town, by Karin Slaughter

Cop Town, by Karin Slaughter

Cop Town, by Karin Slaughter

Kate Murphy is determined to be a police officer. Recently widowed, Kate has failed at all the other jobs she’s tried. If she doesn’t find a way to succeed in the Atlanta Police Department, then she’s going to have to go home to her rich family and admit defeat. That wouldn’t be so bad, for some people, but Kate feels the need to stand on her own two feet and find her own life. And this is a fine attitude, except Kate has chosen to become a female police officer in 1974, at a time when a cop killer is driving the Atlanta police force into a frenzy. Unless she is very careful, Kate may not last through her very first day.

Maggie Lawson is having her own difficult time on the police force. She isn’t a rooky cop, but she’s overshadowed by her domineering uncle Terry and the unpredictable actions of her brother Jimmy, both police officers as well. When Jimmy’s partner, Don Mosley, is killed by the unknown cop killer, Maggie’s life starts to come unglued. Lucky for her that she is partnered with newby officer Kate, because together, the two may just solve the cop killer murders and find the confidence to hold their heads high in their chosen career.

Cop Town is the first book I’ve read by Karin Slaughter. And I will have to tell you I was very impressed. Ms. Slaughter has a bold, clear writing style that is easy to read, yet also conveys a great deal of information with very few words. She is a master at creating dynamic characters, and I was very impressed with her setting choice of Atlanta in 1974. This is a hard time in history to pull off well. Women were new to the work force, in many ways, and many of the workplaces were ruled by men. Political correctness was not so correct, and people did not have cell phones on every corner to record misdeeds and random events. Yet, Ms. Slaughter created two very different, yet very powerful women who were able to come together, in spite of their differences, to work together well and succeed in this setting. The dynamics of the female relationships in this book are superb.

I will say that, for me, this was not a mystery, but rather a thriller, and I prefer a good mystery. Yet the setting and writing style of this book was enough to make me try another Karin Slaughter title, in spite of that fact. Excellent writing, an unusual setting, and wonderful female characters. Highly enjoyable.

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The Winner’s Crime, by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime, by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Crime, by Marie Rutkoski

In April of 2014, I reviewed a book titled The Winner’s Curse, by a Marie Rutkoski. Ms. Rutkoski was a new author for me, and I wasn’t thrilled by the cover of the book, which seemed overly girly and screamed “Teen warrior chick romance.” But her book blew me away with its meticulous plotting, beautiful prose, and complex, intelligent characters. I had stumbled upon a true gem, and I eagerly awaited book two of this series. Well, book two is here, and all I can say is that it is sooooo much better than book one, and that is saying something.

The Winner’s Crime continues the story of Kestrel and Arin from the first book. Kestrel is now living in the royal palace, engaged to prince Verex, son of the Valorian emperor. Arin, now the Herrani governor, still longs for Kestrel, but feels she’s betrayed him in a quest for power. The truth is that Kestrel is playing a bigger game than anyone imagines. Under the watchful and malevolent eye of the emperor, she must find a way to help the Herrani, stay true to her father, and keep hidden her deep feelings for Arin. A novel of intrigue, well-crafted lies, and soul-searing love.

I won’t say any more than that about the plot. It is rare, for me, that I find a series that gets better as it moves along. Often, I read book one, and then read half of book two, disappointed by the author’s story choices. With The Winner’s Crime, I literally could not read the book fast enough. Brava, Ms. Rutkoski, for your brilliant work. The series shines on so many levels; world-building, character development, pacing, plotting….both books are simply marvelous.

Read my review of The Winner’s Curse here. 

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Sunset Express, by Robert Crais

Sunset Express, by Robert Crais

Sunset Express, by Robert Crais

Teddy Martin–rich, famous, and entitled–is facing murder charges, accused of brutally murdering his wife. His high-powered, high-priced team of lawyers dives into the investigation, determined to prove Teddy innocent. Enter Elvis Cole, the World’s Greatest Detective. Elvis wears Hawaiian shirts and is known to crack the wise. Yet underneath that sometimes irreverent exterior is a hard working, intelligent private eye. Elvis is tasked with proving that LAPD Detective Angela Rossi tampered with evidence in the case. With the help of his partner, Joe Pike, Elvis wades through evidence and witnesses. Soon, he begins to suspect that someone else is involved in tampering with evidence in the case. As Elvis and Joe get closer to the truth, they may find that the truth is more than they bargained for.

This is book six in the Elvis Cole series by author Robert Crais. If you have not read any of these excellent books, this is a very good book to start with. Not only does Elvis have a compelling case to investigate, but Joe Pike (who is one of my favorite characters of the series) gets some time to shine. Robert Crais’ characters are always complete people, in that they seem to be alive on the page for me. Even the most minor characters have their own memorable spark. The latest Elvis Cole/Joe Pike book was supposed to released in April 2015, but has been delayed until November. So you have time to start from the beginning and read all the books before the new one is available. I adore the author’s work. Mr. Crais, I don’t even mind (very much) that your next title is delayed. When “The Promise” is finally in my hot little hands, it will be a very good day.

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