Review: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is so darn good. I’ve enjoyed every single one of her books. From the very first pages until the last word she keeps you guessing. And this one is no exception.

Maggie has a happy life. Her handsome husband, Noah, is a successful doctor. She adores her stepson Caleb. Together the three of them are living the American dream. There’s just one piece missing for Maggie. She has a daughter, Anna, who she hasn’t seen since she was a baby. But now Anna is back in her life and everything seems perfect. Until it’s not so perfect anymore.

Things begin to quickly go wrong. However, it goes from bad to the absolute worst when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime. Did he or didn’t he? And what was going on with Anna in the weeks leading up to her death? These are the questions that Maggie is faced with as she tries to cope with the loss of Anna while at the same time Noah is on trial for his life.

Besides the fact that the author is simply brilliant, I loved the way this one was written. Noah’s story begins with the conclusion of his trial and works its way backwards. We hear Maggie’s story going forward from the time she’s reunited with Anna. The two collide in a dramatic finish when Noah’s fate is revealed. Grab this one and be ready for quite a ride!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: After Anna

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig

Solid, cute, cozy mystery with a dead guy, an amateur sleuth, an ex-fiancé, an ex-boyfriend, a potential boyfriend, and a couple of cops. Oh – and a coffee shop! I’m going to admit, I often choose books based on their covers, and I chose this one for the coffee. #yesidid

The protagonist Juliet is likable and genuine. I liked that I could envision her expressions and feel her exasperation. The police officers and a few other secondary characters were a little bit one dimensional to me, but I didn’t mind, as I was busy trying to solve the mystery before they did. I liked Juliet’s best friend Pete, also. He’s a sturdy, reliable dude – and every cozy mystery needs a Pete.

Fardig did a nice job weaving a creative, fresh mystery with just enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I was onto the perp before Juliet was, but it still took me a good while to do it, and I had fun from beginning to end.

-calliope

Buy MURDER OVER MOCHAS

Review: March of Crime by Jess Lourey

I really really love this series of mystery novels set in small town Minnesota. I’ve waited patiently (and by patiently I mean stalking NetGalley and Amazon and the author’s website) for each new release. And I’ve enjoyed every delicious moment of librarian sleuthing, senior citizen joking, boyfriend avoiding, festival attending, and the good guys overall trying to keep out of trouble while helping find the bad guys. 

But this one failed me. Lourey wrote this installment just a little too much on the other side of lewd and bawdy. I’ve gotten to know the main character over the years, and she wouldn’t forget underwear, much less deliberately go without it. I didn’t like the contrived sensuousness at all. 

The mystery was a little macabre for me as well. I just want to go back to the earlier books and enjoy a decent cozy mystery without wincing and scrinching my nose. 

Maybe my tastes are tame compared to yours. Maybe you like when things get a little crazy and you were disappointed with earlier books, waiting for more crazy to happen. If so, read March of Crime, and you’ve got your wish. 

-calliope

Buy MARCH OF CRIME

Review: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

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Sandra Brown never disappoints me.  While not all of her stories have been five stars for me, they’re all highly worthy of a mention.  Her newest is no exception.

Kerra Bailey’s career as a TV journalist has never been better.  And to top it off, she’s managed to snag the interview that’s eluded all others.  Major Franklin Trapper has shunned all publicity for the last several years.  Now he’s agreed to meet with her, to tell his story as the reluctant hero of a horrific bombing many years ago.  And the shocker for the audience?  Young Kerra was one of the people the Major saved.

But somebody doesn’t want the story told.  Fear of the case being reopened, maybe?  Regardless, both the Major and Kerra find themselves with their lives on the line.  Kerry escapes relatively unscathed, the Major isn’t quite so lucky.  Joining forces with his estranged son plunges her deeper into the mystery of who’s to blame.  And of course, romance happens.  It wouldn’t be a Sandra Brown without steamy love scenes, after all.

This is what she does best, writing about murder and mystery and love.  Another winner from this author!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Seeing Red

 

Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks.  When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

Most of us are familiar with that eerie little rhyme, maybe not being completely aware of the meaning.  Some of us even know the story behind it, knowing that it’s based on a true crime occurring in the late 1800s.  But have you ever wondered about the dynamics behind the family tragedy?

When Lizzie discovers first her father and then her stepmother brutally murdered, everyone immediately feels sympathy and concern for her.  To have witnessed the aftermath of such a gruesome scene surely must have been a shock.  As time goes on, however, events come to light casting doubt on her innocence.  And the family itself surely wasn’t a happy little group.  There’s enough suspicion to go around.  Was it Lizzie?  Or was it the mysterious man sent by her uncle?  Or maybe one of her father’s business associates?

The story weaves itself back and forth between the day of the crime, the days leading up to the murders, and the aftermath.  It’s fascinating for the criminal investigation procedures of the time if nothing else.  The author does a great job of creating an entirely believable story that very well could be the true story behind an unsolved crime.  And it absolutely made me want to read more about it!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  See What I Have Done

 

Review: Guilty by Laura Elliot

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I’m going to preface this review by saying that this one didn’t grab me right away as many psychological thrillers do.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at the beginning.  In fact, I almost gave up on it.  I’m glad I didn’t.

Constance is missing.  When the thirteen-year-old suddenly disappears, all efforts are put into finding her.  Her much loved uncle Karl soon finds himself the focus of the investigation.  Through a series of circumstantial pieces of evidence along with a determined journalist, he quickly becomes suspect number one.

Fast forward six years…

And I’m stopping here.  If you read the blurbs on various book-related sites, you’ll find more details leading up to this point.  But I’m not going to give them to you.  Part of the pleasure of this story was the discovery, the itchy inkling feeling I had as I got deeper and deeper into the story.  And I’d like for you to have that same experience.  So go forth and enjoy!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Guilty

 

Review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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A friend…a very good one.  Someone who knows you better than you know yourself.  Someone you can turn to in your darkest hour, to help you pick up the pieces.  What can be better?  Leah considers herself lucky to have such a person in Emmy.  She’s been there for her through it all, even after all the time they were out of touch.

And now, Emmy is willing to give up everything and start over for Leah.  Everything begins to unravel, however, when a local girl turns up beaten and left for dead.  And then Emmy goes missing.  Exactly when did Leah see her last, anyway?  As Leah digs deeper and deeper, she realizes that maybe she didn’t really know Emmy that well after all.

This is the perfect follow-up to Miranda’s last novel, All the Missing Girls.  It has just the right mix of intrigue, mystery, whodunit-ness to keep you guessing.  And even if you put pieces of the story together before the halfway mark, as did I, the last 30% is sure to take you for a ride.  That alone is enough of a reason to grab this one!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Perfect Stranger