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Fractured Truth–it’s complicated

Fractured Truth

by Susan Furlong

fractured truthBrynn Callahan suffers mental effects from being part of a Marine search team for the dead. She and her dog Wilco both received physical injuries from an encounter with an IED in Iraq. Retired from the military, they work as a team for the local sheriff.

In Fractured Truth, Brynn has been chosen for her job, despite a less than stellar work record due to PTS and associated addictions, to act as a liaison between law enforcement and the people group she was born into. She is half Traveller or Pavee, originally an Irish roaming group who settled in the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee. She is only partially successful in this role as the Pavees view her as an outsider and traitor for working with the police. She is helpful, however, in that she understands their customs and perspectives.

Brynn and Wilco are called upon to locate the body of a girl found by a cross-country skier. Wilco is successful and later, thanks to his sensitive nose, is able to locate another woman’s body who police suspect is in a river. The plot is very complex with many suspects. While investigating these crimes, Brynn is also dealing with PTS issues that she tries to overcome with alcohol and prescription drugs. In addition, she has past relationships that color her attempts to establish a new life in Bone Gap. She suffers discrimination from the Pavees and from some of her “settled” coworkers who look to blame the Pavees for problems. The Pavees, in turn, ostracize Brynn and her grandmother.

Fractured Truth has a good solid plot. It is a fascinating mystery, if somewhat gruesome at times. Author Susan Furlong, who has a talent with words, has created an interesting character in Brynn Callahan. I didn’t find her likeable or unlikeable, but I did find myself rooting for her in her struggle against her personal demons. Her battles are deep and painful, and unfortunately there are many returning soldiers who literally share the same torments. The book ends with the criminal cases solved but some loose ends that will carry the reader into the next book in the series.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #2 in the Bone Gap Travellers series, but works well as a standalone.

  2. Since I review a lot of cozy mysteries, I want to point out that this book is not a cozy mystery. It falls in the traditional mystery series category. Some might classify it as a Police Procedural or a K-9 mystery. It is quite successfully all of these things!

Publication:   December 18, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

A little smirk played along the corner of her lips. She enjoyed causing trouble. Gone was the withering flower, replaced by little Ms. Mean Girl. Who was the real Winnie? I had no idea. This interrogation was giving me mental whiplash.

“War is a series of relentless extremes. Boredom to certain death. No between. Anxiety becomes a part of who you are. You never turn it off. You do, and you’re not on your game, not able to save your own thankless hide, let alone your buddies.”

We kept our boundaries tight and adhered to a strict moral code, but somewhere along the line, we’d forgotten to allow for humanness. Rules and rigidness had replaced love and mercy.

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Cry Wolf–part cozy, part police procedural

Cry Wolf

by Annette Dashofy

Cry WolfReaders get to ride along briefly with Zoe Chambers as she completes her nonstop shift as a Monongahela County EMS paramedic responding to a machete attack. As interesting as that is, it only gets more so as the characters involved are soon also identified as part of murder scenarios. In Cry Wolf, Annette Dashofy continues the personal tale of Zoe and her boyfriend, Pete Adams, who is Vance Township’s Chief of Police. The network expands to include Harry, Pete’s father with Alzheimer’s and Jason Cox, Zoe’s newly discovered half-brother.

Zoe’s boss is hospitalized, and she has to take over his coroner’s duties putting her closer to the investigation of both murders. Meanwhile the folks at Golden Oaks retirement home help out with the sleuthing, and Pete tries to come to grips with this newly found family relationship of Zoe’s. Vance’s small police force is currently undermanned due to a young officer’s reluctance to serve after his first police shooting results in a death.

Cry Wolf has a complicated plot with lots of interwoven threads and action scenes and a little humor thrown in. The characters are interesting and well-developed. This is a book you won’t want to put down until its surprise ending and satisfactory conclusion.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #7 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, but the author does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed on the characters.

Publication:  September 18, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“Kristopher was livid. He has a very clear picture of how he wants his life to be. When anyone or anything interferes with that vision, he throws a temper tantrum to rival most two-year-olds.”

Zoe wondered what her dad would have been like in old age. On one hand, she’d been spared watching time and illness ravage his mind and body. On the other, she’d give just about anything to have him in her life, no matter what shape he’d be in.

Burning Ridge–searching for family

Burning Ridge

by Margaret Mizushima

Burning RidgeThe action starts in Burning Ridge in the first chapter where readers also get filled in on the series background and meet some of the characters. From a rough and tumble bar fight, this novel moves on to a bright and sunny horseback ride for Cole, the local veterinarian, and his daughters in the Colorado mountains. The family ride turns dark and the mystery begins.

Margaret Mizushima has written a K-9 police procedural. No cozy mystery, this work of fiction looks at an evil-plotting mind plagued by excesses of greed. Main characters Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo find themselves in danger as she tries to solve a horrific crime that turns personal. Many are involved in finding the murderer, and there are a variety of suspects. Get ready for a surprise ending. In the process of the investigation, Mattie discovers parts of her past that she never knew as well as secrets buried deep in her psyche. She learns to accept help and to expand her ideas of what constitutes a family.

Burning Ridge is a page turner as are the other books in this fast moving series. It contains lots of information about K-9 officers shared in a non-didactic fashion.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Thriller

Notes: 1. This is #4 in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Series. It is good as a standalone, but be aware that each book reveals a little more about Mattie’s past as she comes to grips with it.

2. This contains more upsetting violence than I usually read, but it is within the acceptable boundary for me. Everyone is different so be aware that it contains some torture.

Publication:   September 11, 2018—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

An occasional clump of young aspen shot up toward the cloudless blue sky. Spring leaves, bright green and as yet unblemished by summer dryness, quivered at the ends of branches, their spade-like shape seeming to catch even the slightest of breezes. “Look at the aspen leaves, girls. They’re dancing.”

Robo lay on his cushion, his eyes pinned on her every move. She’d learned from experience that her emotions went straight to her dog.

“Life can be full of regrets if you focus on them. We make decisions for whatever reasons we have in the moment, not because we have some superhuman vision of what will happen in the future.”

Field of Bones: A Brady Novel of Suspense

Field of Bones: A Brady Novel of Suspense

by J.A. Jance

Field of BonesIt was all I could do to get through the first half of the book. Don’t get me wrong. Field of Bones, set in Arizona, fulfills its promise of being a suspenseful novel, and it is very well written. The characters are appropriately developed, and I certainly understand the appeal of Sheriff Joanna Brady, mother of three, as the main character of the series. She is a strong woman, but portrayed realistically, not as a superwoman. Part mystery, part thriller, part police procedural, and all suspense fiction, Field of Bones runs the full gamut.

The “but” you can hear coming is because of the topic: violent, horrible, sex slavery. It makes for a combo of “I can’t stop reading, leaving characters in this torturous situation” and “I can’t read anymore; it is just too painful.” Kudos to the author J.A. Dance for the skills to put me in this situation. At the same time, I have to say Jance does not include details of the violence, but offers enough information that anyone with an imagination will get the picture. Given the number of books she has published, I think a lot of people admire her storytelling talent. This book is just too terrifying for me, and I doubt I will read any more of her books.

Although some of the tension is relieved in the last half of the book, the story is far from over. At that point, I did enjoy watching how the professionals from various fields perform their duties and work to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to HarperCollins Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Rating: 5/5

Category: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Notes: #18 in the Joanna Brady Mystery Series, but despite the number of books that preceded this one, I had no trouble following the personal interactions because they were limited compared to the suspenseful storyline.

Publication:   September 4, 2018—HarperCollins Publishers

Memorable Lines:

At the end of this long, difficult day, he was in over his head. She needed a kind way to encourage him without undermining his confidence.

The pressure Latisha applied during the required three-minute wait hurt like crazy, but Garth was grateful for that. You had to be alive to know that it hurt.

“…did you ever get around to having that baby? The last time I saw you, you were big as a barn.” Randy Trotter was a lot of things, but politically correct wasn’t one of them. He was known for putting his lizard-skin Tony Lamas in his mouth, sometimes both of them at once. 

Kindred Spirits–stolen art with deadly consequences

Kindred Spirits

by Jo Bannister

Kindred SpiritsGabriel Ash, formerly a security analyst with the British government, has recently been released from mental health care. He has opened a second hand book shop, Rambles with Books. He has also been reunited with his two sons after a four year separation as a result of his wife’s illegally taking the boys.  All should be relatively smooth sailing in the Ash household, but that is not the case. Ash’s good friend, Constable Hazel Best, drives to school to pick up the boys, and she sees them and their nanny being accosted in what appears to be a kidnapping attempt.

The plot of Kindred Spirits rapidly becomes complicated as the older boy, Gilbert, insists that only the nanny was being forced into the van. This fast-moving police procedural by Jo Bannister puts on display not only how the police investigate crimes, but also the behind-the-scenes politics. Neither Hazel nor Detective Inspector Dave Gorman are armchair detectives. The same can be said about Ash when those he cares about are personally threatened. All three are motivated by doing what is right. When an old case clashes with the events of a new case, they refuse to turn a blind eye. The results are dangerous, and you won’t want to stop reading until the mystery is resolved.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Police Procedural

Notes: #5 in the Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash Mystery Series. This was the first book in the series for me to read, and I had no problem catching up with the background.

Publication:   September 1, 2018—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Perhaps he was the last man in England—the last man in the civilized world—to enjoy the sensation, both sensual and intellectual, of paper pages curling away under his fingers. Of words, and the ideas they encoded, waiting for him to find them—and staying close at hand after he’d read them, in case he needed to flick back a page or two to check something.

She had less and less patience with hard feelings and petty jealousies. She did her job, and did it well; being liked was an optional extra. It wasn’t something that she’d ever struggled with before, but if it came to a choice between being popular and doing what she believed to be right, she had broad shoulders.

Gorman knew that Jerome Harbinger was sixty-eight. If he hadn’t known, he’d have thought he was ten years older than that. His craggy face was savaged by deep lines that had nothing to do with laughter and everything to do with bitter unhappiness.

Burning Meredith–police procedural

Burning Meredith

by Elizabeth Gunn

Burning MeredithWith the interruptions common in daily life, I never finish a book in one sitting, and I rarely complete a book the same day I start it. Burning Meredith was an exception. I did stay up late to finish reading it because it was such a good mystery. Due to its focus on police investigative techniques, it is considered a police procedural by those who like to subdivide the genre.

Burning Meredith centers around a huge forest fire in the south-central Montana mountains, destroying many acres and threatening little Clark’s Fort. If it is possible for a bad thing to be good, then this forest fire was it. The disaster breathed new life into the little weekly Clark’s Fort Guardian and provided opportunities for young, local photo-journalist Stuart Campbell to shine. Not afraid of hard work and familiar with the mountains, he manages to put the Meredith Mountain area on the map nationally.

I like the journalist character, but I truly associate with retired teacher Alice Adams who works for the paper as an editor, initially only a few days a week. As she says, “After thirty-two years of catching kids passing crib notes, you didn’t just stop on a dime. Shouldn’t there be a twelve-step plan for this transition?” She is a respected fixture in the community, as she has taught English and social studies to several generations of Clark’s Fort middle schoolers. She encourages her nephew Stuart in his journalistic efforts, and she provides invaluable assistance in solving the mystery of an unidentified man whose body is found after the fire has been controlled.

There are two major threads to this plot; the author initially shares these in separate chapters as unrelated storylines. The reader gets caught up in the reporting of the fire, and then suddenly there is this other direction that appears like an itch waiting to be scratched. Author Elizabeth Gunn’s writing is excellent in terms of the general plot and how it plays out and also in her turn of phrase. Some of Gunn’s prose is so good that I found myself rereading parts just to enjoy her choice of words, her descriptive excellence, or her metaphors. Many mysteries do not allow for much in the way of character development or they expend too much energy on the characters at the expense of the plot. Gunn hits the mark with her writing style. Her main characters are developed and interesting; her minor characters provide a nice backdrop.

Elizabeth Gunn has two series of police procedurals. Will Burning Meredith begin a new series? I could find no indication that it would or wouldn’t, but my opinion is that this book is a good basis for one.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Police Procedural

Publication:   June 1, 2018—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Like a bonus for a job well done, Clark’s Fort got a second freaky dose of luck. A surprise deflection in the polar vortex brought cold, moist air and a drastic dip in air pressure down across Canada and pouring into Montana.

“As you well know, Clark’s Fort doesn’t generate much news.”  “For sure. My street gets so quiet on August afternoons, I swear I can hear the bluebirds planning their trip south.”

She gave him the English teacher look that had brought silence to rooms full of eighth-grade miscreants for a generation.

…when the weather warmed up the country roads became mud-holes even  more impassable than the snow-drifts had been. People still had to get around, so they chained up and churned out, making ruts you could lose a spring calf in.

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