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Dead of Winter–being there for others

Dead of Winter

by Annelise Ryan

Dead of WinterAs snowstorm after snowstorm blows through the U.S., I am reading about similar circumstances in Wisconsin where Mattie Winston, a medico-legal death investigator and former OR and ER nurse, is involved in several cases. The primary focus of Dead of Winter by Annelise Ryan is the brutal death of a teenage girl whose little sister is also missing. In addition, Mattie has to investigate the death of the director of a local theater group which includes Dom who is her friend, the partner of her boss, and also the caregiver for her son.

The investigation of all three crimes moves along at a pace that is frustrating to those involved, especially locating the missing child who is obviously in danger. Interwoven with the professional issues is Mattie’s personal life with her husband, his teenage daughter, and their two-year old son. The little one is a challenge if left alone even briefly. Mattie juggles motherhood with a part-time job that holds full-time intensity.

I originally thought, when I read my first book (#8) in this series that the descriptions at the morgue would be too graphic for me. Because the setting is one of compassion from the coroner, the EMT’s, and the law enforcement officers, that was not the case. I appreciate the author’s ability to show how those who are tasked with solving crimes and helping victims are able to work their cases, maintain their personal relationships, and perform daily necessary tasks. Balancing all of those roles must be very difficult. Clues don’t always pan out. Sometimes even strong people get sick. Kids can misbehave at the most inopportune of times. Lovers quarrel. But the author shows how those we depend on show up and do their best regardless of the chaos in their own lives.

I would like to extend my thanks to 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: #10 in the Mattie Winston Mystery Series, but the author encapsulates the series background handily for the new reader.

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Kensington Press

Memorable Lines:

“It seems easy at first because you’re so in love with a person, and you feel like you’d be willing to sacrifice anything, do anything, be anything, just so you can be with them. But eventually the shiny finish on that new relationship wears off, revealing the rust and dull metal beneath. And after a while, you start to question how much of yourself you’re willing to give up to make someone else happy.”

…he’s as nervous as a blind man navigating a floor covered with thumbtacks…”

Amazing that so much beauty can come out of all that meteorological fury.


Hunting Hour–excellent K-9 mystery

Hunting Hour

by Margaret Mizushima

Hunting HourHunting Hour begins with the personal issues of Sheriff’s Deputy Mattie Cobb, but quickly segues into the drama of a missing young teenage girl. The focus of this book by Margaret Mizushima is the efforts of Mattie and her K-9 officer Robo. They work well as a team. Originally trained to sniff out drugs, Mattie has recently trained Robo to search by sniffing an object belonging to a person and then follow the scent. He is also capable of following commands to attack a perpetrator, stop the attack, and keep the suspect in place. All of that sounds easy but is actually a complex process, once the dog is trained, to prep the dog properly for each event, handle him correctly, and then reward for a good effort. If the dog doesn’t find something, that is as significant as if he does. All of this information is shared in context so it is never pedantic and helps move the story.

While Mattie is doing her job, she has to deal with her feelings for Cole, the local vet, and his two daughters. Trauma from Mattie’s past also surfaces during her investigations. She must struggle to remain professional when confronted with a suspect with bizarre behaviors.

I highly recommend this mystery and plan on reading the two previous books in this series: Stalking Ground and Killing Trail. There was no problem reading this book as a standalone, but it is such a good mystery that I am looking forward to reading more by this author.

I would like to extend my thanks to 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

Notes: #3 in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Series

Publication:  August 8, 2017 — Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

The stress on his face caused the pain she’d been suppressing to flare. He came to stand at her side, the warmth from his body contrasting with the coldness she felt in her chest…

Fear gripped her, making her gasp. Sprinting toward the aspen grove, she entered, slowing to part the foliage around the slender white tree trunks slashed with gray.

Always listen to your dog! If you don’t, you’ll only be as good a team as a human cop can be. If you do, the possibilities are endless.

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