Review: Blood Moon

Review: Blood MoonBlood Moon (Kate Burkholder, #13.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #13.5
Published by Minotaur Books on April 26, 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 64
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: The story was a bit suspense rather than a true mystery and it ended up making me smile. I love it when Kate and John get to do an investigation together even when it is a small slice of life.

THE STORY: Kate Burkholder, the Chief of Police in Painters Mill gets called out late at night when a man is attacked by something that defies description. Kate and John track the creature during the night as it wreaks havoc on Painter Mill.

OPINION: The story here is pretty thin, but it is a bit scary, suspenseful, and ultimately fun. I love these small little interludes because the stakes are pretty low compared with the big novels. Kate can be funnier. She can take John along with her just because. The story here is exactly the type one might expect that a Chief of Police for a small town would confront — when not dealing with multiple murders as in the main novels!

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of Kate and John, I would read this story just for the last scene alone.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLOOD MOON is book 13.5 of the Kate Burkholder series. This is a very short story/slice of life and it is not necessary to read the rest of the series for this although there is not much here except meeting Kate and John and having a small mystery solved.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: A Treacherous Trade

Review: A Treacherous TradeA Treacherous Trade (The Fiona Mahoney Mysteries, #2) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: The Fiona Mahoney Mysteries #2
on March 8, 2022
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Better than the first book in the series, it is more polished and cohesive. I enjoyed the mystery but the middle of the book dragged for me. Definitely reading the next in the series.

THE STORY: The second book in the series where Fiona is continuing her search for Jack the Ripper. Again prostitutes are ending up dead, but is it Jack or someone else preying upon the women? Fiona continues to interact with the men who were introduced in the first book. This is not a romance, but there are romantic elements.

OPINION: Fiona’s investigation is less bloody and more traditional detective in this book — although she doesn’t really figure out the villain until the villain is basically revealed to the reader. That being said, I enjoyed this book more than the first. What I did miss were more relationships. Instead, we got a slew of new characters to interact with which made the ending somewhat too mysterious.

The storyline here was certainly intriguing. I enjoy that Fiona goes to the less savory areas of London appropriate for someone whose obsession is a murderer who hunts prostitutes and whose job is cleaning up after death.

The book started well and ended well this time, but the middle was a bit bloated and dragged. However, I enjoyed the book as a whole and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book ends on a personal cliffhanger for Fiona.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A TREACHEROUS TRADE is the second book in the Fiona Mahoney Mystery series. The books are connected and should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars

Review: The Business of Blood

Review: The Business of BloodThe Business of Blood (Fiona Mahoney Mysteries, #1) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Fiona Mahoney Mysteries #1
Published by Oliver Heber on November 8, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 308
Goodreads
three-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This is not a romance! It is a mystery but it is dark and very bloody for a historical mystery. The book doesn’t fit well within any genre, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t really intrigued by it. The book doesn’t always work, but I see something really fresh and interesting struggling to be revealed — and Fiona is compelling. I would definitely keep reading this series.

THE STORY: Fiona Mahoney makes her way in life by — literally — cleaning up after violence and death. Haunted by the Jack the Ripper murders, Fiona continues to search for the killer. Her activities in London bring her in contact with men of various stations of life who have their own secrets. When murders that appear connected with the Ripper murders occur, Fiona’s own life appears threatened.

OPINION: I really wanted to love this book. Victorian mystery around the Jack the Ripper murders — definitely catnip for me. But this book was so uneven. Perhaps because the author is breaking out from her own typical book and crossing genres, the book doesn’t really know what it wants to be.

The mystery was meh. The reveal was shocking which isn’t always good because it felt like a bit of a cheat. The best mysteries surprise but are obvious upon reflection — this book didn’t work like that. It felt more like a thriller at that point. Also, the exposition of the book dragged the story — for me, it needed more drama and tension.

The resolution of the story was amazing well done — tension, drama, emotion, and perfect pitch. I just wish more of the book was that well done. But I did like the book overall and am definitely willing to read more of the series to see if the author finds a true voice for the story.

I really did like the character of Fiona which along with the end of the book was a highlight for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: Jack the Ripper, need I say more?

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BUSINESS OF BLOOD is the first book in the Fiona Mahoney Mysteries series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

 

three-stars

Review: Murder on Cold Street

Review: Murder on Cold StreetMurder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock, #5) by Sherry Thomas
Series: Lady Sherlock #5
Published by Berkley Books on October 6, 2020
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 344
Goodreads
five-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: With a tricky and somewhat classic mystery — who murdered two men in a locked room — this book combines a thinking investigation with a wonderful turn in Sherlock’s “romance” with Ingram.

THE STORY: Inspector Treadles is found locked in a room with two dead men and is thus the prime and only suspect in their murders. Charlotte along with her cadre of family and friends has to find out what happened or whether or not Inspector Treadles acting upon jealously murdered the men associated with his wife’s business.

OPINION: The mystery here is a classic one — who murdered the victim in a locked room? This book, like all in this series, has a great mystery premise. It certainly meets the standard of constructing an intriguing and satisfying mystery. What sets this book, and the series apart for me is the character of Charlotte and the ongoing stories that span the books of the series. The character of Charlotte finally is getting a growth spurt in this book. Her world has changed, and she is gaining complexity as it does. I love her interactions with her friends and family especially Lord Ingram (who is simply adorable in this book). Charlotte is a bit flustered in this book, which is a change for her but quite lovely overall as we get to see more of her softer side.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book ends with a peek at what is coming up next.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MURDER ON COLD STREET is the fifth book in the Lady Sherlock series. The mystery is standalone and can be read without having read the other books in the series. However, there are overarching character stories and an overarching plotline that is advanced in this book.

FINAL DECISION: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Fallen

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: FallenFallen (Kate Burkholder, #13) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #13
Published by Minotaur Books on July 6, 2021
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable suspense/mystery story. The circumstances are really sad but I love Kate and John getting the opportunity to do some work together. The story kept me guessing and I was surprised by the ending. This series is fantastic and always a great summer read.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to a motel where a young woman has been brutally murdered. She is surprised to realize that she knows the woman who was killed. She was raised Amish and then left the Amish faith and Painters Mill. No one seems to know why she returned and who wanted to kill her. Kate’s investigation brings out many secrets and threatens someone who wants those secrets buried.

OPINION: This is a great read to take to the beach. Murder, suspense, and the great character of Kate Burkholder. The story is well-crafted and while not as personal for Kate, I enjoyed watching her do her job. I was surprised by the ending and felt that the story was topical and yet did not feel forced.

The crime here was violent and the story was graphic at times, but I felt that was completely appropriate in this case. The horror of the crimes committed here is important for understanding the gravity of the acts and builds surprise as to the final resolution.

The book made me turn the pages as it started with a shocking crime that drives the story through to the end. As is often these cases, things don’t turn out as expected, but everything works with the explanation. Reading these books again often surprises me how things are planted throughout the book which provides clues to the solution.

Another winner in this series although a tiny complaint is that I still prefer the more personal stories to the professional cop ones, but no complaints on the actual story and execution.

WORTH MENTIONING: I love the interaction between Kate and John and this book has some really good moments between them that raised the level of this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FALLEN is the thirteenth book in the Kate Burkholder series. Each of the books is a self-contained mystery so this book can be read as a standalone. However, there are continuing personal stories that make this series better to read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: Disappeared

Review: DisappearedDisappeared (Kate Burkholder Short Mystery) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #12.5
on April 27, 2021
Genres: Mystery
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: More vignette than story, this is a short mystery that showcases what Kate doing in her more “normal” cases. Enjoyable but not substantive.

THE STORY: Kate Burkholder received a call from an Amish family. A toddler is missing in a storm. Kate and her deputies worry that the child may have been swept away in the stormwaters, but there are secrets in the family that might explain what happened.

OPINION: This very short story was interesting although it was not particularly complex or even consisting of much mystery. I do always enjoy seeing these characters and the insights into the complexities of the Amish and English interactions. This was a nice taste of the series with a preview of the next full novel. There have been better short stories, but this one isn’t bad, just short and simple.

WORTH MENTIONING: Kate’s significant other, John, plays only a cameo in this story. I tend to enjoy the short stories where the two work together much better.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DISAPPEARED is book 12.5 in the Kate Burkholder series. It is not necessary to read other books in the series, but I think it is much more enjoyable if readers are familiar with the characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: The Pact

Review: The PactThe Pact (Kate Burkholder #11.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #11.5
Published by Minotaur Books on April 28, 2020
Genres: Mystery
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I always enjoy these short interludes in the Kate Burkholder series. The story doesn’t have the depth or carefully plotted mystery involved in the main books, but the story doesn’t claim to be anything more than a taste of the series.

THE STORY: Two boys, one English and one Amish, disappear and Police Chief Kate Burkholder has to find them. For a short story, it manages to pack in a lot about the cross-cultural biases between the two groups and two boys who just want to be friends. There is some danger and mystery involved, but it is minor.

OPINION: The highlight of this story is the relationship between the two missing boys and their deep friendship in defiance of their parents’ wishes. The story has some adventures for the boys, but the story is really focused on the heartwarming nature of the boys’ friendship and bond rather than death and mystery as is true in the main books. I liked seeing the recurring characters solve something that is more “normal.” I also liked that we got to see Kate and John together working on a case. I miss the books where their interaction was a big part of the story. This shorter story gives a chance to see them in action again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE PACT is book 11.5 in the Kate Burkholder series. These short mystery stories are between the novels and are focused on a quick read.

STAR RATING: I give this 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars

Review: Outsider

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: OutsiderOutsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #12
Published by Minotaur Books on July 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: The story is good, but the mystery wasn’t as engaging as others in the series. I love reading about Kate, but this one is my least favorite of the series.

THE STORY: Kate’s past arrives in the form of Gina Colorosa, the woman with whom Kate joined the police force. Gina arrives having been shot and on the run. Holed up at an Amish farm, Kate has to find out the truth while confronting the possibility that Gina might be a criminal herself.

OPINION: Things I liked about this book: we got to see quite a bit of John working with Kate; the stories where we learn more about Kate’s past are always better; I liked the Amish family involved in this story, and Kate was pretty savvy during the story.

Things I didn’t like as much: I didn’t really like Gina much and so I didn’t care as much what happened with her story; with the claustrophobic atmosphere of the book there were large parts where little action occurred; some of the turns in the book were not explained.

I enjoyed the story but felt that overall it is the weakest of the series. The mystery/suspense story didn’t work as well. However, I really did love seeing Kate and John working together/

WORTH  MENTIONING: This story takes place in a very confirmed area with only a few prominent characters which is very different from the usual way this series works.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OUTSIDER is the twelfth book in the Kate Burkholder series. The mystery in this book is completely self-contained and can be read without any other book. There are continuing personal storylines, however. Reading the books in order gives the best experience.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review and all opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-stars

Review: Blood of a Gladiator

Review: Blood of a GladiatorBlood of a Gladiator (Leonidas the Gladiator Mysteries, #1) by Ashley Gardner
Series: Leonidas the Gladiator Mysteries #1
Published by JA / AG Publishing on May 21, 2020
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: The unusual setting along with the introduction of characters with mysterious pasts kept me turning pages on this one. The author now has three great historical mystery series going. I can’t wait for the next one in this series.

THE STORY: Set in ancient Rome, Leonidas, a famous gladiator, is freed from the deadly games by an unknown benefactor who gives him a place to live and a servant but he has to earn his own living. Cassia, a slave, is sent to help Leonidas, but also to spy on him. Leonidas’s first job is as a bodyguard, but it also lands him — and Cassia — in a series of mysteries involving death and kidnapping.

OPINION: This book is a mystery set in historical Rome, during the time of Nero. In this book we get to meet Leonidas who has been retired from gladiator fighting — something he has been very good at but is heart weary and does not desire to continue to kill and maim. One of the overarching mysteries is who Leonidas’s mysterious benefactor is and what his plans for Leonidas are. Leonidas’s story is interesting as he tries and find a place for himself and determine what he wants after years of his life being decided for him. I really liked him as a character because he has secrets that are yet to be mined in the story.

Cassia is also an intriguing character. What is her history, her purpose and her true motives. She is clever and because readers are not privy to her thoughts, she remains mysterious throughout the story. I really liked reading about her because she uses her brains and her recording skills (she is a scribe) to help resolve the mysteries.

Cassia and Leonidas are a good pair. Thrown together for some mysterious purpose, they are developing a good working relationship in this book. I especially liked the respect and care that they show for one another. The book also manages to have quite a bit of action along with the mental exercise of the crime — which is appropriate for a man of physical feats and his scribe slave.

The mystery here has multiple layers which I really enjoyed. The plot is developed through the interviews with various characters in different stations in life — from the emperor himself to merchants to builders to gladiators to brothel women. The story gives a nice view of Roman society along with a good mystery.

I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading more about these characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a straight-up mystery without any romance — at least right now. I have hopes for the future.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLOOD OF A GLADIATOR is the first book in the Leonidas the Gladiator series. This book occurs before the events in the novella BLOOD DEBTS.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-half-stars

Review: A Murderous Relation

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: A Murderous RelationA Murderous Relation (Veronica Speedwell, #5) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #5
Published by Berkley on March 10, 2020
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: The book I have definitely been waiting for in this series. Funny and romantic and a great mystery.

THE STORY: Veronica Speedwell and her partner in crime Stoker are asked to retrieve a jewel that can link the prince to a notorious private club. Veronica and Stoker end up having to go undercover at the brothel where they run across a murder victim whose murder threatens the royal family. At the same time, it is 1888 and Jack the Ripper is haunting the streets of London.

OPINION: Smart and funny. I loved this book. This is the book that fans of the series have been waiting for. The book has mystery and thrilling adventure and romance and humor and emotion. I couldn’t put in down from page one and I was cheering by the end of the book.

As with the other books in this series, I love how Veronica and Stoker use their intelligence and daring to solve the case. There is more going on than it appears in teh beginning and the multiple threads of the stories are woven together so well by the end.

The book is entertaining and the connection between Veronica and Stoker just keeps getting better. This series is not a romance but rather a historical mystery with strong romance parts, but I just love the story here. These two are perfect together — both as partners in their investigations and as love interests.

I don’t want to give away anything as to the mystery…but it is good as well.

WORTH MENTIONING: Good news that the series will continue.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A MURDEROUS RELATION is the fifth book in the Veronica Speedwell series. Each book has a self-contained mystery story. There are, however, overarching stories related to the characters which makes this series better read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. I also purchased a hardcover copy of the book after its release.

five-stars