Posts Tagged ‘Murder investigation’

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 26, 2014

I read a wide variety of books of all different genres. Ask me for a suggestion and I most likely have read something that would appeal to you. Here are five books I stumbled upon this year. Some have been out there a long time, others are more recent arrivals, but they are all worth checking out and passing along for more to enjoy!

The Devil's BonesThe Devil’s Bones by Jefferson Bass
Bill Brockton is a forensic anthropologist who founded the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee. There he and his team study of the science of decomposition. He also finds himself drawn into the danger and drama of the murders they are trying to solve. It starts out simply enough, a woman’s charred body in a burned out car. How did she die? Then he receives a package of strange cremated remains. Suddenly he is fighting for his life and trying to solve a crime so hideous you won’t want to believe it. Another reason to love this book is that the author, Jefferson Bass, is actually a pseudonym for Bill Bass, the real-life famous forensic anthropologist and founder of the Body Farm, and cowriter Jon Jefferson. How cool is that!

Pioneer WomanPioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – a love story by Ree Drummond
I had never read her blog, watched her cooking show, or picked up one of her cookbooks when I stumbled on this autobiography by Ree Drummond. As someone who spent some time feeling lost and unsure about the future, I could relate to her feelings as she struggled with where her next steps should take her. She never thought that future would mean staying in rural Oklahoma. And she certainly didn’t think it would involve a cowboy! I became lost in the words, flowery and syrupy as they sometimes are, as she “accidently” found herself on a cattle ranch and having adventures she never could have pictured in her future. A great read about taking a chance on love and setting out on the path less traveled.

Dangerous PassageDangerous Passage by Lisa Harris
This is a new inspirational series introducing widowed police detective Avery North and medical examiner Jackson Bryant. Harris nicely intertwines a love story into a thrilling murder mystery. Young Asian women are being murdered and the only link between them seems to be a small tattoo of a magnolia blossom. The investigation seems to simply uncover more mysteries and cover ups. Can they solve the case before more women go missing, and will Avery be ready to open her heart to love again?


Stand Up That MountainStand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze
If you love the outdoors, this book is for you. If you love gut wrenching legal battles, this book is for you. If you love to root for the little guy, well you get the picture. Jay has escaped his life as an attorney and retreated to the North Carolina Mountains. Living quietly as a naturalist and fisherman, he loves the Appalachian Trail. He learns from a family of “mountain people” that a mining company plans to dynamite Belview Mountain, which sits right beside the Trail. They have evidence of their less than ethical behavior and the fight is on. As an avid mountain hiker and lover of nature, this book captured me, especially since it is in our own backyard! It is hard to believe that we almost lost one of the great treasures of our state. Jay Erskine Leutze recounts his story of the ground breaking legal fight to save this tiny Appalachian community in a book that is as engaging as any fiction tale.

SubmergedSubmerged by Dani Pettrey
The old saying “you can never go home again” seemed to hold true for Bailey Craig. Yet home is exactly where she found herself, for better or worse. She left Yancey, Alaska in disgrace, now can she find forgiveness? Bailey returned to bury her beloved aunt her died in a plane crash. Was it an accident or was it murder? Cole McKenna has put his past with Bailey behind him, until she shows up in town again. Soon she is fighting for her own life. Can Cole accept that Bailey has changed and help her solve the murder before she becomes another victim? Dani Pettrey is a new author and anyone who loves Dee Henderson’s novels should check her out. This new inspirational suspense series is fantastic and I can’t wait to continue the journey with her characters.

Best ‘New to Us” Books in 2014: Farida B’s Picks

December 24, 2014

I love a variety of books in adult and children’s collection. I love reading Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Humor, Romance and gentle clean reads. Here are “New to Me” books that inspired me most this year. I hope you can include some of these books in your 2015 reading list.

Death of a Travelling ManDeath of a Travelling Man by M. C. Beaton
This is Beaton‘s eighth mystery featuring Scottish police constable Hamish MacBeth. Hamish has been promoted against his will and as Sergeant, he makes more money, but must suffer more work as well, as well as the enthusiasm of his new helper, Police Constable Willie Lamont. Willie Lamont has less talent for police work and more talent for cleaning, polishing, and scrubbing. His insistence on keeping the police station spotless and super clean is driving MacBeth crazy. It all starts when a suspicious drifter Sean and his girlfriend Cheryl park their van behind the minister’s manse. This “devastatingly handsome” drifter Sean charms four women out of their money and harasses Hamish’s ladylove, Priscilla. If you like to read light mysteries filled with humor and action then this is definitely going to be your choice!  See my full review.

Murphy's LawMurphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen
Murphy’s Law is the first book in the Molly Murphy mystery series. Molly Murphy, the main character in this story, is a spunky, 19th-century Irish heroine. Molly always ends up in trouble no matter where she goes. She is outspoken, strong independent lady. She commits a murder in self-defense, so she has to leave her cherished Ireland and her identity for the unknown shores of America. In London she meets Kathleen O’Connor. Kathleen has two small children and tickets for a ship to America, where she plans to join her husband. But she has tuberculosis, so she knows that she will not be allowed on the ship to America, so she persuades the desperate Molly to take her children to America instead of herself and use her identity on the ship. Molly agrees to this plan since she wants to be in a new place and start a new life. After the landing at Ellis Island, O’Malley is found stabbed to death. Police detective Daniel Sullivan questions Molly about it since lots of people had seen Molly slap O’Malley on the ship. Molly becomes the prime suspect along with a young man whom she had befriended. See my full review.

Running Out of TimeRunning out of Time by Margaret P. Haddix
Jessie lives in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana in 1840. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie discovers that Clifton is actually a 1996 tourist site under secret observation by heartless scientists. Jessie’s mother sends her on a dangerous mission to bring back help. But outside the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and scary, and soon she finds her own life in danger. Can she get help before the children of Clifton and Jessie herself run out of time? This is a young adult book which is appealing to adults as well. It is one of my favorite books, written by a good author.  It has won multiple awards, including the YALSA Best Book for Young Adults.

Miss Julia Speaks Her MindMiss Julia Speaks her Mind by Ann Ross
This book is the first in the series. Miss Julia is a strong willed, independent, proper church-going lady. Recently widowed, she is trying to settle down with her new life, including the substantial estate left by her late husband, Wesley Lloyd Springer. Everything is peaceful until Hazel Marie Puckett arrives at her doorstep with her 9 year old son Little Lloyd. Guess what? Little Lloyd is Wesley’s son. Miss Julia receives a shock of her life! After 44 years of marriage to pillar of the church and community Wesley Lloyd Springer, she discovers that he was having an affair with Hazel Marie Puckett. She had assumed he was working late at the family bank, but instead he was engaged in more carnal pursuits. The worst thing was that the whole town knew about this affair. Read my full review.

UnwindUnwind By Neal Shusterman
In America after the Second Civil War the “Bill of Life” permits the parents to get rid of a child between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t really end by transplanting all the organs from the child’s body to different important recipients who quote the highest bid. This is a story about three teens – Connor, Risa and Lev – who become runaway Unwinds. Their escape and survival stories interweave as they struggle to avoid harvest camps. All the characters live and breathe in the story. Neal Shusterman’s Unwind has won many awards and honors, including being included on ALA’s Top Ten Picks for Reluctant Readers and Best Books for Young Adults lists. It is a book written for young adults, but I really enjoyed it and I am sure lots of adults will like reading it too! It has breathtaking suspense and is a sure page turner to find out if the three teens avoid their untimely ends.

Best New Books of 2014: Janet L’s Picks

December 8, 2014

Winter is coming, with its cold days and long nights.  In other words, perfect reading weather.  It’s also the traditional time to look back and choose favorite reads of the past year.  If you are a fan of humor, mystery, travel, or food (not to mention good writing) I can highly recommend the following five books:

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Neighborhood curmudgeon Ove is not amused when a lively young family moves in next door.  Imagine everyone’s surprise, especially Ove’s, when instead of the expected disaster, something wonderful results.  Fredrik Backman’s debut is an amazing mixture of comedy, pathos and social commentary.  Will appeal to almost everyone, especially fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and The No. 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith.

The Bone OrchardThe Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron
Life would be much easier for Mike Bowditch if he could just keep his mouth shut, but then reading about him wouldn’t be so much fun.  No longer a game warden for the state of Maine, Mike finds himself drawn into a case when good friend and former mentor, Kathy Frost, is gunned down and critically injured.  One of my favorite mystery series; if you haven’t had the pleasure, begin with The Poacher’s Son.  Especially recommended for readers of the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton, the Conway Sax series by Steve Ulfelder and the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr.

Smoke Gets in Your EyesSmoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Caitlin Doughty, founder of The Order of the Good Death, is a Los Angeles mortician.  She wrote this book to give people a behind the scenes look at funeral home. Death is a somber and scary subject, but Doughty handles it with humor and compassion. If she hoped this book would demystify death and make it more comfortable to contemplate, she succeeded with this reader.  Recommended for fans of Mary Roach and Sarah Vowell.

The Age of LicenseThe Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
Graphic artist Knisley shares the ups and downs of her book tour to Europe and Scandinavia.   Honest, charming, yet serious, this graphic novel will appeal to fans of travelogues and mouthwatering descriptions of food—and isn’t that almost everyone?

The Black HourThe Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
Sociology professor Amelia Emmet has made violence the focus of her academic research.  When a student she has never seen before appears outside her office and shoots her, theory becomes all too horribly real.  Back on campus, Amelia attempts to resume her life.  Relying on painkillers, a cane, and her sardonic sense of humor, Amelia struggles to find the answer to the questions that haunts her:  Why?

Missing You by Harlan Coben

October 24, 2014

Missing YouSince Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors, I was a little sad when I found the pace of this book to be much slower than his previous efforts, and yet something kept pulling me back to the book. But after crossing the midpoint of the book, the pace picked up and it became much more interesting.

Two stories are intertwined in the narrative: Kat Donovan, a third-generation Manhattan detective, finds herself in the middle of two cases. One is the unsolved case of her father’s murder, and the second is the mysterious disappearance of Dana Phelps. The man convicted of her father’s murder has just died in prison with some unanswered questions as to whether he was the actual killer. Dana’s disappearance is a little more complicated.

To make matters worse, when Kat’s friend Stacy enrolls her on an online dating site, things start to break open. Kat finds a picture on the website of a man who looks exactly like Jeff, her past significant other from 18 years ago. It doesn’t make any sense.

Meanwhile Brandon Phelps, Dana’s son, is a bright computer student at the University of Connecticut who finds out about Kat through that same online dating website. Although Brandon is concerned about his mother, maybe it is just true that she went away to South America with someone she met on the dating website–but is that man Jeff? It certainly looks like the same man in the pictures.

There is almost too much in play in this novel but it all starts to come together for Kat. However, I will alert you that this may be one of Harlan Coben’s most violent novels.

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Bad Blood by John Sandford

July 14, 2014

Bad BloodWhen three deaths occur in a sequence… that’s not a coincidence! First Jacob Flood is murdered at a grain elevator by Bob Tripp, and since no one else was around at the time of the death, Tripp seems the likely killer.  When Tripp is taken into custody by Sheriff Lee Coakley,  she has no reason to suspect further foul play. But then Tripp is found hanging in his cell and it is quickly discovered that it was not a suicide.  Coakley becomes suspicious of a deputy, Jim Crocker,  and a trip to Crocker’s residence now finds Crocker dead, and now we do have three deaths, and are they somehow connected? Police do not believe in coincidence.

Coakley realizes that she needs outside help since one murder in ten years is more the usual for a small town like Homestead.  She asks the State for assistance and our hero, Virgil Flowers, is assigned to the case.  And to add one final twist, there was a murder a year ago just over the border from Minnesota in Iowa.  A teenage girl was brutally murdered and there may be a tie-in to the three deaths here in Homestead.

John Sandford is pretty good at putting a lot on one’s plate pretty fast, so you better pay attention.  Paying attention pays off quickly as Flowers and Coakley start to connect the dots.  But this is a fair warning–this book is not for the faint of heart! The first in the Virgil Flowers series is Dark of the Moon.

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

June 13, 2014

The Cuckoo's CallingSuicide or murder? A beautiful, but troubled model, Lula Landry, falls to her death from her balcony and her brother John hires Cormoran Strike, private detective, war veteran, and old school chum, to help him prove that she was murdered. Simple private detective mystery? Could be, but Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowlings) spins a tale of family feuds, jealousy and inheritance, as well as introduces many quirky characters to give this book an edge. And most of the characters have motive and opportunity to do the deed. There’s the boyfriend with whom Lula quarreled with the night of her death, the neighbor who “witnessed” the fall, the girlfriend who lost her shopping friend, the uncle with questionable financial issues, the worried brother, and Lula’s other biological family. More than half way through we are still lead to believe that suicide is still a possibility. But Strike, who is troubled also with a crazy ex-girlfriend, and intrigued with a secretary who is darn good at sleuthing herself, but not his type, keeps poking and drilling down methodically and smartly to get to the facts.

The book is well written and hard to put down. However, it’s not the murder mystery necessarily that captured me but the complex character of Cormoran Strike. Might be that the theme of the book was really about his life and what falls in front of him: bad girlfriends, homelessness, murder plots, angry clients, painful injuries, not so much about solving crimes. I think we’ll see Strike again soon.

Find and reserve this title at the library.

Justice for Sara by Erica Spindler

June 9, 2014

Justice for SaraIt’s been 10 years since Sara McCall was murdered and now her sister, Kathleen (Kat), who was falsely accused of the murder, has returned to Liberty, Louisiana. Although Kat was acquitted of the murder, the town still holds her responsible for her sister’s death. Kat could have stayed in Oregon where she has started several successful bakery operations, but the question that has always plagued her was “who killed Sara?”

And so starts Erica Spindler’s latest thriller. Money may be involved in the murder because the McCall’s were wealthy from their oil business and when the parents were killed in an automobile accident, Sara and Kathleen inherited a lot of money. The police department is now being run by Luke Tanner, the son of Stephen Tanner, who may have been in a rush to justice when he accused Kat of the brutal murder of Sara ten years earlier. Kathleen finds Luke much more open to having a new look at the murder (and he is devilishly attractive to boot).

Spindler has spun a new and marvelous tale of deceit, murder and money in Justice for Sara. Small towns like Liberty are not going to easily forgive the person they feel responsible for a horrific crime. But Kat is determined to find the truth about her sister even if it puts her own life in danger.

Find and reserve this book at the library.

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo

June 28, 2013

Breaking SilenceKate Burkholder is the police chief in a small Ohio town when she gets an emergency call one winter evening. Three members of an Amish family are dead in a barn. It is the father, mother and the father’s brother who have perished in a poorly ventilated cesspit in the barn. Now it is Kate’s responsibility to investigate the accident and inform the family’s four children that their parents are dead.

For Kate, this is going to be especially difficult because she was once Amish and she understands that community. When the medical examiner examines the bodies he discovers that it may not be an accident. Added to her agenda may be something that is tied into the murders. There have been multiple incidents of members of the Amish community being harassed and even beaten up. Because the Amish just want to be left alone, it is going to be very difficult for Kate to get any cooperation from them. But because the incidents against the Amish can be considered ‘hate crimes,’ the state sends an investigator to assist Kate: John Tomasetti. Tomasetti and Kate have worked together before, both in a professional and in a private collaboration.

I am very pleased to find a new mystery author who writes a solid narrative. I also was pleased that I learned much about the Amish. Please give a look at Linda Castillo and Breaking Silence.

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Storm Prey by John Sandford

June 20, 2013

Storm PreyWeather Karkinnen, Lucas Davenport’s wife and  a surgeon is headed for her hospital to assist in the tricky operation of separating twins attached at the base of the skull. At the same time a gang of thieves, with inside help, is about to break into the pharmacy of Weather’s hospital. As she goes in, she notices a couple of men running away from the hospital. Little does she realize that she has had a glimpse of the robbers. And little does she know that one of the pharmacists was so badly injured that he dies later that morning. And so starts John Sandford’s  Storm Prey.

The robbers (with inside help) realize that they may have had a witness to their robbery and that the witness has to be eliminated. Because Weather has been so engrossed with the surgery it takes her some time to realize that she could be in danger. Two things occur almost at the same time: she alerts Lucas who realizes she is in grave danger, and an attempt is made on her life by a killer on a motorcycle. Weather spots the motorcycle and even aggressively goes after the man, but he eludes her. Now it is up to Lucas and his pals at the BCA to get the robbers and the killer before another attack is made on his wife.

The bodies are piling up but Weather is still in danger. I don’t think there is anyone better at getting your heart racing and your mind engaged than John Sandford.

[Editor’s Note: this is #20 in John Sandford’s ‘Prey’ series, the first is Rules of Prey.]

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