Secrets In Death by J. D. Robb

Secrets in Death (In Death, #45)Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: In Death
Publication Date: 9/5/17

This is still my favorite series even after 45 books. After this many books, you’d think the series would begin to be stale – but it isn’t. Each new book is as exciting and interesting as the previous one. This one is more like a police procedural than most others have been. Eve and Roarke aren’t running at breakneck speed trying to catch a psychotic serial killer, terrorist, etc., they are following the clues step-by-step and it is great to have a slower pace and see how the two of them play off each other. It is so nice to see that Eve is settling into the ‘Marriage Thing’ as she calls it. Of course, Roarke, being the most romantic hero ever, makes it easy.

Larinda Mars (I think we met her at the beginning of the series – book #2 maybe) doesn’t have a single redeeming quality, but she doesn’t deserve to be murdered – especially right in front of Lieutenant Eve Dallas, NYPSD. Eve had finally agreed to have an after-work drink with Garnet DeWinter, a forensic anthropologist, at a trendy nightspot. As Eve enters Du Vin she notices Larinda sitting at a table with a male and the next time she sees Larinda she is staggering, bumping into people and – bleeding – a lot. She falls to the floor and dies almost instantly.

Larinda is a gossip show host on the same channel with Nadine Furst. However, her real talent is discovering people’s secrets and threatening them with exposure. Eve doesn’t like her and she likes her less and less as she learns more about her. Eve always stands for the dead and she’ll stand for Larinda whether she likes her or not.

I bought the Whispersync narration to go along with the written text because Susan Erickson does such an awesome job. It is worth every penny just to hear her say – as Roarke – “Darlin’ Eve” in that soft Irish accent. It just gives you shivers!

This is a great book – and it could be read as a stand-alone, but you will be missing so much. This is one series that I definitely recommend reading from the beginning just to get the growth of Eve and Roarke’s relationship, backgrounds and the friendships they form with the supporting characters.

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The Witches’ Tree by M. C. Beaton

The Witches' TreeThe Witches’ Tree by M.C. Beaton

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Agatha Raisin #28
Publication Date: 10/3/17

Wow! I’ve found a new best friend and it is Agatha Raisin. I know I have come to this series late in its life, but I had no problem reading and thoroughly enjoying this latest addition to the series. I love M. C. Beaton’s books and particularly the Hamish Macbeth series and now this one. I do have to wonder though – does this author not want Hamish and Agatha to have HEA’s. I say that because Hamish seems to go from lady to lady without finding love and the same is apparently true for Agatha.

Agatha is fifty-three years old and has been married twice. To me, she is very depressed, lonely and insecure without a man in her life. I can only assume that is thoroughly explained in earlier books. She’s insecure about her looks and her lovability. She’s also strong, grumpy, sensible, quirky, funny, acerbic, and well – just likable. She is still friends with her last ex-husband – he even lives next door. Agatha also has an interesting relationship with her friend Sir Charles. It would appear that they actually may love each other, but neither of them realizes it or would admit it. I would like to see this relationship grow and come to an HEA for Agatha and Charles because I like both of them. Given the author’s other series though, I wonder if Agatha is destined to remain a lonely old cat lady for the rest of her days.

On a very dark, foggy night the new vicar and his wife are returning home from a very boring dinner party in the next town over. In a quick parting of the fog, their headlights illuminate something hanging from the Witches Tree – it is a body. The police soon determine the victim was murdered – and there are more bodies to come. What a gruesome welcome to the Cotswolds!

Agatha, who has her own private investigation firm, is retained to solve the crime. She’s so happy to do so because she has become very bored and tired of investigating divorce cases, lost cats, etc. This will be a welcome diversion for her.

The book is filled with quirky, interesting characters as most of Beaton’s books are. Everyone has a hidden ‘secret’ and before Agatha is finished, she knows them all. There is a host of suspects and Agatha eliminates them one-by-one and is still baffled – until she finds that one very important question she had forgotten to ask.

Can you believe a coven of witches in a small, beautiful English village in the Cotswolds? Well, there is one and they are a pretty nasty bunch. Agatha is sure they have something to do with the murders, but she isn’t sure what. Are they the murderers or are they just the enablers? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

I almost didn’t request this book because the description of Agatha Raisin as ‘Agatha Christi like’ just didn’t appeal to me. I decided to request it anyway because I usually like Beaton’s work – and I’m so glad I did. I read the book straight through into the wee hours of the morning because I couldn’t wait to see what Agatha was up to next. I do hope Beaton decides to give Agatha the love she so longs for.

Great read!

“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

About The Author:
Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann FairfaxJennie TremaineHelen CramptonMarion ChesneyCharlotte WardSarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.


Murder in Shadow by Anne Cleeland

Murder in Shadow (New Scotland Yard/Doyle and Acton, #6)Murder in Shadow by Anne Cleeland

Barbara’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: New Scotland Yard/Doyle and Acton #5
Publication Date: 8/27/17

Another exciting addition to the Acton and Doyle series. The characters keep growing and evolving with each new book and the stories just keep getting better and better. This book will keep you up all night because you just can’t put it down for wondering what will happen next and what Acton is up to – because you just know he is up to something.

I love that this author is so adept at showing Acton’s darkness and Doyle’s sunny, bright light. Yes, Acton is dark, controlling and manipulative, yet he truly loves Doyle and does all he can to care for and protect her.

The story starts with Doyle being forced to be the lead on a murder case because both Acton and Williams are mysteriously ‘otherwise occupied’. What are they doing? What giant game of chess does Acton have going and will he survive it? There are so very many clues and so much confusion surrounding the case that Doyle just can’t make any headway. What will she do? Can she actually solve the case on her own?

There are so many twists and turns that you’ll just have to read the story for yourself to see what happens. I can tell you that it is intriguing, interesting, exciting and just plain riveting! I highly recommend it for a great read.

“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

About Anne Cleeland:
She holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a law degree from Pepperdine University. She worked as a research attorney for federal and state court judges, a legal writer in private practice, and a guest lecturer at several universities. She is currently at work on her next Acton and Doyle Scotland Yard mystery. She lives in California and has four children.



Enigma by Catherine Coulter

Enigma (FBI Thriller, #21)Enigma by Catherine Coulter

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: FBI Thriller #21
Publication Date: 9/12/17

Be prepared for drama and action as the FBI’s CAU division deals with a medical megalomaniac and a mastermind killer who shows no mercy. The twenty-first book in the series is just as strong, thrilling, suspenseful and intriguing as the first twenty. These villains aren’t quite as twisted as some of them have been, but they still provide you with a shiver down the spine. Coulter chose not to use Savich’s ‘special’ gift in this book and I wonder if she’s decided to move away from that angle.

I love that you almost always get multiple cases in one book and this one has two. Both are interesting, but very different and the agents involved are also different and interesting.

Case 1 provides the name for the book – Enigma. When Dillon Savich’s friend, Dr. Janice Hudson, calls him to hurry over because she thinks her friend and neighbor is in trouble, he finds a mad man holding the neighbor hostage. The man has the neighbor, Kara Moody, duct taped to a chair and he’s raving about saving her from ‘them’ and screaming that he is an enigma. The madman ends up in a coma and Kara goes into labor. When Kara’s baby is stolen from the hospital and an attempt is made on the madman’s life the FBI goes into high gear trying to find the baby and figure out the connection between the madman, Kara and the baby. The answer will intrigue and astound you.

Case 2 has agents Cam Wittier and Jack Cabot tracking down an escaped robber and murderer, Liam Hennessey, aka Manta Ray. The escape was perfectly planned and executed, but how could the prisoner have possibly coordinated such a plan when he’d had no visitors except his lawyer? The answer to that leads you to blackmail at the highest levels of government as well as murder and intrigue. Hennessey escapes into a forest in Kentucky and then escapes the forest by helicopter. There must be someone rich and powerful helping Hennessey, but who can it be and why would they be interested in helping a robber and murderer escape?

Weaving back and forth between the two storylines, multiple intriguing characters and diverse locations will keep you turning pages as fast as you can to see what happens next. It is definitely a must read!

“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

About Catherine Coulter:
Catherine Coulter is the New York Times bestselling author of over 75 books. Her hugely popular FBI thrillers include The Cove, The Maze, The Target, The Edge, Riptide, Hemlock Bay, Eleventh House, Blindside, Blowout, Point Blank, Double Take, Tail Spin, Knockout, Whiplash, Split Second, Backfire, Bombshell, Power Play and Nemesis. She has a new international thriller series — A Brit in the FBI — co-written with JT Ellison. These include The Final Cut, The Lost Key and The End Game. Also now available is the first in her novella series, starring Grayson Sherbrooke (from the Sherbrooke historical romance series), titled The Strange Visitation at Wolffe Hall.



Charlotte & Thomas Pitt #1 and #2 by Anne Perry

The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #1)The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody does Victorian mysteries better than Anne Perry. Her grasp of the culture and mores of the times is unparalleled and her descriptions of the area just make you feel like you are right there in that time and place.

I recently read a later book in this series and enjoyed it so much I wanted to start at the beginning and read them through, in order. This was certainly a great beginning to a long and enduring series.

The bloody and mutilated bodies of lovely young women are showing up on Cater Street. Cater Street is home to the rich gentry of London and they are not happy to have the police nosing around looking for a murderer.

Inspector Thomas Pitt, a very large, tall, perceptive and intelligent man is assigned to investigate the case and it is really baffling. There just isn’t any commonality among the victims and that will make solving the case next to impossible unless the perpetrator is caught in the act

When Pitt shows up at the Ellison’s door to interview the family he is taken with Charlotte. This is during the period when there is a definite separation of classes and the police are considered a very low rank. However, he is still smitten.

Charlotte is a very outspoken, intelligent young woman who chafes at the restraints placed on her gender during that time. She isn’t supposed to read the news papers or be interested in anything other than fashion, embroidery and how to run a home.

You’ll be guessing right until the end – when Charlotte’s life is threatened.

A great read — I highly recommend this book and the series!

Callander Square (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #2)Callander Square by Anne Perry

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody does a Victorian mystery better than Anne Perry and there isn’t a better sleuthing team than Charlotte and Thomas Pitt! Winners all around.

Charlotte and Thomas met in the first book of the series and they are now married and expecting their first child. Charlotte’s younger sister has also married her titled suitor from the first book. Everybody is happy, but Charlotte’s sister is getting a little bored with her aristocratic existence. So, when the skeletal remains of three babies are found in Callander Square she decides that she and Charlotte need to help Pitt solve the case.

Add two more murders to the list and the local residents petitioning the government to end the investigation and poor Inspector Pitt has his hands full. It is a good thing he has the help of Charlotte and her sister — isn’t it?

Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus

A Christmas PerilBarbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Theater Cop Mystery #1
Publication Date: 09/18/17

This book is exciting, interesting, filled with twists and turns and many well developed and likable characters. I believe this is either the first or second book by this author and it will be interesting to see how she develops as a writer as time passes. It certainly lays a great foundation for the series.

Edwina “Sully” Sullivan was once part of the state police of Massachusetts, but she is now medically retired and divorced from her unfaithful husband. She’s moved back to her hometown, Trevorton and taken on the job of General Manager for the local theater. Sully was surprised to find that her skills learned on the police force would serve her well at the theater, but they do.

Sully deliberately chose not to become a PI because she wanted to leave police and investigative work behind. That has worked for five years. However, when the town’s leading citizen is murdered and his son (who is Sully’s friend) is the main focus of the investigation, she has to at least look into it a little to see if she can help.

When she arrives at the police station to see what she can do for her friend, she finds he has a very good lawyer – Sully’s ex-husband. She’s not sure how she feels about that. There is a tingle of excitement at seeing Gus again – but – she doesn’t really want to be around him.

The investigation is filled with twists and turns, multiple murders and multiple perpetrators. One of those perpetrators is a surprise!

Sully is a very relatable character and you can just feel her being pulled by her interest in the case all the while she is trying to stay out of it. She’s also pulled to Gus and it is obvious that the softer feelings are still there for him. He seems to still be drawn to her as well – especially since he didn’t want the divorce – he wanted to work things out. So, it will be interesting to watch and see the romance grow throughout the series. I say that hoping that it will grow because I really like both characters and can see them working together really well.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

Walking On My Grave by Carolyn Hart

Walking on My Grave (A Death on Demand Mysteries)Barbara’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars    Maybe even 2.5 stars

Series: Death on Demand #26
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

I absolutely cannot believe I’m giving this one three stars. This is the final book in the series and I would have hoped for it to end with a bang rather than a whimper. I would have loved it if Annie and Max had decided to close everything down and sail around the world or maybe they find themselves expecting a child – just something – rather than this non-ending ending. Max has deteriorated to the point that I almost didn’t recognize him – he is such a wimpy, uninteresting fellow. Annie too has become a wimp and has lost her determination. So, I guess I have to say that, given the quality of this book, it is time for the series to end and it is a sad ending indeed for a much-loved series.

The book is a normal size, but a portion at the end is taken up with the content of the Chapbooks that are being written by Henny, Laurel, and Emma. I will definitely NOT miss those three because they are becoming very tiresome. At the beginning of the book, you also have a number of pages taken up with a ‘Cast of Characters’ and a ‘timetable’ that is totally unnecessary. So, you have the middle portion left for the actual story.

The mystery itself is okay, but you just don’t come to care about the characters. In previous books you would have come to really know and understand the characters – maybe there were just too many suspects. For some of the suspects, we probably had a total of 5 or 6 lines dealing with them – Curt Roundtree is a prime example of that. Also, the first murder didn’t even occur until something like 100-pages into the book. As I said, the mystery was an okay mystery, but I just never felt invested in any of the victims or suspects.

Frankly, I almost felt that this book was written by another author – not only a different author who hadn’t written any of the previous books but one who hadn’t read them either. I was really disappointed in the wrap-up for the series.

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