Tag Archives: mysteries & thrillers

One Of Us Is Dead by Jeneva Rose Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The owner of a local beauty salon and spa must put her knowledge and relationships with a group of women to the test to help the police capture the culprit behind a gruesome murder in author Jeneva Rose’s “One Of Us Is Dead”. 

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The Synopsis 

The highly anticipated new thriller from the bestselling author of The Perfect Marriage.

Opulence. Sex. Betrayal … Sometimes friendship can be deadly.

Meet the women of Buckhead—a place of expensive cars, huge houses, and competitive friendships.

Shannon was once the queen bee of Buckhead. But she’s been unceremoniously dumped by Bryce, her politician husband. When Bryce replaces her with a much younger woman, Shannon sets out to take revenge …

Crystal has stepped into Shannon’s old shoes. A young, innocent Texan girl, she simply has no idea what she’s up against …

Olivia has waited years to take Shannon’s crown as the unofficial queen of Buckhead. Finally, her moment has come. But to take her rightful place, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book …

Jenny owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town. Jenny knows all her clients’ secrets and darkest desires. But will she ever tell?

Who amongst these women will be clever enough to survive Buckhead—and who will wind up dead? They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly. 

The Review

This is one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year. The dialogue and multiple POVs of this read have driven forward a mystery that feels both authentic and surprising all at once. The ways in which these women interact with one another, and the choice to focus solely on the women’s POV and leave the male characters as wildcards was an inspired and satisfying choice for the story. Getting the chance to see the shocking twists and turns not only in the story, but in the shocking bonds these characters form with one another was such a great hook for readers to get invested in the narrative. 

Honestly, this is one of the first books in years in which I was totally surprised by the book’s ending. I love stories like this that make me guess the killer’s identity early on, only to change my opinion several times over the course of the narrative. I had thought I’d figured out the twist until the final few pages when everything flipped on top of its head. What helped this mystery was the identity of the victim, which was kept hidden until the final few chapters of the book. Not knowing this kept the motivations and agendas presented from each of these characters’ POVs so captivating that the real identity of both victim and killer will leave readers reeling. 

The Verdict

Haunting, entertaining, and yet charming in its writing and delivery, author Jeneva Rose’s “One of Us Is Dead” is a must-read novel of 2022, and one of my top picks for the best thriller of 2022. The descriptive nature of the author’s writing style really painted an image of these characters and this small-town setting to life perfectly, and the twists and turns will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today and be on the lookout for more amazing books from this up-and-coming author!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jeneva Rose is the Amazon Charts, Apple Books, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of The Perfect Marriage and One of Us is Dead. Her works has been translated into more than a dozen languages and optioned for film/tv. Originally from Wisconsin, she currently lives in Chicago with her husband, Drew, and her English bulldog, Winston.

https://www.jenevarose.com/

Jailed (Cal Rogan Mysteries, Book 7) by Robert P. French Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Hoping to start fresh and pursue a scholarly career, former PI Cal Rogan finds himself brought back into the life of an investigator when a student begs him to help clear her brother’s name after he is convicted of murder, and soon Cal discovers a web of intrigue and dangerous secrets that will put him and those closest to him in the crosshairs in author Robert P. French’s “Jailed”, the seventh book in the Cal Rogan Mysteries series.

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The Synopsis

How do you get an innocent kid out of jail, when the evidence against him is overwhelming?

Just when Cal Rogan thought he had left behind his former life as a private investigator, a student begs him to help her brother who has been jailed for a murder he didn’t commit. As Cal tries to unearth the real killer, he uncovers a plot that could destroy not just him but also the people he loves.

Get Jailed now for a non-stop thrill ride that will keep you guessing right up to the very end.

The Review

This was such a gripping and entertaining read from the very start. The author brilliantly concocted a story that kept readers on the edge of their seats, stumbling back and forth between suspects as each layer of this mystery was peeled back. The layers of that said mystery were so captivating in their own right, that as the story shed them one by one, each new detail amplified the tension and mind-bending reality of the crime. 

The character arcs in this narrative were so fun to read. I’m a relative newcomer to this series, and yet the author did a marvelous job of laying out past novel developments enough to give a well-rounded idea of who these characters were. The alternating points of view that this narrative takes really makes the progression of the investigation so much more striking and engaging to readers, and the balance between personal character developments and their involvement in the case was absolutely perfect.

The Verdict

An adrenaline-fueled, heart-pumping, and mind-bending mystery thriller, author Robert P. French’s “Jailed” is a gripping suspense tale that will be impossible for fans of the genre to put down. The twists and turns in the mystery will have readers constantly guessing the killer’s true identity, and a shocking development will completely flip this narrative on its head, leaving readers eager to devour this narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I am a former software developer, former actor, turned author of the Cal Rogan Mysteries. I was born in Oxford and now live in my beautiful adopted city, Vancouver. It has taken me many years and several books (either partial or failed) to learn the writers’ craft. I invite you to enjoy the six Cal Rogan Mysteries. Six days a week you can see me at the Vancouver Public library hunched over my computer working on the next book in the series, as yet untitled.

https://www.facebook.com/robertpfrenchauthor/

Nanny Dearest by Flora Collins Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman dealing with the loss of her father runs into her childhood nanny, and hoping to reconnect with a lost parental figure, begins to build a friendship with the woman. Yet not all is as it seems, and soon the tale of the nanny takes this woman down some dark and twisting roads in author Flora Collins’s novel, “Nanny Dearest”.

The Synopsis

Compulsively readable domestic suspense, perfect for fans of THE TURN OF THE KEY and THE PERFECT NANNY, about a woman who takes comfort in reconnecting with her childhood nanny after her father’s death, until she starts to uncover dark secrets the nanny has been holding for twenty years.

Set in New York city and upstate New York, NANNY DEAREST is the story of twenty-five year-old Sue Keller, a young woman reeling from the recent death of her father, a particularly painful loss given that Sue’s mother died of cancer when she was only three. At just this moment of vulnerability comes Anneliese Whitaker, Sue’s former nanny from her childhood days in upstate New York.

Sue, craving connection and mothering, is only too eager to welcome Annie back into her life; but as they become inseparable once again, Sue begins to uncover the truth about Annie’s unsettling time in the Keller house all those years ago, particularly the manner of her departure – or dismissal. At the same time, she begins to grow increasingly alarmed for the safety of the two new charges currently in Annie’s care.

Told in alternating points of views, switching between Annie in the mid-90s and Sue in the present day, this is a taut novel of suspense with a shocking ending.

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The Review

What a shocking and engaging story! The author did such a great job of taking the time to build up these characters and their history together. The alternating chapters between the past as Annie settled into life as a nanny, to Suzy’s present-day struggles to find a connection to the parents she lost too soon, did an amazing job of peeling back the layers of this dark and haunting domestic drama, as secrets are revealed and relationships are changed forever.

What stood out to me was just how strongly the author covered parenthood, loss, and the grieving process. In particular, the focus on motherhood and the impact that things like loss can have on a mother’s relationship with their children and vice-versa was so fascinating to watch unfold. The exploration of loss really covered most of the main characters in this thriller and showed how that kind of pain could impact people in so many different ways, from internal struggles to chaotic and scary external experiences that impact everyone around them. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining thriller, author Flora Collins’s “Nanny Dearest” is a must-read novel of 2021. The haunting way the author explores the importance of relationships and bonds formed in childhood and the lengths some people will go to in order to regain something lost so long ago was eloquently written into the fabric of this narrative, and the shocking final pages will keep readers hanging on the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Flora Collins was born and raised in New York City and has never left, except for a four-year stint at Vassar College. When she’s not writing, she can be found watching reality shows that were canceled after one season or attempting to eat soft-serve ice cream in bed (sometimes simultaneously). Nanny Dearest is her first novel, and draws upon personal experiences from her own family history.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/nanny-dearest/9780778311614 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778311614 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nanny-dearest-flora-collins/1138522927 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nanny-Dearest-Novel-Flora-Collins/dp/0778311619

Books a Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9780778311614?AID=10747236&PID=7310909&cjevent=3aaff079426711ec81b7ebac0a82b839

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/flococo16?lang=en

Instagram: @floracollins_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/56472992-nanny-dearest

Here is an Excerpt from “Nanny Dearest”

“I WOULD RECOGNIZE THOSE bangs anywhere,” she says, clutching her large faux-leather bag, pink nails pinching the synthetic hide. I can see the laugh lines beneath her glasses’ rims. I swallow, my tongue darting between my back molars, bracing myself. 

“They stuck, I guess.” I laugh lightly, a meek trickle that escapes from my lips before I can stop it. She smiles again, this time with teeth, and I see how her front two overlap, barely discernible. But she’s standing so close that it’s hard not to notice.

“You live around here now?” She stopped me in front of a church and behind us the congregation trickles out, chatting among themselves. A child wails for lunch. The sun beats down hard and yellow, speckling the sidewalk. I raise my hand like a visor, even though I feel the weight of my oversized sunglasses, heavy on the bridge of my nose.

“Yep. Moved down to Alphabet City after college,” I answer. She nods, pushing a wisp of red hair behind her ear. 

She is letting the sun in, the pupils of her green eyes shrinking with the effort.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” It’s a statement, not a question, one that she says confidently, as if it’s a sign of character that she is easily forgettable, that fading into my brain’s recesses is some kind of compliment.

The church group disperses and I step away to let a family by.

“I’m sorry. I don’t.” And then, even though she is secure in her stance, amused perhaps by my social transgression, I fumble for some excuse. “Forgive me. I-I’m not good with faces.”

She laughs, then—a long, exhilarating sound, like a wind chime. “I don’t blame you. I think you were about three feet tall the last time you saw me.” She reaches out a hand, dainty and freckled. “I’m Anneliese. Anneliese Whittaker. I was your nanny.” Her hand remains in the air for a moment, outstretched, like the bare limb of a winter tree, before I take it.

“Sue. Sue Keller.” But of course she knows who I am. She says she was my nanny.

“I used to babysit you when you lived upstate.” I flinch, unintentionally. She knew my mother. “How’s your dad? He always wanted to move back up there later in life.”

I bite the inside of my cheek, savoring the tenderized spot there, made bloody by my anxious jaw. “He passed last year. Car accident.”

Anneliese puts a hand to her mouth, her eyes widening behind the glasses. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. You must miss him a lot, don’t you? He was your whole world back when I knew you.”

I offer her a smile. “Yes, well, aren’t most little girls that way with their fathers?”

The child is still screaming for lunch. His mother is speaking to another woman, the three of them the only people left in front of the church.

“Yes, well, I guess that’s true. You and your dad had a special bond, though.” She gazes at me then, her face full of compassion, those green eyes penetrative.

And we’re silent, for a beat too long. So I find myself shuffling, moving around her. “I actually have to meet a friend.” I check my wrist though I’m not wearing a watch. “But it was funny running into you.” I give her what I hope is an apologetic smile, backing away from her, toward the curb.

She stops me, one of those tiny hands on my wrist, almost tugging at my sleeve like a child. “Wait. I’d love to see you again.” She digs around in her purse. I catch sight of a book, earbuds, some capped pens, a grimy-looking ChapStick. She takes out a receipt, uncaps a pen, and leans the paper against the church’s stone masonry, scrawling her number. The figures are dainty, like her hands.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Tell your friend a crazy lady stopped and demanded you spend time with her.” She laughs again, that wind chime chortle, and I pocket the receipt.

“Nice to see you again!” I call, making the traffic light just in time. When I cross the street and turn, she’s gone, consumed by the hordes, no sign of that red hair glinting in the sunlight.

“And you stopped? I would’ve kept on walking. No time for nutso people like that,” Beth says through the phone as I pace my studio, absentmindedly throwing trash away, smoothing out the creases in my bedspread, my phone nestled between my shoulder and ear. I set it down and put her on speaker. I have the urge, suddenly, to rearrange the furniture in this miniscule apartment. To move the bed to the other side of the room, away from the window, from the noise of the street.

“She knew my name, Beth. She called out ‘Sue.’ I wasn’t going to ignore that.” Outside, a siren wails and I pull down the shade.

“That’s why you always wear headphones. So you have an excuse not to deal with those kinds of people.” Beth smacks her gum, the noise ricocheting through the tinny speaker.

“So you really don’t remember if I had a nanny called Anneliese?” I crumple up the wax paper from my bagel, letting it drift to the floor. The old family photo albums from that period are in storage, buried deep inside the disorganized cardboard boxes I hired movers to collect when I cleaned out Dad’s apartment.

“Dude, we met when we were five. I don’t think I knew my own mom’s name back then. I certainly wouldn’t remember who your babysitter was.” I close my eyes and massage my temples, my usual insomnia-inflicted headache edging toward a dull throb. I don’t remember a long-term nanny. I never had any babysitters growing up, just my dad.

I hear Beth say something to her girlfriend, a bark, and I walk away from the phone for a minute with a twinge of annoyance that she’s not giving me her undivided attention.

I think of Anneliese’s face, those teeth, the green eyes. The hair. And.

And.

I am running in a field with her, in the yard behind the house upstate. The garden is giant. Huge sunflowers, hedges high enough to block the sun. Beneath me, the grass is lush, dewy, tickling my bare feet. And the sky is white, hot and blazing. And she is behind me, shrieking, her freckled arm outstretched, a paintbrush in her hand tinged blue.

And I feel its slick bristles on my back and I fall, stumble. But I am laughing. And she is, too, her orange hair like a halo, eclipsing the sun.

I open my eyes.

“Anyway, I’m having some people over next weekend. I know you hate parties these days but you’re so cooped up all the time in that apartment. I swear it’ll be fun…” Beth squawks on, her voice shrill through the speaker.

“I remember her.”

Beth pauses mid-ramble. “What?”

“I remember her. Anneliese. The woman who stopped me today. She’s not nuts. I remember her.”

There’s a heavy silence on the other end. “Are you sure? You just said you didn’t.” Beth’s voice has lowered an octave, as if she’s whispering. Which I know is for my benefit, so her girlfriend won’t hear.

I tighten my hand into a fist. “I’m serious. She was my nanny. We used to play this game with paint.”

Beth sighs. “Still weird to me. You’re not thinking about calling her or anything like that, right?” But I’m already reaching into the garbage bag I use as a hamper, sifting through it for the sweats I wore earlier today. I take out the receipt, smoothing it out against my knee. It’s for shampoo, coconut Herbal Essences, and I can smell it on her, as if it’s 1996 and I am on the floor of my blue-carpeted bedroom and she is swinging her princess hair to and fro as we play Candy Land, the smell even more enticing than how I imagined Queen Frostine’s scent.

Tears prick my eyelids.

“I want to see her.” It comes out sounding infantile, testy even. And I hear Beth breathing, willing herself not to lash out.

“Okay. Okay, Suzy. Just meet in public and bring some pepper spray. Remember, she stopped you in the street. She really could be anyone, even if she did babysit you a thousand years ago.” I hear her put another piece of gum in her mouth, the wrapper like static.

“I know. She’s just a nice middle-aged woman. And maybe she has some cool things to say about my parents.” I know that will get Beth off my back. Any mention of my parents gets anyone off my back.

I hear her breath as she blows a bubble, the snap of the gum sticking to her lip. “I’m just trying to be a good friend. Don’t fault me for it.” Her voice has lowered again. “I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: you’ve been spending way too much time alone. It’s not like you and I can tell it’s getting to you. It would get to me.” But my finger is already hovering over the End Call button, eager to get Beth off the line.

“I appreciate it. But for real, now I have work to do. I’ll text you.” She spends one more minute reminding me to come to her party next weekend and I promise I will, even though we both know I won’t, and I hang up first, still fingering that crumpled receipt, studying the perfectly shaped eights in the handwritten phone number, each the same height, the same size.

Outside, a dog barks. And I bark back, loud and sharp, laughing at myself, my apartment easing into darkness as the sun sets.

Excerpted from Nanny Dearest by Flora Collins, Copyright © 2021 by Flora Collins. Published by MIRA Books.

A Death in Bloomsbury (The Simon Sampson Mysteries #1) by David C. Dawson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A renowned BBC Radio host and investigator must put his loyalty to the King of England to the test in 1930’s London as a plot to assassinate the King forces Simon Sampson to investigate, but at the risk of exposing his secret life as a gay man in a time when being gay meant facing prison time in the country in author David C. Dawson’s “A Death in Bloomsbury”, the first in the Simon Sampson Mysteries series. 

The Synopsis

Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.

1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.

But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.

This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem. 

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The Review

This was such a captivating and thought-provoking read. The author’s utilization of mystery and historical fiction was superb, showcasing a clear understanding and attention to detail historically that showed the amount of research that went into this narrative. The balance the author found with the history behind this intriguing mystery and the LGBTQ cast of characters that made up the novel’s main cast was so refreshing and fantastic to read.

What stood out to me was definitely the emphasis on the LGBTQ narratives, not only the characters as a whole but their experiences and the amount of secrecy that went into leading what was considered back then to be a “double life”. The way this mirrored so much of the novel’s noir and espionage elements within the mystery unfolding around the characters was perfect, and the emotional ups and downs the protagonist, in particular, went through all the way to the book’s final pages was so emotional to read.

The Verdict

A thoughtful, gripping, and entertaining read, author David C. Dawson’s “A Death in Bloomsbury” is a must-read mystery and historical fiction thriller this fall! The representation within the cast of characters and the struggles the LGBTQ community faced nearly a century ago was perfectly balanced the twists and turns in the book’s mystery, and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager to read more of this exciting new series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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A Death in Bloomsbury - David C. Dawson

David C. Dawson has a new gay historical crime thriller out: A Death in Bloomsbury. And there’s a giveaway!

Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.

1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.

But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.

This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.

About the Series

The Simon Sampson Mysteries start in London 1932 and continue through the 1930s across Europe. Set against the rise of fascism in the continent, the series features a man who does his patriotic duty to fight the enemy, even though as a gay man he’s an outlaw.

Amazon | Goodreads


Giveaway

David is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47212/?


Excerpt

Simon arrived at Piccadilly Circus at ten minutes to eight that evening and waited to cross the road to the statue of Eros on its traffic island. This part of London always gave Simon a thrill of excitement. It buzzed with activity, like a giant beehive. There were swarms of people hurrying from work, or strolling towards a restaurant, theatre or bar. The metaphor was apt, because within fifty yards of where Simon stood there were so many queens.

Across the road was The Trocadero. Its Long Bar was always guaranteed to provide a gay evening for gentlemen in search of pleasure. A little farther on was the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square. Its Upper Gallery was popular with painted boys and men dressed in smart suits who spent an evening either exchanging acid-tongued witticisms or seeking a friend for the night.

Even at that time of the evening the traffic on Piccadilly Circus was almost stationary. Simon stepped off the pavement and wove his way between taxis and omnibuses queuing to drive up Shaftesbury Avenue or down the Haymarket. Cameron was waiting for him, and Simon was pleased to see he was once again soberly dressed in his immaculate black coat. This time with a grey scarf and black leather gloves. Young men of a similar age to Cameron were also standing on the steps of Eros, and they wore far more flamboyant clothing. Simon preferred to be inconspicuous when out with a gentleman friend. There was less chance that they might draw the attention of the police, or busys as his friends in the Fitzroy Tavern would call them.

“I do hope you’ve not been waiting long.” Simon took Cameron’s outstretched hand and squeezed it firmly. “It’s getting awfully cold. I think it might snow this Christmas.”

Cameron reached out his other hand and rested it on Simon’s hip. Simon pushed it away. “Best not here, old chap,” he whispered. “Awfully public you know.”

He released Cameron’s hand and pointed across the road. “We need to head towards Leicester Square. The Lily Pond is two roads up. And we can walk past the Trocadero on the way and see who’s out gadding tonight.”

“I’m glad I’m wi’ ye,” Cameron replied. “I’m still finding ma bearin’s in London. I’ve nae come down to this part of town since I moved to York House.”

“Oh, you should.” Simon led the way through the still stationary traffic to Coventry Street. “It’s frightfully exciting. And you can always be sure of meeting someone interesting.” He pointed to the corner of Glasshouse Street. “That’s the Regent Palace Hotel. Awfully good bar. Perfect place to meet gentlemen from overseas, and they can hire a room for you by the hour if that interests you.” He grabbed Cameron’s arm and pulled him to safety as a motor car attempted to circumvent the traffic jam and drove up onto the pavement.

“Try not to get yourself killed, my dear.”


Author Bio

David C. Dawson

David C. Dawson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker. He writes gay romance and contemporary thrillers featuring gay heroes in love.

His latest book The Foreign Affair was published in 2020. It’s the third in the Delingpole Mysteries series.

The first in the series: The Necessary Deaths, won an FAPA award in the best suspense/thriller category.

David’s also written two gay romances: For the Love of Luke and Heroes in Love.

He lives near Oxford, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

Author Website: https://www.davidcdawson.co.uk

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/david.c.dawson.5

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/pg/davidcdawsonAUTHOR/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/david_c_dawson

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidcdawsonwriter/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7244384.David_C_Dawson

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/david-c-dawson/

Author Amazon: https://geni.us/DCDawsonAmazonAuthor

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White Lightning: Prohibition and Predators: A Mystery Across the Centuries with a White Knuckle Finish You Won’t Believe (Hope Sze medical mystery Book 9) by Melissa Yi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Doctor and mystery investigator extraordinaire Hope Sze finds herself investigating a century-old mystery as a weekend trip to an old prohibition era inn hosting a fictional villain convention leads to the discovery of bones, and a threat to those staying in the inn in author Melissa Yi’s “White Lightning: Prohibition and Predators: A Mystery Across the Centuries with a White Knuckle Finish You Won’t Believe (Hope Sze medical mystery Book 9)”.

The Synopsis

FROM HOOCH HIGHWAY TO HOMICIDE

Hope Sze escapes for a romantic weekend away at the Rumrunner’s Rest, a Roaring Twenties inn once celebrated both for Prohibition’s best alcohol and the smoothest jazz bands north of the Detroit River.

Then a convention of fictional villains overrun the tavern, her friend glimpses a ghost, and Hope uncovers a grisly surprise in the fireplace that may be related to Al Capone, the infamous gangster.

At least two people disappeared from this very inn, and one soul will not rest in peace.

Tonight, unless Hope unravels a century’s worth of clues, death will collect several more lives. Including the one, she holds most dear.

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The Review

This was a perfect mystery read! The author continues to enthrall and entertain readers with the perfect balance of mystery, history, and engaging character-driven narrative to really entice and bring readers to the edge of their seats. The inclusion of prohibition-era history, from the prohibition bars that were so popular a century ago, to Al Capone and a character’s possible relation to him, really elevated the actual mystery that this story held. 

What stood out to me though was the character development. It was incredible to see these characters evolve and grow as the story progressed, especially going into the 9th story in this growing mystery series. From the medical aspect of the character’s perspective on the mystery of these grisly findings inside of the inn’s chimney to the sudden appearance of an old flame who turned Hope’s world upside down years ago to the question of whether or not history and our ancestry can have any sort of impact on our world today, each character really exhibited chemistry and balance with one another, as did the growing shroud of shocks and thrills to the novel. 

The Verdict

A masterful, heart-pounding, and brilliant medical thriller and mystery read, author Melissa Yi’s “White Lightning” is a must-read novel of 2021 and the perfect next installment in Hope’s growing mystery series. The historical nature of the character’s in the flashbacks and how they relate to the modern-day mystery really add extra depth to the novel, making this a thrilling fall and winter read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Melissa Yi is an emergency physician and award-winning writer. In her newest crime novel, SCORPION SCHEME, Dr. Hope Sze lands in Cairo and discovers a man with a nail through his skull who might hold the key to millions in buried gold. Previous Hope Sze thrillers were recommended by The Globe and Mail, CBC Books, and The Next Chapter as one of the best Canadian suspense novels. Yi was shortlisted for the Derringer Award for the world’s best short mystery fiction. Under the name Melissa Yuan-Innes, she also writes medical humor and has won speculative fiction awards. http://www.melissayuaninnes.com/

Shooting Star: A Nikki Latrelle Mystery Book 5 (The Nikki Latrelle Mystery-Thriller Series) by Sasscer Hill Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A job to protect the horses and people involved in a Hollywood shoot forces heroine Nikki Latrelle to face off against a mysterious sniper in author Sasscer Hill’s “Shoot Star”, the fifth book in the Nikki Latrelle Mystery-Thriller series!

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The Synopsis

When Nikki’s ex-lover Will hires her to protect the horses used to film a movie at Santa Anita Racetrack, she learns evil is alive and well in Hollywood.

Keeping Thoroughbreds safe from a director who doesn’t know a horse from a hamster is tricky. More difficult are the unresolved feelings between Nikki and Will, especially when sexy, young movie star, Jamie Jackson, sets his sights on Nikki.

But when a sniper’s bullet shatters the brain of a cameraman close enough that she can smell his blood, Nikki’s need to protect overrides everything. Her sleuthing unearths a trail of corruption and when she must lie to Will to protect his life, she’s on her own. Can she identify the evil behind the scenes before she and Will become the next victims?

Shooting Star is the fifth rocket-paced story in the award-winning Nikki Latrelle mystery series. If you like protagonists with heart and courage, unexpected twists, and a thrill ride to the finish, you’ll love Shooting Star.

Find out why this series has so many fans. Buy Shooting Star today! 

The Review

This book starts off quite literally with a bang. The shocking murder of a cameraman shocks readers with a quick introduction to the setting followed by the harrowing events that spark this mystery. Now although I am a newcomer to the Nikki Latrelle series, the author did an amazing job of crafting a narrative that felt self-contained enough to stand on its own while still touching upon scenes and experiences the character had in previous entries in the series. 

The balance the author found between the pacing of the mystery and the character arcs of not only the protagonist but of the supporting cast as well as brilliantly written. Each clue and twist in the narrative was delivered naturally and kept the reader invested, while the characters kept you on the edge of your seat as readers tried to solve the mystery themselves. Add some unique and original storytelling elements involving horse racing and the treatment of animals in Hollywood productions overall, and you have the recipe for a highly engaging thriller.

The Verdict

A high octane, adrenaline-fueled, thought-provoking mystery thriller, author Sasscer Hill’s “Shooting Star” is a must-read thriller of 2021. A brilliantly original and heartfelt look into the world of horse racing and the treatment of animals in general blended with a heart-pounding murder mystery and complex character development, readers will not be able to put down this amazing story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’ve never wanted to write the “Great American novel.” I believe my job is to entertain with stories about chasing a dream, fighting the odds, and helping the helpless. I want to create a world that’s a bit scary, sometimes funny, always informative, and a reliable destination for escape.

Sasscer Hill’s books have won the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Award for Best Book in Racing Literature (FLAMINGO ROAD.) They have also garnered a Carrie McCray Award and been nominated for Agatha, Macavity, and Claymore awards. Her second book in her two-book “Fia McKee” series, THE DARK SIDE OF TOWN, received a Booklist Starred Review and was an Editor’s Pick in the Toronto Star.

Her newest title, TRAVEL’S OF QUINN” (out March 2010) is a mystery-thriller based on the con artists known as the Irish American Travellers. A novel of deceit, murder, greed and hope,

Currently, Sasscer is writing SHOOTING STAR, her fifth novel in the “Nikki Latrelle” mystery series.

Sasscer was a breeder, owner, and rider of race horses for over 30 years. She lives in Aiken, SC, with her husband, a dog named Rosco and a cat named Lola.

https://www.sasscerhill.com/

Cold Star: The Cold War Just Got Hotter by Dick Woodgate Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An anonymous secret agent in 1960’s Casablanca must deal with danger, a deadly conspiracy, and heated romance in author Dick Woodgate’s espionage thriller, “Cold Star”. 

The Synopsis

An audacious plan, a dangerous attraction, a deadly agent …a fatal flaw.

The Agent is an anonymous British intelligence agent working for a department so secret the government won’t admit to its existence. In 1960s Casablanca, a devastating fire at the port leads the Agent to Morocco where he uncovers an audacious plot of epic proportions. The Agent must unravel the conspiracy and put a stop to it. The Russian embassy is implicated – and the Agent’s just fallen for one of its diplomats, a beautiful young woman who may hold the key to unearthing the secret in the Sahara… but only if he can overcome his desire for her. And all the while a fatal flaw in the Agent’s assignment goes unnoticed until its explosive revelation in the closing chapters.

The Agent takes you on a thrilling and immersive ride through the heady exoticism of early sixties Casablanca in a compelling cold war era thriller, weaving in science and buckling the classic espionage premise with a twisted finale. Readers of Fleming and le Carré will particularly enjoy this intriguing story, full of narrow escapes and wonderful characters. Brimming with style, detail and atmosphere, Cold Star confidently evokes the period with great historical authenticity. The cold war just got hotter.

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The Review

This was an incredible espionage read. The atmosphere and tone the author employed here very much captured the era of the narrative’s setting. The iconic spy thriller style novel presented both political and action thriller vibes, and the imagery the author used in the writing, from the powerful sports cars the Agent utilized in his adventures to the trickery and air of tension that the protagonist had with other key figures in the novel, really did an amazing job of crafting this fictional world in the reader’s minds.

The characters themselves really brought the novel’s heart into play here. The protagonist himself being this anonymous secret spy known only as The Agent was an inspired choice, as he represented the classic literary characters (and film) such as James Bond that readers have come to know and love over the years while allowing enough room for imagination in the reader’s minds to take over and craft a wholly original and unique experience. The ruthless and almost cold nature of the character’s actions gave such an interesting psychological aspect to his development as well, as he worked to do the “heroic” thing while still struggling to find the meaning and humanity behind his actions. 

The Verdict

A masterfully executed, creative, and engaging spy thriller, author Dick Woodgate’s “Cold Star” is a must-read novel of 2021. The author’s balance of imagery and character growth will have readers harkening back to an iconic time in espionage thriller novels, while the plot and tone will keep readers on the edge of their seat as the shocking finale explodes onto the page. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

As well as being a writer, I’m also a furniture maker. I moved from London to rural Kent seven years ago to start a family. The skies are dark down here. I bought a telescope soon after we moved and it was this – and a love of espionage fiction, Fleming in particular – which led me to start writing my first novel, Cold Star.

Cold Star is the first book featuring the Agent in a planned series charting the race to the moon in the sixties. A sense of that pioneering decade of space exploration is expressed in parallel with the plot and theme of each book – I’m nearing completion of the second book, set later on in the decade in Europe, Russia & California. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I have writing it for you. 

https://www.dickwoodgate.com/

https://www.facebook.com/dickwoodgate

Blood Mark by J.P. McLean Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman who has spent her entire life with mysterious red birthmarks and terrifying nightmares finds her world turned upside down as the birthmarks begin fading, and the dreams become more vivid as a serial killer sets their sights on her in author J.P. McLean’s “Blood Mark”, the first in a brand new paranormal thriller series.

The Synopsis

What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.

After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:

The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.

Blood Mark is the first in a brand-new paranormal thriller series by JP McLean, author of The Gift Legacy series and whose writing has been described as “. . . deftly crafted, impressively original, and inherently compelling from first page to last.”

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The Review

This was a refreshing new take on the paranormal thriller genre. The integration of Inca mythology into a modern-day thriller was engaging and thought-provoking, giving readers a wonderful blend of mythology and gritty crime thriller. The author’s own writing was outstanding, delivering a very descriptive and creative balance of imagery and character growth that felt very cinematic as a whole. 

The characters themselves were so captivating to read. Each character brought a complex and emotional background to the narrative, and the mature setting and tone of the storyline really allowed the author to explore the nuances and thoughtful approach to the character’s arc. Jane was a well-rounded new heroine in this paranormal thriller and did an excellent job of creating a bond between the reader and the narrative overall.

The Verdict

A magical, haunting, and entertaining read, author J.P. McLean’s “Blood Mark” is a brilliant new paranormal thriller! The pacing and chilling atmosphere the author crafts, along with the heartbreaking backstories and gripping action that takes place make this a standout read, and will leave readers eager to devour more books from this author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m very fortunate to live in a writer’s paradise on one of the small northern Gulf Islands off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The rugged beaches and towering fir and arbutus trees that surround me often end up in my stories. When I’m not pouring my imagination into my computer, I’m futzing in gardens, making a mess of the kitchen or hiking local trails. I write stories that entice you to believe the impossible and escape the everyday for a while. Enjoy the read!

I’m also on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JPMcLeanBooks

HELLROSE by Emma M. King Review

A doctor plagued by traumatic visions of trauma must try to fix her past by helping a new patient at the asylum she works at in author Emma M. King’s “HELLROSE”.

The Synopsis

Over the past 150 years, HELLROSE psychiatric hospital has become one of America’s most feared establishments.

After being plagued by flashbacks to a terrifying past, a psychiatrist, Dr. Lisa Williams, tries to repair her life by helping a new outlandish patient who has his own horrifying history.

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The Review

This was a gripping psychological thriller! The author did an incredible job of delivering a tense and haunting look into the world of mental health and the criminal justice system, exploring how mental health can affect so many people, not just a particular group of people, and the shocking behavior and actions that can arise within someone so completely separate from their own personalities. 

The character exploration was detailed and engaging in this novel. The protagonist’s personal struggles mirror the intensity of the environment around her, and the twisted cases that arrive on her desk daily. The mystery surrounding her new patient and the investigation that arises during his evaluation will have readers on the edge of their seats. 

The only thing of note here is that some of the dialogue between characters can come across as less natural and more pointed, so my only critique would be taking a less “tell” approach to the character’s interactions and more of a “show” approach instead, but honestly this happens only a couple of times that I could see so the narrative overall feels powerful enough to overshadow those few instances.

The Verdict

An entertaining, chilling, and thought-provoking psychological thriller, author Emma M. King’s “HELLROSE” is a must-read novel for the fall 2021 season! Shocking revelations and a twist ending will take readers by surprise, and the novel showcases the depth and experience the author has brought to this particular genre of thriller, making the narrative’s tone feel authentic and more engaging. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Emma M. King graduated from Penn State University with a degree in journalism & psychology.

Her publishing story has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly. She has appeared on ABC’s World News Now and America This Morning.

Emma lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her family. She enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, and exploring the city’s best brunch options. She regularly blogs about her “writing life” at www.emmaking.co.