<i>Paradime</i>: New Excerpt Paradime: New Excerpt Alan Glynn A thrilling novel of a 21st-century identity crisis. Review: <i>Murder on Brittany Shores</i> by Jean-Luc Bannalec Review: Murder on Brittany Shores by Jean-Luc Bannalec Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review! Review: <i>Dark Matter</i> by Blake Crouch Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Brian Greene Read Brian Greene's review! <i>The Second Death</i>: New Excerpt The Second Death: New Excerpt Peter Tremayne The 26th book in the Mysteries of Ancient Ireland series.
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Showing posts by: Kerry Hammond click to see Kerry Hammond's profile
Jun 29 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander

A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander is the second book in the Bakeshop Mystery series featuring baker Jules Capshaw in her hometown of Ashland, Oregon (available June 30, 2015).

Reality TV meets cozy mystery, with a little bit of murder thrown in. The town of Ashland is known for its Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but the last of the plays are being performed and the theater company is about to go into hiatus for the fall. The town is experiencing cooler weather and a slowdown in tourist traffic. What better time for a television crew to set up shop to film a reality show for the Pastry Channel? Juliet Montague Capshaw aka Jules, has recently moved back to her hometown to help her mother run Torte, a family owned bakery and coffee shop. She is roped into being a contestant on the show and soon finds out that there is as much drama behind the scenes as there is on camera. Specifically, Chef Marco is causing a lot of problems on set as he finds it hard to remain sober for filming.

[There's no such thing as “cooking” wine...]

Feb 7 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody

A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody is the 4th book in the Post-WWI British mystery series featuring sleuth Kate Shackleton (available February 10, 2015).

It’s 1923 and Kate Shackleton is running her own private investigations firm with the help of ex-policeman Jim Sykes. It is a profession she kind of fell into while searching for information regarding her husband Gerald, missing in action from the war. One evening she is visited by a man named Cyril Fitzpatrick, who is worried about his wife, Deirdre. He wants to hire Kate to find out what Deirdre is doing behind his back and where she is going when she disappears for lengths of time, saying she is visiting her ailing mother. Kate doesn’t take on matrimonial cases, but Mr. Fitzpatrick assures her that his marriage is not the issue and that he just wants to make sure Deirdre is not in any trouble. Mr. Sykes convinces Kate to take the case. He knows Deirdre because he helped her out of a shoplifting charge the year before, and is worried that if she is up to her old tricks she will not get off as easily this time.

[Better safe than sorry...]

Nov 20 2014 12:45pm

Fresh Meat: Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline is the 13th book in the Rosato & Associates series featuring attorneys Bennie Rosato and Mary DiNunzio (available November 25, 2014).

You can listen to an exclusive audio excerpt below!

This installment in the series centers around attorney Judy Carrier, one of the lawyers working with Rosato and DiNunzio. Poor Judy is in a funk, and let’s face it, jealous of her best friend, Mary DiNunzio. Mary has just made partner at the firm, hence the new firm name “Rosato & DiNunzio.” Mary is also getting married, and involving Judy in all of the wedding plans, including making her the maid of honor. All of this probably would not be hitting Judy quite so hard if it weren’t for the fact that she is having problems and serious doubts about her current live-in boyfriend, Frank. He is just not proving to be marriage material and does not seem to be taking the relationship as seriously as Judy would like.

[This won't be the only relationship tested...]

Nov 15 2014 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson

A Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson is the 8th cozy mystery featuring heroine Dandy Gilver, and this time a weekend spa getaway is interrupted by some deadly happenings (available November 18, 2014).

Dandelion Gilver, and her partner in detection, Alec Osborne, are back in the latest installment of a wonderful historical series that takes place in Scotland in the early 1900s. The year is 1929 and Dandy is up to her elbows in sick family and staff. Her two sons, her husband Hugh, and several of their servants have come down with a bad case of influenza. As Hugh and the boys are showing signs of recovering, she receives a letter addressed to Messrs Gilver & Osborne asking for their help. It is not only a new case, but one that sounds quite interesting, if not a bit tricky.

[To the spa we go!]

Nov 8 2014 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Laws of Murder by Charles Finch

The Laws of Murder by Charles Finch is the 8th book in the historical mystery series featuring gentleman detective Charles Lenox, who’ll return to professional crime-solving with an awful case for the Yard (available November 11, 2014).

The year is 1876, the place is Victorian England. Gentleman and detective Charles Lenox has made a recent career change. For the last seven years he has served as a Member of Parliament, a career at which he’d always wanted to try his hand. As much as he loved being involved in politics, there was still a problem...he missed detecting. He has always been drawn to detective work, and his previous success proves that he was good at it. Prior to joining Parliament, he had made a name for himself in London. He had even taken an assistant under his wing, John Dallington, and trained him in the field. Even though he dabbled in cases during his political career, he has decided that he misses it enough to go back to it full-time.

As the book opens, Lenox has left Parliament and he joins Dallington, along with two others, to open a detective agency. Lenox believes that his prior reputation, as well as all of the help he’s given Scotland Yard in the past, will mean that the new agency will thrive. He even plans to consult for the Yard as needed, hoping to work with his old detective friends on cases that arise. But on the eve of the agency’s grand opening, members of Scotland Yard make statements to the press that aren’t exactly complimentary.

[Such a thin line between love and hate…]

Oct 2 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet

A Demon Summer is the 4th book from G.M. Malliet to feature Max Tudor, vicar of St. Edwold’s Church in the town of Nether Monkslip, England.

Max Tudor is a former MI5 agent turned vicar, who showed up in the small town of Nether Monkslip to turn many a female head. He is attractive, charismatic, and extremely intelligent. Due to his background and former profession, he is frequently involved in murders that take place in the area, helping DCI Cotton solve the most baffling cases.

Max’s arrival in the village some years before had electrified the female population of Nether Monkslip, for Father Max Tudor was everything they could have wished for: kind and decent (basic requirements, of course, for a vicar), handsome and youngish (both huge bonuses), rumored to be a former MI5 agent (so daring and mysterious!), and most of all, unattached and, to all appearances, available. A lamp ripe for sacrifice on the marital alter.

The women got busy, either throwing themselves at his feet or pushing their nieces, daughters, and best friends at his feet. Church attendance skyrocketed, along with volunteerism for the little chores that needed doing around the church—cleaning the brass and silver, preparing the vessels for the Eucharistic services—that might bring them into closer proximity with Max.

But Max remained steadfastly uninterested. Oddly oblivious to the frenzy of self-sacrifice and do-goodery he had unleashed. Perhaps he thought it mere coincidence that the St. Edwold’s Altar Guild suddenly had more helpers than it could accommodate, all of them female, and all of them jostling for a slot in the rotation. The church flower rota became a free-for-all, with the altar bouquets growing more grandiose and extravagant with each passing week.

[Looks like a popular guy...]

Sep 17 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Wouldn’t It Be Deadly by D. E. Ireland

Wouldn’t it be Deadly by D. E. Ireland is a historical mystery series debut, featuring Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, that picks up where My Fair Lady left off (available September 23, 2014).

Many of us know the story of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins from the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, which was made into the movie My Fair Lady. From the original story we know that Henry Higgins used his mastery of phonetics to teach Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, to speak properly and even passed her off as a duchess at the ball. D. E. Ireland takes the story from here, and creates one of the best new traditional mystery series I have had the pleasure of reading this year.

Once Eliza completes her transformation, she decides to leave Professor Higgins and his good friend Pickering , and get a job teaching phonetics lessons. She becomes the assistant to Higgens’ rival, Emil Nepommuck. Higgins is not happy about the arrangement and when Nepommuck takes credit for Eliza’s transformation, Higgins writes the newspaper denouncing Nepommuck as a fraud. When Nepommuck is found murdered, it’s the unfortunate Higgins who is the chief suspect. Knowing him to be innocent, Eliza feels it her duty to assist the police and prove her friend innocent. The fact that he claims to have been wandering around London listening to accents doesn’t help matters. Since he can provide no solid alibi or anyone who remembers seeing him, and the police are under pressure to solve the case quickly, Higgins is the natural suspect.

[But he won't be the only one...]

May 3 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Boiled Over by Barbara Ross

Boiled Over by Barbara Ross is the second cozy installment in the Maine Clambake mystery series featuring Julia Snowden, former New York City girl who has returned to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, to help her family with their struggling clambake (Available May 6).

I read a lot of cozies because I love to get to know great characters who are regular people who do everyday things. Well, until they happen to come across a dead body. For me, nothing beats an amateur sleuth who gets tangled up in a small town mystery. Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series provides both great characters and a small town mystery that is intricate enough to keep even the best armchair detective guessing.

Julia Snowden joins the planning committee for Busman’s Harbor Founders Weekend. Her family’s clambake provides a new invention for the event: the Claminator. The morning of the festivities, things don’t quite go as planned and they find a burned foot sticking out of the Claminator.

[But where is the rest of the body?]

Mar 20 2014 11:40pm

Fresh Meat: Dyed and Gone by Beth Yarnall

Dyed and Gone, an Azalea March mystery by Beth YarnallDyed and Gone by Beth Yarnall is the mystery debut of Azalea March, California hairstylist and salon owner, who'll investigate the death of a hair world celebrity at a Las Vegas convention to clear her best friend's name (available March 25, 2014).

Normally the first book in a cozy series starts off in the main character’s hometown, and you slowly get introduced to supporting characters and the locale. Then, some local person gets bumped off and everyone is a suspect. Dyed and Gone decided to go a different route and ramp it up a notch, or twenty, and it really works.

Right from the start, Azalea and her two best friends (business partner Vivian and stylist Juan Carlos) are in Las Vegas, attending the North American Salon Trade Expo, which Juan Carlos calls “NAST-E.” Prior to the conference, Azalea, dealing badly with her love life, has hit rock bottom:

I’d been dangling at the end of a string of very poor romantic choices and losing my grip fast when Vivian had burst into my apartment the day before yesterday. She’d yanked the TV cable right out of the wall, ending my three-day, tear-inducing Hallmark channel marathon.

“Please tell me you haven’t bid on any more of those horrible flower dresses,” she’d said, hands on hips. This wasn’t the first time she’d rescued me from floral disaster.

My guilty gaze flew to the laptop on the coffee table in front of me propped up by a stack of bridal magazines, my finger hovering over the return key. “Ah, no?” Not yet, anyway.

“Azalea!” She rushed over to where I sat on the couch and looked at the screen. “Oh, for God’s sake. That’s the ugliest one yet.” She closed the computer, sat down next to me, and pulled my Buy Now hand into hers. “You can’t bury your feelings in sappy movies and vintage Laura Ashley dresses. You’re getting out of here. Now. Pack a bag.”

How did she always seem to know when I was at my lowest? This particular low had been courtesy of a too-hot-to-be-legal cop who’d done the old I’ll-call-you thing and then didn’t. The jerk.

Juan Carlos had skidded to a stop in the entryway. He’d leaned on the doorjamb, one hand over his heart, huffing and puffing as though he’d run a marathon instead of up my three front steps. “Please tell me we got here in time to stop Laura Ingalls Wilder from adding to her Little House on the Depressed Prairie collection.”

Of course, this is a murder mystery, so not all of the Las Vegas fun is hair extensions and dye jobs.

[Some dye and some die...]

Mar 4 2014 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Board Stiff by Annelise Ryan

Board Stiff, a Mattie Winston mystery by Annelise RyanBoard Stiff by Annelise Ryan is the 5th in the Mattie Winston Mystery series about a small-town coroner who'll investigate the death of a nursing home owner (available March 4, 2014).

Mattie Winston is a nurse-turned-coroner by profession, living in a small town in Wisconsin. Mattie is tough, never dainty, and sweet on Steve Hurley, a local homicide detective whose ex-wife, Kate, just moved back in with him. When Kate shows up on his doorstep, Hurley finds out that she’s not so much his ex-wife as his current wife (since she never signed the divorce papers) and she’s not so much alone, as she's traveling with the 15 year-old daughter that he never knew he had. Feeling bad, Hurley lets them stay with him, causing Mattie to enter a downward slide. Losing your boyfriend is one thing, but finding out he’s still married and has a daughter is more than most people can handle.

As the story opens, we find Mattie attending a mandatory therapy session, ordered by her boss, Izzy, at the coroner’s office. It’s a requirement to getting her old job back, which she desperately wants. She might as well work for the coroner if she’s not going to date Hurley. Since they broke up, the conflict of interest issue is a moot point. In addition, she’s been spending a little too much time at the casino, and kind of needs to stop.

[Troubles beget troubles...]

Jan 6 2014 9:15pm

Fresh Meat: Delivering Death by Julie Kramer

Dealivering Death, a Riley Spartz mystery by Julie KramerDelivering Death by Julie Kramer is the 6th mystery featuring Minneapolis investigative reporter Riley Spartz (available January 7, 2014).

One of my favorite things about reading a new-to-me author is meeting new characters. It’s rare and, to use a cliché, magical, when a character draws me in immediately. When I started reading Delivering Death, I knew that Riley Spartz had appeared in five previous installments, and part of me wondered if I would be drawn in or if I would feel that I had missed too much. I am happy to report (no pun intended) that not only was I drawn in, I completely enjoyed riding along with her, living her crazy life, and laughing at her constant wit.

Riley Spartz is a hardworking investigative reporter for Channel 3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her news station is in constant battle just to be number 2 in viewer ratings. While her boss Bryce is concentrating on trying to wow viewers with a new and improved studio set, Riley is trying to figure out who mailed her an envelope full of human teeth. After consulting her dentist, she learns that the teeth are from a mature adult, and the scratch marks on the enamel indicates that they did not fall out on their own, but were yanked out with some sort of tool.

[Arrest Sir Lawrence Olivier! Remember Marathon Man...?]

Oct 10 2013 9:00pm

Fresh Meat: Buried Leads by LynDee Walker

Buried Leads by LynDee WalkerBuried Leads  by LynDee Walker is the second Nichelle Clarke Headlines in High Heels Mystery about a Virginia journalist (available October 15, 2013).

Nichelle Clarke is a reporter for the Richmond Telegraph and her job is to cover the cops and court beat for the paper. She’s a fashion-conscious girl, who isn’t afraid to get dirty if it means getting information for a news story. When she hears on her police scanner that a dead body was found in the woods, she doesn’t even think to change out of her Manolos before heading over to the scene.

Dead people can have the worst timing.

After a ridiculously long day of deadlines, criminals, and cops who did not want to talk to me, I wanted a hot bath and my warm bed. Is that too much for a girl to ask? Apparently so, because there I was, traipsing around the woods looking for a half-eaten dead guy who got himself discovered at eleven o’clock. At night. The glamorous life of a journalist.

The humor in this book starts at the very beginning and moves right along through to the end. You might think that a series about high heels would be fluffy, but you’d be wrong. This book has a great mystery, a ton of humor (I know I’ve already said that, but it was worth repeating) and really wonderful characters. Nichelle might like her shoes, but she’s a smart career girl who works hard and tries to do the right thing by writing stories that matter.

[A brain, and heart, and great shoes, too?]

Oct 1 2013 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Killer image by Wendy Tyson

Killer Image, an Allison Campbell mystery, by Wendy TysonKiller Image by Wendy Tyson is the first novel in a new mystery series featuring Allison Campbell, an image consultant in Philadelphia (available October 1, 2013).

This is a brand new series with a unique protagonist. Allison Campbell is an image consultant who meets with clients to help them improve their images for various reasons. Some clients are divorcees who want a sort of self makeover post-divorce, others are people in high-profile jobs who want to work on portraying themselves in the best possible light. Alison has reworked her own image in the past (there’s backstory here) and is therefore extremely qualified to run her own business and help others.

When a pushy politician with White House ambitions and his pushover wife hire her to help their teenage, Goth-loving daughter, Allison has left her comfort zone. She has a rule that she won’t work with kids, but when she meets Maggie she feels compelled to help her, no matter how contrary—and let’s face it, troubled—the child seems to be.

Allison stepped inside. She looked around for a place to sit. A chair, painted black, sat next to a desk, painted black, but books and papers were stacked on its seat. The room looked surprisingly neat. It was smaller than Allison would have expected, but other than the stack of books, orderly. A black dresser sat against the wall between two windows. On its surface stood candles, a dozen or so bottles of various sizes, and an incense holder. A computer had been placed on the desk amid neat piles of books and papers and what looked like a strobe light, its silvery fish scales reflecting the narrow black curtains. Another stack of books tilted precariously next to the bed.

[But isn't All-Black the New Black?]

Sep 23 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier

Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier, the 20th Lucy Stone mysteryChristmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier is the twentieth in the cozy mystery series featuring Lucy Stone of Tinker’s Cove, Maine (available September 24, 2013).

I love Christmas and I love murder mysteries, so this book really hit the spot. It had it all: a small town, murder of a mean old man, lots of suspects who hated said mean old man, suspicious behavior all around, fun characters, and of course, a holiday celebration.

Jake Marlowe is a nasty man. He and his partner Ben Scribner own a bank in the small town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, where the recession has hit just as hard as the rest of the country. Many residents are struggling to pay their bills, and a few even have medical problems that are causing an extreme financial burden. Instead of working with his customers to try and come up with a repayment plan they can afford, Jake enjoys filing foreclosures to take back the properties.

One morning before work, Jake sits in his home surrounded by all of the things he can’t throw away, and looks forward to balancing his bank account.

[Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone...]

Sep 19 2013 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Edwin Drood Murders by Christopher Lord

The Edwin Drood Murders by Christopher LordThe Edwin Drood Murders by Christopher Lord is the second book in the Dickens Junction Mystery series featuring bookstore owner and Charles Dickens scholar Simon Alastair and his partner, journalist Zach Benjamin (available September 24).

I’m a fan of Charles Dickens, but really didn’t have much prior knowledge about The Mystery of Edwin Drood other than the fact that Dickens died before he finished the book.

In Christopher Lord’s novel, the International Society of Droodists are a group of scholars and fans of Dickens’ last work. They are meeting for a conference in Dickens Junction, and Simon Alastair is co-chair of the event. One of the big draws of the conference, other than being around like-minded Drood followers, is the unveiling of a document purported to be some of the missing notes written by Charles Dickens. These notes, called Number Plan Six, could reveal how Dickens planned to end the story and who he was going to name as murderer.

A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with the lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods, and fields—or rather, from the one great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time—penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthy odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm, and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of the building, fluttering there like wings…

The service comes to an end, and the servitors disperse to breakfast. Mr. Datchery accosts his last new acquaintance out­side, when the Choir (as much in a hurry to get their bedgowns off, as they were but now to get them on) have scuffled away…

Mrs. Tope’s care has spread a very neat, clean breakfast ready for her lodger. Before sitting down to it, he opens his corner-cupboard door; takes his bit of chalk from its shelf; adds one thick line to the score, extending from the top of the cupboard-door to the bottom; and then falls to with an appetite.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Charles Dickens
June 8, 1870

[Very mysterious, indeed...]

Sep 13 2013 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Something Borrowed, Someone Dead by M.C. Beaton

Something Borrowed, Someone Dead by M.C. BeatonSomething Borrowed, Someone Dead by M.C. Beaton is the 24th book in the Agatha Raisin mystery series set in the village of Carsely in the English Cotswolds (available September 17, 2013).

There’s something about a new M.C. Beaton mystery that reminds me of opening a festively wrapped  Christmas gift.  Both bring a big smile to my face and a little twinge of excitement because I don’t yet know what’s inside. Beaton (whose real name is Marion McChesney) is a very prolific writer, who has several series written under several pen names, in both the mystery and romance genres. It’s no surprise to me that the Agatha Raisin books are one her longest running series. They contain great characters, a picturesque setting, and a murder or two in each installment.

In Something Borrowed, Someone Dead, Agatha Raisin is her usual cranky and insecure self. Business is slow due to the recession, and she finds herself without much to work on. She sees a newspaper article about a murder in the small village of Piddlebury, and the bored part of her wants to investigate, but the businesswoman in her realizes she can’t take on an unpaid case. Her business sense wins out and she puts the murder out of her mind.

[But that kind of self-control can't last, can it?]

Sep 10 2013 11:55pm

Fresh Meat: Designed to Death by Christina Freeburn

Designed to Death, a Faith Hunter Scrap This mystery by Christina FreeburnDesigned to Death by Christina Freeburn is the second cozy mystery in the funny Faith Hunter Scrap This series set in Eden, West Virginia (available September 10, 2013).

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical scrapbooker.  But if there is, Faith Hunter would not be who I would imagine. She used to be in the Army, and has a secret past (so secret that Book 2 in the series does not yet reveal the whole story). She moved back to West Virginia to start fresh and work for her two grandmothers at their scrapbooking store Scrap This.  Since she was raised by her two grandmothers, she feels safe and secure back at home with them.  Well, as safe as anyone can feel with a murderer running loose.

The murder that takes place revolves around the most recently appointed Life Artist Diva, an honor given by the scrapbooking magazine Making Legacies to the person who submits the winning crop (meaning photos, not produce) layout.  The Life Artist Diva of the moment is Belinda Watson, and Faith has planned a signing and crop class to honor Belinda and bring in business for the store. Belinda’s cousin, Darlene, shows up claiming the work submitted to win the contest was actually stolen from her, and a brawl ensues. Let’s just say, not all the glitter in this story made it out unharmed.

[Down with brutality against glitter!]

Aug 18 2013 4:00pm

Fresh Meat: Tell No Lies by Gregg Hurwitz

Tell No LIes by Gregg HurwitzTell No Lies by Gregg Hurwitz is a thriller set in San Francisco about a therapist working with ex-cons who becomes involved with a hit list of murder victims (available August 20, 2013).

Gregg Hurwitz’s latest novel is, at first glance, a fast-paced thriller. But it’s also a suspense story that unravels slowly, giving readers just enough to keep them guessing until the final pages. These two seemingly opposite characteristics really work together, and Hurwitz creates a roller coaster ride of sorts, speeding up the action and then pulling back at just the right time.

Daniel Brasher is a therapist who works nights leading a support group for convicted felons trying to get back on track. He finds letters in his work mailbox, addressed to unknown recipients, providing a kind of hit list. The deadline is midnight, and the victims are told to admit what they’ve done or they will die. When Daniel alerts the police, they are too late to save the first victim. When the second is identified, Daniel is there when the murder takes place, but helpless to stop it.  What follows is a race to find out why the killer is targeting these people, who the next victim will be, and why Daniel is caught up in the middle.

The characters are well written and extremely realistic. Daniel comes from a rich family but chooses to follow his heart rather than continue in the family business.  His wife, Cristina, is of Mexican descent and has more causes than Daniel. She works as a community organizer trying to help tenants who are being evicted from their homes. Theresa Dooley is a female, African-American homicide detective, who gains respect from other detectives for her police skills and doesn’t let her minority status affect her work.

And then there’s Evelyn Brasher, Daniel’s mother. I have to admit that Eveyln was one of my favorite characters. I say that I am admitting it because she is a truly unlikeable person.

[What does therapist Daniel think about his mother....hmmm?]

Jul 23 2013 10:00am

Fresh Meat: The Highway by C.J. Box

The Highway by C.J. BoxThe Highway by C.J. Box is a dark thriller featuring Cody Hoyt, an alcoholic former police investigator who is pulled into hunting a serial killer on Montana's remote highways (available July 30, 2013).

I’m a big fan of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series and was very excited to read one of his standalone novels.  I would still consider it a standalone, although a few of the characters, including teen sisters Danielle and Gracie, that appear in this book also appeared in Back of Beyond, published just a couple of years ago. Specifically, Cody Hoyt, a police investigator in Montana. Since Box creates such memorable characters, I’m not surprised that Cody made another appearance.

In The Highway, Cody is struggling with his recent sobriety and has been kicked off the force for planting evidence, a crime of which he is clearly guilty. When he admits to planting the evidence, it sounds like a no brainer to the reader that Cody is a dirty cop. However, once Box outlines Cody’s reasoning and tells the story from his point of view, you may not be entirely sure that your original conclusions are correct. The author reminds you that things are sometimes gray rather than black and white.

[Do the ends justify the means?]

Jun 3 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Stolen by Allison Brennan

Stolen by Allison Brennan is the 6th book in the Lucy Kincaid series (available June 4, 2013).

Lucy Kincaid is in the middle of her FBI agent training course at Quantico when her boyfriend Sean Rogan quits his job working as a security investigator at his brother’s company. No longer speaking to his brother, Sean goes to New York to work with an old friend and business associate, Colton Thayer, telling Lucy very little about the project he’s involved in.

What Lucy doesn’t know is that Sean is working with the FBI on an investigation and has gone undercover. By helping the FBI, Sean hopes to clear himself and avoid prosecution for a crime he committed nearly ten years ago.

Sean is a computer whiz, to put it mildly. There’s no computer he can’t hack, no security system he can’t bypass. At a young age his idealism was his driving force and he wanted to be a kind of Robin Hood. He would see people do bad things and know that he could exact justice quicker than law enforcement.

Theft came in all shapes and sizes, from grand to small, from violent to peaceful. For Sean Rogan, the most satisfying robbery was stealing from someone who was a criminal, because the victim would never report the break-in. It was also the most dangerous.  

The safest theft, and almost as satisfying, was stealing information so the victim never knew they’d been targeted. This was the type of crime where Sean excelled and why his former mentor and friend Colton Thayer had for years wanted him to rejoin the group. It was why Sean had quit the family business. Now there was no turning back.

[Just when you think you know someone...]