<i>American Static</i>: Excerpt American Static: Excerpt Tom Pitts A fast-paced crime novel set in California. Review: <i>Kangaroo Too</i> by Curtis C. Chen Review: Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen Doreen Sheridan Read Doreen Sheridan's review! <i>The Witches' Tree</i>: Excerpt The Witches' Tree: Excerpt M. C. Beaton The 28th book in the Agatha Raisin series. Review: <i>The Force</i> by Don Winslow Review: The Force by Don Winslow Thomas Pluck Read Thomas Pluck's review!
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Showing posts by: Amber Keller click to see Amber Keller's profile
Thu
Jun 15 2017 4:00pm

Review: Shiver Hitch by Linda Greenlaw

Shiver Hitch by Linda Greenlaw is the third book in the Jane Bunker Mystery series.

Author Linda Greenlaw spins quite a yarn with this Jane Bunker series installment. There’s murder, snow, boats, and chowder. What more could you ask for?

Set in the cold, small community of Green Haven, Maine, series protagonist Jane Bunker has relocated from Miami—where she was a homicide detective—to the polar opposite environment and career. Here in Green Haven, she kind of does it all as she works for the sheriff and with the local insurance agency.

I laughed to myself. My present situation was a far cry from chief detective of Miami-Dade County. If anyone from my past could see me now—Jane Bunker, bundled up like a goddamned Eskimo—living in an apartment over a trinket-selling tourist trap in this remote outpost—making ends meet financially (just barely) with a combination of insurance consulting/investigation and a job as the assistant deputy sheriff of Knox County—shoveling snow!

[Read Amber Keller's review of Shiver Hitch...]

Fri
May 5 2017 12:00pm

Review: Your Killin’ Heart by Peggy O’Neal Peden

Your Killin' Heart by Peggy O'Neal PedenYour Killin’ Heart by Peggy O’Neal Peden is a witty debut full of Nashville charm and generous heart.

What would we do without our nosy, amateur sleuths? 

Campbell Hall is charming, inquisitive, strong, smart, and hardheaded. Plus, she drives a really cool, red 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider, which is a wonderful addition. She’s pretty, single, and hard-working, running a travel agency in Nashville, Tennessee. When she accompanies a friend to the home of a deceased country singer icon, only to find herself in the middle of a murder mystery, mayhem ensues.

Award-winning author Peggy O’Neal Peden delivers a fun and smart debut with her first entry in the new Nashville Mystery series. It is no surprise that Peden lives in Nashville, as her intimate knowledge of the ins and outs and detailed descriptions of locations and landmarks show perfectly. There’s plenty of talk of the infamous Nashville music industry, and Campbell even has some important music friends that she accompanies to local music spots. If you’re looking for that scene, this book should satisfy.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Your Killin' Heart...]

Tue
May 2 2017 2:00pm

Review: Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson

Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson is the 19th Gaslight Mystery, where Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy search for a connection between a murdered newsie and a high-society woman with dangerous habits.

Having recently reviewed Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mystery Murder in Morningside Heights, I eagerly jumped for the opportunity to check out her newest book in the series. This tale met and exceeded my expectations, and I found myself enjoying it even more than the previous book.

Set at the turn of the century, these stories give a wonderful and gritty glimpse into life during these tough times. I’m always intrigued by the descriptions of how peopled lived and went through their daily routines, getting a sense of even their base approaches and ways of thinking. It puts the reader back in time, allowing them to feel the dirt of the streets and smell the pungent aromas of back alleys and bad hygiene.

Now, it’s not all bad, of course, but Thompson has a way of making it all feel familiar, like a lost memory. At the same time, we also see the more privileged side of life through main characters Frank and Sarah. In this installment, Thompson highlights the amazing and challenging lives of the newsboys in New York City.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Murder in the Bowery...]

Mon
May 1 2017 4:30pm

Review: Murder Is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Murder Is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. DuncanMurder Is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. Duncan is the 8th book in the Penny Brannigan Mystery series.

I tend to grab books with certain settings, such as Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, just to name a few. Basically, most exotic locales will get my attention. I suffer from severe vertigo and have a fear of flying, so I probably won’t ever board an airplane. This is the way I get to venture to these faraway lands. Murder Is for Keeps is the 1st of the Penny Brannigan series I’ve had the pleasure to read—the 8th book in the series—and I knew as soon as I read the blurb that this was exactly the type of cozy mystery that would fill my soul’s longing for wanderlust that can’t be achieved traditionally.

This story revolves around what was once a magnificent structure: Gwrych Castle, a real place that author Elizabeth J. Duncan fell in love with. Located in Abergele, North Wales, it’s unfortunately been left to ruin, as it has in the story. Intrigued by the fact that it was a real place, I researched the castle and was not disappointed with what I found. I was able to really imagine the castle during its peak. It does hold a type of haunted mystique, even through my computer screen. 

[Read Amber Keller's review of Murder Is for Keeps...]

Tue
Apr 18 2017 3:00pm

Review: Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson

Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson is both cozy and creepy, weaving together the lives, lies, and secrets of three people in a perfectly executed small-town mystery. It is nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel.

Quiet Neighbors is an intricate mystery buried under intriguing current events that we get to peek at little by little, leaving us thinking that maybe we know what has happened or can guess what is to come—but we never really do. It’s the pull that keeps the pages turning.

I very much enjoy the element of the supernatural, and from the book’s title and haunting cover I envisioned unsettled ghosts getting the living to solve their untimely deaths—or at least something to that effect. But that’s not exactly what this story is about. It’s so much more than that.

Author Catriona McPherson has crafted a wonderfully complex tale intertwining three people’s lives with a village’s sordid history. Each of these three people—Jude, Lowell, and Eddy—have their own secrets and mysteries that will soon come to light, revealing misdeeds and explanations as they try to solve the mysteries that hold them together, to each other, and to the area.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Quiet Neighbors...]

Tue
Apr 11 2017 1:00pm

Review: IQ by Joe Ide

IQ by Joe Ide follows a resident of one of LA's toughest neighborhoods as he uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores. It is nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

If someone had told me before I read this book that I was going to love it as much as I did, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. Yeah, it really is that good. For author Joe Ide’s debut, this one hits it out of the ballpark. He has taken a very compelling and interesting main character and built an entire universe around him—and made it look easy.

The author bio explains that Ide was influenced by Arthur Conan Doyle’s great character Sherlock Holmes when he was younger, which definitely piqued my interest. But Ide doesn’t make a carbon copy here; instead, Isaiah Quintabe, aka IQ, is a very modern character—one who is almost tangible and certainly believable. He is known for his intelligence and his ability to deduce things from his environment:

[Read Amber Keller's review of IQ...]

Mon
Apr 10 2017 3:00pm

Review: Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon is the 1st book in the Gethsemane Brown Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. 

Have you ever been at a point in life where nothing seems to have gone right but tucking your tail and heading back home to admit defeat is the last thing you want to do? That’s exactly where Gethsemane Brown is.

Gethsemane’s a musical genius that has excelled in her studies, earning prestigious awards and climbing her way up the musical ladder. Just when she thinks she’s gotten a fantastic job as the assistant conductor with the Cork Philharmonic in the bag, it all falls apart.

Determined not to go back home and start all over again, she stays in Ireland and accepts a position at St. Brennan’s School for Boys, where she has six weeks to steer a class of adolescents to win a high-stakes competition and secure herself a ticket back home to America. Sounds easy, right? She's also staying in the home of her musical idol, Eamon McCarthy, 25 years after his death—but in Ireland, the dead don’t always rest so easy.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Murder in G Major...]

Fri
Apr 7 2017 3:00pm

Review: Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson

Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson is the 19th book in the Gaslight Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel.

Murder in Morningside Heights is the 1st book I’ve read in the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson, but I was able to jump into this series with no problem. Despite being the 19th book in the series, it reads successfully as a standalone, and I never felt lost as can happen with certain series if you do not read them in order. 

I was surprised to learn that the 1st book in this series was published in 1999. If I had found this series earlier, I would have loved to follow along. It's like getting a peek into life at the turn of the 20th century, which is fascinating. The setting was perfect—from the period clothing to the mannerisms and the political climate—and the cast of characters is wonderful and varied, representing the different levels of society.

The book follows Frank Malloy—a former police sergeant and current private detective—and his wife Sarah—a former midwife that now assists him with cases. The Northrups, a wealthy couple who are seeking assistance in solving their daughter Abigail’s recent murder, contact Frank.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Murder in Morningside Heights...]

Fri
Mar 24 2017 1:00pm

Review: Baker Street Irregulars, Edited by Michael A. Ventrella & Jonathan Maberry

Baker Street Irregulars, edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry, features thirteen authors—including Gail Z. Martin, David Gerrold, and Jonathan Maberry—who come together to pen short stories innovating Sherlock Holmes, adapting and revolutionizing the iconic character.

Baker Street Irregulars is a collection of stories about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his universe. But these are not your typical Sherlock stories; they have the genius hero in all guises and forms. In one he is a parrot, another he’s an automaton. There’s Sherlock as a reality TV show host, and a dog from outer space. And there’s many more to offer in this anthology edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry. I’m going to highlight just a few of the fantastic stories contained within, but I highly recommend grabbing a copy for yourself for a fun evening along with Sherlock and Watson.

In “Identity” by Keith R. A. DeCandido, Sherlock is a young lady, Shirley Holmes, whose aunt is looking for a companion to be with her as her parents are gone. Watson is a medical doctor in training who had previously served in Afghanistan. He’s looking for a cheap housing situation when Holmes’s aunt enters the picture offering free room and board in a swanky Manhattan townhouse in exchange for looking after Shirley.

We quickly learn Shirley doesn’t really need or want a companion, and we also learn that Shirley has frequent clients who come to her for help in solving mysteries. When Watson sits in on a case, he shows that he can be helpful, and a team is born.

Shirley is classic Sherlock with a modern twist, as seen in one of her spills here:

But getting a free room in this house and not having to put up with her bullshit? “I’ll gladly accept, Mrs. Hudson.”

She frowned again. “Don’t be stupid, my name isn’t Ms. Hudson. Aunt Martha is my mother’s sister, and she committed the barbaric act of changing her name to that of her husband when she married, and kept it following his death. That practice derives from an era when women were considered to be the property of their spouses and so subsumed their birth names for that of the husband. That is no longer the case, so I do not comprehend why women continue to engage in the idiotic practice. In any event, I would properly be identified as “Ms. Holmes,” which is my father’s last name—and my mother’s, actually, as she also underwent the barbaric practice. However, you may address me by my first name of Shirley.”

This one was a favorite.

“The Adventure of the Reluctant Detective” by Ryk Spoor is a very, very interesting entry. Written in the vein of the classic Sherlock tales, this is one of the longer entries. I really enjoyed the ambiance and setting, along with the classic relationship between Sherlock and Watson. It is a tale of ghosts and the supernatural, which instantly makes it one to grab my attention. The supernatural shakes Sherlock up when he cannot disprove it.

Holmes regarded me with mild astonishment, but said nothing. Slowly his expression shifted to the contemplative, and—at last—a faint but genuine smile appeared on his lips. “Ah, Watson. Once more you are the unchangeable rock to which I can anchor. If a ghost exists—and I have been given inarguable proof of this, before my own eyes, under conditions that I do not believe admit of any trickery—then it is—must be—natural for it to exist. Things that are real are, by that very fact, natural. They may not be what we desire to be real, but the fact that our desires cannot change them is what shows them to be true and real.”

This is the ultimate mystery for Sherlock.

“A Scandal in the Bloodline” by Hildy Silverman is a really fun story! Sherlock is a vampire, and Watson is a werewolf. Does it get any better than that? When Sherlock is visited by his maker, he and Watson must help her find her husband, the originator of their bloodline, who has been kidnapped and is in danger. If he dies, so would Sherlock and the others in his bloodline. The stakes are high (oh the puns).

Also, there is a great fight scene that really keeps this story moving. Sherlock is having an existential crisis given that he’s lived for so long and seen so many technological advancements.

“When were we even last employed?” He rose and began to pace the length of the dining area in our modest flat. “I swear I can feel my mind atrophying. In this age of world wide webs and CSIs, FBIs, and so forth there is precious little need for a great detective.” He paused in front of me and for a moment looked so downcast my heart ached on his behalf. “This is my true curse, Watson, more than the bloodthirst. I have outlived my usefulness.”

I loved the supernatural element and the lighthearted feel to this one.

“The Scarlet Study” by Jim Avelli reminded me of the current Sherlock TV show, except it's set in a dystopian landscape. Also, the old movie They Live is brought to mind by way of a parallel plot, as the population is being controlled by big pharma through mind-altering chemicals. Everyone is required to take meds that are catered to their positions. These drugs are not questioned, except for by a few conspiracy theorists such as Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft.

When Irene Adler, Sherlock’s ex-wife, is murdered, she leaves Sherlock a note along with a mystery pill labeled “Scarlett.” Sherlock takes it and becomes the sleuthing detective we all know. It’s an interesting premise, having a future where the government controls the populace’s thoughts and actions by way of mandatory medicine. 1984 also comes to mind.

Irene’s personal notes about the project included some information about enhancers in other markets as well. Trivalia was listed as a “strength and endurance booster” for the labor market with “cognition-damping” effects. Roburall, meant for police and private security, was shown to enhance “speed of thought, reaction time, and physical dexterity, while hindering a person’s will to question instructions.” The list that followed was a wide range of scripts that were marketed to employers, all of whom required their workforces to participate. Scarlett, Holmes found, was still in the testing phase. The drug was meant for the use of British intelligence or the GCHQ, American CIA, and intelligence contractors of the big multinationals. “Cognitive and deductive” effects were stitched into a cocktail of other stimulants to form a physical and mental toolkit for the military elite. It had only just been approved for human trials.

Wow, author and editor Jonathan Maberry wrote a wonderful story with “The Hammer of God.” He did not use Sherlock in the more conventional way, like many of the other stories. Instead, the main characters are two nuns, Mother Frey and Sister Miri. They are a part of the Office of Miracles. Mother Frey, the elder of the two, is teaching Miri her ways in the art of deduction to solve what mysteries other agencies cannot. I couldn’t help noticing the X-Files-vibe to their work in that they are not trying to prove miracles, but instead disprove them—much like Scully was tasked to do in the beginning of the show.

Here, they must figure out the cause of a string of strange deaths that have been attributed to the “hand of god.” This supernatural explanation does not satisfy Mother Frey, and through deduction she comes to a shocking conclusion.

On a side note, another fascinating element in this story is the hand of god itself. It intrigued me so much that I had to look up the evolution of the modern gun. Connecting an ancient fire lance to a cannon to a gun was a fun bit of research.

Is Miri, the narrator, supposed to be Sherlock with her higher education and prior life experience, or is she supposed to be Watson who is following Frey and learning the ways? Or, is it Frey as Sherlock with her obvious gift of deduction as Miri’s mentor? I can’t make up my mind. Either way, this is easily one of the best stories in the anthology.

“Why should priests be afraid of something that targets the wicked? Shouldn’t it be the guilty, the sinners who need fear?”

She looked at me strangely. “That is exactly why the men of power are afraid, my girl.”

“What do you mean?”

“They fear the wrath of the gods. They fear punishment. They believe that this man and the others have been struck down by something beyond the understanding of men. In the report forwarded to the Office by the council of priests they described these murders in an odd and telling way. They said that they believe the victims were struck down by the hammer of god.”

“Which god?”

“No,” she said, “that is not the question we should ask. It is not which god that need concern us. We must ask ourselves which hammer.”

I really enjoyed this collection. Diverse and super creative, they all bring a new spin on the classic Sherlock universe. Fans might like this break from the norm and fresh take on the old.

Read an excerpt from Baker Street Irregulars!

 

To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at iTunes

Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Amazon

 

 


Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter @akeller9.

Wed
Mar 8 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror by John Llewellyn Probert & Stephen Jones

The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror by John Llewellyn Probert & Stephen Jones is the 1st novel in a new series following the exploits of a secret organization dedicated to battling the eldritch monstrosities given form in H. P. Lovecraft's fevered imagination.

Zombies and Cthulhu—need I say more? This novel takes elements from the Zombie Apocalypse! series and weaves them expertly with elements from the H.P. Lovecraft mythos to bring us an energetic and detailed view of a world teetering on the brink of destruction by way of the eldritch gods.

Written by author John Llewellyn Probert and created by Stephen Jones comes the tale of a secret organization, the Human Protection League, tasked with the monitoring and dealing with of Cthulhu and his accompanying monsters. Bob Chambers—who works for the department inside the HPL titled the Cthulhu Investigation Division, aka The Lovecraft Squad—has been sent abroad to Britain where a suspicious report in a local newspaper has raised some eyebrows. Two mischievous teens stumbled upon some old bones and a mysterious clay pot that happened to be found at the birthplace of author H.G. Wells. The bones had the surprising effect of causing insanity on those who had accessed them. Chambers is called upon to find out the cause, and it quickly spirals from here.

[Read Amber Keller's review of The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror...]

Fri
Feb 10 2017 2:30pm

Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley ArmstrongA Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong is the 2nd book in the Casey Duncan series.

Author Kelley Armstrong delivers a gripping tale of mystery and survival in a harsh, unforgiving environment where a killer is on the loose. In this 2nd installment in the Casey Duncan series, we are back in Rockton—the secret, off-the-grid town made for those on the run from their pasts. Casey, once again, must find a killer in the wilds of Yukon, Canada.

Armstrong keeps the pacing at top speed with short chapters and hooks to pull the reader along. Before I knew it, I was well past the halfway point, although it didn’t feel like I had been reading long at all. I am a fan of short chapters and find that they serve their purpose well here. Armstrong also keeps the story flowing by adding depth and complication to the mystery as it deepens. Add in a compelling cast of characters and you’ve got great storytelling.

Casey is a very intriguing character by herself. She’s strong, petite, and can kick some series ass by way of her martial arts training. But she also has her share of faults and a muddied past. All of these things come together to make her a strong female lead.

[Read Amber Keller's review of A Darkness Absolute...]

Thu
Jan 26 2017 2:00pm

Review: Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Amber Keller reviews #36, Calculated in Death.

The 36th book in this series is a complicated whodunit embroiled in the world of big money and even bigger egos. Add in a little Hollywood by way of a much anticipated movie premiere, and you have the perfect formula for an Eve Dallas saga.

Set in a cold, futuristic November in Manhattan, it begins with the truly upsetting murder of a young accountant and, more importantly, mother and wife. The tragedy is only at the surface of what quickly becomes a very complicated plot, and Lieutenant Eve Dallas is determined to find out the how and why.

We have the usual elements in place, including Eve and Roarke’s amazing relationship. She spends many a night and day at her job, but Roarke—being the world’s most understanding spouse that he is—not only obliges, but even helps her occasionally. Eve’s commitment to her job, sometimes at the expense of her relationship, is something she’s aware of, as pointed out by her own thoughts here:

[Read Amber Keller's review of Calculated in Death...]

Mon
Jan 16 2017 2:00pm

Review: Promises in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Amber Keller reviews #28, Promises in Death.

In a more solemn entry in the series, book number 28, Promises in Death, sees a fellow cop at the New York Police and Security Department murdered.

Now, Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no stranger to death, or even death that hits close to home, but when it’s one of her own, it changes the game. Amaryllis Coltraine—a recent transfer to the department from Atlanta, Georgia—falls victim to homicide. Her death shakes up the force, and seeing that she is the girlfriend of Dallas’s good friend and fellow co-worker, the Chief Medical Examiner Morris, she makes it her mission to find out who killed her.

The investigation does not come easy, and Dallas struggles to fit the pieces together. Along the way, we have the added benefit of classic scenes involving Dallas and Roarke to carry us through this tragedy as she figures out the killer. Their interactions are always a favorite for me, as they bring a necessary element out of Dallas. She seems so hard-assed and hellbent on solving crimes that it can be easy to forget there’s a loving side to her, as well. We learn more about Dallas during her times with Roarke than we do watching her at her job, which she’s brilliant at. Also, their relationship is truly one for the records. The love they have for each other seems to be endless, and Roarke’s support and even participation in Dallas’s job goes above and beyond.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Promises in Death...]

Fri
Jan 6 2017 3:30pm

Dear Mulder & Scully: New Year, New You

This week's guest columnist are FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dr. Dana Scully, who—I want to believe—keep each other “balanced.” 


Dear Mulder and Scully,

I've been thinking about making some New Year’s resolutions. Do you guys recommend that I take part in this time honored tradition?

Signed,

—Auld Lang Syne

[Read Mulder & Scully's advice!]

Tue
Jan 3 2017 2:00pm

Review: Visions in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Amber Keller reviews #19, Visions in Death.

The 19th book in the In Death series has Lieutenant Eve Dallas searching for one twisted murderer.

It’s just another day in the life of Eve Dallas when the chaotic monotony is broken by a horrific crime. A woman’s body is found brutally beaten, raped, and missing the eyes. Soon after, another death with the same MO is discovered. The nature of these crimes dredge up terrible memories for Dallas, and she must face them while she hunts for the killer before he can strike again.

Dallas is known for her strength and abilities, all wrapped up in a tiny package. But she’s even stronger than most realize, and she’s got some major demons in her past. She’s almost as well known for her ruthless capabilities as she is for being married to high-society Roarke.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Visions in Death...]

Sat
Dec 24 2016 4:00pm

A Donna Andrews Christmas!

Donna Andrews’s first novel, Murder with Peacocks, was published in 1999, beginning her critically acclaimed series of Meg Langslow murder mysteries. The book garnered her the coveted Agatha Award, opening the door for her to expand on Meg’s story—one about an amateur detective that is a blacksmith by day set in Caerphilly, Virginia—and Andrews hasn’t stopped producing. Since then, she’s written more than twenty novels, including the on-going Langslow series, which is a favorite of mine.

But it's her Christmas mysteries that keep me coming back. And on Christmas Eve, what better time to stock up on three perfect Christmas cozies? 

[Have a Merry Meg Langslow Christmas!]

Tue
Nov 15 2016 12:00pm

Review: Desolation Flats by Andrew Hunt

Desolation Flats by Andrew HuntDesolation Flats by Andrew Hunt is book #3 in the Art Oveson Mystery series (Available November 15, 2016).

I went into this story not really knowing what to expect. Set in Salt Lake City, Utah and with a Mormon main character, I knew I hadn’t read anything like it before. The idea was equal parts intriguing and completely unknown territory for me. What I would soon find out was that it was something I would thoroughly enjoy—and even want more of.

The year is 1938, and land speed racing is the event. The main character, Art Oveson, is a police detective with the Salt Lake City Police Department Missing Persons Bureau. A devout Mormon, Oveson is a family man with a wife and three children.

His wife, Clara, has been diagnosed with “melancholia” since she gave birth to their last child; a diagnosis she also experienced with a previous pregnancy. Of course, we know this today as probably being a form of postpartum depression, which the author portrays well. Clara might also be dealing with a more general form of depression, too, since she caved in to pressure from family and church members to quit her teaching job, which had provided her with satisfaction and great pleasure.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Desolation Flats...]

Mon
Nov 7 2016 1:00pm

Review: The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby

The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen CrosbyThe Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby is the 7th book in the Wine Country Mysteries series.

From the first stunning description of a breath-taking, vintage flapper dress, I was hooked. This is the seventh book in the Wine Country Mysteries series. The author, Ellen Crosby, has a fascinating background, having been a reporter for The Washington Post, a Moscow correspondent for ABC News Radio, and an economist at the U.S. Senate. Given her vast experience, it’s no surprise her writing is so polished and elaborate.

This is an impeccable tale, rich with characters, setting, and plot. Even though it is set in modern times, it revolves around modern ties to the Roaring Twenties and the extravagant and exciting lifestyles of many well-to-do individuals—including former president Warren Harding. The story begins with the dress mentioned above and the magic it carries.

[Read Amber Keller's review of The Champagne Conspiracy...]

Fri
Nov 4 2016 12:00pm

Dear Mulder & Scully: Someone to Cher Your Life With

This week's guest columnist are FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dr. Dana Scully, who—I want to believe—keep each other “balanced.” 


Dear Mulder and Scully,

You are not going to believe what I have to tell you. I’m not sure I believe it myself, but here goes: My close friend, let’s call her Mary, came to me with a wild tale. She had recently moved back to town into her childhood home after her parents died.

Let start with a little backstory on Mary: She’s a loner. She works from her home and doesn’t leave the house, like ever. She’s … eccentric you might say. Also, she’s a virgin. I know, TMI, but it’s relevant to the story. How do I know this? Because I’m her best friend—her only friend. We grew up together. I lived a couple of houses down from her, but I have since moved across town.

When Mary moved back here, she started complaining of these strange dreams she was having—there would be times where she would sleep for days. In these dreams, she would see a misshapen person in her house. These dreams were, well, decidedly more steamy than I care to share with you, but you get the picture. Another strange thing about these dreams is that she said Cher was always playing in the background. Mary doesn’t listen to Cher and never has. 

Besides the excessive sleeping, she started getting sick. I didn’t know what to make of it, so I encouraged her to see a doctor. When she finally did, they discovered she was pregnant. Pregnant! She’s never been with a man. I don’t know a lot about immaculate conception, and barring one of those trashy talk shows like Jerry Springer, I didn’t know who else to go to with this.

Signed,

Friend of the Virgin Mary

[Read Mulder & Scully's advice!]

Thu
Nov 3 2016 12:00pm

Review: Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn

Inherit the Bones by Emily LittlejohnInherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn is a debut novel and the 1st book in the Detective Gemma Monroe series.

In her debut novel Inherit the Bones, author Emily Littlejohn brings us a tale of quaint hometown life interspersed with a decades-old murder revisited by way of a new dead body. Detective Gemma Monroe is tasked with solving this fresh homicide, and she quickly figures out that it is tied to an old unsolved case somehow. It’s her job to decipher the clues, all the while keeping herself and her unborn daughter safe at the same time.

The setting is the gorgeous mountains of Colorado during the summer. It really is a beautiful landscape, and Littlejohn does it justice by allowing us a glimpse into this world. When Gemma stumbles upon a skull during a ski trip a few years ago with her boyfriend, it unearths an old unsolved murder that the town had tried to bury. She begins to have prophetic dreams of the two child victims she has found. In these dreams, she also sees a mysterious, ominous figure—the Woodsman, who was believed to have been the murderer. With no clear leads when the two boys went missing almost forty years ago, the case disappeared into old memories. With Gemma’s discovery, it’s all forced back into everyone’s minds once again.

[Read Amber Keller's review of Inherit the Bones...]