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From The Blog
September 26, 2017
Q&A with Joe R. Lansdale, Author of Paradise Sky
Joe R. Lansdale and John Valeri
September 25, 2017
Q&A with Liz Mugavero, Author of Purring Around the Christmas Tree
Liz Mugavero and John Valeri
September 22, 2017
Drunk Man Calls 911 for Lift Home
Teddy Pierson
September 22, 2017
Video: M. C. Beaton Discusses The Witches' Tree
M. C. Beaton
September 21, 2017
Adventures in Research, Part III: Killing Pace
Douglas Schofield
Showing posts by: Dirk Robertson click to see Dirk Robertson's profile
Wed
Aug 16 2017 1:00pm

Review: Dead Heat by Allison Brennan

Dead Heat by Allison Brennan is the eighth Lucy Kincaid novel, where Agent Kincaid must risk her life and her career to try and bring down a crime lord's empire.

It’s San Antonio, Texas, and it’s hot—but the weather isn’t the only thing heating up. An operation is underway to round up known felons and give them what many believe they have coming to them: justice. Cold, sharp, and mean. Operation Heatwave sees more than 150 police officers and federal agents working together. They intend to serve active warrants to the violent criminals at large. 

FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid of the Violent Crimes Squad is delighted to have been chosen to participate and contribute to bringing these people in and neutralizing their web of criminal activities. Her partner is Ryan Quiroz. A Houston cop prior to joining the FBI, he reminds Agent Kincaid of her hot-headed and arrogant brother. But Quiroz is sharp and popular, and she knows she can learn a lot from him. 

The two are after the Sanchez brothers, Jaime and George. Armed and dangerous, they are believed to be staying with their sister. When the team pulls up to the Sanchez sister’s house with warrants, they find her, some young children, and George, who is climbing out of the back window. He doesn’t get far. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Dead Heat...]

Thu
Aug 10 2017 3:00pm

Review: Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn

Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn is a Western horror novel that James Demonaco (screenwriter and director of The Purge series) calls “The Revenant with witches.”

Nebraska, 1859. Li Lian is pregnant with Dr. Matthew Callaghan’s baby. All seems well, as a future with their little family awaits them. But life doesn’t always cater to happiness.

Three men come in the night and shoot the doctor dead in front of the still pregnant Li Lian. As they ride off into the night, a desire for vengeance begins to fester inside her, and she knows it will grow like a sore that will consume her until retribution is hers. But what the riders don’t know is that Li Lian comes from a long line of powerful witches, and she won’t stop until she finds them.

The problem is that the town folk believe she is responsible for the wrongdoings and lock her up. She is alone, in great danger, and incapable of seeking revenge until she escapes. But assistance and support comes—as it so often does—from a completely unexpected source. So she finds herself on a path to the Badlands with a companion she would neither have chosen nor entertained to assist her in her task of vengeance.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Devil's Call...]

Mon
Jul 31 2017 4:00pm

Review: Beyond Absolution by Cora Harrison

Beyond Absolutionby Cora Harrison is the third book in the Reverend Mother Mystery series (available August 1, 2017).

Father Dominic is in the confessional stall at the Holy Trinity Church. The queue has gone, but the light that remains on suggests Father Dominic is still inside. And he is—only he’s dead thanks to being stabbed in the ear, possibly with a narrow, fine-bladed stiletto. The intrigue builds immediately as Father Lawrence discovers Father Dominic’s body. Brothers in Christ, absolutely, but Father Lawrence and Father Dominic were also brothers in blood.

The mystery of why anyone would want Father Dominic dead grips the city of Cork, and speculation is rife on both sides of the religious persuasions that make up this Irish city. It is the 1920s, and the Irish Republican Army is making its mark on behalf of the Catholics it believes it is protecting from those who would do the community harm. The IRA is blamed for many of the events that don’t have a clear perpetrator, but what, if anything, could the Republicans have to benefit from the cruel murder of Father Dominic.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Beyond Absolution...]

Mon
Jul 24 2017 4:30pm

Review: The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal

The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal is a dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.

When you are a receptionist and research assistant for a private investigator and his award-winning journalist partner, one could assume life would be straightforward and simple. But that’s not the case for Nora Watts, mostly because she is neither. She lives in the basement underneath her place of work, unknown to her employers. This means she has no rent to pay and, more importantly, no one can find her. She does the finding.

Her numerous skills, intuition, and contacts in various places means she is more than just an assistant or researcher. But Nora has a history that’s dark, toxic, and full of turmoil, which often leads her to find solace at the bottom of a bottle. Though she seeks out a support group and connects with a mentor, Nora’s only real companion is a dog named Whisper. Whisper shares Nora’s life, a life that gets more complicated and deadly by the page.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Lost Ones...]

Mon
Jul 3 2017 4:30pm

Review: A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly is the 15th book in the Charlie Parker series (available July 4, 2017).

It’s winter in Portland, and there is no sign of the cold letting up. Charlie Parker is hunched up against the freezing temperatures as he walks through the streets. Old injuries from a hard life spent are shown little kindness by the plunging mercury. February did not cause the aching wounds, but it is not helping. 

Parker has a meeting with his boss, Edgar Ross, in a bar. It is not a place he would have picked, but it is warm and the food is good. Charlie Parker does not work directly for the FBI. Edgar Ross does, however, and he has a job for the private investigator. 

Jaycob Eklund is a private detective with an interest in the paranormal who’s gone missing. Parker is not familiar with him, but Ross wants him found. It is not really a request—the monthly stipend from the FBI means that when Ross snaps his fingers, he expects Parker to jump. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of A Game of Ghosts...]

Mon
Jun 12 2017 5:00pm

Review: Knife Creek by Paul Doiron

Knife Creek by Paul Doiron is the 8th book in the Mike Bowditch Mystery series.

Mike Bowditch works for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife along with his partner, Stacy. They could both do with some changes in their lives, as there are a few demons flying around that are holding them back. However, there is little time to dwell on issues from the past as they are hunting feral pigs as part of their official duties for the department. The wild boar’s population spiked into the millions down south, and now they are heading north where they are very unwelcome.

It is dangerous work—wild boars are heavy, quick, agile, and very fierce, with tusks you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of. Though neither Bowditch nor Stacy have ever shot a wild boar before, there is a first time for everything. While looking down the sight of his AR-15 at two menacing adult boars, they both drop dead—but he never fired a shot. Stacy killed them both, which is unlike her. But Stacy has not been herself lately.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Knife Creek...]

Tue
May 30 2017 3:30pm

Review: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Dark Zone by George Galdorisi & Jeff Rovin

Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Dark Zone by George Galdorisi, Jeff RovinIn Dark Zone, a race-to-the-finish thriller in the New York Times-bestselling Tom Clancy's Op-Center series, the brutal murder of an undercover agent reveals a plot to incite a full-fledged war between Russia and Ukraine.

Dark Zone is a tight, fierce thriller that jumps straight into the action from page one. Former ambassador Douglas Flannery is near New York’s South Street Seaport watching the sunlight dance on the East River—but he is not alone. The two know each other from another place, but this meeting is less about reconnecting and more about certain information that could be of great interest to the American government. Most of it has to do with the hotbed that is Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea. 

But Flannery and friend are not the only ones starting their day with a purpose. A Russian is in New York to kill. A successful and efficient assassin, he gets things done and finishes them his way. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Dark Zone...]

Thu
May 25 2017 12:00pm

Review: Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills

Set against a terrific backdrop of Europe on the cusp of the Second World War, Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills is a compelling novel, rich in adventure, espionage, secrets, and lies (available May 30, 2017). 

The dust of war is spreading across a divided Europe in 1937. A late night visit to an orphanage by a man with dark deeds on his mind sets the scene for Where Dead Men Meet. Mark Mills writes in a very composed and concise way, which allows the characters to unfold in an extremely untroubled fashion. Yet despite the slick, sophisticated style, there is still a grittiness in the narrative that ensures all palates will be satisfied. 

The balance he achieves in his writing results in a thriller that takes you back to the smoke and mirrors of the years leading up to the Second World War. Luke Hamilton, a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy, receives a letter from his father. Bad news awaits him as he slits the envelope open. But this is just the start of a rollercoaster ride for the young Hamilton as he tries to stay one step ahead of those who would do him harm.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Where Dead Men Meet...]

Tue
May 16 2017 11:00am

Review: Price of Duty by Dale Brown

Price of Duty by Dale Brown is the 21st book in the Patrick McLanahan series, where the U.S. and its Western allies come under a diabolical Russian cyber warfare attack in this action-packed military techno-thriller.

The New York Times-bestselling author of Iron Wolf has come out with a scorcher in Price of Duty. The President of Russia, Gennadiy Gryzlov, is up to no good. In the best tradition of the coldest of wars with the heat turned up, he is planning a mess of trouble for Poland. He is looking to gain the upper hand and stick it to the West, good and proper.

A series of underground bases are built to house a fearsome weapon bristling with cyber technology, which starts to wreak havoc on the long-suffering Polish population. A web of intricate plots and subplots are designed to throw many off the scent, but few people believe anyone other than the Russians are responsible for the cyber attacks on the Polish banks, the crippling of Europe’s power grids, and the sickening assault on a commercial airliner.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Price of Duty...]

Tue
May 9 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Girl on the Bridge by James Hayman

The Girl on the Bridge by James Hayman is the latest McCabe and Savage thriller, involving a case of retributive vigilante justice against a group who gang raped a girl at a party twelve years prior.

Joshua Thorne is a highly successful Wall Street mover and shaker. Money coming out of his ears, suits costing more than some automobiles, and one arm probably longer than the other on account of the gold-dripping timepiece welded to his wrist thanks to one bonus after another. The same bonuses have resulted in a swanky New York home with views of Manhattan guaranteed to take your breath away. What can possibly go wrong? 

Nothing ... so long as he finishes his drink at the bar in Portland, Maine, goes back to his hotel, tucks himself into bed, and drifts off to sleep to dream of more money. Instead, he buys a drink for a young woman in the bar who seems to share his taste in expensive wrist watches. Before he knows it, he finds himself strapped to a filthy old bed, naked, and in deep trouble. It is clear that his “date” has neither fun and games nor a discussion about the finer points of Swiss watchmaking in mind. Unlike credit card companies, karma doesn’t need a forwarding address.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Girl on the Bridge...]

Wed
Apr 19 2017 3:00pm

Review: Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron

Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron is the 2nd book in the Cajun Country Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel.

Ellen Byron takes us to Louisiana for this Cajun Country mystery. Maggie Crozat’s long and distant relatives used to own the Doucet Plantation. Now, it’s the Crozat Plantation Bed and Breakfast, where tourists come for a glimpse of the past and a taste of the present. Maggie is busy planning a wedding. Her co-worker Vanessa Fleer is getting married to Police Chief Rufus Durand. It seems the town of Pelican will be greeting a new resident soon, as Vanessa is pregnant, making the speedy arrangement of the nuptials something everyone seems to have a vested interest in. 

Vanessa, though in love with the Chief, is a little worried about his willingness to contribute child support should the marriage fail, so she makes him sign a legal document just in case. Practicality in a realistic world. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Body on the Bayou...]

Thu
Apr 13 2017 12:00pm

Review: Convicting Avery by Michael D. Cicchini

Convicting Avery: The Bizarre Laws and Broken System behind “Making a Murderer” by Michael D. Cicchini is an unsettling book that gives facts and insights beyond those presented in the documentary and leaves you wondering whether the constitutional right to a fair trial is actually guaranteed where you live.

This gripping and riveting book covers the three court cases featured in the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, but that is its only connection. 

In Convicting Avery, Michael B. Cicchini, J.D., brings all his experience and knowledge as a defense attorney to the page in his analysis and overview of the case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey. The two were convicted of the murder of young photographer Teresa Halbach just two years after Steven Avery was released from prison after serving a sentence for the rape and beating of Penny Beerntsen in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Avery had been charged in 1985 and spent 18 years in prison before DNA evidence proved he could not have been the perpetrator. He was in the process of seeking millions of dollars in compensation for wrongful imprisonment when Teresa Halbach was murdered.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Convicting Avery...]

Wed
Apr 12 2017 3:00pm

Review: The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn

The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn is the 1st book in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. 

Stonedale University, southwest of Denver, offers a liberal arts education to high-quality students. Cynics would suggest it is actually a school where people who have not managed to scrape into the Ivy League can lick their wounds and obtain qualifications that reflect their exceptional abilities.  

Dr. Lila Maclean has been hired to teach American literature, planning an odd Gothic course along the way. She ruffles feathers in the academic hierarchy immediately, as it’s perceived she is going to be concentrating on mysteries. The debate takes a real and unexpected turn when an unfortunate individual discovers a body in the library that has been stabbed with a dagger. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Semester of Our Discontent...]

Mon
Apr 10 2017 1:00pm

Review: Dodgers by Bill Beverly

Dodgers by Bill Beverly is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that is written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit. It is nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

Los Angeles is the only place East knows. It is his home. It is where he leads his life as a young gang member. A life all about beatings, drugs, and money, the giving and taking of all three, and managing to stay alive from one day to the next. His uncle Fin—a man who does not entertain the word no—orders him to go on a journey to Wisconsin with three other young gang members to kill a man. A man who has legal evidence that could be very harmful to Fin if he were to remain alive. 

The four young men assigned the grisly task are: Michael Wilson, all shades and laughter; Walter, fat and shaped like a pumpkin; the aforementioned East; and his younger, extremely volatile brother, Ty. But journeys such as these can make you realize what you never had:

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Dodgers...]

Wed
Apr 5 2017 3:00pm

Review: Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell

Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell is the 1st book in the Quaker Midwife Mystery series, nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel.

Life is rewarding for Rose Carroll. A midwife in Amesbury, Massachusetts, she provides care and support for newly born babies and mothers. But life is also challenging, as Rose is struggling to deal with the grief of recently losing her sister.

The year is 1888, and Rose goes about her duties and life adhering to her Quaker beliefs. A fire, which has some unexplained aspects, raises suspicions that all is not well in the community. Any doubt of that is wiped out when it is followed by two murders.

Rose has a natural nose for what is wrong and what is right as well as a very strong desire for justice. Taking advice from her neighbors and friends—amongst whom is the famous Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier—Rose seeks answers to the questions relating to the untimely deaths. She puts her skills as a spiritual and practical adviser and her natural penchant for solving problems to great use in this well-written, period crime thriller from the pen of Edith Maxwell. The characters come to life with great realism and resonance, as they are woven into the fabric of what is a very well-crafted historical novel. Delivering the Truth also delivers all the right ingredients of a proper crime thriller, including a detective of great fortitude: Rose Carroll. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Delivering the Truth...]

Mon
Apr 3 2017 1:00pm

Review: Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty

Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty is the 5th novel in the Detective Sean Duffy series, nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original.

Carrickfergus Castle is witness to what seems to be the sad suicide of yet another lost soul. No one really knows why someone would take their own life. Death, when visited on others, seems to make everyone else an expert about the surroundings or the circumstances preceding the departed person’s demise—whether at their own hand or that of the cold fingers of fate reaching out for them to say their time has come. 

If the Castle knows the true facts surrounding the death, it is not giving them up to Detective Inspector Sean Duffy, who has left the warmth of his house on Coronation Road in Belfast’s Victoria Estate to tidy up the death scene. Something is not right—apart from the foul weather Northern Ireland serves up in copious amounts—in this top-class thriller. The death has too many strange aspects to it to be a straightforward suicide. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Rain Dogs...]

Fri
Mar 10 2017 4:00pm

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh is a page-turning tale of murder, subversion, and vice in which a female medical student in Victorian Edinburgh is drawn into a murder investigation when she recognizes one of the corpses in her anatomy lecture.

A prostitute is murdered in late-nineteenth-century Edinburgh, and no one cares. The early demise of a woman of ill repute is of no concern to the Scottish capital’s society, high or low. No one, that is, apart from Miss Sarah Gilchrist, who is studying at the University of Edinburgh’s medical school. 

The year is 1882, and it’s the first time women have been allowed admission to the school. Sarah is studying to be a doctor despite stern opposition from her family, the establishment, and society in general. This is a time when women are deemed inferior to men, and the behavior of men—in public and private—reflects this in many different ways. Brothels, where fallen women ply their trade, are sneered at and whispered about, yet the veil of double standards—which knows no bounds—is thrown over these establishments so members of the higher echelons of society can avail themselves of the wares, safe from people they consider nosy liberals or those with prying eyes. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of The Wages of Sin...]

Tue
Feb 21 2017 2:00pm

Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See You by Clare Mackintosh is a dark and claustrophobic thriller in which a normal, everyday woman becomes trapped in the confines of her normal, everyday world.

If you happen upon the personal ads while reading the newspaper, there are plenty of things you might expect to see—a photo of yourself is probably not one of them. Zoe Walker is confronted with a photograph of herself in the classified ads under FindTheOne.com. She calls the number listed to see if she can shed some light on the matter, but it’s dead. She just wants to know how her photo got there, and—more importantly—why. Like all of us, Zoe wants some answers.

However, seeking them takes her on a very dangerous journey, as other women with photographs on the site are becoming victims of violent crimes. A new woman and a new victim each day.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of I See You...]

Thu
Feb 9 2017 5:30pm

Review: Long Time Lost by Chris Ewan

Long Time Lost by Chris EwanChris Ewan's Long Time Lost is a fast-paced, standalone thriller.

Long Time Lost is a very sharp, finely-crafted thriller from page one. To kick off the story, Chris Ewan takes us to the Isle of Man where Nick Miller provides an unusual product to his customers. He and his colleagues specialize in relocating at-risk individuals, providing new identities and new lives for those who want to disappear and start over. 

The tension and rhythm of this thriller start from the very beginning and don’t let up. Nick is exceptionally good at what he does—and for good reason. He himself has been in hiding, living under an assumed name for years. Nothing like personal experience to make you a top-class provider who knows what the customer desires in order to satisfy the contract. 

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Long Time Lost...]

Wed
Feb 8 2017 2:00pm

Review: Under the Knife by Kelly Parsons

Under the Knife by Kelly ParsonsUnder the Knife by Kelly Parsons is a heart-pounding medical thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats up to the very last page.

Morgan Finney has made a lot of money from biotechnology. However, the brilliance he exhibits in his business is not reflected in his personal life. Inherent shyness and a debilitating inability to connect with people could have condemned him to a life of luxury bereft of human contact. But he managed to find a wife, Jenny, through whom he manages some sort of semblance of normalcy with his fellow human beings. She really is his everything.

But financial resources mean nothing when it comes to the cruel hand of fate, dealing death and misery without prejudice. Nothing Finney can do can stop the death of his beloved wife under the surgeon’s knife. The medical team does their best, but fate steps in and plucks Jenny away from the loving arms of the loner who relied on her completely for any sense of direction and connection to the human life.

[Read Dirk Robertson's review of Under the Knife...]