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Monday, September 29, 2014

Review - Angel Killer

I did an author spotlight a few days ago for this blog tour and book (click here.)  Here is my overdue review, plus I will have another review on Thursday as I catch-up on my reading schedule.  This is the first book in a new thriller series featuring a talented magician turned FBI agent.  Think the Mentalist with a touch of Criminal Minds mixed with The Magician TV series starring Bill Bixby from the 70s...but how does that mixture work?  I'll tell you.

Author: Andrew Mayne

Copyright: September 2014 (Berkley) 368 pgs

Series: 1st in Jessica Blackwood Thriller series

Sensuality: Serial Killer deaths

Mystery Sub-genre: Thriller / Suspense / Police Procedural

Main Characters: Jessica Blackwood, FBI agent and former Magician star

Setting: Modern day, sites across the United States

Obtained Through: TLC Blog Tours

The FBI computers have been redirected to a site with a series of numbers and the name "Warlock".  The techy people figure out it is encoded GPS coordinates leading to a body.  Dr. Jeffrey Ailes recruits Jessica suddenly for her unique magician skills from her past and effectively pushes her upon the lead agent on the case.  This isn't any typical murder.  

Chloe McDonald was buried two years ago, but thanks to the coordinates, they find Chloe only a few hours dead appearing to have been brought back to life and climbing out of her grave only to die again.  Jessica and the D.C. team race to the Michigan site and only Jessica has the background to really understand the level of slight-of-hand involved. It quickly becomes clear that more will die in the Warlock's staged illusions that quickly has the public believing he is really supernatural.  Besides solving the murders and unveiling who this murderer is, she must debunk his staged kills to dispel his growing following.

Jessica is a child magician prodigy from a magic royalty family that is beyond dysfunctional.  She makes a complex and layered main character to sustain the action.  I am an instant fan of her!  Damian is Jessica's self-appointed guardian angel, former lover, and a psychopath who is a little too convenient to save her from danger of all kinds or clear road blocks for her investigation.  He knows too much about the Warlock, his methods, even Jessica's movements, and is the only glaring weak link in the plot.  Conversely, he is the ultimate anti-hero on many levels and this character,
if not careful, can easily become the "Dexter-esque" star of the novels rather than Jessica.  I do like that even in her relationship with Damian everything is as complicated as her family ties, nothing is easy for her.  

Dr. Jeffrey Ailes is the mathematician genius who takes Jessica from financial crimes in the FBI to this high profile case.  I love this character and want more of him.  The Warlock is an enigma, is he just a serial killer with delusions of grandeur or a deadly genius with a god-complex?  You will have to read it to decide for yourself.  This novel presents a villain who is scary and yet exposes the sad condition of the media and gullibility of the masses.  The breakout unexpected star that I hope to have more page-time in the next books is red-headed FBI Field Forensic Technician Danielle (no last name I could find). She is smart, observant, not easily threatened by Jessica, and has such a presence she leaps off the pages in the few scenes where she appears.

The settings are critical to the staged deaths and are vivid, whether rural or the middle of Times Square in New York. The concept of a gifted magician turned FBI agent is one of those where execution is the key.  It could turn out gimmicky and a worn-out trope or brilliant, either way.  In this case, it breathes and takes on a life of its own.  The pace is standard for a thriller...breakneck.  Yet we get a layered main character and just enough explanation of magic theory and delivery to understand the complexities without slowing the story.  The climax is tense with plenty of nail-biting action and I ate it up. 

This debut of a new thriller series delivers a fresh take on this premise, taught suspense, an intense main character, and a rush of a story.  Pure entertainment that swept this reader off her feet. When is the next book?  **Gush, gush.**

  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

Here is a short video of Andrew in action.


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Reader Poll

I am including you in my writing adventure.  I decided I wanted to write using a pen name and have narrowed down the names.  

I would really like to get all of your inputs as well.  So, here is a poll for you to give me your inputs on these pen names.  Pick which one you like best for a mystery and suspense author, which has that ring to it?  Please help me out!

For a mystery and suspense pen name, which do you like best? free polls

Having trouble with the poll? Go here to vote: Click Here

Thank you for voting in this poll, you are helping me in an important decision!  This is a fun way for you to be a part of my journey as a writer.  Of course, I am busy writing the actual suspense/thriller novel.  But this is still a part of it.  Once I have the pen name, I can start gearing up an author website.  So this is part of the process.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Spotlight on Andrew Mayne

Happy Banned Book Week!

I will be reviewing Andrew Mayne's newest book next week, but the blog tour I had scheduled for today. My reading is lagging behind, I apologize. So today I thought I would introduce you to Andrew Mayne and his book.

Andrew Mayne is at the forefront of the next generation of magic. Star of A&E's "Don't Trust Andrew Mayne". He has performed his unique brand of illusion on five continents, his YouTube videos have millions of views and he’s cultivated thousands of fans for his magic, books and podcasts calling themselves ‘Mayniacs’. He has taken magic in a new direction and created his own style of magic called “Shock Magic”; combining the impact of large scale illusion with the in-your-face approach of street magic.

Andrew started his first world illusion tour while he was a teenager and was soon headlining in resorts and casinos around the world. With the support of talk show host and amateur magician Johnny Carson, Andrew Mayne started a program to use magic to teach critical thinking skills in public schools for the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Now Andrew has jumped into another frontier, he is writting mystery and thriller novels. He has published five bestselling books thus far. His recent thriller, Angel Killer, is the first in a series featuring a female FBI agent Jessica Blackwood who has a background magic...of course!

Information about the book:

FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she has successfully left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her . . . until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test.

A mysterious hacker, who identifies himself only as “Warlock,” brings down the FBI’s website and posts a code in its place. It hides the GPS coordinates of a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground . . . as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star—until she turns her back on her troubled family, and her legacy, to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes’s discovery of an old copy of Magician Magazine will turn Jessica’s carefully constructed world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to seemingly achieving the impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock’s series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to embrace her gifts and stop a depraved killer?

If she can’t, she may become his next victim.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Yes, I am reading it now and will post my review next week.  I jumped at the chance to review this book, so stay tuned for the review. 

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest Post Kathy Aarons

Today we have an author post from Kathy Aarons, author of Death is Like a Box of Chocolates (I will be reviewing in a few days.), the first in the CHOCOLATE COVERED MYSTERY series by Berkley Prime Crime.  She says research for the series was such a hardship: sampling chocolate, making chocolate, sampling more chocolate, and hanging out in bookstores.

After growing up in rural Pennsylvania and attending Carnegie Mellon University, Kathy built a career in public relations in New York City. She now lives in San Diego with her husband and two daughters where she wakes up far too early, and is currently obsessed with the Broadway Idiot documentary, finding the perfect cup of coffee, and Dallmann’s Sea Salt Caramels.

Occasional Persistence
A lot of people ask if I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer. I had to admit that even as a teenager who loved writing and was fanciful enough to imagine becoming a Navy pilot, Broadway choreographer, and puppy shelter owner, I never considered a fiction writing career.

I graduated from college in the 80’s and moved to New York to “climb the corporate ladder” in my blue suits with large shoulder pads and small neck scarves. Years later, I was the marketing director of a medical computer company, wondering too often about the meaning of life. I re-met my soon-to-be-husband, who I’d known in college, and moved with him to Silicon Valley where I eventually became a stay-at-home mom.

And by stay-at-home mom, I mean one of those “crazy” moms: PTA president, foundation fundraiser, high school writing conference co-founder, theater costume chair, puppet-making business assistant, soccer/swim/basketball mom, along with too many other volunteer jobs to list. Anything to avoid housework.

When my youngest daughter started attending school five days a week, I needed to become even more creative to dodge anything cleaning-related. I started writing a novel, which was way harder than it looked. After years of workshops with RWA and Sisters in Crime, buying almost every known writing craft book known to man (and sometimes even reading them), and attending loads of writing conferences, I got a three-book deal with Berkley Prime Crime to write the Chocolate Covered Mystery series.

Some of my writer friends have said this is evidence that my persistence paid off. Since I spent so much time doing something other than writing during those years (volunteering is way easier than writing!), I could really only be congratulated for occasional persistence.

And perhaps that’s best. My youngest daughter goes off to college a couple of weeks before my first book comes out and I will have plenty to do to avoid empty nest syndrome.

And the dreaded housework.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can follow Kathy on Facebook or Twitter or visit her at:

Thank you Kathy!  

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review - The Wolfe Widow

I have been following and reviewing the Book Collector Mystery Series since it began. 1st book was The Christie Curse (click here), 2nd entry was The Sayers Swindle (click here), we were honored to get a great author interview (click here), and recently a guest post (click here.)  Now for the new book in the series.

Author: Victoria Abbott

Copyright: Sept 2014 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Book Collector Mystery series

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery

Main Characters: Jordan Bingham, works for Van Alst estate managing the book collection

Setting: Modern day, Harrison Falls NY

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Jordan loves her job managing the rare book collection the Vera Van Alst's estate, so she is flabbergasted when she is suddenly fired one morning and all her meager belongings packed up and out in just a few hours.  She doesn't know what happened, but she is sure it has to do with the mysterious appearance of Muriel Delgado the night before.  Jordan is even banned from communicating with her own Uncle who still works at the estate.  Muriel is systematically getting rid of any support system that Vera has, and begins selling her books, even getting rid of her cats.  Jordan begins to investigate Muriel, and that is when things get dangerous.  Jordan's usual sidekicks for investigating are all unavailable, so she enlists a new cohort. 

Jordan is a contradiction, she is proud to be the family member who is on the legal side, yet she whips together a disguise and uses her lock picks. Jordan is also loyal and compassionate and can't stand that grumpy Vera may be in danger.  Uncle Kevin seems over-the-top in his practically ADD persona. Signora Panetone needs more dimension than just pushing food and hopping around, it is time she develop more.  Cherie, the cable service installer and electronics wizard becomes Jordan's new cohort since Uncles Mick and Lucky, Officer Tyler Dekker, Librarian Lance DeWitt, and BFF Tiffany are all unavailable.  Cherie is a great unexpected character that I hope to see in future books.  For the record, I still like the librarian better than the cop for a boyfriend, just saying.

Harrison Falls is a little nebulous in its size and character, but the pervasive dislike of all things Van Alst because of the shoe factory closing is used to good effective.  The story moved along steadily, but a murder doesn't occur until late in the book although Jordan is in serious danger fairly early.  The plot had surprises in it and a twist at the end that was nicely done and the killer confrontation was pretty tense while incorporating a classic round up of the suspects. 

This is another great addition to the Book Collector series and Jordan faces danger and difficulties with resilience and Vera must face secrets from her own past. 

Ratings: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Post -- Victoria Abbott

I have been following and reviewing the Book Collector Mystery Series since it began. 1st book was The Christie Curse (click here), 2nd entry was The Sayers Swindle (click here), and we were honored to get a great author interview (click here).

Are two heads better than one? Or worse?

Recently, someone asked, “Who’s the girl with the two heads?” Um, that’s Victoria Abbott, was the answer. She’s a mother daughter collaboration writing the book collector mysteries. The ‘two-headed’ question made sense in the context of the picture we found ourselves in. Luckily nobody asked about our ringlet hairstyles. Let’s just say that Photoshop was involved and the picture was pretty funny.

Funny or not, we thought the question was a good one. We may not be girls any more (not the daughter and especially not the mom), but as the collaborators for the book collector mysteries, we often feel like we have two heads. Sometimes neither head knows what the other one is doing. 

This can play out strangely in our characters. Case in point, below. Let’s take for example, our young sleuth, Jordan Bingham’s, Uncle Kev, who appears in The Wolfe Widow and in The Sayers Swindle before that. The kindest thing anyone can say about Uncle Kev is that he’s a walking disaster. No really, he is. Of course, if you met him, you’d think he was really adorable. Like the rest of the Kellys, he has all that ginger hair and those amazing, sparkling blue eyes, a gift from some Viking passing through Dublin in 965 AD. The ladies are all pretty dazzled by him, at least until there’s an explosion or something catches fire. 

Jordan’s boss and the housekeeper, Signora Panetone, think he’s perfection. But they may not be fully aware that Kev is always available as handyman, gardener and general whatever, because of a small disagreement over a large sum of money belonging to a group of somewhat dangerous gentlemen with guns and a business in Albany. Kev needs to lie low although that’s always hard for him to do.

Like all ladies, we also love Uncle Kev. We laugh our heads off at every Kev-inspired catastrophe. Kidnapping the Siamese? Causing a flash fire in a diner? That thing with the wild turkeys? Oh yes, where there’s smoke, there’s Kev.

In a recent edit, we were fixing a description of him. Have a listen in on our conversation:
“We need a change, It says here, Kev’s pudgy cheek.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Well, for one thing, Kev doesn’t have pudgy cheeks.”
“Of course, he does.”
“No. He has chiseled cheekbones.”
“I don’t think so. He’s pudgy.”
“He is not pudgy. He has chiseled cheekbones and a jawline you could cut paper with.”
“He’s still pudgy.”
“He looks great in his jeans and with his great unpudgy bone structure.”

Well, my friends, I think you see the difficulty. Although we both wrote about Uncle Kev and contributed to his misadventures and relationship with Jordan and our story, we each had a very different idea of what he looked like. To this day, we are fudging around with that. There’s a bit of pudginess to Kev’s chiseled features and to do him credit, the ladies still like that. If you’re reading about Uncle Kev, just be careful to sit near a fire exit, that’s all. 

So there you go, so far we’ve written three book collector mysteries together and although we have two heads and don’t always envision the same thing, no one has died, in real life that is.

What about you? Could you collaborate with a family member on a major project? Would there be fireworks?


Entry for this giveaway lasts until Sunday September 21st, 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.  The publisher will ship one copy of The Wolfe Widow to the winner.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower or email subscriber) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.  Please leave your contact email address.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until Sunday September 21st, 2014.  I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your physical mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are a member of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.  BECOME a member of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

If you mention this and provide a link on your Facebook or Twitter to share with friends, please note that in the comments and you will get an addition entry for the giveaway!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Review - No Tomorrow

I am jumping into this series that is already well underway.  Here are the preceding books in the series:  1st The Killer, 2nd The Enemy, 3rd The Game with a novella released titled Bad Luck in Berlin.  This installment is released in Australia and New Zealand as Better Off Dead.  Studiocanal is buying the rights for film and putting together a director and producer.  Pierre Morel, director of TAKEN movie starring Liam Nielson, is on board as director.  Victor the Assassin may soon be on the big screen.  

Here is what we know about Tom Wood, he was born and raised in Staffordshire and now lives in London and his real name is Tom Hinshelwood.  Before taking up writing, he was employed as a bookseller, cleaner, factory worker, laborer, supermarket cashier, and video editor.

Author: Tom Wood

Copyright: September 2014 (Signet) 512 pgs

Series: 4th in Victor the Assassin series

Sensuality: Some swearing, lots of violence with some graphic parts

Mystery Sub-genre: Thriller

Main Character: Victor (no last name) an orphan--now one of the world's best assassins

Setting: Modern day, London

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Victor suspects he is being set up when a Russian mob boss he once worked for asks to meet him.  He naturally comes to the meeting and disables several of his mobster guards expecting trouble.  But rather, Norimov asks him to save his estranged daughter from what appears to be a ruthless attack by a competitor, but he isn't even sure where the danger originates.  

Victor has never been a body guard, but for the sake of the girl's mother, who Victor fondly remembers, he vows to keep the young lady safe.  In London he must find her, because she has either been taken already or is in hiding.  Thus begins a rocket fast ride.

Victor is a well-dressed man who dislikes swearing and is regimented in his safety routine because he has made many enemies.  He sleeps maybe 4 hours at a time.  His cold assassin's mind occasionally turns to such things as relationships, but he has been doing the job too long and would only put somebody else in jeopardy.  He is very detached when he kills.  Gisele is the step-daughter of a Russian mob boss, Aleksandr Norimov, whose life is in danger.  She offsets Victor's coldness with her caring for others.  She can be naive, a little spoiled, and hates her step-father for his "career choices".  The Russian mobsters are a wildcard thrown into the mix, just how loyal can they be?  The woman apparently behind everything is somewhat a mystery until further in the story when Victor and Gisele piece together what is happening.

London is portrayed with familiarity and detail.  The sense of place is finely tuned.  The pacing is rocket-fueled and lets up only occasionally for a breather.  I do have to note that towards the last fourth of the book, I was struck by how improbable a prolonged fight scene was with broken ribs and a damaged ankle, yet Victor is doing round-house kicks etc.

The plot hinged on two things, an assassin caring enough about a kind woman to risk his life to save her daughter, and the hardened assassin's humanity in the first place.  The likelihood of either in reality is slim, but that aside - Victor is a unique anti-hero who you actually end up cheering for.

The climax is appropriately intense, and even personal as Victor fights for Gisele's life after a few twists and many injuries.  The wrap-up completes the remaining story threads with a surprise there too. 

Comparisons are being made of Victor to Jason Bourne.  They have enough differences so Victor doesn't appear as an imitation of Bourne, yet both involve fast action and intense fight scenes with highly skilled killers as the main character.  The Bourne series incorporates much more internal angst while Victor's emotions are very buttoned down.  If you are wanting to read a well plotted, heart-racing thriller, then definitely give this series a try.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.


Entry for this giveaway lasts until Sunday September 14th, 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.  The publisher will ship one copy of No Tomorrow to the winner.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower or email subscriber) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.  Please leave your contact email address.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until Sunday September 14th, 2014.  I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your physical mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are a member of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.  BECOME a member of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

If you mention this and provide a link on your Facebook or Twitter to share with friends, please note that in the comments and you will get an addition entry for the giveaway!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Have you given up on a book?

I have had a few books in a row that just didn't grab me and I was struggling to read them. I am a slow reader, so time invested plodding along can be excruciating. I gave up on the book I started, and grabbed another. This happened three times until the book I am finally engrossed in now. Those books may have just hit me at the wrong time, but I just couldn't get interested and was forcing myself. Naturally, I finally started a book that I can't put down...and it is nearly 500 pages!

This is my way of explaining why I didn't have a review on Thursday. But, it raises a good question. Have you given up on a book? What is your line in the sand before you put the book down and move on? I had kept trying on the first one through about four chapters.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - September 2014

It is the first Monday of the month and time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival. 

Please help the newsletter for the blog carnival to get more subscribers.  If a blog reviews mystery/suspense/thrillers (even occasionally) then I would like to feature those reviews.  I send the newsletter out once a month announcing the deadline for submitting to this blog carnival.  Multiple entries from a blog are welcome. 

Subscribe to our carnival reminder mailing

Now on to this month's blog carnival.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review / Legal

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Counterfeit Lady by Kate Parker 

Carstairs Considers reviewed The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais

How Mysterious! reviewed The Bellingham Bloodbath by Gregory Harris, a historical PI mystery set in Victorian London.

How Mysterious! reviewed Rain Girl by Gabi Kreslehner

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

Thoughts in Progress reviewed Clam Wake by Mary Daheim

Reactions to Reading reviewed Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Carstairs Considers reviewed Death of a Crabby Cook by Penny Pike

Carstairs Considers reviewed Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

Kings River Life reviewed Taken In By Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Carstairs Considers reviewed Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero

Reactions to Reading reviewed Footprints on the Ceiling by Clayton Rawson

Thriller/Suspense Fiction Book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Canyon Sacrifice by Scott Graham

Thoughts in Progress reviewed The Perfect Stranger by Wendy Corsi Staub

Burried Under Books reviewed Choke Point by Ridley Pearson

Teatime with Marcie reviewed Before You Die by Samantha Hayes

Kings River Life reviewed Ruin Falls by Jenny Mischman

Booking Mama reviewed Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner

Author Interview

Thoughts in Progress shares a guest post from author Terrie Farley Moran titled "From short stories to cozy murder mysteries"

Mysteries and My Musings shares a guest post from author Eileen Goudge

Burried Under Books shares a guest post from author Lauren Carr

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A huge "THANK YOU" to all the wonderful bloggers out there who contributed to the carnival.  Keep them coming and keep this carnival going. 

Let's make next month's Carnival even better. For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here
Spread the word far and wide!!!
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