Category Archives: General Posts

Mystery-Review Website Roundup

Here we go with a mystery-review website roundup, These websites review mystery, crime, thriller, spy and suspense books. Some of them also incorporate author interviews and book lists.

The Real Book Spy

New Iberia Blues by James Lee BurkeAccording to Ryan Steck, owner of The Real Book Spy, the site presents “full coverage of all your favorite thriller authors, and their characters, unlike anywhere else on the web!”

A few of the book reviews currently offered on the site are Daughter of War by Brad Taylor, Crucible by James Rollins, New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke and The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk. Steck also offers author interviews with such luminaries as Brad Thor, Sean Parnell, and Brad Taylor, among others.

Stop You’re Killing Me

True Believer by Jack Carr

Stop You’re Killing Me is a resource for fans of mystery, crime, thriller, spy and suspense books. According to the website, more than 5,000 authors are listed with chronological lists of their books, both hardcover and paperback. Most of the novelists listed are established print authors. There’s even an index of series characters, which are listed by last name. A “read-alikes” section enables you to find a new-to-you author or category similar to what you already like. Also listed are the 2018 winners of numerous mystery and thriller awards.

Reviewing the Evidence

Another site for mystery, crime and thriller reviews, Reviewing the Evidence boasts of having more than 11,000 reviews. Commentators from the US, UK, Canada and Australia review books published by conventional publishers. Self-published books are not included.

Cozy Mystery

Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall PageFor those readers who enjoy reading cozy mysteries, the Cozy Mystery is for you. This site pegs itself as “a guide to cozy mystery books, movies and TV.” Offerings include interviews, soon-to-be released books, a blog, and a list of authors who write cozy mysteries.

Later in the year,  look for another mystery-review website roundup. If anyone has a favorite mystery review site, leave a comment with the site name and URL.

Mark of the Spider – Supernatural Thriller

The Mark of the Spider
by David L. Haase
© 2018

Mark of the Spider by David L. HaaseThe Mark of the Spider is an installment in David L. Haase’s Black Orchid Chronicles, a supernatural-thriller series. On a working trip to the Southeast Asian island of Borneo, photographer Sebastian Arnett searches for rare orchids to photograph. At the invitation of an Australian attaché on a mission to locate mineral deposits, Arnett joins his group’s forays into the interior. When an old, indigenous woman offers him a shot at the ever-elusive black orchid, Arnett and his mates take her up on it. But they get, and lose, more than they bargained for.

Arnett gets shot with a dart when he and his three cohorts stop at the old woman’s village. He wakes up with pain in his face and finds he has been tattooed and now apparently possesses an evil spirit and an unusual power. Arnett also finds his friends’ heads hanging from a pole. What follows—Arnett attempts to lose himself and the spirit, while the government wants him as a secret weapon. Various efforts to help come from Mike Owens, a Marine ordered by the military to keep tabs on Arnett. A Native American medicine man, Amanda Cox Campion (Arnett’s new love interest) and Tom (or T, to his friends), a son of Campion’s ex-husband, are also in the mix.

The Good and Not-so-Good

Overall, The Mark of the Spider marks a good beginning to this supernatural series. However, the pacing slowed at times, such as when Arnett found himself alone with the old woman after his friends had been killed. Part of that might have worked better as a flashback later, when Arnett attempted to get the tattoo altered. Occasionally, too much time was spent expostulating about Arnett’s attempts to stay off the grid such as when he broke into a house. Another instance of over-expostulation involves Arnett and T building a bunker in the last in a series of bolt-holes.

On the other hand, I would have liked Arnett to do a little sleuthing into southeast Asian spirit beliefs. That might have been woven into Arnett’s attempts to come to terms with what has happened to him.

On the whole, a fairly engaging read. I look forward to reading the second installment and learning the ongoing fate of Arnett, Campion and T.

CrimeReads – Mysteries, Thrillers and Crime

For those who love mysteries, thrillers and true crime, CrimeReads will satisfy your cravings. An offshoot of Literary Hub, CrimeReads presents news, essays and excerpts. This website offers discussions about mystery, noir/hardboiled, suspense, espionage/thriller and legal/procedural genres. For example, currently available is the 11/28/18 posting, “Writing Crime Fiction for the Podcast Generation: Chatting with Two Authors Who Are Bringing Mystery to the World of Scripted Podcasts.” Another is the 1/17/19 post by Lisa Levy, “Mothers and Daughters and Psychological Thrillers: The Rise of Mother-Daughter Noir.”

CrimeReads interviews Matthew Quirk about The Night Agent

For suspense and thriller readers, check out The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk, published this month by William Morrow. Also, check out the interview with Matthew Quirk on CrimeReads.

Like unusual protagonists? Look for Erica Wright’s 11/23/18 post: “Unexpected Investigators: 9 Mysteries That Challenge Our Expectations for Crime Fighters.”

The website partners with numerous publishers from Akashic to W. W. Norton & Co. and everything in between. Other partners include venerable groups such as the Baker Street Irregulars as well as up-and-coming Down & Out Books (and magazine). According to the website, “Each day, alongside original content and exclusive excerpts, CrimeReads is proud to showcase an editorial feature from one of its many partners from across the literary crime community, from publishers big and small, bookstores, non-profits, librarians, and more.”

So, check out CrimeReads. See what’s happening in your favorite genre and what new books are forthcoming. Plus, find out what books are nominated for the 2019 Edgar Awards. Or, listen to a horror or true crime podcast.

For other book-related websites and apps, take a look at my previous posts about Felony & Mayhem and Litsy.

Felony and Mayhem: Murder Abounds

Felony & Mayhem
felonyandmayhem.com

Sorry for the lapse in posts over the last few weeks. The holidays got in the way; a pleasant time, but busy. Anyway, during the holiday season, I found two websites for those who like to read mysteries, one of which I’ll discuss here.

Felony and Mayhem Abound

Patricia Moyes mystery offered by Felony and MayhemThe folks at felonyandmayhem.com bring out-of-print mysteries back to life by reprinting them. For lovers of Patricia Moyes, Ngaio Marsh and S. S. Van Dine’s Philo Vance series, this site is a must-see. Additionally, “The Felonious Backlist” boggles the mind with the likes of Robert Barnard, Simon Brett, Elizabeth Daly, Reginald Hill and dozens of others.

According to the website, they “also publish an increasing number of first paperback editions of books previously published in hardcover, and (particularly) first U.S. editions of books that initially came out overseas.” In recent years, they also “brought out [their] first original: Annamaria Alfieri’s The Idol of Mombasa, a historical mystery set in 1910s British East Africa, which will be followed by another title in that series in January 2018.”

Mystery readers and writers: Check this website out. You won’t be sorry.

As the mystery lovers at Felony & Mayhem say, “Life is too short to read bad books.” I couldn’t agree more.

Next time, I’ll talk about my other find: CrimeReads.

Shanks – Unlikely Detective

Shanks on Crime
by Robert Lopresti
© 2003-2014

Shanks - Unlikely DetectiveShanks on Crime by Robert Lopresti is a collection of short stories about Leopold Longshanks and his wife Cora. Longshanks is a mystery writer and an unlikely detective. who, with his wife, Cora, in the background gets into some unusual situations. Shanks, Longshanks’ nickname, then unravels the crime or misdemeanor, all the while protesting that he’s a writer, not a detective. The stories are interesting enough, such as when Shanks sets out to catch the person who mugged him and pays for the miscreant to go to vocational college rather than be convicted and sent to jail. But all the stories follow the same general pattern and pacing, which makes the collection seem rather dull. Overall, a nice set of stories, just not fast-paced.

Several of these stories first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine between 2003 and 2014.

Rob Lopresti also writes novels and blogs at sleuthsayers.com and Little Big Crimes.

Book Swaps Update and Book-lover Gifts

Book swaps update, My BookSwaps ClubUpdate Alert! I posted about My Bookswap Club and other book swaps recently (here). At the last minute, I purchased My Bookswap Club’s 2018 Christmas box and was pleasantly surprised when I opened it. Along with a book and bookmark, I received a scented candle, bath soap, fuzzy socks, a book nerd pin, and Godiva candy. Quite a haul!

Need a gift? Keep this in mind for next Christmas or any other year-end holiday celebration. These boxes make a great gift for a book-loving wife, girlfriend, mother or daughter. I jumped at the chance to buy myself a present at the last minute this year and was glad I did.

In addition to their website, My Bookswap Club is on Instagram.

El Dorado – A Golden Search

A Shadow Away
by Joan K. Lacy
© May 2018
Alazo Press

A Shadow Away - a search for El Dorado El Dorado

Searching for El Dorado in the Amazon jungle, Alex Cort and Andrew Seaton need all the help they can get in A Shadow Away by Joan K. Lacey. Cort, a private art theft investigator, and Seaton, a British archaeologist, search for the fabled city of gold based on an old map, a gem and a golden idol that’s gone missing. As Cort and Seaton slog through the jungle assisted by a local guide, they’re aided by Angel, a mysterious being from an alternate universe. Angel’s heightened senses and skills, some would say magic, keep the searchers a step ahead of Benjamin Guelf, an unscrupulous rival collector.

Although Angel uses her powers to get the group out of danger on occasion, she seems withdrawn and not really part of the group. The reader learns nothing about her antecedents or world. On more than one occasion, Angel implies that Cort and Seaton can attain some or most of her powers. When Cort asks her, she just proclaims that he’s not ready to know such things. Often, as Cort and the others traverse the jungle, Angel seems to walk along in another world, like a slippery wraith.

Literary Comparisons

A Shadow Away might be compared to the Indiana Jones universe. Lacy’s novel involves an archaeologist seeking a religious relic in an intimidating environment while evading unscrupulous competitors. In addition, similarities exist between Lacy’s Alex Cort series and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. Again, both involve archaeologists searching for artifacts and dealing with danger. But Lacy introduces a subtle dose of magic realism in the search for El Dorado, thus expanding the trope.

Recommendation

Overall, A Shadow Away is an engaging read that kept me interested. I would have preferred to learn a good deal more about Angel even if the information was kept away from Seaton and Cort. She refers to herself as a “witch” and is evasive when Cort asks about her world. She says he’s not ready to know even after Cort begins accepting her abilities, which seems condescending. At times, she seems insubstantial, like a hologram, even when she and Cort become attracted to each other.

Cort and Seaton with their group of indigenous guides hack and slog their way through the jungle undergrowth. Yet, on a few occasions, Guelf and Raul Facón, his nasty sidekick, just step out from behind a tree to confront them looking unscathed and fresh as if Guelf and Facón could just teleport into the area. At one point, the Amazon River, which is full of life-threatening creatures, sweeps Guelf away. Yet, in the final stages of the story, he appears well and hearty.

Still, I recommend A Shadow Away for those who like stories full of adventure, mystery and magical realism. I give this first Alex Cort novel 3.75 out of 5 stars; a solid read. I look forward to the next installment in the series.

Book Swaps and Gifts for Everyone

My BookSwap Club offers unique book swaps and gifts for everyone.  According to their website, My BookSwap Club is a group of “enthusiastic bookworms who believe in sharing our books with fellow bookworms (or a novice reader).”

Currently, My BookSwap Club offers members a Christmas BookBox with a few options from which to choose. You purchase the box and respond to a questionnaire about your likes and dislikes. Then, sit back and wait in anticipation. Over the next few days, I will purchase this box and report on what I received.

received from book swapsMy BookSwap Club also facilitates book swaps. I have just joined My BookSwap Club, so I haven’t participated in their swaps, yet. But, over the past year, I’ve participated in book swaps using social media apps such as Litsy. (See my post about Litsy, here). At left are some of the books I’ve received. So far, I’ve been pleased with the choices my swap partners have given me.

If you have found any book-related websites, social media networks or phone apps, let me know by replying to this post.

The Last Dance

The Last Dance by Aimee BrownThe Last Dance
by Aimee Brown
Upcoming Release from Aria Fiction
©2018

Aimee Brown is a writer of romantic comedies set in Portland, OR.

Check out her latest book.

Romantic Comedy

The Last Dance by Aimee Brown is a forthcoming release from Aria Fiction. Below is the preview synopsis from www.amazon.com.

Can you truly forgive and forget?

Ambri and Henry have been best friends forever. They’ve been through the highs and lows of life with each other by their sides.

The worst? When Henry’s wife, and Ambri’s sister, died. Together, they can face it all. Until one night destroys everything. Two years after he stepped out of it Henry walks back into Ambri’s life and she’s more than a little shocked.

But as old friends fall into even older habits, they need to decide whether they can forget the past and embrace their future.

Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult and Anna Bell.

Pre-order from Amazon:

Mybook.to/TheLastDance

 

Cults, Daggers and Rekindled Love

The Dagger by Pam AndersThe Dagger
By Pam Anders
© September 2018
Real Publishing Company

Author Pam Anders leads readers on a merry chase through the USA’s Pacific Northwest in The Dagger, her debut novel in the Kat Delaney series. From the forests of Idaho through Walla Walla, WA, towards Portland, OR, Kat’s grit and perseverance defeat a madman and a cult of incestuous monsters.

The Good Life

Kathryn (Kat) Delaney has a good life. A 24-year-old teacher who enjoys her work, Kat lives with her father in Portland, OR. Although Kat enjoys the nice house and nice cars, she wonders about her father, but has stopped asking. For all her life, Kat’s father refused to answer any questions about himself, his income or background. Or the identity of Kat’s mother. Her father just stonewalls her. She also ponders the need for an elaborate alarm system that is monitored from a secret room built by her father.

Lots of Questions

Consequently, Kat knows nothing when her father, Sean Delaney, is found dead in the woods while on one of his periodic “hunting trips.” Where had her father gotten the several thousand dollars in his possession? Can she convince Detective Leo Burton that she and her father were not drug dealers or part of a spate of recent bank robberies? Who was the mysterious woman at her father’s funeral? Why did the Circle of God cult kidnap Kat and insist on calling her Ursula? Why did the cult leaders insist that Kat hand over a ceremonial dagger? Would Kat’s ex-boyfriend, Doug Stamper, and his father, Marty, be able to help her after she escapes from the cult?

Overall, The Dagger is a very good, suspenseful read. Plenty of fast-paced action engaged me and kept me turning pages. Anders’ writing was terse and spot on. I look forward to more character development of Kat, Doug and Marty as the series progresses.

The Dagger would be a good holiday or birthday gift for the mystery lover in your life.