Tag Archives: genre: crime

Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden

Murder on the Mountain

Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on August 22, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Jesse Morales expected his time volunteering for a week on the summer of Mt. Washington to be somewhat uneventful. But when he discovers a corpse out in the wilderness in the middle of the night, the aspiring mystery novelist finds himself right in the center of a real-life murder mystery. And when he meets one of the investigating police officers, Kyle Dubois, he wonders if there might be even more in store for him before he goes back home.

When Kyle heads out to the crime scene, he’s not entirely sure what to expect. And he certainly doesn’t expect to find himself drawn to the young man who found the body. But despite his annoying penchant for wanting to get involved in the investigation, Kyle cannot deny that Jesse is attractive. So much that he thinks he may need to do something about it–something he’ll have to explain to his partner, as Jesse would be Kyle’s first relationship since his wife died.

Despite Kyle’s better judgment, he decided to give Jesse a chance. And despite what should probably be Jesse’s better judgment, he inserts himself among the suspects, hoping he might be able to find out who committed the murder to solve the mystery and help Kyle–even if it means putting himself in grave danger.

This is probably one of the lighter murder mysteries that I’ve read in a while. It doesn’t have that dark feeling overshadowing it from the beginning like so many books of the genre tend to have as a feature. That’s not to say there aren’t some dark themes; they do crop up pretty strongly as one approaches the end of the book. But there’s space here for Kyle and Jesse to develop a relationship without it seeming completely morbid. And I have to say that I didn’t see some of the twists coming, which is something I appreciate in a good mystery novel.

A Wedding to Die For by Xavier Mayne

A Wedding to Die For

A Wedding to Die For by Xavier Mayne

Series: Brandt & Donnelly Capers, Book 3
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on December 15, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

When a local baker and florist turn away a prominent gay couple and refuse to work their wedding, the couple strikes back. State law has recently been affirmed to prohibit discrimination, and the issue just might end up in court. But the governor and the attorney general would like to avoid that, which is why state police officers Brandt and Donnelly are called in to assist. And they resolve the issue with only a single meeting with each vendor.

The owners still aren’t keen on being associated with the wedding, however, leading them to each assign their sons to take on the task. It turns out that Justin and Roman are old friends who haven’t seen each other in years. And it also turns out they might just both have an interest in being more than friends.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, disaster strikes at the wedding. And the case that Brandt and Donnelly thought was over in a day becomes much larger…and more sinister than they could have imagined.

There are a few different plot lines here that are masterfully woven together to create an excellent story. There’s Brandt and Donnelly and their efforts to plan their own wedding. There’s the wedding that’s the centerpiece of the story. There’s the Justin and Roman relationship. And then the crime solving piece that comes into play for the second half of the book. It sounds like a lot going on, but it never really feels like it while reading it.

I will warn that there is a very brief moment of dub con here. It goes by quickly, but it’s an intense blip so I feel like it needs to be mentioned to anyone considering reading the story.

Although this is “Caper #3,” I will say that it’s the first book in this series that I’ve read. It’s not necessary to have read the previous books to follow what is going on, though there is the occasional reference that might make just a bit more sense with the full backstory of the previous books.

Secrets in the Air by Liz Borino

Secrets in the Air

Secrets in the Air by Liz Borino

Series: Secrets, Book 1
Published by: Liz Borino on July 15, 2014
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Rhett O’Neil is pleasantly surprised to learn his grandfather is leaving the family business to him. He’s loved flying for as long as he can remember. The idea of continuing their charter flight business leaves him excited. But his grandfather also lets him in a secret. The business has been collaborating with the FBI to assist in their efforts to break up human trafficking rings. And it’s time to bring Rhett into the fold.

Rhett’s more than happy to help with the FBI missions. And he’s even more inspired when he learns his grandfather started doing the missions after the death of Rhett’s twin, Annabelle. It’s a testament to her memory he’s glad to carry. But things go amiss on the first mission. Not only is he forced to cross paths with his estranged mother, but he comes face-to-face with one of the traffickers. And he returns home to his husband, Kaden, more than a little worse for wear.

But Rhett remains determined to bring down the traffickers at whatever the cost. And as he’s soon to find out, the cost may be greater than he’d ever imagined…

Can I just say that I hope no one ever has parents like Rhett’s? Seriously. I was pretty much appalled with them from the beginning. And it all just seems to go downhill from there.

Kaden and Rhett make for an interesting couple. There’s something about their playful banter that helped keep the book light despite some of the heavy plot points. It was so evident how much they care for each other throughout the story.

This book underscores the meaning of family. So many times people talk about the family you choose versus the family you’re born with. And as much as we often thing we’re stuck with the latter, I don’t think we should necessarily feel that way. Family is about love, trust, and caring. If you don’t have that with the people who are supposed to be your family, then go out and find it elsewhere. The people who give you those things because they want to (blood or otherwise)–not with some begrudging attitude–are the ones who you should truly value in your life.

Mute Witness by Rick R. Reed

Mute Witness

Book Info

Title: Mute Witness
Author: Rick R. Reed
Published: February 9, 2016 (Originally released October 2, 2009)
Pages: 290
Publisher: DSP Publications
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★


Sean Dawes is grateful for everything he has in his life. He has a loving partner, Austin, and an incredible son, Jason. Even though things are still a bit fraught at times between Sean and his ex-wife, it’s nothing that stands in the way of his relationship with Jason. But when Jason goes missing, the tensions are quickly raised by his wife’s family. And when Jason is later found, what has happened to him throws everyone’s world off course. Suspicions run high in a small town of people who are a bit conservative in their ideologies. But for those quick to judge, sometimes they miss the threat that’s standing right under their nose.

This one is intense. There’s no denying that. What happens to some of the characters in this book is downright awful. The way some of the other characters behave is similarly reprehensible. But things like this do happen, and I don’t know that we can simply shy away from them and pretend they don’t exist. And Rick R. Reed treats these subjects very sensitively and presents them in ways that don’t obscure the issue but manage to make them accessible to readers. And I’m simply left hoping that everyone is able to find a way to move on with their lives following the events in the book.

Content warnings: discussions/descriptions of sexual abuse, victim intimidation, violence, blatant homophobia

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In

Book Info

Title: Lock In (Lock In, Book 1)
Author: John Scalzi
Published: August 26, 2014
Pages: 336
Publisher: Tor Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆


In the not too distant future, a new virus hits humanity. For most, the symptoms are nothing more than the inconvenience of the flu. But for approximately one percent of the population, the virus has devastating effects. It results in what is dubbed “Lock In”. Those with the condition are fully aware of their surroundings but are unable to move or respond in any way to what’s going on around them. Solutions are found, ranging from robotic vessels that those with “Haden’s syndrome” can control and maneuver to “Integrators” who can actually allow someone who is locked in to borrow their body and control them for a period of time. While the latter may help people feel like they get a more life-like experience, it creates a situation where it may be difficult to tell who is the actor in any situation–the Haden or the Integrator. When FBI agents Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are assigned a case with an Integrator for a suspect, they’re faced with just this question. But when more connections to others in the Haden movement are discovered, they quickly learn there is far more to their case than they ever could have imagined.

This is the first John Scalzi novel I’ve read, and I am certainly quite pleased with what I’ve found. The amount of effort and creativity that he’s put into constructing this future shows in the characters, their surroundings, and the story itself. While this is science fiction, there was no moment where I really found myself saying “this could never happen.” And when your goal is to present would could be a future on Earth, that’s a very important quality. The mystery here is filled with twists and turns, and sometimes just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you will learn you were wrong.

Definitely looking forward to the sequel for this one…


Brooklyn Secrets by Triss Stein

Brooklyn Secrets

Book Info

Title: Brooklyn Secrets (An Erica Donato Mystery)
Author: Triss Stein
Published: December 1, 2015
Pages: 242
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★


Erica Donato is an urban history graduate student, balancing the completion of her dissertation with being a single mom. Her research focuses on 1930s Brownsville, during a period of time when the area was heavy with organized crime. A stop at a library in the area leads Erica to meet a teenager named Savanna, a young woman with a bright future ahead of her. But when Savanna is attacked, Erica wonders if there might be a connection to some young men who accosted her one day when she was leaving the library. And when she realizes he was in a class with Savanna’s mother years ago, she finds herself even more connected to the story and the case. Erica Donato is curious and never one to let her knack for research go to waste…

Typically in a murder mystery, the search for the suspect leads us down a path of finding someone who is depraved or sinister. But so many times, crimes are committed as a result of circumstance. Or, in the case of younger criminals, sometimes they just don’t know that they have any other choice. This story takes us down that other path–the path where social pressures and the folly of youth can lead people to harm others just as easily as a criminal nature. And those are paths that are much more difficult for us to follow, not only when it comes to figuring out “whodunnit” but also accepting the answer once we find it.

This is the third Erica Donato book, but you don’t necessarily need to have read any of the others. I hadn’t before reading this, and I had no problems at all following and understanding the story. It’s very self-contained.

The Other Son by Alexander Söderberg

The Other Son

Book Info

Title: The Other Son (Brinkmann Trilogy, Book 2)
Author: Alexander Söderberg
Published: July 21, 2015 (in English)
Pages: 388
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Author’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★


Sophie Brinkmann has taken on a role in a crime family that she never wanted. After the head of the family was murdered and his son–her connection to the family–is left in a coma, people look to her more than she expected. And not only does she not feel entirely cut out for this type of work, but she still has some moral issues with the operation. Rival families are closing in, however, and they’ve made it clear they will take what they want if they have to. And when they start to make good on that threat, Sophie knows she’s going to have to act on her own if she wants to make it out alive–and her son along with her.

There’s a lot of plotting and action in this book. So many groups and parties are moving against each other, sometimes with knowledge of the others and sometimes with people being caught completely unaware. But with so much going on and so many characters, it was confusing at times for me to really keep track of what was going on, how each person fit into the story, and where things were headed. It was an intriguing story, but difficult to follow at times, to be sure.

This is the second book in a trilogy (the third book is yet to be released), but I had no problems following the story. The reliance on the events of the first book is light, and what readers need to know is referenced with enough detail for it all to make sense.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review.]