THE HUSBAND LIST 2012 by Janet Evanovich and Dorien
Set in the gilded age heiress Caroline Maxwell is
being groomed to marry an English titled aristocrat only her heart is set on
Jack Culhane. Although the story set up begins slow it picks up pace and runs
to the ending. Caroline and Jack first deny their feelings. Jack is a confirmed
bachelor but when they admit their love, they see no future with her mother’s
unwavering plans to see her wed to Bremerton, a man in need of a fortune but a heart
as cold as ice. When her mother leaves her alone in Bremerton’s ravished estate
and, she discovers he most likely murdered his first wife, who had lied about
having a fortune, she takes matters in her own hands. The story has colorful
characters like the heiress chasing Jack; the maids and governesses helping
Caroline; and Caroline’s family, reminiscent of Elizabeth Bennett’s.
Local by Les Roberts 1997
Milan Jacovich is
a private investigator whose police buddy, Marki, dumps a murder case on him
because attorney Joel Kerner Jr. is killed on a Caribbean Island. His sister
wants answers. Jacovich begins to ask questions and a lot of people want the
case ignored. The Cleveland setting allows for unions, mobsters, and real
estate deals and almost everyone is a suspect and yet no one seems likely.
Jacovich is an old
time detective who meets and talks with his suspects face to face. He gets
roughed up more than once and his life is threatened in the end with a struggle
with the bad guy. Roberts gives Jacovich plenty of heart by revealing his
personal life in exposed pictures as he solves the case. Cleveland is front and
center and anyone who loves the city, will love this series.
Whisky Island by
Les Roberts 2012 Gray and Co.
Publishers in Cleveland
Milan Jacovich is
private investigator training ex juvenile delinquent and veteran Kevin
O’Brannion KO. They both acquire new girlfriends during story. Convicted
corrupt councilman Bert Loftus claims someone is trying to kill him. He is just
trying to gain sympathy for sentencing but they take his case. It leads to
corrupt landlords, a lot of political corruption and a call girl, who was
taping her clients to blackmail the County Prosecuting Attorney. She is
murdered bringing in the police and KO is kidnapped. Jacovich puts his life in
peril to solve the case. Cleveland, its landmarks, and the different cultures
add to the story. Roberts uses internal dialogue to reveal true feelings and
add personality to his hard-nosed detective.
FULL BLAST 2004 Janet Evanovich with Charlotte Hughes
In this follow-up to the previous Full story, Jamie
Swift is missing Max Holt, who hasn’t called in three weeks. She is trying to
protect her heart from falling in love with him because he has made it clear
his first wife turned him off to marriage – possibly forever. Jamie has her
hands full with her hometown of Beaumont where the heat has everyone acting
strange, even Vera, her surrogate mother and assistant editor. Psychic Destiny,
who can see ghost, arrives looking for a job as a love columnist, and Jamie’s Personals
section is linked to a murder. Jamie calls Max and they try to solve the murder
before Destiny’s prediction of another death comes true.
This book is a blend of Evanovich’s crazy characters,
hot for each other couples, and murder. It reminds me of J.D. Robb’s Eve and
Roarke, especially since Max is rich and into high technology. The crimes are
more light-hearted but the ending builds to a life-threatening situation that
keeps the pages turning. This “Full” series is one of Evanovich’s best efforts.
FULL SPEED 2004 by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte
Jamie Swift and Max Holt are back from Full Tilt (which I haven’t read yet, and I hate to read out of sequence) running from a mob hit in the previous book and tracking down a preacher Harlin Rawlins to find the mob leader who wants them dead. Max is super rich and into technology. His car has a computer named Muffin.
This is a lot like the J.D. Robb series with super rich Roarke and cop Eve battling crime. Does the hero always have to be super rich?
Max tries to send Jamie home, but she gets out of his car and goes out on her own. She ends up buying an old truck with a dog Fleas that goes with it. She goes to Rawlins’ church in disguise of hooker and tells him she’s a sex addict. It works to get his attention, but Max and his partner Dave, who are also in disguise, are there to spy on Harlin too. Max takes her to his cabin and says she’s to pretend to be his wife in his new plan.
Unknown to them, gangster Nick Santoni/MichaelJuliano follows her to the cabin and realizes who she is. He pretends to be Michael and asks her on date. Jamie doesn’t tell Max about Michael which would have ended the story because he knows his alias, and the reader realizes she’s in danger before she does.
There’s a lot of heat between Max and Jamie, but she knows he isn’t ready to commit to marriage after a previous one failed, and she doesn’t want her heart broken even though she’s falling in love with him in spite of her determination not to. The action is intense and fast paced. The romance is simmering and interesting enough to read the next book in the series.
Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb published February 2017
Eve and Roarke are driving home from a party and see a naked woman, Daphne, stumble in front of them. They rush her to the hospital and discover her husband has been killed and she was tied up and raped several times by someone dressed as the devil. Eve discovers similar crimes and pieces together the history of the killer’s crime spree, which escalates to a double homicide. Eve knows who the killer is and builds her case and brings him in. Ina new twist, Peabody plays bad cop to Eve’s good cop.
Daphne represents Eve and throughout the book Eve has to deal with the memory of murdering her father who brutalized her. Eve’s past helps her deal with the victims like Daphne and help them overcome their trauma. Her past and Roarke’s is what binds them together and provided a lot of the backstory in the earlier novels. This book has a lot of rapes in it, and some may not want to read about the violence.
POSSESSION IN DEATH aka The Other Side December 2010
Eve witnesses the death of a gypsy woman who transfers her mind to Eve in order to rescue her granddaughter from behind the red door. Eve can speak Hungarian and knows how to make goulash which convinces Roarke she’s possessed. She investigates the life of the gypsy’s granddaughter who with other dancers has gone missing over the years. An injured dancer kidnaps them and forces them to dance every night for him.
This book has four other novella stories by four different authors but each story has a ghost in it to tie them to the same theme.
J.D. Robb has done several of these novellas in between her full-length novels. If that is something a writer is interested in, this would be a good example of each book with a similar theme but very different stories.
REMEMBER WHEN AKA BlG JACK September 2003
This is two stories tied together. The first is a romance (written by Nora Roberts) in which Laina has built a new life after being moved from place to place by her criminal father Big Jack O’Hara. When one of his partners, Uncle Willy, is hit by a car in front of her gift shop, the past catches up. Private Investigator Max Gannon is looking for missing diamonds in a heist Big Jack participated in. Jack and Willy were con men who didn’t believe in violence but their partner Crew has already killed the fourth inside man in the job and is planning on having all the stolen diamonds for himself. Max thinks Laina is part of it until he meets her and both fall for each other in typical Robb fashion—fast and furious. Laina is her father’s daughter and the reader is kept guessing who’s going to end up with the diamonds in the end.
Fast forward to 2059 and the granddaughter Samantha Gannon has written a book about the romance and hunt for the diamonds. She returns home from a book tour and discovers her house sitter is dead. Then her cleaning lady turns up dead. It is up to Eve and Roarke to discover who is behind the murders. It doesn’t take long for them to realize it’s tied to the diamonds.
For anyone who wants to write a series that spans across time or genre, they should study this book. The background story revealed in the first book is repeated in the second but with different characters and reactions. Robb changes POV more in this book than in others which threw me a few times. She also reveals the killer’s coldness by using his POV and actions late in the book.
Full Scoop – by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes 2006
Dr. Maggie Davenport’s former boyfriend Carl Lee has broken out of jail and wants the money he hid when he left his hometown. Maggie’s daughter Mel doesn’t know he’s her father and their relationship is strained as FBI agent Zack moves in with his own grudge against Carl Lee. Lots of familiar characters make guest appearances, and the Evanovich humor of ice cream, love potions, and hot attractions (sometimes between animals) balance the deadly threat of Carl Lee. If you like the Stephanie Plum series, this is a good one to try.
The authors use multiple POVs. I thought showing what was going on in Carl Lee’s head was important, but I didn’t need POVs from the minor characters. I think she should have had a few scenes with Mel’s POV, especially at the end to share the teenager’s angst.
FULL BLOOM – by Janet Evanovich with Charlotte Hughes 2005
Annie Fortenberry inherited her mother’s B&B and is planning wedding for friends Jamie Swift and Max Holt which ties this story to the Full line series. When Annie’s husband, who disappeared three years ago, is discovered buried in the back yard, she’s the number one suspect. The story is filled with crazy characters including a psychic who is talking to a ghost of Annie’s ancestor, a drunk gardener, and a fat cat. Wes Bridges arrives on a motorcycle and in the usual Evanovich fashion, Annie hits him over the head with a rolling pin, hauls him to the bathroom, and strips him to his heart-covered boxers. Wes says he’s a photographer but is a PI hired by Annie’s mother-in-law to find Annie’s missing husband. Even though he quits the job, Annie’s temper flares and complicates their romance. The story has several suspects for her husband’s murder, but spends most of the time on her eccentric friends. Evanovich delivers on the steamy sex scenes, and if you’re a fan of her style, you’ll enjoy this story. But this cozy mystery has a tame confrontation between Annie and the killer that may disappoint some.
Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae 2016
My niece loaned me this cozy murder mystery with a setting in Scotland.
The highland bookshop mystery is the first in a series and introduces the reader to Janet Marsh, divorced from her cheating husband and owner of a home in Inversgail, Scotland. Her daughter Tallie Marsh has tired of her corporate lawyer career and has joined her along with friends Christine Robertson, a social worker who is taking care of her elderly parents who live in Inversgail, and Summer Jacobs, divorced newspaper worker. They have joined forces to take over a bookstore and add a tea room and bed and breakfast.
The bookstore owners Kenneth and Pamela help them learn the business and get to know the townsfolk before moving away.
They are staying above the bookstore until the tenants move out of Janet’s house and she can move in.
The story introduces the characters in town including Una Graham, a columnist nobody likes who ends up dead in the shed behind Janet’s home. The motive for the murder is strong but isn’t revealed until late in the book.
The four friends come up with a list of suspects and motives throughout the story but their speculation seems a bit sluggish as they repeat information the reader knows. MacRae uses Scottish terms that put the reader in the highlands. The eccentric characters like Rab McGregor, Ian Atkinson, and Constable Hobbs add to the story and should return in the series.