Echoes in Death

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.

Impending Love and Promise

Impending Love and Promise by Laura Freeman

Published Dec. 17, 2018 by The Wild Rose Press and available at  http://goo.gl/0fBnFq or Amazon at https://goo.gl/B7lKMs

The Civil War is over, but a chance encounter between Jules Beecher and a man from her past turns a simple trip to find her orphaned cousins into a dangerous journey. Determined to keep a promise to her father,she puts her life at risk but finds a reluctant hero in Dr. Roe Greystone. Can Jules heal the “broken doll” of the battlefield or will the past destroy any future?   

Roe abandoned the profession of medicine, exhaustedfrom the suffering and butchering of the Civil War. Co-owner of a sternwheeler,Roe knew Jules was trouble the moment the kindhearted innocent boarded the Jenny Lee. He is determined to protectJules from a madman, but will this Romeo risk all to rescue his Juliet?

Excerpt:

Roe Greystone stood firm but felt sorry for the women who left in silence, their faces drawn and downcast. They had given up. Soldiers hadn’t been the only casualty of the war.

He asked names, noting if they had the majority of their teeth when they spoke. He looked for sores beneath the powder and rouge. Up close he could see bloodshot eyes and smell the odor of cheap liquor on their breath when they answered his questions. He allowed those to remain who appeared healthy and had a spark of life still glimmering in their desperate eyes. The work wasn’t easy, and they’d earn their passage.

He reached the end of the line and stopped in front of a girl. He glanced at the other women who were older, dressed in garish mismatched outfits, or had lacked any signs of education, grace, or manners when they had spoken.

This one didn’t belong. The young woman wore a tailored jacket and simple skirt that emphasized her trim figure. Her face startled him by the resemblance to another woman he knew. He’d been thinking of Miss Jessie yesterday. He had admired her for her beauty and courage, but she had been married, and with a husband like Major Morgan Mackinnon, entertaining thoughts of seduction would have been suicidal. He glanced at the girl’s bare hand. No ring.

Her features were similar yet differences existed between the two women. They could have been sisters. This one had large blue eyes that met his gaze. She smiled, and he was captivated. “You have all your teeth.”

Her eyebrows arched above a look of surprise. “Are you buying a horse or hiring a waitress?”

Possession in Death by J.D. Robb

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 IMG_2519 (2)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 by J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts

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 IMG_2533 (2)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

Full Scoop – by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes 2006

Dr. Maggie Davenport’s former boyfriend Carl Lee has broken out of jail and wants IMG_2353 (2)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 and Charlotte Hughes

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’sIMG_2354 (2) 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

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 IMG_0798 (2)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.

 

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich  2010

This book is based on characters in one of the holiday books Janet Evanovich wrote and were tied to the Stephanie Plum series. Diesel, who has been in previous Stephanie PlumWicked Appetite stories is matched with Lizzy Tucker who has special powers to identify magical Stones tied to the Deadly Seven Sins. Diesel’s cousin Wulf also wants the stones and Lizzy to find them. Enter Diesel to protect her. Lizzy works at a bakery and makes magically delicious cupcakes with her two not-so-normal co-workers. Glo buys a book of spells that go wrong in her hands. (Think Lulu). Lizzy inherited her aunt Ophelia’s house and Glo rescues a weird cat that turns out to have belonged to Ophelia. Add Carl the monkey (from the Plum series), also rescued by Glo and it’s typical Evanovich chaos. The book is better than some of her holiday stories, but still lacks the chemistry the early Plum stories had. It’s disturbing that Diesel climbs into bed naked with Lizzy after just meeting her. In today’s world of perverts and unwelcome touching, his actions made me uncomfortable although Evanovich tries to paint it as normal fun and games.

I think I like the Stephanie Plum series because Stephanie represents the ordinary every girl surrounded by hunks and crazy people, and she deals with them without breaking a sweat. Some characters like Stephanie have a great connection with the reader, and I wish I knew what made the difference.

What makes a character connect with you?

Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich

Turbo Twenty-Three 2016

I continue to read this series even though the slapstick is predictable, and Stephanie will never make up her mind about the men in her life. Stephanie is having sex regularly with Morelli but on a trip to Disney World, she spends the night with Ranger. Nobody wants to commit so Stephanie will remain single forever. And the series will go on. Evanovich has plenty of action, and the books are a fast read. Just sit back and go along for the ride.Turbo 23

Stephanie stumbles onto a plot to ruin ice-cream man Bogart when the HR person ends up frozen and covered in chocolate and nuts in the back of a stolen truck driven by one of her skips. Ranger is hired to do security and Stephanie goes undercover. She works the factory line, loads the truck, and works as the clown before the truck is blown up. [Fans know that was coming.] Another skip is an Asian mobster who turns out to have ice cream cups in his office he’s using to ship drugs around the area. He threatens Stephanie, and a clown breaks into her room and almost strangles her. She recognizes the clown when staking out the Asian’s office. They capture her and plan to make a popsicle out of her.

What do you think about Stephanie and the series?

Do you think she should choose between Morelli and Ranger or remain single?

Who is your favorite character?

 

 

“Z” is for Zero

“Z” is for Zero – No more.

A CraftonI finished reading the series and I thought I would summarize what I’ve learned from Sue Grafton’s books. She began writing in 1982 and died in 2017. That’s 35 years to write 26 books. Some writers pen 3 to 4 books a year, but Grafton did a lot of research and you could always count on learning the details of a subject in her stories. She liked description and used it for locations, buildings, clothing, and the characters.

Even if you don’t use a lot of description, a few lines help to set the place, person, and mood of the story.

Grafton wasn’t afraid of trying new things. The earlier stories followed a traditional detective or PI point of view as Kinsey is hired to find out who killed someone, and she has to interview the suspects, watch for lies, and make notes of the clues until a final showdown with the bad guy, escaping with her life and capturing the killer.

Many times the original murder occurred years before and in later books, she uses other POVs to flip back and forth between the past and present to flesh out the other characters beyond observation and help explain any motives. Sometimes her plots are complex and other times she gives us a breather with only a few characters and a simple plot. Don’t follow the same old formula when writing a series. Kinsey’s personal life is doled out over the series, and she adds friends to her circle with more of them becoming regulars as the series progresses. Jonah, Cheney and Dietz move in and out of her love life, and it would have been nice to see how they all ended up in “Z” or if Grafton would have left us guessing. I’ll add Henry to a possible husband although Kinsey laments their age difference. What does it matter as she gets older?

Grafton showed how to keep even a lone wolf like Kinsey surrounded by interesting people. She ended up in trouble more than once helping out her friends. Some of her later books had multiple story lines that tied together in the end. It takes skill to keep the stories clear and bring them together logically and smoothly. Grafton also used current events and social issues in her stories like Medicare fraud, mental illness, and abuse of the elderly. Look to the news for story ideas.IMG_0943 (2)

In the end, she made us care about Kinsey and that’s what a great writer does. No matter how intricate the plot, no matter how beautiful the setting, give the reader a reason to fall in love with your main character.

Do you have a favorite author you would recommend to others?