Friday, June 22, 2018

FFB Review: Thorns on Roses by Randy Rawls

I have long been a fan of Randy Rawls work. He hooked me with his Ace Edwards P.I. series that began with Jake’s Burn followed Joseph’s Kidnapping. I could not find reviews of those books so I recently ran again my review of Jade’s Photos which is the third book in that very good series. Right now Randy is out spreading the word of his latest book, Saving Dabba. That new book is the fourth installment of his Beth Bowman series. Today, I want to remind you of another series he has done with my repeat review of the first book, Thorns On Roses. The review below first appeared in this space back on December 30, 2012 in what seems now to have been a lifetime ago.

After you read the repeat review below with the new publishing info, make sure you check out Randy’s guest post from last April on my blog as he discussed his new book, Saving Dabba. You also should read his recent guest post over at PJ Nunn’s Bookbrowsing blog where he discussed how he developed his new book on writing titled Randy’s Boot Camp For Fiction Writers. Finally, make sure you check out the full list of book suggestions today over at Patti’s blog.

You have a lot to read. Good thing it is now officially summer and you have absolutely nothing else to do but pour cool beverages, sip them, and read.



Tom Jeffries has done a lot of things over the years. He used to be a member of Special Forces and still maintains links to his old group. He used to be a Dallas cop. A cop with, according to some, a rather checkered history though nothing was ever proved. These days he is a private investigator in Broward County, Florida.  That means he hands out a lot of business cards with his signature and the slogan--“If I can help, call me.”

The young dead woman in the morgue was found with such a card between her fingers. No doubt a final indignity given by those who raped her and beat her to death.  While the cops have his card, they don’t have her identification or much of anything else. PI Tom Jefferies is in no rush to help them either as he has another way of getting justice.

Mary Lou Smithson was her name and she was in that often difficult time between a young teenager and womanhood. Found in Coral Lakes, the woman was the daughter of old friends Charlie and Lonnie Rogers. Seventeen and sure she knew what she was doing, she was hanging around with a punk boyfriend who sported a certain kind of tattoo. Her parents tried everything to stop her escalating dangerous behavior with no effect. Now, she is in the morgue dead and Tom Jefferies wants answers and justice. That tattoo is going to be a major piece of the puzzle.


What follows is a far more complicated story than your typical vigilante style book. Far different in style and tone from the Ace Atkins series, author Randy Rawls has created a much harder character who isn’t bound by what law enforcement would consider permissible. While there are the occasional inside nods to readers familiar with his other series based in Texas, Tom Jeffries has very little in common with Ace Atkins.

He also has little time for outsiders no matter their intentions as he is on a mission for Mary Lou Smithson. A mission increasingly jeopardized by solid police work, a romantic entanglement, and other issues including the toll the quest is taking on this heavily conflicted character.

Published by L & L Dreamspell, this is the powerful start no doubt of a new series from Randy Rawls. Dark in tone with occasional flashes of humor and romance, the 266 page read takes readers on much more than a vengeance ride. Thorns On Roses is a good one and well worth your time.




Thorns on Roses
Randy Rawls
L & L Dreamspell
July 2011
ISBN# 978-1-60318-375-8
Paperback (also available in eBook format)
266 Pages
$14.95


Material supplied by the author quite some time ago in exchange for my objective review.



Kevin R. Tipple ©2012, 2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Becket Factor: Michael David Anthony

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Review: Robert B Parker’s Old Black Magic: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins


Robert B Parker’s Old Black Magic: A Spenser Novel is the seventh since Ace Atkins took over the franchise and is another good one. Mr. Atkins continues to stay true to the series while also his own little changes to bring some new life into the characters. At the same time he also acknowledges the passing of time and how none of us are going to get out alive. Contrary to what happened before in much of the series, folks are now aging and Spenser is frequently contemplating the mortality of both man and animal. That concept was present in the previous novels written by Mr. Akins, but makes its presence here in multiple ways almost to the level of a character in the tale.

It is early summer, a light rain is falling, and Locke has come to Spenser’s office with one last request. Locke has terminal cancer and wants the case that he has chased for almost twenty years solved. Three paintings were stolen from the Winthrop Art Museum almost twenty years ago in what remains the biggest heist ever. While some would consider the works priceless, others place the value in the tens of millions. Locke has chased the paintings ever since with little to go on over the years.

With the twenty year anniversary of the theft coming up a person or persons unknown has started sending letters to the museum’s director, Marjorie Ward Phillips. The letters don’t seem to be a ransom demand. The letters do communicate details of the theft that only those directly involved would know. Locke has put in a word with the director and has made it clear that he wants Spenser to finish what he started. Take over the case, find the paintings, and bring them back where they belong. Locke thinks the letters will lead to a real chance to recover the paintings and wants Spenser, as a favor to a dying man and friend, to take the case.

How do you say no to a dying man?

You don’t. Spenser certainly can’t. From the start at least some of the museum’s board absolutely does not want Spenser involved. There are those among the criminal element at Boston who don’t want him involved. Local law enforcement also would prefer him to stay out of things. Still, a promise was made to a dying man, so Spenser isn’t about to go away. Nor are many others who only care about getting a piece of the five million dollar reward.

Robert B Parker’s Old Black Magic: A Spenser Novel is a solidly good read. Ace Atkins does a nice job of weaving the old and new in terms of characters and settings while also crafting a mystery with plenty of misdirection. People and places evolve over time and those changes provide a nice background nuance to the highly entertaining read.


Robert B Parker’s Old Black Magic: A Spenser Novel
Ace Atkins
G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House)
2018
ISBN# 978-0-399-17701-9
Hardback (also available in eBook and audio formats)
325 Pages
$27.00


Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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Monday, June 18, 2018

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Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: Mercy Kill by Lori Armstrong


Mercy Kill  by Lori Armstrong (Touchstone, 2011) is the second of three mysteries about Mercy Gunderson, a former Army sharpshooter returned home to her native western South Dakota. Like many returned veterans, Mercy is having trouble finding a sense of purpose and figuring out her place on her family’s ranch, which is being threatened by an oil pipeline. After going on a months-long bender, she gives up drinking for a bartending job in a friend’s local dive. She learns when he visits the dive that the representative sent by the oil pipeline company to coax the locals into accepting the incursion across their land is a former squad leader who saved her life in Iraq.

Her deep sense of obligation kicks in when she finds his body outside the bar after closing up one night. Since he was roundly despised by nearly everyone, the pool of suspects is considerable. She could tell from her interactions with him at the bar that Jason was no longer the person she knew in Iraq; she realized just how much he had changed when she learns he had hundreds of bottles of prescription painkillers in his suitcase. Everything points to a drug deal gone sidewise and the most likely culprits the psychopath drug dealers from the nearby reservation, feared by all who know them. Curiously, or perhaps not, considering the reputation of the drug dealers, the local sheriff seems disinclined to pursue the case so Mercy feels that she must get to the truth of Jason’s death herself.

A complicated gritty story with well-defined characters and a sharply delineated location. The scenery of western South Dakota in the spring comes alive here and makes living there understandable. Mercy is a complex person seeking to understand herself and to find a new way to relate to the people around her. She was a little too gleeful about shooting prairie dogs for me to find her wholly likeable, however.

There were many references to events in the preceding book but I do not think it is necessary to read these books in order to fully understand them.



·         Paperback: 320 pages
·         Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (January 11, 2011)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 1416590978
·         ISBN-13: 978-1416590972


Aubrey Hamilton ©2018

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

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Happy Father's Day 2018!


Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Cheeky Wench: AN OPEN LETTER TO JEFF BEZOS by Suzan Tisdale

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KRL This Week Update for 6/16/18

Up in KRL this morning a review & giveaway (all giveaways this issue continue until June 30) of "Murder on Union Square" by Victoria Thompson along with an interesting interview with Victoria http://kingsriverlife.com/06/16/murder-on-union-square-by-victoria-thompson/

Also, in honor of Pride month, a look at Val McDermid's mystery series featuring feminist lesbian reporter Lindsay Gordonhttp://kingsriverlife.com/06/16/the-80s-redux-three-lindsay-gordons-by-val-mcdermid/

We also have reviews & giveaways of 3 more fun mysteries for your summer reading-"Murder She Wrote, A Date with Danger" by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Jon Land, "Murder Most Fermented": A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery by Christine E. Blum, and "Hide and Sneak": A Savannah Reid Mystery by G.A. McKevett

And a review & giveaway of "Beachboy Murders" (you can also win the first book in the series-and remember all contests go through June 30) by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, along with a guest post by them where they share some Hawaii memories and a recipehttp://kingsriverlife.com/06/16/beachboy-murders-by-sally-j-smith-and-jean-steffens/

And a review & giveaway of "Dead as a Doornail" by Tonya Kappes along with something a little extra (remember all giveaways go through June 30) http://kingsriverlife.com/06/16/dead-as-a-doornail-by-tonya-kappes/

And we hvae a review & giveaway of "Bleeding Tarts" by Kirsten Weiss, along with a pie recipe perfect for Father's Day (remember all giveaways go through June 30) http://kingsriverlife.com/06/16/bleeding-tartsby-kirsten-weiss/

And a review of the mystery TV show "Hetty Wainthropp Investigations" http://kingsriverlife.com/06/16/hetty-wainthropp-investigations-online-streaming-entertainment/

We also have a mystery short story by Kathleen Delaney http://kingsriverlife.com/06/16/the-trip-mystery-short-story/

And on KRL News & Reviews we have a review & giveaway of "Pick and Chews" by Linda O. Johnston (giveaway is extended to June 30 because there is no issue June 23) http://www.krlnews.com/2018/06/pick-and-chews-linda-johnston.html

Happy reading, 
Lorie 

PS Because we will be out of town there will not be an issue on June 23.

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Saturdays With Kaye: Death on Nantucket by Francine Mathews

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This fifth Merry Folger mystery starts slowly. A woman named Nora has come home to visit her father, Spence Murphy. Everyone knows who Spence is, a journalist who has become famous for his writings, but the cab driver doesn’t know who Nora is. Even some of the family have never heard of her, an adopted daughter. Meanwhile, Meredith Folger is planning her wedding to Peter Mason in a few months on the beautiful island.


The gentile surroundings, seaside houses of the privileged, and the prosaic lives of the inhabitants, lull the reader along pleasantly until…there’s a body. It belongs to Nora. Now old resentments start bubbling to the surface. Spence lives in a huge, rambling beachside house called Step Above. He’s getting more deaf and confused as he ages. His family is surprised to learn that Nora had been to see Spence a month ago, but much more surprised when her body is discovered a month later, on the decrepit roof walk where no one ventures. It’s learned that Nora, a former journalist, was planning on writing a book that could cause trouble.


Detective Merry Folger is assigned to investigate Nora’s suspicious death, her body too decomposed to glean many details. Her ogre of a boss is trying to make her life so hard that she’ll quit the police force. The case is hard enough. She doesn’t think any of the family members feel much grief over the passing of their patriarch. When dried apricot seeds are found mixed in with the coffee, and the coffee cup found beside the body is discovered to contain the residue of coffee, milk, and cyanide, the investigation is off and running. Family animosities swirl, making it hard for Merry to solve this cozy-feeling crime. The deeper she delves, the more tangles she discovers, blocked by dark histories that have deep roots. The story is lovely and atmospheric, with a sinister crime to solve.


Bonus: the reader learns how to prepare bluefish properly.




Reviewed by Kaye George, Editor of, Day of the Dark: Eclipse Stories, for SuspenseMagazine.