Tag Archives: murder

Ghost Gifts (Ghost Gifts #1) (2016 Montlake Romance) by Laura Spinella

Aubrey Ellis grew up learning to control the physically ravaging and emotionally draining interactions with ghosts who insist upon her assistance, ghosts who always leave tangible evidence of the encounter. As an adult, she’s settled into a position as a real estate columnist that gives her the opportunity to connect with and aid those who have passed on to continue their journey without too much damage to herself. Then she’s sucked into a decades old unsolved murder after new evidence emerges. Her reluctant partnership with fellow journalist Levi St. John takes her in new and unexpected directions, personally and professionally, and she comes fully into herself.

Although Spinella is designated a romance writer, I found the romance to be an integral part of a paranormal story and not the focus. She spins a ghost story so enchanting that I looked forward to meeting the ghosts and cheered Aubrey on when she succeeded in convincing Levi of her gift / curse. I love when writers understand human emotions, building character integrity and deepening genre novels. Spinelli is brilliant at laying down the elements that came together later in the story, doing so without distracting from the current scene. The tension builds as the story veers from the apparent guilt of one character to another, and I did not guess the true culprit, even with the hints sprinkled about everywhere.

Readers who are intrigued by the possibility of the existence of ghosts and the ability to converse with them will like this story. If you liked the television series Ghost Whisperer, you will love Aubrey’s story.

Thank you, Laura Spinella, for gifting me the digital copy of the first Ghost Gifts. I love it!

Most Wanted (2016 St. Martin’s Press) by Lisa Scottoline

Christine and Marcus want a baby so much that they use a sperm donor. Pregnant Christine sees their donor on the news being arrested for multiple murders. Against Marcus’ wishes, she visits him and helps him with his defense. She vacillates between thinking him innocent and guilty, believing he is her sperm donor and desperately wanting him to be a good person.

Scottoline’s standalone novels are as twisty and turny as her lawyer series. Her unique storylines are compelling and emotional. As in most of her books, Scottoline’s protagonist proceeds on her mission with confidence despite those she loves disagreeing with her. Christine relies on her best friend when her husband opposes her. She does what she believes is moral and ethical.

Readers who like John Grisham and / or David Baldacci would likely appreciate Scottoline. If you love a fast-moving thriller with complex characters and ambiguous situations, you’ll like this story.

The Husband’s Secret (2013 Berkley) by Liane Moriarty

While looking in the attic for something, Cecilia finds a letter from her husband to be opened upon his death. Her life becomes intertwined with the secretary of the school who lost her daughter to murder 30 years and a young mom who separated from her husband and came home to care for her mother with a broken ankle. Cecilia discovers the limits of her endurance and her loyalty to her family.

Moriarty intricately weaves stories and lives together with conscientious telling details. I love the different perspectives of all the characters, how much more complex they are then they seem. Though Cecilia is the main character, the other two women are just as relevant to the story, and even minor characters are developed enough to envision. The big secret is not held until the end from the reader, yet Moriarty continues building tension until the final revelation.

I suspect Agatha Christie fans would like Moriarty’s work. Readers who love mysteries, the complexity of small town relationships, and familial nuances will appreciate this story.

Mining for Justice (2017 Midnight Ink) by Kathleen Ernst

Chloe finds lots of trouble when she visits her fellow curator Claudia in Mineral Springs, where the historical site that her friend works for is at risk of closing due to monies being directed toward Chloe’s worksite Old World Wisconsin. While Chloe researches the mystery of the ancient skeleton found in another friend’s basement, she nearly succumbs to contemporary murderers. The house with the potential murder victim was built by the Pascoe family, whom we follow in a parallel tale on their immigration from Cornwall, England to mineral mining pioneering in Wisconsin.

I’m delighted to discover that this book is part of a series. Unfortunately, I’ve just read the latest, which is actually fine, because it’s self-contained. The author is an excellent storyteller. She takes the reader through the past and present tales, linking them through artifacts, ancestry, and setting. I’m frustrated that clues for Chloe’s epiphanies are not always revealed to the reader, but secrets are released in a timely manner. My questions as I read were all answered by the end, not necessarily where I would have placed them, but satisfying, nonetheless. The history woven throughout made me want to visit the historical sites. She even included photographs and a glossary of Cornish terms.

Readers who love a good mystery and / or well-wrought historical fiction will like this series. I received an ARC through NetGalley.com and the launch date is October 8.

Edinburgh Twilight (2017 Thomas & Mercer) by Carol Lawrence

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton seeks a serial killer in Edinburgh. DI Hamilton is a quick study of character, clever, and compassionate towards those considered “dregs of society.” A tragedy and unanswered questions spur him toward justice.

Lawrence carefully weaves backstory into the contemporary tale. I wish she had done the same with side characters, instead of introducing each one as they were needed to move the story forward, which makes those chapters feel cleaved from the main story even as they contribute information. All of her characters have distinctive traits, many of them delightfully quirky.

Readers who love mysteries, parallel storylines, complex family characters, and / or 19th century Scotland will like this book.

I appreciate receiving an advanced digital copy from Net Galley at netgalley.com.