REVIEW: GONE TO DUST By Matt Goldman

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Published Aug 15, 2017 by Forge Books

Set in Minnesota, Gone to Dust is the debut private eye murder mystery from Emmy Award-winning Seinfeld writer Matt Goldman.

A brutal crime. The ultimate cover-up. How do you solve a murder with no useable evidence?

Suburban divorcee Maggie Somerville was found murdered in her bedroom, her body, bedroom and house covered in some sort of dirty dust leading to all potential DNA evidence being obscured by the calculating killer.

Nils Shapiro is called in by his friend Ellegaard to help investigate and soon his leads are making the higher ups very uncomfortable.

After the FBI demands that Nils drop the case, Nils and Ellegaard are forced to take their investigation underground. Is this a strange case of domestic violence or something with far reaching, sinister implications?

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This murder mystery is narrated by Nils Shapiro, former police officer turned private detective who’s made a name for himself as a pretty successful PI in Minneapolis. I really enjoyed hearing from Nils right away in the first few chapters. I thought he seemed smart, yet sarcastic, with more of that dry sense of humor that I would imagine is very hard to pull off as a writer. I was immediately immersed in the frigid Minneapolis winter and thinking how hard it would be to live in a place that cold. Brrr! Of course, these dark, cold and dreary winter days made for the perfect backdrop for murder and it wasn’t long into the story until Nils arrives at Maggie Somerville’s home. Maggie was divorced and lived on her own and was found dead in her bed. What made this so interesting was the fact that she, as well as pretty much her whole house, was covered in thick layers of dust. What a brilliant way to cover your tracks if you’re a killer huh?

The story progresses at a fairly slow pace and as Nils puts pieces of the puzzle together and makes several key discoveries, he starts making others, namely the FBI, very nervous. Not one to back down, Nils is eventually forced off the case and he and his detective friend continue their investigation in secret.

Much of the puzzle solving as well as the writing style worked for me and I really did want to find out ‘whodunit’, however, for much of the book after the initial few chapters I found my mind wandering. There were several suspects and possibilities but I didn’t feel that tension and page turning quality that I look for in mysteries that really keep me on the edge of my seat. I’m not sure if it was the added extras of Nils personal drama with his ex-wife but something was keeping me from being excited and not wanting to put this down. I will say that I didn’t have the ‘whodunit’ or the why figured out but when I did reach the conclusion I felt like maybe if I’d have payed a little more attention I would’ve. I think die hard mystery lovers may really like this debut but may very well be able to figure it out. All in all, I think this was a solid debut and may appeal to those who like slower paced mysteries that can be read in an afternoon.

Many thanks to Forge Books for my copy 

 

 

REVIEW: DEAD WOMAN WALKING By Sharon Bolton

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From Goodreads

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . . 

 

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This review contains NO Spoilers I promise! 

I don’t typically post a review an entire MONTH before U.K. publication day (April 20) and 5 MONTHS before U.S pub day!!  I just couldn’t contain my excitement until mid-April! I have to share with everyone the wonder that is Sharon Bolton’s newest page turner. You just might find yourself itching to hit the pre-order button to get this gem for yourself….especially US readers who may not realize you don’t have to wait until September to buy this one. How fantastic is that?!

So in what’s going to be my most vague review to date , mini or otherwise, let me tell you why I loved this book and think you just might also. If you’ve read any of Sharon’s other books, you know she is a master at pulling you into the fold with truly engaging, multidimensional characters and this story is no different. We meet Jessica and her sister Isabel as they are traveling in a hot air balloon with several others when they witness a murder committed while flying over an isolated house. This is a truly brilliant, creative way of setting up a murder and the balloon ride….chilling, heart-stopping, riveting. The murderer quickly realizes he’s been seen by the people in the balloon and what ensues is a taut, compelling game of cat-and-mouse that will have you GLUED to the pages, staying up late into the night, ignoring friends and family as you just won’t be able to put this one down!

Let me just throw out some other elements that made this such a phenomenal read…nuns…not just any nuns, think CSI Sister Act…peacocks (yes you read that right) …corruption on SO many levels…gypsies… This is just a taste of the unique twists Sharon Bolton has brought to what is one of the BEST mysteries she’s wrote to date in my opinion. Speaking of twists…I’m not really sure how long it took me to pick my jaw up off the counter when all was said and done. I had to sit for a minute in quiet awe because every time I think she can’t really pull off that big of a surprise she manages to knock me off my feet. I was speechless. Just brilliant!

You might be wondering why I haven’t told you anything about the plot? I went into this book completely blind except for the blurb above which is what’s on the actual book cover and I really, really encourage you to do the same. This story is best discovered by diving in with your eyes closed! Believe me, you’ll thank me. And it’s Sharon Bolton…you’re in the capable hands of a writer (one of the best:) who in all seriousness has yet to write even a mediocre book. I’ve read just about ALL her books so I feel qualified to say that:)  I can’t wait to discuss this one with everyone!!

5/5 stars 

Happy reading!

**Many, Many Thanks to Sharon Bolton and Alison Barrow of Transworld Books for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review.

If you’re in the US (and other countries as well) and don’t want to wait until Sept publication you can pre-order Dead Woman Walking when it’s released in the UK on April 20th on BookDepository. I’m not in any way affiliated with them, I just recently began ordering from them myself and they offer free worldwide shipping so I thought I’d pass along that link for you

REVIEW: THE ICE PRINCESS By Camilla Lackberg

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Returning to her hometown of Fjallbacka after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life.

Erica conceives a book about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their own shared past. While her interest grows into an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about a small town with a deeply disturbing past. 

 

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Camilla Lackberg has been high on my list of authors I need to read. After discovering I needed to start at the beginning and read the series in order (thanks Chelsea at TheSuspenseisThrillingMe & Abby at CrimeBytheBook 🙂 I was happy I was able to snag this at my local library! The story begins with the discovery of Alex Wijkner’s dead body which is found frozen in her bathtub and at first glance looks to be suicide. Questions about whether it was suicide or murder, however, quickly arise. Writer Erica Falck , who was a childhood friend of Alex and also found her body, is pulled deeper into the mystery of Alex’s death when she is asked by Alex’s parents to write about her life. As she delves deeper into Alex’s past, she begins to realize her childhood friend harbored many secrets.

In the course of her “investigation” Alex runs into another childhood friend, Patrik Hedstrom, who’s now a detective and running the official police investigation into Alex’s death. It seems Patrik had a crush on Erica when they were growing up, and now recently divorced, his interest in her is immediately rekindled and the two begin to share information on Alex’s death. I have to say, I thought Patrik was the most well-developed character in the book. I liked him right away and really hoped his feelings for Erica would be reciprocated. I did, however, wonder about him sharing details of the police investigation with Erica…I’m not convinced a police detective in the real world would do that.

Along with the main storyline of Alex’s death, there were threads of other subplots weaved throughout the story, some relevant and at least one not so much. I thought the subplot involving Erica’s sister Anna actually broke up the narrative flow of the story when it was brought in. The other subplots I found intriguing and wondered how they would end up being tied to the resolution of the mystery. Then, when another person with key ties to Alex’s death is also found dead, things began to get very interesting.

I found myself thoroughly enjoying the set up of the mysteries and the key players, right up until about the halfway mark and then, for me, the pace seemed to slow down and I felt there was quite a bit of extraneous details about the characters personal feelings and emotional states which often left me feeling pretty bored. The ending was somewhat of a disappointment as I had most of the mystery figured out. I also thought the way those who were guilty was revealed was extremely neat and tidy; thorough confessions by the guilty come across as very unrealistic to me. That being said, I’m very interested in seeing where the author takes Patrik in the future so I do plan on picking up the next installment in the series sometime in the near future.

3/5 Stars

THROWBACK THURSDAY: SLIPPING INTO DARKNESS By Peter Blauner

 

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Throwback Thursday continues as I scour my shelf for old favorites . I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My pick this week is:

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Published January 2006 by Little, Brown and Company

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

When a twenty-year-old murder case comes back to life, a detective must race against his failing sight to unravel the mystery

When Allison Wallis was beaten to death, Detective Francis X. Loughlin found the killer—Julian Vega, a teenager with a crush on the murdered girl. Using his natural sense of empathy, he cozied up to young Julian, convincing him to give a confession that would put him away until he was thirty-six.

Twenty years later, Julian is finally out of jail, attempting to remember how to live in a world without bars, and Detective Loughlin is still on the job, his sight fading, though his instincts are still sharp. But when Allison’s blood appears at a new crime scene, everything he thought he knew about that long-ago murder is called into question. Was it really Allison they buried? Was Julian actually the killer? And if he wasn’t, who else is in danger now?

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Although this book was published many years ago, I just read it in 2014 when a good reading friend passed it along to me. I have a strong interest in stories where teenagers under 18 are pitted against our criminal justice system. In light of the recent success of Making a Murderer and Serial Season 1 with Adnan Syad, this book explores many of the same legal, ethical, and moral issues highlighted in those stories. It’s also a fantastic mystery with some of the best characterization I’ve read in recent years. These characters are flawed; they feel real. And if you can figure out the answers to the above questions at the end of the blurb, you’re a better detective than me because I didn’t have this puzzle figured out! If you like mysteries with flawed characters that pull your emotional strings, I think you’ll love this book.

If you’ve already read this one, drop me a quick comment, I’d love to hear what you thought of it:)

STANDALONE SUNDAY:THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE By Lou Berney

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Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick is:

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Published Feb 2015 by William Morrow

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

With the compelling narrative tension and psychological complexity of the works of Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly, Edgar Award-nominee Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone is a smart, fiercely compassionate crime story that explores the mysteries of memory and the impact of violence on survivors—and the lengths they will go to find the painful truth of the events that scarred their lives

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.

As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them? 

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The interesting thing that drew me to this novel was the lettering of the title. That may sound weird but I remember scrolling through Bookbub’s daily deals one day and the style of this title as well as the title itself just caught my eye. I find it so interesting to think think about what draws us in or repels us as far as titles and book covers go. I had never heard of this author but once I read the book’s description I was sold. I loved the idea of two mysteries being set in the summer of the late 1980’s. I have to tell you, not only is this an excellent crime story, it’s beautifully written.  The characters and setting felt real as his writing puts you there, in that movie theatre and at the county fair.  I really believe you’ll be hard pressed to put this one down once you start reading as Berney’s writing compels you to want to find out what happened that long ago summer. He expertly shifts perspectives between Wyatt and Julianna as well as between past and present. This book was one of my top 5 favorites of 2015 and I’d say if you love crime fiction with intriguing mysteries and you haven’t yet read this one, I think you’ll want to put this at the top of your TBR.