Big Little Spies by Krista Davis ( A Paws & Claws Mystery)

Big Little Spies (Paws and Claws Mystery #7)

Number 7 in this series.

Inn owner, Holly Miller has a full house of women from the Wagtail Animal Guardians. They are in town for the pet adoption charity ball.

Holly and Trixie are crazy busy when she receives a call from her grandmother’s friend, Rose. It seems the recently widowed Judge has lost his german shepherd. The housekeeper has called in a pet detective but Rose thinks Holly and the gang can find him first.

And maybe they do, but finding a dead pet detective wasn’t on the list of things to do.

The ladies at the inn are acting sketchy and have each other’s backs, but Holly isn’t so convinced that one of them isn’t a killer.

The characters in this series are adorable! The pups, the old ladies, even the cats play a role. Ms. Davis understands her audience very well and this is one of the best Cozy Mystery Series.

NetGalley/ March 30th, 2021 by Berkley Books





DANGER IN NUMBERS by HEATHER GRAHAM

Florida State Police Agent, Amy Larson, never expected the sight she was about to see on the edge of the Everglades. Just off a remote road, but not far enough away that someone won’t see the horrible crime that has been committed and left for them to find.

This is some gory stuff going on here and it has the look of someone who has killed before. When the FBI jumps in with a similar case, we meet Agent Hunter Forrest. Yes, that is the name. He somehow has a lot of information on local cults and how they work and as we find out he also knows how to escape them.

There are plenty of suspicious characters. And none of them tell the entire truth, which leads one to think there is someone on the inside who they are all afraid of. But we never get enough information on that which could have been good.

This was not my favorite work by Graham. I didn’t feel I knew Amy at all and Hunter Forrest? That was predictable. What should have been a timely and thrilling story fell flat for me.

March 23rd, 2021 by MIRA

THE LOST VILLAGE by CAMILLA STEN

The Lost Village

I do love Scandinavian Noir! And this one is creepy, scary, and oh so gory! Once I started reading it I could not stop. Okay, I could, but I didn’t.

Alice wants to make a documentary. She’s low on money and equipment but she has a good friend who will put up some money if he can come along. An old friend/enemy has also agreed to come and Alice hated asking her but she is good and interested.

Alice has been a bit obsessed with the residents who just vanished from the old mining town. In 1959 the mine closed and that same year her grandmother’s entire family disappeared. Sure people came in and looked around but all they found were empty houses and in the square one dead woman tied to a pole and in the school, a baby crying. They took the baby and the town was just forgotten. But not by Alice.

When her small team arrives the place is deserted. It looks as if people got up from dinner and never came back. From the first night, they all can feel something isn’t right. They are not alone here. As things heat up they don’t even trust each other. Every one of them has secrets and one is a real shocker.

Reading this book was like watching the Blair Witch Project. You wanted to turn away but you wanted to know the who and why of everything. I loved every scary, gory moment of this one!

NetGalley Review/ March 23rd, 2021 by Minotaur Books

THE JIGSAW MAN by NADINE MATHESON *BLOG TOUR* @nadinematheson @HarlequinBooks

The Jigsaw Man

A serial killer and his copycat are locked in a violent game of cat and mouse. Can DI Anjelica Henley stop them before it’s too late?

DI Anjelica Henley is back on active duty with the SCU. She has no idea what she will face when called out to a crime scene.

By the river, dismembered body parts are washing up. While the crime has all of the marks of a serial killer she locked up not that long ago, she knows he is still in strict lockdown. Right?

The Jigsaw Killer. A total sociopath. No remorse, no second thoughts, just monstrous acts against people that would send the strongest of cops running.

When Anjelica can’t find answers she goes to the source. Peter Olivier. The Jigsaw Killer. Who also tried to kill her. He isn’t happy someone is copying his crimes. Not at all happy. Which is very scary for some people.

Horror at its finest! Hope to hear more about this!



A Sneak Peek:

Chapter Two

‘How long have we got until the tide comes in?’ Henley was facing the river watching the small waves crashing against the derelict pier. She checked her watch. Nearly two hours had passed since the first 999 call. 

‘I checked online, and high tide is at 9.55 a.m.’ Ramouter replied as he stepped around a half-submerged car tire, his eyes glazed with anxiety. ‘Low tide was at 3.15. Sunrise was at 6.32. A three-hour window for someone to dump whoever this is and hope that someone would find it before the tide comes in?’

‘Maybe,’ Henley acknowledged. ‘But for all we know it could have been dumped after sunrise or was dumped earlier upstream before being washed up here.’ She inspected the glass façade of the Borthwick Wharf, empty commercial spaces and work units that opened to the terrace and lacked security cameras. Henley doubted that the local council would have extended their own CCTV cameras to this part of the street. They had been neglecting this part of Deptford for as long as she could remember.

‘Has it been touched?’ Henley asked Anthony who had appeared at her side.

‘As far as I’m aware, it’s in situ. It wasn’t touched by the woman who found it. Matei, your builder, said that he hadn’t touched the legs but unhelpfully, it’s covered in his vomit. I had a quick look at the arms that were found downstream before I came here. From the looks of things, the treasure hunters may have prodded around a bit.’

‘There’s always one.’

The wind dropped and the air softly crackled with the electricity generated from the substation nearby.

‘We’re isolating the recovery of evidence to the direct path from the alleyway to the torso,’ said Anthony. ‘I doubt very much that whoever it was sat here and had a coffee afterwards.’

‘They may not have had a coffee, but if we go with Ramouter’s theory and the body parts have been dumped then whoever it was certainly knows the river,’ Henley replied. ‘We’ll let you get on. Ramouter and I are going to take a walk.’

‘Where are we going?’ asked Ramouter.

‘To meet Eastwood.’

‘And you want to walk it?’

Henley did her best to push aside her frustration when Ramouter pulled out his phone. ‘Google maps says that Greenwich pier is almost a mile away,’ he said.

‘Your body-part dumper isn’t the only one who knows the river,’ Anthony shouted out as Henley began to walk determinedly along the riverbank.

The gold scepters on the twin domed roofs of the Old Royal Naval College pierced the cloudless sky. The bare masts of the restored Cutty Sark completed the historical panoramic view that Greenwich was known for. It was a resplendent, whitewashed version of history that contrasted with the sewage that washed ashore. Henley stopped walking when she realized that she could no longer hear the sounds of Ramouter’s leather soles slipping on wet pebbles.

‘Where are you from?’ Henley asked, waiting for Ramouter to take off his jacket and loosen his tie. She moved closer towards the moss-covered river wall as the tide began to encroach.

‘Born in West Bromwich. Moved to Bradford when I was twelve.’ Ramouter tried to brush off the bits of mud that had stuck to his trousers, but they only smeared more. ‘Lots of moors, no rivers. Surely it would have been quicker in the car.’

‘This is quicker. Unless you fancy sitting in traffic for the next half hour while they raise the Creek Road Bridge.’

‘You know this area well?’

Henley ignored the question. She didn’t see the point in telling him that she could have walked this path with her eyes closed. That this small part of South-East London was ingrained in her. ‘Whoever dumped the torso would have taken this route. It doesn’t make any sense to come down here, go back up to the street level and then drive up to Watergate Street. Out of sight, below street level. Lighting would have been minimal.’

‘Body parts are heavy though,’ Ramouter tried to quicken his step to catch up with Henley. ‘The human head weighs at least eight pounds.’

‘I know.’ Henley pulled out her mobile phone, which had started to ring. She saw who it was and ignored the call.

‘Head, torso, arms, legs. That’s at least six individual body parts.’

‘I know that also. So, tell me, what point are you making?’ Henley waited for Ramouter to reach her before maneuvering him towards the river wall as though she was chaperoning a child.

‘I’m just saying that that’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying around at three in morning.’ Ramouter paused and placed his hand against the wall, trying to catch his breath.

Henley didn’t openly express her agreement. She fished out a black hair band from her jacket pocket and pulled her thick black curls into a ponytail. She had forgotten how much energy it took to walk across the gradient slope of the riverbank. Worse, she felt mentally unprepared for the job ahead, with a trainee struggling behind her who had no idea this was her first time as senior investigator in almost a year.

‘It’s a bit grim, isn’t it?’ DC Roxanne Eastwood shouted out as Henley finally reached the first crime scene. ‘Morning, Ramouter. Not a bad gig for your first day.’

Henley had always thought that Eastwood actually looked and carried herself like a detective. Now, Eastwood was poised on the riverbank, the sleeves of her jacket rolled up with her notebook in her hand. She had come prepared for the river and was wearing a pair of jeans and trainers that had seen better days.

‘Morning, Eastie. How does it feel to be out of the office?’ Henley asked, her eyes drifting to a crime scene investigator who was putting an arm into a black bag.

‘I should be asking you that,’ said Eastwood, with a look of concern.

Henley silently appreciated the empathy and placed her hand on Eastwood’s shoulder.

‘But since you asked, it’s bloody terrible. I think I’ve got sunburn.’ Eastwood rubbed a hand over her reddening forehead. ‘Forensics are going to be wrapping up in a bit. Not that there’s much for them to do. Bag it and tag it.’

‘Where’s Mr Thomas?’

‘Ah, our illustrious treasure hunter. Last time I saw him he was heading towards the shops. Said that he needed to get some water for his dog.’ Eastwood shook her head, obviously not believing a word of it. ‘I’ve got an officer keeping an eye on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d already uploaded pictures of his find onto Instagram.’

‘I want him taken back to the station. Ramouter can take another statement from him.’ Henley said it purposely so that Ramouter would sense she was in control. ‘If he’s like most mudlarkers, he would have been out here first thing this morning waiting for the tide to go out. Where exactly were the arms found?’

‘Just over there.’ Eastwood pulled down her sunglasses and pointed towards the foamed waves created by a passing river bus. The tide had already come in where X had once marked the spot. A sense of urgency filled the air as the river regained its territory.

‘Did he say anything else?’

‘Only that he found the second arm about three feet away from the first.’

‘It’s a sick trail of breadcrumbs,’ said Henley.

‘You’re telling me and before you ask about CCTV, there’re loads of cameras—’

‘But none aimed at this part of the river.’

‘Exactly.’

Henley’s mobile phone began to ring. She pulled it out and answered. After a quick chat, she ended the call.

‘That was Dr Linh Choi. You wouldn’t have met her yet but she’s our go-to forensic pathologist. She’s just arrived,’ Henley explained to Ramouter. She wiped away the sweat from the back of her neck.

‘So, we’ve got two arms, both legs and a torso,’ said Ramouter. ‘Where’s the head?’

Good question. Henley thought of the places between the two locations. A primary school, two nurseries and an adventure playground among the flats and houses. The last thing she needed was to find a head in the kids’ sandpit.

‘Can I have a quick look?’ Henley asked the assistant from Anthony’s CSI team, who had just bagged up the arm and was scribbling in her notebook.

‘Sure.’ The assistant unzipped the bag and pushed the plastic apart.

‘Fuck,’ Henley said under her breath. Her heartbeat quickened, her stomach flipped.

‘Oh,’ said Ramouter as he peered over Henley’s shoulder. One arm was covered with gravel. Slivers of seaweed criss-crossed old scars. The second arm. Slender wrist, the ring finger slightly longer than the index, broken fingernails. Black skin. Henley could hear Pellacia’s words from earlier ringing in her ears.

‘Too early to say if it belongs to the same victim or if it’s more than just one.’

‘Call DSI Pellacia,’ Henley told Ramouter. ‘Tell him that we’ve got two possible murder victims.’

NetGalley/ March 16th, 2021 by Hanover Square Press





The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines: A Novel

In this intimate debut novel, a woman returns to her small Southern hometown in the wake of her mother’s sudden death–only to find the past upended by stunning family secrets.

Lila Bruce Breedlove is going home. Home to Wesleyan, Georgia, having left as soon as she could, she isn’t looking forward to going back. While she and her brother, Henry, left and went on to make their own way up north, Abigail, their younger sister stayed. Which makes sense to Lila as Abigail was more like her mother.

Geneva, their overbearing mother has been found dead. Feet up in the muscadine arbor. The same arbor that Lila used as a hiding place as a child. But what in the world was she doing in there? Lila and Henry know they need to go home and find out what happened as well as deal with their past.

In a small southern town appearances are more important than the facts. And the facts that come out as they go about closing out their mother’s life are going to turn everything they ever thought they knew upside down.

Being from a small Georgia town, this could have been any number of people I knew. My own mother just died and good grief the things we found out! Ms. Terry understands this side of southern culture well. I was moved and I laughed as well.

Very well done!

NetGalley/  April 20th, 2021





THE MEMORY COLLECTORS by KIM NEVILLE

Perfect for fans of The Scent Keeper and The Keeper of Lost Things, an atmospheric and enchanting debut novel about two women haunted by buried secrets but bound by a shared gift and the power the past holds over our lives.

Ev is a sensitive. She feels the emotions of every object she touches or comes into contact with. She is so overwhelmed by this mysterious gift that she has turned into a loner. Trusting no one and holding onto her sanity the best way she can.

Unable to hold a job where there are so many people or chances to be overwhelmed by the emotions left anywhere, she scavenges from dumpsters and sells her harmless finds at Vancouver’s night market,trying to make the rent and maybe some food.

Owen is much older than Ev but is also a dumpster diver, looking for odd things to create his art. He also watches out for Ev and makes sure she eats and isn’t bothered.

Harriet is a hoarder. She is also a sensitive and her home is so full of things with bad energy that it is making her neighbors ill. They want her gone. Harriet has a secret too. About Ev. And her sister.

When Harriet and Ev meet, Harriet knows that this is who can help her with her ‘collection’. But Ev wants no part of the mess Harriet has. Until her sister returns from wherever she has been.

In order to keep a roof over their heads, Ev takes Harriet up on her offer and she and Owen begin transferring all of the collection into an abandoned bank which Harriet wants to turn into a healing museum and put all the ‘bad’ vibe things in a bank vault. Really good idea I thought.

But a monkey wrench named Noemi, is bringing an even darker vibe. She’s pushing Ev to remember the past when Ev doesn’t want to. She has blocked out her parents deaths and wishes her sister would just stop. But will she? Will what they find destroy them all? It just may.

Not all the objects one collects are full of happiness and joy. Some are full of anger, hate and death. Be careful which one you choose.

I felt such sympathy for Ev and even Harriet. Not so for Noemi. She was not even close to being a good human being.

So many feelings in this one story. Well Done!

NetGalley Reviews/ March 16th, 2021 by Atria Books

THIS IS THE FIRE (What I Say to My Friends About Racism) by DON LEMON

This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism

Don Lemon brings his vast audience and experience as a reporter and a Black man to today’s most urgent question: How can we end racism in America in our lifetimes?
 

Don Lemon, the anchor of CNN Tonight, is a very popular reporter who has the most conversational writing style I have ever seen. To watch him and to read his words are very much like having a conversation with a friend.

Known for his monologues on racism, broken systems, and administrations that do more harm than good, this book seems even more personal. Showing us what is wrong, how wrong it is, and how we maybe can begin to repair what is broken.

I enjoyed the beginning, which is a letter to his black nephew. He talks about their slave ancestors, activists, politicians, and people he has met and interviewed. We hear about the slave port where his ancestor was shipped to America as a slave. He talks about his growing up and his experiences. Even the 2020 New York protests. The most important thing we can do is to resist racism every single day. EVERY DAY. With Love. Which is hard to do.

I was so comfortable with this book. It honestly felt as if Lemon were talking to me about some really important issues in his famously calm and steady voice. I am from the deep south and understood everything he said. This has to stop or we will never be truly free people.

Very impressed with his words.

NetGalley/ March 16th, 2021 Little, Brown, and Company


Her Dark Lies by J.T.ELLISON *BLOG TOUR* @thrillerchick @HarlequinBooks

Her Dark Lies

At the wedding of the year, a killer needs no invitation

What could be more romantic than a wedding on the Isle Isola? Surrounded by cliffs and water with an over the top villa where you can get lost if you aren’t careful.

Claire Hunter is an artist. On the rise and to top it off, she is marrying Jack Compton of the uber wealthy Compton family. The Comptons have secrets. A lot of secrets.

When Claire and Jack arrive at the villa, things begin to go wrong. A skeleton has been found and it has everyone on edge. Brothers are fighting, the help is sketchy at best. When her wedding dress is ruined and people start dying, she has to find out who is trying to get rid of her. And what happened to Jack’s first wife?

And then the power goes out, and things get even scarier.

J.T. Ellison is always on point with her books. No one does menacing characters and twisty plots like Ellison.

Will this one have a happy ending or will the wedding of the year become something more sinister?

Well Done!

NetGalley/ March 9th, 2021 by MIRA

A Sneak Peek

1

Beginnings and Endings

She is going to die tonight.

The white dress, long and filmy, hampers her effort to run. The hem catches on a branch; a large rend in the fabric slashes open, exposing her leg. A deep cut blooms red along her thigh, and the blood runs down her calf. Her hair has come loose from its braid, flies unbound behind her like gossamer wings.

In her panic, she barely notices the pain.

The path ahead is marked by towering cypress and laurel, verdant and lush. A gray stone waist-high wall is all that stands between her and the cliffside. It is cool inside this miniature forest; the sky is blotted out by the purple-throated wisteria that drapes across and between the trees. Someone, years ago, built an archway along the arbor. The arch’s skeleton has long since rotted away and the flowers droop into the path, clinging trails and vines that brush against her head and shoulders. It should be beautiful; instead it feels oppressive, as if the vines might animate, twist and curl around her neck and strangle her to death.

She tries not to look down to the frothing water roiling against the rocks at the cliff’s base. She thinks the ruins are to her right. From what she remembers, they are between the church and the artists’ colony, the four cottages cowering on the hillside, empty and waiting.

A horn shrieks, and she realizes the ferry is pulling away. A crack of lightning, and she sees the silhouette of the captain in the pilothouse, looking out to the turbulent seas ahead. A gamble that he makes it before the storm is upon them.

Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

Where is the church?

There it is, a flash of white through the trees. The stuccoed walls loom, the bell tower hidden behind the overgrown foliage. Now the path is moving upward, the grade increasing. She feels it in her calves and hopes again she is going the right way. The Villa is on the hill, on the northwest promontory of the island. If she can reach its doors, she will be safe.

It is too quiet. There are no birds, no creatures, no buzzing or cries, just her ragged, heavy breath and the scree shuffling underfoot as she climbs. The furious roar of the water smashing its frustration against the rocks rises from her left, echoing against the cliffside.

The dogs begin to howl.

Climb. Climb. Keep going.

She must get to the Villa. There she can call for help. Lock herself inside. Maybe find a weapon.

A branch snaps and she halts, breathless.

Someone is coming.

She startles like a deer, now heedless of the noise she’s making. Fighting back a whimper of fear, she breaks free of the cloistered path to see an old decrepit staircase cut into the stone. Careful, she must be cautious, there are gaps where some steps are missing, and the rest are mossy with disuse, but hurry, hurry. Get away.

She winds up the steps, clinging to the rock face, until she bursts free into a sea of scrubby pines. Two sculptures, Janus twins, flank a slate-dark path into a labyrinth of rhododendron and azalea.

This isn’t right. Where is she?

A hard breeze disrupts the trees around her, and a rumble of thunder like a thousand drums rolls across her body. Lightning flashes and she sees the Villa in the distance. So far away. On the other side of the labyrinth. The other side of the hill.

She’s gone the wrong way.

A droplet of water hits her arm, then her forehead. Dread bubbles through her.

She is too late. The storm is upon her.

The howls of the dogs draw closer. The wind whistles hard and sharp, buffeting her against the stone wall. She can’t move, deep fear cementing her feet. Rain makes the gauzy dress cling to the curves of her body, and the blood on her thigh washes to the ground. None of it matters. She cannot escape.

When he comes, at last, sauntering through the storm, the barking beasts leaping and growling beside him, she is crying, clinging to the wall, the lightning illuminating the ruins; the ancient stones and stark, headless statues the only witness to her death.

She goes over the wall with a thunder-drowned scream, the jagged rocks below her final companions.

The Hospital (Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town) by Brian Alexander

The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town by [Brian Alexander]

Bryan, Ohio is a small town with small town problems. Keeping the town afloat. Keeping the hospital open. Alexander takes us into small town hospitals and the quickly disappearing small town hospitals and medical care.

Phil Ennen, CEO of the hospital is fighting what looks like a losing battle. They are losing money and the big guys are waiting around the corner to grab up another local hospital.

You find out a lot of things you may have never thought about if you didn’t grow up in a small town. I don’t think I have ever given it a thought since I’ve always lived in the city. On a road trip this past year we took the back roads to explore Oklahoma and it was then that I saw entire towns dying when the hospitals go down. Miles and miles from any form of emergency care or just continued care. It was shocking how the towns were just empty.

We see real people in real life or death situations and the consequences from lack of dependable medical care. We have one such town right now trying not to close its doors or give in to a buy out. With a lot of small towns still recovering from the 2008 recession, money is not exactly flowing in. People can’t afford to drive 2 hours in an emergency and they can’t afford healthcare.

With the Medical and Hospital Industry puts money over care, we all suffer. Look at the situation we are in now. Covid. Rural hospitals aren’t able to care for the people in their small community. Even big cities are ill equipped to fight this one. Why? This gave me a new insight into the issues we all will face.

NetGalley/ St. Martin’s Press March 09, 2021

Okay Winter, time to March right on out of here!

So March came in. I’m always surprised by how quickly it gets here. Can’t we just give February a couple of more days? I wasn’t ready for March.

We have gone from 2 feet of snow and the entire state losing its’ mind to me wearing shorts today and leaving all the windows open. So Winter can just March itself right on down the road. Like to Australia.

I have spent the entire past 7 days gathering up all of the Vine Voice things that have piled up over the year and either gave them to people in need or gave them to the church. I had an entire room full of everything from a cordless drill to an inflatable bath tub. That bathtub is awesome! It will be in my tent all summer.

I have been doing a series on downsizing and living smaller. People think if you live in an apartment it can be impersonal. But as long as you aren’t making permanent changes, you are good. So in that vein, I’m looking at this wallpaper thing on Wayfair. Especially made for renters. Peel and stick. Some of it is good and some is very cheap and ugly. One looked like those old cardboard Christmas fireplaces. Apparently the good folks at Wayfair also talk to Amazon because the next day the only one I wanted was on Amazon Vine. So I ordered it. I had seen pictures on the site and thought it sounded good. Thick, easy to move and it doesn’t take the paint off the wall. Mine looks like brick and has a pebbly texture to it. The 3D effect makes it look real.

I thought it would be like Contact Paper, but no, It’s thick like wallpaper and you can easily reposition it. It took OU Boy about an hour total to do our entire kitchen backsplash area. I love it and I’ve invited my friends over to see it and they loved it also. I just ordered another roll and paid for that one! I’m going to try in on my bookshelves.

I had ordered all of my tea making herbs plus all of my cooking herbs so I asked OU Boy if he would pick me up a bag of organic seed starting soil. He brought home a 50 pound bag that I didn’t even put a dent in. But they are all planted and labeled and sitting in my back bedroom that gets lots of sun in the afternoon and then to give them a boost I got a few grow lights. Can you tell I am ready for Spring? Time to till up the garden at the farm and get things ready.

How is everyone? Is the plague slowing down any? What are you reading? I’m reading a really good book about Ethel Rosenberg.

Stay Safe. Especially Texas!

xx P