Bury the Past by James L’Etoile

From Goodreads: Sacramento Police Detectives John Penley and Paula Newberry are enlisted to investigate a case involving the trafficking of stolen street drugs. But they quickly find it’s more difficult than they first imagined when the crime is being committed by a group of corrupt cops undermining the system.

This is actually book #2 of the Detective Penley series by James L’Etoile. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Bury the Past is set in Sacramento, all the key locations are familiar to me. It’s also obvious that the author has great insider information on California prisons, CSP-SAC (California State Prison – Sacramento) in particular. The protagonist is complex and interesting. The bad guy is creepy and smart. The cops are three dimensional. I liked the author’s approach. It made everything more credible.

Only one problem with the book that bugged me–I know the Sacramento locations too well. When the author describes Southside park, he mentions 15th Street. Southside is a little further up, on 5th. Must have been an editing error, because nearly everything else is on right on point, including the author’s dry wit about the condos around the park.

This was a page-turner. Recommended. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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The Secret, Book and Scone Society

The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams is a well-written book.

Here’s an extract from the Amazon blurb:

Strangers flock to Miracle Springs hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain. So when a visiting businessman reaches out for guidance, Nora knows exactly how to help. But before he can keep their appointment, he’s found dead on the train tracks . . .

This book pulls you right in. There are enough quirks and unusual characters to keep it interesting but they are deftly done, so they aren’t too jarring. It also pays homage to lots of writers and good books, as “prescriptions” for better lives. What avid reader won’t appreciate that?

Book 1

What bugged me most, though, about the book in general, was the comma in the title. Is the comma being batted around for a purpose, other than to irritate folks such as myself? I’m not entirely sure. There are books, scones, and secrets. I hope the comma finds its place.

When I was done, I was looking for the next book in the series, as it seems the group of women formed in this book still have things to do. I was pleasantly surprised to see it as book number one of a series.Secret, Book, and Scone Society is the name of the series. (Looks like they found a good spot for the comma.)

I will be looking for book #2. 

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A House Divided by Sulari Gentill

I really wanted to like this book and the main character. A House Divided by Sulari Gentill caught my eye for the local and timeline. It is set around the same time as Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books, which I enjoyed, especially after being introduced to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV series.

And actually, there were lots of things I DID like. However, there are times when you read a book and the message in the book feels like the author has inserted her (modern) political sensibilities into a historical era. That threw me out of the story more than once.

There was also a section where we jumped perspectives and it didn’t fit at all.

Here’s the back of the book blurb:

Aristocrat Rowland Sinclair doesn’t fit in with his family. His conservative older brother, Wilfred, thinks he’s reckless, a black sheep; his aging mother thinks he’s her son who was killed in the war. Only his namesake Uncle Rowly, a kindred spirit, understands him-and now he’s been brutally murdered in his own home.
The police are literally clueless, and so Rowly takes it upon himse to investigate the crime. In order to root out the guilty party, he use his wealth and family influence to infiltrate the upper echelons both the old and the new guard, playing both against the middle in a desperate and risky attempt to find justice for his uncle. With his bohemian housemates-a poet, a painter, and a free-spirited sculptress–watching his back, Rowly unwittingly exposes a conspiracy that just might be his undoing.

Some scenes towards the end were well done, even gripping. And I did like that the main character finally seemed to be stepping up, albeit rather dramatically. Sinclair never really gave the impression that he would suddenly become heroic or even decisive.

Because I don’t really care about the main character’s “crush” on another character, I’m actually likely not to read the next book in the series. This book recovered itself well, but I did read at least 4 or 5 books before I finished this one. I decided to finish it because it is due back at the library. The last 30-40 pages gave the book an extra star.

It took me almost two months to read the book. This is a murder mystery. I typically read mysteries in a few days, sometimes in one sitting.

I gave it two out of five stars on Goodreads. It was OK. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it more than I did. Please feel free to tell me this in the comments, if you are so inclined!

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New Series Book 1 – Death in Focus

I don’t usually finish a novel in the middle of the work week unless it’s a good read. Yesterday I picked up Anne Perry’s Death in Focus (Elena Standish #1) with the intent of finishing, although the book had been languishing on my library books bookshelf for about two months. I had been experiencing some difficulty in getting excited about this book. Flash forward a day, and I’m giving this book high ratings. I’m now preparing to get the next one in the series as soon as I can.

Here’s a quote from the book that I found particularly poignant:

“You do not need to believe evil, only to use its methods. You will get accustomed to them, until eventually they are not your last choice, but your first. For awhile, you can justify it to yourself, and then eventually you will not bother. You have forgotten what you are fighting for; now winning is the only objective! And the more you win, the more you justify it, until the whole idea of right and wrong disappears and only winning matters.”

– Death in Focus, by Anne Perry

Here’s my Goodreads review:

This was a sleeper hit. It started out slow for me, and I had other books I was reading that took precedence. I put it aside a few times. Once I paid attention, by the middle to end, I was fully engaged. I wanted to see how it would end. Great development of character. Also of interest was Berlin before WWII, in the 1930s. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and discovering more about Elena Standish and her family.

I gave the book a 5 star review. Mainly because it got really really good, the last quarter of the book. A recommended read.

Recent Mysteries – Roundup

I’ve consumed a few mysteries this week and thought I’d share my thoughts on the stories.

Here’s what I just finished this week, with my associated star rating and review just below:

The Falcon Always Wings Twice

by Donna Andrews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Falcon Always Wings Twice is book #27 in the Meg Langslow series that Donna Andrews started long ago. I’ve read many if not most of the earlier books. This installment comes after I (evidently) missed a few! The book was entertaining, as all of them are, but a little slow in pacing, hence the 3-stars. I found I didn’t run to get back to it. Rather, I took my time reading it, especially when some of the explanations were a little long-winded. It was good that I was already fond of some of the characters who appeared briefly in this book.

Of note: Meg’s grandfather in the book was “old” in book one. Her sons are now teenagers (and they weren’t born yet in book one) so you know the aging of certain characters doesn’t necessarily keep up in the series. No matter, this IS fiction, after all. People are immortal in fiction. It did make me pause a bit, though, realizing that Grandfather had been around for ages and ages.

Three stars.


by Ira Levin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Deathtrap: A Thriller in Two Acts is a book that was recommended in Eight Perfect Murders as one of the murders the protagonist read and used in the commission of his crimes. I had to request it from the library, as it is an older play. Once I got into this play, I found that some of the twists were intriguing! It is definitely worth a read–for anyone who likes a good mystery/thriller. Short, but entertaining! You’ll see why it left an impression, if you have the chance to read it.

Four stars.

A Willing Murder

by Jude Deveraux

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A long time ago I read a great romance by the prolific author, Jude Deveraux. I haven’t read much of her since, but I saw this book in my local bookstore, and it called out to be read. It is book #1 in the Medlar Mystery series. I wasn’t disappointed. I read a lot of mysteries, and this was an interesting blend of mystery series with a twist of some of the traditional elements of romance. The result was a fresh new series, which I will continue reading.

Here’s my review on Goodreads:

  • While the mystery itself wasn’t the most suspenseful or surprising, the characters were interesting. This book was an easy read, with lots of entertaining details. Of course, some characters were a little improbable, but I’m looking forward to how the series progresses. Definitely a fresh series.

Of note: some reviewers in Goodreads found the discussion of food choices throughout the book a little tedious. I found it amusing. I keep waiting for the red-headed green-eyed (very typical heroine for a romance) main character wise up to the keto choices her friends are making. Have some bacon-wrapped cheese! Your body will thank you later.

I read this over the course of a day. Generally, when I read straight through like that, it’s a sign the book was engaging enough to keep my interest. This one was.

Five stars.

Bookshelf Update – December 2, 2020

Tonight I’m working my way through what is typically a quick read for me. I’m reading Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich. This is book twenty seven in a series about the quirky Stephanie Plum, a woman who works as a bail bondsman or bounty hunter in New Jersey.

When I first started the series, it was decidedly funny and there were lots of surprises. This particular volume is, so far, an easy read.

But I do find I’m getting a little grumpy with Stephanie’s apparent lack of character growth. Maybe this will change. But for the moment, it’s the one thing that’s bugging me about the book. Maybe it’s because of the other book I’m actively reading at the moment.

I’m nearly done with Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. The first half was a fast read. I slowed down quite a bit in the second half, as it is a discussion of logotherapy. I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist — just a layperson who founds psychology interesting. I note I am going back and forth a bit to make sure I understand the concepts raised.

I did finish Murder’s No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher earlier this week, and I will be posting a review of the book soon!

What are you reading this week?

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