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 Whispered Word – Book Review

I thoroughly enjoyed The Whispered Word by Ellery Adams. You can read my review of the first book in the series here.

Here’s the book blurb from Amazon:

Nora Pennington, owner of Miracle Books, believes that a well-chosen novel can bring healing and hope. But she and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society know that sometimes practical help is needed too. Such is the case with the reed-thin girl hiding in the fiction section of Nora’s store, wearing a hospital ID and a patchwork of faded bruises. She calls herself Abilene but won’t reveal much else. And when a customer is found dead in an assumed suicide, Nora uncovers a connection that points to Abilene as either a suspect—or another target. After a second death hits town, Nora and her intrepid friends must help the new, greenhorn sheriff discern fact from fiction—and stop a killer intent on bringing another victim’s story to a close . . .

This was a better than expected second installment in an interesting series. I love the author’s idea of bibliotherapy throughout the book, and the books that are recommended reading to the main character’s customers.

This book had many layers of interesting characters and interactions. I finished it feeling as though I had also had some bibliotherapy of sorts.

Recommended reading.

5 Stars.

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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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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.

Three Books Reviewed

This last week I have been suffering from what I like to call the Dragon Flu. It’s where your derriere is draggin’. But more particularly this was a seasonal flu, and it knocked me out. I was in bed most of the time.

What’s the best thing to do if you need to rest and don’t have much energy? Why, read through a few books in between naps.

As I’ve said before, I love a good mystery. And I follow quite a few mystery series (I keep wanting to pluralize the word series! What’s the right way to say it?).

All of the books were pretty darn engaging. This isn’t always the case when it comes to a multi-book series. In fact, each of the authors who I am going to list have had good and not so good installments.

I finished three different tomes. Just in case you were wondering, I’ve listed them below.

Shadows in Death by J.D. Robb

Shadows in Death, #51 of In Death Series

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My review: Definitely a strong entry in this long running series. Lots of energy and intrigue. Interpol gets involved. We see Roarke in more pensive moments. We have a rousing ending, where we see a whole lot of cops do what cops do. Generally a good read, more engaging than most.

Gone Missing by Linda Castillo

Gone Missing, Kate Burkholder #4

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My review: this is another compelling read in an intense, disturbing, and interesting series. Kate Burkholder grew up Amish, but is now the Chief of Police in a small town. The book revolves around missing Amish teens and the investigation. Fast paced. The author does not pull any punches in this series when it comes to graphic and the gross. This is not a series for the faint-hearted. I learn something every time. And so far I like Kate and her state agent counterpart, John Tomasetti. I am always rooting for them to solve the horrible crime(s).

Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

Fortune and Glory, Stephanie Plum #27

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My review: An easy read in this long running series. A new character is introduced, and there are some shifts in plot type, which I enjoyed.

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