Author friends · Damien Dickens · Featured Author - Phyllis Entis · mystery · noir fiction · review

What the Dickens!

Back in April, I alerted you to the then-upcoming launch of The Gold Dragon Caper, Book Four in The Damien Dickens Mysteries by Phyllis Entis.

Well, it will come as no surprise that the exploits of the highly likeable and hugely intrepid duo of Damien & Millie Dickens hit the ground running with five stars coming in from every corner of the globe.

The Gold Dragon Caper. A Damien Dickens Mystery

The cherry on the cake has been another five-star review from The Readers’ Favorite. (And, you don’t know how difficult it was for me to drop the ‘u’ there! Squiggly red lines freak me out … but, I’m moving on quickly)

Here’s that review in all its glory:

A boy vanishes from a ski slope in Vermont, a father disappears after leaving work, a valuable gold nugget is stolen from a Las Vegas casino, and a private eye must connect the seemingly unrelated events to solve the enigmatic puzzle before someone dies in the exciting sleuth mystery, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are having trouble with their private investigation agency, due to the unscrupulous and destructive devices of their wealthy enemy, Turpin. When the building their office resides in is a casualty of arson, Damien suspects Turpin is at the bottom of it and is considering throwing in the towel. While Millie and Damien sort out their professional future, Artie, the nephew of a close friend, is kidnapped. At the same time, Millie receives a strange phone call about her brother Colin; he and a valuable item simultaneously disappeared from his workplace. Dropping everything, Millie immediately flies to Las Vegas to help Colin, leaving Damien to search for Artie on his own. Frustrated, Damien continues his hunt that spans the continent and is surprised when his clues lead him to Nevada. Is it coincidence or are the two disappearances connected?

Twists and turns abound in the fabulous sleuth mystery novel, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are a dynamic sleuthing team and following their escapades quickly becomes addictive. It is a fantastic series that has a touch of the noir feel that I absolutely adore in sleuth mysteries. From the moment when Dickens’s office is burned, to the dramatic confrontation with their arch-enemy, Turpin, the excitement escalates to a smashing and surprising conclusion; it is an episode you don’t want to miss. With fascinating characters and a thrilling and intricate plot, this book is a riveting read! Even though this the fourth book in the series, it is a great standalone. That being said, I am anxiously awaiting the next Damien and Millie mystery. I highly recommend this novel to whodunit aficionados who enjoy delightfully twisted plots and characters

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite

 

You must be tempted too, aren’t you?

Congratulations to Phyllis for dazzling review and the many others already received. May they continue to flood in.

Get your copy here The Gold Dragon Caper  from Amazon.

You can also pick up the others in the series at the links below.

The Green Pearl Caper

The White Russian Caper

The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper

If you read any of these mysteries – and you know you want to – then please consider leaving a review afterwards. Reviews keep authors writing!

Thanks for reading 😉

Featured Author - Amy Reade · mystery · reading · review

A cracking mystery with a Welsh flavour

Murder In Thistlecross

by Amy M. Reade

The emerald hills and violet valleys of Wales seem the ideal place to start over after murder—and divorce—shattered Eilidh’s life in the Scottish Highlands. But within the stone walls of an ancient castle, a family’s dark, violent past threatens much more than her newfound tranquility . . . 
 
For the past two years, Eilidh has called the quaint Welsh village of Thistlecross home, embracing her new life as estate manager of a restored fifteenth-century castle. But the long-anticipated arrival of her employer’s three estranged sons and their wives transforms Gylfinog Castell from a welcoming haven to a place seething with dangerous secrets. When the escalating tensions culminate in murder, Eilidh must sift through a castle full of suspects both upstairs and downstairs. She can trust no one as she follows a twisting maze of greed and malice to ferret out a killer who’s breaching every defense, preparing to make Eilidh the next to die.

My Review:

Set in a beautiful Welsh castle, it was only a matter of time before the crumbling ruins would expose a killer in this excellent mystery.
The story begins with a pending reunion between the Mistress of the castle, Annabel, and her children and their partners. From the outset, it’s clear that the meeting will be fractious. The family lived through years of horrendous abuse dished out by Annabel’s first husband, father to the three boys. A great of animosity lives on, as the boys still resent Annabel for not protecting them. This meeting is her chance to put her side of the story to them, and maybe build a few bridges.
The story of the wealthy Tucker family runs along that of the estate manager, Eilidh, and the cook Maisie and her daughter Brenda. There is a delightful ‘Downton Abbey’ vibe when Annabel presses a floor button to summon the downstairs staff.
Eilidh is a woman I’ve met before in this series, and the author carefully intersperses details of her life from previous books without spoiling the current story. Her journey with Griff to the fairy glen is both sweet and atmospheric, sprinkling a little magic around after the dreadful events that continue to occur to the castle’s inhabitants.
With plenty of Welsh influences, the story has a realistic feel, including the odd “iechyd da” thrown in for good measure.
The tale picks up pace – enormously so – towards the end, as the mysteries are resolved, revealing a well-developed suspense along with a very compassionate look at what drives someone to want to maim or kill another.
All in all, a cracking mystery blended with believable characters, a little romance, revenge and not to mention huge empathy for those who make mistakes for all the right reasons.
Long may Eilidh and her family & friends continue.

Recommended to lovers of mysteries, women’s fiction, and British scenery and settings.

You can get your copy here, and while you’re there, why not check out the other books in the Malice series and meet Eilidh yourself?

The House on Candlewick Lane

It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.

Highland Peril

Trading the urban pace of Edinburgh for a tiny village overlooking a breathtaking blue loch was a great move for budding photographer Sylvie Carmichael and her artist husband, Seamus—until a dangerous crime obscures the view . . .

Sylvie’s bucolic life along the heather-covered moors of the Highlands is a world away from the hectic energy of the city. But then a London buyer is killed after purchasing a long-lost Scottish masterpiece from Seamus’s gallery—and the painting vanishes. As suspicion clouds their new life, and their relationship, Sylvie’s search for answers plunges her into an unsolved mystery dating back to Cromwellian Scotland through World War I and beyond. And as she moves closer to the truth, Sylvie is targeted by a murderer who’s after a treasure within a treasure that could rewrite history . . . and her own future.

***

Remember, if you choose to read one of Amy’s stories, please consider leaving a review afterwards.

Reviews keep writers writing 🙂

Thanks  for reading.

books · review · women's fiction

Book Review – Women’s Fiction

In the Best Interest of the Child
by Felicia Denise

Severely injured in an accident that forever changed her life, 10-year-old Olivia becomes another faceless, under-served child in foster care. With no time to mourn or grieve, the young girl is easy prey for uncaring social workers and ambivalent foster families.

Olivia quickly learns to hold her tongue and mask her emotions. Even when exposed to neglect, bullying, and assault, no one seems to care. Holding fast to the teachings of her late father, Olivia ages out of the system broken, but no longer a victim.

Now a successful child advocate attorney, Olivia is a passionate voice for children. However, a routine case assignment by the court plunges Olivia back into the trauma of her childhood. If she doesn’t face her demons, a child will be sent into foster care, and Olivia will lose the only chance at love she’s ever had…or wanted.

Foster care for her young client is not an option. But Olivia’s emotional scars run even deeper than she realized. Reconciling with her past means Olivia must confront the one woman she blames for her battered soul.

A woman who has no idea who Olivia is.

My thoughts:

You know the feeling when you settle down to watch a movie, one starring your favourite actor or actress, and then you realise the film is nothing like you ever expected of him/her? The same could be said of this book. I expected great things, but what I got was totally wonderful. This is a story full of heart, but grounded in pain and despair. Yet, the author finds hope and positivity in a case that could easily become just another statistic in a flawed system.

The unfortunate events that befall young Rena are far too similar for Child Advocate, Olivia Chandler, to brush aside. This time, the child she sets out to help will have a much more profound effect on her personal life.  For while Olivia is the best damn advocate any child could hope for, she is also a victim of the same system – the foster care system – that threatens to leave its mark on yet another young life.

Of course, Olivia will not let that happen and, aided by a team of professionals unswerving in their desire to make a  difference, she embraces the challenge with open arms and a wilful spirit.

But, she didn’t count on meeting the Bellamy family, whose resolve to care for Rena is just as strong as her own. However, this family is no ordinary family. This is a family who genuinely care, for each other and for those within their reach. And now, Olivia is in their reach – in the reach of one persistent, funny, gentle, caring and honest man – Bruce Bellamy.

The two of them fit – that’s all there is to it – they are meant to be, but that doesn’t mean things fall into place in an instant. Bruce is one resourceful chap, and his determination knows no bounds until Olivia can delay the inevitable no more. It is both hilarious and heartwarming to see these two – both with pain in their past – come together. Long may they reign!

This relationship develops as Olivia battles for Rena; her single-mindedness to act in the best interest of the child is impressive. Olivia is a force to be reckoned with. But, this case, this time, circumstances closer to home make her realise that she has to face up to her past and deal with her own demons. With Bruce’s help and encouragement she may now succeed. Fortunately, a second book awaits.

This is an engrossing read, with a cast of characters that liven up every page. You’ll find yourself laughing, crying, smiling and sighing as this story unfolds. A definite 5 star read. Bring on Book 2!

books · cosy · mystery · review

Book Review – Cosy Mystery

The Iron Dog

by Liz Graham

Carmel McAlistair has a new job at the local archives, a blossoming relationship with Inspector Darrow of the RNC and a growing sense of home in St. Jude Without, Newfoundland. What could possibly go wrong?
When a skeleton clutching a partial treasure map is unearthed below a city street, Carmel finds out how tenuous her grip on happiness is. Her neighbors believe the pirate loot is their inheritance. Her archivist boss guards the secret jealously until she is found murdered – with Carmel, covered in her blood and standing over her, the chief suspect.
It doesn’t look good for Carmel and, to make matters worse, Inspector Darrow is forced to recuse himself from her case because of conflict of interests, leaving her to the mercy of the local constabulary’s most notoriously vicious investigator. Meanwhile, the safest place for her might be to remain in jail….
Pirates, murder, jealousies and tested loyalties swirl in The Iron Dog, the third volume in the Carmel McAlistair series, set on Canada’s most easterly coast.

***

My thoughts: With treasure maps, pirates, ghosts and fairies this is a story to fuel your imagination and keep you turning those pages. Carmel McAlistair has a knack for finding trouble, and can frequently be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Helping her out of her dilemmas is a strong – and very original – cast of characters. I hadn’t read any of the previous books in the series, but I will go back and catch up for sure.

This is a well-written story with fully-developed personalities whose interactions are novel, funny, bizarre and intriguing. It reminded me of the Murder She Wrote stories, where the characters of a small cove are all talking about a murder in their neighbourhood. This book has the same cosy feel to it, although adding a Scottish detective and a rusty-coloured dog named after Irn Bru was a masterstroke in my eyes. I did guess the murderer early on, but I enjoyed the misdirection and began to doubt my own sleuthing skills for a while.

I must add that the cover is stunning – it’s one thing I generally take little notice of as a Kindle reader, but every so often a great cover will catch my eye. This is one of those times when it’s worth getting the paperback version too.

A most entertaining book for those who enjoy a good mystery in a great setting. Available now on Amazon, click here for details.

A to Z challenge · beta · books · reading · review

Q is for … Quiet time

I knew I’d get stuck on Q. Happens every time, and yeah I know X & Z are still to come and I can’t take a pass on those too.

So, I’m having some quiet time – reading for pleasure, maybe squeezing in the odd chapter or two of a beta read I’m working through, I might even write up a book review too. But, nothing today is related to my theme directly – but reading is important. As is some downtime. I’ve learnt to take my time when it comes to writing or revising my stories. I’ll still meet my deadlines, but some days are just not meant to be writing days.

So, hope you all get some breathing space too.

And I promise not to pull the same stunt on X & Z 🙂

cosy · mystery · NetGalley · review · suspense

Book Review – Artful Deception

For once, a book that I can’t yet rate on Amazon, but about which I have to write. Four stars from me 🙂
Artful Deception by Peggy Speer is a delightful suspense tale wrapped in a huddle of cosy characters. It’s a feel-good story mixed with plenty of tension as the main characters – a motley bunch, to say the least – come together to unravel an odd newspaper advertisement and in doing so find themselves in unexpected danger.

I read this in just a few days, surprised at how quickly the pages flew by. Initially, the story had a rather sluggish start as the characters were revealed, but once they joined forces the plot simply took off.

I will definitely read more by this author – Peggy Speer – and look forward to her next offering. My copy was obtained through Net Galley and this review is entirely voluntary.

Here’s a brief summary of what is coming your way soon (publication date is set for May 9th) :

When Frank Cunningham entered old age, it was with self-assurance, a plan, and a secret. To anyone looking, he seems to have all the answers. Then, Sara, a blue-haired, pierced coed, stumbles into his life. But like Frank, Sara isn’t the stereotype she seems. She too is hiding a secret, and it soon threatens to unravel her life at the seams. In nearby Deer Creek, Frank’s widowed sister-in-law, Jessie, has her own unsettling encounter, one that leaves her feeling uncharacteristically fearful and suspicious. But when an odd art gallery and its mysterious proprietor suddenly appear in town, the three fall into an unlikely alliance and delve deep into an investigation more dangerous than they ever imagined possible.

In Artful Deception, Peggy Spear weaves a cozy mystery with unconventional leads, contrasting the confidences and vulnerabilities of two seniors as they attempt to solve a mystery, guide a troubled young woman, and grapple with the consequences of distrust and greed.

Lacey's Law · review

When someone really ‘gets’ your book: WOW, WOW & more WOW

I love getting a new review for one of my books (I only have two, so don’t want to seem boastful). And, while it’s so heartwarming to see those five stars jump out the screen at you, it’s equally as gut-wrenching to see that the reader didn’t enjoy your story.
Now, none of us expect to please everyone – and nor should we, so we shrug off the not-so-glowing reviews and focus on the positive ones that make us able to write more.
That is, until the moment comes when a reader totally ‘gets’ your story. That delicious treat has just happened for me with Lacey’s Law. And, I’m on cloud nine, wrapped in a silver lining watching unicorns gambol over a rainbow. (Too much? Ah, you get my drift – I am one very happy bunny).

I’ve always known this story would appeal to a limited audience. From day one, my beta readers had such varied opinions on it. They told me they couldn’t root for Lacey, that she was too unlikable and not the ‘heroine’ people would want to read about.

I don’t know about you, but that just made my resolve to tell her story all the stronger. Maybe there’s more than a touch of me in Lacey, too. Well, hell yeah, I know there is.

Anyway, the review I received yesterday showed me that there are readers who understand her, who will grow to like her, even love her. Isn’t part of telling a story about showing how a character can change, develop, grow as a person according to the situations and issues they face? Lacey is not as bad as she’s painted. In fact, she’s a funny, loyal, fair and trusting woman (hmm, did I say she was a bit like me? – ah, well, maybe .. or maybe not 🙂 )

Here’s the review – and there are extra bonus points for this reviewer for spotting the sarcastic thread too. You know, some people mistook that element too!

“Lacey’s Law” is a refreshing, rather humorous story about one friend taking her long-awaited chance at revenge on another. Lacey and Carla have been friends since college, so what could Carla possibly do that was so evil that Lacey felt the need to carefully plan and organize her revenge, which involved Carla’s husband? Before you judge the protagonist for her machinations, she has quite a story to tell you, and after that the events start taking a completely different turn…
I really enjoyed reading about Lacey’s escapades, and the more I got to know her, the more I felt for her and soon even rooted for her plan to come to fruition. The irony, which interlaces quite a few of Lacey’s inner monologues made me chuckle on several occasions, and soon somehow, someway this sarcastic and yet incredibly lovable heroine wormed her way into my heart, and I couldn’t help but cheer for her in her grand finale.
A perfect read for all lovers of chick-lit genre. Definitely a five star story.

Pretty awesome, right?

So, for all you writers out there, take note. The time will come when a reader will ‘get’ your book, and when it does … Hands off the unicorn, he’s mine!

By the way, if you want to read Lacey’s story, knowing now what you do, then here’s the link.

Thanks for dropping by.

books · review

Tainted Tokay – A Book Review

Tainted Tokay – by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balencaptura

As always, beautifully descriptive – both of the scenic locations and the wines enjoyed by the characters. I enjoyed the mysteries, particularly how the two ran parallel -the attack on the lab researcher in Paris and the ongoing mysteries throughout the Danube cruise.
The series never fails to disappoint with oodles of intrigue and endless plot twists. However, this time, I felt as though some parts were rushed through (Claude’s return to France was made out to be more mysterious than it actually was – or maybe it was just me. But the ‘hat on the hook’ and then later ‘off the hook’ with no other mention of him, made me think another unfortunate mishap had befallen him.)
On the plus side, I loved the increased character development of Virgile, seeing him stand on his own two feet.
A refreshing, fun and easy read – perfect light entertainment.

 

4 stars

jitters · Lacey's Law · review

Pre-release jitters averted with another fab advanced review!

As the release date for Lacey’s Law approaches, so do the nerves, the self-doubt and those little voices in my head.
I was just about to sign up for the next flight to the Moon, or Mars – or even back to Brum – anywhere I could hide, but then I received another fantastic, splendiferous and totally confidence-boosting review.Review2

Check this one out:

 I loved Lacey’s Law.  It is such a unique story and has elements of more than one genre.  It feel like a mystery at times, personal narrative, suspense and romance all into one. You did a fantastic job of story telling.  I included more of a formal write-up below.
Characterization:
The main characters drove me insane in the best way!  These aren’t the typical kind of likeable characters you would love to meet in real life or wish you lived next door to but you just can’t get enough of them either.  I felt like I got to know them very well and my emotions were all over the place.  Sometimes I would understand their motivations completely and I was right there nodding my head with them. Other times I was pulling my hair out wanting to slap some sense into them.  These two emotions kept volleying back and forth, all the while I had a good dose of fear of each one them as well, wondering just how far they were going to take things.  You were able to create all of that with each main character and I found it to be absolutely brilliant!
They also had distinctive voices and flaws, which added depth and believability to the story.
There were a lot of secondary characters along the way as well.  This can sometimes get tricky but I felt yours were well developed and actively influenced the plot.  They were much more than just props to propel the main characters.
Plot and Conflict:
Both internal and external conflicts for your characters were clearly defined throughout the entire story. And most importantly, they felt natural and believable yet always unexpected.  I didn’t find anything that seemed far fetched or pulled me out of the story.  There was a fantastic amount of tension that kept the pages turning.  Every conversation and scene contributed to the story and I wouldn’t take anything out.
The story line twists just kept coming and coming.  You released them at the rate of a magician.  I just wanted to high-five you every time another one was revealed.  The timing and execution was perfect. This is difficult to balance because it becomes overwhelming to the reader if there are too many plot twists or they come too fast to keep track of.  Yours were spot on.  Well done.
Pacing: 
Transitions flowed smoothly and I noticed a hook at each chapter ending that made you feel like you wanted to read more.  The pace felt exciting but not so fast it overwhelmed.  There were no spots where it dragged.
Setting:
It was easy to set your mind into each scene.  The description was there but the characters were always the main focus and that helped to just feel like you were there with them.  I noticed even the characters physical attributes weren’t heavily described.  That is fun as a reader because they just sort come together however you want them to.  I love that.
Dialogue:
The dialogue/narrative balance leaned a bit heavier on the narrative at times.  But you did such a good job of making readers feel like they were sitting down with Lacey listening to her story, I would keep the narrative just the way it is..  I’ve never read a book that draws you and connects in such a unique way.  I enjoyed how you added Lacey’s comments to the reader, not just at the beginning but through out the entire book.  It works well.
You stayed in character every time one of them spoke and it flowed so naturally.  I can tell you are either a very experienced writer or just have one heck of a gift for it.
Mechanics: 
Your book is edited very well.  I didn’t find a single mechanical error through out the entire story.
Additional Comments:
This is a book that just feels impossible to set down once you’ve started.  It kept me guessing the entire time.
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to clarify something above.  I would be happy to beta read for your work in the future.  Best of luck as you wrap things up for publishing.
Thanks Amanda – you have made my day (and saved me the cost of a flight to oblivion!)

#happyauthor #seeyouonMay7