No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (A Door in the River murder mystery REVIEW)

When it comes to detective novels (whether suspense/thriller, police procedurals, or P.I.s), there’s no shortage of smart, interesting, “mature” male characters out there… but precious few female detectives “of a certain age” in starring roles. For every Vera Stanhope or Temperance Brennan, we’ve probably got a dozen middle-aged guys… which, given the number of women in these careers, who are nearing retirement, seems like an oversight that needs to be corrected.
With A Door in the River, author Inger Ash Wolfe takes a step in the right direction. (An author new to me, 2012’s River is actually the third in the series, but reads easily as a standalone.)  __________
Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef has a good grasp of the goings on in her patch, which is comprised of little Port Dundas, Ontario, and the surrounding area. Recently divorced and now living with (and caring for) her ailing, tough-as-(really)-old-boots, elderly mother—while facing the prospects of being phased out at work, he…

Divorce, Duplicity, Drugs, & Death in a Dinky Town (Rigged thriller REVIEW)

Your first love… do you ever forget that? Those crazy rushes of hormone-enhanced feelings, hours spent daydreaming, and riding that constant high, while the first flush of infatuation (or “love”, as we all call it at the time) lasts? 
No, those memories stay with you, most of us would agree, and it’s that notion which is at the heart, if you will, of author D.P. Lyle’s latest thriller, Rigged.

But let me start by getting the big problem I have with this out of the way. The “first love”, in Rigged, took place between a pair of 12-year-olds… and ended right after the 6th grade, when the girl’s parents moved. (Okay, you’re thinking, so it was puppy love. What’s the problem?)
I wouldn’t have a problem, if the author didn’t make such a monumentally-big deal of it, with one of his main characters—the humorously-nicknamed “Pancake”—going on (and on) about how “in love” they were, and how much he’s thought about her in the intervening twenty-plus years… despite never once bothering to pick up th…

Be Careful What You Wish For... (You Are Not Alone thriller REVIEW)

For a lot of us—in this case, female, adult singletons who’ve moved to some place from somewhere else—daily life isn’t only about the usual challenges of work (or looking for work), feeding ourselves, doing laundry, paying bills, working out, and trying to fit some kind of fun in somehow, but it’s also a matter of… trying to survive. And often, feeling entirely alone in that very singular pursuit.
In writing duo Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s latest, You Are Not Alone, Shay Miller is doing exactly that… while sharing an apartment with someone she has feelings for—who’s engaged to someone else. She is sporadically temping for work. And her prospects for anything resembling “fun” are… well, she can barely remember what that even is.
Until one day, when a chance encounter with two women, Cassandra and Jane—sisters of similar age to her, who are vibrant, beautiful, captivating, and (what??) apparently utterly charmed by Shay—changes everything. If these fabulous, successful women coul…

Mod Ms Fisher Would Make Phryne Oh-So-Proud... (review)

Witty, effervescent, charming, empowering, ‘60s-mod fun." That’s my TL;DR take on Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, for those impatient to just get on with the show.

But, for anyone who has longer than 10 seconds…

Although it’s an updated—set some 35 years after the original Australian series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (itself based on a character created by author Kerry Greenwood)—spin on the spunky-female-detective-ahead-of-her-time story, the new Ms. Fisher, Peregrine (a niece of the missing-in-action Miss F) exhibits as much chutzpah and charisma as her unknown aunt, the incomparable Phryne.

While certain tropes carry over—Peregrine regularly enlists the aid of a few good friends in the solving of each mystery, just like her aunt Phryne did, and also enjoys serious chemistry with a handsome police detective (who, like the original, always manages to get called out to the same cases that Peregrine winds up taking)—make no mistake that this is a rehash. Modern is firmly…

Dastardly Deeds--and Redemption--in a Small Town... (Thriller REVIEW)

It’s a good thing that folks in the marketing biz know a little something about “selling it”, because if there’s one thing less likely to elicit enthusiasm from me than the prospect of reading a thriller about marketing, it’d be reading a thriller about a funeral home… both of which, it just so happens, form the basis of marketing pro Joe Pulizzi’s first unputdownable outing as a novelist, The Will to Die.
(In case you missed it, let’s pause here for a dramatic moment whilst I reiterate: unputdownable. Like, really, truly.) 
On paper, Will Pollitt may be a big-city (well, Cleveland, Ohio, so biggish, anyway) marketing whiz, but the reality of his life is anything but rosy. Still sore over a messy divorce from the love of his life, Will desperately needs to land a new deal in order to save his tiny firm and continue sending his daughter to university… so that his ex-wife or daughter never find out how close to bankruptcy he actually is.
When Will’s sister calls—in the middl…

Nothing Short of a Firing Line Could Make Me Finish This One... (UF Book REVIEW)

The world has done a completely-insane, spin-and-180-twist move on its axis during the first three months of 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, leaving the vast majority of us feeling some combination of nervous/anxious/uncertain about… well, basically EVERYthing.
Thank goodness for books, right? (I mean, as long as you’re not reading about deadly contagions, plagues, or biological warfare, which… yeah, no.)
Long before (we’re talking WEEKS) things got really bad here in the U.S., though, I’d started a book—an Urban Fantasy tale by an author I’d never read—which sounded like a mindless, light diversion from all of the usual, non-scary-deadly-virus stuff that currently has me on edge.
So, why haven’t I finished the book? What’s to blame—the awful COVID19 crisis? A rash of debilitating migraines? No, actually the disappointing issue is that the book in question—R.J. Blain’s Playing with Fire—is just so mind-numbingly awful that weeks later, I STILL can’t force myself to finish it…

A Plucky Redhead Walks into a Bar... and Finds She's Not in Kansas, Anymore (UF book review)

After not reading a single book for two months—Say whaaat, girl? (I know, weird, huh… but believe it or not, sometimes it’s even possible to get burned out on that most lovely of pastimes)—my choice of return to the written word was a little… well, unexpected.

How so, you ask (no doubt still trying to wrap your brain around the multi-month moratorium)? Because I opted for an urban fantasy—no, that’s not the fascinating part—the sort of UF that I thought I’d already read waaaay too many of, in the past… you know, where everyone involved is barely legal, impossibly beautiful (or insanely, bodice-rippingly hunky), and, oh yeah, somehow manages to solve crimes (stop bad guys, save the world, prevent the apocalypse, etc.).

Or, at least that’s what I thought I was getting myself into, after opening the cover of Annette Marie’s Three Mages and a Margarita… which, while definitely a bit of all the above, surprisingly turned out to be way more fun, and a lot more interesting, than the inclus…