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Showing posts from 2020

The Bay: Another Stylish, Moody British Crime Drama... Worth Your Time (TV show REVIEW)

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For anyone who’s been jonesing for a Broadchurch replacement since that series ended back in 2017 (and honestly, who *hasn’t* been missing it?!), I’d urge a look at the six-episode season of The Bay (available to stream via Amazon Prime channel BritBox). _______________ 
At first, The Bay feels like it’s shaping up to be a standard missing-persons story, when a pair of teens—twins Dylan and Holly Meredith—vanish from a youth center in the coastal town of Morecambe, Lancashire. 
Detective Sergeant Lisa Armstrong, a Family Liaison Officer, is assigned the case, and given a still-wet-behind-the-ears Detective Constable, Ahmed Kharim, to shadow her. Begrudgingly, Lisa drags Med along with her to question the twins' family, where they're greeted with fear and no small amount of hostility by the extended Meredith clan: pregnant stay-at-home mom Jess, trawler stepdad Sean, two younger children, as well as Jess’s loud-mouthed mother and shifty younger brother, who works with Sean on the …

Down 'n Dirty Detectin' in D.C. (The Reflecting Pool REVIEW)

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A police detective with a taste for bespoke suits, vintage watches, fine art, and classic European sports cars sounds like a conundrum, doesn’t it? Not easy to afford such high-ticket items on the average police salary. 
Nothing about Detective Marko Zorn is quite what you’d call “average”, though, in Otho Eskin’s debut crime thriller, The Reflecting Pool… and that fact makes for a highly-compelling read.

_______________ When a woman is found facedown in the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, Washington, D.C. homicide detective Marko Zorn has questions… not the least of which is how could an obviously fit female—in the prime of her life, by the look of her—manage to drown in less than two feet of water? 
Once the body has been identified as Sandra Wilcox, a Secret Service agent who’d been assigned to the First Lady’s detail, it seems that nearly every branch of the military, police, and government does its damnedest to shut down his investigation, leaving Marko with a larger question: …

When the Family You Have... Isn't Yours, at All (Playing Nice REVIEW)

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Find someone special, settle down together, start a family; that’s always been, well… the dream, at best, or in any case, where life ends up, for most people. Today—with a whole fabulous rainbow of possibilities for what a “family” unit might look like—having some variation on the theme is still what the majority of us seemingly want. And, once we have the family, it’s only natural we feel the need to protect it—parents to safeguard their children, siblings to look out for each other, etc.—from all the things that can go wrong or bad in our world.
But what would happen if a family discovered something completely unthinkable… like finding out that they weren’t, in fact, the family they thought they were?
JP Delaney explores how that scenario might go down in his latest psychological thriller, Playing Nice. _______________
Pete Riley and his partner Maddie are more or less your average, struggling young parents. Things are a little tense, with Pete not getting done much of the writing-from-…

Culture, History, Duty... and Murder (Dharma Book REVIEW)

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An ancient Indian artifact. A dead archeologist. An attractive art history professor. A dangerous ex. A determined cop. A pair of eager-beaver college students. And secrets, so many secrets. 
Sounds like the key elements in a new Indiana Jones tale, doesn’t it? Instead, they’re all part of author Vee Kumari’s first novel, Dharma (A Rekha Rao Mystery), which I’m joining on a virtual book tour, today!  _______________

When professor Rekha Rao wakes up one Saturday morning, the last thing she expects is a call asking her to assist the police. Actually, make that the next-to-the-last thing; the last thing is what the police want from her, which is to help identify an ancient statue that was used to bludgeon a murder victim, then left atop the body. 
The victim? Her mentor and friend, Dr. Joseph Faust, a fellow professor at the same college.
Rekha really doesn’t want to get involved, for reasons that go much deeper than the horrifying nature of Faust’s death. Her own father was murdered, a few…

The Brokenwood Mysteries: a Quirky Kiwi Delight (TV show REVIEW)

My latest streaming recommendation is—not surprisingly (if you know me)—international, but—more surprisingly—not from Great Britain or any of the Nordic countries. Instead, this very enthusiastic pick is from a land Down Under (hint: the one associated with a lovely, fuzzy fruit, not the one with adorable-fluffy eucalyptus-munchers).
The Brokenwood Mysteries might be described as the antipodean second-cousin of Midsomer Murders (the looooong-running mystery series set in the British countryside)… but if so, it’s the charming, wry, witty, non-uptight cousin. As in MM, TBM is set in a small (New Zealand) town which also covers the rest of the county, wherein a shocking number of murders (and other shenanigans) occur. Both shows also share a light touch; there’s always at least one murder—and usually more—but the tone is never grim, because the focus is always strongly on the personalities.
And for me, that’s where TBM really shines. First, there’s a fantastic main cast—Neill Rea as the mi…

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

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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)

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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)

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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... (TV show review)

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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)

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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.) 
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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)

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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…