ARC Review: A Curious Beginning

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A Curious Beginning
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Genre: Mystery
Series: Veronica Speedwell #1
Rating: B


Veronica Speedwell is a lady of adventure. After a prolonged period of taking care of her dying aunt, she is more than ready to embark upon her next journey. To Veronica’s delight, an adventure and riddle immediately lands in her lap with the arrival of a German Barron, who claims to know her mother. Despite her reassurances otherwise, he is convinced she is in grave danger. Curious to discover what he knows of her past, Veronica agrees to hide-out with the Barron’s surly taxidermist friend, Stoker. When the Barron is killed, Veronica and Stoker are forced into fleeing London and must work together to uncover the murderer. Continue reading

ARC Review: The Woman in Cabin 10

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The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Rating: B-


The Woman in Cabin 10” is a surprisingly fast paced read. It dives straight into a tense situation within the first few pages and keeps up that pace for nearly the entire story.

Journalist Lo Blacklock is covering the maiden voyage of a small and very exclusive cruise ship when she’s awoken in the middle of the night to a scream and splash from the cabin next to hers. Dashing to her balcony, she finds blood on the darkened partition separating her side from the other room. Convinced something horrible has happened to the woman staying in that cabin, Lo alerts the ship’s crew. By the time they arrive, the blood has vanished and she’s told that no one was staying there. After a quick headcount reveals all guests and crew accounted for, Lo is written off as imagining things. When the internet connection on the ship is cut-off and things start to go missing from her room, Lo realizes she may have attracted the attention of a murderer. Continue reading

ARC Review: The Murder of Mary Russell

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The Murder of Mary Russell
Author: Laurie R. King
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Genre: Mystery
Series: Mary Russell #14
Rating: B


I can’t believe we’re already on the 14th book for Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series.
The Murder of Mary Russell” had me a little nervous going in since I was afraid it was an unexpected series ender. While King does take a startling turn with a main character, it looks like we’ll still be getting the occasional book in the future.

Everyone has their secrets and no one knows this better than Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell’s housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. For decades she’s managed to keep the events that led her to becoming Holmes’ housekeeper under the rug. This all threatens to crumble when she returns home one day to find Mary missing and two large pools of blood on the floor. A necklace hanging from the mantel piece makes Mrs. Hudson fear her past has finally caught up with her and that Mary has paid the price. Continue reading

Review: Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb

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Immortal in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Published: 1996
Genre: Sci-Fi/Mystery
Series: In Death #3
Rating: C-


Immortal in Death is the third book in J.D. Robb’s In Death series. After reading this one, I’m thinking about skipping a few books ahead to read some of the later ones in the series. These first few books are OK, but I’m not enjoying them as much as I did the later book I read.

In this one, Eve Dallas is faced with a case that hits too close to home. Her best friend, Mavis, is the prime suspect in the brutal murder of a super model. All the evidence points to Mavis being the killer, but Dallas is determined to do everything in her power to prove she’s innocent.

One of the best parts of this book is that we have less Roarke than in the previous two novels. While this might be a downer for some, I’m not a fan of the man, so it was a huge positive for me. Continue reading

Review: Naked In Death by J.D. Robb

Naked In Death

Naked In Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publish Date: 1995
Genre: Mystery
Series: In Death #1
Rating: D +


I was pretty content to skip around in this series, since each book works well as a stand-alone. However, after reading Glory in Death, I was really flummoxed by Eve’s relationship with Roarke. I didn’t understand why she was so invested in a barely six month old relationship with a man who was manipulative and overbearing. It didn’t seem to fit with her character. So, I decided to go back and read Naked in Death in the hopes it would get me on board with the relationship, which had so far only baffled and often annoyed me.

In Naked in Death, Eve Dallas is tracking down a serial killer who is preying on prostitutes. All roads seem to point to the wealthy Roarke as the lead suspect, but Eve is skeptical. Continue reading

Review: Colorado Kid by Stephen King

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The Colorado Kid
Written by: Stephen King
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2005
Series: Standalone
Rating: C –


Don’t be fooled by the back cover of The Colorado KidIt advertises a mystery that follows two reporters and their female intern as they turn up new clues in an old mystery. What this book is really about is two reporters who sit around with their intern, telling her about the one time a dead body was found on the beach. The most exciting thing that happens in the story are descriptions of the characters’ occasional bathroom breaks. Continue reading

Review: Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb

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Innocent in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Published: 2007
Genre: Mystery/Sci-Fi
Series: In Death #24
Rating: A


Innocent in Death is number 24 of J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series and my introduction to the books.

It’s the year 2060 and lieutenant Eve Dallas has taken a case involving a young teacher’s murder. The case seems like a standard poisoning, but Eve is having trouble building a good list of possible suspects. The young teacher seemed honestly well liked in the community with no real enemies. On the home front, Eve is battling her own insecurities as an old flame from her husband’s, path has suddenly returned. Continue reading

ARC Review: Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

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Dreaming Spies
Author: Laurie R. King
Release Date: Feb. 24th 2015
Genre: Mystery
Series: Mary Russell #13
Rating: B+


Dreaming Spies is the 13th Mary Russell book by Laurie R. King. It’s a frame narrative, where the beginning and end of the novel act as a bookends to a flashback story.

Mary Russell returns home one evening to find Sato, an old friend from Japan, bleeding in her kitchen. As Sato describes the circumstances that brought her to England, Mary discovers that the blackmail case she worked on with Holmes in Japan may not be entirely closed. Now, they must work to unravel what happened in Japan before a public figure is forced to comply with the extortioner’s demands. Continue reading

Justice Hall

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Justice Hall

Author: Laurie R King

Publish Date: 2002

Series: Mary Russell #6

Genre: Mystery

Rating: B+


Justice Hall is book six in the Mary Russell series and the timeline gets kinda screwy around this point. Book five, O Jerusalem, backtracks to where the series started with the plot taking place in the middle of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I had assumed that I would be safe skipping book 5 since Justice Hall takes place almost immediately after The Moor (book 4), but it turns out I was wrong.

During The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Mary and Holmes went on a trip to Jerusalem on some business for Holmes’ brother Mycroft. During this trip they made friends with two brothers, Ali and Mahmoud, one of which turns up bleeding on their doorstep. The injured Ali, has come to ask for Holmes and Mary’s help in convincing his brother to return to Jerusalem. Owing Ali and Mahmoud their loyalty for the help they offered all those years ago, Holmes and Mary set out on a journey that both of them view as rather pointless. However, when they arrive at the sprawling mansion that Mahmoud has taken up residence in they are disturbed by the immense change in their friend. Shackled with an outdated responsibility to his family, Mahmoud has become quite the miserable drunk. Wanting to help, Mary and Holmes attempt to figure out how Mahmoud can return to Jerusalem with Ali.

The story here had an interesting tone. This is the first novel in the series where King gives us a glimpse of the roaring 20’s the way I typically imagine it, with extravagant parties and a cast of eclectic characters. It was pretty amusing to see serious Mary navigate her way through the fast-paced party atmosphere that this investigation foisted on her. Her horror/amusement at the parties and people found in them (paired with Holmes dodging out of going to the shindigs with her) was a definite highlight. It also offered a nice contrast to the more depressing aspects of the mystery that involved a World War I execution.

Even though I was a little lost in parts of this novel because I hadn’t read the previous book, I still really enjoyed Justice Hall. However, if you’re reading this series or thinking about starting it, I would recommend reading O Jerusalem before diving into this one.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

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The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

Author: Laurie R. King

Publish Date: 1994

Genre: Mystery

Series: Mary Russel, Book 1

Rating: A +


The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is the first book in Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, but I actually didn’t pick it up until after I read the three novels that follow it. Honestly, I think I preferred it this way as the book read like a prequel for me. This was primarily because the first half of the novel is a little episodic, focusing on Holmes and Mary getting to know each other.

After her parents and younger brother died in a car wreck, sixteen year old Mary Russell is sent to live with her aunt in England. Unfortunately, the aunt is a tyrant who only keeps her niece around because of the allowance she receives for taking care of Mary. In order to escape the toxic atmosphere of the house, Mary typically roams around the countryside dressed in her father’s old clothes and reads. On one of these romps, Mary stumbles across a man closely watching a small cluster of bees. After a brief conversation, where they both manage to insult each other, Mary figures out that she’s talking to the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Impressed by Mary’s aptitude in deducting not only who he is, but also why he was watching a group of bees, Holmes convinces Mary to let him teach her his trade. Over the years, Holmes and Mary become close friends with a low level spark of attraction between them. But, being the magnet for danger he is, Holmes is soon targeted by an old enemy and Mary finds herself entangled in the whole affair.

I really adored this book. The beginning is compiled of small adventures that Mary has while learning from Holmes. It was fun watching Mary during these parts because she really comes into her own and makes the effort to differentiate herself from Holmes’ larger-than-life personality. One of my favorites moments was her subtle flaunting of the fact that she’s pursuing a degree in theology, much to Holmes’ annoyance. However, the book didn’t really pick-up and gain focus until the second part when the main mystery is introduced.

Part two begins when the people close to Holmes become the targets of an assassin, leading him and Mary to begin a long search to find the person behind the attacks. There’s a lot of attraction that hums between Holmes and Mary in this section of the book, which I really loved. You can feel Holmes constantly trying to resist exposing his feelings about Mary while, at the same time, battling the attraction due to their age difference. This was a fantastic read, but I’m up in the air on whether or not I would recommend reading The Beekeeper’s Apprentice later in the series or in chronological order. Most of these books can stand on their own, so either way works.