Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Meet the Benedettos

Meet the Benedettos by Katie Cotugno
12/5/23; 256 pages

Meet the Benedettos by Katie Cotugno is a highly recommended contemporary romance/family drama/comedy in which Pride and Prejudice merges with The Kardashians.

A few years after their TV reality show made them famous, the five twentysomething Benedetto sisters, June, Lilly, Olivia, Marianne, and Kit, are all living in their parents mansion. The family is bordering on bankruptcy, which their mother, Cinta, is not helping. Their father, Dominic, is known as the “Meatball King” of Los Angeles for his restaurants, has tried to tell them they are broke. When movie star Charlie Bingley moves in next door with his best friend, actor Will Darcy, the sisters and Cinta all take note. Charlie immediately falls for the oldest sister, June. Lilly, on the other hand, clashes spectacularly with Will, but the two keep finding themselves together.

At the beginning I wasn't quite sure of this merger between a classic novel updated and populated with people famous for being famous. Once I set any questions aside and just went with it, I found it much more enjoyable and even charming at times. It is firmly set in L.A. and the characters are very representative of those famous for being vapid influencers. The narrative is told through multiple points-of-view.

Meet the Benedettos is a lighthearted read that moves quickly. it doesn't require readers to know Austen's novel or look for comparisons to that plot. Don't expect a literary masterpiece. This is just a entertaining family drama with devoted Kardashian-like sisters and a pair of lovers that keep clashing even though readers will know they belong together.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Welcome Home, Stranger

Welcome Home, Stranger by Kate Christensen
12/5/23; 224 pages

Welcome Home, Stranger by Kate Christensen is a recommended family drama.

Rachel Callowy, an environmental journalist in Washington, DC, and self-professed “middle-aged childless recently orphaned menopausal workaholic,” is going home to Maine after the death of her mother. Lucie was a very difficult mother, to put it mildly, and Rachel was estranged from her for the last ten years. Her wealthy sister Celeste was left to care for Lucie through cancer treatments. Celeste is upset and angry at Rachel and this presents itself as a lot of passive-aggressive behavior.

While Rachel is already handling living with an ex-husband and his boyfriend in their condo, and a boss who wants to fire her, now she has a pile of other problems. A longtime friend/lover, David, lives next door to Celeste with his new wife, but he still wants Rachel. She inherited her mother's house which needs work. Celeste has issues of her own she is dealing with, an alcoholic husband, distant teens, and loads of resentment.

Characters are portrayed as realistic individuals. Rachel is fully realized and complex as is Celeste. Lucie is examined and exposed as an especially flawed character. A novel only handling the complicated and unhealthy parenting of Lucie and the effects on her daughters would be a heavy enough focus for a short narrative.

Welcome Home, Stranger is a beautifully written novel about the complications of family, grief, growing older, and reexamining your past. However, it also covers so many emotionally laden topics in so few pages that nothing seems to reach any satisfying resolution, which is unfortunate. Just a few of Rachel's problems would be enough to cover in one abbreviated novel. The other option would be to extend the narrative and fully cover all the issues.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins via Edelweiss.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Fiction Writer

The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor
11/28/23; 304 pages
Park Row Books

The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor is a recommended Gothic mystery set in California.

Olivia Fitzgerald's last book, Becky, based on Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, was an adjunct failure so she is surprised when her agent calls to tell her that reclusive, handsome, mega-billionaire Henry (Ash) Asherwood wants to hire her for a writing job. The money is good so she flies to Malibu to meet with him and learn the details before signing an NDA. Ash claims that du Maurier actually stole his late grandmother's story. He has read her diary which was written in French before Rebecca was published and he wants Olivia to tell her story. Then it all gets rather dicey because he's not seriously discussing business or having his people get down to business.  Olivia "finds herself drawn into a tangled web of obsession, marital secrets, and stolen manuscripts."

Where this succeeds is as a Gothic mystery, based on Rebecca. Metatextuality is clearly on display when, interspersed between Olivia's chapters about her trip, are excerpts from a book titled The Wife, which seems to be another retelling of Rebecca. It all seems a bit too much, even if you appreciate the idea Cantor is pursuing.

This plot is very slow moving and requires all manner of suspension of disbelief almost immediately, especially since a compelling reason to keep reading past the thirty percent mark is missing.  Even if you need the money, most people would suspect something odd right away and make Ash discuss business, not his cooking abilities. Olivia is there to do a job and she needs the information to do so. Once it becomes clear that the handsome rich guy is not providing the information, then it is time to go home and wait for him to get the papers in order, not hang around and drink too much.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Park Row Books via NetGalley.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Unnatural Death

Unnatural Death by Patricia Cornwell
11/28/23; 432 pages
Grand Central Publishing
Kay Scarpetta #27

Unnatural Death by Patricia Cornwell is a highly recommended crime fiction for fans of chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. This is the twenty-seventh novel in the long running series.

Dr. Scarpetta is flown out to wilderness of Buckingham Run in northern Virginia by her niece, Secret Service agent Lucy Farinelli. Agents are already on the ground with her longtime associate Pete Marino. Scarpetta is there to retrieve the mauled remains of two bodies, Huck and Brittany Manson, owners of an outdoor gear store. The retrieval of both bodies is involved, one body in a mine shaft and another in the lake. The two are suspected of spying or links to terrorism so the retrieval and autopsies are top secret. Their trail cameras, which the Secret Service hacked, did not show the assailant. Even weirder is the large foot print Marino found in the cave which he believes is that of Bigfoot. He took a cast of it and has made arrangements to have it examined.

Having read and enjoyed almost all of her early books, I took a long hiatus mid-way through this series after several disappointing books. The pace does start out a bit slow as recovering the bodies and the autopsy take up the bulk of the narrative but does pick up speed. Appreciation of Cornwell's writing style will help. There is a lot of technical, step-by-step medical and procedural details as well as other details (food, technical devices, programming, vehicles, as a few examples) shared as the plot unfolds. Expect political views.

Suspension of disbelief is required with the return of an old nemesis. The major plot thread does reach a conclusion, but there are several other unresolved storylines. This one is for fans of the series who know all the characters, their backstories, and want to know what's happening now. It wasn't surprising (the major twist will easily be predicted by some readers) but it is entertaining and comfortable to see old characters. 3.5 rounded up

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central via NetGalley.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Primary Storm

Primary Storm by Brendan DuBois
11/28/23; 256 pages
Severn River Publishing
Lewis Cole #6
(re-release, originally published on 1/1/2006)

Primary Storm by Brendan DuBois is a very highly recommended mystery and the sixth book in the Lewis Cole series.

During the frantic primary season in New Hampshire, apolitical retired Department of Defense analyst and columnist for Shoreline magazine Lewis Cole becomes a suspect in an assassination attempt on Georgian Senator Jackson Hale. The only reason he attended the rally was because his girlfriend Annie Flynn works for Hale's campaign asked him to. Apparently his gun was found at the rally. After video evidence proves his innocence, two things become very clear. The secret service agent who visited him earlier was bogus and someone is trying to use him as a pawn in a ruthless game.

The writing is excellent. The novel is well-paced and the tension rises to a heart-stopping ending. Cole is a great character who is intelligent, perceptive, and resourceful. His friend Felix Tinios makes an appearance as a very good friend. Annie is his love interest but is more a supporting character and a diversion.

DuBois captures the whole frantic atmosphere surrounding the primary season and the pummeling of the residents with political polls and ads in this outing. With each new re-release of the novels in the series, I am enjoying Lewis Cole more and more.

Now that I know that the novels are being re-release, I really appreciated some of Cole's comments from that time. One that especially had me laughing involved his love of reading physical newspapers because you can't take a big computer with you if you want to read in the bathroom. Times have certainly changed since 2006. Cole is introduced to a cell phone for the first time.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Severn River Publishing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


Starkweather by Harry N. MacLean
11/28/23; 432 pages

Starkweather by Harry N. MacLean is a very highly recommended true crime story.

In the eight days from January 21-29, 1958 nineteen-year-old Charles Starkweather and (possibly) his fourteen-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, murdered 10 people the majority in or near Lincoln, Nebraska. (Another man was killed weeks earlier by Starkweather.) The killing spree began with Caril's mother, stepfather, and little sister. The reverberations of the case were immediate and Starkweather has been called the first modern-day mass killer. Caril's involvement has never been settled. Both were convicted. Charlie Starkweather was executed,  while Caril Fugate served 18 years before her parole.

In Starkweather, MacLean re-examines official documents, interviews, and notes to provide a new account of this case. The book is broken down into six parts. Part I introduces Charlie and Caril. Part II, The Killings, sets forth two versions of the killings, one from Charlie's point-of-view and another from Caril's. Charlie gave at least 10 different versions and changed key facts in each version. Caril's version stayed pretty much the same. Part III. The Trials, details both trials. Part IV, Guilt or Innocence, MacLean shares his own analysis of what he believes happened. Part V, The Consequences, describes the effect of the killings on various people involved. Part VI, Impact, he discusses the impact on American culture. As the author grew up in Lincoln during the crimes, he saved the personal effect his research had for his epilogue.

Presenting the conflicting points-of-view of Charlie and Caril as well as then presenting the many changes Charlie made to his recounting of what happened is a smart move. MacLean's own analysis is quite interesting and he made some good points. This is a very well written account of a case many are familiar with and crime enthusiasts will appreciate the care taken to the story.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Counterpoint via NetGalley.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

My Husband's Lies

My Husband's Lies by Liz Lawler
11/20/23; 342 pages

My Husband's Lies by Liz Lawler is a recommended thriller.

Kate is a doctor, her husband Mark is an airline pilot, and they have a young son, Jacob. Mark is being questioned by the police in connection with the murder of a young woman in Barcelona and Kate is unsure she can really trust him. Then Mark is hit by a car, hospitalized, and in a medically induced coma while the police plan to arrest him. When Mark's friend, Robert, shows up with another co-worker, Olivia, they assure Kate they are there to help and support her as she tries to prove her husband's innocence while she also questions if she can trust him.

My Husband's Lies is a fast-paced thriller full of flawed people. The narrative is mainly told through Kate's point-of-view, whose judgement is questionable at times. While the plot starts out intriguing, it becomes formulaic. There is also a point where a huge suspension of disbelief is required for the plot to even continue. What mother would trust some random co-worker of her husband, one she has never met, to stay in her home and take care of her child? Uh, no one I have ever known would even consider this. Once this leap is taken, the plot becomes very predictable. Interesting, but not utterly gripping or jaw dropping.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Bookouture via NetGalley.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Thirty Days of Darkness

Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen
Megan E. Turney, translator
5/25/23; 413 pages
Orenda Books

Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen is a highly recommended Nordic Noir thriller and the first book in a new series by the Danish author. The edition I read was translated by Megan E. Turney.

Copenhagen author Hannah Krause-Bendix Hannah is an acclaimed writer who is currently suffering from writer's block. At a book fair she openly displays contempt for wealthy successful crime writer Jørn Jensen. Hannah claims anyone can write a crime novel. The public encounter results in Hannah accepting Jensen's challenge to write a crime novel in thirty days. Her friend and editor sends her off to stay with a friend in Iceland where she becomes part of an actual murder mystery.

Hannah comes across as an old disgruntled curmudgeon in the beginning of the novel and then settles into a character who seems younger than her age, forty-five. The plot is an author following and inserting herself into a real life murder mystery as she writes about it. As she stumbles about the small village of Húsafjöður trying to solve the crime, her character becomes more human and relatable because she clearly doesn't know the inhabitants and their histories.

It is unclear if she is actually helping the local police officer, Viktor or not. Her host, Ella, does not speak Danish and Hannah barely knows Icelandic. The two communicate through written notes, which adds a level of difficulty. The murder victim was Ella's nephew, Thor, which places Hannah close to the investigation, which probably wouldn't happen in real life as most guests would leave, not stick around to write a crime novel about it.

This is an entertaining novel that has some action and humor that will hold your interest throughout. There are a few other events in the novel where readers will have to set disbelief aside. It basically shows crime fiction as formulaic rather than a compelling thriller with unexpected twists in the plot. At the halfway point I knew the direction it was going.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Orenda Books via Edelweiss.


Friday, November 17, 2023

The Other Half

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell
11/21/23; 448 pages 

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell is a recommended murder mystery, especially for anyone who enjoys disapproval of the wealthy  gilded youth of the British class system.

Influencer Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath after the 30th birthday party of her boyfriend, Rupert Beauchamp. The party was a black-tie dinner at McDonald's and attended by a host of socialite friends with nicknames. DI Caius Beauchamp, no relation to Rupert, finds the body during a morning jog. Rupert is the obvious main suspect but there are plenty of other suspects available too. Rupert uses Clemmie's death as an opportunity to pursue Nell Waddingham.

After almost set this one aside several times at the beginning of the novel, I stuck with it once the investigation started. The police procedural made me stay, even though at times it almost gets buried under extraneous information. I liked the investigative team of DI Caius, assisted by DS Matty Cheung and DC Amy Noakes and would like to see them on another case. Most of the other characters I actively disliked. There are some plot twists that held my interest and the novel greatly improved toward the end.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Anchor via NetGalley.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Night She Lied

The Night She Lied by Lucy Dawson
11/16/23; 371 pages

The Night She Lied by Lucy Dawson is a highly recommended psychological thriller.

Jude has recently lost her partner and switched to working nights shifts as an A&E nurse in a hospital. When her mother, Margaret, calls and tells her something terrible has happened, Jude is concerned for several reasons. Perhaps she shouldn't have shared any of this information with Rik, the new man she just met, but he seemed understanding. When Margaret won't answer her return call, she sends the police for a wellness check. This in turn sets off her mother, and causes a stir in the whole family which soon culminates in Margaret being charge with crimes committed twenty years ago.

Margaret gives off strong Mommy Dearest vibes at the start which continue throughout. This character flaw always makes it a bit difficult to believe that a grown adult daughter would keep putting up with the manipulative behavior but it also makes for a compelling narrative because you can't predict what a character who is this flawed will do next. While Margaret is truly an unlikable character, Jude isn't entirely sympathetic because something seems off about her at the start. They are both unreliable characters. This is a good time to note that if characters are eliciting this much speculation and analysis, they are probably well-written with this result in mind.

The narrative is told through multiple points-of-view and in multiple timelines, providing background information to the current action and further developing the plot. There are plenty of twists and new information divulged along the way, making the story additionally complicated and unpredictable.  In turn, I enjoyed the novel while also shaking my head in disbelief, however, I read it to the end and was engaged in the story. 3.5 rounded up.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Bookouture via NetGalley.

Perfect Shot

Perfect Shot by Steve Urszenyi
11/14/23; 368 pages
St. Martin's
Special Agent Alexandra Martel #1

Perfect Shot by Steve Urszenyi is a very highly recommended, action packed thriller and the first book in a new series.

FBI Special Agent Alexandra Martel, a former decorated Army sniper and combat medic, is currently on loan to Interpol and in the Netherlands when she learns an old friend, Krysten, an MI5 officer, has been killed under mysterious circumstances in London. Once in London, Krysten left clues that only Alex can follow. It becomes clear that much more is going on and that Alex has a target on her back and there is a larger scheme developing. Along with CIA agent Caleb Copeland Alex is called to Turkey to recover a stolen nuclear bomb.

Action explodes through the Netherlands, London, Turkey, and Paris. Alex is an intelligent, tough, tenacious woman and a good character to feature in the first novel of a new series. Caleb is still a bit of an enigma, but is clearly more than her equal. The two verbally spar, but work well together when threatened, pursued, and the conflict is intense.

The heart-stopping action, dangerous conflicts, espionage, and skirmishes are the main purpose of this thriller and Perfect Shot certainly delivers that globally. All this action makes for an un-put-downable thriller from start to finish. If undercover, global geopolitical action grabs your attention, then Perfect Shot will deliver.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Professor

The Professor by Lauren Nossett
11/14/23; 336 pages
Flatiron Books
Marlitt Kaplan #2

The Professor by Lauren Nossett is a highly recommended mystery.

In Athens, Georgia, college student Ethan Haddock is found dead and the media begins to follow the incident. His professor, Dr. Verena Sobek, was taken in for questioning, after which she is suspended from teaching and a Title IX investigation is opened. Disgraced former detective Marlitt Kaplan is now working as a research assistant for her father, a professor. She misses police work and her former partner, but knows she can never return to the force. Her mother, who is also a professor at the university, is a colleague of Verena Sobek and asks for Marlitt's help in clearing Verena's name. Marlitt agrees, although questioning people when you have no authority or inside access to information is challenging.

Told through several different points-of-view, the very slow start made it difficult to engage with the narrative right from the start. It is not until later in the novel that the action picks up and the plot becomes more compelling. A critical incident in Marlitt's background is hinted at but I didn't realize The Professor was second in a series. The first novel, The Resemblance, is about the incident in Marlitt's life that preceded this novel and apparently provides some vital background information.

It is very well-written and once the action takes off, the novel improves. If you can power through the first part things get better, as in more compelling. Expect twists and surprises along with a good dose of criticism over academia's treatment of staff and students. Also expect a few incidents that require a good dose of suspension of disbelief as they strain credibility. 3.5 rounded up.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Flatiron Books via NetGalley.


Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich
11/14/23; 400 pages
Harper Muse

Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich is very highly recommended Southern literary fiction that can be heartwarming, heartbreaking, and humorous. Kinfold is an excellent novel; one of the best of the year.

It is the 1970s in Park, Alabama, where Jeremiah Lewis Taylor, or “Nub,” 62, is a known town drunk and best friend of cousin Benny. An incident sends him to the hospital, where he first meets fifteen-year-old and six-foot-five Minnie, whose self-comforting singing wakes him up. He later discovers more about Minnie and decides to sober-up to foster her. At the same time Nub's daughter, Emily, learns some bad news that she is dealing with on her own and the man who is Minnie's father, Sugar Bass, has just been released from prison.

This whole cast of diverse, fully realized main characters come together with a supporting cast to create a complete picture of a specific time, place, and family. At the beginning, as the various characters are introduced, the narrative may seem a bit scattered, but everything will quickly begin to come together. The humor along with insight into the broken characters will grab your attention until the plot takes off, securely holding your rapt attention to the end. 

At its heart Kinfolk is a masterful story of the family you have and the one you create. There is also a good dose of drama, threats, second chances, country music, redemption, forgiveness, love, and humor. The hilarious lines that show up throughout the story are appealing and help set the tone of the novel. Even when something bad is happening, humor can help with the pain. One of the earlier lines about the name for the special kind of person who signs up for a job at Waffle House is laugh-out-loud funny. That remark is followed rather quickly by another perfect quote, "Thanksgiving is about fulfilling family obligations and being miserable the way the good Lord intended."

I really loved Kinfolk. Filled with memorable characters in a captivating plot, it is one of the best books I've read this year.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Harper Muse via NetGalley.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Odyssey's End

Odyssey's End by Matt Coyle
11/14/23; 320 pages
Oceanview Publishing
Rick Cahill #10

Odyssey's End by Matt Coyle is the action-packed, very highly recommended tenth crime thriller featuring San Diego private investigator Rick Cahill.

Difficulties are multiplying for PI Rick Cahill. Between the constant threat his work places them under combined with the rages his CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, can bring on, his wife Leah feels safer away from Rick. For their protection, Leah along with their daughter Krista, has moved back to her parent's home in Santa Barbara.  Rick desperately misses them both so when he is offered $50,000, he accepts a job from his enemy Peter Stone. He plans to set the bulk of the money aside for Krista's future.

He is supposed to look for Stone's daughter, Angela Albright, because Stone needs a kidney transplant. However, the case immediately becomes more complicated and dangerous than Rick initially thought. Quickly the FBI is involved asking about an unknown player in the case, a man called Theodore Raskin. He calls friend and PI Moira in to assist him, too. Then the recently released Russian mobster Sergei Volkov is released from prison, placing Rick in an even more perilous situation.

All the novels in the Rick Cahill PI Crime Series are riveting, well-written thrillers with complicated, dangerous cases full of twists and surprises that are expertly brought to a conclusion by the end of the novel. Odyssey's End features an intricate, suspenseful case which places Rick right in the path of more danger and personal injuries. It is a great addition to the series.

I absolutely love this series and the character of Rick Cahill. Even though it is the tenth in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel after which you will want to check out the other novels in the series. It seems there are hints that this may be the last case for Rick. I hope not, but if it is I'm sure Matt Coyle will soon give us another series full of action and great, fully realized characters.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Oceanview Publishing.

Monday, November 6, 2023

The Spy Coast

The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen
11/1/23; 364 pages
Thomas & Mercer
The Martini Club #1

The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen is a very highly recommended, excellent spy thriller and the first book in a new series featuring a group of retired CIA operatives living in Purity, Maine.

Maggie Bird, 60, retired from the CIA sixteen years ago and now considers herself a chicken farmer. She enjoys her quiet life on Blackberry Farm and the book club/martini club she attends with a group of long time friends who are also retired. When a mysterious woman who shows up asking about a former associate is later found dead in Maggie's driveway, it's clearly a message and threat. Maggie's friends are quick to jump in to help her with their special skills. Acting police chief, Jo Thibodeau, however, is puzzled by this group of senior citizens who are competently conducting their own investigation.

The narrative alternates between the past and the present in Maggie's life and told through the point-of-view of Maggie or Jo. Although the story moves around in time, it is very easy to follow and readers will know which character is the focus. The main story concerns Maggie and her life. Maggie is a fully realized, well-developed character and she will immediately garner your support and sympathy

Everything about The Spy Coast is excellent, the writing, plot, and characters, and represents the start of a wonderful new series that I will most definitely follow. The Martini Club is composed of likeable, skilled former CIA agents who may be retired seniors but are still intelligent and capable. The pages flew by in this entertaining, fast-paced, and engaging novel. The ending was a complete surprise.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

The Railroad

The Railroad by Matt Brolly
11/8/23; 360 pages
Oblong Books
Lynch and Rose #2

The Railroad by Matt Brolly is a very highly recommended investigative thriller and the second book in the Lynch and Rose series. The pages will fly by when you read this excellent, fast-paced, tension-filled, complicated thriller.

A model train locomotive is found at the gruesome murder scene of a family of four and is clearly recognize as a tie to the psychopathic serial killer, The Controller.  Special Agent Sandra Rose and Special Agent McBride are called in to assist the investigate. At the same time former agent Samuel Lynch receives a package addressed to his alias which also contains a model train locomotive. Lynch makes sure his ex-wife and son flee their current location and then contacts Rose. Because of his experience with the Controller and obvious connection to the current investigation, Rose asks him assist in the current investigation. And then the body count rises and the threat increases.

The characters are fully realized, determined, and intelligent. Readers will appreciate these characters, even when they are struggling or feel broken. It is sheer pleasure to follow along as they investigate and piece clues together. The crime scenes can be gruesome, but the idea that the criminal empire of the Controller may be returning is even more frightening.

The Railroad is an un-put-downable thriller that will hold your attention throughout. The tension is palpable and the short chapters keep the pages flying by as more information is uncovered and the action  intensifies. It does require some suspension of disbelief, but this is done without a second thought because the plot and suspense is so compelling. Although The Railroad is the second in a series, you can read this as a stand-alone novel as enough background information is provided, however, I predict you will want to read the first book, The Controller.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Oblong Books via NetGalley.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Death at Paradise Park

Death at Paradise Park by Ross Greenwood
10/30/23; 469 pages
Boldwood Books
DS Ashley Knight #2 

Death at Paradise Park by Ross Greenwood is a very highly recommended police procedural. If you enjoy detailed procedurals that closely follow the investigation, you are going to love Death at Paradise Park. Although this is the second book featuring DS Ashley Knight, it works well as a stand alone novel, however then you will want to get the first in the series, Death on Cromer Beach.

The first victim was Alfie Hook, who was killed while eating his fish and chips by the Hunstanton seaside. When DS Ashley Knight, her rookie partner Hector Fade, and her Major Investigation Team from the Norfolk Police are called to investigate, they realize that this isn't going to be a simple case once they discover who Alfie is married to. Then a second body is discovered at the nearby Paradise Caravan Park. There are seemingly no clues tying the two murders to each other and then the body count rises.

The writing is exceptional in this fast paced, detailed investigative procedural. If you love following clues and trying to piece complicated details together as they are discovered, this will be an un-put-downable novel. As the death count rises, it becomes a breath-taking mad dash against time as the team tries to figure out what is going on and why before someone else becomes a victim. There are surprises and twist along the way during the investigation.

The narrative unfolds through Ashley's point-of-view. She is a reliable, intelligent, insightful investigator and narrator. Time is also spent developing the characters so they feel like real, unique individuals. Dialogue between characters occurs naturally and is sometimes humorous. If needed, a helpful list of characters is found at the beginning of the novel to help keep track of who is who.

Death at Paradise Park is an excellent police procedural with a strong plot and fully realized characters that will keep you guessing right up to the surprising ending.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Boldwood Books via NetGalley.