Category Archives: Mystery

Review: Deadlock by James Byrne

Title: Deadlock by James Byrne
Dez Limerick Book Two
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 359 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


In this sequel to the highly praised The Gatekeeper, Dez Limerick, one of the best new thriller heroes returns.

Desmond Aloysius Limerick (“Dez” to his friends and close personal enemies) is a man with a shadowy past, certain useful hard-won skills, and, if one digs deep enough, a reputation as a good man to have at your back. Now retired from his previous life, Dez is just a bloke with a winning smile, a bass guitar, and bullet wounds that paint a road map of past lives.

Jaleh Swann, a business journalist hot on the trail of an auditor who was mugged and killed, lands in the hospital just one day after her Portland apartment is ransacked. When Jaleh’s sister, Raziah, reaches out to an old friend for help, Dez has no choice but to answer. The Swann sisters have been pulled into a dizzying web of cover-ups and danger. At the center lies an insidious Oregon-based tech corporation, Clockjack, which has enough money and hired guns to silence just about anyone—including this rag-tag trio. Luckily, Dez’s speciality is not just to open doors, but keep them open—and protect those working to expose Clockjack’s secrets.

More stands in the way of the truth than just one corporation. When hired thugs come to the finish the job and attack the Swann sisters at the hospital, Dez does what he does best. Now, the two captured men (and the corpse Dez left behind) attract the attention of not just Clockjack, but of the Portland police, the D.E.A, and the U.S. Marshalls. Dez and the Swann sisters are on the run from powers beyond their control and means. Outnumbered, under resourced and outgunned, Dez must use all his skills to keep his friends safe and stand up to corporate conniving. After all, the one thing Clockjack didn’t count on? A good man with a simple job to do.


Deadlock by James Byrne is an edge of the seat, suspense-laden thriller.

Dez Limerick is unique, likeable, and very easy to under estimate. He is charming but deadly and fiercely loyal with a strong moral compass. But Dez will do whatever it takes to protect his friends and by extension, their family.

When his friend, singer Raziah Swann, asks him to protect her sister, Laleh, Dez moves quickly to help them.  In order to ensure the sisters’ safety, he must figure out why Laleh has become a target. His quest for answers takes him to Clockjack Solutions, a tech company that, on the surface, seems on the up and up. However, appearances can be deceiving and Dez comes up against ruthless people who will do anything and everything to protect their shocking plans.

Deadlock is an adrenaline-filled mystery that moves at a blistering pace. Dez is a larger-than-life hero that is very easy root for. The storyline is well-developed with breath-taking twists and turns. With a jaw-dropping epilogue, James Byrne brings this second installment in the Dez Limerick series to a very intriguing conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Deadlock, Dez Limerick Series, Jack Byrne, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Thriller

Review: I Did It For You by Amy Engel

Title: I Did It For You by Amy Engel
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


A twisty thriller from the beloved author of The Familiar Dark, in which a woman returns to the town where her sister was murdered and finds a presumed copycat on the loose

It’s been fourteen years since Greer Dunning’s older sister, Eliza, was murdered, and Greer’s family has never been the same. And now there’s been a similar killing in Greer’s small Kansas hometown. A copycat, according to the authorities, but Greer is convinced there is more to the story. That Eliza’s murderer had help all those years ago.

So Greer returns home after more than a decade away, desperate to answer the questions that have haunted her for years. And in her drive to uncover the truth, she forms a bond with the unlikeliest of allies. One that puts her in grave danger, as almost everyone in her small town becomes a suspect.

At once a riveting mystery and a deep exploration of guilt, loss, and the ways in which a violent murder transforms both the family of the victim and the family of the killer, I Did It For You will keep readers captivated through the very last page.


I Did It For You by Amy Engel is a compelling mystery about copycat murders.

After learning about the new murders, Greer Dunning returns to her small hometown in Kansas. She immediately reconnects with her childhood friends Ryan and Cassie. But Greer does not make much headway in trying to repair her fractured relationship with her parents. She also pairs up with an unlikely person as she tries to find the connection between her sister Eliza’s and the present day murders.

With plenty of tension, this atmospheric mystery is fast-paced with well-drawn characters. Greer remains haunted by her sister’s death and being home provides her the opportunity to search for answers. Despite the murders, she is a little reckless and takes unnecessary risks. Greer also unearths stunning secrets that leave her wondering whom she can trust. The shocking dénouement is full of unexpected twists and turns. The conclusion of this suspense-laden mystery is somewhat bittersweet.

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Filed under Amy Engel, Dutton, I Did It for You, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Mystery Monday Review: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano

Title: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 447 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


On a creepy island where everyone has a strange obsession with the year 1994, a newcomer arrives, hoping to learn the truth about her son’s death—but finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the bizarrely insular community and their complicated rules…

Clifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son’s bedroom, she’s perplexed. She’s never heard of it before, but soon learns it’s a tiny island off Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, 200 miles from Willow’s home. Why would her son write this on his floor? Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.

After a few days on Clifford, Willow realizes: This place is not normal. Everyone seems to be stuck in a particular day in 1994: They wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: Close your curtains at night.

High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island’s twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She’s been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? Lily is determined to prove that the islanders’ beliefs are a sham. But are they?

Five weeks after Willow arrives on the island, she disappears. Willow’s brother, Harper, comes to Clifford searching for his sister, and when he learns the truth—that this island is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined—he is determined to blow the whole thing open.


Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano is a suspenseful debut.

Harper’s search for his missing sister Willow on isolated Clifford Island drives this fast-paced mystery. Clifford Island’s small population is not exactly helpful as Harper tries to not only find Willow but understand what drew her there in the first place. The cast of eclectic islanders do not want visitors and they do not have an online footprint. The storyline is cleverly written with the chapters alternating between text messages, interviews, Willow’s letters, and various characters’ perspectives.

A deliciously eerie mystery with supernatural elements and a chilling conclusion.

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Filed under Dead Eleven, Dutton, Jimmy Juliano, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Supernatural Elements, Suspense

Review: Windfall by Wendy Corsi Staub

Title: Windfall by Wendy Corsi Staub
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 333 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher (GoodReads Win)


In this newest suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub, three friends’ lives terrifyingly unravel when they win a billion-dollar lottery jackpot—and one goes missing. Perfect for fans of novels like Taylor Adams’ No Exit and The Club by Ellery Lloyd.

It was the girls’ weekend they’d never forget.

J.J., Molly, and Leila had once been inseparable, but it’s been a long time since college, and life—not to mention distance—have disrupted the former roommates’ friendship. When the three reunite for a birthday weekend in Las Vegas, the lottery ticket they buy on a whim has the winning numbers—giving them a billion-dollar windfall. Shell-shocked, they turn to Shea Daniels, a “sudden wealth manager,” who promises to guide them through the pitfalls of having more money than they’d ever imagined.

It was the girls’ weekend they’d live to regret.

The trio travels to a secluded California mansion, where Shea and her staff cater to their every whim, promising to teach them to navigate their newfound wealthy lifestyles with ease. The house is luxurious beyond their wildest dreams—and purportedly cursed, the last place a missing movie star was seen alive. Their weekend turns to terror when they discover they are trapped—roads blocked and communication disrupted by the wildfires raging around them. And when history repeats itself and one of them disappears—the one who’s holding the billion-dollar ticket—the others must face the fact that either their friend has betrayed them…or a predator is lurking.


Windfall by Wendy Corsi Staub is a tension-filled mystery.

Three college roommates who were once inseparable reunite in Las Vegas to celebrate their fortieth birthdays. They also go in together and purchase a lottery ticket that ends up being the winning ticket. Leila contacts her friends, J.J. and Molly, after hiring Shea Daniels to help them navigate their billion-dollar win.

Shea hosts them at her cliffside mansion, Windfall, but Santa Ana winds and huge wildfires cast an eerie pall over what should a celebration of their newfound wealth. After one of the friends vanishes without a trace, the other two realize they really do not know one another any longer. With the incessant winds blowing and smoke becoming heavier, will they uncover their friend’s fate before it is too late?

Windfall has a troubled history and the still unsolved disappearance of the previous owner, actress Chantal Charbonneau, remains a subject of speculation. Listening to a recent podcast about Chantal proves to be unsettling. Suspicions plague them. Uncertainty about who can be trusted continues to grow.  Patchy cellphone service cuts them off from the rest of the world. Can they escape before falling victim to Windfall’s curse?

Windfall is a riveting mystery that is incredibly atmospheric. The characters are complex and vividly drawn. The excerpts from the podcast ratchet up the suspense. With secrets galore, the storyline is fast-paced and edgy. Wendy Corsi Staub keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

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Filed under Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Wendy Corsi Staub, William Morrow Paperbacks, Windfall

Review: Inside Threat by Matthew Quirk

Title: Inside Threat by Matthew Quirk
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Political Thriller
Length: 428 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


An electrifying thriller from the author of The Night Agent now on Netflix, an attack on the White House sends the President and his top aides to take shelter in a top secret government facility buried deep underground—but they soon discover the threat is locked inside with them.

Assume the worst. Code Black.

The day that every secret service agent trains for has arrived. The White House has been breached; the President forced to flee to a massive doomsday bunker outside DC to defend against whatever comes next. Only the most trusted agents and officials are allowed in with him—those dedicated to keeping the government intact at all costs.

Among these is Erik Hill, who has given his life to the Secret Service. They are his purpose and his family, and his impressive record has made him a hero among them. Despite his growing disillusionment from seeing Washington corruption up close, Erik can’t ignore years of instincts honed on the job. The government is under attack, and no one is better equipped to face down the threat than he is.

The evidence leads him to a conspiracy at the highest levels of power, with the attack orchestrated by some of the very individuals now locked in with him. As the killers strike inside the bunker, it will take everything Erik Hill has to save his people, himself, and his country.


Inside Threat by Matthew Quirk is an adrenaline-fueled political thriller.

A security breach at the While House leads to moving President James Kline and the First Lady Dr. Sarah Kline to a secure, underground bunker. Secret Service Agents Eric Hill and Amber Cody are among the agents who accompany them along with a handful aides. They are met by Lt. Col. Bruce Drumm whose insider information about the facility prove to be invaluable after a murder reveals the stunning truth: the killer is one of them.

Eric (and readers) do not know who to trust before or after the murder. This includes the President and his closest inner circle. Eric is incredibly jaded but he never forgets the only lives that matter are the President and First Lady. Despite his doubts, he and Cody do everything possible to protect them from an unknown enemy.

The underground bunker is from the Cold War era and is impenetrable. The numerous nooks and crannies provide perfect hiding places for the unknown assailant. One shocking turn after another lead to unanticipated conclusions that thoroughly shake up Eric, Amber, and their allies.

Inside Threat is full of non-stop action that keeps the pages turning at a blistering pace. The characters are well-developed and the inability to tell friend from foe keeps everyone off balance. The storyline is well-executed and never delves into politics. With plenty of suspense and devilishly clever plot twists, Matthew Quirk brings this pulse-pounding thriller to a highly satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Inside Threat, Matthew Quirk, Mystery, Political Thriller, Rated B+, Review, William Morrow

Review: Unladylike Lessons in Love by Amita Murray

Title: Unladylike Lessons in Love by Amita Murray
The Marleigh Sisters Book One
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Romance
Length: 319 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Amita Murray takes us on a journey from the pleasure gardens of society to the dangerous streets of 19th century London, in this spectacular romantic debut by an unforgettable new voice.

“Women mind their reputation if they want to marry. I don’t want to marry.”

As the eldest daughter of an English earl and his Indian mistress, Lila Marleigh knows what it’s like to be an outsider from “polite” society. As children, she and her sisters were wrenched from their home and sent to England, never quite accepted by those who claimed to care for them. Now Lila has set herself up as hostess of an exclusive gaming club, charming the ton that flocks to her establishment each night, though it shuns her by day.

One night, Ivor Tristram comes barging through her door, accusing her of being his father’s mistress. Lila defies his expectations at every step and convinces him to navigate London’s rat pits and pleasure gardens with her, in her quest to solve a violent crime.

As they set out together to uncover the truth, an irresistible passion ignites that will shake them to the core. Lila must fight to protect those she loves, yet the biggest threat is to the sanctity of the heart she has guarded so carefully all her life.


Unladylike Lessons in Love by Amita Murray is a delightful historical romance which features an intriguing mystery.

Lily Marleigh is the illegitimate daughter of an English earl and his Indian mistress. Following the deaths of her parents, she and her sisters are sent to England to live with his estranged wife (weird, huh???).  Now in her late twenties, Lily is a strong, independent woman who is unconcerned about her reputation. She runs a salon which is popular among the peerage and she has no desire for marriage. Lily can sometimes be impetuous but her heart is the right place. When someone from her childhood needs her assistance, Lily does not hesitate to jump into the fray. Even if it means she must join forces with Ivor Tristram.

Ivor have the highest opinion Lilybut he agrees to help her find out the truth about her friend’s plight. His viewpoint of Lily is colored by his concern for his mother and his father’s history of marital misdeeds. Ivor has worked hard to turn around his family’s fortunes and he continues to work hard. Despite his better judgment, Ivor is determined to see his commitment through in helping Lily uncover the truth for her friend.

The sparks fly between Lily and Ivor right from their first meeting. Given what he thinks of her, Ivor is not exactly thrilled with his fascination with Lily. And Lily is a bit dismayed by her attraction to Ivor. Yet they try to put their feelings to the side as they work together. As they spend time together, they begin to realize they might have misjudged one another.

Unladylike Lessons in Love is an engaging romance with a diverse cast of characters. The storyline is multi-layered and compelling. The mystery aspect is perfectly balanced with the romantic element of the plot. The various characters are well-developed and quite charming. Lily and Ivor’s romance is both sweet and steamy with little conflict until late in the story. With unexpected twists and turns,  Amita Murray brings this marvelous historical romance to a heartfelt conclusion. This first installment in Marleigh Sisters series will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next installment.

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Filed under Amita Murray, Avon, Historical, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Marleigh Sisters Series, Unladylike Lessons in Love