Category Archives: Severn House Publishers

Review: The Playing Fields by Stella Cameron

Title: The Playing Fields by Stella Cameron
Alex Duggins Mystery Book Seven
Publisher: Severn House
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


When two bodies are discovered within six weeks of one another, it would appear that a serial killer is at large in the sleepy Cotswold village of Folly.

Six weeks after a battered body is found in the grounds of the village cricket club, DCI Dan O’Reilly and his team are no further forward in the investigation. No witnesses, no leads, no clues whatsoever. Then a second body is discovered in the nearby tithe barn used by the local amateur dramatics society, artfully posed just like the first. Could there be a serial killer on the loose?

When evidence leads O’Reilly to visit the Black Dog pub, owner Alex Duggins and her partner Tony are once again drawn into a police investigation.

But Tony is dealing with some disturbing news of his own. Someone from his past has reached out and threatens all he holds dear. Are they who they claim to be, and what do they really want . . .?


The Playing Fields by Stella Cameron is an intriguing mystery. Although this latest release is the seventh installment in the Alex Duggins Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone.

Pub owner and artist Alex Duggins knows something is going on with her fiancé veterinarian Tony Harrison but she has no idea what. Just as she is ready to announce their engagement and set a wedding date, Tony finally reveals what has been troubling him. Neither of them quite knows what to make of his revelation but they decide to wait and see if anything comes of it. Meanwhile, they continue planning for their future together.

Detective Chief Inspector Dan O’Reilly is settling into his new home when he is called to a murder scene that bears a startling resemblance to an earlier murder. Dan and his Sergeant LeJuan Harding are a bit at a loss since there is little evidence at either murder scene. They do however, both uneasily agree there might be a serial killer in their midst. Dan is frustrated by the lack of assistance by possible witnesses who instead chose to confide in Alex instead. He has been told in no uncertain terms to make sure neither she or Tony interfere in this latest investigation. So, he is less than thrilled to have to try to convince Alex to reveal these details to him.

The Playing Fields is a fast-paced mystery with a compelling storyline. The cast of characters will be familiar to fans regular readers of the Alex Duggins Mystery series while newcomers won’t feel too lost since plenty of backstory is provided for each character. The murders are certainly unique but it is relatively easy to guess the killer’s identity. However, Stella Cameron adds just enough tension to keepsreaders on the edge of their seats until this clever mystery’s dramatic conclusion.

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Filed under Alex Duggins Mystery Series, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Severn House Publishers, Stella Cameron, The Playing Fields

Review: The Constant Man by Peter Steiner

Title: The Constant Man by Peter Steiner
Willi Geismeier Series Book Two
Publisher: Severn House
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Length: 221 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Former Munich police detective Willi Geismeier is drawn out of hiding to find a deranged serial killer.

Former Munch detective Willi Geismeier is a wanted man. He sacrificed his career and put his life on the line by exposing a high-ranking Nazi official as a murderer, and is now in hiding in a cabin deep in the Bavarian forest.

But when his friend, Lola, is savagely attacked, Willi returns to Munich in disguise and under a new identity – Karl Juncker – determined to find the perpetrator. Meanwhile, the discovery of the body of a woman in the River Isar leads Willi’s old colleague and friend, Detective Hans Bergemann, to uncover similar disturbing murders stretching back years. A serial killer who preys on young women is running loose on Munich’s streets. Could they be responsible for the attack on Lola, and can Willi catch a deranged murderer before the Gestapo catches him?


The Constant Man by Peter Steiner is a historical mystery that takes place in Nazi Germany. Although this latest release is the second installment in the Willi Geismeier series, it be read as a standalone.

Willi Geismeier is no longer a detective and he is in hiding from the SS, Gestapo and his former colleagues.  But when he hears his childhood friend Lola Zeff has been attacked, he is willing to risk everything to find the person who harmed her. With the assistance of his friend and former partner, Detective Hans Bergemann, Willi returns to Munich under an assumed name. Although he tries to remain under the radar, Willi cannot stop himself from investigating the murders of several young women who appear to have killed by the same person.

Willi manages to live a mainly low-key life while he and Lola become reacquainted. He also befriends a neighbor who keeps him apprised of the goings on around his apartment. Willi finds a new occupation to keep him busy until new evidence provides him with a viable lead in finding the killer. But his past collides with his present before the murderer is brought to justice.

Factual information about Nazi Germany is incorporated with Willi’s hunt for the killer. The Gestapo and Stormtroopers are taking action against Jews and perceived political enemies. Hitler is working towards finalizing his invasion plans of nearby countries. He is also building up the German army to an incredible number of soldiers which break the Treaty of Versailles.

The Constant Man is an intriguing mystery with an interesting cast of characters. Despite a bit of a slow start, the story quickly picks up speed. The investigation into the serial killings is sometimes eclipsed by the historical information about Nazi Germany. However, these details are quite fascinating especially in context with real world events today. With a stunning twist and a daring escape, Peter Steiner brings this clever historical mystery to a very satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Historical, Historical (30s), Mystery, Peter Steiner, Rated B, Review, Severn House Publishers, The Constant Man, Willi Geismeiser Series

Review: Cages by David Mark

Title: Cages by David Mark
Publisher: Severn House
Genre: Contemporary, Psychological, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A dark past. A terrifying secret. A deadly game is about to begin . . .

Washed-up author Rufus Orton needs money. It’s the main reason he takes the gig teaching creative writing to inmates at HMP Holderness. That, and the flattery of prison officer Annabeth Harris, who contacted him out of the blue and begged him to take the job.

Annabeth loves Rufus’ work. Genuinely. She loves being a prison officer too. But Annabeth is keeping a secret. Fifteen years ago she did something bad, and if it ever comes out, her new, perfect life will be destroyed.

HMP resident Griffin Cox has no black marks against his name. He claims he’s been wrongly convicted of the sex offence that put him in prison. He’s lying. He has a plan – and everything hinges on him securing a place in the classroom with Rufus and Annabeth. It’s only then that the game can begin . . .

Dark, twisted and gripping, CAGES is an addictive psychological thriller from a “master” of the genre (Kirkus Reviews). If you enjoy disturbing, charismatic criminals like Hannibal Lector and Patrick Bateman, you’ll love Griffin Cox.


Cages by David Mark is a riveting psychological thriller.

Prison Officer Annabeth Harris has worked hard to get where she is today. HMP Holderness has a dreadful reputation but she has high hopes for a successful creative writing class for the prisoners. Annabeth’s favorite author is Rufus Orton and she is thrilled when he agrees to teach the class. With a mix of prisoners attending, the first day of class is occasionally tense, but Orton and Annabeth manage to keep control. The most disruptive resident is Griffin Cox who is suspected of murdering several teens. As Rufus reads through the day’s assignments, he is surprised to find a paper written by Annabeth. She denies she is the author which raises a horrible thought. Who knows Annabeth’s darkest secret?

Annabeth’s life has not been easy but she and her teenage son Ethan are now happy in their small seaside town. She is a single mum who is quite close with her son.  She enjoys her new career and while her future looks bright, Annabelle would rather avoid too much attention.

Rufus was at one time a hugely successful author with a bright future ahead of him. But in recent years, his books sales are down and his critics’ assessments are harsh. Now, his current novel is late and bills are overdue so he welcomes the opportunity to earn money on the side.

Griffin knows time is running out for him. So far, the police have no proof he has committed any crime except the one is in prison for. He has created an elaborate plan to ensure his freedom. Griffin is playing a serious game that could result in terrible consequences for Annabelle and Rufus.

Cages is an intricately plotted, edge of the seat thriller. The characters are deeply flawed but, with a few exceptions, they also have redeeming qualities. The storyline is clever and unfolds at a brisk pace. With a shocking plot twist, David Mark brings this suspense-laden thriller to a stunning conclusion.

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Filed under Cages, Contemporary, Psychological, Rated B+, Review, Severn House Publishers, Suspense, Thriller

Review: Death Grip by Elaine Viets

Title: Death Grip by Elaine Viets
Angela Richmond, Death Investigator Series Book Four
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 225 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Every town has its secrets. Some are too deadly to stay hidden.

Chouteau County’s super-rich know how to cover up a scandal, but when it comes to murder, they’d better watch their backs . . . Death investigator Angela Richman is determined to see a killer brought to justice in this sharply written and darkly entertaining mystery set in Missouri, perfect for fans of Lisa Gardner and J.A. Jance.

Angela Richman, Chouteau County death investigator, finds herself deep in the Missouri woods on a perfect spring day. But there is nothing idyllic about her grim walk – a body has been discovered in a muddy creek, and Detective Jace Budewitz wants Angela on the scene.

Terri Gibbons, the popular Forest High track star who went missing eight months ago, has been found strangled. Could a message found in Terri’s shoe hold the key to catching her killer? Chouteau Forest is a town of privilege and secrets, where everyone has something to hide . . . Can Angela overcome the many obstacles in her way to see justice served when the Forest’s wealthy residents will go to any lengths to prevent the truth being revealed?


Death Grip by Elaine Viets is an intriguing mystery. This fourth entry in the Angela Richmond, Death Investigator series can be read as a standalone.

Death Investigator Angela Richmond records evidence at local death scenes. She is meticulous as she records her findings when Choteau County’s residents pass away. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Angela and Detective Jace Budewitz are almost certain the victim is missing jogger Terri Gibbons.  Two more skeletonized remains are also found at the scene.

The supposition that the killer is most likely a local is confirmed when Angela finds a piece of evidence in which Terri names her killer. The accused is a wealthy resident who is considered one of the town’s most eligible bachelors. With the wealthy towns people able to make their troubles easily go away, will Angela and Jace find the evidence they need to ensure his arrest and conviction?

Angela is a widow who is still mourning the sudden death of her husband two years earlier.  She is trying to decide whether or not she is ready to date Officer Chris Ferretti. He makes no effort to hide his interest in going out with her. Angela blows a little hot and cold with him while she attempts to sift through her confusing emotions.

Angela is not an investigator but she cannot resist providing assistance when asked. Even after both she and Jace are warned to stay away from their suspect, they continue attempting to build their case.  In between recording evidence at other death scenes around town, Angela tries to figure out a way to gather enough evidence to arrest their suspect.  Both she and Jace take full advantage when someone else connected to the possible perpetrator turns up missing. Will Angela and Jace find the missing woman before it is too late?

Death Grip is an engrossing mystery with a unique premise. Angela is a realistically drawn character whose struggles both on and off the job ring true. The secondary cast of characters is also well-rounded and mostly likeable. Although the killer’s identity is known, there is still plenty of suspense since Jace and Angela have track down a viable lead that will result in an arrest. Elaine Viets brings this gripping mystery to an action-packed conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this latest installment in the Angela Richmond, Death Investigator series.

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Filed under Angela Richmond Death Investigator Series, Contemporary, Death Grip, Elaine Viets, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Severn House Publishers

Review: Suspicious Minds by David Mark

Title: Suspicious Minds by David Mark
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Mystery, Suspense
Length: 263 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


When you’re dreaming, it’s dangerous to wake up . . . An addictive psychological thriller from David Mark, currently writing “at the top of his game” (Publishers Weekly)

Liz Zahavi is desperate. Desperate for her controlling partner, Jay, to stay with her, to actually love her. Desperate to be well again, after a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Desperate to be understood.

Private therapy seems like the answer to her prayers, but Liz doesn’t even make it to her first appointment. Lost in a maze of country roads, she crashes her car, only to be rescued by a brooding local farmer . . . who just keeps on rescuing her. Attractive and intense, Jude is a dream, and Liz doesn’t want to wake up.

But four years ago, Jude’s perfect, pretty wife died alone in the woods near their house. And as Jude’s past boils into the present, threatening to destroy their new happiness, Liz begins to wonder what exactly her new man is capable of . . . and how far he’s willing to go.


Suspicious Minds by David Mark is a multi-layered domestic mystery.

Elizabeth “Liz” Zahavi has recently discovered she has Boderline Personality Disorder. But she is placed on a waiting list for treatment. She lives with her boyfriend Jay and does not work outside the home.  After Jay finally agrees to pay for a private counselor, Liz sets up her first appointment. Unfortunately she gets lost in the countryside and crashes into another vehicle on her way to meet the psychologist. This unlucky series of events ultimately ends up changing her life when she is rescued by Jude Cullen. After a traumatic encounter with Jay, Liz, (who now calls herself Betsy), moves in with Jude.

Liz and her sister Carly’s childhood was dysfunctional and they eventually ended up in foster care. While Carly mostly has her life together, Liz has not been as lucky. Although not entirely happy living with Jay, she stays with him since she has limited options. Now she has a definitive diagnosis, Liz hopes she can to get her negative thoughts and wild mood swings under control.

After her car accident, Liz is intrigued by Jude and she looks forward to his texts. At the same time, she discovers shocking information about Jay and her reaction sets in motion a violent confrontation with him. Jude offers her a quiet place to land in the aftermath and she is happy with their solitary life. However, Betsy is unable to quiet the little voice that keeps telling her he is too good to be true.

Jude does have a rather tragic past that he does not talk about. He is also locked in a battle of wills with a wealthy landowner. Betsy continues to push aside her misgivings but she will soon have no choice but to confront Jude about the secrets he is keeping. Their relationship remains fraught and Betsy begins to harbor doubts about her decision to live with him.  Continuing to ignore her misgivings, Jude’s issues eventually become a looming problem that are becoming increasingly dangerous.

Suspicious Minds is a clever mystery with an interesting cast of characters. Betsy is often her own worst enemy as she tries to protect herself emotionally. Jude is an even-tempered caring man with a mysterious past. With the tension building to an unbearable pitch, David Mark brings this unique domestic mystery to a suspenseful conclusion. An outstanding mystery I highly recommend to fans of the  genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, David Mark, Domestic Mystery, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Severn House Publishers, Suspense, Suspicious Minds

Review: Trouble in Mind by Michael Wiley

Title: Trouble in Mind by Michael Wiley
Sam Kelson Mystery Series Book One
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 224 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Introducing maverick Chicago private investigator Sam Kelson in the first of a hardhitting new crime noir series.

Sam Kelson is a PI like no other. As a consequence of being shot in the head while working undercover as a Chicago cop, he suffers from disinhibition: he cannot keep silent or tell lies when questioned. But truth be told – and Kelson always tells the truth – he still feels compelled to investigate and, despite the odds, he’s good at his job.

Hired by Trina Felbanks to investigate her pharmacist brother, whom she suspects is dealing drugs, Kelson arrives at Felbanks’ home to make a shocking discovery. Arrested on suspicion of murder, he makes an even more startling discovery concerning his client’s identity. Kelson would appear to have been set up … but by whom, and why?

As events spiral out of control and the body count rises, Kelson realizes he’s made a dangerously powerful enemy. Will he survive long enough to discover who has targeted him – and what it is they want?


The first installment in the Sam Kelson Mystery series, Trouble in Mind by Michael Wiley is an intriguing mystery.

Private Investigator Sam Kelson  is a former narcotics officer whose career ended after taking a bullet to head. He continues to suffer from headaches from the injury and a condition known as disinhibition which leaves him unable to tell a lie or keep a secret. The condition also causes Sam to blurt out whatever he is thinking no matter how inappropriate his thoughts might be.  Now divorced, he is a devoted dad to his eleven year old daughter Sue Ellen, who finds his disinhibition quite amusing.  

Sam’s life takes a troubling turn when his newest client, Trina, hires him to convince her brother, pharmacist Christian Felbanks, to stop dealing the drugs he is filching from his employer. Sam discovers Christian’s lifeless body and homicide Detective Dan Peters arrests him for murder.  Sam knows Trina has set him up, but will he found out who is behind the plot before it is too late?

Sam is a quirky character whose disinhibition manages to irritate just about everyone he meets. He also has a tendency to talk a lot which people tend to find distracting and downright annoying. Despite his propensity for rambling, Sam is a likable man who is a little clueless but quite tenacious as he tries to figure out who Trina is working for.

There are a surprising number of suspects who might have it in for Sam. First in line is the family of the teenager who died in the same shoot out in which Sam was shot. Next is a surprising connection between a  real estate mogul and someone from Sam’s past. As the bodies begin to pile up, Sam remains Peters and his partner Venus Johnson’s main suspect. In order to get out from underneath the cloud of suspicion, Sam turns to a former police academy friend DeMarcus Rodman to help him uncover the truth about who is behind the deadly plot.

Trouble in Mind is a clever mystery with an eccentric cast of colorful characters. The storyline is engaging but the pacing is a little slow. With a few predictable twists, Michael Wiley brings this fascinating mystery to an over the top, slightly improbable conclusion.

Despite a bit of a bumpy beginning, I am looking forward to reading the next novel Sam Kelson Mystery series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mystery, Rated C+, Review, Sam Kelson Mystery Series, Severn House Publishers, Trouble in Mind