Germany, 1917. A mesmerizing story of flying aces, feisty heroines, and death in the sky over war-torn Germany. When a British flying ace crash-lands his stolen plane near a German farm, American Ellenor Jantz, beekeeper on the farm, shoots first and asks questions later. She ought to turn the handsome pilot in, but something about Alec Corbin-Dawes instead makes her hide him in the farm's stables.
Alec is on a personal mission: to save his sister, who lives in Metz, which is scheduled to be hit by a massive air-raid in four days. He talks Ellenor into helping to start the plane he plans to steal from the German squadron based on the farm. In the pre-dawn process, as the plane taxis across the field, everything goes terribly wrong.
As usual, you'll get no spoilers here. It's a fun beach read, with a plethora of arcane facts about bees, "crates" as the pilots called their flying machines, and the intricacies of mid-air dogfights. There's also a charming but deadly villain, an underground anti-war cell, and a nice war-time love story.
It's a 4. A fun read with some interesting historical tidbits and a fascinating in-depth look at the original fighter planes. Unsurprisingly, the author is a beekeeper.
London policeman Walter Day is confronted by a sly, cunning murderer...or is it more than one? Could it be a copycat of Jack the Ripper, still at large?
A carefully arranged prison break frees four notorious killers. In theory, the four were supposed to be delivered into the hands of a vigilante group. In practice, the wily criminals are at large. Along with a fifth that nobody ever dreamed would again be on the loose.
Walter Day and colleague Nevil Hammersmith pursue clues and find gory bits of victims as the killers lead them on a chase through London streets and sewers. Hammersmith seems impervious to danger...with the resulting injuries.
While the police sleuth, a far-seeing doctor establishes a morgue to analyze murder victims, and (with typical Victorian disregard) has his teenaged daughter sketch the results. Meanwhule, Day's family is at risk, and while he's away the threat literally comes homes.
Complex, chilling, the perfect read for lovers of detailed and graphic mystery. It's another 5. Read the series in order if you can.
Find the author at https://alexgrecian.com
Here, Slider and his very pregnant girlfriend Joanne try to find time to tie the knot before their baby is born. In typical incautious style, Jim Atherton gets tangled up with a victim's journalist daughter as they investigate the murder of a noted BBC correspondent. With friends in high places, the victim has influence from the grave.
Complicating matters are the threats Slider receives from an escaped criminal out for the ultimate revenge. For the Detective Inspector, the notion that a game is over when a felon goes to prison is not true. Now, under chilling conditions, he's got to figure out how to stop this personal threat as he investigates corruption in high places. And find time to marry Joanna, of course.
The series is compelling and best read in order. The author combines crime and police procedural with a full array of personal problems and foibles into a marvelous mix of can't-put-down tales. To date, there are 26 books. Think of the binge! It's another 5 from this prolific writer.
Find the author at www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com
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Historian and professor Jaya Jones receives a package from an old boyfriend and discovers a lovely piece of what she first thinks is costume jewelry: a heavy gold ankle bracelet with a large red stone in it. She quickly learns that the boyfriend, Rupert, has died in a car crash in Scotland. And that the anklet isn't costume jewelry, it's real and part of a lost cache of Mughal-era jewelry lost for centuries. It may in fact have once belonged to Nur Mahal, wife of the famous Jahangir who built the Taj Mahal.
When Jaya's Merkely apartment is burgled, she decides answers to the threat are in Scotland. Accompanied by Lane **, atractive and blond and mysterious, she goes to London. She is followed from the British Library, where they research history of the Raj. In Scotland, the plot thickens as bogus summons to London and Lane's arrest on faked theft charges that put them out of action. But only until Jaya figures out the solution.
Filled with the lore of the Highlands and the history of the British Empire, Jaya and Lane are a great team with just enough romance to muddy the waters.
This prize-winning book and its subsequent series are a fascinating meld of history, mystery, danger, action, and just enough romance. It's a 5.
As the procession slowly wends its way south through France, from castle to monastery, Adelia must keep the princess safe, her own tiny daughter unscathed, everyone healthy, and hope that Excalibur, cleverly hidden, will safely arrive at its destination. But there is a murderer traveling with them, and Adelia must find him before he finds her. It's a 5, as are the other books in this compelling series.
The author does not have a website.
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Little escapes the notice of the ever-vigilant Homeland Police, an enormous and dominating agency with seemingly unlimited power. When it looks as if Raleigh will actually mount a defence for the accused, a series of events begins that will give chills to many readers.
The most startling aspect of the story is Blingbling's memoir. Narrated in turns by Blingbling and Raleigh, the fascinating, entertaining, horrid tale unfolds. Blingbling, while he cannot talk clearly, is self-educated, and a man of keen observation, dry wit and gently scathing observation. Impossible not to care for him. And for the self-indulgent but calculating Raleigh as well, although they are very different characters.
Many times, after each bizarre turn, I could only think, "This could easily happen."
It's a 5. It will sadden many, perhaps infuriate others. Do not skip to the last pages and read the ending. Part of the power of the book is its gradual slide from gray to black. Every page counts, there are few wasted words here. It ought to be a best-seller.
The farther east she goes, the more atmospheric and wild the country. She arrives at Castle Dragulescu at day's end and her old friend Cosmina is delighted to welcome her. The elderly, ailing Countess Dragulescu, Cosmina's guardian, introduces her to her arrestingly handsome son Andrei, Count Dragulescu. Theodora is instantly attracted to the enigmatic man who, she quickly discovers, Cosmina is afraid of. The count knows every ploy in the seducer's arsenal and finds the lovely visitor susceptible.
Local lore and the peasants on the count's land believe in strigoi - vampires - and Theodora finds persuasive evidence they may actuaslly exist. As she and Alexei grow closer, his behavior seems more and more odd. A midnight exorcism involving chants and holy water and wooden stakes in the castle crypt - suitably horrific - ups the ante. Why does Alexei's long-deceased father looks so fresh and lively? Who killed the serving girl, whose lifeless body has two puncture wounds on her bosom? Should she believe Alexei's cool claims of indifference?
Matters come to a head in an unexpected moment which, in my zeal to do no spoilers, you will have to discover for yourself in the book.
Very readable, with a feisty heroine and a suitably surprising villain. Very Gothic. Five stars. Raybourn is a great writer of romantic suspense.
When a local man of North African descent is found brutally murdered, the first impulse it to tie it to the "Gestapo" from Brussels. But Gestapo has a harsh connotation in this part of France, which was occupied by the Nazis and resisted by two still-competing factions. The second inpulse is to tie the crime to past events that involved the real Gestapo. When a young man is found tied up in a sexually compromising position in a bedroom with Nazi paraphernalia, he's immediately thought the killer. But Bruno knows the boy, he'd coached him at rugby and tennis, and thinks he's not killer material. But who is?
Bruno must delve into the past to find out. But some secrets are better off unspoken and he has his work cut out for him. Will the Chief of Polcie be able to get to the bottom of this crime?
Much of the charm of this series is that Bruno is a man of the local area, and he loves living there. Ne has a home in the hills, and a hunting dog. He is part of local clubs, and the coach for many of them with the younger generation. In addition, he has a mentor/mentee relationship with the older city mayor. Every female with a pulse flirts with him. And one in particular catches his eye...
Keeping with my rule of no spoilers, that's all I'll write. But this is a series worth spending time savoring. I'm loving every one I've read so far, and the local knowledge has made me want to move to the Dordogne.
It's a five and then some.
In all series (the ever-wacky Stephanie Plum instantly springs to mind) there comes a time for the author (even a highly successful one like Ms. Albert) to take a step back and look at what's happening. This is the feeling with this book. To start with, the exhaustive information about various plants was distracting. It's a thick book, and maybe could've used some pruning? And then a few over-familiar plot devices and one particularly egregious moment of mind-boggling stupidity on our plucky heroine's part really loused up what could've been a good read.
China Bayles' new tenant, Kelly Kaufman, employed as a nurse, has a couple of serious problems, one of which she wants to ask China about. But the nurse, going through a nasty separation from her husband, is killed when her car goes off the road en route to China's. Back up a bit. She is injured, but takes several days to die. While her tenant is on life-support, China's relationship with her absent husband may be the same. He's out of town but not where he told China he'd be.
China's being lied to on all fronts, as she discovers Kelly's employment was misrepresented. Then Kelly's paperwork surfaces and things get even murkier. I was on a cruise ship, with limited reading options, so I finished this. But I do hope it is not representative of Albert's writing and plotting. I thought there was too much evidence of hasty writing and not-so-hot editing. But it's #24 in the series so Albert's doing something right!
I'll give this a 3. It should've been more, but that scene in the garage was just too, too TSTL (Too Stupid To Live).
The story switches between the present day and the creepy, horrible diary entries. At first one feels some compassion for the young writer in his bizarre situation, then as the entire story unfolds it becomes clear that motives and actions aren't as they had seemed. Porter, reading the entries while trying to figure out not only the killer's motivation but why the killer made his fatal stumble, realizes he has only hours to figure it out before another death may happen. Too late, Porter realizes that the web he has followed is as much a trap as a trail.
A 4 for me. The diary entries were a bit too pat. But the story, particularly the very tense and dramatic denouement, was worth reading.
The impetuous, ambitious but supremely talented Kydd, now Captain Sir Kydd of the Tyger, is sent to be part of the Baltic Fleet, and never a more thankless job has he ever had. Shackled by competing monarchies, Admiral Saumarez finds his hands tied by one recalcitrant British Army officer who feuds with the flighty, autocratic Swedish king.
The fleet is hopelessly trapped in a Swedish harbor and cannot depart to challenge the Russian navy without the King's leave, which he will not give until he gets his way. The fact that Russia has declared war and their fleet will leave St. Petersburg any day does not seem to excite the monarch.
Kydd is sent on individual sorties to gather information and, in typical fashion, winds up destroying a Danish fleet of small boats intent on revenge. This feat does not endear him to many of his fellow captains, some of whom feel Kydd is a grandstanding lightweight.
But further feats are coming as Kydd is dispatched on another mission. From page to page, this book fairly bristles with action of one sort or another. Stockwyn is a sailor and for many years was in the Royal Australian Navy (among many other things). The authenticity of both naval life and maneuvers, and historical events and situations, is enthrealling for a reder like me who adores history.
Read the set in order. From the firsgt to the present book you'll ahve a great time. The series is a 5, right up there with Patrick O'Brien.
Lady Emmaline of Fallonmour, secretly aghast at how delighted she is to hear of her husband's demise whole on Crusade in the Holy Land, is horrified to learn that the brutal Sir Cabal will manage the property for the crown. Emma has managed the estate for the three years her husband has been raping and pillaging (mostly the former) in the Middle East. She has built up the estate into a flourishing asset. Sir Cabal appreciates the effort but wants her out of his thick, dark hair at once.
Emma's brother-in-law, the sleazy and contemptuous Hugh, is out for her hand. One way or another - he's no more particular about details than his brother was - he'll have her More importantly, he'll have the flourishing and profitable estate.. Once it's in his hands, the Crown - in the person of his friend Prince John - will approve.
But Emmalyn comes to know the dark and brooding Sir Cabal and wonders if she can work with him to secure the future of her beloved Fallonmour. She's right, and she's wrong. And that's where the fun begins...
Part of a series, this book will stand alone as well. Chock full of steamy sex scenes and moments of bloody derring-do, the book should appeal to anyone who enjoy a high-passion historical tale. It's a 4+ (one fatal flaw which some readers may pick up on keeps me from a solid 5). Heat level 4.
The balance of this big book deals with Rostov's life in exile inside the building, and how he adjusts (or doesn't) over the following twenty-odd years.
It is amazing that, in an era and a regime that stripped all human dignity from people, Alexander Rostov managed to retain his innate dignity, humor, courtesy and charm. That last leaps off the pages in scores of moments of stress, surprise, even humiliation and passion. Around him, stupid, petty people were making stupid and petty decisions. People made demands of him few men would have been able to endure with anything approaching good humor. Count Rostov - although nobody referred to him in public other than Comrade Rostov - weather it all and, in the end, triumphed.
A fabulous, elegant read. This is a 5+, one of my favorite books this decade.
Winter Meadows has come to Eclipse Bay to hide from problems. Jack Lancaster is there to recoup between investigating the cold cases he's so good at. A hypnotist with extraordinary powers, Winter finds she msut support herself through other means: meditation counseling. Jack, an obsessive with a small problem of getting trapped in his dreams, goes to her for help. The attraction comes into the open when one of Winter's problems breaks into her house to kill her. Winter thinks the man is there only because he manged to track her down; Jack's convinced there's more to it. They join forces to find out the truth behind the attack The brilliant Quintin Zane, Jack's old nemesis and his mother's killer, has tracked him down, and will do anything in his considerable power to settle old scores. The chase is two-sided, however, and leads Winter and Jack on an intense chase through a labyrynth of clues to a denouement neither one of them could've foreseen.
No spoilers here. There's plenty of action, a fair amount of hot and heavy sex, and a couple of murders. Typical Krentz. I'll give it, barely, a four. it's a four in the sex department as well.
The prolific Krentz writes under two other names: Jane Castle (futuristic) romantic suspense and Amanda Quick (historical romantic suspense); she has written under a total of seven aliases, but has fined it down to three. She has over fifty New York Times Best Seller titles.).
I do not like whiny drunk female protagonists. Male ones don't do anything for me either. This one, a female, is particularly repellent as she's not only a drunk (albiet a functioning one, at least during the day), but a cheating, lying drunk wife and mother who is engaged in a particularly repellent and demeaning extramarital affair. What a total turn off.
Did I like this book? No.
The writing is excellent. But I'm not slogging through 200+ pages of sodden misery to find the pearl at the bottom of the compost.
I did not like it, and quit after about fifty pages.
You, of course, may feel differently.
Everything you love about cozies is here: a winning amateur sleuth with a fascinating job (inherited, a bookshop and brownstone, a very generous auntie), a wide range of good friends one of whom becomes a corpse.
And the cat, Hamlet: big, black, brilliant, and very adept at pushing books containing clues at his mistress. I personally find extra-intelligent felines a bit much (in our own homes, the beasts are sometimes too intelligent for their owners' good!).
When bookstore owner Darla Pettistone and her boisterous friend Connie Capello find a dear friendof Darla's dead in his own shop, one of his antique pieces (a small pillow) in his lap, Darla finds herself involved in what turns out to be a murder. Connie, on edge from a last-minute wedding gown search, actually finds the body (second of the day), and her fiance is the investigating detective.
Connie is the take-over-your-life kind of friend, and Darla spends a lot of time keeping the fast-approaching nuptials on an even keel, even though she and the soon-to-be-groom have a history. Pushing aside what might be feelings for the detective, she and Hamlet see someone lurking in the shadows near the murder site. Hamlet shows a keen interest in the lurker; is he also tied to the weird wedding dress shop employee? Is he the mysterious book purchaser who rejects a sought-after sale for being the wrong book? Is it even a he?
A convoluted tale well told. It's a 4.
Over the years, Donna Leon has given the world a marvelus series of murders set in Venice, Italy, and its surrounding area. Brunetti, the police inspector, is a deeply-drawn character, as is his wife Paola and their two children, Rafi and Ciara. Brunetti's colleagues run the range from brilliant to seriously challenged, but all are handled by the inspector with care and respect. In each book, Leon has managed to bring Brunetti to new realizations and new insights. The reader gets to enjoy the ride, too.
Venice, of course, plays an important part in the tales, as does the Italian system of justice and - in this particular story - the Italian inheritance laws. In Italy, your relations get your estate. None of this cat shelter givewaway decisions.
When Brunetti's father-in-law, Count Falier, asks him to check out a young man the Count's oldest friend plans to adopt, Guido is uneasy. It's a family matter. He knows the man, an accomplished art dealer with a large fortune. A homosexual, the older man has found a new companion after his partner of many years left him. If the young man a fortune hunter? Does it matter? Once he's adopted, the entire estate of the elderly art dealer devolves to the young man.
It not only matters to the art dealer, it matters to his long-time friends. Including a delightful woman who shows up in Venice. Brunetti meets her, is impressed. And then...
Read the book. It's one of Leon's better books, multi-layered and thought-provoking.
Billed as women's fiction, the story is told in part by the oldest Alton child, Amber, and is loaded with raw emotion. I'm not a crier, but this was a two-hanky read (in a good way).
The other part of the story is told from the point of view of a young couple from London who, forty years later, come to the house to plan their wedding festivities. Fallen on harder times than before, it is either rent out the rooms for events or face selling everything. Lorna is mesmerized by the old house, which she thinks she remembers from childhood caravan trips to the area. Jon, a carpenter by trade and able to clearly see the house's perilous condition, is less than thrilled.
The lady of the house, Caroline, invites Lorna to stay as well as gives the couple a deal on their celebration. Caroline knows that one happy client will encourage others to book. Lorna, despite her intended's reservations, does come to Black Rabbit Hall.
In the spirit of our No Spoiler policy here at Nuts4Books, I can tell you no more. Sadly, you will have to actually read the book to find out what happened to Hugo and Nancy Alton, the four Alton children, how Caroline arrived on the scene, and what happened the fateful night that changed all their lives forever.
It's a 4, a no-rush book of unfolding cross-purposes, desires, bereavements, and bad decisions.
Corey, whose short fuse is legendary as well as the despair of his FBI wife, tracks members of the Russian delegation to the U. N., among them one deadly agent of the KGB. Russian colonel Vasily Petrov of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service goes to a weekend party at the eastern end of Long Island, playground of the rich and devious. Corey, of course, violates protocol and masquerades as a caterer to follow the Russian into a wealthy oligarch's stronghold.
When Petrov and a dozen beautiful escorts walk down tthe beach and disappear from view at the height of the party. alarms go off in Corey's head but nobody else is disturbed. Rejecting the conservative approach of asking his superiors for direction, Corey and a reluctant counterpart with mysterious connections follow the fast-vanishing trail.
If you enjoy edge-of-the-seat, high body count tales, DeMille is the author for you, and John Corey is the character, in every sense of the word. Confrontational, confident, smart-ass Corey will keep you entertained as well as terrified.
It's a 5. The series is best read in order as there's quite a bit of carry-over.
As always, Hero Jarvis plays an important part in the story, as do St. Cyr's physician friend Dr. Gibson. For evil pomposity, we get St. Cyr's father-in-law Charles, Lord Jarvis, and the bloated Prince Regent, Prinny. The great and good are contrasted through Hero's research with the mass of unwashed, uneducated, tragic humans upon whose backs the entire system rode.
I am totally hooked on this series. They should be read in order if only to keep track of the twists and turns Devlin takes in his search for the truth about his own heritage. The first book will grab you, and the rest is gripping reading and a series of crimes that illuminate the glittering, glamorous, grisly, gruesome era. As always, the rich and connected had it good and the rest did not. Harris brings it to vivid life. A 5+, what else?
The main characters are finely drawn and compelling, the story likewise. Even minor characters get their hundred words of description. Nobody is a throwaway in this tale. Except, perhaps, Kya.
BUT...if you are the type of reader who compulsively sneaks to the last page of the book and reads it, you may as well not read the book at all. The pacing in this big story is complete, right down to that last paragraph. I urge you to resist that sneak-peek urge.
This is a 5 for me.