Forgotten City: A Claire Codella Mystery
The best skilled nursing facility in New York City is bound to have some famous clients. When former Broadway star and wife of a wealthy banker Lucy Merchant, a sufferer of early-onset Alzheimer’s, is found dead, it seems sad but not shocking. But Merchant’s daughter is not accepting of this death and visits Detective Claire Codella at the police station, providing her with some evidence, including a surreptitiously-obtained video and stained carpet fibers. Codella has been looking for a case to get her back in her game after a bout of cancer and a boss who is not a fan. This could be it. As she pushes the investigation forward, there are plenty of suspects to be checked out. With red herrings aplenty, the mystery is not easy to solve.
Author Carrie Smith is building a franchise with Claire Codella as the centerpiece, and she is a terrific character with a rich, complex backstory. For readers who like police procedurals, this is a good one. The politics of the police department create extra tension beyond the main mystery of the murder to make this a real page-turner. The writing is crisp and the story is solid.
Crooked Lane Books
Death by Romance
Gordon Taylor is murdered right before Christmas, and right before his company makes its initial public offering. His wife, Jessica, is devastated, but alarmed that her partnership with Romance, Ltd., makes her a suspect in her husbands murder, along with many other supporting characters.
Years before the murder, Jessica’s friend, Mavis, concocts a business plan for a lucrative, investor-driven matchmaking service. She calls it Romance, Ltd. Mavis uses Jessica as her investment, using her resources to school her in philanthropy and high culture, with the aim of putting Jessica in Gordon Taylors path. The company’s goal is that the investment marries for money, and the investors get a cut of the spoils when the marriage eventually sours. But what if the investors are impatient, and the marriage isnt souring fast enough? It just might be a motive for murder.
Jessicas clear-eyed earnestness is admirable, if only a bit naïve. Jessica knows that Mavis makes money through their partnership after Gordon Taylors estate is settled, but doesn’t see this as a reason to suspect her. Jessica blames herself for her husbands murder, and continues to forgive Mavis over and over again for being a single-minded, greedy hag the whole time.
A shady lawyer and some investors with mob ties kept me guessing, and threw Ryan, the cop on the case, off the trail. Like many crime novels, the evidence points to multiple characters as being the murderer, but it was almost the one you least expected.
Death by Romance is short, simple and straightforward. The characters are deep and interesting. Jessica’s grief is the readers grief. Maviss anxiety is the readers anxiety. Ryan, the cop with whom readers will spend the most time, loves his cat and loves to cook, has a dismal relationship with his son, and can’t seem to let go of his late wife, Mary. Ryan’s vibrant personality will make readers feel like theyre solving the mystery right alongside him. While there wasn’t a ton of action, some excellent sleuthing made the ride entertaining.
When we left Nicki McJacob in Regret Things, trouble had stormed through her front door at dinnertime, ruining her familys dinner plans. Now Sin and Nicki are back, and wherever they go, a few things follow. Guns. Money. Bad guys in good suits. In To Guns, we meet the McJacob family two years past that dinner debacle, safe but unhappy in a European paradise, missing the American dream they left behind.
As Nicki considers moving the family back to a small town nestled into the Colorado Rockies, risks of coming stateside be damned, little brother Sin is hooking up with the synergistically named Sindy. Suddenly, its looking like an idyllic time for a family reunion.
But Matt Ingwalson isnt that type of author, and this isnt that type of book. This is a guns-up book, a chase and showdown type of book. A world weary hit man is hot on Nickis heels. Then, gun-happy Sin steps into the wrong back-country domestic dispute. All this escalates into a classic Western gun battle that is at times hilarious, and at times high-throttle, but always memorable.
Sin and Nicki are a great combination of stealth and sass. Gun-loving, ever-brooding, smooth Sin is always an enigma, and Nicki stands as his flamboyant and unapologetic opposite. Ingwalson also brings to life Sins love interest Sindy, a self-proclaimed skater girl who manages to hold her own with the rough and tumble Kenfax and McJacob clans.
Ingwalson once again uses his trademark smooth, noir style to draw the reader into the novella while not distracting from the action at hand. To Guns is written in a novella style as it follows the action of this single chase to Colorado, so it is great for thriller fans looking for a quick read to pick up and breeze through.
The Paris Protection
The Secret Service is in some ways like the NSA, CIA or some other government lesser known acronym group: just about everyone knows who they are, but they dont really know exactly how they operate or what they do. The Secret Services job is to protect the President of the United States 24/7, no matter what it takes. Their lives are always on the line for this one person. But what does this truly unique job entail?
The premise for The Paris Protection seems somewhat mundane and ordinary: a terrorist group has infiltrated the hotel where the United States President is staying and plans to assassinate her. They are fully confident in their success, while the Secret Service knows the job they have to do.
Abigail Clarke has done a lot of work – as a state prosecutor, US Senator, and governor of Virginia – and sacrificed much to become one of the most powerful and important people on the planet; many say THE most important. President Clarke does not take her job lightly and has very little free time. She is now in Paris for a summit meeting as she hopes to bring the prickly subject of organized crime to the international stage and address it as a terrorist attack. For now, the days work is done and she is at her hotel carrying out various conference calls with important people back on US soil and around the world.
Maximillian Wolff, who once served on the Israeli Security Protection team when Yitzak Rabin was assassinated, has suffered much during his life and holds the United States accountable for its world domination, and with a huge and highly trained team of mercenaries, his plan is to remove the head of power and bring the US to its knees. His right hand man, Kazim Aslan, has spent his time as an insurgent soldier in Iraq who has lost loved ones because of the United States policies and wants their assassination plan to be just as successful. Maximillian also has a hero: Hannibal Barca who once brought Rome to its knees.
The Paris Protection is three-hundred-and-fifty-odd pages that is anything but ordinary and mundane. Devore skillfully takes the reader step by step through the attack, giving POVs from both sides and plenty of detail of tactics, weaponry, and skill. It is a gripping thriller at its best. Here and there, he provides some back story to his characters–again on both sides–that help the reader understand what is fueling their desire and drive. Maximillian goes into numerous contemplations of how Hannibal handled certain situations to help them in their current one, which is juxtaposed with Secret Service Agents contemplating their skill and training and what past agents have done in similar situations.
It is the ideal blend of action and story with plenty of well-researched details that keep the reader glued to the page. The story passes throughout the hotel with some impressive battles, eventually leading down deep into the haunting Paris catacombs that serves as a terrifying arena for a chase scene. The Paris Protection is one of those books where you dont know who will make it out alive and how its really going to end; a perfect example of the thriller genre.
Upon discovering new evidence, a retired detective with months to live races to catch a high school track stars killer. Garnering the support of a PI firm, on-duty cops, and loved ones, the detective and allies face off against a ruthless manipulative psychopath to bring young Sydney Adams case to a successful close.
Cold-Blooded continues the trials and tribulations of Lisa Regans previous heroine last seen in Hold Still. Jocelyn Rush barely survived a horrific attack that left her, and her partner Anita, scarred. Rush left the force to focus on her daughter, but opening a PI firm to continue helping Philadelphias underserved citizens. A case is dropped in her lap by the nearly dead Augustus Knox. Knox lost everything he loved in the pursuit of Sydney Adams murderer. Discovering pictures that link Adams to the beloved Coach Cash Rigo, Knox implores Rush to help him solve the case before he dies. With just a theory and some weak evidence, Rush and Knox hound Coach Rigo in the hopes of forcing a confession. Between flashbacks and investigating, its soon made clear that there is a more sinister killer waiting in the wings for a time to strike.
Lisa Regan is clearly at the top of her game as a suspense novelist. The plotting is impeccable. Its difficult to determine the actual killer until nearly the last page. For instance, no spoilers, Coach Rigo had repeated affairs with underage girls. Everyone believes he must have been the killer, but just as evidence begins to mount the rug is ripped out from under everyone. Flashbacks to Rigos and other characters pasts help flesh out the story and add dramatic irony. The characters are dynamic and worn in, with strong backstories. Rush and her partner are carry-overs from a previous book, but Knox is such an interesting and tragic figure. He gave everything he had to find Adams killer and lost it all. Drunk, dying of various illnesses, he clings to life. With the dark and disturbing plot, the strong characters, and engaging prose, Cold-Blooded is not just a page-turner, the pages fly by on their own and you just have to hold on as it races to a stunning conclusion.
My first thought upon finishing Missing Mona was that it is well-tailored novel for those enthusiasts of crime drama novels. Readers outside of this genre may find themselves bored with the density of the book at times, but the story is nothing, if not engrossing. The bones of the plot were set up well: Tommy Cuda is a protagonist with almost nothing to lose, who goes out to rediscover himself, and the adventure he gets is a result of accidentally stumbling into an opportunity that was the consequence of being in the right place at the wrong time. Its the classic story of the inexperienced average Joe who gets swept up in a mystery more grand than he ever could have imagined. When Tommy decides to leave behind what he knows and heads toward Chicago, he picks up an attractive hitchhiker on the way who goes by the name of Mona, and she hires him as a private investigator in order to find someone for her. But theres a twist. When he wakes the next morning in the motel room where they had stayed for the night, all he has is a photograph of Mona with a message on the back that reads: Find Me Tommy M”.
A seemingly simple mystery, Missing Mona rather quickly turns into a complicated plot with strong political and monetary motives. Particularly as the unanswered questions start tying in together to paint the bigger picture of Tommy Cudas mysterious hitchhiker. The story gets convoluted at times, and I found that the overall timeline was not the easiest to follow. I lost track of how many days Tommy Cuda was actually in Chicago, and I think it was in reality a much shorter time frame than it felt while reading. That being said, the action was well-paced, which made for some exciting moments. I was definitely invested enough to want to find out where Klingler was driving this novel. And aside from a few minute inconsistencies, all major questions were addressed making the novel feel concluded.
Klinglers Chicago made me want to visit the city in Tommy Cudas world. It was exciting and gritty, and set up to be the perfect type of place for our protagonist to find some adventure. I think the character was able to live the life that epitomizes the notion of finding oneself. Tommy Cuda had beautiful girls, great music, an old car on the open road, and an enticing unsolvable mystery. I dont think he could have sought out a more drastic change from the monotony of the life he had.