Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Merciless (A Mercy Gunderson Mystery #3) by Lori G. Armstrong

  • File Size: 5 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006VHHKF4

Book Description

Torn between her duties to the FBI and her need to keep her loved ones safe, former black-ops army sniper Mercy Gunderson must unleash the cold, dark, merciless killer inside her and become the predator . . . rather than the prey. Newly minted agent Mercy Gunderson is back and ready for action— unfortunately, she’s stuck doing paperwork in an overheated government office building. But she gets more than she bargained for when she’s thrown into her first FBI murder case, working with the tribal police on the Eagle River Reservation, where the victim is the teenage niece of the recently elected tribal president. When another gruesome killing occurs during the early stages of the investigation, Mercy and fellow FBI agent Shay Turnbull are at odds about whether the crimes are connected.

Due to job confidentiality, Mercy can’t discuss her misgivings about the baffling cases with her boyfriend, Eagle River County sheriff Mason Dawson, and the couple’s home on the ranch descends into chaos when Dawson’s eleven-year-old son Lex is sent to live with them. While Mercy struggles to find a balance, hidden political agendas and old family vendettas turn ugly, masking motives and causing a rift among the tribal police, the tribal council, and the FBI. Soon, however, Mercy realizes that the deranged killer is still at large—and is playing a dangerous game with his sights set on Mercy as his next victim.

 About The Author

 Lori Armstrong is the two-time winner of the Shamus Award given by the Private Eye Writers of America and a New York Times bestselling author of romantic fiction, written as Lorelei James. She lives in western South Dakota. Visit her website at

My Review 

I thought the first two books in this series were fabulous and in this third outing in the Mercy Gunderson Mystery series the action keeps sizzlingIf you haven't read the first two books in the series - which I do highly recommend - this book can stand alone as well.

Sheriff Dawson, who she just lost the election for Sheriff to, has moved onto the ranch with Mercy.  While madly in love with each other, they have to be careful around each other now that Mercy has joined the FBI.  A tougher woman than Mercy would be hard to find, but the simmering family secrets and threats, the murders of young women on the reservation and the arrival of Dawson's eleven year old son Lex all combine to send Mercy into a tailspin.

The setting of western South Dakota is dramatic and mysteriousMercy's ranching life is interwoven with her ties to the reservation.  She has enough native blood to qualify as a band member.  That nobody noticed the rash of young native women dying is not unfamiliar ground to me and very easy to understand.  For years women on Vancouver's downtown eastside disappeared and similarly on the Highway of Tears.  Why does it seem that missing native women can easily go unnoticed.  What does that say about our society?  Lori Armstrong covers this heartbreaking topic very realistically.

The drama is intense in Merciless.   Mercy's family has never been so divided and then her world is blown apart.  Mercy is a fascinating woman who pulls out all the stops when she needs to.  This is an excellent addition to the Mercy Gunderson series.  I cannot wait for the next one. Merciless is released in January so preorder a copy today!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: The Buzzard Table: A Deborah Knott Mystery by Margaret Maron

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (November 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446555827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446555821

Book Description

Judge Deborah Knott and Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant are back home in Colleton County with all their family and courthouse regulars. But there are a few new faces as well. Lt. Sigrid Herald and her mother, Anne, a well-known photographer, are down from New York to visit Anne's ailing mother, Mrs. Lattimore. When the group gathers for dinner at Mrs. Lattimore's Victorian home, they meet the enigmatic Martin Crawford, an ornithologist who claims to be researching a new book on Southern vultures. More importantly, he's Mrs. Lattimore's long-lost nephew, and Sigrid and Anne's English cousin. With her health in decline, Mrs. Lattimore wants to make amends with her family--something Deborah can understand as she too is working to strengthen her relationship with her stepson, Cal. But for all his mysterious charm, Anne can't shake the feeling that there is something familiar about Martin...something he doesn't want Anne or anyone else to discover. When a murderer strikes, Deborah, Dwight, and Sigrid will once again work together to solve the crime and uncover long-buried Lattimore family secrets.

From Booklist


In the eighteenth Deborah Knott mystery, the North Carolina judge once again appears with Maron’s other series lead, New York police detective Sigrid Harald, just as in Three-Day Town (2011). Sigrid has come to Cotton Grove with her award-winning photographer mother, Anne Lattimore Harald, to visit Sigrid’s ailing grandmother. A passionate young protester arrested for attempting to photograph CIA flights out of the local Colleton County airport, a secretive ornithologist, and a promiscuous local realtor bludgeoned to death in one of her properties combine to keep the small-town judge and her sheriff husband, Dwight Bryant, hopping. When a pilot is murdered, and the FBI takes over the investigation, Sigrid offers her able assistance to Dwight to figure out exactly what international intrigue is taking place right in his own backyard. As always, Maron skillfully layers an absorbing plot with the doings of Deborah’s large extended family and the domestic details of their semirural lifestyle. In addition, the contrast between Deborah, who is warm and caring, and Sigrid, who is reserved and cerebral, gives Maron’s tale added depth. --Joanne Wilkinson

About The Author

 Margaret Maron grew up on a farm near Raleigh and lived in Brooklyn for many years. Returning to her North Carolina roots prompted Marcia to write a series based on her own background, the first of which, Bootlegger's Daughter, was a Washington Post bestseller and swept the major mystery awards for 1993. THE BUZZARD TABLE is the eighteenth book in the acclaimed Deborah Knott series. Visit her website at .

My Review

Another fabulous mystery by one of my favorites, Margaret Maron.  I love this series set in rural North Carolina featuring Judge Deborah Knott and her massive family. Maron blends many elements together to tell her stories:  suspense, intrigue, mystery, southern cooking, family and small town living.

This outing once again features Maron's earlier detective, Sigrid Harald who is in town visiting her ailing grandmother with her photojournalist mother.  A long lost cousin who is mysterious to say the least is thrown into the mix.  As are as the title suggests:  buzzards.  I quite frankly knew nothing of buzzards before reading this tome so it was quite enlightening.

Love how Cal and Deborah intermingle in this outing.  Fabulous read!  It's out on Tuesday, November 20th.
If you haven't read this series yet, it is definitely time!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061802050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061802058

Product Description

The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar can fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it's something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn't know. As she's drawn into the dead girl's story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted.

A magnificent, sweeping story of the south, The Cutting Season brings history face-to-face with modern America, where Obama is president, but some things will never change. Attica Locke once again provides an unblinking commentary on politics, race, the law, family and love, all within a thriller every bit as gripping and tragic as her first novel, Black Water Rising.

About The Author

 Attica Locke is a screenwriter who has worked in both film and television. A native of Houston, Texas, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

My Review

This is my first time reading Attica Locke and it won't be my last.  Excellent mystery wrapped around a southern gothic setting.  It's a story about a single mom who is dealing with the issues that come with that.  An absentee father who finally says the right things even though it is too late.  It is about a family not necessarily being made up of blood relatives.  And righting past wrongs as well as new ones.

I found it a bit slow in the beginning but stick with it as the author is setting the mood and the stage for what follows. I didn't always think that the main character, Caren made the right choices, but then who of us does.  There are twists and turns that keep your heart racing at times.  All in all, a great read.  I do recommend The Cutting Season by Attica Locke.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Wrong Hill to Die On: An Alafair Tucker Mystery by Donis Casey

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464200467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464200465

Book Description

Nineteen-sixteen was not shaping up to be a good year for Alafair Tucker, and finding Bernie Arruda dead in a ditch wasn’t going to help matters.
She had not wanted to come to Arizona in the first place. But her daughter Blanche was suffering from a stubborn ailment of the lungs, and her best chance for a cure was dry desert air. So Alafair and her husband Shaw had bundled their sick child onto the train and made the nightmare trip from Oklahoma to Alafair’s sister in Tempe, Arizona.

Yet as soon as they arrived on that bright March day, Blanche began to improve.

But Alafair and Shaw soon discover that all is not well in sunny Arizona.  Elizabeth’s marriage is in tatters, tensions are high between the Anglo and Latino communities following Pancho Villa’s murderous raid on Columbus, New Mexico, and Alafair suspects her sister is involved in an illegal operation to smuggle war refugees out of Mexico and into the U.S.

And now here lies Bernie Arruda on his back in a ditch, staring into eternity.

About The Author

Donis Casey was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A third generation Oklahoman, she and her siblings grew up among their extended family. After teaching school for a short time, she enjoyed a career as an academic librarian. Donis left academia in 1988 to start a Scottish import gift shop. She now writes full-time and lives in Tempe, AZ with her husband.

My Review

Alafair is far from home in Oklahoma in Arizona in this latest book by Donis Casey.  This is an excellent series that captures a time in history perfectly.  I loved learning about Arizona's early history in this book.

Wrong Hill to Die On is an excellent read.  And fascinating to understand the term Wrong Hill to Die On! I'm going to have to work that into a conversation somehow!  Great mystery as well. Lots of twists and turns to keep the readers interest.  

Highly recommend this latest entry in the Alafair Tucker series by Donis Casey.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034552537X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345525376

Book Description

Perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Kristin Hannah, Beth Hoffman, and Kate Jacobs, this luminous novel from the author of Friendship Bread follows a group of fascinating women who form deep friendships through their love of scrapbooking—as memories are preserved, dreams are shared, and surprising truths are revealed.

Welcome to Avalon, Illinois, Pop. 4,243

At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.

Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.

By turns humorous, wise, and deeply moving, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a luminous reminder that the things we hold most dear will last a lifetime.

“In a gathering of women there will always be compelling stories. Throw in a love of craft and these stories take on a whole new dynamic. There are shared secrets, support, encouragement, and love as the Avalon Ladies come to terms with the past and boldly step forward into the future.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber  

About The Author

 Darien Gee lives in upcountry Hawaii with her husband and three children. She is the author of THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY and FRIENDSHIP BREAD, which was published in 11 countries and was a 2012 Reader's Choice winner. Darien also writes under the pen name Mia King. To learn more, visit her at

My Review

 If you loved Friendship Bread by Darien Gee as I did, you are going to devour The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society with intense pleasure and delight.  What a lovely, heartwarming book!  I am so honored to be able to preview and review it before its release in January 2013.

A little confusing at first trying to sort out the new Avalon characters but once I had them straight I took them all to my heart. This book is just as wonderful as Friendship Bread.   It is a heartwarming book that is a joy to read.

If you have any friends who are scrapbookers they will particularly enjoy this book.  Though I haven't had time lately to scrapbook this book reignited a spark in me to get back to it soon!

I cannot recommend this book enough.  It will be released in January.