Review: Sweet Little Lies (Cat Kinsella #1) by Caz Frear

Sweet Little Lies (Cat Kinsella, #1)Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Twenty-six year old Cat Kinsella is a DC with the Metropolitan Police Force, her dream job. After a less than stellar childhood, Cat has made her own way in the world and tries to keep the past just there; in the past.

As we all know though, the past frequently comes back to haunt us and Cat’s about to learn that lesson the hard way.

When Cat gets called to work a murder scene very near the pub that her estranged father still runs, old memories get stirred up, throwing Cat’s brain into overdrive.

Additionally, the victim, a housewife named Alice turns out to be very much linked to Maryanne Doyle, a teenage girl who went missing from Ireland almost two decades ago. Is this a coincidence?

Cat’s family met Maryanne while they were vacationing in Ireland just before she went missing and Cat has never forgotten her. Maryanne could do that; make an impact.

But the biggest takeaway from that time for Cat, was that her father was a liar and perhaps worse. After Maryanne’s disappearance, he was questioned by police and lied to them.

He said he never met the girl and that wasn’t true. In fact, her father may have known Maryanne very well; certainly more than he should have.

Cat has always suspected he knew what happened to her and it definitely drove a wedge between them. Could he also be involved with this current case?

Cat has to solve this mystery now, or risk it continuing to haunt her forever. Thus, Cat and her team dig into the investigation. It goes deep and gets twisted.

Sweet Little Lies is the first book in Caz Frear’s Cat Kinsella Mystery series. Incidentally, this was a debut novel.

This was also the 7th-book that I picked up for my TBR Haul-Project. I hauled this back in August of 2018, when it was my BOTM pick for the month. I was originally so stoked for it and then it sort of fell off my radar.

I’ll admit it took me a little while to really get invested in the mystery, but Frear definitely brought it around in the second half. I think initially I had a hard time keeping track of who was who and what was happening.

Like the whole Alice / Maryanne thing, I’m not sure if I wasn’t paying well enough attention at first, but it took me a minute to get a grasp on that.

Once I started really focusing in on it, the investigation became gripping and intense. Cat’s personality, although dry to me initially, really began to grow on me. I’m sure she’ll continue to grow as a character in future installments.

I am definitely interested in moving on with this series. Overall, a I found this to be a compelling Police Procedural!

View all my reviews

Review: Little Sister (DCI Jonah Sheens #4) by Gytha Lodge

Little Sister (Jonah Sheens #4)Little Sister by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Little Sister is the 4th-book in Gytha Lodge’s DCI Jonah Sheens series, which is a Crime Thriller series with strong police procedural aspects.

This installment kicks off with a bang. While Jonah is relaxing, having a rare moment of free time at a local pub, a disheveled teenage girl wanders out of the woods.

She is a vision, with striking red hair and fair skin. She also happens to be covered in blood. Jonah approaches the young lady in order to help and that’s when the games begin.

The girl, Keely, assures him she is fine. It’s not her blood. It’s her younger sister Nina he needs to be concerned about.

After bringing Keely to the station house, Jonah begins the tedious work of unraveling her twisted story. He learns quickly that they do in fact need to be worried about Nina.

Their story is horribly sad. The two girls became wards of the state after the tragic death of their mother. Since that time, they’ve been bouncing around within the system. Recently the two girls went missing from their care home.

The story is built out in a very compelling way. As the Reader you get entire chapters of Keely telling their story from the beginning.

Jonah and team try to push her for answers more quickly, they have a missing and possibly injured girl to find, but Keely has a plan and she is going to tell this story her way. As frustrating as that is, it could be their only chance of finding Nina in time.

We get Keely’s recollections, we get the present perspective investigation, as well as a bit into Jonah and his team’s personal lives.

One thing I have always loved about this series is the detective team. They work so well together and each of them is interesting, bringing something unique to the table. I love the dynamic among them. It works so well.

In all honesty though, out of the four books in the series, I actually enjoyed this one the least. Initially, I was not going to round up to 4-stars, but after having time to reflect on it, this book really made me think and I appreciate that.

From the start I was loving this, but then there was one big twist that completely turned me off from it. I was so unhappy it went the way it did. It was like someone I really liked and enjoyed and was meshing with was stripped of their identity; was stripped of what drew me to them.

I know this won’t make much sense if you haven’t read this, but it is the best way I can think to explain why the narrative took such a nose dive for me.

With this being said, it’s clear I still really enjoyed this story. The aspects that disappointed me were more to do with my personal taste than with anything else.

I did enjoy getting more background progression on our regular characters, Jonah and Hanson in particular. I’m really looking forward to seeing where their personal stories go from here.

Thank you to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This was certainly one of my most anticipated series continuations and it was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to many more investigations with Jonah and the team!

View all my reviews

Review: When the Corn is Waist High by Jeremy Scott

When the Corn is Waist HighWhen the Corn is Waist High by Jeremy Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

When the Corn is Waist High is confounding to me. I have had the most difficult time trying to determine what my final rating will be. Jeremy Scott, you have left me confused, surprised and at a loss for words.

This story follows our narrator, Solomon Lancaster, who is a Catholic Priest, as well as the Sheriff for his Indiana County.

Although Lancaster seems slightly unprepared to run a murder investigation, he’ll be the first to remind you that the Sheriff is in fact an elected position.

He’s not actually a trained criminal justice professional. He’s definitely more comfortable in his role listening to the confessions of his congregation.

So when bodies start dropping in his community of Crooked Creek, he begins bumbling around like a cowboy at his first rodeo. While the initial body was surprising enough, after the second and then the third, it’s clear the community has an active serial killer on their hands.

The FBI gets called in and they aren’t impressed by Lancaster’s skill set. Nevertheless, he manages to keep himself involved in the investigation.

This book was interesting. I listened to the audiobook and appreciated the narrator’s classic storytelling voice, as well as Scott’s no-nonsense writing style.

I made it through the story in a day and had some highs and lows, but I was never bored. I was definitely intrigued, with one major twist dropping my jaw and having me question everything I thought I knew.

After that point, the intensity continued to climb for me as I began to see things in a whole new light. In my opinion, that was really well played by Scott.

I loved how I was sort of lulled into a sense of complacency, feeling like this was just a normal Police Procedural, but it’s sure as heck not!

Additionally, I did love the ending of this. It left me with that devious little smile on my face I love so much; more than satisfactory. I am wondering if this will be the start to a series, or if this is where Scott is going to leave it?

Generally, I am not a huge fan of religious elements being involved in my stories, and I know others may be turned off by that, but I really don’t see how this story could have worked otherwise.

Thank you to the publisher, Turner Publishing and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review. This was my first novel by Scott and I look forward to picking up more in the future!

View all my reviews

Review: Dead Wind (Shana Merchant #3) by Tessa Wegert

Dead Wind (Shana Merchant, #3)Dead Wind by Tessa Wegert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Dead Wind is the third book in Tessa Wegert’s Shana Merchant series. I really enjoyed the first two books of the series and am happy to report this installment is my favorite yet!

Following Senior Investigator, Shana Merchant, and her partner, Tim Wellington, this series delivers solid Police Procedural action and intrigue.

The setting is the Thousand Lakes region of upstate New York, which sits on the border to Canada. In fact, in Dead Wind, the body that kicks off our mystery is actually found on Wolfe Island in Canada, at the base of a wind turbine.

Shana has an uneasy feeling about the case from the start. When it turns out that the victim is actually from their own community, it starts to hit real close to home. They need to solve this one.

Both Shana and Tim are concerned that the monster from Shana’s past, serial killer, Blake Bram, may be back to playing his old games. It’s far from cut and dry though, there’s a lot of other possibilities.

I was so happy to be returning to this series. Wegert always does a great job of pacing her mysteries and this one is no exception. I was interested and engaged from start-to-finish.

These books are layered as well, which I appreciate. There’s always the main crime that is being investigated, but additionally, Shana has a super intriguing past and that has been incrementally revealed over the course of these first three books.

This one had some local politics involved, hidden secrets and family drama. What elevates it for me though, is the shadow of Blake Bram lurking around every corner. That element ups the stakes and makes it all feel a bit more dangerous.

While I would normally say that most Adult Mystery series can be read in any order, or even as standalone novels, I would highly recommend reading this series in order. I feel that’s the most impactful way to take these stories in.

Shana and Tim are both fantastic main characters to follow. I am hoping this series lasts for a long time, but I’m not sure how many books are actually slated for the series.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Severn House, for providing me a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

View all my reviews

Review: The Fields (Riley Fisher #1) by Erin Young

The Fields (Riley Fisher, #1)The Fields by Erin Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


It all begins with a body in a corn field.

Before we get started, can I just say that I find corn fields to be terrifying. There’s just something about them. I can’t. Who knows what is lurking in there…

Seeing one mentioned in the synopsis for The Fields, I knew that I wanted to read this debut Crime Thriller.

Sergeant Riley Fisher, the head of investigations for Black Hawk County Sheriff’s office is shocked, upon arriving on scene, when she discovers she knows the victim.

Even though Riley and Chloe went their separate ways in their teen years, Riley is still rattled to the core by her estranged friend’s tragic death.

The corn field is owned by a local co-op, Zephyr Farms, one of the very few to survive the crushing presence of Big Agriculture.

Does Chloe have a connection to this place? How did she end up here and who would have wanted to harm her?

Riley dives deep into this investigation. After all, it’s personal and soon finds herself in a dangerous world of politics and very big business. Not a comfortable place to be by any means.

As more bodies start dropping, the pressure increases, with Riley pushing herself to her limits in order to get to the bottom of these cases before more innocent lives are loss.

While parts of this intrigued me, mostly the murdery bits, I felt like the structure of the story lost me at times. There were certain aspects, or sections, ((I’m not quite sure how to best explain what I mean)) that felt out of place and it would kick me out of the story.

Along a similar vein, for me the pace was off, with my interest coming and going in waves.

There was a solid mystery here, but at times it felt overshadowed by other things; namely politics, which personally, I could have done without.

With all of this being said, please don’t take this the wrong way. I did enjoy this book. I see a lot of promise in Young’s writing and would pick up the next book in the Riley Fisher series.

This is a good start to series. I liked Riley a lot and look forward to learning more about her in the next installment.

She has a dark cloud hanging over her, a bit of a secret history, and I really want to know what that’s all about. I’m hoping in the next book she’ll spill it.

So yeah, this wasn’t a perfect read for me, or the most memorable, but I did enjoy it enough to continue on with the series. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flatiron Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it!!

View all my reviews

Review: The Hidden by Melanie Golding

The HiddenThe Hidden by Melanie Golding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Hidden was one of my most anticipated Mysteries of the year. As you can see, it did not disappoint.

I absolutely loved Little Darlings by Melanie Golding when I read it back in 2019.

At the time, I thought that was a stand-alone novel. Because of that, I was absolutely elated when I discovered Golding was writing this new book also featuring DS Joanna Harper.

Harper’s character really drew me in during the investigation in Little Darlings, so I was psyched to get the opportunity to crack another case with her.

Called to the home of a seemingly-single man, Joanna initially believes it will be a homicide investigation, as the man was found bludgeoned to a pulp, unconscious in his bathtub, but it turns into much more than that.

Observing children’s toys and other evidence of a family, Joanna wonders where they could be.

Just prior to the man in the bathtub, in a small seaside town, the police are called after a little girl is found wandering alone down a beachside street.

After the stricken mother suddenly appears, she is briefly questioned and the officers involved believe it was an accident; the child slipped away, nothing more. The two are released.

Watching video footage of the abandoned toddler incident, Joanna is shocked to discovered she knows the alleged mother. It’s her estranged daughter, Ruby.

Are these two cases related? That’s what Joanna needs to find out, and if they are, what is Ruby doing with this little girl? It’s certainly not her child, is it?

I love Golding’s writing style. The way she sets up her stories with that captivating is it supernatural, is it not supernatural feel. I absolutely adore it.

In this story, there is a character who purports to be descended from the mythological selkies. I loved how that lore was woven into this story.

There were many different layers to the mystery and I was completely engaged the entire way through. As it all started to come together, my mind was spinning, how was it going to end!?

Golding did a great job of pulling it together, while also continuing to build intensity. Additionally, I loved having the opportunity to learn more about Joanna and her family. I hope this means this won’t be the last we see of her.

I did listen to the audiobook and I would highly recommend that. There is an element related to the selkie lore that required a bit of singing on the narrator’s part, and wow, what a great job she did!

It was haunting. I felt the narration style truly added to the story. I was hooked once I started listening.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had such a great time reading this novel and will be keeping my fingers crossed that Golding delivers more DS Joanna Harper in the future!!!

View all my reviews

Review: The Heron’s Cry (Two Rivers #2) by Ann Cleeves

The Heron's Cry (Two Rivers #2)The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Heron’s Cry is the second release in Ann Cleeves’ Two Rivers series, following DI Matthew Venn and his team.

The first book in the series, The Long Call, was a standout Mystery for me in 2019, so I was highly anticipating this next installment.

Unsurprisingly, Cleeves did not disappoint. This woman could teach a master class on writing an engaging Police Procedural.

This particular Mystery kicks off when Venn is called to a crime scene at a rural home occupied by a group of artists. A man has been killed, stabbed in the neck with a shard from one of his glassblower daughter’s vases.

Dr. Nigel Yeo, the victim, is a dedicated public servent, a loving father and valued member of his community. It’s perplexing as to why anyone would want him dead.

His daughter, Eve, the glassblower, is particularly distraught, as is Venn when he discovers Eve is actually a good friend of his husband, Jonathan. Of course, sometimes it seems everybody knows everybody in a small community.

The detectives discover a line of inquiry Yeo was following with regards to his work for the health ministry. It involved the suicides of two young men and the possible failure of the health system in providing them appropriate care.

Could someone have been meaning to silence him?

When another body is discovered, killed in the same fashion, Venn and team fear they may have stumbled across something larger than they initially anticipated.

I really enjoyed my time with this novel. Being back with DI Venn and learning more about him and his team, it felt comfortable. Cleeves has created a great cast of main characters for this series. I enjoy how she includes a few different perspectives.

The coastal community in North Devon provided an insular, small town atmosphere, which I tend to enjoy in my Mysteries. I loved learning all about the town’s secrets; the underbelly of an otherwise picturesque place. Every community has things they would prefer to keep from the outside world.

I also enjoyed how this story incorporated a group of artists, randomly thrown together into a sort of communal living situation. That whole subculture feel was quite interesting.

I’m not sure if there are going to be more books in this series, but I truly hope there will be. I could picture this one running for a long time. If that’s the case, I will be so happy that I got in on it early.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out this series yet, and you love Police Procedural Mysteries, you really should. Now is the time!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I highly recommend the audiobook. It’s completely absorbing.

I am definitely looking forward to more Ann Cleeves!

View all my reviews

Review: Lie Beside Me (DCI Jonah Sheens #3) by Gytha Lodge

Lie Beside Me (DCI Jonah Sheens #3)Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Lie Beside Me is the third book in the DCI Jonah Sheens series. While like many Adult Mysteries this series doesn’t necessarily need to be read in order, I would recommend it, due to background information for the detectives.

However, any of these books would also make great standalone mysteries. I feel like once you read one, though, you’ll want to read them all!

With her husband away on business, Louise Reakes gets together with her best friend, April. The women tend to hit the sauce hard when they’re together, something Louise has been trying to break away from.

Upon groggily opening her eyes in the morning, Louise knows she failed in that regard. She’s hungover as heck and is surprised to find a male body in the bed with her. It’s not her husband.

Further inspection reveals the bed is soaked with blood. The man is dead!

Thus begins the confusing and complicated mystery as to who this man is and more importantly, how he ended up dead in Louise’s bed.

By the time DCI Jonah Sheens and his team are called to the murder scene, the body is out in the front garden. Louise tells them she stumbled upon the body as she went outside to grab milk from the stoop.

This deception immediately starts the investigation off on the wrong foot.

Told through multiple perspectives, including Louise’s epistolary-style recounting of her life with her husband, Niall, up through the night of the horrific crime, was incredibly interesting.

I loved the way Lodge pieced this all together. It felt slow-burn, but in the best way.

It kept me guessing until the very end. I thought it was one thing, then, nope, not that.

Then I really thought it was the other thing and I was sort of mad it was that thing, but nope, not that thing either. Then this other thing and I’m like, okay, okay, okay, this is it. Then it sort of was, sort of wasn’t.

It was a ride!

As always, the police procedural aspects were great. I love this team and how well they all work together. Their personalities are so complimentary to one another.

From the conclusion of this one, I am going to guess there will be more to come in this series and I’m so excited for it!

This is my favorite current Police Procedural Mystery series. I love how layered Lodge makes her stories; not to mention nail-bitingly disturbing. If you are looking for a new Mystery series to get into, I highly recommend this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I really appreciate it and cannot wait for the next book!!

View all my reviews

Review: When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

When the Stars Go DarkWhen the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wracked with grief after a personal tragedy, Missing Persons Detective, Anna Hart, flees from her regular life in San Francisco, in order to give herself time to heal.

She heads back to the town she grew up in with her loving foster parents, Mendocino, in Northern California.

Once there, she rents a modest cabin in the woods and actually ends up taking in a new canine companion, who she names, Cricket.

Obviously. this enhanced my enjoyment of the story.
((Just kidding. Kind of, not really.))

Anna also reunites with her childhood friend, Will, who happens to now be the local Sheriff.

Knowing how successful Anna has been in her career, Will enlists her help with assisting him finding a teenage girl, Cameron, who has recently gone missing.

This new investigation is a good distraction from Anna’s own tragedy, but her involvement means more to her than that. She quickly becomes engrossed in the case.

Having survived very significant childhood trauma herself, Anna has dedicated her life to helping other children and survivors. As stressful as it can often be, it’s her calling.

We watch the investigation unfold, as Will and Anna work together to try to find out what happened to Cameron. Maybe they can get to her before it’s too late.

They end up tying her case to that of other missing girls in the area and the intensity definitely begins to build from there.

This is a great story. It’s subtle, dark and heart-wrenching.

It really reminded me a lot of Rene Denfeld’s, The Child Finder and I mean that as a heavy compliment.

It’s quite nuanced, more than your average book in this genre, which I appreciated so much. McLain packed a lot in.

I loved the investigatory elements and learning more about Anna’s background as a character; how her early life lead her to the point where she is at.

Overall, this story has good action, a compelling mystery, layered, well-established characters and a satisfying conclusion.

There were some areas that felt a little slow for me, but that didn’t overshadow any of the other fantastically done elements.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity and hope this author writes more in this genre!

View all my reviews

Review: Death in the Family (Shana Merchant #1) by Tessa Wegert

Death in the FamilyDeath in the Family by Tessa Wegert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About a month ago, I received an ARC of the second book in the Shana Merchant series, The Dead Season, from Berkley Books. It is currently set to release on December 8, 2020.

Thank you so much for providing me with a copy, Berkley!

Although, I believe, like many Adult Mystery series, the books can be read as standalones, and do not necessarily need to be read in order, I still wanted to give this one a shot.

Upon completion, I am so happy that I did!

Shana Merchant is a veteran police detective, recently moved from the NYPD to a department in a quiet town in the Thousand Lakes region of Upstate New York.

She needed to get out of the city after a horrific incident involving a serial killer, so when her fiance suggested moving back to his hometown, she readily agreed.

Shana believes that with her move to a smaller community, she’ll be dealing with a lot less violent crime and may have an easier time coping with her return to work. Statistically she is correct.

When Shana and her new partner, Tim Wellington, get called to a private island to investigate a missing person case, however, Shana feels those old anxieties beginning to rise.

The island is owned by the wealthy Sinclair family, who made their fortune in American textiles.

Many members of the family happen to be on the island for the weekend when Jasper Sinclair goes missing in the middle of the night. Not only does he go missing, the bed he was sleeping in is drenched in blood.

It’s clear to Shana and Tim that Jasper has not left the property of his own volition, but how would he leave the property? It’s an island and all boats are accounted for?

When a vicious storm hits, Shana and Tim become stranded as well, and all remaining are now suspects.

This is a classically arranged locked-room mystery, a la Agatha Christie. As many of you may already know, this is my absolute favorite mystery trope.

I was swept up in the story from the very start and was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this.

The Sinclair family, from the matriarch, all the way down to the youngest among them, felt completely real and each distinct in their own way.

I loved the toxic family dynamics and watching all their dirty little secrets come to light.

The pacing was fantastic to keep me intrigued the entire way through.

Although I felt a little let down by the actual whodunit; I can’t really explain why, I was just hoping it was a bit more devious than it ended up being, I genuinely enjoyed my time with this novel.

I really like Shana as a protagonist. She is quite a complex character and I cannot wait to find out more about her in the next novel.

This one left off at a fantastic spot as far as a lead in to a sequel. I am truly chomping at the bit to get into the next installment.

If you enjoy a taut, locked-room mystery with heavy Christie vibes, you should absolutely check out the Shana Merchant series!!!

View all my reviews