Defense of An Other by Grace Mead

Defense of An Other is gripping book ripped from today’s headlines. Sort of.

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Matt is an up and coming young attorney practicing in post-Katrina New Orleans for a prestigious law firm. While his career is on the fast track, his personal life is not. He has just ended a long-term relationship with his girlfriend and is exploring his attraction to men – something he has felt since he was a young boy. He has not, of course, come out to anyone, not even to himself. After a tough day at work, he decides to go to a gay club in the French Quarter where he meets Joey. The two don’t necessarily hook up but they do spend a nice, fun night at the club together. When they step out back to take a leak – the men’s room being stuffed full – they are attacked by three thugs looking to beat up some “faggots.” One of them ends up dead and Matt is arrested for the murder – first degree murder, no less. It is, after all, the south in the early 2000s – not that much has changed since then – and it is the word of the “bubbas” against “gay boy” Matt. You can see where this story is going, right?

The author is a successful attorney herself, very intelligent, and it shows throughout the book. The legal aspect of the pre-trial and courtroom drama is spot-on and captivating. I love legal thrillers and, from that aspect, Defense of An Other, is terrific and well written. I also spent half of my life in Arkansas, a stone’s throw from New Orleans, and nearly every summer of my adult life we traveled down to NOLA. The description of New Orleans, the French Quarter, the people there is vivid and real. I could almost smell the stench of the garbage and vomit of Bourbon Street and remember how amazing the Café du Monde looked and smelled at dawn. However, when it came to the actual characters of the book, I thought Mead drew up short. Matt and his mother never were quite angry enough to be believable. If it was me or my son, I would have been livid. Everyone stayed so calm, cool, collected. I have been arrested on false charges – that’s a story for another post – and my son has been arrested for protesting. I know first hand how these characters should have reacted and calm and cool were not in our wheelhouse on those occasions. You also had a mother who, in a round-about manner, just found out that her son may or may not be gay and she just shoved that discussion aside and talked about going back to work instead. Totally bizarre. From a legal stand point, the book is brilliant. From a personal perspective it was lacking and that missing element made all the difference in the world for me. The ending, too, was abrupt and unfulfilling. I’m unclear if it was meant to be a cliffhanger or if we were meant to extrapolate our own interpretation of what would come next but, either way, it simply didn’t work.  Defense of An Other is being billed as a legal thriller and LGBTQ. It is legal fiction that features a young man who was in a gay bar and is tried as a gay man. I’ve read a lot of other books featuring LGBTQ characters that were not labeled as such for the simple premise that they are, in fact, human beings just like the rest of us. I’m not sure I appreciated the distinction for this particular work. While his sexual orientation is the reason for the beating and storyline in this particular instance, Matt could just as well have been African American or a prostitute or Asian American or a liberal or Muslim or, or, or An Other that Southern Bubbas find offensive. “They” are the issue, the point – if you will – not his sexual orientation. Three stars, middle of the road, because of the great legalese versus the poor character development.

I was given this book to review by #Netgalley and #ClinkStreetPublishing.

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The Burglar @ThomasPerry

In the crime fiction genre, few authors are as well known as Thomas Perry and few books are written as intelligently as those he has authored. Fans of his anti-hero thrillers are in for a treat with Perry’s newest, The Burglar.

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Elle is a unique burglar. She takes great care to blend into her surroundings, often appearing as a wealthy sorority girl just out for a run. She scopes out the houses meticulously, insuring that there will be no mistakes and no one home to create violence for anyone. Her newest mark should have been an easy one – she was sure no one was home and hadn’t been there for a few days. However, once inside she doesn’t find an empty home but rather three dead bodies. Covering her tracks, she thinks she has escaped a problem, instead someone now is stalking her! Unable to go to the police for help, Elle realizes that she has to solve the murders herself and catch the killer(s) before they catch and kill her.

The premise for The Burglar has been written in both books and movie scripts. What sets this one apart from all others is Elle – a woman, obviously – and the skillful, methodical writing of Perry that takes what could be a ho-hum mystery to the next level of edge-of-your-seat thriller. Yes, this is a game of cat and mouse, but Perry works in so many twists and little puzzles throughout the book so that the reader stays engaged from start to end. I also thoroughly enjoy books that feature an anti-hero rather than focusing on the same cop-detective-gumshoe theme. In all, The Burglar is one of the best suspense/crime/thrillers I’ve read in quite a long time. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy any of these genres.

The e-book will be available in January, 2019 or you can purchase the physical book now. Either way, I’m sure you enjoy this thrilling read.

Thank you to #Netgalley, #ThomasPerry and #GroveAtlanticMysteriousPress for my copy of this engaging read.

The Au Pair #emmarous @BerkleyPub

The Au Pair by Emma Rous is part gothic suspense with a full measure of domestic noir!

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It’s Murder and Mayhem Monday here at Macsbooks and, if I were asked to choose the perfect MMM book, it would The Au Pair! There is absolutely nothing that I love more than dark, domestic tales of suspense and murder. The Au Pair has it all.

Seraphine and Danny are twins who, along with their older brother, Edwin, have been raised in an old Victorian estate in Norfolk (UK.)  Their lives would appear charmed to the outside world, but there is a darkness within the family that pervades their existence. On the day that the twins were born, their mother threw herself off of a cliff. Now the siblings are attempting to cope with their father’s tragic, accidental death. While going through their father’s belongings, Seraphine discovers a photograph of their parents with one of the twins taken on the day they were born. Their mother looks blissfully happy. What possibly could have happened to make her kill herself and why is there only one twin? With stories of changelings, faeries and sprites haunting them all of their lives, Seraphine is determined to find answers. But will those answers be the ones she is hoping to find or will it lead to more heartbreak for this cursed family.

Told from two points of view, Seraphine’s and that of Laura, the au pair at the time of their birth, Rous weaves together a story of a wealthy family with mental instability, far too many secrets and characters who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden. The complex plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways and takes the reader on a journey from the present to the past and back again. Although I am one who does not like surprises in my noir novels, this ending will absolutely blow your mind! The resolution, however, is perfection!

For those who love domestic drama, suspense and fast paced fiction, this is definitely a book you will want to read! Mark it now, order early, it will be published January 8th.

Many thanks to @BerkleyPub and #EmmaRous for my copy of this amazing tale.

The Burning Island @HesterYoung

The Burning Island is a fast paced, well written, slightly paranormal suspense novel that will knock your socks off!

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Charlotte “Charlie” Cates is a journalist who believes in facts. This is why she hasn’t fully accepted the “fact” that she is having vivid dreams and visions of children who need her help. After her latest adventure, saving a young boy who was near death in the Arizona desert, all Charlie wants to do is get away – from the dreams, the drama and the press who are hounding her every move. When she has the opportunity to travel to Hawai’i for work, she takes along her best friend, Rae, in the hope that she will relax and have some quiet time away. Of course that doesn’t happen. Of course. She’s writing a story about a volcanologist whose daughter happens to be missing. Haunting dreams begin appearing to Charlie as soon as she arrives on the Big Island.

Hester Young has created an eerie, atmospheric novel that grabs you on the first page and does not let you go until the very end. The story takes you from green sand beaches, to the crater of a volcano and into lush dense woods as we follow along with Charlie on her quest to locate the missing girl before it is too late. The suspense is palpitating, the horror quite real. Although there is a touch of paranormal in The Burning Island, it is so well written that I never once doubted the believability of the story. There are a few surprises but, again, it was how the story played out and not done for the shock factor.

The Burning Island is the third book in the Charlie Cates series, but it works very well as a stand alone. In fact, I didn’t know until I had finished that there were books before this one. I’m now the proud owner of those first two books. I love the character that Hester Young has created in Charlie and enjoyed her style of writing as well. I cannot wait to read Charlie’s story from the beginning!

Thank you to #Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam and Sons and #PenguinBooks for my copy of The Burning Island.

 

Broken Ground @ValMcDermid

I am such a huge fan of Val McDermid and always look forward to her new releases. If you are like me, you will be excited to know that Broken Ground, her latest in the Karen Pirie series will be released in December in the US next month, December.

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Alice Sommerville’s inheritance is lying at the bottom of a peat bog. However, she gets more than she bargained for when the retrieval specialists discover a body with a bullet hole. Pirie, who is back after a leave, is now working cold case files and is assigned to the case. However, the investigation uncovers more questions than answers.

McDermid is known as the Queen of Scottish Mysteries and there is a reason for this. She writes thoroughly researched, expertly woven intrigue with a hearty dose of atmospheric details about her homeland, Scotland. Her books, including Broken Ground, are not fast paced reads but, rather, good solid sleuthing just as a police procedural should be. There are plenty of twists and more than one mystery in Broken Groundwhich will keep you invested in the story from beginning to end.

This is, of course, part of an ongoing series and, while there are multiple references to past cases, these references also serve as a guideline for any new reader so that the reader will not be confused. It is helpful to read the other books first, but it certainly is not necessary to enjoy the story or follow along with the characters. Whether you are new to McDermid or an avid fan, like me, Broken Ground is a perfect choice for a long winter’s read.

My thanks to #Netgalley, #GroveAtlantic, and #ValMcDermid for my copy of this suspenseful tale.

Deranged by T.R.Ragan

There is a serial killer on the loose and they have P.I. Jessie Cole in their crosshairs.

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T.R. Ragan is back with her third installment in the Jessie Cole series. Building on the characters from previous books, Cole is still helping car accident/amnesia victim reclaim his past. The son of a convicted murderer, Ben Morrison desperately is seeking to know more about the tragic night when his girlfriend was murdered by his father. As bits and pieces of his memories begin to resurface, he is more confused than ever about the role he may have played in her death. Cole also has been hired to follow a cheating wife but when she is found stabbed to death, the evidence suggests that she is another victim of the killer who is on the loose. How do all of the murders tie together and what do they have to do with Morrison? Cole wants to know, but knowing may cost her own life or the lives of those she dearly loves.

Deranged is solidly written murder mystery/thriller. It will keep you interested and reading to the end. It’s actually a very quick read, lots of dialogue makes it so. Because it is the third in the series, there are multiple throwbacks to past events and characters, things that I should have known but didn’t because this was my first book. Some books in a series work fine as a stand alone, you get enough information woven into the back story that you don’t notice that you’ve not read the previous books. Deranged is not one of those books. I suggest that you go back and read the first two Jessie Cole books if you are interested in this one. Conversely, there are enough spoilers in this one that you should not read it before the others.

If you are a fan of Ragan and this series then I’m certain that you will enjoy Deranged.

*I received an egalley from #Netgalley and #Thomas&Mercer in exchange for a review.

 

 

 

Truth and Lies by #CarolineMitchell

Lies can hurt you but, sometimes, the truth hurts more. Truth and Lies is a chilling new thriller by #CarolineMitchell.

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It’s Monday and time for my latest look at Murder and Mayhem that is filling our literary shelves.

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Still reeling from her father’s untimely death, DI Amy Winters wants nothing more than to throw herself back into her police work where she can honor her father’s memory by becoming a well respected cop just like he was. However, fate deals Amy a blow when a letter arrives proclaiming that Amy is, in fact, the daughter of one of the most notorious serial killing couples Great Britain ever has known. This couple lured young teenage girls to their home, brutally murdered them and then hid their bodies. Most of these bodies were recovered but three still remain missing. The lone surviving killer, Lillian Grimes, wants to make a deal with Amy: do what Lillian asks and the bodies will be revealed. However, it soon becomes apparent that Lillian has additional plans for Amy as this old, cold case is apparently intertwined with a current kidnapping crime.

Caroline Mitchell is a former CID and her knowledge and experience are well apparent throughout the book. This is, by far, one of the best written police procedurals I have read in a long time simply because the methodology, the “cop-speak,” and protocol were perfectly realistic. In addition, the psychological aspect of both cases were fully explored and developed. We were able to see the struggles going on within Amy while also watching in horror the machinations of the very evil Lillian Grimes. It is a race against time as a young girl’s life hangs in the balance.

I haven’t read Mitchell before this book but, based on the writing of Truth and Lies, she definitely is going on my author watch list. If you enjoy police procedurals, crime novels or mysteries, then you will love this book. I highly recommend it – not to mention there is a terrific ending that will leave you wanting MORE –  ASAP.

Thanks to #Netgalley, #CarolineMitchell, #Thomas&Mercer and #AmazonPublishingUK for this terrific book!