Death at High Tide: An Island Sisters Mystery, Book 1 – Welcome to #MurderousMondays

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After so many noir reads, I needed a lighthearted mystery to keep me company. Death at High Tide was exactly right for good night’s read. Plus, I love reading the first book in a new series, don’t you?

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Cats, Corpses and Creepy old inns set the stage for this delightful cozy from Hannah Dennison. When Evie’s older husband dies of a heart attack, Evie is devastated. Her sister flies in from America to help Evie sort out the paperwork only to find that Robert, the husband, was hiding one secret after another, including the deed to an old inn on a often deserted island. Evie and her sister decide to check out the inn only discover hidden agendas, hidden secrets and a vicar who talks to animals!

Seriously, as strange as the description may sound, Death at High Tide checked all of the boxes for a wonderful cozy mystery. Evie and her sister make the perfect amateur sleuths despite the fact that I wanted to slap Margot, the sister, every other page. The characters are all properly suspicious and the deaths continue to mount until the very end of the tale. It was all rather wonderful! Because it was the first in a new series, I had hoped to have a better connection with the sisters than I did, but perhaps that was more me than the writing. Despite that tiny worry, Death at High Tide is a perfect cozy mystery that will keep you engaged from beginning to end!

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #MinotaurBooks and the author, Hannah Dennison, for my copy of this fun tale.

 

Cut to the Bone by Ellison Cooper

A cop and a teenage girl are dead, the girl found lying inside a circle of animal figurines below a cryptic message written in blood. She is one of twenty-four missing high school students, all science proteges who are now gone. Agent Sayer Altair is called in to investigate and soon she discovers a dark, twisted tie to her own past. It is now a race against time to save the remaining the students.

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When I was first offered Cut to the Bone, I never had heard of the author, Ellison Cooper. After reading this book, the third in the series, I immediately went back and purchased the first two to read. Yes, the series is that good! Let me first tell you about the author. Ellison Cooper has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archaeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in Central America, West Africa, Micronesia, and Western Europe. She has worked as a murder investigator in Washington DC, and is a certified K9 Search and Rescue Federal Disaster Worker. I tell you this because she brings every bit of that extensive knowledge into her writing. I was fact checking various things she had written left and right and finally quit because it was pointless. She’s brilliant. Her writing is brilliant. While the story line is fiction, the knowledge is real and it is fascinating! However, it isn’t just the intelligent writing that I loved – her characters are fantastic. They are real. They are quirky. They are full-bodied, not ever what you expect and ever evolving, growing and changing with every book, just as you would expect your friends to be in real life. I loved – and hated – them all!

I read this series completely out of order as I could get the books but if you want to fully enjoy them I would suggest reading them order but I truly do encourage you to read this series. It’s fantastic!

Thank you to  @ecooperauthor #MinotaurBooks and #Edelweiss for my copy of this amazing book!

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong #NGEW2019

Casey Duncan is back in this fourth installment of the Rockton saga – a series involving the secluded town and its people in the frozen Yukon of Canada.

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Admittedly, Watcher in the Woods is part of my favorite series. It’s got a terrific cast of characters, all of whom are quite flawed or they wouldn’t be in the town of Rockton. Rockton, you see, is a secret, very secluded town for those who need to escape either because they are the worst in society or from the very worst in society. It makes for an eclectic and often frightening mix of personalities. In addition to the town’s people, you have a two group of renegades living (wandering/surviving) in the forest surrounding Rockton: those who are true survivalists who didn’t want to go back down south after their time in Rockton was finished and those who are simply too savage to live anywhere at all. They add an additional layer of worry and suspense to the story line.

Watcher in the Woods takes place approximately 2-3 weeks after the last book which means the characters are still reeling from a murder, a crazed woman whom they intimately trusted and a wounded man who is part of their patrol. They have been without a doctor in the town since the former doctor was killed and they desperately need to get medical help for their resident, Kenny. Secreting away in the night, Casey and the sheriff bring back help but they also bring back more than they bargain for as they are followed by a US Marshall looking for his bounty. He refuses to say who it is or why it is so important that he finds “his man” – or woman. When the Marshall is killed, it becomes imperative that Casey – the town’s only detective – discovers who the Marshall was after and why. More importantly, she has to find out how the Marshall was able to follow them and plug any leaks there might be regarding Rockton’s well kept secret location.

All of the Rockton tales are action packed and full of secrets, double backs and, yes, romance. That is what makes them so entertaining to read. This one, however, was a bit slow for me in the beginning and I suspect that it was because there was a great deal of minutia laid out for readers who might be joining here at book four rather than at the beginning. There was quite a bit of repetitiveness, who’s who, explanations about the town and how it works, which is fine if you are new to the series but by the fourth book in, it was a little tedious. Once that was past, the book was actually better than any of the previous stories. It was more complex, there was more action, an introduction of new characters, two of whom I suspect are going to be key in future books, and quite a few secrets revealed that led to some “aha” moments. All of this had me looking forward to the next book already and forgetting the tedium that had me skimming in the beginning.

If you haven’t read any of this series you should be able to read this one as a stand alone but I highly recommend that you begin at the start and work up to this one. There is a lot of back story and past history that will make it more interesting for you. Then you can join me in skimming over the mundane catch-up in this book but completely enjoying the majority of the rest. It IS a series that I highly recommend. It’s fun, entertaining, suspenseful and, generally, a quick read.

My thanks to #Netgalley, @StMartinsPress, @MinotaurBooks and Kelley Armstrong for my advanced copy of #WatcherintheWoods.