Marked Man – Archer Mayor

A medical student is laboring over his patient in the anatomy lab, when he makes an unexpected discovery – a broken hyoid bone in a patient who supposedly died of natural causes. A trip to the medical examiners office results in a reclassification of Nathan Lyon’s death to suspicious, likely consistent with a strangulation. 

Special Agent Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation catches the case and begins with the deceased’s family where he finds an unusual living arrangement, containing all of Nathan’s diverse, extended family living in a luxurious, spacious, renovated old mill. The set-up of each of the characters in the family was intriguing – like a logic problem, or a Clue game. It took me quite a while to remember who each of the family members were, and how they were related, and why. 

Meanwhile, a couple of old mob thugs appear, Eddie & Fredo, looking to right an old wrong. Eddie has just been released from prison after a multi-year stint for taking the blame for a murder he did not commit, with the promise that the mob would reward him for his sacrifice. Eddie now is trying to collect on that promise, but most of the players are dead. But that will not stop him from trying…

As the investigation commences, and Joe and his team, along with other familiar faces including Willy, Sally Kravitz and Bev’s daughter Rachel, try to piece together the lives and occupations of the famed Mill residents. As Joe digs deeper into Nathan’s life, he discovers a past identity, and thanks to DNA technology, the ripple effects that gone events are causing in the present, resulting in murder…

I always love re-visiting some of my old New England haunts in Archer Mayor’s series, and it is always a delight to see his beloved characters grace my pages again. While I had a bit of difficulty keeping my characters straight at times, and I often scratched my head trying to figure out where the storyline was going, it all finally comes together, making this a very satisfying read! 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an objective review. 

Her Deadly Touch – Lisa Regan

It’s been four months since Josie’s last case – a double murder on her wedding day, where her grandmother Lisette was killed in front of her. Josie is preparing to return to work after an extended suspension/leave, which has included visits with a psychologist as she struggles to come to terms with Lisette’s death.  As she’s leaving her appointment, she turns on the radio to learn that a local woman is missing – one of the parents of a group of children killed in a school bus accident two years ago – interesting as the trial of the former bus driver is due to begin shortly. A quick detour to visit to her ex-husbands’ cemetery memorial leads to Josie stumbling upon the missing woman’s body – very obviously a homicide. 

As the Denton PD responds to Josie’s call for help to secure the scene, Josie, Noah & Gretchen begin their investigation. The victim was a single parent who, other than attending group therapy sessions with the other grieving parents, isolated herself from everyone after the death of her daughter. So, who would want to kill her – and why? 

As the team gathers background information, they learn that the families of the deceased children – and of the bus driver accused of killing them – all live in the same neighborhood with homes very close to one another. Interviews with each individual offer glimpses into the lives of the others, and the entanglements & secrets that existed between all of them. Shortly thereafter, another parent goes missing and is found dead, the circumstances eerily similar to the first murder. But who wants these parents dead? And why? 

This book had a bit of a different, sadder flavor than those earlier in the series. Between the loss of Josie’s beloved Lisette, and the loss of the five children as a preface to this novel, it was much more somber read than usual, and a bit hard to see Josie struggle with her sorrow – but none-the-less, a good solid ‘whodunit’ from one of my most favorite authors! 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & Bookouture in exchange for an objective review. 

Pretty Broken Dolls – Jennifer Chase

Detective Katie Scott and her canine Cisco return in another adventure in a series that has become one of my favorites to read! 

Katie Scott and her partner Sean McGaven are serving a warrant to search a pond, and if Katie’s guess is correct, to retrieve the victim of a murder. As crews search the waters, she notices an individual outside of the crime scene tape, watching the search…watching her…. Once the body is recovered, she goes in search of him, but he leaves before she reaches him.  

After a weekend off relaxing, Katie returns to work, only to immediately be summoned to the Sherriff’s office, where she again sees the man who was watching her crime scene. He is introduced as Special Agent Dane Campbell and he is here to ask for her assistance in a case that has his agency stone-walled. Acknowledging her cold case solve rate, he is hopeful that she can assist him in finding his killer. 

As he outlines the case – three women who have been killed, each exactly a year apart, garishly displayed with heavy make-up applied, and a piece of jewelry tied nearby with ribbon – he reports that he believes the killer will strike again soon, in keeping with the yearly pattern. As Katie & Sean accept the case, she remains perplexed as to why she’s being asked to assist.  Shortly thereafter, another victim turns up, this one at the local fairgrounds, secured to a Ferris wheel.  

Katie quickly discovers a commonality between the victims, as well as a link to herself – all of the women were former dog handlers for the Army. A visit to her old Army base where she and Cisco first bonded brings back many memories but yields little in the way of clues. As she and Chad revisit the old crime scenes and sift through the pieces left of those broken lives, they find more questions than answers. But the killer is lurking close by and soon, a friend of Katie’s goes missing…can Katie find her friend and identify the killer, before it’s too late? 

This is the sixth in a fantastic, action packed series of novels featuring Detective Katie Scott and her K9 Cisco. Katie is an engaging, spunky and loveable character with her own flaws as she continues struggling to overcome her anxiety & panic attacks resulting from her time deployed, as she excels in the civilian law enforcement world. Cisco – well who can resist such an awesome dog? Filled with all of the action, mystery and suspense you’re looking for in a good who-dun-it!!  Now, as always, I anxiously await the next adventure for this duo!  A great series!! Cannot recommend it enough!

Available August 5th!

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & Bookouture in exchange for an objective review. 

Dark Roads – Chevy Stevens

I have to preface this review by saying – I loved this book! I’ve not read this author before, and the title and synopsis sounded interesting, so I thought I would give it a try.  I was immediately drawn in by the first paragraph and captivated by the end of the prologue. 

Set in Canada, the story begins with a young woman describing how she came to be one of the victims of the Cold Creek killer – an unknown person or persons who has been killing and disposing of bodies along the Cold Creek Highway in the North Country for decades, leaving an untold number of victims in his wake.  

Hailey is a newly orphaned 17-year-old who now lives with her Aunt Lana and Lana’s husband Vaughn after the unexpected death of her father in a motor vehicle accident. She loves her Aunt and nephew Cash, but she and the rest of the area teens dislike Vaughn, a local cop, and have nicknamed him the Iceman. Hailey’s best friend Jonny is a skilled dirt bike rider and has taught Hailey all he knows. He occasionally steals parts as necessary to keep his and Hailey’s bikes running.  Vaughn suspects the thefts and strongly discourages the relationship. He harasses Jonny every chance he gets, and continually appears where Hailey is and attempts to limit her freedom and her contact with Jonny, continually warning her about the dangers of running off alone because of the Cold Creek Killer.  Hailey, distrustful of Vaughn, and miserable under his watchful eye, carefully plots her disappearance, with Jonny’s help…

A year goes by, and Beth arrives in Cold Creek for a memorial,  as she mourns the loss of her sister, one of the Cold Creek killer’s presumed victims from the previous summer. Beth and Jonny become involved, and she decides to stay, finding a job at the diner where Angie used to work, and settling into small town life as she tries to learn what really happened to her. On an evening of over-indulgence at the local bar, she runs into Vaughn, who insists on escorting her home, and she wakes with little memory of what, if anything, had transpired. Uneasy over the situation, she opts to leave her hotel, heading to the local campground to stay for a while, although it seems Vaughn is never far. 

What secrets do the mountains hold? Is Vaughn an overzealous cop trying to keep his townspeople safe, or is he something more?  What happened to Hailey?  Who killed Beth’s sister Amber?  As Amber searches for answers, she finds more than she bargained for as she comes face to face with a killer…

Again – I absolutely LOVED this book!! Hooked me from the start and had me flipping pages well into the night just to learn the answers to all of the questions above! Great read – unputdownable!!

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.  Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!