Category Archives: Historical mystery

Blog Tour: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney



Ellie Marney

Young Adult Historical Mystery

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384 pages

Publishing Date: September 20, 2022


A historical mystery about a girl who risks everything to track down a vicious serial killer, for fans of The Enigma Game and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.

Virginia, 1943: World War II is raging in Europe and on the Pacific front when Kit Sutherland is recruited to help the war effort as a codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signals Intelligence facility in Virginia. But Kit is soon involved in another kind of fight: Government girls are being brutally murdered in Washington DC, and when Kit stumbles onto a bloody homicide scene, she is drawn into the hunt for the killer.

To find the man responsible for the gruesome murders and bring him to justice, Kit joins forces with other female codebreakers at Arlington Hall—gossip queen Dottie Crockford, sharp-tongued intelligence maven Moya Kershaw, and cleverly resourceful Violet DuLac from the segregated codebreaking unit. But as the girls begin to work together and develop friendships—and romance—that they never expected, two things begin to come clear: the murderer they’re hunting is closing in on them…and Kit is hiding a dangerous secret.

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5 stars!

Engaging characters, an immersive 1940s wartime setting,

and a suspenseful and baffling murder mystery!

The Killing Code was a tense and suspenseful story set during World War II, just outside Washington, DC, on the grounds of a former finishing school for young women. The tension came from several directions: Kit’s constant fear of being unmasked as an imposter, the stress and urgency of codebreaking and the war itself, and a string of gruesome murders perpetrated against young female government workers in DC. In addition, there is a romantic subplot involving two main characters.

The author obviously did a lot of amazing research in crafting the story. There are even quotes from historical figures involved in codebreaking and cryptography heading the chapters, including one from a distant cousin of mine (Colonel Parker Hitt.) I was particularly intrigued by the colossal about-face in the workforce at the time, with women fulfilling positions men had traditionally held. I had never heard about the all-black codebreaking unit working simultaneously with the white unit but segregated from them the entire time.

The main characters, the core group of women trying to track down the serial killer, come from different backgrounds and circumstances. But I felt the buildup of camaraderie and how they became a family. I liked how they used their knowledge and skills gained at work to profile the murderer and make sense of the information they gathered. They hit some snags along the way in their investigations and relationships, but their perseverance takes them through all roadblocks, much like tackling the Japanese coded messages.

The author doesn’t keep the women restricted to quarters either. I enjoyed that the investigations took them “off campus,” and we got to experience the world of Washington, DC, during 1940s wartime. Social settings, transportation, telephoning, and clothing are all mentioned, and I felt immersed in the place and time. However, with one of the main characters, a young black woman, the attitudes toward race during those days were also fully displayed.

With great characters that I could relate to and root for from the beginning, the immersive 1940s wartime setting, and the engrossing and baffling murder mystery, I was glued to this book to the very end. I recommend THE KILLING CODE to readers who enjoy historical mysteries, especially those set in World War II or including codebreaking.


Ellie Marney is a New York Times bestselling and multi-award-winning crime author who has gone behind the scenes at the Westminster Mortuary in London and interviewed forensic and technical specialists around the world in pursuit of just the right details for her brand of pulse-pounding thrillers.

Her titles include The Killing CodeNone Shall Sleep, the Every trilogy, No LimitsWhite Night and the Circus Hearts series. She has lived in Indonesia, India and Singapore, and is now based in Australia with her partner and their four sons. 

Ellie has been involved in the creation of the national campaign called #LoveOzYA to promote and advocate for Australian YA literature. She contributed to the critically-acclaimed Begin End Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, and co-runs the popular #LoveOzYAbookclub online. She also co-coordinates an online info-sharing group for Australian women self-publishers. She teaches writing and publishing through Writers Victoria, advocates for Australian women’s writing as a Stella Ambassador in schools, and is a regular speaker at festivals and events.

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September 19th
Pages & Plots – Promotional Post
Phannie the ginger bookworm – Review, Playlist & Favorite Quotes
Stacia Loves to Read – Review
Reading Stewardess – Review & Playlist

September 20th
The Book Dutchesses – Promotional Post
Sophie Reads YA – Review
Modest Hiccup – Review, Mood Board

September 21st
Confessions of a YA Reader – Review
Forthenovellovers – Review
Pluvioreads – Review & Playlist

September 22nd
Books and Babble – Review
Rae’s Reading Lounge – Review & Favorite Quotes
And On She Reads – Review
Book-Keeping – Review
The Girl Who Reads – Review

September 23rd
Kait Plus Books – Journal Spread
Boys’ Mom Reads – Review
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review
The Bookwyrm’s Den – Review

September 24th
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
Worlds Unlike Our Own – Review

September 25th
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
Celia’s Reads – Review
Avni Reads – Review
Jen Jen Reviews – Review

September 19th
writingrosereads – Promotional Post
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September 20th
gryffindorbookishnerd – Review
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September 21st
jacleomik33 – Review
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September 23rd
booking.with.janelle – Review & Favorite Quotes
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September 24th
hoardingbooks.herdingcats – Review
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September 25th
tbrandbeyond – Promotional Post – Review
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Immoral Origins (The Desire Card, #1) by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Immoral Origins (The Desire Card, #1)Immoral Origins by Lee Matthew Goldberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The author’s immersive writing drew me in from the start, and I flew through the story.

It’s 1978, and Jake Barnum, a young man in his 20s, already has a rap sheet of small-time, petty crimes. Out of a short stint in jail, he’s living with his parents and disabled brother in his childhood home in Hell’s Kitchen with no prospects to improve his situation. The younger brother, Emile, needs costly medical attention and future surgery to survive, so the entire family is living on the razor’s edge, trying to keep it together and makes ends meet. His father works two full-time jobs, his mother picks up occasional work as a legal secretary when she can get someone to watch Emile, who requires constant care, and Jake feels the guilt of failing his parents and not helping out enough. Jake hooks up with a petty criminal in town, stealing and reselling coats through his childhood friend, Maggs. However, it doesn’t net him much, and his father and mother are reluctant to accept what they know is dirty money.

But at the Halloween party dressed as Robin Hood, Jake catches the eye of a mysterious and intriguing woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe. They get to talking, and Jake is taken with her, even though she refuses to remove her “Marilyn” mask or give him her real name. She explains to him that she helps fulfill wishes for a living and wants to introduce Jake to her boss, thinking Jake would be a good asset for their company, The Desire Card. The company motto is “Any wish fulfilled for the right price.”

Impressed by the boss and the company concept, Jake accepts the job offer and is immediately sent on his first assignment: a simple delivery of a small box to a woman at an exclusive address in the city. An extremely generous fee payment follows, and Jake is hooked. But as the assignments edge closer to the illegal and immoral and jobs start hitting close to home, Jake is caught between wanting to maintain his new lifestyle and cash flow and getting away from The Desire Card before the company decides he’s a liability.

Immoral Origins is the first book in a thrilling new series, The Desire Card, by Lee Matthew Goldberg. With its very different sort of hero and plot that includes him successfully performing dirty deeds, I was hooked. I was glued to the story every step of the way, not wanting to put it down until the very last page.

The characters surprised me. I don’t believe there was a genuinely likable one in the bunch. Jake is pretty much a loser. Marilyn is a damaged young woman, and Gable, the boss, a power-mad sociopath (as are all of The Desire Card’s employees.) Thugs, hoods, and mobsters populate the story, showing their very worst sides. But through it all, I was compelled to root for Jake to overcome the odds and come out on top. I had much the same experience when reading The Godfather, heinous people doing horrible things that you still are compelled to get behind.

The Desire Card operation was fascinating. Everyone works incognito, wearing masks when doing a job, visiting the office, and even attending the annual office holiday parties. Their rich and famous clientele also wear masks at the client events hosted by the company, and everyone goes by the name of the person the mask depicts: Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, or Errol Flynn, to name a few.

The late 70s setting encompassed iconic people and places and the headlines and music of the time. It was so well done; I was immersed in that time and that place. Goldberg’s writing drew me in from the start, and I flew through the story, feeling Jake’s confusion, hopelessness, and fear as he tried to make sense of it all. The story was fascinating, with a heavy dose of bizarreness that had me turning those pages for more.

With its well-defined setting, laden with recognizable persons, places, and events, extraordinary characters, and fascinating plot, I recommend IMMORAL ORIGINS to readers of thrillers and mysteries, especially those who like stories set in New York or organized crimes and like a touch of the bizarre.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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The Emperor’s Servant (Lucius Sestius Mysteries, #2) by Fiona Forsyth

The Emperor's Servant (Lucius Sestius Mysteries #2)The Emperor’s Servant by Fiona Forsyth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is nothing like the secrets, subterfuge, and backroom machinations of Forsyth’s ancient Rome.

It has been 20 years since the Battle of Philippi when Octavian and Mark Antony defeated the Republic to claim leadership of the Roman Empire. The defeated noblemen were exiled, and among them was young Lucius Sestius Quirinalis. Years later, Augustus granted him and others pardons, and Lucius returned to his country home in Cosa to farm, tend his vineyard, and rebuild his family’s livelihood. The family had been stripped of much of their land and wealth as a consequence of choosing the wrong side in the Civil War. Dedicated to the Republican ideal, Lucius stayed away from Rome, out of politics, steadfast in tending to his family.

Time, though, was not kind to the winner. Octavian, now Emperor Augustus Caesar, was ill. Concerns for the continuation of the Empire in the event of his sudden death have been under much discussion. Trying to lessen his day-to-day burden, he sends his representative, Gaius Maecenas, to Lucius to have him return to Rome to take on the role of consul, just until the end of the year.

Although not enamored of the idea, the positive impacts that having served as consul would have on his children’s futures tip the scale in favor of accepting, and he does so with trepidation. But, in truth, what choice does he have?

Of course, immediately after starting this book, I began to wish I was more familiar with the history of Rome. Well-known historical figures feature prominently, and I know I missed getting some of the implications of certain conversations that I wouldn’t have had a more intimate understanding of that time and place. However, this didn’t detract from my pure enjoyment and satisfaction with the story. There is nothing like the secrets, subterfuge, and backroom machinations of Forsyth’s ancient Rome. The Emperor’s Servant vividly conveys all the complexities and totality of the scope and reach of these definitive puppet masters.

The book’s main character is Lucius Sestius Quirinalis, and he has been a favorite of mine since his introduction in Rome’s End. He seems like a regular guy, trying to do the right thing. He is always polite and conscientious of his family, retainers, and the people of Rome. I was sad that he had come to depend on wine to cope with his life, though he’s been through plenty to need a drink. He is relatable, too. The scene of him weeping in relief after his election as consul made him seem even more real. A number of years have passed since the conclusion of book one, and at first, I thought Lucius was no longer the innocent he was then. However, even after all he’s been through, he still has a natural innocence, which causes him to be surprised by what others around him do.

The looming disaster, the insidious intrigue lurks, and you know that disaster is only a page away at any moment. I was so engrossed in the story that I felt myself holding my breath at times, the muscles in my shoulders tightening as the story’s tension built. When the shoe finally dropped, I was stunned. I had become emotionally engaged with this man and his family and wondered how anyone could come back from that. But people do. All the time. The story concludes on a hopeful note, and I hope there are further adventures for Lucius in the future.

I want to note that the author’s writing flowed so smoothly that I was immediately drawn in and immersed in Lucius’s life. Small, everyday details enhanced that you-are-there feeling. Forsyth is incredibly skillful at weaving in little tidbits of information and history that had me itching to read about further. For example, Lucius remarks about the Greek physicians who never ceased attending Rome’s citizens during a terrible pestilence that their devotion to their work all came down “to an oath that they have sworn” – the Hippocratic Oath.

I recommend THE EMPEROR’S SERVANT to readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially those that like political intrigue and suspense-laden stories.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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White Gold by Micheal E. Jimerson

Mystery / Thriller

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Date of Publication: May 18, 2022

Number of Pages: 302 pages

White GoldWhite Gold by Micheal E. Jimerson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a rural East Texas setting and intriguing and intricate plot, White Gold hooked me with its hot action from the very first page.

E.J. Kane, a disgraced former Texas Ranger, works as the head of corporate security for Devekon Energy and gets the call the investigate when a body is found at one of the company’s gas well sites. By all appearances it was a horrific accident; the deceased was killed when lightning struck a tank and the equipment he was using. But the man, a salt-water extraction truck operator, had no business being at the location, and the circumstances surrounding his death raise a lot of questions. E.J. becomes suspicious that something else is going on and the man has been murdered.

Meanwhile, E.J.’s got his hands full dealing with his ex-wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Sharla. His marriage had broken up after their son had been killed in Afghanistan; Rebecca blamed E.J. for Konnor’s patriotic desire to serve his country and his subsequent death. Sharla, a teenager at the time, had taken her brother’s death and her parents’ divorce hard. During the ensuing years, she’d turned to drugs and was now an addict desperately trying to make her next fix and pay off her supplier. But when she disappears from school with her boyfriend and no one knows where she is or what is going on, both her parents are out of their wits with fear. With little to go on, E.J. gets his former partner with the Texas Rangers to help him find his girl.

White Gold hooked me from the very start, and I didn’t want to put it down until the last page. First, the main character, E.J. Kane, seems like a regular guy dealing with extraordinary circumstances and handles himself well. His surrounding characters are an interesting and distinctive lot, and there are obviously backstories and prior histories between them and E.J. Some of these backstories are broadly hinted at but left unexplained. But for the most part, readers will get the gist of their relationships. However, I felt more could have been done to flesh out these details and characters.

E.J. is a former Texas Ranger, always an excellent choice in my mind, but he has been forced to retire under an investigative cloud, the circumstances of which are never fully explained. The reader knows that other rangers lost their lives, and E.J. was blamed. Although exonerated, local law enforcement still holds the incident against him. However, his former trainee, Cooper, and a close FBI colleague have his back. But that’s not his only burden, his ex-wife blames him for their son’s death in Afghanistan, and his college-age daughter is at a crisis point in her use of some very heavy drugs. E.J. is suffering and is very vulnerable, leaving him open to some of what happens in the book.

The plot dealing with oil production was fresh and intriguing. Who knew there could be that much interest in what could be seen as a waste product? Mixed with his personal problems, the involvement of a rural conservative political organization, and his friend and employer’s legal struggle, the story has twists and turns upon twists and turns! I could have kept turning pages all day to find out where things were going if life had allowed it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the east Texas/Louisiana settings, ones not often used; I perked up each time E.J. hopped on Interstate 20. And except for mentions of Lufkin, Houston, and Shreveport, the action is operating in the middle of rural east nowhere. Being from the north-central Texas area myself, I love seeing this area highlighted.

With its dual focus on E.J.’s investigation and his ex-wife’s courtroom drama, I recommend WHITE GOLD to readers who have enjoyed the Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt. With its main character of “a certain age” and temperament and his old-school ways, as well as the rural east Texas setting, WHITE GOLD may please fans of Reavis Z. Wortham’s Red River series. I hope this is the author’s first book in a planned series; I will be first in line for more.

A final note: The book’s text appearance is fabulous. The font used and page layout are attractive and easy to read. It just looks high quality.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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Blog Tour: Twelfth by Janet Key



Janet Key

Genre: Middle Grade Mystery Historical

Publishing Date: May 17, 2022

Better Nate Than Ever meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are.

Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood.
When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they’re almost out of time.

5 stars!

Easy to read and with a satisfying storyline, I was delighted, inspired, and still very entertained.

Twelfth, a reference to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the play the campers are to perform at the end of camp, is a unique middle-grade novel of mystery, suspense, self-awareness, and the need each person has to be seen for who they are. Told in dual timelines, one set in the summer of 2015 and the other beginning in the early 1940s and continuing into the 1950s, two distinct plots wend their way toward each other until they come together in one remarkable story. I was completely immersed in both tales and appreciated how the characters from each one experienced similar struggles. I was gripped by how each set of characters chose to handle being outside societal norms and the impact on their choices that a 60-year separation in time had.

Maren and Theo are great characters. Maren arrives at the camp in a total funk, but she is actually pretty game to get things going and the summer done. She’s never sullen or whiny, just really disappointed, confused, and torn about what is going on with her family. She’s ready just to endure it all and surprises herself with what a good time she has as she works through the mystery and her personal feelings. Theo is so upbeat and delightfully driven to follow their dreams. I loved their daily vests and quest for extras in the cafeteria. I admire anyone who can take on the opinions of others like they did and come out on top. Allegra is perfect as the pair’s antagonist; we all know THAT girl.

Most of all, I loved the twists and turns the story makes. Just when I thought I knew where things were going (and they eventually do get there), the author threw a fantastic curveball. Easy to read, with a satisfying conclusion, I was delighted, inspired, and very entertained.

Diverse and well-drawn, the characters in Twelfth felt realistic. I thought they could easily match the random makeup of people and personalities one finds in real life. The exciting story held my attention; I would have happily read the book in one sitting, and I feel even reluctant readers would stick with it. I recommend TWELFTH to readers who enjoy a fun and exciting mystery with true-to-life personal issues complicating characters’ lives and those who want some insight into the hearts and minds of someone who doesn’t fit society’s gender molds.

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When Janet Key was twelve, she sang and danced onstage in the background of musicals, stayed up too late reading Shakespeare, and had a closet full of themed, handsewn vests.

This is her first novel. 

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Tour Schedule

May 16th
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post
The Someday Librarian – Review

May 17th
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
Jen Jen Reviews – Review

May 18th
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post

May 19th
The Book Dutchesses – Promotional Post
Boys’ Mom Reads! – Review

May 20th
Kait Plus Books – Interview

May 21st
Whispering Stories – Interview
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review

May 22nd
the nutty bookworm reads alot – Review
laura’s bookish corner – Review

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Full Dark House (Bryant & May, #1) by Christopher Fowler

A robust murder mystery and police procedural in which the past comes back to haunt the present.

When a bomb destroyed the London offices of the Peculiar Crimes Unit early one Sunday morning, founder and lead detective Arthur Bryant had been seen already inside, still at work from the night before. Work was Arthur’s life, after all. His long-time partner and second-in-command, John May, was devastated by his sudden death; their personal and working relationship stretched back decades to WWII during the Blitz.

Despite his grief, May pulls himself together, determined to find the bomber and bring them to justice and avenge his friend’s death. His investigation immediately focuses on their current cases. But as he backtracks Bryant’s movements on his last days and the cases he was working on, the clues seem to lead him to London’s the Palace Theatre, the location of May’s very first case with Bryant more than a half-century earlier. Bryant had always been interested in the supernatural; was his death a matter of a ghost from the past returning to wreak death and destruction in the present?

If you’re interested in a puzzling mystery and a realistic story of living in London during the Blitz, Full Dark House is for you. The author recreates wartime London with the populace already amid nightly bombing raids by the Germans, sudden death, destruction, sleepless nights, rationing, and the indomitable spirit of the British people.

The mysteries are intriguing, and the circumstances in the Palace Theatre are palpably tense throughout the book. The murders are pretty unusual and kept me wondering when the next shoe (or body) would drop. I know I’ll have an extra shiver or two the next time I visit a theater.

I enjoyed the two main characters, though; with the complex storylines and two full investigations running, I didn’t get a complete picture of who these men really are. Arthur Bryant is quirky and interested in myriad subjects, willing to experiment, and has a secret personal tragedy in his past. He reminded me of CSI’s Gil Grissom if he’d been operating in 1940s London. John May is the steady, normal one. Together, we are told, they balanced each other out to create a very successful investigating partnership for the Peculiar Crimes Unit. I also liked that some of the supporting characters in the present-day part of the story were the children of former Peculiar Crimes Unit members active at the time of the flashback crime.

However, this book felt long and seemed to drag at times. There were two crimes and two timeframes, and this is the setup for a series, so I’m also feeling it is to be expected, so I plan to read the next book in the series.

I recommend FULL DARK HOUSE to mystery readers that enjoy a full-on, step-by-step investigation in their stories, historical mysteries, or mysteries set in London during WWII or in a theatre setting.

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Rome’s End (A Lucius Sestius Mystery, #1) by Fiona Forsyth

With its engaging characters, fascinating settings, and intriguing plot, this historical mystery is something special and not to be missed!

Lucius Sestius Quirinalis (Lucius) was only a child during the Catilinarian Conspiracy. His father was a significant figure in the campaign to put down the conspiracy, a strong supporter of Caesar, and a friend and ally of Cicero. Twenty years have passed, and Lucius has grown up to become a lawyer working career under the guidance of his father when an odd case comes their way as a request from that same old friend, Cicero.

Their new client, Gaius Sallust Crispus (Sallust), is the retired governor of Africa Nova, who just recently retired and returned to Rome. Through a friend, he has heard that someone is preparing to file charges against him for provincial corruption, an accusation that he finds both worrying and puzzling as he feels he’s done nothing to warrant such a claim and as a strong supporter and friend of Caesar, with few enemies. But he knows he will need a lawyer should the rumor prove accurate, and their mutual friend, Marcus Tullius Cicero, has recommended young Lucius.

Lucius takes on the case, and he and his father start investigating the existence of these potential charges. However, it soon becomes apparent that the trouble isn’t due to something Sallust had done as provincial governor. Sallust is writing a history of the Catalinarian Conspiracy, and someone very powerful is determined that he should drop it and find another hobby in his retirement.

Rome’s End was an intriguing, exciting, and very satisfying mystery set during the final months of Julius Caesar’s time as dictator of Rome. Author Fiona Forsyth has written an absorbing mystery using the figures of Rome’s leadership, actual historical figures, making them come to life as I’ve never experienced before. Some of the figures portrayed are bad people with dangerous levels of power at their fingertips.

Lucius is personable and very likable; in fact, his entire family is great. I particularly enjoyed his friendships with his future brother-in-law, Caecilius, and the informant/fixer, Cornelius Rufus. I was immediately invested in him finding out what was going on, frustrated when things didn’t go as he needed, and worried as he became trapped in the horrible situation that was not of his making.

As our main character is on the road for much of the story, numerous locations in the Ancient Roman Empire became settings for a lot of the action and investigation. You slowly realize that these places had been settled and populated, even at the time of events in the book, for an extraordinarily long time. Still, the author made them seem fresh and alive.

Forsyth’s use of this setting and historical time period was both wonderful and fascinating. The discussions of culture, politics, family, slavery, and the everyday lifestyle were a seamless part of the story. Interesting facts and tidbits were slipped in on every page with a quick explanation or naturally inserted in context and easily understood. I did look up one item early on because I thought, “Surely that’s not what I think it is.” It was. The author’s lifelong research was apparent, mind-boggling when considered, and, ultimately, inspirational, making this historic mystery special.

Forsyth’s writing style was vastly entertaining. I liked these characters, especially Lucius, and am ecstatic to see she has already written and published additional books in the series. I recommend ROME’S END to mystery readers who enjoy a historical setting featuring actual figures from the past.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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Kicker One: Going the Distance (The Frankie Scarmazino Trilogy, #1) by Cy Young

An injured NFL kicker heads to the Ozarks to check out a teammate’s brother’s death; he discovers someone has taken justice into their own hands to fight domestic abuse.

The year is 1997, and when the NFL New York Giants kicker, Frankie “Scar” Scarmazino, is injured in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he must take time off to heal and recuperate. In his heart, Scar believes he’s lost his nerve to return to the game, but as he’s still in his early 30s knows he’s got to come up with a backup plan.

He confides to a good friend and teammate that he wants to be a private detective, and the friend tells him of the perfect place to start. The teammate’s brother had been murdered back home in his hometown, and the killer was never caught. So Frankie loads up his old Ford Pinto, Gilda, and heads to Jasper, Arkansas, to see if he can catch a murderer.

When Frankie rolls into Jasper, he inadvertently becomes embroiled in the shady goings-on of the small town. He witnesses a man, baseball bat in hand, chasing after a battered and bleeding woman, and jumps to intervene.  The sheriff, a personal friend of the abuser, turns a blind eye to the crime, and Frankie finds himself the target of the abusive husband and his gang of similarly-minded wife-beating buddies.

But Frankie is on a mission and will not be run out of town. In the process of his investigation, he discovers that his teammate’s brother isn’t the only recent and unsolved murder. Someone is taking justice into their own hands when the sheriff fails to act and is murdering the men who are abusing their wives and girlfriends.

However, the sheriff is taking an interest in the murders of his buddies and has a local attorney working to help the victimized women in his sights. One meeting with Mira Strickland has Frankie’s senses reeling and his fervent hopes that the sheriff is wrong.

Kicker One: Going the Distance is a fast-paced, easy-to-read, and exciting story featuring a likable hero, dastardly villains, and some very smart and sexy women.  Frankie Scarmazino is an interesting guy, a professional football player with some hidden characteristics. When he takes off for the Ozarks, he does so in his old 1971 Pinto and not some flashy, celebrity-worthy luxury vehicle. Beside him on the passenger seat is his most recent knitting project: a sweater he’s creating for his ex-wife as a gift.

In the story, Frankie’s nemeses include town bully Buddy Haymes, his backwoods buddies, and their close friend, Sheriff Bill Burrows. Happily, there’s not much to like about these guys, so it was easy to cheer for Frankie to beat them every step of the way literally.

The women of Jasper have their own hometown hero in attorney Mira Strickland. After having grown up in Jasper, she left town to pursue her law degree and, until recently, successfully practiced on the East Coast before returning home after having her own husband troubles. Frankie’s immediate attraction to her was fun and created tension and a significant conflict later when her actions and motives begin to look suspicious to him.

I recommend KICKER ONE: GOING THE DISTANCE to mystery readers looking for something light and easy-to-read for a fun and engaging diversion. The football theme was fresh, the setting in the Ozark region of Arkansas different, and despite the underlying crimes, fun to read.

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Filed under Action/Adventure, Book Reviews, Historical mystery, Romantic Suspence

Regardless of the Consequences (Lance Tallbear, #1) by L.D. Lauritzen

Lance Tallbear, a Native American deputy sheriff, investigates a startling 70-year-old cold case that someone still wants to remain buried.

Wow! I’ve been hooked on mysteries featuring Native American investigators since the first time I read one of Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee books. L.D. Lauritzen’s debut Lance Tallbear mystery held the same magic for me. It is one of the most thrilling mystery tales I’ve read this year.

In Regardless of the Consequences, we are introduced to Lance Tallbear, a deputy sheriff in Gila County, Arizona: a rough and tumble sort when needs be but always with the goals of doing the right thing for THE PEOPLE and pursuing justice. He has an inner struggle with his desire to work in the white man’s world (the Sheriff’s Office) and wanting to please his elderly grandfather, Gray Eagle, who wants him to follow in his footsteps as the tribal shaman. After his father’s death, his white mother had taken him to live with her during the school year, returning him to his grandfather and the reservation for the long summer break. During those summers, Gray Eagle had trained him extensively in the ways of the shaman. But when he grew up, he left that behind to go into the military and, later, law enforcement. Unfortunately, Gray Eagle viewed this as Lance turning his back on his heritage, as his father before him had done, and this is a continuing conflict between the two as well as in the young man’s heart.

Tallbear is not the only character in the story struggling in life; a couple of supporting characters are also walking a troubled path. Young Tommy Hawk immediately engaged me with his hopes and dreams for a better future. Also high on my list of favorites is FBI Special Agent Brad Hanley. He’s chasing his own demons, and I rooted for him to overcome them from the start, and I hope to see more of Irene Katz in his future. Officer Sally Yazzie, the captain’s assistant, presented such a “Radar O’Reilly” vibe that I hope she returns, too. The author gives us a plethora of bad guys to ‘boo .’ There were a few unresolved issues regarding them by the story’s end; I hope we can look forward to seeing them in sequels yet to come.

The plot is satisfyingly complex, involving a 70-year-old cold case, and it takes our heroes to some great locations on and off ‘the rez,’ including the Superstition Mountains, the Sonoran Desert, and downtown L.A. The non-stop action never allows the characters to take a breather, and the constant push forward and stress become a factor in the story. The characters battle their physical exhaustion, a harsh environment, and Mother Nature almost as much as the bad guys.

I can recommend Regardless of the Consequences for a variety of mystery readers such as those who enjoy books featuring a Native American sleuth as in Jean Hager’s Mitch Bushyhead or Molly Bearpaw books, the southwestern region of the United States such as in the Leaphorn & Chee series by Tony Hillerman, or set where the natural environment is a factor in the plight of the characters as in the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box or Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak books. Readers that like cold case mysteries or those with a tie to World War II secrets and the Nazis may also find Regardless of the Consequences to be right down their alley.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

See my original review on Reedsy Discovery!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical mystery, Mystery

Red, White, and Blue (Lady Vigilante, #20) – Hayley Camille

Betty Jones pulls out all the stops!

Continuing from Episode 19, Betty, Jacob, and Adina finally put the pieces together on how to find the Tin Man and the Boudoir Butcher, and plan to apprehend the vicious criminals and end their reign of terror among the gangs of New York. But when the showdown comes, who are the ones that end up in the trap?!

Wow! Author Hayley Camille has put Betty through the ringer before but her dynamite Avon Lady has never faced the odds she confronts in this, the final episode of the second Lady Vigilante season, Red, White, and Blue. Betty maintains a realistic view of her chances throughout, but resignedly and bravely faces them.

I was glad to see and satisfied with how this storyline was ultimately resolved. With some plotlines still in play, I look forward to Betty’s return and the continuation of this unique historical mystery series in season three.

I highly recommend this episode to readers following the exploits of this kick-ass Lady Vigilante and Avon Lady and the entire series to those that enjoy historical mystery/thrillers featuring a strong female protagonist. As indicated above, the books are episodic, and I recommend they be read from the beginning in chronological order.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.

Red, White, and Blue is available on

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Filed under Book Reviews, Cozy Mystery, Historical mystery, Paranormal