Category Archives: Mystery

Beneath the Waves (The Kira Hunter Novella, Book 1) by Nora Cabot

When a private investigator returns to her childhood home to make peace with her past, someone in town tries to prevent that from happening.

Kira Hunter was the sole survivor when the old boat that she and her classmates were holding their graduation party on overturned and sank in a sudden storm. She and her mother had fled the town to avoid the constant reminders immediately after and had never gone back until now, 20 years later. When an aunt left her the manor house just out of the town, Kira felt the time was right to return to Wayhill and face her memories and, perhaps, make some sense of what happened that tragic night when everyone, including her best friend, Zen, died. However, from the minute she hit town, she had the constant feeling that she was being watched, and then the notes started showing up.

The first note, left in plain sight on her bed at the manor when no one else was in the house, was a personal message written in Zen’s handwriting. Others followed and revealed details only Zen would know. Then there was the mysterious figure in black that she kept getting a glimpse of – was it just the handyman from next door? One thing was certain; someone didn’t like that she was back in town and meant to do something about it.

Beneath the Waves is the thrilling first book in a new series by author Nora Cabot. The main character, Akira ‘Kira’ Glory Hunter, a high school senior at the time of the accident, is now a grown woman with ten years’ experience as a private investigator under her belt. But with all the strange goings-on as she tries to get settled into her new home, her investigation into what happened at the graduation party gets sidelined. Kira returns home with a load of survivor’s guilt, and the shocking appearance of the messages, seeming to come from her deceased friend, really keep her off-balance for most of the story. However, when she finally shakes herself off and gets her mind set to find out who is doing this and why she settles down and acts like the successful investigator she is.

Supporting characters that added a lot to the story include Noah Price, the handyman from next door who is trying to escape his own past burdens. I enjoyed the interplay between the two and liked the resulting chemistry, slow-building and tantalizing. Although I didn’t care for Sheriff Matthews initially, he’s growing on me, and I liked how he seemed to appear to be more complex and competent as the book went on. Kira’s mother didn’t have a lot of ‘screen time,’ but what there was proved fun and, later, almost disastrous. I look forward to seeing more of all three of these characters in future ‘Kira’ books.

I thought the notes and insider messages were frightening, and the constant feeling that Kira was being watched, even in her own home, highly effective and sinister touches. The murder was as shocking as it was unexpected and really amped up the feeling of dread. There were clues to follow, and Kira unerringly starts with the most likely suspects to know what’s really going on in the small town. I thought the resolution was simple but made sense. The story leaves the reader with questions and unfinished business, which creates a “need to know what will happen next” and provides a good jumping-off point for the next book in the series.

I recommend BENEATH THE WAVES to readers that enjoy a mystery with a strong female protagonist, a PI mystery, and a story a bit darker than what a cozy would provide.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

The River Girls (Mercy Harbor Thriller, #1) by Melinda Woodhall

The River Girls, book one in the Mercy Harbor series, is an exciting mystery thriller debut!

Five years ago, successful software developer, Eden Winthrop, discovered the body of her younger sister, who her abusive husband had murdered. Now she’s watching the front desk of one of the safe houses for abused women that she’s set up in her small Florida hometown of Willow Bay when a teenage girl named Star shows up looking for refuge. Against protocol and proper vetting, Eden allows her inside, listening to her desperate story that men have killed her friend, Jess, and now they’re after her! Getting her settled in a room for the night, Eden calls the foundation’s executive director for guidance, but when the other woman arrives, they discover Star has slipped out the back door and headed down to the river nearby. Fearing the girl may have drowned, Eden goes to the police department to report her as missing.

Police Detective Vanessa ‘Nessa’ Ainsley takes Eden’s report, and days later, when she’s called to the river where a teenage girl’s body has been found in the water where she’d been dumped after having been strangled. The crime and the victim’s details are similar to a previous scene weeks earlier, and the department fears a serial killer is at work. Nessa contacts Eden to view the body to see if it is Star.

Leo Steele is a successful criminal defense attorney. Some, like Eden, would say too successful. He’s the lawyer that got her sister’s husband off charges of violating a protective order the week before he murdered her. He’s been contacted by one of his clients who was not so lucky and is currently serving time while her teenage daughter is on her own and being passed from one foster situation to another. The daughter, Jess, has dropped out of sight, and she wants Leo to try and locate her. He is also contacted to help identify the body, and it is his client’s daughter, Jess.

Eden and Leo overcome their differences and begin to work together to find Star, who they feel is in danger and holds the key to Jess’s murder. When another teenage girl’s body is found in the river, Detective Ainsley heads up a team of veteran investigators to work the evidence from the crime scenes and stop this killer before another girl is murdered.

“The River Girls” is a fast-paced and gripping thriller of a mystery. The characters are a diverse group of people, each with their own lives and problems, who come together to solve this horrific series of murders of teenage girls. The bad guys are very bad and easy to despise, and some are tantalizingly hidden in plain sight. The main characters felt like real people to me, and I particularly appreciated seeing things through the eyes of the teenage girls involved. I was surprised and pleased with how the story is resolved and look forward to more books in the series.

THE RIVER GIRLS is a violent story with murders of teenage victims. It has several plot lines to follow, but they are straight-forward and easy to follow.  The story also features a character with an anxiety disorder with an emotional support animal that I found very interesting and different in mystery/thrillers. I would recommend this book to those who would like to read a small-town thriller or mystery.

I received an advance review copy for free from Book Sirens, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller

The Holy City Murders (A Duke Dempsey Mystery, #1) by Ron Plante, Jr.

Duke Dempsey, formerly a Charleston PD detective, is out on his own as a private investigator, and although business is looking good, he’s still adjusting to his inglorious ouster from public service and the hit he took to his self-esteem and reputation. He’s had success with some big cases but nothing as big as his latest, finding a missing relic for none other than the Pope! Tied up with his investigation is the double homicide his former partner, Johnny Stampkin, is dealing with down on the docks of the Charleston port. A local priest, Father Lorenzo, a favorite in the Holy City as Charleston is known, has been vicious stabbed, and his companion, an off-duty Charleston cop, has had his throat slashed. Father Lorenzo was supposed to have been the safeguard of the Church’s relic, and no one knows where it is. As Duke and Johnny’s cases entwine and the bodies continue to pile up, they desperately pool their resources to go after the killer and find the precious artifact.

The Holy City Murders is the debut novel in the Duke Dempsey Mystery series by author Ron Plante, Jr. I found the main characters – Duke, Johnny, Margo, and Mary – likable and engaging, and the time period of the events appealing. The city of Charleston, South Carolina, made for an appealing setting with its humid, laid-back charm, recognizable landmarks, and unique opportunities because of its diversity for this and future books in the series. I thought the story was very good with the simultaneous police and private investigations of the two former partners. However, I knew who the secret spy was pretty quickly, so the mystery was really how this person would be revealed and how the protagonists would figure things out.

There were a couple of drawbacks for me in the story, though. First, the dialogue seemed more suited to the streets of New York, Chicago, Boston, or Philly. I choose to believe this was done to emphasize the patter seen in traditional detective noir. But Duke is a southern boy, a Charlestonian native, he even brings this up a couple of times, and I don’t see it in the language. Having said this, I still enjoyed the patois.

The other beef I have, and I see that previous reviewers noted it as well, was the plethora of grammatical issues in the version of the story being read. I read an Advance Readers Copy I received from Book Sirens, and there were numerous problems of this nature. However, a quick look at the finished version currently available for purchase or download shows that many of these issues have been found and corrected. Based on that examination, I’m adding an additional star to my original rating.  

With the look and feel of a noir detective story, there is so much to enjoy in Duke Dempsey and The Holy City Murders. The story doesn’t end here, and I look forward to reading more about Duke and his crowd as the series continues. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a grittier mystery (than a cozy), noir detective stories, historical mysteries, or even a mystery that features Civil War elements.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Readers Copy from Book Sirens.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical mystery, Mystery, Thriller

Water’s Edge (A Highlands & Islands Detective Thriller, #1) by GR Jordan

Water’s Edge is a moody and character-driven and wonderful police procedural.

When the body of a local woman washes up on the rocky coastline of the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides, the Glasgow team of Detective Inspector Seoras Macleod and Detective Constable Hope McGrath are sent to investigate. Macleod, an older, experienced detective, grew up on the island but left 20 years earlier when his beloved wife committed suicide by walking into the water and drowning herself. A wild young man, Macleod’s faith had saved him from the path he’d been on, but after his wife’s death, he began to have doubts about the nature of God. The tragedy has caused Macleod to let time and modern sensibilities pass him; he’s never quite moved on with his life. Now, he’s known somewhat as a misogynistic throwback, but lately, he’s been questioning his outdated thinking. He likes and approves of his female supervisor and has a growing acceptance of the rightness of women in police work.  McGrath, with two years of experience in homicide, is assigned to work with Macleod on the case when his regular partner is laid up from a car accident. (More about her later.)

Dreading the return to Lewis, Macleod finds there have been changes since he left, but things are still familiar enough that they dredge up long-forgotten memories of his life there before things went tragically wrong for him. The victim, Sara Hewitt, is a young, local woman who recently opened a massage parlor on the main street of the town of Stornoway. The two detectives quickly interview her distraught boyfriend. He claims they were exclusive with each other and vehemently denies her business offered ‘services on the side’ as her ledger seems to indicate. However, the young man’s own mother, a councilwoman in town, reveals the ledger is accurate and that everyone but her son knew that Sara was doing a booming business in offering ‘extras’ to her clients, one of whom was the mother herself!

As the two detectives follow up on any lead they find, they discover that the very conservative population has a darker side. Should its secrets become known, it provides more than adequate motive for murder.

Water’s Edge is the first novel in the new Highlands & Island Detective Thriller series by author G. R. Jordan (Gary Ross-Jordan.) As the debut story, a bit of exposition is expected, and Jordan does a great job of setting things up without bogging the reader down.

I loved how the two detectives started out as very different from each other, from vastly different generations, and how they had to navigate the bumps along the way to meshing as an efficient, effective team (which they do.) She’s forthright and plainspoken in her opinions and speech. She’s smart and sassy and already an experienced investigator when the story opens. She’s no rookie. She holds her own even as a junior partner. I really liked watching as Macleod comes to appreciate and value her as his partner. As for Macleod, the reader is privy to his inner struggle with adapting to contemporary culture and coming to terms with his faith and the burgeoning awareness of McGrath as not only a good detective but a beautiful woman.

The moody setting of the Isle of Lewis informs the story at every step. The cloudy skies, remote locations, rocky cliffs and coastlines, and secretive landscapes give the piece a gothic feeling, and there’s a definite chill throughout as the detectives pursue their investigation.

The murder plotline is solid, and the investigation straightforward and logical. Procedures on the island are slightly different for the two detectives used to how things work in Glasgow. Still, they have competent local support in the character of the steady Detective Allinson, who is also dangled tantalizingly before readers as a possible love interest for Hope McGrath.

I highly recommend WATER’S EDGE to readers of mysteries and police procedurals and readers that enjoy stories set in the cold and damp moodiness of coastal Scotland. I anxiously look forward to reading more of this series.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Book Sirens.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery

Things To Do When You’d Rather Be Dead by Michael Guillebeau

If you’re a mystery reader that enjoys a solid story with laugh-out-loud dialogue, then you really must read this!

Everyone believed Detective Joe Brosette had shot and killed the Angel of Mercy, the religious maniac who had been preying on the children of Birmingham, Alabama, for months. As Joe had closed in, the evil serial killer had murdered Joe’s own wife and daughter. But Joe was never completely convinced that Father Carson, his own parish priest, was the person behind the Angel of Mercy’s reign of terror.

Joe was gutted by his family’s deaths, and over the ensuing two years, he sank deeper and deeper into despair and self-recrimination, letting himself go and drinking heavily. Friends on the force covered for him until he was reassigned from Detectives to Community Service, where he was relegated to giving anti-drug presentations to school children and public groups, dressed as a clown cop with a fake gun. But deep in his heart, he kept looking for signs that the Angel of Mercy was still out there. Then one phone call lets Joe know he got the wrong man.

If you’re a mystery reader that enjoys entertaining and humorous dialogue, then you really must read this new book by author Michael Guillebeau. As you can tell from the book’s synopsis, the murders involved are horrible and tragic, and at the time of the story, two years in the past, they are not discussed in great detail. But I want to be clear that snappy dialogue aside, the subject is treated with the appropriate gravity and respect. The first-person point-of-view of the lead character, Joe Brosette, the broken but still kicking former detective, is self-deprecating one moment, poignant the next, and it pulled me straight into this mesmerizing narrative.

Joe is aware that he’s let himself go, but he’s also never given up. He’s made promises to bring the real Angel of Mercy to justice, and he intends to do just that – even if it kills him. His department has written this case and Joe off, but he gets renewed support from some unlikely sources. I adored his unexpected helper, Juliet Capulet. She’s smart and tough on the outside and tender on the inside and comes at the mystery with fresh eyes and a fierce spirit – a spirit that has also gotten battered around in the past. She and Joe work so well together, and their evolving partnership was great to watch. I hope this is the beginning of a series.

I liked that Joe had built up quite a reputation in his department, a legend as a detective and that there was still a lot of respect for him back on the job. This is personified by another new ally, the newly-minted Detective First Coltrane, who stands by Joe and helps despite the damage his affiliation could do to the future of his own career.

Kudos for the ‘deadbeats’ and ‘has-beens’ at Johnson’s Bar.  I loved how the atmosphere and the tough crowd of ‘Lost Boys,’ and how they were still ready and willing to serve when one of their own needed them at their back.

The mystery itself comes together so very nicely. All the clues are there for the reader to find, and I was delightfully surprised to have overlooked them all. I never saw the resolution coming or how the killer was going to try to make their final big ‘score.’

I will be looking for more books by this author immediately. I recommend THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’D RATHER BE DEAD to mystery readers that like a grittier story (than, say, a cozy) with witty banter and an endearing narrator.

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

See my original review on Reedsy Discovery!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery

The Killing Trail (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, #1) by Margaret Mizushima, Narrated by Nancy Wu

Killing Trail

Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb is back on the job at the Timber Creek County Sheriff’s Department after 12 weeks of advanced training with her new K-9 partner, a German Shepherd named Robo. They are on their way to a meeting at the local high school when they receive a call to investigate “suspicious activity” at the remote cabin in the mountains of the nearby national forest. Arriving the scene, they are met by Sheriff Abraham McCoy himself and the forest ranger that requested their assistance. The suspicious activity is a good-sized pool of blood on the porch of the cabin, and she and Robo are directed to search for its source. Robo successfully follows the trail, and the two discover the body of a teenage girl, half-buried in a shallow grave in the forest. She is being watched over by a large Bernese Mountain Dog that, although shot and bleeding, is faithfully protecting the body.

As her fellow deputies continue to work the scene and wait for the arrival of the assigned homicide detective, Mattie is charged with getting the wounded dog to the nearest vet. Dr. Cole Walker recognizes the dog, Belle, immediately and identifies her owner as 16-year-old, Grace Hartman, the best friend on one of his daughters. Later that evening, Belle gets sick and passes several small balloons filled with a suspicious white powder. Cole contacts Mattie, who returns to the clinic to help with the dog. She also makes arrangements to have Detective Stella LoSasso visit with his daughter the next morning, to hopefully shine some light on why Grace may have been up at the remote cabin. During the subsequent interview, Angela points Mattie and Stella to Mike Chadron, a local dog trainer whom Grace had a crush on. He had been spotted recently at the cabin conducting training exercises with this dogs, however, neither he nor his dogs are anywhere to be found. Mattie continues to ask questions of those that knew Grace fearing that she and Belle had somehow gotten involved with the recent upswing in drug trafficking in the small community.

Mattie, Robo, and Sheriff McCoy finally make their visit with the high school principal to discuss introducing a K-9 inspection program in the upcoming school year. This is the same principal Mattie clashed with during her high school tenure there, and he’s not enthusiastic nor supportive of the idea but agrees.

The case moves along little by little, but when Mattie discovers the body of the missing Mike Chadron set up to look like a suicide, the pressure escalates to find the murderer. With a suspicious-looking new health spa that moved into the area at the same time as the uptick in drug trafficking and clues that seem to point at one of Mattie’s coworkers, she and Robo have got their hands full tracking down leads and protecting their community.

The Killing Trail is the first book in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series by Margaret Mizushima. I liked the main character, Deputy Mattie Cobb, and look forward to learning more about her and her past. She grew up in foster care, separated from a much older brother from whom she is estranged in the book, but seems to be nearing a reconciliation. I am hoping that the relationship with the vet progresses positively in subsequent books as well.

The author provides several possible suspects and scenarios throughout the story, which kept me guessing. Still, I got a sneaking suspicion about the real killer early on that had me patting myself on the back at the conclusion. That wasn’t a deterrent from enjoying the rest of the story as Mattie follows her instincts and all the clues she uncovers.

The author includes some back story on Robo’s training and details regarding how Mattie prepares him to work, such as conducting searches and other exercises. I enjoyed Robo’s reactions and reading about K-9 work.

All said I think I would have liked this book much more had I been reading it in book form. The audiobook narrator was competent but quiet and low-key, not a lot of animation in her voice. She has a very polished, soothing voice, and I wouldn’t avoid listening to her in the future, but I think this story may have required something perkier to show it to a better advantage. This story has everything for a good reading experience, but for whatever reason, it just seemed to drag on and on until the last hour, where it finally got exciting. Not enough for my husband, though. We were listening to this in the car when we arrived at our destination, with about 45 minutes left. I wanted to finish it inside, and he wasn’t interested – he was done with it.

I recommend this book, with the reservation as mentioned above regarding format, to mystery readers, especially those that like animals in the cast of characters. However, Robo remains a dog throughout, and the reader is not privy to his thoughts, feelings, or ideas like in some other series.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery

Hero Bear: Small Town Romance (Fate Valley Mysteries, #1) by Scarlett Grove

Grizzly bear shifter Sunshine Blackthorn arrived in Fate Valley, Missouri, before Christmas to be the maid of honor at the wedding of her good friend from school, Melody Banks. Like Sunshine, Melody is also a shifter, a cougar, and she had discovered her fated mate, a rare shifter-human match, through the matching program, Mate.com. The first order of business is for a memorable bachelorette party, and after a fun night of dancing and not a few drinks, Melody and the other bridesmaids talk Sunshine into signing up on the site to find her own match.

Former Marine, Harrison Cole, came to Fate Valley after his enlistment was complete to work as a firefighter. But after a close call at a fire, he begins to think that maybe there should be more to his life than just service to the community. Also a grizzly bear shifter, he, too, signs up to see if Mate.com can give him a hand in finding his fated mate.

The day of the wedding is gorgeous, but during the ceremony, a fire suspiciously breaks out in the Fate Rock Chapel. Rather than letting it ruin the whole event, though, the wedding is quickly moved to the wine cellar adjacent to the chapel where the reception was to be held. Harrison is one of the responding firefighters, and he and Sunshine are drawn to each other by their grizzly bear instincts over the surrounding chaos. Their realization that they are fated mates in seconded when the Mate.com program matches them up as well. They immediately work to getting to know each other better while they search for the chapel arsonist among the wedding guests, not all of whom are precisely ecstatic about the human groom wedding the shifter bride.

Hero Bear has a nice mystery and investigation going on, but the focus of the story is really the romance of the two grizzly shifters getting together. This is apparently a spin-off story from an earlier series, and although it can be read on its own, I have the feeling it would have been more enjoyable if I’d read the previous series beforehand. There were a few references and cameo appearances from characters from these books. Alert: the book does contain explicit sex scenes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance

The Clue of the Twisted Candle by Edgar Wallace

When mystery writer, John Lexman, is convicted of murdering a dangerous money lender, his best friend, T. X. Meredith of Scotland Yard believes his story that he didn’t do it and searches for the evidence that would free him from prison. But before news of his exoneration can reach him, John is helped to escape from his prison work crew and secretly spirited away by the mysterious Remington Kara, a despised acquaintance of John’s wife from before their marriage. John and his wife, Grace, disappear never to be seen or heard from.

As the years pass and no word comes from John, Kara who returned to London continues to live the high-life under the watchful eye of Scotland Yard. He has an unsavory reputation for blackmail, a shadowy involvement with the underbelly of society, and is in constant fear of death from those he wronged back in his native Albania. T. X. continues to wonder and worry about John and Grace and maintains his vigil for any sign of his old friends.

During his latest check-up on Kara at his home in town, T. X. encounters and is instantly attracted to the man’s new private secretary, Miss Holland. However, just like her boss, she is hiding secrets of her own. When Kara is found stabbed to death inside his locked and impregnable bedroom and both Miss Holland and the manservant go missing, T. X. is compelled to investigate.

Although originally published in 1918, this locked room mystery was still entertaining after over 100 years. The plot is solid and the dialogue surprisingly crisp and modern. T. X. is charming and capable and quite delightful as he falls for Miss Holland who is a feisty, competent young woman, and probably the most surprising character in the entire story considering the times.

I recommend The Clue of the Twisted Candle to mystery readers that enjoy a vintage feel and the locked room genre in general.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

It promised to be the poshest wedding of the season. The bride, Jules Keegan, is the founder of The Download, one of the hottest online magazines of the day. The groom, Will Slater, is the handsome and charismatic star of the successful television show, Survive the Night. On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, the nuptials are to be exchanged in front of 200 of their closest and dearest friends…or are they? Someone thinks the bride is making a terrible mistake.

What an enjoyable suspenseful story! Told in short chapters from the alternating viewpoints of different members of the wedding party or those closest to them, the story of the bride and groom and their families and friends is revealed much like a slow-burning fuse. It is an incredibly atmospheric telling with its setting on an abandoned island with a dire history, its luxuriously appointed ‘Folly,’ the crumbling ruins of the old church, treacherous bogs, and a black storm brewing in the near distance.  

As each character takes a turn at narrating, the author gives and leaves out just enough information to keep the reader in the dark or guessing but not connecting the dots too soon. I know I missed some clues along the way to the big reveal later on. One thing I experienced is some characters I didn’t care for at the start of the story, and ones I did, flip places in my emotions by the end. That change in attitude was entertaining in itself. But the end does come, and it is a doozy!

I recommend The Guest List for mystery and thriller readers that don’t mind that slow, inexorable burn to the exciting denouement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Crime Beat Girl by Geri Dreiling

Plot twists I didn’t see coming!

With her engagement and life in D.C. stuck in neutral, journalist Debbie Bradley returns to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, to be there for her mother, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Her mother, Beth Hughes, is a renowned personal injury attorney and is not pleased that her daughter has dropped a promising career in the nation’s capital (and a fiancé), to come home and play nursemaid when she feels she doesn’t need one. But Debbie’s decision to relocate is facilitated by a timely opening for a city/crime beat reporter on a new, upscale magazine focused on the town called River City, which happens to be under the direction of an old friend and former college mentor.

Although not thrilled with the column’s moniker, Crime Beat Girl, Debbie jumps in with both feet, and on her way to her first assignment, she witnesses a joyride gone bad, which ends with one 15-year-old dead and the 13-year-old driver in jail awaiting trial. But as Debbie delves into the deep background of the incident and other stories, she begins to get some traction, both in recognition and in contacts, from her well-written and well-researched pieces. She also attracts some unwanted attention from those that don’t want her asking questions or snooping around.

One contact she’s determined to cultivate is that of the lead detective investigating several of the police calls she’s covered: Daniel Flannery. Detective Flannery, a prickly 20-plus-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, seems like a stand-up kind of guy, but his reputation was tarnished years earlier and while his fellow officers respect, appreciate, and support him; the brass, including the mayor, not so much. Mayor Jim Robinson, a former SLMPD officer and, at one time, Daniel’s best friend, is now married to Flannery’s ex-wife and publicly criticizes the detective every chance he gets.

Debbie also meets the defense attorney representing the young teen driver involved in the deadly joyride. Chase Laclede, like Debbie herself, is the child of two lawyers only rather than running from a future with the law; he embraced it and is quickly making a name for himself defending those that can’t afford their own representation.

As Debbie follows her stories and her column strikes gold, she suddenly finds herself targeted by some unknown someone: getting shot at and nearly run down by a car in the park. And when her mother receives some good news regarding her health situation, Debbie begins to wonder if St. Louis is the place for her, or should she go back to her life in D.C.?

Crime Beat Girl is a good story with plot turns that absolutely took me by surprise. I can honestly say, “I didn’t see that coming!” and am smacking my forehead going, “Of course!” Debbie Bradley is a smart, strong-willed young woman who is in the middle of some significant life changes. Her fiancé of several years seems only to have eyes for his career, and she feels the need to progress. She and her strong-willed mother (she comes by it naturally) are trying to navigate their adult relationship while living in her childhood home. And third, she is starting a new job in an (almost) new location. She’s very likable, and while in some circles being a reporter is a bad thing, she is portrayed as having pure and heartfelt motives behind her vocation. I liked the description and details of what this particular reporter’s daily working life was like and her role in the process of “feeding the monster.” The conflicts she encounters are understandable and natural, not contrived. I rooted for her success the entire book.

I enjoyed the setting of St. Louis and that it was somewhere other than New York or L.A. Debbie’s stories are set at various locations in that city’s changing landscape, and she gets involved with people at every level of the community. Some of the oldest families in St. Louis are (fictionally) portrayed, at both extremes of the social strata. The author drops in places and facts that were fun and interesting as well as references to some very current and still emotionally-charged events.

Finally, although there is no mention of this being the start of a new series, it certainly feels like one (and I certainly hope it is.) There are some developing storylines related to possible love interests, not only for Debbie but maybe for Beth as well, and I would like to see how they pan out. Readers will close the book on a couple of other lingering questions; however, they are not life-altering cliffhangers for the readers if this is Debbie’s solo voyage.

I recommend CRIME BEAT GIRL for mystery readers in general, those that would enjoy a reporter as a positive protagonist as the sleuth, and those that like a strong female lead.

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

See my original review on Reedsy Discovery!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery