Talk to the Doll


Image by Scott Webb from Pixabay

Tupelo Gypsy by Vito Zuppardo is Book One in a planned Voodoo Lucy Series. Since this was published in 2018, I can’t complain that there are few books in the series. I look forward to reading more from the author in this series. I was surprised to finish 166 pages so quickly, but the story entertained me so much that the time flew by for this single session read.

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Take the Shot


Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

J.A. Konrath writes a lot under the Konrath name and even has at least one pseudonym. That much is revealed on an Amazon author page. I resisted the temptation to count how many novels he has written. I am sure the total number of published works is revealed somewhere but the information would just settle in my pile of never reviewed facts next to my books TBR pile. In the Jack Daniels thriller series, there are eleven novels with catchy names like Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, and Rusty Nail. You get the idea. In all novels of this series Jack (for Jacqueline), Daniels appears as a clever, witty, and super smart detective. You can pause now and think of all the clever play on words that the detective’s name might give rise to. When finished, think about this novel, Shot of Tequila. It seems another clever title in the series. Not true. Jack Daniels is a very busy detective. She wandered outside the boundaries of a series devoted to her and appears in this stand-alone novel, as well as in nine others. Jack also appears in approximately fourteen novellas. All figures are plus or minus one or two. As you might note, I could construct a supplementary TBR shelf for JA Konrath novels alone. Then I could begin with novels that he has written in collaboration with others.

Friends and Liars

You Owe Me by Kerry Costello is a crime thriller that asks you to hang out a bit while it prepares to get off the ground. At the 65% point, we meet Billy Ray and Valentina bound and gagged sitting in the back of a limousine going wherever the people who bound and gagged them wanted to go. From this point forward the story is interesting all the way to the conclusion with a few surprises on the way. So, does this mean the story is slow and boring before this point? Not really. There is a difficult to believe story beginning but once I accepted that, what follows are a couple of characters I took to be main characters disappear with a nonchalance that I found disturbing and surprising. Those two elements got me to Chapter Eight, the 13% point of the novel. To sum up, an enjoyable first part, a large interesting segment from Chapter Twenty-eight to the conclusion, and much wasteland to cover in between. The in-between story reads like a slow progression of logical events and therefore is completely predictable. I was happy to encounter Billy Ray and Valentina as (finally) captives.

Plastic Kills

For me, author Willow Rose signals a guaranteed entertaining thriller novel, and this is true with Girl Next Door. She seems to specialize in serial killer tales. Even though I know this in advance, each of her novels catches me unawares with a surprise ending. Again, that is true with this novel but with a twist that I did not like. It had nothing to do with the mystery. That was good. Rose jumped back and forth in time to show the development of a splintered mind that would result in a serial killer. To find out who the killer was and discover motivation was like peeling an onion. Each layer had surprises; the novel was good and typical Willow Rose.

Stalkers and Stumblers

Wayfair Lane by Randi Zeff is an interesting story of three dysfunctional to semi-dysfunctional families. Greg Hosmer used to be the husband of Elizabeth Hosmer. Now divorced, why did he buy a house very near the house he had once lived in with Elizabeth? True, it still took binoculars to see her daily activities clearly, binoculars he had to hide along with the log books in which he recorded her daily activities. Was he a stalker? Elizabeth thought so but for years Greg claimed he only wanted to remain close to his daughter, Kaylee. But she had moved out years ago and was now married and pregnant. Greg kept observing and kept recording.

Hannah Hits The Mark

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse is a novel I purchased on Amazon in December 2018 for USD 0.99. As of the date of this review, the price is US 9.49 and it has just over 300 reviews, 33% of which are five-star reviews. I think the author is good but is writing for a tough audience. Psychological thriller readers want something “never-been-done-before.” Philosophers will argue that is not possible so the author must come up with a different twist on familiar themes. I liked the story and gave it five Amazon stars. Because it had parts where the action was slow, I can see some readers knocking it down to four Amazon stars, but I was willing to give the story a chance. When it picks up the pace is good and is worth waiting (reading) for.

Settling With A Stalker

Splintered Courage by J. E. Sawyer is billed as a new adult contemporary romance according to a statement on its cover. I could not get into the story at all. I cannot think of an audience that this would appeal to. The writing is mechanically good; there are no embarrassing grammar goofs, typos, or formatting problems. The story is good, but it just never takes off. It is as bland as an everyday conversation between two interested parties because more than those two would not be interested.

… But You Can Never Leave

The House of Twelve by Sean Davies will deceive the reader many times. The idea seems familiar. Twelve people wake up in a house but can’t remember how they got there. They don’t know each other and can’t figure out a connection that will tie them together. It is almost as if they had been drugged, kidnapped, and imprisoned in one house. That they were imprisoned is obvious from many indicators. Doors are steel, reinforced, and locked. Where there should be windows, the glass has been replaced by thick constructions of brick. And on a coffee table in the living room, there is a document with House Rules. The first one says they will never be allowed to escape, the second rations the food and water, and the third relates to their imminent deaths. There is constant background music; think elevator music. Each evening at 2300 the music will stop, and one person must die. The victim can die by suicide or be killed by others. If no selection or volunteer happens before 2400, gas will kill all of them.

Erasing the Epilogue

Dying for Justice by Pauline Lynne Isaksen is a crime thriller set in England. Crime thrillers inevitably involve the police. Police procedures in England come complete with their own vocabulary strange to an American ear. A lot of other vocabulary was quite strange and new for me, much of it has to do with food and fashion. Because I learned new things, I really felt rewarded for reading the novel. The plot seemed to be a straightforward murder mystery but there were so many twists along the way, not to mention a surprising “pre-ending” that I was thoroughly entertained by this 244-page novel. It was a fast read of just under four hours and because of all the twists, it was a page-turner.

A Ruined Weekend

Death of a Saturday by Janice Croom is published to introduce readers to her writing style. Interested readers then will read further stories in the Kadence MacBride series: Death of an Idiot Boss and Death of an Island Tart both available on Amazon. I received this short story for free through Prolific Works (formerly Instafreebie) and joined the authors mailing list.

Kadence and husband Terrence were having a quiet weekend until Kadence’s mom called. Her good friend Hattie McBride was in jail for murdering her husband, Blind Willie. Mom knew Hattie hadn’t done it and demanded that daughter Kadence take husband Terrence with her to the jail and bring Hattie from the jail to Mom’s house. Of course, Mom said, Hattie was innocent.