Posted in ARC, Audio, Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Japan, Mystery

The Kimono Tattoo by Rebecca Copeland

Ruth Bennett is a translator working in Kyoto, Japan. Tall, redheaded Ruth is immediately recognizable as a foreigner, but she speaks impeccable Japanese and thoroughly embraces Japanese culture. She was born and raised in Japan while her parents worked as missionaries, although not the stereotypical sort. Her father was an obstetrician in a Christian hospital. Tragedy struck the family when her father was embroiled in a baseless malpractice case and her younger brother mysteriously vanished. Ruth’s parents returned to America, but Japan was home for Ruth.

Ruth’s current translation job is rather boring. She has no relatives nearby, few friends, and she’s not currently in a relationship. When a stranger knocks on her door offering her a chance to translate a novel by an author everyone assumed was dead, she gladly accepts the challenge. But as she reads the manuscript, she finds inconsistencies in writing style and the subject matter is about a dead woman’s body found naked on a nearby path. The body is covered in stunningly artistic tattoos that strongly resemble kimono fabric. After a very similar story appears on the television news, she knows the woman has been murdered.

Ruth slowly discovers she is the target of a very dangerous and powerful person. As she works to solve the puzzle of the manuscript and the tattooed woman, she discovers that she also has allies, friends and support from unexpected places.

In The Kimono Tattoo, kimonos are mentioned and observed in great detail so frequently, the reader can’t miss them. But as someone who knows very little about kimonos, I found this fascinating. The author also described the setting near Ruth’s home so well that I could picture myself walking those paths.

The mystery is just as complex as the dead woman’s tattoos. I listened to the audio version of this book and I was so engrossed in the story that I had to keep reminding myself to turn it off and go to sleep!

I looked up the author’s webpage and biography. Rebecca Copeland draws her main character’s history from her own life experiences. She is also an illustrious Japanese translator and literary critic. This is her first work of fiction.

Thank you NetGalley and Brother Mockingbird publishers for the opportunity to listen to the audio version of this book. The Kimono Tattoo is now available at your favorite print or audio book retailers.

My Rating: 5 Stars, Grade A

Posted in Crime Fiction, Mystery, Private Investigator, Thrillers

Thin Air by Lisa Gray (Jessica Shaw #1)

Publication Info: Published June 1st 2019 by Thomas & Mercer. I read the Kindle edition, offered through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

Summary: Jessica Shaw has been a bit at loose ends since her father passed away two years ago. She does a lot of traveling in her job as a private investigator, but she has been more adrift than usual, wandering from place to place, picking up odd jobs by perusing missing person’s websites on the Internet. While sitting in a diner idly flipping through the most current options, she gets an anonymous email. The sender briefly suggests that this should be her next case and attaches the photograph of a young child. Jessica is shocked. The photo is herself as a toddler.

Some rapid research reveals the name of the child to be Alicia Lavelle, who vanished when she was three years old. Her mother, Eleanor Lavelle had been found murdered and one of the main suspects, a man, also vanished. The leads on the case petered out rapidly after the murder and became cold.

Jessica heads to Eagle Rock to investigate the murder of Eleanor Lavelle and try to discover the link to her own past. She is also drawn into the recent murder of a college student, Amy Ong, whose death is eerily like that of Eleanor’s, twenty-five years ago. In Eagle Rock, Jessica finds out there is danger in uncovering secrets people are desperate to keep hidden.

Comments: I felt Thin Air was a slightly above average entry into the mystery/thriller category. I liked it, but didn’t love it. However, I read this book after three absolutely outstanding novels in similar genres. Sometimes reading order and mood can affect my impressions.

That being said, I found the plot line intriguing and unique. Jessica’s background was an integral part of the plot of this first book in the series. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in future installments.

Recommended for readers of mysteries, crime fiction and thrillers.

My rating: 3.5 STARS

Posted in Crime Fiction, Mystery, Police Procedural, Psychological Suspense

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

Publication Info: Published March 13th 2018 by Minotaur Books. Hardcover edition courtesy of my local library. Other editions available for purchase from online and local retailers. This is the first book in the Harper McClain series.

Summary: Harper McClain is a newspaper crime reporter in Savannah, Georgia. Like newspapers all over the country, the one she works for is struggling. Each day Harper’s job is on the line as she struggles to get the scoop for page one, headline grabbing stories. The Echo Killing

One evening, while grabbing a quick bite at a local diner, she gets a call from her photographer partner, Miles. There’s been a homicide in a wealthy community. The details of the story are vague as the police process the crime scene, but one fact shocks Harper: the deceased woman was found by her twelve year old daughter.

Harper’s own mother was murdered in exactly the same way as this woman when she was the girl’s age–and she was the one who found her mother. It left Harper psychologically scarred. The case was never solved. Determined to not only write this story but possibly solve her mother’s murder, Harper risks her career and her life.

Comments: I can’t wait for the second book in the series! Harper is an engagingly flawed main character with real-life issues. Although the main plot line is resolved satisfactorily in The Echo Killing, there is a “stay tuned for the next installment” sort of cliff hanger at the end of this book. Christi Daugherty was a crime reporter in Savannah and other cities, and is the author of several well-reviewed young adult novels. She definitely knows how to write an attention grabbing story.

Highly recommended for readers of General Mysteries, Crime Fiction, Police Procedurals and Psychological Suspense.

Posted in British, Crime Fiction, Mystery, Police Procedural

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

Publication Info: Published January 8th 2019 by Random House. E-book pre-pub edition courtesy of NetGalley. Other editions available since publication including Kindle and Hardcover. This is the debut of a new mystery series, DCI Jonah Sheens #1.She Lies in Wait

Summary:  At the start of this book, a young girl exploring in the woods finds a finger bone in a hollowed out area by a beech tree. It turns out to be part of the skeleton of Aurora Jackson, a 14 year old girl who went missing thirty years ago.

When Aurora went missing, she was camping with a group of older teenagers, one of whom was her sister. The teens were questioned at the time of the disappearance, but they all stated they didn’t know anything. It was obvious that something went on in the woods that night, but with the teens all sticking to the same story and no body, the case went cold.

Although he didn’t know them well, Jonah went to school with all of the campers. He has momentary thoughts of taking himself off the case, but decides there isn’t any conflict of interest. However, as secrets start to emerge, Jonah finds himself hoping that some things never come to light.

Comments: I liked She Lies in Wait. I thought the main storyline was tightly plotted with a believable ending. There were enough clues dropped about Jonah’s past and present life to give some options for character development in future books in the series. There were some side plot-lines that I found distracting because they weren’t fully resolved and I wondered why they were even in the book, but all in all, this was a good start to a new mystery-detective series.

As a side note, I thought the author had some very astute observations about bullies and abusers.


Posted in Crime Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized

The Burglar by Thomas Perry

Publication Info: Published January 8th 2019 by Mysterious Press. Pre-pub ebook edition courtesy of NetGalley. Other editions, including Kindle and hardcover, available since publication. 40642330

Summary: Elle Stowall is burglar. Her only source of income is derived from breaking into rich people’s homes and stealing items that she can fence. Petite, blond Elle finds her marks by jogging around rich neighborhoods looking for signs that a homeowner is away.

Elle gets more than cash or jewels the day she discovers three murder victims naked in a bed together. She finds a camera recording the bedroom scene. Because of the missing camera, the murderer realizes that someone was in the house and saw the dead bodies. Pretty soon Elle finds herself hunted by people who are determined to see her dead, too.

Comments: I was looking for something that didn’t require me to engage my emotions when I chose this book out of the stack, and I found it. The Burglar is a superficial, fast read that doesn’t require the reader to think too much. In fact, I recommend not thinking too much or you’ll start scratching your head. Despite the triple homicide, the police seem to be doing nothing. Elle steps completely out of character to try to solve this homicide that has nothing to do with her, makes some very stupid decisions repeatedly and then she turns into a one woman force against the bad guys.

However, if you suspend disbelief, The Burglar is an entertaining read. Thomas Perry is an award-winning author who knows how to write an engaging yarn. But in this novel, he allowed his thief to steal some believability.

Mystery Fiction, Crime Fiction