Posted in Fiction, Mystery, Private Investigator, Thrillers

Still Here by Amy Stuart

Publication Info: Expected Publication date Aug 11, 2020 by Gallery Books. I read the pre-pub Kindle edition courtesy of NetGalley. Other editions will be available at the time of publication.

Summary: Clare is on the run from her abusive ex-husband, while investigating the disappearance of her boss, Malcolm. Malcolm was working on several cases of women who vanished, including his own wife, when he stopped contacting Clare. Clare is also working with a policewoman who has an interest in one of the women whose whereabouts is unknown.

The book’s action takes place in a small, seaside town. Claire’s first action is to illegally enter her boss’s house and then have a tousle over a gun with the female occupant, who turns out to be Malcolm’s sister in law. The women hug and make up, after realizing they both want to find Malcolm and his missing wife, Zoe.

As Clare continues to seek information on Malcolm, Zoe and two other missing women, she stumbles about from one dangerous situation to another, all the while congratulating herself on how good she is at being a P.I. She doesn’t even have a license. Lots more gun waving ensues.

Comments: I signed up to read and review Still Here through NetGalley. I finished it only due to this obligation. I didn’t realize it was the third and final book in a series and I have a personal quirk about reading series books in order. But I didn’t enjoy this book enough to want to go read the first two.

Maybe I’m just too old for this one. I thought the characters were completely unlikable, inconsistent and flat. There was plenty of action, but it was repetitive with way too much gun waving. The level of writing skill was decent — and indeed showed some promise — but the plot needed tightening in several places.

This is one book I just can’t recommend to my readers. Genre: Mystery, Private Investigator, Thriller

My Rating 2.5, C-

Posted in Mystery, Private Investigator

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman (Tess Monaghan #1)

Publication Info: Initially published in 1997 by Avon Books. This paperback edition published January 20, 2015 by William Morrow paperbacks. Other editions available.

Summary: Tess Monaghan spends her days rowing rowing with her friend and coach, Rock, working at her aunt’s bookstore or doing odd jobs on the side for her uncle. She thinks of herself as a reporter, but she hasn’t done that job in two years. The newspaper business in Baltimore isn’t what it used to be, having collapsed from three dailies down to just one.

One morning, Rock approaches her with a short term job offer. He wants her to follow his girlfriend, Ava. Rock is blindly devoted to the woman, but her behavior has him concerned. Ava has been making a lot of excuses for not seeing him lately, despite continuing their relationship — and engagement.

While following Ava, Tess observes her committing petty larceny and possibly having an affair with a lawyer in the office where Ava works. When the lawyer turns up dead, Rock is the logical, and only, suspect. Tess then has to prove he didn’t do it, but the evidence increasingly stacks against her friend.

Comments: For a first novel, Baltimore Blues is astonishingly good. I read one other book in this series many years ago and didn’t like it. Looking back on that, I have no idea why. Perhaps it was mood of the moment, or perhaps I was a bit too close to the setting. In this case, I think distance makes the heart grow fonder.

I lived most of my life in a suburb of Baltimore, but never liked the city. However, I read the Baltimore Sun daily for years and watched the local news, so I absorbed a lot of information. I also knew people who were very much “Bal’moreans”, beehive hairdos, peculiar accents and all. I went to a few O’s games, hung out in Fells Point and wandered around like a tourist at the Inner Harbor.

Baltimore Blues felt like going home again, but more like the Hallmark movie version, with memories softened by time and distance. As I read, memories of places, streets and things unique to “Charm City” flooded through me.

I’m very much looking forward to reading the second book and more in this mystery series.

Recommended for mystery readers and anyone interested in Baltimore.

My Rating: 4 STARS

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