NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Silence that Speaks by Andrea Kane (#4)

 2.0 out of 5 stars -- The 4th in the Forensic Instinct series has the team trying to figure out why someone wants to kill Madeline and Conrad Westfield.

Madeline hires FI when she is nearly run over along the road. Her husband, Dr. Conrad Westfield, is in a mental health facility because he is unable to deal with losing his friend and boss at Manhattan Memorial during a complex surgical procedure. The new CEO has plans for a merger, which leaves many of the staff upset and worried about their jobs. Motives for these attempted murders? Though I'd like to say that this was a finely tuned complex mystery with a lot of suspense and great characters, I cannot. I had to suspend disbelief through so much of the novel that I almost quit reading at 30%. I didn't like any of the team members (though they are beyond brilliant, just ask them) and their methods are clearly outside of the law. The case is closed, of course, but I couldn't work up any excitement or satisfaction.

I've read all the previous books in this series, but this will be the last one for me. Unappealing characters, lame case, ridiculous romantic situations -- it has it all.

Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC to review.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The City of Blood by Frederique Molay (#3)

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Third in Paris Homicide series featuring Chief of Police Nico Sirsky and his talented investigative team.

A skeleton, almost 3o years buried, is excavated from La Villette Park and the surrounding museum complex as an art project is undergoing an archeological dig. When the body is found to be that of the son of the artist, the homicide unit goes to work to discover who murdered him and why. When two more bodies of young male homosexuals turn up, the case takes an interesting focus. While I had predicted the outcome, I hadn't actually chosen the perpetrator as Molay puts some red herrings in as usual.

Although the books are very fast-paced and I read them quickly, I've become bored with Nico and the other characters because they are just too flat and stereotypical. There's no tension in the ranks, and Nico's romance with Caroline is nearly nausea-inducing as is his family life. Perhaps it is because these are French police procedurals and the system works differently there, but the way they all handle the investigation is so out of the norm for this genre (a Police Chief going to a gay bar and dancing with a patron to get information?). The best part of these 3 books for me has been the descriptions of Paris, the city, and surround. I like the details about the streets, sites, food, customs -- but not enough to get attached to the characters as there just is no drama. It may be that I like more introspective, less perfect, protagonists who aren't always thinking of rushing home to bed their lovers and we don't just read about how they are so smart and clever, but who relate a bit of their thinking process as they mull a particular case.

I probably won't read another in this series, but then again, it will likely be awhile before a new book comes out, so who knows.

Thank you to Edelweiss for an ARC of this book.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crossing the Line by Frederique Molay (#2)

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Second in Paris Homicide series featuring Nico Sirsky, Chief of Police for the elite homicide crime unit.

An unusual clue -- a tiny note found in the filling of a tooth in a severed head at the university training lab reads, "I've been murdered." The victim is Bruno Guedj, a pharmacist who was thought to have committed suicide -- until the gunshot wound is more thoroughly examined at autopsy. Nico and his team begin an intense investigation into the pharmacist's life that leads to other clues and a climax when a secret basement laboratory is discovered.

I didn't like this book as much as the first one because I really didn't feel the intensity and never quite understood why the deaths were necessary to protect the secret. Interesting take on medical ethics, but what lengths do people go to in order to save someone they love?

Regardless, I did enjoy the details the author provides about the French police and legal system as well as the descriptions of the city at Christmas. I really have a personal bias against the romance that's included in this series, and I don't know why Caroline isn't at work all the time as any head of a medical department would be in real life -- she's always "there" having lunch or whatever with Nico at odd times. And her immediate acceptance by Dimitri -- well, I'm just not impressed with the story that involves Nico's personal life. I think I'd rather him just stay at work and read about that! The characters seem quite stereotypical and not very deep.

I've already started #3 in the series. Thank you to Edelweiss for an ARC of this book.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The 7th Woman by Frederique Molay (#1 Paris Homicide Mystery)

3.5 out of 5 stars -- First in a new series (Paris Homicide) set in Paris, France, and featuring Nico Sirsky as Chief of Police in the criminal investigation division or La Crim.

The first victim is found in her own home, tortured and mutilated. The second woman is killed in the same manner. A serial killer has promised 7 victims in 7 days and seems to be taunting Nico. The teams are working around the clock to try to find and stop this sociopath as the victims keep being discovered on schedule.

A very interesting and fast paced police procedural with all the forensic details that I love. If you enjoyed the three {Irene, Alex, and Camille} novels by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne), you will probably want to read this series as well. The only off note for me was the romance aspect (way too much too fast). I'll continue in the series with #2 and #3 next up on my Kindle.

Library book.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Just what does it mean to a soul to be able to love and be loved?

When 18-year-old Rosie Anderson is found murdered in the woods, the whole town reacts with gossip, insinuation, innuendo, and speculation even as next-door neighbor, Kate, is drawn to help the stunned parents and sister of the dead child. Investigators don't have a lot to go on, for Rosie was not a rebellious teen, and she shouldn't have been out that night. Who killed her and why? There are many secrets in this small village.

No spoilers...How I love a twisted suspense thriller! This one was very well written and I was drawn into the drama immediately. Even though I knew within a chapter or two how it all would likely conclude, I was taken by how well the author played the scenes and how the changing perspective of the narrators kept me checking myself to make sure I was on the right track. I loved the process of the slow reveal, the tantalizing clues, the red herrings, and the dangling chapters as I raced through the pages staying up way too late into the night because I just had to finish before I could sleep.

I'd recommend this to anyone who loves a good mystery with plenty of good and evil to go around. It's being compared to THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold, probably because the voice of the murdered girl narrates some alternating chapters. The prose is lovely and I really enjoyed this.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Very satisfying suspense thriller.

I usually avoid books with a lot of hype because I end up disappointed. This novel was very entertaining and extremely fast paced and I could not put it down -- torn between what I anticipated and what eventually played out with the red herrings and conclusion. No spoilers -- it's a fun read!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

2.0 out of 3 stars -- Deliver me from the unreliable narrator and the stream of consciousness narrative that almost makes me feel unbalanced from reading it.

The main character in this novel is Dana Catrell, a woman with severe bipolar illness that is not being treated because Dana has gone off her meds and taken herself out of therapy. Hmmm. When her next door neighbor, Celia, is found murdered, Dana can't remember what happened or whether or not she murdered the woman. Dana claims she had passed out after enjoying too much sangria with Celia that afternoon at Celia's house. She remembers something about a picture on a cell phone and a fight between them, but then she woke up on her couch at her own house hours later.

In the throes of a manic episode, Dana can't think straight. Her situation is complicated by her suspicions that her husband is unfaithful. She's unhinged and has started to find threatening notes saying she will "pay" for what she's done. The police are investigating the murder, and Dana is interviewed by Detective Jack Moss (who has issues of his own), and Dana becomes a person of interest in the case.

Without giving away the rest of the story, I think most readers will find the climax, the revelations, and the ending predictable and unrealistic. It wasn't the psychological suspense I had hoped for and I felt that much of my time spent in Dana's splintered and confused mind via the writing style was not where I wanted to be. I did not like any of the characters as they were one-dimensional stereotypes. These novels all tend to end in the same way, as did this one. I'm not sure who I'd recommend it to but others who like this style will feel differently about it I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fixed in Blood (#4 Justice) by T.E. Woods

3.5 out of 5 stars -- This is the 4th book in the Mort Grant series, but only the 2nd I have read and it was obvious when I started that it would have been better had I been able to read those intervening stories first. The setting is Seattle, and the two main characters are Chief of Detectives, Mort Grant, and psychologist Lydia Corriger.

Although a bit of back story is given, I had missed some key events -- namely that Mort's daughter, Allie, had been back, was supposed to have been kept safe by the Fixer (Lydia), but she had been kidnapped? had escaped? to be with a billionaire Russian gangster. Mort and Lydia had been trying to find her again, and they thought she might be in London, but had set it aside for the time being.

A young girl's body is found; she had been tortured before her death. During the course of the investigation into this murder, another girl is killed. Both victims had ties to a loan company that charged exorbitant interest -- and when the money could not be paid -- had been lured into prostitution. That was bad enough, but new connections indicate that this may have even turned out worse for those two girls -- perhaps a snuff killing? If so, who was ordering these, and who had set up this prostitution scheme? Many questions for Mort and Lydia to tackle as they delve into a convoluted and deadly business that may lead them to tie up some other loose ends.

This was fast paced and entertaining and although suspenseful, there just isn't enough real depth to the main characters (despite what I know of their backgrounds) to give me more than a superficial interest in their future stories. I'll likely read #5 whenever it's released, but I think the "Justice" concept is only barely part of the whole plot at this point in the series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Alibi for the e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Nurses by Alexandra Robbins (nonfiction)

5.0 out of 5 stars -- Anyone who is a nurse, who knows a nurse, or who might one day need a nurse, should read this book.

Although this non-fiction book focuses on four Emergency Room nurses and their personal experiences at various hospitals in an unnamed, large US city, it also includes reflections and anecdotes contributed by many other nurses from all over the world. The meticulous research by the author is evident as statistics and cited material provide a valid snapshot of many issues important to nurses, other healthcare workers, and patients. The voices of the many different types of licensed nurses are heard loud and clear -- LPN, RN, NP, CS, CRNA, DNP with all types of special certifications to add more credentials indicating specialty of practice. Two main points are clear -- nurses mostly love what they do, and they deserve respect and support. Long gone are the days when a nurse dressed in white and wore a cap, stood when a doctor came for rounds, and routinely did as bid without question. Nurses are sentient, compassionate and well-educated practitioners in their own right, doing what they do best, -- provide physical care, give spiritual and emotional support, as well as meticulously assessing, planning, documenting, and evaluating the patient's response and condition at all times. They don't want to be medical doctors, and feel that being a nurse is not a second tier position but one that should be valued on the same level as part of the health care team. When blatant bias against nurses is revealed herein, it's obvious that, although nursing has come a long way since the early days, there is still a long way to go to change perception and treatment of these professionals.

When my family gathers for any occasion, there are among us 4 nurses, 2 medical doctors (one a hospitalist and the other a surgeon) and 2 pharmacists. Everyone in the entire family has grown up in an atmosphere where "work stories" and arguments dominate the conversation as everyone wants to share his or her own point of view in situations that have occurred where each person may have felt that the "others" didn't respond appropriately or give due respect to the title, the work, the need, or the decision. It comes down to this -- each one of us wants to feel that we are equally valued for our area of expertise. That doesn't always happen in my family, and neither does it happen in real life practice. Working on a "team" can sometimes be a game of oneupsmanship or a darned if you do and darned if you don't situation. For example: the doctors may not really want the middle of the night phone calls, but the nurses and pharmacists have to make them whether they want to or not. For all that we each want to provide the best care for every patient, the team situation is often adversarial because it usually boils down to the fact that much of what nurses or pharmacists can do still relies ultimately on a doctor's order (though that is changing). Regardless, each member of the health care team has his or her own role to perform in the complex delivery of effective patient care. Thus, I didn't really care for the "heroes of the hospital" phrase in the title as all members uniquely contribute in their responsibilities.

I've been a Registered Nurse for 37 years and have practiced in many different settings in hospitals, clinics, EMS, education, publishing, and, now as a school nurse. I can't think of another career that provides so many different avenues for change and self-fulfillment from one basic degree. As one quote puts it, "nursing isn't just a job -- it's who I am." I could relate to almost every scenario presented in this book, and only wish that it had followed the stories of nurses from other departments besides the ER. I laughed when I read that some ER nurses consider themselves the "rock stars" of nursing -- that's only their opinion as I'd bet that many other specialty nurses feel that same way about their own (ICU and OR nurses to name two) -- and, really, how is that label even determined? Regardless, this book reminded me again of why I stayed in nursing and I hope that the coming generation of nurses will be just as satisfied as I have been in my chosen vocation.

I'll be recommending this book to everyone as it offers insight into a profession that will be much in demand as baby boomers age and health care initiatives change how health care is provided -- and by whom. I'd like to thank Workman Publishing and Edelweiss for an ARC digital copy of this book for review. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Fixer by T.E. Woods (#1 Justice series)

3.5 out of 5 stars -- An assassin with a conscience. You can hire this hit woman and she will only accept your case if she decides that it will be delivering JUSTICE, not revenge.

Though the premise of this suspense thriller was not exactly new (remember the DEXTER series), the story was one with several unexpected twists, so it was an enjoyable and quick read for me. It is the first in the "Justice" series featuring detective Morton (Mort) Grant of the Seattle Police. Mort, a widower, teams up with his journalist son who is in pursuit of a story about an unusual death -- and the search leads them to uncover related murders that might be the work of a hired killer. A killer who might be a beautiful woman.

From another perspective in the alternating narrative, Lydia Corriger, a psychologist with her own emotional baggage, is visited by a client with even more severe issues -- Savannah Samuels -- who brings a convoluted tale of how she has hurt others. Lydia meets Mort to find out if there are any clues that might link Savannah to recent suspicious deaths and offers her services.

The victims in recent cases seem to be connected to the university and the politics and petty squabbling of the leadership, the department heads and the researchers come to a head when a horrible case of animal cruelty comes to light. In addition, there's a money angle. Mort has his hands full as he tries to see how and why Lydia and her patient are possibly connected. Can Mort find out who hired the hits and see that the person or persons are held responsible?

I won't say more to avoid giving spoilers, but since the series continues and is named "Justice" and has the same two main characters, I think readers can imagine how this one ends. I found that to be a bit of a stretch, but I think many of us like to imagine that horrible people who can't be touched or punished appropriately by the courts and the law get what is coming to them in a sort of vigilante way.

There are now 4 books in the series and #2 and #3 are only in kindle format (not at my library), but I intend to check out #4 shortly to see what's come of the duo. I would imagine that the hit woman has not gone into retirement!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Alibi for the e-book ARC to review.