Mystery Reviews

The Wrong GirlThe Wrong Girl (Jane Ryland series) by Hank Phillippi Ryan Forge Books Mystery/Thriller

Ryan’s innovative look at adoption and reconnecting with natural parents is a fast-paced, captive read. When the prestigious Brannigan Family and Children’s Services matches a former colleague of journalist, Jane Ryland, with the wrong birth family, Jane smells a story and gets busy to find out why and how this could happen. Ryan’s successful career in journalism plays out on the pages in this fictional look at a hot topic, which she “reports” in crisp narrative and quixotic dialogue. The adoption catastrophe runs parallel to the dramatic death of a young woman with her two toddlers in the house as she is murdered, a case the very sexy Detective Jake Brogan is investigating. Jake and Jane work hard to keep their interest in each other a quickly leaking secret, setting off sparks of a different kind. Kill off a few more, merge the decedents’ backgrounds, and a thoughtful puzzle unfolds.

Cooler Than BloodCooler Than Blood (Jake Travis series) Robert Lane Mason Alley Publishing Mystery/Thriller

Robert Lane definitely has a flair for the dramatic in a Phillip Marlowe sort of way: blunt sentences, macho repartee, and good-ole-buddy sequences. A serial-killer plot with variances on a common theme and colorful characters, Lane’s book has enough white space on the pages and enough writing chops that the book will garner a broad-based following. Filled with purple prose that fit the situation and don’t come off as high school boy meets pen and paper, the Jake Travis series is one to watch.

Dying for the PastDying for the Past (Gumshoe Ghost Series) TJ O’Connor Midnight Ink Paranormal Mystery

“Dying is not for the faint of heart.” A perfect opening line, which could go in an infinite number of ways, hooked my interest. The fun was just beginning. O’Connor’s choice of character name and personality is spot on with Tuck, the protagonist – can a ghost be a protagonist? The dialogue was at times a bit stifled, but Tuck’s musings and self-narration make for an intriguing and often laugh-out-loud read. The solid plot and subplot with secrets tucked in every corner and around every bend was a new take on sleuthing. O’Connor provides a provocative historical setting as Tuck time-travels between decades. There are, of course, some downsides to being a ghost, but you will discover those as you journey on the trail of clues.

Butterfly KillsButterfly Kills (Stonechild and Rouleau Series) Brenda Chapman Dundurn Mystery/Thriller

Chapman’s Butterfly Kills is an intelligent, poignant look into a cavalcade of mysteries that crisscross each other and authenticate the question of coincidence, which enters the lives of the living and the dead. The eclectic staff of a school hotline, which deals with the angst-ridden emotions and fears of students away from home and facing adulthood, initiates this deadly thriller. Clear narrative and timely dialogue from well developed characters among scenic settings all cycle together to bring a thrilling challenge to follow the clues. Kala Stonechild and Jacques Rouleau are realistic protagonists. Rouleau moved to watch after his aging father and is actively seeking to hire the elusive Stonechild, an investigator, he highly respects. Both carry the natural baggage of lives lived on the edge. Both are multi-faceted characters. Both bring to bold life the plot lines in this worthwhile immersion of fictional drama.

Reviews provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Book Reviews in the June 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

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