Veronica Speedwell is a great role model

28186322It’s always refreshing to have a female character who is strong, independent, knows her mind and speaks her mind. Especially when you throw them into London 1887. A time when it is frowned upon for women to have their own thoughts, to actually be educated and smarter than some men.

In the Veronica Speedwell Mystery Series by Deanna Raybourn, Ms. Speedwell is a feisty independent woman who travels on her own, doesn’t give a crap what people think, is educated, has an active sex life and she doesn’t apologize for anything.  Sometimes she gets herself into trouble because of these traits and I wouldn’t want her any other way.

Even though these books could stand on their own, I recommend starting with A Curious Beginning to understand how Veronica and Stoker (Revelstoke Templeton-Vane) end up together and continue working together in book two.

Book one starts with Veronica returning to a ransacked bungalow with an intruder running away.  She takes chase and as the intruder is about to murder her, a stranger scares the intruder away and insists Veronica must come with him. He promises to protect her and will give information about the mother she never knew.

Since Veronica just buried her aunt, who she loved with and has nothing keeping her at the bungalow, she goes with him. He drops her off with Stoker and is soon murdered before he can tell Veronica about her mother and leaving her alone with grumpy Stoker who is also a stranger.  They are soon on the run trying to find out why someone is trying to kill her when she isn’t an important person. She is only a hunter of butterflies.  This story takes them across the country and joining a traveling circus where Stoker is a knife thrower and Veronica his assistant.

30008834A Perilous undertaking finds Ms. Speedwell and Stoker pulled into finding out if Miles Ramsforth really did murder Artemisia before he hangs in a week. The person who requests their help is not who she says she is and Veronica immediately recognizes her true identity. Of course, Sir Hugo Montgomerie, the head of Special Branch of Scotland Yard, does not like Veronica and Stoker trying to prove the wrong many is going to be executed. It will show that Scotland Yard is not doing their job correctly. The ambitious Inspector Mornaday is back again. Veronica drives both of them crazy.

This book is filled with the same humor, suspense and excitement as the first book.  I find Veronica and Stoker’s friendship refreshing.  There is some sexual tension between them but she won’t act on it because she refuses to have sex with a countryman. Stoker is a certified medical surgeon who has left his profession to hunt for animals abroad and stuffs them for his clients. He is a physically strong man covered with tattoos and scars from his travels.

In book two we get a deeper insight into both Veronica and Stoker’s families and learn why Stoker has distanced himself from his family. This series is entertaining and so well written I was pulled into the lives of the characters and lost myself in the story. I think I found a new historical mystery series.  This series should be added to every must read list.

Book Description:

A Curious Beginning (Book One)
In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

A Perilous Undertaking (Book Two)
Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries…

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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New twist on Sherlock Holmes

28588390Charlotte Holmes of A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas brings a fresh new twist to the Sherlock Holmes franchise.

As a child, Charlotte Holmes, youngest of four sisters, has always been a little different.  She rarely speaks unless she has something to say, she likes to be alone and she is great at coming up with accurate conclusions after observing a situation.  Her father finds Charlotte entertaining, which made her his pet.

Charlotte’s domineering mother is determined to make Charlotte a proper young lady and get her married off.  But Charlotte doesn’t want to get married.  She would rather be the headmistress of an all girl’s school.  Sir Henry Holmes withdraws his promise to fun her training, which forces Charlotte to take drastic measure by ruining her reputation with a married man, ensuring she would not be married off to an eligible bachelor.  Not only did she ruin her reputation, she is publicly disgraced and is the center of a huge scandal.

After the scandal hits, Charlotte runs away to avoid spending her days out in the country alone, where her mother hopes the scandal will die down if Charlotte is out of sight.  Charlotte soon encounters an older, flamboyant lady who she feels an almost instant connection.  Of course this is Mrs. John Watson, a former actress and the widow of an army officer who perished in Afghanistan years earlier.

Soon the bodies start lining up including the mother of Charlotte’s lover.  The reclusive detective Sherlock Holmes is on the case but how effective will he be since he has taken to his bed with a serious illness and Inspector Treadles of Scotland Yard must consult with Holmes through his “sister” Charlotte.  Then there is Lord Ingram Ashburton who is in love with Charlotte but can’t act on his love for her because he is married, even if there is no love in the marriage.  He is an honorable man and will not act on his love.

If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, or even just a murder mystery fan, then you will want to pick up A Study in Scarlet Women.  This will be a great series to enjoy for years to come.

I was able to read an advanced copy through the First to Read Program from Penguin Random House.

Book Description:
USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down…

 With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society.  But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name.  She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

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Murder at The Dollhouse

30039173The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis is such a fascinating story!  This is a story about Rose Lewin who in 2016 moved into the Barbizon Hotel in New York City with her newly divorced boyfriend and Darby McLaughlin who in 1952, moved from Ohio into the hotel to attend classes at the Katherine Gibbs secretarial school.

Barbizon Hotel had a long history as a safe and secure place for young women who came to New York City to study, look for a job or look for a husband.  Over the years it eventually was turned into condos.

Rose, a former network reporter takes a job that is a step down so she can be with her boyfriend.  As she is leaving the building, she meets an unfriendly elderly resident in the elevator.  She finds out that a few of the long-term tenants of the former hotel are living on the fourth floor.  She learns that the unfriendly woman was involved in an accidental death that took place back in the 50’s.

As Rose starts to investigate the accident from the 1950’s, we learn about Darby’s life at the Barbizon Hotel where she wasn’t treated nicely by the women on her floor and how she becomes friends with the hotel’s maid named Esme.  Esme introduces Darby to the darker side of New York City.

The story switches back and forth between Darby’s story from the 1950’s and Rose in 2016.  It shows how their lives progress and eventually intertwine.  I remember reading about rooming houses in New York where women lives with a housemother.  The Barbizon hosted famous women like Sylvia Plath, Liza Minelli, Candace Bergen and Joan Crawford.

I loved this book and found it so fascinating.  It was hard to put it down.  Fiona does a great job pulling the reader into the lives of the women at Barbizon Hotel.

I was able to read this book through the First to Read Program from Penguin Random House.

Book Description:
Fiona Davis’s stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success in the 1950’s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

 When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Death of a Bride is a gripping thriller

29586791Out of the blue I received an email from Luke Christodoulou asking if I wanted to read his latest book Death of a Bride.  Of course I said yes.  This murder mystery starts out when a bride is brutally murdered during a horrible storm the day before her wedding.  The wedding is in a small village on a remote island off the southern tip of the island of Crete.

Police Captain Costa Papcosta, has been invited to the wedding of a cousin of his partner Ioli Cara.  Costa and Ioli immediately get down to business to find the killer who has to be in the house as all boats to the island have been stopped due to the storm.

The crime is because of something that happened in the past and Costa and Ioli have to figure out why someone would take revenge now, which is slowly revealed with flashbacks.

Luke does a great job of keeping the reader guessing on who the killer could be.  I would pick someone and then realize I was wrong.  I finally gave up trying to guess.  This was a gripping and fast-paced story that you will not want to put down until you get to the end.

I really like a good thriller and I can’t wait to read more of the Greek Island Mysteries.  This is the third book of the series but can be a standalone.  Make sure to add Death of a Bride to your to read list.

Book Description:

Of all the plans a bride makes in anticipation for her wedding day, dying is definitely not one of them.  The Zampetaki mansion, on the remote island of Gadvos, welcomes dozens of guests for the grand wedding of Cassandra Zampetaki and Homer Cara. It’s a wedding that will never take place. The bride’s lifeless body is found, brutally murdered, on the morning of the wedding. Planned to look like an open-and-shut case, the mastermind behind it all did not figure on Hellenic Police Captain Costa Papacosta and Lieutenant Ioli Cara to be among the guests.

A storm rages outside and no one is able to leave the island. In a battle against time, the dynamic investigating duo must solve this intense case before the guilty party can depart from the island.  Everyone is a suspect and no one is safe.  Join in on the thrilling mystery and try to solve the crime. The clues are all there…

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Perfect Days is like a Criminal Minds episode

25489506It’s very refreshing to find authors who I wouldn’t normally read, especially from other countries.  I received Perfect Days by Raphael Montes by being a part of a reading group on Goodreads.com.  Raphael is from Brazil and this is his first book translated and published in America.

Raphael is a great crime writer.  This story is like a Criminal Minds episode without Hochner and his team.  It’s a very creepy storyline.

We are first introduced to Teo Avelar, a medical student in anatomy class who thinks his stiff is his friend, who he has named Gertrude.  From the beginning you can tell there is something off about Teo.  He then meets Clarice at a BBQ party that he originally didn’t want to attend.  He is immediately attracted to her and thinks she likes him so he starts following her.

Things escalate fast and Teo ends up kidnapping Clarice.  He drugs her and throws her in a suitcase.  He has handcuffed, drugged and put a gag on her.  Teo starts to control Clarice’s life and thinks they are together.  He doesn’t have a doubt that Clarice will fall in love with him.

Clarice is an aspiring screenwriter and when Teo takes her to different locations, they are locations that she frequented making their visit not suspect.

There are some extreme things Teo does that are shocking.  Things that made my jaw drop open and at one point I had to stop reading, I was so shocked.  I will say I did NOT like the way things turned out in the end.  I was hoping for a different outcome.  I think that is one reason this book is so creepy.

Book Description:
A twisted young medical student kidnaps the girl of his dreams and embarks on a road trip across Brazil in the English-language debut of one of Brazil’s most celebrated young crime writers

Teo Avelar is a loner. He lives with his paraplegic mother and her dog in Rio de Janeiro, he doesn’t have many friends, and the only time he feels honest human emotion is in the presence of his medical school cadaver–that is, until he meets Clarice. She’s almost his exact opposite: exotic, spontaneous, unafraid to speak her mind. She’s working on a screenplay called Perfect Days about three friends who go on a road trip across Brazil in search of romance. Teo begins to stalk her, first following to her university, then to her home, and when she ultimately rejects him, Teo kidnaps her, and they embark upon their very own twisted odyssey across Brazil, tracing the same route outlined in her screenplay. Through it all, Teo is certain that time is all he needs to prove to Clarice that they are made for each other, that time is all he needs to make her fall in love with him. But as the journey progresses, he keeps digging himself deeper, stopping at nothing to ensure that no one gets in the way of their life together.

Both tense and lurid, and brimming with suspense from the very first page, Perfect Days is a psychological thriller in the vein of The Talented Mr. Ripley–a chilling journey in the passenger seat with a psychopath and the English-language debut of one of Brazil’s most deliciously dark young writers.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Brand Demand is filled with twists and turns

Brand DemandI know a book is good when at the start the author is able to grab me by the front of my shirt and suck me into the story so fast that my feet are in the air and my arms are flailing around.  That is what happened when I started reading The Brand Demand by Johnny Worthen.

Johnny contacted me through Goodreads.com about reviewing his book.  Of course I said yes and I’m SO glad I did.  I was sucked into the story with the first couple paragraphs and didn’t come up for breath for several hours.  Johnny does a fantastic job weaving a story that keeps the reader guessing about what is going to happen, how people are connected and how people are going to act.  He didn’t give anything away until the end.

The main character Galen is fed up with what is happening in the world.  He is fed up with people who cheat on their spouses, cheat on their employer and cheat the general public.  So Galen quits his job and becomes a blackmailer.  He has assembled a team with different skills who helps research the marks to make sure he knows everything about the mark.  Once Galen feels comfortable that he knows everything there is to know about the mark, he confronts them and extracts money.

Galen decides his latest mark is Richard Brand and Richard is Galen’s ticket to taking down Richard’s father-in-law, the owner of CarsonCo.  Galen finds out that Richard is cheating on his wife and feels he needs to go after Richard even though he doesn’t know everything he should about Richard.  After Galen confronts Richard and makes his demands, Richard disappears and things start to happen that Galen wasn’t expecting.

If you like intrigue, suspense and a little bit of humor thrown in, then pick up this book.  You will not be disappointed.

Book description:

Galen is political. Galen is fed up. Galen is a blackmailer.

Brand is a jerk who has money. He had an affair and Galen found out. Now Brand has new problems.  A criminal and self-styled Robin Hood, Galen must face down a ruthless enemy who does not share his ideological limitations.

In the footsteps of Edward Abbey’s THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG, THE BRAND DEMAND follows a group of political activists who strike at the system with cunning and guile while getting rich doing it.  Galen takes risks and money, but when his plans go awry, he quickly learns that politics are no substitute for wits.

Galen has to come to grips with his own boundaries of action and love while running for his life in Southern Utah. He has to stay under the radar, dodging skinheads and corporate moguls, Latter Day Saints romance writers and cheating husbands and—of course and always—the authorities.

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Luck for Hire will take you on a crazy ride

This short book is good for a Sunday afternoon sitting by the fire when you want something to entertain you.  The book starts out with Dana late for a meeting and because she is the last one to arrive, her boss gives her a folder for a client he wants her to represent.  He doesn’t let her even sit down, he sends her out to meet with the client, Felix Benes.  Soon Benes disappears and men start following Dana.  In the meantime, Luck is a private investigator who can sneak into businesses and can find the exact information he needs.  Soon Luck and Dana’s paths cross and Luck starts helping Dana after she realizes men are following her.

Possibly final cover.

Possibly final cover.

The entire time you don’t really know who the people are that are trying to kill Dana and why they are after her.  We do know it’s something to do with the Big Pharma.  Everything though, is revealed at the end.  Aleister has a little bit of magic to him and can do things that other people can’t.  He can type keys into a computer and within seconds have a code or found the files that he needs.  He can crack computer codes within seconds when it can take computer programmers days to crack.

You don’t learn too much about the characters backgrounds and I wasn’t really sure why Detective Moore was so enamored with Dana, but it was a well written book and kept my attention the entire time.  The short chapters made the book flow fast.

Here is the book description: If science is a product of observation, then magic is the manipulation of what isn’t or can’t be observed. Private investigators are often generously described as “down on their luck.” They are the good guys, helping the helpless, regardless of the cost. Sherlock Holmes rarely accepted payment from clients of little means.

Aleister Luck, despite his magic, has not had celebrities and nobility knock on his door. A native of Las Vegas, he gambles at the casinos for pocket money when he isn’t finding clients in need. On a whim, he investigates the law firm of Devine, Chance & Merit and runs afoul of the greatest danger to his magic: his snoopy ex-girlfriend.

Felix Benes’ gene-based cancer diagnostic will recommend against many profitable but useless or harmful treatments. His funding has been cut and he fears he’s being hunted. While Dana Spelman, his attorney at DCM, evaluates the viability of his case, he disappears. Then, she attracts the attention of the sort of men that might make someone disappear. As Dana evades them, she runs into her gambling-addicted loser ex-boyfriend.

As they uncover the labyrinthine conspiracy behind Benes’ disappearance, Luck’s magic will struggle against Dana’s efforts to survive.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat