Dex is a private investigator in a bit of a slump. Not only is business slow, but she in debt with the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast to a tune of $18,000. Sue-Lynne, head of the Wind Coast’s casino, offers to ignore the debt if Dex can find her missing granddaughter, Charlotte Suppa. Unfortunately, Dex isn’t the only one trying to get their hands on Charlotte. Dex finds herself in more trouble than when she started…if that’s at all possible.
I started this series upon recommendation by Julie of Whimpulsive. I was looking to introduce more graphic novels to my reading repertoire and Stumptown was a perfect fit! It combines my love of crime fiction with my growing adoration and appreciation of graphic novels.
What stands out about this graphic novel is the main character, Dex. She’s flawed, with a number of personal issues and demons to be faced. These flaws, however, are what make her a genuine and believable character. She’s tough, no-nonsense, but is still kind at heart (especially when it comes to her younger brother, Ansel, who has Down’s Syndrome).
The dynamic and skilled illustrations by Matthew Southworth are another aspect of this graphic novel that truly stand out. They not complement the tone and feel of the storyline but also add a bit of visual intensity. Southworth captures the Portland, OR setting quite well, the city coming alive on the page.
This is a series I definitely plan to continue. While the price point isn’t low, it’s well worth the value. This is a graphic novel I will repeatedly pull off of my shelf to pour through the pages. Highly, highly recommended.
Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. This week’s featured title is Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough:
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (January 14, 2014)
Source: Publisher (egalley)
The detectives of Scotland Yard are already immersed in the hunt for Jack the Ripper when another serial killer, dubbed the Torso Killer due to his practice of leaving behind a headless body, makes his presence known. The police surgeon, Dr. Thomas Bond, is so overwhelmed with horrific images of the dead that he turns to opium for some relief.
It is in an opium den that Bond meets a Jesuit priest, searching for someone…or something. The priest gives Bond a chilling and unbelievable explanation for the deaths and the identity of the Torso Killer. Something supernatural and horrific is at force. At first, Bond is quick to dismiss him but as the bodies begin to pile up, he begins to wonder of the priest is correct in his claims. The more he investigates, the more Bond believes that he knows the identity of the Torso Killer, an individual quite close to his circle of friends.
Based on an actual series of killings that took place during the reign of the Jack the Ripper killings (but obviously didn’t receive nearly as much coverage!), Mayhem is a brilliantly executed blend of crime procedural and supernatural fiction. I’ve been intrigued about the Jack the Ripper killings for as long as I can remember so it’s no surprise that this book grabbed my attention. There are quite a few portions of the book in which the reader must suspend disbelief, but this is to be expected in a novel of this sort.
Mayhem is certainly not a book for the weak of heart (or stomach), but fans of Victorian crime fiction and the supernatural are certain to be enamored by Pinborough’s truly skilled writing. She so expertly captures the essence of Victorian London, making it quite easy for readers to slip right into the rich atmospheric setting.
I’ve been a fan of Pinborough’s writing for some time, particularly her Dog-faced Gods Trilogy, largely due to her ability to combine two of my favorite genres: crime fiction and supernatural/horror. Her writing introduced me to a whole host of talented UK horror writers and for this I am forever thankful. If you have not checked out her books I highly encourage you to do so! Highly, highly recommended!
The year is 2019. Police detective Hannah McCabe is charged with investigating the deaths of two women, both killed when the drug phenol was injected into their hearts. When a third victim is found, a Broadway actress Vivian Jessup, all stakes are raised. Is a serial killer loose on the streets of Albany? McCabe must find a connection between the three victims before the killer strikes again. Adding to stress is a reporter, Clarence Redfield, who always seems to have information he shouldn’t. Redfield, dead set on defaming the police investigating these crimes, printing information about McCabe’s past and an incident that left her brother paralyzed.
The first in a new trilogy, The Red Queen Dies creates a unique futuristic world in which many things have changed, yet many remain the same. A drug, “Lullaby,” created to help soldiers forget the pain and memories of war and “heal” post-traumatic stress disorder runs rampant on the streets. Global warming is still in full force and government over-spending continues. Cell phones have been replaced with devices called ORBs, highly advanced versions of modern smartphones.
I appreciated the ties to lesser known details about Alice and Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz that wound their way into the investigation. Police procedural are pretty common, but adding these elements, and the futuristic setting, make this one stand out.
Another feature of this book I appreciated is the main character, Hannah McCabe. Because of a traumatizing experience in her childhood, McCabe is a secretive, self-protecting young woman. Instead of allowing this experience to be her downfall, she uses it in her role as police officer. She’s determined, compassionate, and dead set on justice. I am thrilled that strong, female protagonists in crime fiction is on the up-rise.
Being that this is the first in a trilogy, there is a lot of information that is revealed but not expanded upon. While many other reviewers complained about this, I think this is a common trait in the first book of a series. So much information has to presented in that first book in order for it to be picked up in subsequent volumes. The tidbits of information Bailey gives her readers has me clamoring for more!
Bottom line: if you are looking for an intense police procedural with a unique spin, this is the one for you! I am highly anticipating the next book in this trilogy! Highly recommended!
We’re all familiar with modern bestselling crime fiction authors like Gillian Flynn and Tana French, but before them were a host of trailblazing women writers who paved the path for others like them. In Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense, Weinman, an authority in crime fiction, showcases fourteen stories from women who set the stage for today’s female crime fiction authors. Each story focuses on a wide range of women who have turned to the dark side, spurned by anger or abuse (or, in some cases, pure insanity).
It wasn’t until the launch of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1941 that female crime and suspense writers had a venue for publishing their work, in a world dominated by fame writers. After given this opportunity, these women flourished, many receiving Edgar nominations and going on to writing bestselling novels.
Ranging from the 1940s through the 70s, these women wrote short stories about the darker side of domestic tranquility. From well-known authors like Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson to many lesser known authors, Weinman not only showcases the stories written by these progressive women authors, but also provides a foray into their lives, describing how many of them had first-hand experience of the chilling stories they portrayed. The majority of these stories, while many are over six decades old, stand the test of time and continue to send a chill down readers’ spines these many years later.
What is most remarkable about this anthology is the timing. Female crime fiction authors are at an all time high in popularity thanks to novels like Gone Girl. Weinman’s intent in publishing this anthology is not only to remind us all of the women who came before but also to detail the evolution of women crime writers, showing just how far women writers in this genre have come. The future is limitless, given the sheer volume of brilliant female suspense writers out there.
A truly inspiring and simultaneously chilling anthology, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives is a must read for fans of crime fiction, a book that will have a permanent home in my library. Highly, highly recommended.
Interested in learning more about the authors showcased? Visit the anthology’s companion web site, Domestic Suspense.
In the seventh volume of the Body Farm series, forensic investigator Dr. Bill Brockton leaves the body farm-an outdoor enclosure that studies various levels of body decay-to join his protege, Miranda Lovelady, in Avignon, France. Miranda is spending the summer there excavating a newly discovered chamber in the Palace of the Popes. It is there she discovers a stone chest inscribed with the crest of Jesus of Nazareth. Could the bones found inside possibly be the remains of Christ himself? Once the bones are discovered, she calls upon Brockton to help her prove, or disprove, their identity. Both Miranda and Brockton are quite skeptical; ebay is full of fake relics of this time period. But when laboratory tests reveal the bones are two thousand years old, they are confronted with a battle between the Vatican, other anthropologists, and a radical who intends to use the remains to bring upon the Second Coming and ultimately, the end of the world. While investigating this case, Brockton must avoid abduction and assassination attempts, keeping himself free of danger while working on the case of the century.
I’ve been a long time fan of this series, sparked by my study of forensics and criminal justice in college. It was quite rewarding to be reunited with Brockton in a completely new setting: France. Whereas previous books in this series were more focused on domestic cases, this international setting added a completely new element to this series. Religion, and art history play a key role in this novel. Admittedly, I was a bit wary when I read the summary: Brockton discovering the bones of Jesus Christ. It seems that quite a few not so good books with similar subject matters have been released over the years and I was afraid my reverence and respect for the two authors that make up the Jefferson Bass name might be forever tainted. In actuality, the reverse happened: I gained new respect for Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Dare I say this novel is my favorite of the series? The fact that this dynamic writing duo was able to take on such a controversial subject matter with such zeal and skill really raised the level of respect I have for these two individuals.
While I stated that this is the seventh book in a series, readers new to these authors can easily pick it up and treat it as a stand-alone. That’s not to say that I don’t recommend you read the entire series, I definitely do. Long-time fans of the Body Farm novels will too be impressed with this novel for we are allowed to get a glimpse of continuing evolution of the relationship between Brockton & Miranda.
Bottom line: If you like the television series Bones, have any interest in forensic investigation, this is the series for you. Highly, highly recommended!
Check out Janice Bashman’s guest post with the authors here!
Additionally, there are a whole host of posts going up to celebrate the release of this novel. Check out the list here.
Inspector Bryan Clauser of the San Francisco Police Department is horrified of the dreams he’s been having, dreams of horrible crimes that have come true. With the aid of his partner, Pookie, he begins to investigate these crimes. Both become frustrated when it seems that those higher up in the department are attempting to prevent Bryan & Pookie from discovering what is really happening. A common thread among all of the victims: they were individuals known to have bullied a teenage boy, Rex Deprovdechuk.
Rex has quite the horrible life, beat up continuously by a gang of bullies at school, then beat by his ultra-religious mother at home. He’s a bit of a wimp, unable to stand up to those that ridicule him. To seek his revenge, he draws horribly graphic pictures involving cruel punishments beset upon this bullies. When these bullies wind up dead, cause of death identical to the acts in the drawings, Rex isn’t frightened. He feels empowered.
Forensic evidence indicates the savage crimes originally believed to be performed by an animal are in fact done at at the hands of a human. This is just the beginning of a host of evidence revealing a dark and terrifying world, hidden under the streets of San Francisco.
Joined by Aggie, a vagrant held captive by the very men/creatures who are committing these crimes, Bryan and Pookie embark upon a war with creatures beyond imagination.
Nocturnal is truly a unique book, a perfect combination of police procedural, urban fantasy, bio-tech science fiction, and horror. At nearly 600 pages, this isn’t a book that you pick up and read within a few hours, but a true investment of time. An investment that is well worth it, in my mind. The length of the book is necessary, giving Sigler the opportunity to really lay out and develop the characters. The chapters are short, allowing the reader’s attention to intensify with each turn of the page. While I did take breaks while reading, I found myself melded to the pages, unable to take a break, desperate to learn more. Several late nights were involved in the reading of this book!
As with his previous books, Sigler provides readers with a completely unique and ingenious storyline. The world he creates is one like none other, filled with monsters that make your skin crawl and force you to sleep with the light on. In other words: brilliant. Certainly not for the week of heart (or stomach), if you think you have what it takes to face the underbelly of San Francisco, Nocturnal is the book for you. Highly recommended.
Following is the book trailer. Also not for the weak of heart (or stomach):
In the third Inspector Vaara novel, Inspector Kari Vaara has recently learned he has a brain tumor. Experiencing debilitating headaches for some time now, he finally sought treatment, never expecting the news he received. The timing wasn’t exactly perfect; his wife Kate just gave birth to their daughter, Anu. Kari agrees to surgery, which removes his tumor and any sense of emotion he once experienced.
Simultaneously, Kari is asked to lead a black ops unit to battle the most horrific crime. A national hero, he is the only member of the police to survive two gun-shot wounds. His team battles crime by committing crimes themselves, using money, drugs, and weapons seized from illegal raids to fund their operation. This team of motley characters reports directly to Finland’s national chief of police, a man that isn’t entirely innocent himself.
The political background of Finland plays a key role in this novel. The extreme white wing party, the True Finns, is gaining power. Their agenda is to keep Finland pure, eliminating individuals who, by skin color alone, taint the purity of their nation.
The first case assigned to Kari’s team is the assassination of the country’s leading immigrants’ rights advocate, her head presented as the only evidence of her death. The case involves much more than this murder, tying to the abduction of a billionaire’s children.
Now a true sociopath, Kari is corrupted by the crime that surrounds him. His actions begin to contaminate his marriage as well. His American wife, Kate, begins drinking heavily, so much so that her breast milk becomes tainted and she is unable to feed their infant daughter. When she becomes involved in the case, the damage done to their relationship may be beyond repair.
By far, Helsinki White is much darker than the two previous books in the series, Snow Angels and Lucifer’s Tears. The setting, cold, dark, Finland, aids in the overall feeling of dread and disparity portrayed in these books. That said, Thompson takes Kari, and the other characters, to a level of violence and depravity that may turn off many of his readers. That is not to say that I did not enjoy this book; I found it as tremendous as his previous novels. However, the emotions I felt while reading, particularly those involving Kari himself, stunned me. I shifted from adoring his character to truly hating him. Agreeably, his lack of emotion wasn’t of his own doing, but a side effect of the surgery. However, this lack of feeling, love, emotion, for his family went to dangerous levels. He toted his daughter around in a carrier while he was immersed in pretty violent acts. Kate, once a source of joy and happiness is forced to resort to violence to protect those she loves.
Fans of the previous two books in this series will be shocked by the transformation Kari takes. Originally, I was furious at Thompson for destroying a character I’ve grown to love. That said, the fact that he was able to transform Kari so significantly, so drastically, proves his true talent as a writer. The ability to evoke emotion from readers is a skill that authors strive for, a talent that Thompson has showcased.
Additionally, his ability to tackle such a difficult issue as race relations garnered even more of my respect and interest in reading this book. The portrayal of this battle isn’t sugar-coated at all, but portrayed without a veil of illusion. The sad fact is that Thompson pulls these details from reality, often making them an integral part of his novels.
Despite my issues with Kari’s character, I do truly recommend this book to fans of the series, with the warning that all is not what once was. This is Thompson’s darkest, grittiest novel, yet one that I cannot help but recommend. I’m waiting, on pins and needles, for the next installment in this series, due out next year.
Be sure to check out these other reviews of Helsinki White:
As Carter Ross is reading the obituaries (“some of the happiest news we print”) he comes across the entry for Nancy Marino, just 42 years old. As Carter scans the rest of the entry, he sees that Nancy was a carrier for the Eagle-Examiner, the very paper he writes for as an investigative reporter. Wanting to do a special piece for one of their own, Carter attends Nancy’s wake. After speaking with her family members, Carter learns that Nancy’s death, a hit-and-run, may not have been an accident.
Further investigation indicates that Ms. Marino was involved in a heated union battle with the newspaper. Could the head of the Eagle-Examiner be responsible for Nancy’s death? Carter Ross becomes obsessed with seeking resolution for Nancy’s family, even if that means putting his job, and life, at risk.
Fans of this series will be thrilled to see Carter Ross back in action. An investigative reporter, he always seems to get involved in some pretty dangerous assignments. His witty humor and me laughing out loud. The relationship with his editor, Tina Thompson, is just as steamy and full of sexual tension as before. In this book, however, things are taken to a completely different level (not that level, much to the dismay of Carter Ross).
One of the perks to Parks’ books are his secondary characters. Carter Ross always has the most…interesting entourage of individuals surrounding him. I was happy to see many of the characters from the previous books return (i.e. Tommy, the gay Cuban intern) as well as the introduction of some new “side kicks,” including Lunky, the intern better suited as Literature professor than a newspaper reporter. One particular scene in which Lunky admitted to reading The DaVinci Code and liking it had me in stitches.
Parks’ talent is his ability to add just enough humor to his mysteries to get the reader laughing, but not so much that you are distracted from the solving of the case. As with the previous two books, Parks inserts the perfect dose of social commentary. This is where his skill at breaking up the serious bits with humor comes into play. His timing in his humor was perfect: just as Carter started getting too serious, Parks’ would insert some bit of humor to return him to the status of a cute and witty investigative reporter.
While this is the third book in a series, I believe readers can pick up any book along the way and be able to become quickly immersed in the series. All in all, Parks books are ones that I have quickly grown to adore and will continue to look forward to each and every one. Highly recommended.
Sam Thorton is a Collector…of lost souls. His job requires him to collect the souls of the damned in order to ensure their delivery to the proper destination. His most recent target is Kate, a young woman believed to have slaughtered her entire family. For the first time, Sam believes he’s been assigned to collect on an innocent person. His refusal to follow through with this job begins a war of biblical proportions with a host of supernatural beings, including angels and demons. Sam is not only forced to evade the grasp of the local police, who believe he’s freed a murderous psychopath, but a second Collector sent to perform the task Sam was unable to complete.
I found it nearly impossible to believe that this is Holm’s debut novel. It is a perfect marriage between urban fantasy and crime fiction. On first glance, one would assume that this sort of combination of genres would be impossible to perform without ending up with a hot mess, a literary “whoops.” Not in this case, a true testament to Holm’s skillful writing. Not a lengthy novel in the least, but it really packs a punch. This is a book that I guarantee you will read in one sitting, you will root for Sam, hoping that he is able to save Kate’s soul.
Alongside the main storyline, the reader also is rewarded with a glimpse into Sam’s history, the actions that put in place his role as a collector. Always a man just out to do what is best, he’s punished eternally for his actions. Because of this, his outward appearance is that of a real badass, but he truly has a soft & caring heart inside. I’m thrilled that this book isn’t the last we’ll read of Sam, for Holm has created a completely engaging and addictive character. I simply cannot wait for more. Highly, Highly recommended.
Oh! I’d be remiss not to mention the awesomeness that is the cover of this book! Don’t you just love the vintage look & feel? Ok, I digress. Still…go out and buy this book. You won’t regret it.
Chief Detective Inspector Jane Tennison has finally moved up the ranks; she now leads the Vice Squad. On the first day of her new assignment, she’s presented with a case that may threaten all the work she’s done to build up her career.
A sixteen year old boy, burned beyond recognition, is found in the apartment of Vera Reynolds, a drag queen and night club icon. Tennison’s team leads an investigation into his death, a well-known public figure is their prime suspect. As the case proceeds, Tennison is threatened by powerful figures to dial down her case. In order to peruse this case, Tennison’s career, her very life, is at stake.
This is the third book in the Prime Suspect series, following Prime Suspect and A Face in the Crowd. I had high hopes when I started this book; I didn’t necessarily have a great fondness for the first book, but my interest was gained after reading the second. Unfortunately, my excitement about this book was in vain. As I felt while reading Prime Suspect, I felt no connection whatsoever to Tennison’s character. While I sympathized with her struggles to break through the glass ceiling that hung over Scotland Yard, I honestly couldn’t find anything endearing about the main character in this book. Unfortunately, this interfered with my feelings about the book as a whole; I found it quite difficult to have any vested interest in the story, the case, the resolution. Perhaps my feelings would have been different had I started with this book rather than reading the two previous; at this point in time I believe my expectations were built up after the stunning conclusion to A Face in the Crowd.
That’s not to say that this book fails to have any value; the case Tennison and her team embark on is a chilling one that unveils a whole host of secrets buried, victims ignored. As with the previous two books the action is intense, the progression of the case is thrilling. Ultimately, I go back to the belief that my opinion of the previous books tainted my feelings about this one. With that, I would still recommend this book to readers looking for an action-packed read, particularly if you have a fondness dark, gritty crime novels.
Be sure to check out the tour page for other stops in this tour.