Murder at the End of the World

Written by Jonathan Garrett

Peel: A murder mystery with elements of fantasy and horror. Allison is called in for a high profile murder in the middle of nowhere, and it quickly becomes serial.

The plot behind the story was creative and well thought out, the execution though, not so much. Overall the prose was on the poor side, and there were a few grammatical errors. Some accents were written in a very over-the-top manner. The descriptions of characters tended to be an all-tell, with no showing. The detective aspect of the book felt rather fake, as she was more often lucky than actually thinking through the case. The ending has a lovely plot twist that ties everything together, even though the perpetrator isn’t surprising. So I wouldn’t completely write off Garrett, I’d just wait on a more polished work to come along.

Nibble: “Ice hung in thick spikes from the roof above the window, waiting to pop loose and crash down onto some unsuspecting pedestrian’s head.”

I would recommend this as a quick and easy read.

My Rating: 3 out of 10 lucky green apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

Jonathan Garrett’s Site

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Airs and Graces

Written by Roz Southey

Peel: A historical murder mystery with a touch of the paranormal; it is apart of the Charles Patterson mysteries. A seemingly open-and-shut case, with a girl murdering most of her family to escape back to London, quickly becomes tangled upon investigation.

To begin with, I have not read the other Charles Patterson mysteries. I still found the novel enjoyable, but would recommend others to begin with the first book. How the Patterson universe works in relation to other worlds and spirits for example, took me by surprise but was still simple enough to follow. The chapters also started with amusing lines from letters between two, unknown to me, characters.

The first chapter is a mere six pages, and it pulls the reader straight into the book with a heavy dose of suspense. Southey does a lovely job at building up the plot, and giving little details so one may try and solve this mystery. Between all the twists and turns the novel takes, it’s not obvious who the murderer is but it’s still possible to piece it together. The chapters themselves tended to be pretty short, and between that and the suspense the novel read rather quickly. I found this book rather hard to put down, and finished it in one read.

On the other hand, I don’t particularly like the idea of being able to talk to spirits and ask them to recount events. To me, that seems like cheating. I would have greatly preferred the novel without any jumping between worlds and speaking with the dead.

Nibble: “The English are never in error. At least, that’s what they tell me.”

I would recommend this to anyone interested in a quirky murder mystery.

My Rating: 8 out of 10 shimmering silver apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from Severn House.

Roz Southey’s Site

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The Ely Testament

Written by Philip Gooden

Peel: A murder mystery set in the nineteen hundreds with a side story set in the seventeen hundreds. The main story focuses on a Mr. Lye, a partner in a law firm, who may have died without writing a will. Tom goes off to investigate, and his host, Mr. Lye’s brother, is arrested for murder and the mystery begins.

There was some lovely imagery, especially in describing architecture. There were many characters in this mystery that opened up many possibilities for what may have happened. Unfortunately the author tended to close doors off rather quickly, instead of allowing the reader to build up any pet theories. The side story keeps up suspense while the main develops slowly, and one gets to imagine possible connections between the two.

I prefer my mysteries to have a rather intelligent protagonist, so that one must actively think to figure out the mystery. I found many connections stated bluntly, that I would have liked to establish and mull over. I didn’t find the characters that likable, and the only likable one, Helen, was flawless and had every male chasing after her. Though there is a melodramatic twist at the end, the killer’s identity could be figured out via process of elimination. All in all the book was written well, but not my cup of tea.

Nibble: “Mute was a first-rate pseudonym for a contributor to the magazine since it not only described a paid mourner at a funeral but also had a tinge of mystery to it.”

I would recommend this to someone who wants a lazy Sunday mystery.

My Rating: 5 out of 10 misplaced scarlet apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from Severn House.

Philip Gooden’s Site

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Devil’s Creek

Written by Paul Maitrejean

Peel: Erica’s car is slowly breaking down, and the only nearby place is a tiny town, Devil’s Creek. Once Erica arrives she finds out that there’s a local legend of the Angel of Death visiting every seventy years, and tonight he is said to visit.

Though the story starts off rather typically, around the middle it begins to veer off course and the ending is a lovely little twist that made the read worth it. The twist itself was perfect, though it had been hinted at and makes sense, it’s not the twist you expect. This is a very quick read, and is around twenty pages. The language throughout the story was simple, and the plot line pushed you to the end.

I would have liked to know a bit more about the protagonist, I didn’t care much if she was in danger. Unfortunately most of the value in this story was the twist, so it doesn’t have much rereading value.

Nibble: “Her return trip from researching the logging industry in northern Wisconsin had gone well up until ten miles back, when her Taurus started running funny and finally died on her.”

I would recommend this as a clever entertaining thriller.

My Rating: 6 out of 10 devilish red apples

I received a free electronic copy of this story from the author.

Paul Maitrejean’s Site

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Green River Killer: A True Detective Story

Written by Jeff Jensen, Illustrated by Jonathan Case

The plot is based around trying to find the Green River Killer, and finding sufficient proof. The story is told from the detective’s point of view, and written by the detective’s son.

This graphic novel had quite the opening, rather dramatic and suspenseful, and it drew me in quickly. The rest of the novel was more psychological rather than action-based which heightened my interest without desensitizing me. The stark black and white artwork grew on me throughout the novel, and a lot of expression was packed into the amount of lines drawn. The understated art worked excellently with this novel, and kept it from going into the flashy gore zone. The examination and quasi obsession with the killer is fascinating, as the killer’s motivations remain largely a mystery. As the book is extremely readable and compelling, I finished it in one go this morning. I found the story all around interesting, perhaps more so as I’m from the East Coast, and hadn’t heard much about this serial killer. All of the main characters were complete, and gave the right emotional depth for this piece.

The only thing against this story, is I don’t think it would hold up to multiple reads. It also had many time jumps, for long and short amounts of time forwards and backwards, which took me out of the story as I tried to imagine an accurate timeline.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading about the darker side of human nature.

Nibble: “When the Vietcong hear of my legend, they quiver in fear, then staple something.”

My Rating: 8 out of 10 dark red apples

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Promissory Payback

By Laurel Dewey

Dewey’s story is based around a detective trying to find out who killed a woman, and each of the suspects seems to have a motive. Dewey does a great job of setting the scene, her descriptions of place and person are rich and tangible. It’s a great quick read as you can immerse yourself for just an hour or two and see the mystery unfold, it reminded me greatly of watching a detective TV show.

There are a few abrasive and uncomfortable views in this story, mainly those of women and victims. Both of these shape the detective, Jane Perry. Personally I did not find her a sympathetic protagonist, although this is the first work of Dewey’s that I’ve read. Regardless I found her character intriguing. I also can imagine coming to root for her once understanding her perspective and past through the series.

One of the drawbacks of this story was how much, and how quickly, Jane pieces together the mystery. I would have liked a little less clarity throughout the story for more suspense.

Nibble: “Vengeance is an odd bedfellow- at once, quietly cunning and then unflinchingly aggressive, fulfilling its duty to destroy that which it sees as a threat.”

I would recommend this story to people looking for an afternoon mystery.

My Rating: 5 out of 10 granny smith apples

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.