Thursday, January 30, 2020

Review: Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

Kerry Hammond is here today with her review of a new novel of psychological suspense with a dark twist.

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar was published on January 7, in Trade Paperback, by Harper Paperbacks. This is Elgar’s second novel of psychological suspense. Her first, If You Knew Herwas well received in both the UK and the US.

Grace is a girl with severe health issues. Wheelchair-bound and suffering from MS and seizures, she is completely reliant on her mother, Meg, for her care. Since the two came to town, after escaping Grace’s abusive father, they have captured the hearts of everyone they meet. They are so loved, it’s hard to think who would want to hurt them. But someone does.

Cara, Grace and Meg’s neighbor, discovers Meg, murdered in her home. Grace is missing, her wheelchair left in the chaos of the crime scene. The whole town is devastated and fearful for Grace. How will she survive without her medication? Who would kidnap a helpless child? Where is her father?

I love a book that makes you wonder what you might do in a given situation. Grace’s story really makes the reader think—about the people we think we know and the truths we choose to believe.

This was one of those just one more chapter books. I’ll go to bed after I read just one more chapter. Much like a thriller, you think you know where the book is going, but you want to see how it gets there and what surprises will be laid out along the way, and trust me, there were surprises. The book was told in alternating chapters from two different points of view, but the reader also got glimpses into Grace’s life through her journal entries. It was well written and I had a hard time putting it down.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sherlock Holmes and Reichenbach Falls

Kerry Hammond visited Switzerland and came across a Sherlock Holmes gem.

Are you one of those mystery lovers who goes on vacation and tries to find sights to see that relate to your favorite books? No….is that just me? Well, I have to admit that on a recent visit to Switzerland, I was too busy dreaming of fondue and raclette to even think about mysteries—other than the books I would bring to read. Luckily, I spoke to a friend on the phone prior to my flight. “Are you going to Reichenbach Falls?” she asked. “Reichenbach Falls? The one Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty fell from?” I asked. “That’s in Switzerland?”

I may have been slow in realizing I was near an iconic Sherlock Holmes sight, but once I found out, I wasted no time planning a visit. The town of Meiringen, Switzerland was one of the highlights of my trip. They had a wonderful Sherlock Holmes museum, full of period artifacts and references to Sherlock’s trip through the Swiss Alps. They even have a couple of sculptures out front, and the one of Holmes is filled with 60 hidden clues, one for each of the detective’s cases.

The hotel where Holmes and Watson stayed is still standing (although the name has changed) and several other places in town have used the famous detective’s name on their doors. The references are in no way overdone, and the visit was well worth it. The tram to the falls is closed in wintertime, but I view that as just another reason to come back during warmer weather.

What’s your favorite mystery related vacation visit?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Review: Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy

Kerry Hammond is here with her review of a new cozy series set in Ireland.

Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy is the first book in the author’s new series, which features Megan Malone, a limo driver whose American heritage gives her a unique take on Ireland. The book was published on December 31, 2019, in Mass Market Paperback, by Kensington Books. The second in the series, Death on the Green, is due out this September.

I’m always in search of a good cozy mystery series and this one rates high on my scale of worthy contenders. A good cozy mystery is heavy on character development, but if you have a boring plot you won’t get the book off the ground. In Dead in Dublin, I first fell in love with the characters. Murphy does a great job of writing interesting characters, making them both vivid and three dimensional. But it doesn’t stop there, the author has created not only an interesting mystery, but managed to take me on a journey of confusion as I followed along, trying to solve the puzzle.

I didn’t solve the mystery, and that suits me just fine. I love a good surprise ending and I got just that; it was a plausible and satisfying end to a great story. As an added bonus, the author takes you on a fun trip to Ireland. If you’ve never visited, you get to enjoy a few bits and pieces of local culture and color. If you have visited, you are reminded of some of the interesting qualities you experienced on your trip, from the pronunciation of words to the fun quirks of the Irish. It’s armchair traveling at its best.

If you’re a cozy mystery fan, this is a great read. I’m glad that I got in on the ground floor, starting at book one. It’s always fun to read series books in order so that you can get to know the characters as they change and grow. I will definitely continue reading this series!

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot & A Giveaway

Today Kerry Hammond reviews The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot, and we have a great giveaway. By commenting below you could get a copy of The Last Sister, and Kendra's previous bestsellers, Vanished and A Merciful Death. Just comment below to enter, US residents only. We'll pick a winner next Saturday. 

And now for Kerry's review...

The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot was published on January 14, in Hardcover, by Montlake. Elliot is the award-winning author of several mystery series that take place in the Pacific Northwest. The characters she creates, and her readers fall in love with, often cross over from series to series, allowing her fans to get their fix of their favorites in each and every book.

In The Last Sister, Elliot starts a new series with FBI agents Zander Wells and Ava McLane. Both agents arrive in the town of Bartonville to investigate the suspected murder-suicide of two of the town’s citizens. It doesn’t take long for the agents to determine that what they’re looking at is murder, and that many of the townspeople know more than they’re saying.

As the investigation continues, Zander finds a correlation between the current murders and a hanging that took place two decades earlier. He also finds out that the woman who found the bodies was the daughter of the victim of that old crime. He’s not sure how she is connected to each scene, but he’s sure that she is a link that could lead him to discovering the truth.

This was my first experience with Zander Wells and I instantly liked his character. He is diligent, hard-working, and dedicated to finding the truth. I often read a book for the setting—what better way to visit a place and get a sense of its character than to read a mystery? Elliot, who hails from the Pacific Northwest, takes advantage of everything her locale has to offer. The area can be rugged, mysterious, and unrelenting and the climate lends itself to the suspense genre. The author definitely makes the most of the setting and her stories have an atmospheric quality that adds to the great plots.  

Don't forget to comment below with your name and email address to be eligible for the giveaway for one person to get three Kendra Elliot books. 

The Last Sister is on blog tour with gifts at almost every stop. You can check out the blog tour here

You can find Kendra on social media  @AuthorKendraElliot (Facebook), @KendraElliot (Twitter), @Kendraelliot (IG) @Kendra_Elliot (GoodReads).

You can find Mystery Playground on twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review: The Devil's Due by Bonnie MacBird

Kerry Hammond is on a Sherlock Holmes kick and decided to read a new-to-her author who puts her own twist on a beloved character.

The Devil’s Due is the third book in author Bonnie MacBird’s Sherlock Holmes series. MacBird got her start in the film industry and has numerous writing credits to her name—in addition to Emmy awards for three documentaries she wrote and produced. MacBird started her Sherlock Holmes series because of her love for Conan Doyle’s work, and readers in 17 languages are extremely glad she did.

In this installment to the series, we find ourselves in London in the year 1890. Watson takes his wife Mary’s visit to the country as an excuse to check in on his old friend Sherlock Holmes. He finds the detective being targeted by a slanderous media campaign; a reporter is calling Holmes the devil incarnate and blaming him for a series of deaths that Holmes is actually investigating. Prominent London citizens are being murdered and each of the deaths is suspiciously followed by another, this time a suicide, of a friend or loved one.

To add to the difficulty of the investigation, New Scotland Yard has a new chief and he is hell bent on closing cases. The problem is, he doesn’t seem to care about the actual investigation, or whether or not he’s caught the right culprit. With all of these strikes against him, Holmes is more than motivated to get to the bottom of the murders and catch the killer before he or she kills again.

I am embarrassed to say that this is my first read by Bonnie MacBird. After devouring the book, I am shocked at myself. It was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I’m not sure how in the world I managed to miss the boat on this series. MacBird does an excellent job of channeling Doyle’s detective and creating a mystery that fits in with the spirit of the original works.

I found the book entertaining, puzzling, fast paced, and just plain enjoyable. I’m thrilled to have discovered such a wonderful series. I’m a huge fan of everything Sherlock Holmes (come back next week for my post about my visit to Meiringen, Switzerland, the town at the base of Reichenbach Falls where Holmes and Moriarty plunged to their “deaths”). I highly recommend MacBird's series, whether you’re a Holmes fan or just like a good historical mystery.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage.