Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reviewing Murder Comes By Mail

Product DetailsBeing a hero was the last thing on Deputy Michael Keane's mind. He was busy driving a busload of silver haired ladies from Hidden Springs to Eagleton, as a favor to his Aunt Lindy. As he drew near the Eagle River Bridge, he saw a man ready to jump. He climbed off the bus and in front of that bus full of people, pulled the man back over the railing.  The ladies quickly got off the bus to see what happened and more than one savvy granny snapped pictures with her smart phones. One Hank Leland, owner of the Hidden Springs Gazette, just happened to be there too and was busily snapping pics too. But Hank's pictures were for his next issue of the Gazette.  News like this didn't happen in Hidden Springs so he took pictures of the rescue and pictures of the man loaded into an ambulance with a few good shots of Michael with the jumper. Amid the post-rescue chaos the jumper had a few last words for Michael: "You'll wish you'd pushed me."

A.H. Gabhart's Murder Comes by Mail is the second in her Hidden Springs Mystery series.  If you have read Murder On The Courthouse Steps, You've already been to Hidden Springs and met the people of this quiet little town full of of characters you couldn't find anyplace else.  Nothing ever happens there and they like it that way. Every Wednesday, the Hidden Springs Gazette comes out but on this particular week the paper is full of its home town hero Michael Keane and his heroic rescue of a man  who didn't want to be rescued. Uneasy with being the center attention, he is more interested in finding out who the man was and why he said those last haunting words to him.  Words that refused to leave him in the days to come.

One day after the "Hometown Hero"story broke, Betty Jean sat opening up the mail as usual at the Sheriff's Office. She was just teasing Michael about the article when she pulled some photos out from a manila envelope when she gasped, becoming clearly upset. Michael jumped from his desk to see what was going on and found grizzly photos taken of a young victim.  He dumped the entire contents and found a note from the jumper reminding him that Michael should have let  jump.

From then on the story takes an unexpected turn as sleepy Hidden Springs is roused to full alert. One crime leads to another in an  uncanny twist leading to Michael.  Can he stay one step ahead of the game and protect all those connected to him? I can assure you that this is one good mystery. The plot is well developed in Gabhart's fashion and you will be gripping your seats as you try to turn the pages fast enough.  No spoilers here, you will want to read this one yourself!  Many thanks to Revell for the advance copy to review and to A.H. Gabhart for many hours of entertainment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Anchor In the Storm

For Lillian Avery, life couldn't be more exciting.  Her Pharmacy School days are over and she has a job waiting for her in Boston. As a woman pharmacist, she is embarking on a career traditionally filled by men. She is undaunted by the challenges of competing with men for jobs because she has met other obstacles head on, including getting through life with one leg after a childhood accident. The accident changed her life but it didn't hold her back despite being a beautiful young woman who wore a prosthesis.  She was driven to become the best in her field and make a difference to her patients.

World War II is just about to begin in Sarah Sundin's latest, Anchor In The Storm, Book 2 in her Waves of Freedom Series.  Lillian is joined in the story by her brother Jim, his Naval Academy friend Arch Vandenberg and Jim's girl, Mary Stirling.  Lillian is put off by Arch, only son in a wealthy family. In her eyes, the handsome young man must be insincere and full of himself. In his eyes, she is a beautiful woman who, unlike other women he met, was independent and indifferent to his wealth.  All three travel back to Boston together where the men are assigned to a new destroyer, the U.S.S. Ettinger and Mary has a job as a secretary at the Naval Yard.  Lillian planned to room with Mary, so much to her chagrin, she would be thrown into Arch's company when Jim came to see Mary.

 On Lillian's first day at Dixon's Drugs when Mr. Dixon discovered her artificial leg. He let her know he hadn't wanted a woman in the first place but a cripple was the last straw. She convinced him to try her for a few weeks and he agreed only if she kept behind the counter so nobody would see her leg.  With that hurdle behind her she was determined to keep her job. Right away Lillian noticed an unusual amounts prescriptions for Phenobarbital.  She was determined find out why such high amounts of the drug were prescribed. Mr. Dixon, however, didn't want discrediting the drug store with her nosing around on things that she had no business questioning.

In the meantime, Arch was having his own difficulties on board the Ettinger.  He suffered from Battle Fatigue, what we now call Post Traumatic Stress.  When the Atwood was attacked just before the war began, he was injured in the engine room and still had nightmares and trembling hands.  He sought help, was prescribed Phenobarbital and after one groggy dose decided he would fight this on his own. It didn't take long, however, before he began to notice the symptoms among his men. He also recognized signs that some of the men were taking the drugs he had been prescribed.  These men were impaired on duty and Arch was going to make it his business to get to the bottom of who and how the men got these drugs.

It was only a matter of time before Arch and Lillian discovered they shared a concern: he for the men who were taking the drugs and she because she knew the high volume of drugs prescribed was above safe limits for anyone.  They began an investigation on their own to uncover what had to have been a drug ring.

By joining forces, they also fell in love, something they were both avoiding. She didn't want to trust any man again after a bitter breakup and he was on guard for any woman who preferred money more than the man he was.  Both rely on their faith to grapple with the many odds they face in such a turbulent time.

Intrigue, romance and some dangerous waters are what you will find in this book. I was hooked from the beginning. If you read Through Waters Deep, you will enjoy reading more about Mary Stirling and Jim Avery while getting to know Arch better as he and Lillian tread toward their own Anchor In The Storm.  A good mystery mixed with romance make for a good book to enjoy with your favorite cup of tea. Many thanks to Revell for the opportunity to review this book, which ended too soon!  I am waiting already for Book 3 in this series, When Tides Turn coming  March 2017.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm Awaits In The Quieting

Suzanne Woods Fisher has written about the Amish in Stoney Ridge for years.  I have enjoyed reading about the families of this community as though I were catching up with old friends.  The Quieting, in the Bishop's Family Series (Book 2)  is no exception.  The characters come to life and I find myself cheering them on or shaking my head.
David Stotlzfus, widowed father of six is one of the ministers at the Amish Church.  He is at odds with Freeman Glick, the Bishop over a matter that could have lasting implications for their church leadership.  David is a thoughtful, caring man without a competitive nature who wants what is right for his church. 

As he wrestles how to handle this he has a surprise visit by his domineering mother and two grown nieces. They plan to fix David's household, lend support in the church matter and reorganize his small store.  David's mother Tillie, aka "Mammi the Meddler" keeps her finger in every pie and in doing so exasperates all who love her dearly.  

Mammi brings along Laura and Gabby (Abigail) as reinforcements. Abigail, a very serious and literal young woman assists her father with his work in genealogy.  She is secretly pleased to be there in order to complete a study for a client in Stoney Ridge.  Finishing up the study is her main goal but not before she meets a young man who has eyes only for her. Not as socially equipped as her sister, Gabby has struggles of her own to manage before she unfolds an interesting leaf on the Glick family tree.

There is a community within the pages of this book and the members come together to tie things up nicely. From mis-matched matchmaking to drilling for oil, there is never a dull moment in Stoney Ridge.  I heartily recommend this book but not before you have read The Imposter where this story begins.  Both books could be standalone, but reading both enriches the story. I am already looking forward The Devoted, (Book 3) due for release in October 2016.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Look for Love, War and Intrigue In The Magnolia Duchess

Product DetailsFiona Lanier was riding her horse Bonnie on the beach that August day in 1814 when suddenly the horse stopped in front of a pile of seaweed, refusing to go on. "Wait, not seaweed. Material. Clothing. A body. A roll of surf washed up, stirred by the folds of cloth, but the body did not move.  Dead?"

Our story begins here on the beach where Fiona finds a badly injured young man lying face down in the sand, barely alive.  After a struggle, she manages to get him home where she will ultimately nurse him back to good health.  The mysterious young man, however, is not entirely unknown to Fiona.  He is Charlie Kincaid, whom she met years ago while visiting England.  

When Charlie regains consciousness, Fiona quickly realizes he has lost his memory. What was he, an Englishman, doing at Mobile Point so far from his home?  Set in the midst of the War of 1812, the Magnolia Duchess brings to life fictional characters whose stories intertwined with historical places and events of that era.  The book mentions General Andrew Jackson several times leading up to the Battle of New Orleans and the ultimate surrender of the British that ended the war.  

As the war rages, though, we are still faced with Fiona and Charlie.  As they meet challenges brought about by the war, they both grow in ways unexpected. The Magnolia Duchess is the third book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles, by Beth White. The series follows the Lanier family for over one hundred years where men and women of courage helped shape our country.