A strong historical mystery, Andrea Penrose‘s Murder at Half Moon Gate leads us through the fog-filled streets of London on a merry chase. Penrose dispenses a great mix of mystery, death and romance in a Regency setting with unerring intent. This second offering in the Wrexford/Sloane series does not fall short.
Lord Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane make a formidable pair, reminiscent of Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne in the series by Julia Spender-Fleming. Speaking of other fictional detective duos, Wrexford and Sloane are more evenly matched than Holmes and Watson in analyzing clues and info. However, friends of Raven and Hawk (Charlotte’s wards) are a troupe of streetwise urchins similar to Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars.
Wrexford and Sloane stumble across a number of deaths including the death of Elihou Ashton. On the verge of revolutionizing the steam engine, Ashton’s design would transform manufacturing. Both nobility and commoners were at the mercy of the unknown killer. Greed and blood lust mix and coalesce in a fiery brew among the swirling London fog before Wrexford, Sloane and their associates bring things to a full stop.
Secondary characters are given full measure in Murder at Half Moon Gate. From Jeremy Sterling, Charlotte’s long-time friend, to Tyler, Wrexford’s valet, to Christopher Sheffield, Wrexford’s friend, to McClellan, one of Wrexford’s maids. All did much to assist the investigation efforts.
I read, but didn’t review, Murder at Black Swan Lane, the first book in this series. For sure, I’ll be reading more of Penrose’s Wrexford and Sloane series in the future. Also, I’ll be checking out her other mystery series about Lady Arianna. Stay tuned for my reviews.
John Tyler, former Green Beret, attracts trouble like a magnet, no matter how hard he tries to stay away. But he remains upbeat and undeterred, even keeled and able to deal with whatever comes his way. With his ex-wife in jail, his daughter, Lexi, living with him, and a super girlfriend, Sara Morrison, in Forced Induction, by Tom Fowler, Tyler’s life seems to be on a smooth path. At least for the time being. Then guns go missing from Fort Bragg and Sara, a Pentagon executive gets involved. Tyler gets involved too, through a strange accident at his Special Operations Car Repair shop. Patrick Baker crashes his recent model Subaru in the parking lot next to Tyler’s shop. Why?
Along with the dynamic, descriptive scenes of the interactions between Tyler and various militias that are ready, willing and able to buy stolen Army rifles (thanks to Tyler’s brother-in-law) are charming scenes between Tyler and Lexi. The tension sizzles between Tyler and his ex-wife in the women’s correctional center as Tyler explains his killing of her brother.
Forced Induction is the fifth in Tom Fowler’s great series featuring John Tyler. Sufficient backstory is presented for Forced Induction to be read out of sequence. But I will read the previous installments to know the whole story.
See last week’s review of The Reluctant Detective (here), the first book in Tom Fowler’s CT Ferguson series. I’ll be reading and reviewing both of these series throughout this year, and probably beyond, as Tom Fowler is prolific.
I received a copy of Forced Induction in exchange for an honest review.
by Tom Fowler
Why would a guy with advanced degrees in computer science, and who had been a hacker in Hong Kong, want to be a private investigator after he got out of Chinese prison and came home? And how good would he be in his chosen profession? Such is the premise of The Reluctant Detective? And why would a guy in his late 20s or early 30s be dependent on his wealthy parents to subsidize his first case with a gift of $50,000 if he succeeded?
Coningsby Trent (CT) Ferguson is smart, but rather unmotivated as The Reluctant Detective by Tom Fowler begins its steady roll towards a denouement. But beginnings can be deceiving. CT exercises his smarts throughout the novel, even surprising his cousin, Rich Ferguson, a member of the Baltimore Police Department, with his deductions.
CT’s first case supposedly involves adultery. Alice Fisher believes her husband, Paul, is playing around. But CT soon realizes that Alice has a problem, not her husband. And it’s gambling, not adultery. Nonetheless, he sticks with the case.
Gangsters, both small time and overlords, as well as their “goons” threaten CT with harm if he steps on their toes or hurts their business. The goons are the ones who get hurt when they think CT is an easy target.
Good characterization, especially of CT. I’ll read the rest of the CT Ferguson series, including the novella prequel, Hong Kong Dangerous.
Stay tuned for a review of Tom Fowler’s second series featuring John Tyler.
The Reluctant Detective
by Tom Fowler
Widening Gyre Media, LLC
Two Novellas: Quinn Lydia highlights JC Norton’s exceptional ability at drawing likeable, well-defined, intelligent characters. Both novellas are character driven and develop in a limited setting. “Quinn” develops mostly in his house and studio; “Lydia” mostly on an expeditionary cruise ship, with a few exceptions in each story.
“Quinn” focuses on what may happen when someone is told they have a terminal illness. Such a death sentence descends on Quinn Evans, an artist and professor. How do you live and what plans do you make? How do you tell your co-workers and family?
“Lydia” follows Lydia O ‘Brien on an expedition cruise to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean. Divorced, Lydia isn’t necessarily looking for a long-term relationship. Her life as a photographer engulfs her completely in a warm cocoon. Then, meeting Maurice unsettles her to a degree and rocks her boat, figuratively. In her mid-thirties and financially secure, does she need or want a relationship with a partner who admits he is bisexual?
Quinn and Lydia drive their stories forward. They both are personable and likeable. One can very much wish to be a part of their circle of friends. Secondary characters such as Quinn’s ex-wife and son, and Lydia’s friend, Maurice, enhance the story in a positive way. Upbeat but not sugar-coated, even when dealing with death, both of the stories in Two Novellas: Quinn Lydia were a joy to read.
I will be reading more of JC Norton’s work later in the year, such as Avenging Angels, the next in the Stone Ayers series, and Christine’s Cruise. (See my reviews of Orca and Scot Free, the first two Stone Ayers books.)
Two Novellas: Quinn, Lydia
by JC Norton
The tension that was building between the Parliament (led by the Puritans) and King Charles 1st in Michael Ward’s Thomas Tallant series boils over in his newest addition, The Drums of War. (See my reviews on his first two Tallant novels, The Rags of Time and The Wrecking Storm). Chaos in London’s streets and elsewhere is a main weapon of Parliament’s supporters, at least so far. Often brutal chaos erupts – breaking and entering, jewel theft, riots in the street. Then the hell of war breaks loose.
While Sir Ralph Tallant refuses to take sides, Tom and Elizabeth both help, each in their own way. Tom joins the Trained Bands. Elizabeth does research and detective work to help friends and acquaintances track thieves and burglars; then helps tend the wounded as skirmishes begin.
Ward’s characterization is perfect. Thomas Tallant is smart and patriotic. His dislike of war doesn’t prevent him from taking sides, albeit reluctantly. Meanwhile, his father insists on riding the fence. His excuse is that he’s on the side with whomever seems to allow his business to continue.
Smart and courageous describe Elizabeth Seymour. Her interests include astronomy, science, medicine and detection. Elizabeth is a good foil for Tom. She’s mentally strong, helping William Harvey tend the wounded at a primitive MASH site close to skirmishes between the king’s supporters and Parliament’s supporters. When the supplies she brought ran out, she just “soldiered on.” As she thought about the wounded she’d already tended to, “she laughed bitterly at the memory of those who said the war would be over after one encounter. She always thought it a forlorn hope…she knew it for what it really was – a bloody fool’s dream.”
Even secondary characters, such as Jake Dibden, a sailor who works on the river, are well executed. Visualization of Dibden, with his strong arms and shoulders, rowing Tom downriver to search for caches of gunpowder stored for the king’s army, comes easily with Ward’s erudite description.
Ward’s descriptions of the chaos amid fog off the Thames during skirmishes of the civil war are exceptional. The Drums of War is excellent reading. Lovers of historical fiction and mysteries will be speedily drawn in.
Roberta K. Fernandez’s A Knock on the Door ramps up the mystery and the suspense. Three murders in three months. All employees of SpringWare, a software and gaming development company. What was it about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) software project that was getting so many of SpringWare’s employees killed? Who would be next?
Rita Johnson, personal assistant to SpringWare VP Mark Mason, and previously to Jack Crawford, was one of the first to smell a rat. Especially when she went to download files for a certain project from Crawford’s computer after his death. Jack’s death was labeled an accident, but was it really? Why were some encrypted? Why was Mason being so secretive about this project?
Needless to say, Rita’s curiosity got the best of her, and she made a copy of the files for herself. She uncovered a connected, unrelenting, deadly series of events. Whom could she trust?
Tension and suspense mount slowly and steadily as Rita uncovers what’s happening with help from Lori, widow of Jack, Jacob Browning, another SpringWare employee, Nathan Schilling, a reporter for a local paper, and eventually Matthew Abernathy, a local police officer. These amateur sleuths begin getting closer to the truth about SpringWare’s project for NSA and Mason’s relationship with Carl Baxter, the NSA director. Then even Rita is murdered in what was meant to look like a hit-and-run accident. Who would be next among the seekers-of-truth group?
Fernandez starts the suspense early and continues to ramp it up with this apparent first novel in a series. Her characters are well drawn, and the amateur sleuths become a tight-knit group as the action advances.
I received a free copy of A Knock on the Door via www.ireadbooktours.com in exchange for an honest review.
Sorry about my recent silence over the past several weeks.
I had bilateral knee replacement surgery on August 9th from which I’m still recovering.
I hope to begin posting reviews again with the next few weeks.
Guest Post – Donna Roe Daniell
Although I will not be reviewing Ms. Daniell’s new book, I still wanted to pass on the following information.
Three Pillars of Personal Transformation Await You: Are you Ready?
by Donna Roe Daniell
How do you know when it is time to make a change in your life, to change a behavior, to switch gears and move in a healthier direction, to let go of a relationship, to notice your pain? The first pillar of finding this discomfort in your being, in your behaviors is to slow down, to do less and actually take time to notice what is happening. This step of noticing is mindfulness —paying attention to what is going on in this present moment and examining it closely. Can you stop and pay attention and allow yourself to be curious instead of judgmental, critical or self-blaming?
This brings us to the second pillar of personal transformation: Self-Compassion. Finding a way to be kind to yourself and patient and loving when you are struggling with a difficult situation, feeling a lot of pain, moving really fast to get through something, facing a shadow part of yourself rearing its ugly head is self-compassion: bringing in care to yourself when you are struggling. This also takes being willing to stop and notice what is happening, taking that first pillar of mindfulness to the next step of being kind and caring to yourself when you totally need it — instead of hoping you’ll get kindness from someone else soon. You can give it to yourself and hold yourself gently as you let your feelings arise and fall.
When you create this kind of healing container for yourself with these first two pillars: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, you are ready to utilize the third Pillar of Personal Transformation: IFS. Internal Family Systems Therapy is a healing roadmap and deep dive into yourself and all the parts of you that keep you moving through each and every day. It’s a total path to self-awareness and self-love and along the way you get to heal yourself too. It is a safe way to get an intimate connection with your feelings and your behaviors and to love yourself into a healthier place! You can learn about IFS from books and many resources, but the best way is to engage in working with an IFS Therapist or Coach who can empower you and hold you in Self-Energy and Self-Love until you can do it for yourself. You can also explore it in a safe container like my retreat.
And you can explore and develop all three of these three Pillars of Personal Transformation at my FALL RETREAT this October 28-31 and again October 26-30, 2022. Can you give yourself four days and three nights to just listen and allow these tools to manifest? Imagine what kind of shifts might bubble up and what layers might be lifted?
In addition, all three of these Pillars are also explained through the stories in my memoir: A Midlife Voyage to Transformation. When you read this book you will be able to understand more how to feel your feelings and experience them in your body. You will also be able to learn about the 5 Stages of the Midlife Voyage to Transformation. See what stage you are on in your midlife voyage right now—It will help you get so much more out of the retreat.
Are you ready? This is the moment to take action for yourself and start with purchasing my book on Amazon. Watch for my WORKBOOK/ BOOK GROUP GUIDE to A Midlife Voyage to Transformation coming out in 2022.
Join us for this tour from July 25 to August 5, 2022!Book Details:
Book Title: A Midlife Voyage to Transformation by Donna Roe Daniell
Category: Adult Non-Fiction (18+), 233 pages
Genre: Memoir / Women’s / Personal Transformation Self-Help
Publisher: Mindful Books
Release date: June 2021
Content Rating: G
Can You Step into Your Power and Birth a New You at Midlife?
YES! Midlife, and the major events that encompass the ages of 35-65, can be devastating or powerful for women. But we can choose to be awakened at this powerful time of life. This memoir is the story of Donna Daniell’s healing journey through the five stages of the midlife voyage-Lost at Sea; Finding a Mooring; Deep Diving; Rebirthing; and the New You-to find self-love, resilience, and feminine wisdom. It is also a roadmap for other women on the midlife journey, charting a course that transmutes challenges into inner rebirth and stepping into the power of the Wisewoman.
FIND YOUR OWN INNER STRENGTH – TAKE THE VOYAGE TO TRANSFORMATION!
BUY THE BOOK:
add to goodreads
Meet the Author:Donna Roe Daniell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Colorado and has had a private
practice in the Boulder/Longmont area since 2005 called Balance Your Life Coaching & Psychotherapy. She has offered family therapy and individual trauma treatment using mind/body trauma tools such as mindfulness, yoga and IFS through her psychotherapy practice. Since 2015, she has focused her coaching practice for women in midlife on unique programs to specifically empower women going through major midlife challenges to grieve and rebirth themselves through the 5 stages of her Midlife Voyage to Transformation. Today, through her website, Donna offers on-line courses, Talks and live workshops, mp3 guided practices to support this book, and adventure and mindfulness retreats in nature for women wanting support to wake up, become unstuck, and find a transformative healing path through life’s challenges.
connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ bookbub ~ goodreads
Enter the Giveaway:
Midlife Voyage to Transformation Book Tour Giveaway
Being a writer—as in a professional writer who has published some work—seems like a glamorous, elusive way of life to anyone who doesn’t understand that if you find that you express yourself best in written form, you are a writer. And you don’t have to be published, by a big publisher or on your own, to be able to call yourself that. I wrote for decades, even published other people’s books that had a lot of my writing in them, before I let myself say, “I am a writer.” It always felt audacious and risky to claim that. I guess maybe it was a bit of imposter syndrome. But the moment I allowed that, the moment I became brave enough to really see myself that way, was the moment my writing went to an entirely different level and my career began to flourish.
I believe being a writer means you think in words more than images. That’s not to say you don’t see images in your mind, but that you are more focused on what words can best describe what you see. How can you conjure that same image for another person by describing it when they can’t actually see it? The same is true with feelings, emotions, and sensations. What combination of words can accurately and most effectively convey what is intangible and inside of you? The beauty of language is that it has that power. A Polish independent bookstore created an ad campaign a number of years ago with the slogan, “Words Create Worlds.” No truer words have ever been strung together, in my opinion.