Book Review: After I'm Gone by: Laura Lippman


Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication Date: August 12, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: When Felix Brewer meets Bernadette “Bambi” Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative—if not all legal—businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband—or his money—might be, she suspects one woman does: his mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover—until her remains are eventually found.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women. And at the center is the missing man Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same.


Review: AFTER I’M GONE is the story of Felix Brewer, his family, his fortune, and his mistress. In 1976, Felix Brewer disappears after he is convicted but before he is sent to prison. Ten years to the day Felix’s mistress, Julie Saxony, disappears and is found dead. It is twenty-six years after Julie’s initial disappearance and retired detective, Sandy Sanchez, who investigates cold cases, has picked this case to look into further. From the beginning, he’s struck by so many inconsistencies and conflicting information in the case. Digging deep, he must untangle the web Felix wove around his friends, wife, daughters, and mistress to find the truth. AFTER I’M GONE is inspired by true events and is given a beautiful fictional treatment. The story is suitably detailed with pieces of Baltimore locales and historical events, giving it a depth which only adds to the mystery. While the mystery seems to be the center point of the story, it’s truly the interactions between the well-developed and complex characters which brings AFTER I’M GONE to life. I was easily transported into the story through the author’s deft writing style. Laura Lippman is a local author for me and I’m surprised I’d never read any of her works before. This is an error I’m definitely going to rectify! AFTER I’M GONE is an insightful and compelling mystery.

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Book Review: Desire Lines by: Christina Baker Kline


Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication Date: August 12, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: On the night of her high school graduation, Kathryn Campbell sits around a bonfire with her four closest friends, including the beautiful but erratic Jennifer. "I'll be fine," Jennifer says, as she walks away from the dying embers and towards the darkness of the woods. She never comes back.

Ten years later, Kathryn has tried to build a life for herself, with a marriage and a career as a journalist, but she still feels the conspicuous void of Jennifer's disappearance. When her divorce sends her reeling back to the Maine town where she grew up, she finds herself plunged into a sea of memories. With nothing left to lose, she is determined to answer one simple question: What happened to Jennifer Pelletier?


Review: DESIRE LINES is the story of Kathryn Campbell’s journey to find out what happened to her best friend, Jennifer Pelletier, who disappeared on the night of their high school graduation. Ten years later, Kathryn is a free-lance journalist and moving back home to Bangor, Maine after her failed marriage. Coming home has unlocked a lot of feelings in Kathryn and when she’s given the opportunity to write a follow-up story on Jennifer’s disappearance, she takes her old friend up on the offer. Is Kathryn ready to discover what really happened to Jennifer Pelletier? To me, DESIRE LINES is more about Kathryn than about the mystery of Jennifer. Coming back home to Maine has opened a lot of old wounds for Kathryn and while part of her wants to know the truth, another part just wants to forget. As Kathryn starts investigating, she learns she didn’t know her best friend as well as she thought she did. I liked Kathryn and could sympathize with her to an extent. It’s obvious to everyone Kathryn never moved on from Jennifer’s disappearance and hopefully this search will help her find her own voice. DESIRE LINES has interesting characters and is very well-written. I’ve never read anything by this author previously, but I think I’ll check out some of her other works now.

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Book Review: The Friendship Stones by: Alan Black


Publication Date: January 21, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: LillieBeth Hazkit is thrust into an adult world of evil and of evil men, she has to grow up much too fast, learning of love, of tribulation and of facing her demons with fire, fury, anger, and blossoming maturity.

Growing up in the Ozarks in 1920, she loves everyone and in her twelve years of wisdom believes all people are endowed with love and kindness. Her daddy gets home only on weekends, so she and her mama take care of their small, rented farm. She has become very adept with her precious .22 rifle helping Mama put meat on the table.

She feels compelled to obey the command to love our neighbors, a scripture she learned at her little country church and school house. It comes as an immense shock when she learns the friendless, crazy old man down the road does not want to be her friend and it becomes her mission to convince him that she loves him and wants to be a good neighbor.


Review: LillieBeth Hazlit is a 12 year old girl growing up in the Ozarks. It’s 1920 and LillieBeth believes in the kindness which lies in each person’s heart. She and her mother take care of the farm house they rent while her father is away at work during the week. She’s been taught all her life to follow the commandments, especially ‘love thy neighbors’. After an especially meaningful sermon from a guest preacher, LillieBeth decides to befriend Fletcher Hoffman, an old soldier who doesn’t like anyone and wants to be left alone. Regardless, LillieBeth isn’t giving up and the two form a strange bond which helps her deal with some very tough times. THE FRIENDSHIP STONES is a touching story of a hardworking young girl who only wants the best for everyone. She’s persistent and strong in facing an adversary who is more vicious than she’d ever imagined. I admire LillieBeth for her strength, temperament, and hard working lifestyle. Join LillieBeth’s journey from innocent child to adulthood in THE FRIENDSHIP STONES. I definitely recommend THE FRIENDSHIP STONES.

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Cover Reveal: The Void by: Timothy S. Johnston


Publisher: Carina Press

Publication Date: March 30, 2015

Synopsis: A Tanner Sequence Novel

Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. But when his ship breaks down in interstellar space and another murderer starts carving a path through the people around him, Tanner realizes that he might be in over his head. Unfortunately there’s no one to call for help, and the days are ticking down to his probable death.  He’s facing a mysterious threat in deep space, but he knows that if he can’t decipher the clues and capture the killer, he’ll at least die trying...

The Void is coming from Timothy S. Johnston and Carina Press on March 30, 2015.  It is the third book in The Tanner Sequence, a series of standalone murder mysteries set in unique and claustrophobic environments.  The first two are The Furnace (2013) and The Freezer (2014.)

Series: The Tanner Sequence series

Book Review: Rise of the Merovingians by: George Eugene Magnus


Publisher: Bassano Publishing

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: Kidnapped while holidaying in Venice, Maria was quickly released at the mere mention of her surname. Returning home, she delved into her Nonna's ancient leather diary for clues. Headed for London to investigate further, Maria came face-to-face with an MI6 death squad - only to find that life as she knew it was all a lie. Chased across Europe by MI6, Italian Police, and covert operatives of the Rose Croix, Maria's relentless search for answers brought far more than she ever bargained for. Fast cars, secret lairs with organic weapons, and all the latest tech, Maria would somehow rise to fulfil her ancestor's long forgotten prophecy - one would arise and unearth the ancient power of the Merovingians.

Review: RISE OF THE MEROVINGIANS has an interesting and even credible plot, reminiscent of the Da Vinci Code in ways. The writing style does need to be a little more refined and tightened up. It was a little distracting with the number of times someone ‘blurted’, ‘hollered’, or ‘sniggered’ with every spoken phrase. There was an emphasis on all the delightful gustatory journeys George and Maria took, so if you're a foodie, too, you'll enjoy this book. I enjoyed the history of the Merovingians and how it intersected with Shakespeare, the Windsor family, the Rosicrucians, and the Freemasons. I think RISE OF THE MEROVINGIANS has a great premise which could be improved by some additional polishing.

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