Book Review: Chesapeake Crimes, This Job Is Murder

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Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is MurderChesapeake Crimes, This Job Is Murder

Edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman and Marcia Talley

Wildside Press, LLC

ISBN-13: 9781434440600

165 pages

$4.39 ebook & $11.69 paperback at Amazon.com

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

 Genre: Mystery

 This Job is Murder is the fifth collection of short stories from the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Each of the 14 short stories in this collection is a stand-alone gem. Collectively, it is a struggle to see which story shines the brightest; I can’t pick a favorite when I loved them all.

They each feature a character that has an awful boss and/or job.  The charm of a collection is everyone has small windows in his or her life in which you have time to read one. They allow us to escape our active lifestyles for a few minutes of relaxation and enjoyment.

All of the stories are different; choosing a few to highlight was difficult.

“Keep it Simple” is not only the title of the story by Sheri Randall, but the motto of the first bad boss in the book.

C. Ellet Logan tosses a PI who can’t boil water into the mix at a cooking completion in “Alligator is for Shoes”.

“Next Stop, Foggy Bottom” had the best twist at the end; kudos to author Karen Cantwell.

Mediation sooths ruffled feathers in divorce cases. In “Murder by Mediation”, Jill Brelsau’s characters find the opposite to be true.

“Mean Girls” by Donna Andrews features a bad boss and awful coworkers. I loved hating all of them.

These short stories are condensed bites of reading pleasure with all of the depth of plots and characters of a full length novel. Almost everyone can relate to one or more of the characters. I hope you don’t relate to one of the bosses – if you do, mend your ways.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2012 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Murder in the 11th House

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Murder in the 11th House: A...Murder in the 11th House

Mitchell Scott Lewis

Published by Poisoned Pen Press

ISBN-9781590589502

239 pages

$24.95 Hardcover (also available in paperback)

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Mystery

Mitchell Scott Lewis introduces us to David Lowell in his debut novel, Murder in the 11th House, the first in his Starlight Detective Agency Mysteries. Lowell is an eccentric self-made millionaire that relies on astrological charts to guide his daily life, determine what stocks to purchase or sell and solve murders.

In an effort to spend more time with his daughter Melinda, Lowell agrees to help her prove the innocence of an accused murder. Melinda’s client, Ms. Johnny Colbert is accused of murdering a judge that she threatened in open court. Melinda believes her brash, loudmouthed client is innocent and Lowell’s charts confirm his daughter’s opinions. When someone resorts to attempted murder to get the Starlight Detective Agency off the case, the action heats up from a simmer to a boil.

This was a fun book. It was unlike other mysteries, due to the astrological angle. Whenever Lowell met someone new, he asked their birthdate and time of birth so he could work up a chart on them to better understand them. Who hasn’t read their horoscope in the paper at one time or the other? I wanted to contact Lowell with my birth info to have him “read” me! And it was interesting to look behind the curtain a bit by learning what the 11th house (and other houses) represented in the astrological world.

Lewis was spot on creating cool characters for his novel. He promises more by crafting different personalities that mesh and conflict in and out of the the detective agency. I can’t wait to see his next book.

Copyright © 2011 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Book Review: Ajjiit, Dark Dreams of the Artic

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Ajjiit, Dark Dreams of the Ancient Arctic 

Sean A. Tinsley and Rachel A. Qitsualik

Illustrated by Andrew Trabbold

Published by Inhabit Media Inc. (Canada)

ISBN-978-1-926569-30-7

191 pages

$14.95 soft cover

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Fantasy

 

Opening a book of short stories is like opening a box of chocolates. Ajjiit, Dark Dreams of the Ancient Arctic by Sean A. Tinsley and Rachel A. Qitsualik is not your average Whitman Sampler from the grocery store. It is more like an exotic blend of flavors encased in the darkest chocolate that deliciously lingers long after you have ingested them.

This collection of nine short stories is fantasy in nature, based upon the Inuit folklore and culture. They are filled with supernatural creatures and events, yet each story is unique in its own way. Reminiscent of Grimm Brother’s stories I was fond of as a child, these stories are a bit edgier and set in an icy Arctic landscape.

Illustrations by Andrew Trabbold accompany each story. Each one is a unique image that adds life and substance, enhancing the writing by adding an interesting visual element. The hauntingly beautiful woman Trabbold created for Slippery Babies is fascinating.

My favorite story in the book was Drum’s Sound. It is a mystical coming of age story about an adopted boy whose parents are the elders of the camp. He cannot speak, yet must to save his adopted mother and the rest of the camp members after they are turned into zombie like creatures by evil spirits.

The only complaint I have is the liberal use of Inuit words throughout all of the stories with definition. At times it was easy to figure out the basic meanings within the context of the sentences or paragraphs. I understand the logic of adding the real feel of the Arctic, but at times it became difficult to read with so many words added that I had to slow down and go back to figure out.

The authors chose not to add footnotes explaining the terms, which I agree would have interrupted the pace of the stories. Footnotes also give a “textbook” feel that ruins the ease with which I want to read for pleasure. A glossary in the back would have helped me. It would not interrupt the flow of the dialog, yet the option is there if I needed or wanted to look up an Inuit word meaning.

Ajjiit, Dark Dreams of the Ancient Arctic is an icy delicious escape. Pick a shorter story if you have only a few minutes, or one of the longer pieces if you want to take a bigger bite of the folklore folded inside like a creamy caramel center. No matter what your taste is, you will find a favorite in this collection.

Copyright © 2012 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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