Saturday, January 15, 2022

Review: The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan

by Allison Brennan
Release Date: December 28, 2021
2021 Mira Books
Kindle Edition; 448 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778311683
ASIN: B08R8ZSV4D
Audiobook: B094PJMBQ3
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher
 
3.75 / 5 Stars
 
Summary
A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions.

Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner's, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.

Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn't sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace's last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.
 
My Thoughts
The Sorority Murder had an interesting concept in that it was focused on a student podcast that was used to shake up facts in a three-year-old cold case of a popular sorority girl.  It was the podcast idea that drew me to the story as I thought the concept was interesting, and crime podcasts are certainly popular, so I was intrigued by the way the author would use it in the story.  While the story was somewhat repetitive, there was definitely a lot to like as well.
 
I really liked Regan, a former US marshal, as she always seemed so cool and collected while working, but during her down time, when she was with her friends and family, you got to know her story and understand her motives a bit better.  After suffering a personal loss, she has returned home to figure things out and is currently living with her dad, but I love how her dad doesn't crowd her and gives her space. She is an adult and it is refreshing to see a relationship that is respectful and loving.  She looks to him for advice, but still makes her own decisions.
 
I wasn't a huge fan of Lucas however. It has nothing to do with the fact that he was hiding something, or that we don't understand his motives for doing the podcast (this is a mystery novel, after all), but I just felt like his character needed more development so that we could empathize with him and understand his behaviour and his reactions.  I think it would have made him seem more sympathetic to others and how they were feeling. 
 
The plot itself was interesting, and I was curious about the missing girl, Candace, and what could have happened to her.  It did take quite a while for things to get going though, but once it did, there were quite a few twists and turns. I didn't quite buy into the red herrings however, and one of the characters changed so much that I didn't find it believable. However, I really liked the podcast idea, and thought that was interesting. Having people call in to give information is a nice little twist as well. I could be biased there though as I listen to podcasts myself.   

Verdict
The Sorority Murder is a decent book, and I thought the plot was interesting. However, the plot is a slow burn and it takes a while for things to really get going; however, once they do, they pick up rather nicely even if the ending does require some suspension of belief. I did feel that Lucas needed more development as a character although I did enjoy a lot of the other characters in this book.  Overall, a solid read.

 


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Review: A Secret Never Told by Shelley Noble

by Shelley Noble
Release Date: November 16, 2021
2021 Forge Books
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250750457
ASIN: B08PSNGTZF
Audiobook: B09J6HPHYD
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher
 
3.5 / 5 Stars
 
Summary
Fate obliges when Phil is called upon to host a dinner party in honor of a visiting Austrian psychologist whose revolutionary theories may be of interest to the War Department, not to mention various foreign powers, and who may have already survived one attempt on his life. The guest list includes a wealthy industrialist, various rival scientists and academics, a party hypnotist, a flamboyant party-crasher, and a damaged beauty whose cloudy psyche is lost in a world of its own. Before the night is out, one of the guests is dead with a bullet between the eyes and Phil finds herself with another mystery on her hands, even if it’s unclear who exactly the intended victim was meant to be.

Worse yet, the police’s prime suspect is a mystery man who Phil happens to be rather intimately acquainted with. Now it’s up to Lady Dunbridge, with the invaluable assistance of her intrepid butler and lady’s maid, to find the real culprit before the police nab the wrong one . . .
 
My Thoughts
A Secret Never Told is the next book in the Lady Dunbridge Mystery series, and I think one of the reasons I keep reading this series is for the historical descriptions. This one featured some aspects of Coney Island as well as delving into the early fields of psychology, something that fascinated me.  
 
I am a huge fan of historical mysteries so I really loved the descriptions of the time period. Coney Island was hugely popular in the early 1900s so I was intrigued about it being used as a setting for a murder as it was chock full of those things; I didn't want to learn about the rides and the fun stuff, I wanted the underbelly, the wheelings and dealings of the criminal world.  And while the story definitely alluded to that, and the characters did come across some shady stuff, I really felt like all they did was touch upon it and didn't really delve into it.  

The author's writing style is great though, and has this way of drawing you into the story.  I definitely enjoyed her descriptions of the time period and thought the character development (from the first book) was good.  Phil, to be honest, is the most annoying of the characters, but her heart is in the right place and she wants to do well by her friends and her servants, whom she considers friends.  Personally, she drives me crazy. And I am not a fan of her relationship with Mr. X.  I don't know who this man is, but I have my suspicions; I don't have any objections to the teasing and flirting, etc...but I can't put my finger on why the whole thing makes me uneasy. Maybe it's because Phil also flirts with the detective and finds him attractive as well, and I have never been a fan of those love triangle things, not that this is what it is, but I am really hoping it doesn't go there.  That being said, I am fascinated by both Lily and Preswick, her servants, and their skill set, and know there is a story there to be told and am waiting patiently for the day it happens.  

I did enjoy the mystery and thought there were plenty of twists and turns; however, it was kind of easy to figure out if you paid attention.  I am not a psychology major, but I did have to take a few classes in uni and I was always fascinated by the development of the field so I found the arguments between the various characters, who were split into various fields and followers, quite interesting.  I also know it was very political, especially considering the state of world politics during this time period as various countries were building their military forces and looking at many different things to augment them.  I was a bit disappointed that we didn't discover more about the reasons why Phil's boss wanted her involved, but I guess that will be revealed in future books.  The lack of knowledge about the War Department's involvement is starting to get on my nerves though.  And this is where I do have knowledge, considering the time period, as we head into WWI. I want to know more about the political stuff, about Mr. X., and about the War Department. 
 
Verdict
A Secret Never Told was a quick and fun read, chock full of interesting facts about Coney Island and the development of psychology in the early 1900s.  I thought the author had a great writing style and I found her characters interesting, but I am not a huge fan of the main character and some of the things do require some suspension of belief.  I am intrigued by Mr. X and the War Department's involvement and look forward to learning more about them in future books.  Recommend if you are looking for a fun historical mystery series.  


 


Sunday, January 2, 2022

Review: Warrior's Ransom by Jeff Wheeler

by Jeff Wheeler
Release Date: May 18, 2021
2021 47North
Kindle Edition; 363 Pages
ISBN: 978-1542027380
ASIN: B08FJ1ZJBS
Audiobook: B08L9LXYX3
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Summary
After a pilgrimage to the East Kingdoms seeking a blessing from the Fountain, source of the land’s magic, Sir Ransom Barton returns home in search of two dreams: Claire de Murrow, the heiress he loves, and a patron for his warrior skills. Unexpectedly, Ransom finds himself in the favor of Devon, the notorious Elder King. Brought into the ruler’s mesnie and given two wards of his own, Ransom is devoted to his privileged new position. He’s also privy to the running of the realm and to all its courtly intrigues—notably, the machinations of the king’s three remaining sons, all engaged in a manipulative battle to become heir to the throne.

As Ransom is thrust into the middle of poisonous family conspiracies and betrayals, allegiances are shattered, and Ransom fears he may end up serving his worst enemy—or worse, face exile for demonstrating loyalty.
 
My Thoughts
Warrior's Ransom is the second book in The First Argentines series, and I enjoyed it even more than the first book.   Ransom continues to struggle finding a master worthy of his loyalty, and I have to admire his earnestness and his steadfastness as I am not sure I would be able to do the same in his shoes.  This second book explores that theme of trust and loyalty and the dilemma it imposes on men when the people they serve make poor decisions that put many lives in jeopardy.  

Ransom is a character to admire and I love his growing development in this book.  I was a little disappointed that his journey/quest was only a small part of the book, but he did receive a gift during his journey that would certainly help him during his difficulties later on.  Even though he has many doubts and is not always sure his decisions are the right ones, he trusts in his loyalty and in his honour and his duty as a knight.  There are many who mock him for his ideals and urge him to break his bonds of loyalty, but I have to admire him for his steadfastness and sticking to his oaths, even when he is torn.  And having magic on his side to guide him doesn't hurt either.  A lot of his decisions are made with the Fountain's guidance and blessing, even if he doesn't understand the reasons behind those pushes and pulls he receives.

Although I do find the journal writing from Claire to be intriguing, I find it irritating at the same time. I feel like I don't really know her that well and wish we got her information through her point of view rather than through chronicles.  I think learning more about the machinations of the castle would have been interesting and it would have developed a few other characters that were kind of left in the background.  

The plot development is coming along nicely and there is certainly a lot going on.  Although the story focuses on Ransom, there is almost an innocence to him as he gets caught up in a lot of political intrigue that he only seems to sense at the last minute; I think his loyalty doesn't always let him understand how others can be so deceptive.  It's not that he is blind or naive or unwary, but still seems shocked when people do dirty, underhanded things.  And there is a lot going on. Ransom is constantly putting out fires or avoiding poisonous traps; the twists and turns were plenty.  I do wish that Ransom would take the time to explore the Fountain blessed magic, or the legends, and see how they could help him, as they did feature more prominently in this book.  I was hoping for a bit more of that in this book. 

Verdict
Warrior's Ransom continues to focus on Ransom and in this one, he learns more about his fountain-blessed magic and how it can help him during his battles and with his decisions.  The writing, as always, is detailed and full of complex characters.  Highly recommend this series. 

 


Saturday, January 1, 2022

Review: The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

by John Gwynne
Release Date: May 4th 2021
2021 Orbit
Kindle Edition; 496 Pages
ISBN: 978-0356514185
ASIN: B08HLQL1B2
Audiobook: B0942QJFMR
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher
 
4 / 5 Stars
 
Summary
After the gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of VigriĆ°.

Now a new world is rising, where power-hungry jarls feud and monsters stalk the woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power for those brave - or desperate - enough to seek them out.

Now, as whispers of war echo across the mountains and fjords, fate follows in the footsteps of three people: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.
 
My Thoughts
The Shadow of the Gods is one of those books I couldn't wait to start reading, and I have to admit, while I am not one for cover art, that one is just astounding and I couldn't help but look at it over and over again.  And the descriptions of the world do not disappoint, full of nuggets and landscapes that are awe-inspiring, many based on Norse mythology.
 
The three main characters were fun and I enjoyed each of them for very different reasons.  I have to say that I probably enjoyed Orka's storyline the best, but I think it was because she wasn't part of a war band and her story was a bit different than the other two. Varg and Elvar were both part of warbands, if for different reasons, and while I found their individual stories interesting, I liked the more classic fantasy of Orka's.  All three characters were intriguing in their own right, and definitely had growth to them, but when the same tropes get used for the characters, vengeance and anger, it can get a bit old fairly quickly, and sometimes I'd like to see something else used as a reason for why someone does something.  That being said, the author definitely knows how to write great female characters, ones who are strong, with interesting backgrounds. How the three characters are all connected to each other, and how their story lines connect, is one of the best things about this book.
 
Because I have read this author's previous works, I am familiar with his writing, and I know to be patient.  I entered this book with the mindset that everything would be revealed in time, and just enjoyed the atmosphere and the setting and the worlds that were described.  And while the mythology definitely borrows from Norse mythology, there is a lot of originality within it to make it interesting. The author switched POV between the three main characters so the world was slowly revealed through each character's actions, something that I liked.  Yes, it was a bit tedious at times, but I didn't mind too much.  There is little info-dumping and you have to figure things out for yourself, which I like, but the world is full of mercenary war bands, jarls, politics, creatures, and other such things that made it quite interesting.  It could be brutal, as the people tended to be very superstitious, basing a lot of their beliefs on tradition.  There is a slave culture as well, entrenched in the society, which plays a huge role in this book, and which looks like it will continue to play a huge role in the next book as well.   

The plot was interesting, but I did feel like it was a bit predictable.  The descriptions more than made up for it however, as I loved the atmosphere and the setting and the mysticism of the story lines.  Although there were definitely some slower sections, there was enough action to keep me interested and invested, and I loved the ending.  There was this one moment when someone said something that made it all click, and I figured out the connection, but it didn't really matter as I was curious as to how the author would being it all together.  

Verdict
The Shadow of the Gods was a fun and epic read, and I enjoyed the three main characters for very different reasons.  I should mention that the secondary characters were a lot of fun as well, and I hope the author develops a few of them in the next book as I would love to learn more about Rokia and Grend, fore example.  I did think the plot was a bit predictable, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and thought the ending was really good.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, The Hunger of the Gods, when it is released in April.

 


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Review: The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood

by Clarissa Harwood
Release Date: October 26, 2021
2021 Thornfield Press
Kindle Edition; 382 Pages
ISBN: 978-1777736927
ASIN: B097Q9TF46
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Gothic
Source: Review copy from publisher
 
4 / 5 Stars 

Summary
Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate.

Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. itself.  But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within?
 
My Thoughts
The Curse of Morton Abbey was a captivating and quick gothic mystery novel that I really needed to read at this point.  Although it had its usual predictable elements you would expect in a gothic novel, the main character was very different, and I liked some of the choices she made.  Definitely not one of your silly maids who does silly things over which you just roll your eyes and shake your head.
 
Vaughan is a very unconventional heroine, the youngest of five sisters, having to fight for everything she has earned in her life due to the fact she was born with a crippled foot and being put down her entire life for this very reason.  I liked how independent, practical, and daring she was, but she definitely wasn't silly, making good decisions and being very aware of her own personal safety as well as the safety of others.  During this time period, it is very difficult for a woman to make her own way, but Vaughan was determined to become a woman solicitor; her reasons were not always altruistic though, as she did want to avoid living with her overbearing mother and sisters.  However, it did make you empathize with her plight and root for her all the way.
 
Out of all the characters though, Nick was probably my favourite as he definitely had the most depth as well the greatest character development.  Every time we met him, more layers were added to his personality, something I really enjoyed, and I never knew what to expect from him.  Yes, he was mercurial, but I spent a lot of time speculating as to his reasons why he was so changeable and was really drawn to his character.  To be honest, I really felt like the author spent so much time developing Vaughan and Nick that the rest of the characters kind of paled in comparison and their characters did not develop in the same way, something that would have added some depth, and some mystery, to this book.

The plot itself definitely has the gothic elements: the atmosphere is creepy; the house is haunted, with all the elements you would expect in a creepy, old house; there is a mystery to solve; there is the mysterious benefactor; there are characters with secrets; and of course, there are the things that go bump in the night.  Personally, I didn't really feel the book was spooky, but I always love the big, old house trope and get hooked on things like that.  The writing is solid, and there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested, even if some of them were predictable.  I did think some things went a bit too far towards the end, and some things were not satisfactorily explained, even to the point of being improbable and forced.  While there were some things about the ending I liked, there were definitely some things that were not explained, at least not adequately. And the curse? Not sure why that was the title of the book.

Verdict
The Curse of Morton Abbey was a fun book to read, and while somewhat predictable, kept me entertained nonetheless.  The two main characters were very well developed, but I wish the author had developed the rest of the characters as well as it would have increased the tension as well as filled in some of the missing information that left the ending feeling a bit inadequate.  Highly recommend if you enjoy Gothic mysteries with a strong female lead and well-developed main characters. 

 


Sunday, December 19, 2021

Review - The Awakening by Nora Roberts

by Nora Roberts
Release Date: November 24, 2020
2020 St. Martin's Press
Kindle Edition; 435 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250272614
ASIN: B082RS9D42
Audiobook: B083LMBNFL
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Summary
When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father—and it’s worth nearly four million dollars.

This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies—through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…
 
My Thoughts
The Awakening is the first book in a planned trilogy, and while it was a fun and interesting read, I really felt like nothing really happened.  Yes, the main character discovered a lot about herself and her heritage, and definitely grew as a person, but that was really the main focus of the story.  The plot, other than Breen discovering more about herself, was barely non-existent.
 
Breen Kelly is an anxious twenty something teacher who has to save for every penny she earns due to huge student debt loans.  Growing up without a father has left her struggling to understand the reasons why he left when she was young, and the toxic relationship she has with her mother has given her few answers over the years.  When Breen unexpectedly discovers some information that will help her situation, I like how she takes charge of her life and begins to explore who she really is and who she wants to be. I like how Breen goes from meek schoolteacher to confidant woman as she learns to fight and fend for herself.  It is still unclear as to her mother's motives for treating Breen the way that she did, but I liked the way it was handled in this book.
 
Breen did have a lot of help along the way, and one of my favourite characters was Marco.  Her best friend is so cool and sweet and I loved it when he made an appearance.  Now, before you go thinking the author has set up a love triangle, no way, as Marco is part of the LGBTQ community and I love the inclusiveness.  He is such an amazing character, to the point where I almost wished he was the main character. 
 
Then, there is Keegan  Keegan is the leader of the world in which Breen found herself and I think he was supposed to come off as the brooding type, you know the kind who is annoying, but who supposedly has this tender side underneath?  Unfortunately, it didn't work with his character.  He came across as more ruthless, which is fine, as he is protecting his realm, but where I had the issue was his sudden revelation that he adored Breen and loved her.  I was like, what? How did this happen? Nope, didn't work for me at all. I even had to reread the scene to see if I missed something important, but nope. There was simply no chemistry between the two of them so the forced romance felt tropey at best, almost like the author realized she didn't have a sex scene in her book and needed to throw one in.
 
I did really like the folklore, the magic, and the dragons.  I would have loved more about the dragons.  However, this book could have been shorter as some of the parts did have a tendency to drag and were somewhat repetitive. And really, when it comes down to it, there was no plot other than Breen's character development and her discovery of this other world in which she was born.  There was talk about preparations for war, about war council, but we have no idea what is happening, the politics behind it, the others worlds involved, or anything else political that would be important to know.  But we did get pages and pages of Breen writing her children's book and drinking tea.  I kept waiting for something to happen, but I was doomed in that regard.

Verdict
The Awakening is one of those books where nothing really happens, but definitely has a lot of potential. I really feel like the author focused too much on fluffy information rather than on information in which a reader would be interested, such as more info on grandpa and Keegan, and the real nitty-gritty stuff  on the political situation, the threats to the realm, the other worlds involved, and why and how. I also wonder if this book would have worked better using different POV as it would have fleshed out the story, and the characters, a lot more.  I will read the next book in this trilogy, but I won't be in a rush to do so.

 


Saturday, December 18, 2021

Review: What the Cat Dragged In by Miranda James

by Miranda James
Release Date:August 31, 2021
2021 Berkley Books
Audiobook Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593199466
Kindle Edition: B08CTFV6VW
Audiobook: B09B8NJVXR
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.75 / 5 Stars

Summary
Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.

As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem, and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present.
 
My Thoughts
What the Cat Dragged In is the next entry in the Cat in the Stacks books, and while Diesel doesn't really feature as predominantly in this book as in previous ones, I really liked learning a lot more about Charlie's family, and both literally and figuratively, the skeletons in his family's closet.
 
Charlie has always been a likeable character, and while I was a bit annoyed with him in a couple of the previous instalments, I felt like he was more himself in this one, which means he was interested in what was happening in his newly inherited house, but didn't go about interfering in an investigation.  I liked how he used his personal contacts to discover information and as a librarian, was able to delve into some of the history himself and discover information that would be helpful.  As someone who teaches history and has to be dragged out of archives, I love this kind of thing so I may be a bit biased.  
 
I like the introduction of a new character in this one as well, Martin's grand-daughter, as well as all the old regulars.  I enjoy Charlie and Sean's relationship and can understand Sean's exasperation when his dad wants to investigate or stick his nose into things as he's just worried about him.  Charlie is a grandfather now as well, and I like how he regrets not learning more about his family history when he had the opportunity, a thing commonly heard as you think you have all the time in the world, then realize it is too late and all of that knowledge is gone with the person who died.  While some of it can get kind of preachy at times, I just overlooked it and enjoyed the story for what it was. Having read this series from the beginning, I am thrilled that Charlie is surrounded by family, his family appreciates him and wants to spend time with him, and am looking forward to when he finally gets married. 
 
The plot was quite interesting, and while it was not hard to figure out who was the guilty party, I enjoyed it because it was definitely far more interesting than the previous entries in this series, a series I was almost ready to give up on.  There were some discrepancies in the historical facts, but I'm not sure everyone caught them.  Having a background in history, I am used to looking for those discrepancies, so I just may be more sensitive to them than others.   However, when you really look at the story, Charlie doesn't really do a lot other than look at historical research, interview a couple of historians, and, naturally, happens to be at the right place at the right time when something does go down.  

Verdict
What the Cat Dragged In was interesting, and I liked the secrets within the secrets investigation that went on.  I thought the relationships between the characters was nice and I am always happy to see Charlie surrounded by family, and naturally, Diesel is a particular favourite.  However, when you really delve into the book, Charlie doesn't really do a lot, except historical research, even if it was really interesting, and happen to be at places at the right time.  Overall, I definitely liked this book better than a couple of the previous ones so would recommend it and I look forward to continuing the series.

 


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Review: The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves

by Ann Cleeves
Release Date: September 7, 2021
2021 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 382 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250204479
ASIN: B08XQSXQ6J
Audiobook: B08XQYN7TK
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Summary
North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder--Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter's broken vases.

Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He's a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found--killed in a similar way. Matthew soon finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home.
 
My Thoughts
The Heron's Cry was a solid mystery, but I don't think it was quite as good as the first book in this series.  I do like the setting, North Devon, and I really like the diverse set of characters. Plus, I was interested in how the author would develop one of the main detectives, Matthew Venn, as I thought his background was intriguing.
 
One of the strengths of this book is the characters. Matthew and his team are called in to investigate the murder of Dr. Nigel Yeo, but the story definitely doesn't revolve around Matthew.  I like how we get glimpses into the lives of both Jenn and Ross as well, and see how their ambitions plays into how they act and make choices.  Matthew is a bit insecure in his personal life, but he doesn't let that define his professional relationships. I do like how he was able to let loose a little bit in this book, even if letting loose meant he just took off his jacket during a meeting.  But it is little innuendos and inner monologues by the other characters that make this author's writing so interesting. Jenn has two teenagers at home and this case definitely made her look at her own children's online behaviour, something in which all parents should take an interest.  I am not sure what to think of Ross however, as I am not sure if I really like his character.  While he is very attentive to his wife, Mel, some of his thinking almost seems to border on obsession / control and I'm not sure I like some of the things he thinks / feels.  

While the characters were nicely developed and I loved the descriptions of the coastline and the area, the weakness of this book was in the plot line.  Unfortunately, the mystery was quite predictable and the characters spent a lot of the time running around interviewing people.  Normally, I don't have an issue with this, but it got to be somewhat repetitive and boring after a while. And when we do find out who it was, a direction I was seriously hoping it wouldn't go, I thought the reason was weak and didn't quite fit into the rest of the book.  

Verdict
The Heron's Cry is a well-written book and I really did enjoy the characters and the descriptions of the area.  The novel is definitely atmospheric, and I can picture myself walking through the woods or in the villages quite easily.  Where it fell apart for me was in the mystery as it was predictable and bland, with the characters rushing around interviewing people over and over again.  It's not necessarily the interviewing, it's how it was done, and I definitely did not believe the reasons for why the person did what they did as it didn't make sense with the rest of this novel.  I did enjoy this author's other series however, so I will read the next book in this series to see what happens next.