Saturday, July 28, 2018

Review: The Late Bloomers' Club by Louise Miller

The Late Bloomers' Club
by Louise Miller
Release Date: July 17th 2018
2018 Pamela Dorman Books
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1101981238
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Nora, the owner of the Miss Guthrie diner, is perfectly happy serving up apple cider donuts, coffee, and eggs-any-way-you-like-em to her regulars, and she takes great pleasure in knowing exactly what's "the usual." But her life is soon shaken when she discovers she and her younger, free-spirited sister Kit stand to inherit the home and land of the town's beloved cake lady, Peggy Johnson.

Kit, an aspiring--and broke--filmmaker needs to generate funding for her latest project, and is particularly keen when they find out Peggy was in the process of selling the land to a big-box developer before her death. The people of Guthrie are divided--some want the opportunities the development will bring, while others are staunchly against any change--and they aren't afraid to leave their opinions with their tips.

When a disaster strikes the diner, the community of Guthrie bands together to help her, and Nora discovers that doing the right thing doesn't always mean giving up your dreams.

The Late Bloomers' Club is one of those books that is perfect for the beach; you just sit back and enjoy the characters and what is going on without having to think too deeply about the events or the ramifications about what you are reading.  Set in the same town as her previous book The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, it was nice to revisit some of the same characters. This one focuses on the owner of Miss Guthrie's Diner, Nora Huckleberry and her sister, Kit, as they struggle with an unexpected inheritance and how it could affect the town and themselves.

I will admit that I did struggle between rating this book 3.5 stars or 4 stars as so much of the book was devoted to finding a lost dog that some of the plot kind of got lost.  I felt like the author was trying to add a bit of sentimentality as well as trying to find a way for Nora and Elliot to have something in common to spark a bit of romance, which I don't really think was needed. Don't get me wrong, the dog story line was cute, but I don't feel it was necessary and for me, it felt like too much of a distraction. There was enough going on that it actually wasn't needed.  I did find the interactions between the town members interesting and I liked how they gave their opinions on what should be done in different ways.  So many people would benefit from a decision to build, while so many people would be destroyed by such a decision.  It was interesting to see who was on what side and why, and it was not always for the reasons you would think.

Guthrie is one of those towns that just seems too good to be true; you know, the type of place where everyone helps everyone else out all of the time and really cares for everyone.  Because of this, it just doesn't feel right as towns typically do have a lot more conflict than this.  I also expected a lot more conflict between Nora and Kit, but really, there was...none.  Personally, I felt like this was a book about Nora and the choices she made in her life that prevented her from achieving her dream of becoming an artist in order to look after her father after her mother died.  While her internal conflict was interesting, that's all it was, internal.  That meant that while the other characters were interesting, they were not quirky or fascinating, like you'd expect in a small town like this so I was somewhat disappointed about this. I did really like the town though and loved all of the descriptions of small town life, like the festivals and community gatherings.  What I really did like was the description of the cake lady as she was quirky and seemed like she would have been a fascinating character.  

The Late Bloomers' Club is a fun, light read with relatable characters. I liked the fact the main character was older, but still struggling with the question of what she should be doing with her life, like a lot of us.  And it did bug me a little that it was never explained why the cake lady left her property to Nora and Kit, just kind of glossed over as if the reader would just accept that it was a done deal.  While the novel is very charming, with a lot of quaint happenings and events, the ending was too simple for me, too easily explained - life just isn't that easy.  That being said, the novel is charming and fun.  If you are someone looking for drama, this is probably not the book for you, but if you are looking for a light beach read, then I do recommend it for sure.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Review: Dying Truth by Angela Marsons

Dying Truth (D.I. Kim Stone, #8)
by Angela Marsons
Release Date: May 18th 2018
2018 Bookouture
Kindle Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-1786814753
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

5 / 5 Stars

How far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead.

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable - whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim.

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price. 

My Thoughts
Dying Truth is the eighth book in the D.I. Kim Stone series and although I loved the other books in this series, this one is my favourite so far, despite the ending I was definitely not expecting.  You'd think after eight books, things would start to go downhill, but this book was top-notch with a fascinating mystery, really intriguing characters, some crazy twists and turns, and an ending that sent shock waves rippling right through me.

I love stories about boarding schools and this one is woven around a secret society as Kim and her team investigate the horrific death of a thirteen year old girl.  While the exclusive private school would wish for Kim to hurry up and wrap up the death as a suicide, there are too many unknown variables that draw Kim's suspicion so she starts to look deeper and discovers a lot of other things at play.  Kim refused to take the easy way out and decides to take on the case as a murder investigation despite the school's plea to keep things as quiet as possible. With so many incidents in the news about hazing incidents, it's good to read a book that deals with the subject and the tragic results that happen. Some of the stories were so heartbreaking and as a parent, I would be so angry as well. And frustrated too, as the powers that be tried to cover everything up, paid everyone off, and forced people to sign confidentiality agreements.  I'm not shocked but it still makes me angry and I thought the author handled that very well.  Kim's determination to investigate definitely caused ripples but she ignored them in her usual way, and started exposing secrets and dark happenings that were going on at this boarding school.  Her search also brought her back to face Dr. Alex Thorne, one of the most interesting scenes in the book, as she was trying to get a handle on child sociopaths.  Wow!

This author has the ability to just draw you in and I stayed up far too late finishing this book, then couldn't sleep afterwards because of that ending.  That ending sucked, but not in the way that you think.  I can't share anything more, but damn, that hurt!!!  I was also totally sucked in by the secret societies and the power they have; I love how they were treated in this book.  

Over the course of the books, I have become rather fond of Kim, Bryant, Dawson, and Stacey, and although we didn't really learn as much about Kim's background in this one, it did focus quite a bit on Dawson which I loved.  If you are new to the series, you won't really learn much about Kim so you would have to read previous books to learn about her and I do really recommend starting with the first book and you will learn all about Dr. Alex Thorne at some point, too. which makes for great reading.  

Dying Truth was a great police procedural and I love these types of books.  This one definitely sucks you in right from the beginning, with enough twists and turns to keep me happy, and I have to say I didn't figure out who the murderer was, which I loved.  The story is tense and suspenseful, going from one scene to the next, barely letting go until the end.  One of things I love about this series though, is the characters,  The author has created a set of characters that work well together and are interesting in their own way, and in this one, Dawson kind of takes center stage, so to speak, and we learn so much more about him.  This was an amazing book and I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series, but I am also deathly afraid to read it too,  When you read this one, you will understand.  While you definitely could read this one as a stand-alone, I do recommend starting from the beginning as this series is just so good.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review: Murder Takes a Turn by Eric Brown

Murder Takes a Turn (Langham and Dupre Mystery, Book #5)
by Eric Brown
Release Date: July 1st 2018
2018 Severn House Publishers
Kindle Edition; 208 Pages
ISBN: 978-0727887818
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

When Langham's literary agent receives a cryptic letter inviting him to spend the weekend at the grand Cornish home of successful novelist Denbigh Connaught, Charles Elder seems reluctant to attend. What really happened between Elder and Connaught during the summer of 1917, nearly forty years before - and why has it had such a devastating effect on Charles?

Accompanying his agent to Connaught House, Langham and his wife Maria discover that Charles is not the only one to have received a letter. But why has Denbigh Connaught gathered together a group of people who each bear him a grudge?

When a body is discovered in Connaught's study, the ensuing investigation uncovers dark secrets that haunt the past of each and every guest - including Charles Elder himself ...

My Thoughts
Murder Takes a Turn is the fifth book in the Langham and Dupre mystery series and while I enjoyed the characters, I did think the mystery was a bit slow and very easy to figure out, although I have to say I did miss out on the method even if it was staring me in the face.  And although Denbigh Connaught was meant to be a real jerk, it was so obvious who was going to be killed that that kind of expectation you get when reading such a novel was just lacking.  All I did was wait until it actually happened, and it took such a long time to get there.

The premise was definitely something that would catch my eye though, even if it has been done before: gather together a bunch of people that you have wronged in the past with the intention of apologizing and watch the sparks fly.  Throw in a mansion, some friction, some secrets, and money, and you've now set yourself up for a dandy murder mystery.  All stuff I love.   The characters were interesting in their own way and I definitely loved the quirkiness of their personalities and how they were presented.  I was kind of hoping the murderer would be someone else than I thought it was as it would have been so much more interesting, but unfortunately, the author went with the usual formula and it was quite easy to figure out who it was.  What I couldn't figure out was how the person did it. And when I did find out, I had to wonder what kind of sick person that was who would do such a thing. I mean, Denbigh was a bit of a jerk, even if I didn't really get to see that firsthand as it was mostly through the characters' accounts, so it would have been nice to have seen more of him in order to get of him for myself.  And there was plenty of time as the action, or lack thereof, dragged on for half the book before the murder actually happened.  

The book is rather short and the chapters are quite short as well so I actually finished this book in just one sitting, which was kind of nice as it would have dragged if there was any more to it.  I did have to question Langham's presence during the interrogations though, as he was one of the guests and really shouldn't have been present, it didn't really make sense to me and was the reason was quite shallow.  I gather it was a technique for the reader to discover more about the characters, but it was a rather weak one and left a negative feeling inside me that just wouldn't go away.  I know he was a private detective, but he was also a guest and could have been a murderer.  If anyone has read Agatha Christie, you know anything is possible.  Now wouldn't that have been fun!! And far more interesting.

Murder Takes a Turn was a fun, easy read, but it was also quite predictable.  It was very slow in its pace, but you couldn't help but like the characters as they were quite diverse and rather interesting. There were a couple I would have liked to have spent more time with too.  You don't have to have read the previous entries to understand this book so I do recommend it to anyone who likes easy to read cozy mysteries.  You can always go back and read the others later. 
Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Godblind by Anna Stephens

Godblind (Godblind, Book #1)
by Anna Stephens
Release Date: June 20th 2017
2017 Talos
Kindle Edition; 497 Pages
ISBN: 978-1940456935
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbours deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

My Thoughts
Godblind is the first book in the Godblind trilogy and it definitely starts off with a bang.  Readers need to be aware that this is considered a grimdark fantasy novel which basically means that it is meant to be much darker and more brutal than your usual fantasy novel.  This type of fantasy has been around for a long time, but only recently have I heard the term grimdark to describe a novel where the characters tend to be more grey in nature, much more brutal, and where allegiances and betrayals happen at a moment's notice.  For me, this is why I read fantasy, so the grimness doesn't really bother me, nor the betrayals (anyone read Game of Thrones?) as it's what makes things that much more interesting.  

First of all, the book opens with quite a bang and you are left in no doubt as to the nature of what grimdark fantasy is all about.  King Liris of Mireces and King Rastoth of Rilporan had an uneasy truce; the first worshipped the Red Gods and sacrificed humans to keep them happy, while the second worshipped the Goddesses of Light, who worked through the Calestar, a prophet, to keep the people apprised of what was happening and to give them warnings if necessary.  With multiple betrayals afoot, the uneasy alliance ended and the Red Gods took advantage of the weaknesses and were now attempting to take back Rilpor and make it theirs once again.  And I do have to admit that one of the betrayals and its consequences left me unable to continue reading for about a week as the torture scene was really quite disturbing.  I definitely have no interest in seeing a hammer used as a weapon or an instrument of torture ever again. Just the scenes where a certain character pulls out nails as a threat can now make me shudder.  I have to give a lot of credit to the author here though as she definitely knows how to instill fear not only in her characters, but in her readers too.  And all through very descriptive prose.

I do think that readers really need to know what they are getting into with this book as I had no idea so it was a good thing I like grim fantasy.  The themes are very adult in nature; the first chapter of the book deals with human sacrifice and attempted rape, then murder.  So it was like BAM! You were left in no doubt as to the themes for the rest of the book.  And it didn't stop there.  I do have to admit that some of the twists caught me off guard, but I think I was paying too much attention to the grim stuff and not as much to the characters which is why I got caught.  Not because it wasn't easy to spot.  What I did like however, was the strong female characters in this book.  They pretty much gave as good as they got.  Rillirin, while suffering from PTSD as a result of being sexually, physically, and mentally abused for years, really came into her own throughout the book and I can't wait to see what she does next.  I mean, everything can't be brutal and dark, you have to have some balance or I think the book just wouldn't work.  There were some really nice moments throughout the book as well, some romantic, some just about friendship, some just for some relief from the brutality, I think.  I especially grew fond of Crys and really enjoyed his story arc.  The path of self-discovery that he was on was quite refreshing and I enjoyed it amongst all the dark elements and was just hoping he wasn't killed off.  

The book was written from multiple POVs and most of the chapters were quite short.  While I usually don't mind this way of writing, what I did find is that I didn't really get to know any of the characters this way to a point where I really, really empathized with them.  The story was quite seamless between characters though, and made the story quite easy to follow, but I did feel that some of that personal feeling you get by reading one or two person's POV was lost.  The author does have a way of writing that sucks you into the story and makes you care about what happens to everyone at that particular moment, but overall, I was more horrified at the way people died that at who actually died. 
There are many themes that permeate this novel, ones that could be explored in a book group: rape, attempted rape, brutal violence, betrayal, manipulation, religion and religious sacrifice, family, honesty, and loyalty.  

Godblind is one of those books that I did enjoy, simply because I loved the world-building and thought there were so many interesting elements happening at once.  The book ends in a pretty explosive nature and I am definitely looking forward to what happens next, although I am a little scared too considering that the second book usually tends to be the darkest in nature.  Do I really want it to be darker than this one?  I really felt that a lot of events were just building up to things that were going to happen later on and that they were going to get a lot more complex.  Hopefully, that doesn't necessarily mean more POVs though.  This book is definitely not for people who like lighter fantasy, but I enjoyed the pace and the many twists and turns and hope that the trend continues in Darksoul, the second book in this trilogy.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: Pointe by Brandy Colbert

by Brandy Colbert
Release Date: April 10th 2014
2014 Penguin
Softcover Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0399160349
Genre: Fiction / YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Theo is better now.

She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

My Thoughts
I had really mixed feelings towards Pointe at the beginning simply because the book was not what I was expecting.  Having read another teen novel about a friend being kidnapped and his return, I thought this book would be about his inclusion back into their lives and trying to cope with his disappearance, but it was definitely not that at all. And while there were some elements about ballet in it as the main character is a ballet dancer, the book was definitely not about that either.  Once I got over that little hurdle, I was able to focus on the story that was a bit more grim and dark than I was originally expecting.

First of all, the main character is quite compelling and is quite well-written.  I was interested in her life right away simply because her actions didn't seem to be ones of a well-disciplined ballet dancer; she drank, did pot, stayed up late, went to parties, and so on.  As the story unveiled, you see a person trying to make the best of a situation, but the reality is you've got a teenager barely hanging on for dear life, dealing with a very shattered self-esteem due to events that occurred when she was thirteen years old.  Her best friend, Donovan, disappeared for four years, and suddenly, is found and reappears. But we don't get to see Donovan and as the story unveils, we learn a lot more about the events leading up before Donovan's disappearance.  And they are quite grim and disturbing.  And suddenly you realize you have someone not only dealing with self-esteem issues, but also who was raped and manipulated into believing she was at fault for everything, a spiral that sent her into anorexia trying to keep her body from growing older because that how HE liked it.  It was very disturbing and all I wanted to do was go hug my own 15 year old daughter.  While some of the scenes are graphic, some of them leave it to your imagination to figure out and sometimes that's even worse.  And the guy was such a master manipulator that Theo really had no idea what was happening to her.   What Donovan's return did was trigger all of these memories in Theo and made her question what really happened all those years ago, especially as she was going to testify at the trial and she was struggling with what she should reveal at the trial.  

At first I wasn't sure I was going to like Theo, but as the story went on I grew to like her very much and empathized with her quite a bit.  I didn't always understand her choices, but the author definitely made her likable.  And as Theo and Donovan's story was slowly revealed, you understood a bit more that Theo had never recovered from her encounter with this creep all those years ago and blamed herself for what had happened to Donovan.  And while Donovan's story was never revealed, you could certainly read through the lines and figure out that it wouldn't have been pretty.  I was quite okay not learning more.  And I really liked the way the author told the story anyway.  I don't always think everything has to be explained, the hints are bad enough if you've got an imagination, and I can imagine plenty, thank you very much.  I don't need graphic details about this.  

This book deals with a lot of themes: friendship, rape, eating disorders, manipulation, drugs, cheating, sex, child abuse, kidnapping, and so on.  And it's not really packaged nicely either where everything comes out happily ever after in the end for everyone, which I liked.  It takes those situations where you realize you are being used to really figure out what you want in life and Theo definitely had some eye-opening moments in this novel.  I liked how the author handled those moments and liked Theo even more because of them. 

Pointe is a story about friendship, but more than that, it was a story about realizing that you are important and can't live your life in fear; you have to face those fears in order to move on with your life.  While at first, I was a bit flummoxed because I thought this was about the kidnapping, once I got over that, I really enjoyed the story and the characters; even the secondary ones had a distinct voice and while not always on Theo's side because of some choices she made, they were real and authentic.  Overall, it was a story about learning to love yourself and realizing you have the same worth as everyone else.  If anything, it gave me another chance to have some meaningful dialogue with my own daughter about abuse and manipulation when she read the book herself.  This book is emotional and real, but oh so necessary. 
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review and Giveaway: Shelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert

Shelved Under Murder (Blue Ridge Library Mystery, Book #2)
by Victoria Gilbert
Release Date: July 10th 2018
2018 Crooked Lane Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1683319207
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher / Great Escapes Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

October in Taylorsford, Virginia means it’s leaf peeping season, with bright colorful foliage and a delightful fresh crew of tourists attending the annual Heritage Festival which celebrates local history and arts and crafts. Library director Amy Webber, though, is slightly dreading having to spend two days running a yard sale fundraiser for her library. But during these preparations, when she and her assistant Sunny stumble across a dead body, Amy finds a real reason to be worried.

The body belonged to a renowned artist who was murdered with her own pallet knife. A search of the artist’s studio uncovers a cache of forged paintings, and when the sheriff’s chief deputy Brad Tucker realizes Amy is skilled in art history research, she’s recruited to aid the investigation. It doesn’t seem to be an easy task, but when the state’s art expert uncovers a possible connection between Amy’s deceased uncle and the murder case, Amy must champion her Aunt Lydia to clear her late husband’s name.

That’s when another killing shakes the quiet town, and danger sweeps in like an autumn wind. Now, with her swoon-inducing neighbor Richard Muir, Amy must scour their resources to once again close the books on murder.

My Thoughts
Shelved Under Murder is the second book in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, and is a fun and enjoyable read.  The town is one of those places I would love to spend the day just walking around its streets, and having visited the Blue Ridge Mountain area several times, I know how beautiful it is in the fall.   I definitely appreciated the author's descriptions of the area and could easily picture myself there, driving around, just enjoying what must be spectacular views.

In this book, the story picks up several months after the events in the first one and we see Amy still dating Richard and living with her quirky Aunt Lydia.  Amy, as the director of the local library, is right in the middle of preparations for the annual Heritage Festival, sorting through donations and looking for bigger ticket items to sell, which is how she ends up in the midst of another murder investigation.  Most of the characters were introduced in the first book, and honestly, there really wasn't much development with regards to the characters or their relationships.  In fact, I was a bit disappointed with some of the interactions between some of the characters; I don't really care who gets together and who splits up, but at least be authentic in the personality departments when creating characters.  And I found that characters either had to be good to be interesting or they came across as bad, there didn't seem to be that gray area in between that made characters more interesting.  When Uncle Andrew at one point was coming across as somewhat naughty, he was so much more interesting to me as a person as he seemed so much more real; otherwise, he was put up on this pedestal and just seemed too perfect and perfect often equals boring.  Besides, no one is perfect.  Take Richard for example, so perfect in everything he does, he just seems boring.  Maybe I'm just drawn to the badass kind of characters as I preferred Kurt over them all, so what does that say about me?  I find him much more interesting, and he's got secrets I want to find out.  

While the plot was interesting, it did center around the art world rather than the book world.  I don't feel there was anything too thought-provoking in the art discussions but then, I've read many, many thriller books dealing with lost art and forgery over the years so I'd already picked up most of what was discussed in this book regarding that world, and I have a fascination with the lost artwork from World War II.  I thought the discussions around what would drive an artist to do forgery much more interesting from a psychological perspective.  And while there were some interesting plot twists, they were easy to spot but Amy was just so gullible sometimes; you'd think she would have learned her lesson in the first book.  The author does have a way of making you feel like you are right there in the midst of things, and making you feel empathy for the characters so I did enjoy it when Amy got into her dilemnas and wondered how she would get out of them.  And the author doesn't have any qualms to having her characters get hurt so you never know what is going to happen, which keeps you on edge throughout the events.  I like that sense of not really knowing what is going to happen, even if you've already figured out the murderer and some of the other mysteries.

Shelved Under Murder was a fun addition to the series, but I don't necessarily feel it was as good as the first one.  I do think there was some lack of important character development and some of the characters are a bit too perfect, they need some flaws or something to make them seem more real.  Beware though, if you haven't read the first book, all of the answers are to be found in this book, something I am not very fond of, the murderer and some of the other details, and repeated several times.  The reality of small-town life however, are very real in this book and I did find certain things very amusing; the rivalry in county fair baking contests, people always knowing your business, an overworked police force, the gossipy neighbours, and the other small things that make small-town living so much fun and interesting, something that definitely comes to life between these pages.  While I thought the first book was slightly more enjoyable, I did enjoy it, and look forward to reading the next book in the series when it is published in 2019, Past Due for Murder.  I do however, recommend you start with the first book in this series.  


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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: The Cutting Edge by Jeffery Deaver

The Cutting Edge (Lincoln Rhyme #14)
by Jeffery Deaver
Release Date: April 10th 2018
2018 Grand Central Publishing
Kindle Edition; 434 Pages
ISBN: 978-1455536429
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

In the early hours of a quiet, weekend morning in Manhattan's Diamond District, a brutal triple murder shocks the city. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs quickly take the case. Curiously, the killer has left behind a half-million dollars' worth of gems at the murder scene, a jewelry store on 47th street. As more crimes follow, it becomes clear that the killer's target is not gems, but engaged couples themselves. 

The Promisor vows to take the lives of men and women during their most precious moments--midway through the purchase of an engagement ring, after a meeting with a wedding planner, trying on the perfect gown for a day that will never come. The Promisor arrives silently, armed with knife or gun, and a time of bliss is transformed, in an instant, to one of horror. 

Soon the Promiser makes a dangerous mistake: leaving behind an innocent witness, Vimal Lahori, a talented young diamond cutter, who can help Rhyme and Sachs blow the lid off the case. They must track down Vimal before the killer can correct his fatal error. Then disaster strikes, threatening to tear apart the very fabric of the city--and providing the perfect cover for the killer to slip through the cracks. 

My Thoughts
The Cutting Edge is the fourteenth book in the Lincoln Rhyme series and while I don't think it's the mos suspenseful book of the series, the premise was definitely interesting, the story telling was quite good, and as always, the author manages to throw in a few surprises that were unexpected.  I think that is why I keep coming back to these books time and time again; the author never really disappoints with his twists and turns, even if I expect them to happen now.

First of all, one of the weaknesses to the novel was kind of also its strength.  Let me explain.  Much of the time, Rhyme and Sachs are usually in so much danger and the tension usually revolves around them and this is expected in one of these books.  This time, except for a couple of situations, Rhyme and Sachs actually took a backseat to a lot of the tension and the story line revolved around the other characters in the book, which was a bit different.  The brutal triple murder of the jeweler and his customers was witnessed moments later by a worker and the story revolves around his story and the killer's pursuit of him throughout the city. It was kind of nice to get the perspective of someone who has no training in deception trying to escape a killer in the city; and how Rhyme and Sachs go about helping him, or inadvertently hindering him, in his escape.  What this does however, is diminish the actual tension in the novel.  I am fully invested in what happens to Rhyme and Sachs, but was not really invested into what happened to Vimal; in some ways, I just don't think there was enough time to really develop his character and make the reader empathize with him other than to feel sorry for the fact he witnessed a brutal slaying.  That being said, there was, at one point, some really interesting stuff happening with a trial that could have caused Rhyme a lot of potential trouble and I thought this was where the story really picked up; but unfortunately, it didn't really go the path that I thought it would and I was left a bit disappointed because I was looking for a bit of excitement and didn't really get it.  I don't want to see Rhyme get in a lot of trouble, but perfect Rhyme is a bit boring too, you know?

The plot itself was actually quite convoluted, much more than I initially gave it credit for as I first thought the villain was a bit daft.  As the novel jumped from the murders to these explosions that rocked the inner city and killed some people, I began wondering what the connection was although for the life of me I couldn't really see it.  What I did learn was an awful lot about diamonds I didn't really know before, and that information was actually quite informative.  It definitely made me look at my own jewelry a bit differently.  That being said, I did think this plot was a bit too far-fetched, with too many plot twists and too many convolutions.  Sometimes, simpler is better as one can get caught up in all the threads and lose one of them.  I also don't do very well with huge shifts in personalities, where one minute someone is locking someone up because they don't agree with their decisions, and suddenly, at the end, they have a huge change of heart and give that someone their blessing.  It just didn't ring true for me and left a bad taste in my mouth.  

The Cutting Edge (totally get the title now) was an interesting, but convoluted read with a lot of plot twists, maybe too many.  The author is a great writer with an amazing ability to draw the reader in to his stories, but sometimes simpler is better.  For the first time in a long time, I actually debated whether to give this one 3.5 starts rather than 4. And don't get me wrong, I loved Vimal's story; I just wished the author had more time to spend on his story.  Maybe without some of the other stuff that wasn't really needed, he could have fleshed out some of the other story lines a bit more and allowed us to feel more empathy to those characters.  While it was so great to revisit these characters, overall I felt a bit letdown.  It will be interesting to see where this heads in future books though as the ending definitely left some questions unanswered, not so much for this story arc, but for the future of the team.