Death in Paris by Emilia Bernhard

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 2018

French financier Edgar Bowen drowned in a bowl of soup — literally. When his former girlfriend, American ex-pat Rachel Levis, overhears the details surrounding the strange death, she immediately suspects foul play, but the police rule it an accident.

With little more than a hunch, Rachel and her best friend, Magda, delve into the Parisian upper-class world determined to find out what really happened during Edgar’s last meal. As the suspect list grows, so do the number of deaths. With someone tying up loose ends, Rachel and Magda must uncover the truth without landing on a killer’s target list.

Emilia Bernhard’s debut, Death in Paris, offers a predictable and borderline comical tale in the vein of cozy mysteries. Expecting something along the lines of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None or Eric Keith’s Nine Man Murder, I instead encountered a slow-paced narrative that I struggled to get into. I could have easily skipped pages and missed nothing.

Rachel and Magda came across as bored busybodies in a foreign country with too much time on their hands. Their theories, though many times right in the end, felt like lucky guesses that they pulled out of nowhere. For the most part, I struggled to take them seriously. Even Rachel’s own husband, Alan, seemed to mostly indulge his wife. As is, Rachel and Magda don’t have what it takes to carry a series, their current success appearing more like a fluke.

Extensive telling versus showing, and the fact that the author reveals a lot of the details and accounts through conversations between characters after the events take place rather than in “real time,” ensured my placement as a spectator instead of experiencing the story for myself.

The setting, though picturesque and nice, could have been any generic European city, and the novel as a whole felt too implausible and required too much suspension of belief. Readers who enjoy cozy mysteries and slower stories might still like Death in Paris.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks

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Darkwater Secrets (Darkwater Inn #1) by Robin Caroll

Genre: Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Publication Date: July 2018

In New Orleans’ French Quarter stands the Darkwater Inn — a confluence to a bustling street life, eclectic guests, and now murder. Managing the inn comes with plenty of challenges, but Adelaide Fountaine loves the job. However, the hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife could not only ruin the inn’s reputation but also cost Adelaide her job.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, lands the case. As he delves into the victim’s past, Beau not only discovers a sordid history but also a surprising connection with Adelaide — one she’s kept secret for years. Hurt by the betrayal, things only complicate further when the investigation pushes Adelaide, the woman he has loved for years, into the arms of another man.

Part mystery, part romance, part drama, Darkwater Secrets is one story I’m not quite sure how to place. I picked Robin Caroll’s latest novel expecting a high-stakes romantic suspense read. However, the murderer is revealed and apprehended around the 70% mark. What follows is Adelaide dealing with long-held secrets and feeling torn between two men.

To be honest, the jury is still out on how I feel about this book. Though not completely let down, I didn’t feel totally satisfied either. The outcome will probably depend on how the series continues from here on out. In a way, it felt like the entire novel was just one long set up for what is to come. A risky move, but one I’m willing to give a shot.

At the moment, both Beau and Dimitri seem like nice men who genuinely care for Adelaide. She, on the other hand, tests the waters with both. A big no-no in my book. First, that’s a major red flag that she doesn’t truly love either one. Second, one should find out how s/he feels and then explore the possibility of a relationship. Not the other way around. One shouldn’t toy with people’s emotions. Despite being strongly, and wisely, advised by people in her life, Adelaide continually chose to disregard them, making poor decisions.

Set in New Orleans around Mardi Gras, the occult plays a role in the story, which again, I am waiting to see how the author handles it. While the one Christian character does say he has nothing to worry about because he has God on his side (which is true to an extent), he also takes the spiritual world too lightly — a dangerous stance for a believer.

Still, as a whole, Darkwater Secrets provided a quick read, and I will give the next installment in the series a shot.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

 

If I’m Found (If I Run #2) by Terri Blackstock

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: March 2017

Casey Cox remains on the run accused of a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts still hot on her trail claims to know the truth and wants to help her. But trusting the wrong person could cost Casey her life.

While investigating the real murderers, she comes across something that leads her to a suicidal man and the child he is falsely accused of abusing. Unable to turn her back on the injustice, Casey puts everything on the line to help the man and protect the girl from her true abusers.

Terri Blackstock’s If I’m Found reunites readers with Casey as she struggles to clear her name. I loved the first book, If I Run. Sadly, the second installment in the series didn’t offer anything new. It felt like a repeat, simply with new secondary characters.

In book one, Casey goes on the run, encounters someone in trouble, and risks her life to save her. In book two, we find Casey still on the run, again she encounters people in trouble, and once more she puts everything on the line to help them. Though I know it’s fiction, it felt a bit too implausible. What are the chances that these injustices keep landing in her lap?

The suspense and pace were good. The author brought the setting to life in a that way allowed me to experience the characters’ world for myself. I enjoyed watching Dylan and Casey start joining forces more. All of this made for an entertaining read. I just would have liked a little something more, especially considering the stellar first book.

Newcomers, keep in mind that while the minor threads/mysteries come to a conclusion with each installment, the main story arches throughout the three books in the series.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor Series #4) by Dani Pettrey

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House Publisher
Publication Date: July 2018

Luke Gallagher vanished without a trace seven years ago. Now he has reappeared, wreaking havoc on Kate Maxwell’s carefully reconstructed life. She never stopped loving or searching for him, but she also never imagined he chose to walk away at his own volition.

For years, Luke has been part of an elite team hunting a terrorist. The search has brought him back to his own backyard and the group of friends he abandoned, including the woman he loved. Though used to working alone, Luke must join forces with Kate and the guys to thwart a deadly biological attack. As Luke and Kate work to unravel the case, they fall into the terrorist’s sights, suddenly at risk of losing more than just their hearts.

The explosive conclusion to Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series has arrived. I have been chomping at the bit for Luke’s story ever since book one landed, and let me say, he does not disappoint. Dead Drift delivers everything readers have come to expect from a Pettrey novel, high-octane suspense, adrenaline-pumping action, and of course, a bit of romance to sweeten the deal.

I probably wouldn’t have dealt with Luke’s return as gracefully as Kate did, but he is a persuasive fellow, and I enjoyed watching the couple’s story develop.

Our beloved team pursues two mysteries — the terrorist plot and the killer of Griffin’s (book one’s hero) sister. I enjoyed both, but finally uncovering what happened to Jenna was definitely the highlight. The deceased young woman we never met in life, seemed to become more real and watching justice prevail was reason to rejoice.

Fans of Chesapeake Valor won’t want to miss Dead Drift. Those who are new to the series will probably want to start at the beginning since a lot of details carry over and enhance the understanding of the story.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Look for Me (D.D. Warren #9) by Lisa Gardner

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 2018

Detective D.D. Warren arrives to a devastating scene. Uniformed officers, police cruisers, and yellow tape cordon off the home of a family of five. Four members have been murdered and the fifth — a sixteen-year-old girl — is missing. Unsure whether the teen narrowly escaped with her life or played a role in the tragedy, D.D. hunts for the girl while trying to piece together the family’s final moments. However, the detective isn’t the only one searching for the truth, so is survivor and vigilante Flora Dane. Both women want justice, but each has a different idea of what it looks like.

Look for Me delivers an adrenaline-charged page turner. Lisa Gardner pens a heart-wrenching tale of mistakes, second chances, and survival. Intricate characters pulled me in and had me vacillating between rooting for their escapes or captures. I did strongly suspect the killer’s identity early on, but the author had me second guessing myself a couple times.

Gardner masterfully toys with the reader’s emotions as D.D. and Flora uncover the events that led to the family’s murder. It felt like watching a car zoom straight for a cliff and being unable to stop it. The reader knows from the start that the family dies but desperately wants to find a way to prevent it.

I highly recommend that Look for Me stay within its intended audience as it contains strong language and mature content. Though it is number nine in the D.D. Warren series, it easily stands alone. To understand Flora Dane, you might want to read Find Her first, but it is not imperative to follow this story. Gardner and D.D.’s fans won’t want to miss this latest installment.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.