Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave by Bill Pronzini

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*No Major Spoilers*

Nothing much happens in Peaceful Valley, Montana. And that’s just how Sheriff Lucas Monk likes it.

Aside from the occasional drunken brawl or minor disturbance out on the reservation, he hasn’t had to resort to his fists or sidearm in years.

That is, until mid-October, 1914, when the theft of a wooden cigar store Indian sets off a crime wave like nothing Lucas has ever seen. Teenager Charity Axthelm goes missing, Reba Purvis’s housekeeper is poisoned with cyanide Reba is sure was meant for her, and Lucas’s gut tells him that this is only the beginning.

It’s not long before the first corpse shows up, bringing the peace in the valley to a thundering end.

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I have read and reviewed a few Westerns on this blog before. Some include The Ballad of Black Bart by Loren D. Estleman, The Hunger by Alma Katsu, Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith, and recently, Modo: Ember’s End by Arthur Slade. Let’s return to the frontier in The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave by Bill Pronzini! 

I enjoyed how the book starts with the theft of the local cigar store Indian, and the chaos grows from there. Sherriff Monk takes the chaos in stride and does his best to investigate with the clues the case threw at him. Next, the attempted murder of a local busybody and her housekeeper. Finally, the murder of a local young woman who supposedly ran away with a traveling merchant.

First of all, I fell in love with Sherriff Monk. I agreed with his idea of justice and doing things more or less by the book. His dry sense of humor had me chuckling along as he’s questioning witnesses and looking for clues. He is honest, and he’s willing to let his deputies participate in the investigations. 

Out of the three central mysteries, I think the attempted homicide by poisoning ended up being my favorite. I think the idea of a murderess killing wealthy bachelors and taking their money and moving to a new town to start again is fascinating. The case reminded me of the frontier serial killer, Belle Gunness.

Overall, I enjoyed The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave. There was plenty of action, mystery, and old fashioned justice. What caused this sudden and brief crime wave Sherriff Monk isn’t sure of by the time the last case wraps up. Maybe Montana is just dull enough to cause people to go a little batty. 

I would recommend this novel for lovers of westerns, mysteries, and historical fiction. I think you should give this a read if you’re looking for a great western mystery. The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave is an entertaining read that I enjoyed from beginning to end.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Guest Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire by Wesley Allison

Good afternoon everyone, my name is Alex Dickson, I’m Elisha’s fiance and I’m doing a guest review of a book out of one of my favorite book series. His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire is an excellent book let’s just start there. I’ll tell you why as we get into the review. Please note there may be some spoilers.

Okay to start off this is a continuation of the story of Mike Smith and his family from the last 5 books in the series. This book continues on starting off with Mike’s son, Lucas in the military out on the front lines. With it starting following Lucas through his battle in Russia just him and his Robot soldiers around him, he’s having it rough out there.

As we go along with the story this book kind of flip-flops between different sections of different characters’ lives. It kind of does it like a movie where it’s written like scenes, multiple scenes in each chapter.

As we continue through the book we learn various things about what’s going on with Patience, Mike, his daughter Harriet, Lucas and his wife as well as a couple of the other cast of the series. When we move over the story of Patience and Mike supposedly the ATF&R (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Robots) are wanting to question Mike and Patience. Patience is the robot wife to Mike and if you’ve ever read the previous books in the series you will have learned Patience was able to reprogram herself to make herself “Free”. When Patience learns of this she takes off without telling Mike where she’s going, but leaves in place, without anyone’s knowledge an exact copy of Patience to take care of Mike.

The story eventually flips to Harriet finally getting out to start dating again and she ends up going out with a tattoo artist, he’s a nice guy and she really likes him, they have a lot of fun together for about the first 3 dates, she eventually drops him off and she forgets to tell him something so she runs back up to his apartment and catches him getting blown by his robot maid. So he tries to explain his way out of it and so far she’s having none of it.

At another point in the story Lucas gets pulled from deployment and sent home with commendations and he finally gets to see his wife, Haruka once again and the rest of his family. Everyone was so delighted to see him and he was especially delighted to see his wife once again.

There’s a critical plot point that I’m about to discuss without going into too much detail just because it’d be a major spoiler, but there’s a point where this robot under a different name takes a trip to Canada for an at first unspecified reason, but she takes a trip to a hub station where the various Daffodil robots’ software is distributed around North America. It’s a really interesting part to the story, but I’m sure it will tie in more into the next book.

I know my thoughts here feel incomplete, but I’m trying to tell about the book without giving too much away and I know my thoughts seem random because I don’t want to give away the order of everything. This is an excellent book and I think any sci-fi/fantasy nerd with an interest in a bit of romance and adventure may like.

But yeah, there’s a lot to this book series and not just this book alone, if you start at the beginning of the series with His Robot Girlfriend you’ll learn how everything begins to lead from one place to the next.

Anyway this series has kept me entertained for the last 6-7 years and I always look forward to the next book in the series. I don’t know if this series will ever conclude, but it’s always a fun read. Like I said I recommend this to anyone that’s into a sci-fi/fantasy style romance adventure. There’s a lot of adventure and different scenes to be had in this series. I like the writing and how it all plays out like a movie, I personally think this entire series could be turned into at least 2-3 feature length films with the amount of story as there is right now.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Dark Deception (Daphne and Velma #2) by Morgan Baden


*No Major Spoilers*

Despite their differences, Daphne and Velma were able to solve the mystery of The Vanishing Girl. But there are a lot of secrets buried in the town of Crystal Cove. And the biggest case of all still remains unsolved… why did the town’s original settlers all disappear? What happened to them?

Velma is determined to find out… especially because her family’s ancestors were among the disappeared. And now that she and Daphne have started to get a reputation for solving mysteries, everyone in town is looking to them for answers.

But digging up the past can be dangerous… especially when some people in town have profited from the mystery for so long. Can these two intrepid teen detectives crack the case… and escape with their lives?

~~ Trigger Warnings for mentions of bullying ~~

As you know, I love Scooby-Doo and, the franchise is something near and dear to me. When I found out about this series existence, I read and reviewed The Vanishing Girl in March. I loved the novel overall, and I couldn’t wait to read the sequel Dark Deception. So let’s see how the sequel stands up. 

Since the previous book tackled most of the drama between Velma and Daphne, that’s now resolved. Though there are hints here and there that times haven’t healed things completely, overall things are better. 

This novel takes place shortly after the previous one. I loved how there was a smooth transition back into Crystal Cove and, hijinks abound. Shaggy is in trouble and, it’s up to Velma and Daphne to figure out what has their childhood friend troubled. Don’t worry, no mention of child abuse!

However, Shaggy’s family troubles are the least of their worries when gems start washing up on the shores of Crystal Cove. It seems like Velma and Daphne have more investigating to do!

If teenage drama is not your thing, then I would say to start with this novel. There’s a little high school drama, but it’s nothing like the previous entry in the series. Velma continues to deal with the insecurities that high school gives. Daphne received an internship to work at the local paper and quickly develops a crush on one of her coworkers.

Overall, I liked this sequel. I think this one was a bit of a letdown because the mystery was predictable. Of course, I am a twenty-something reading a book series meant for kids. Even though the case was easily solvable for me, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the story.

I enjoyed the characters and the familiar nostalgia that the Scooby-Doo series brings. I am already looking forward to the next entry in this series! I would recommend this novel for lovers of Scooby-Doo, mysteries, YA fiction, and female detectives. 

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Click Here to “Buy Me A Coffee”! Not only will you be receiving member-exclusive blog posts, but I will also do a monthly shoutout on Twitter, Elisha’s Book Review, and BMC. I am also working towards a goal, and if we reach that goal before the end of the year I will do a month-long feature on Oklahoma authors.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Fury From the Tomb (Institute of Singular Antiquities #1) by S.A. Sidor

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*No Major Spoilers* 

Saqqara, Egypt, 1888, and in the booby-trapped tomb of an ancient sorcerer, Rom Hardy, a young Egyptologist, makes the discovery of a lifetime: five coffins and an eerie, oversized sarcophagus. But the expedition seems cursed, for after unearthing the mummies, all but Rom die horribly. He faithfully returns to America with his disturbing cargo, continuing by train to Los Angeles, home of his reclusive sponsor. When the train is hijacked by murderous banditos in the Arizona desert, who steal the mummies and flee over the border, Rom – with his benefactor’s rebellious daughter, an orphaned Chinese busboy, and a cold-blooded gunslinger – must ride into Mexico to bring the malevolent mummies back. If only mummies were their biggest problem…

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I love historical fiction, and I was excited about Fury From the Tomb because it reminded me of the Indiana Jones series. I couldn’t wait to go on an adventure to Egypt amidst the craze of Egyptology and discover an ancient tomb that wasn’t supposed to see the light of day.

The book sold me on the first fifty or so pages. I can understand Dr. Hardy’s drive to follow the feverish whims of his wealthy benefactor. The possibilities for future trips to Egypt were in the balance. Dr. Hardy wanted to make at least one discovery before he resigned to teaching a lecture hall full of students.

“Mummies became exotic party favors rich people unraveled for their own titillation and gruesome delights, only then to be discarded like so much used gift ribbon and leftover bones. Disgraceful and unscientific plundering was commonplace.”- Fury From the Tomb by S.A. Sidor

After the excavation of the forbidden crypt, mysterious people come to smuggle the mummies out of Egypt illegally. Once the doctor and company return to the United States, the story gets interesting and starts to drag simultaneously.

Perhaps this wasn’t a good time for me to read this novel. Maybe it’s just not for me as a reader. I enjoyed what I had read I wish it wasn’t dragging along. I initially had a tough time describing why I felt the novel was dragging after the train hijacking. I think it was the dialogue that forced me to throw in the towel.

Overall, I would check it out at your local library. I thought the premise and characters were interesting, but I feel that the story drags once Dr. Hardy leaves Egypt. If you enjoy the Indiana Jones franchise or magical realism in historical fiction, then I would say this novel might be for you.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Rico Stays by Ed Duncan (Pigeon-Blood Red #3)

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*No Spoilers* 

After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’s hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.

When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished, but three goons who had tried to help him lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.

Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found by men who surely would be looking. A place like a cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once. Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history. Or Paul’s fascination with him.

Using Rico’s girlfriend as bait, vengeful killers soon would be coming for him. The only question was whether he would face them alone or with help from Paul.

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Last year, I reviewed Ed Duncan‘s book The Last Straw. The second installation of the Pidgeon-Blood Red series. Since I enjoyed the previous installment, I couldn’t wait to dive into Rico Stays

I was concerned about if I should go back and reread The Last Straw. I have a vague memory of the overall plot, and I don’t remember which character appeared more. Each novel in the series you can read as a stand-alone novel. I looked at my last review; I talked about how Rico was my favorite character. Rico still is my favorite character, but I feel like I got to know Paul Elliot more in Rico Stays.

This novel is full of suspense, action, as well as character development. I feel like I got to know each of the major players in this story by the time I got to the last page. No one is one-dimensional in this story.

If you enjoyed the first two books, then Rico Stays should be added to your “To Be Read” list. I would recommend this for those who enjoy modern crime noir, mobster stories, and stories full of suspense and action.

Click Here to buy Rico Stays by Ed Duncan!

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