Reading Fanatic Reviews

All Mystery, Suspense, and Thriller Reviews

Son of Thunder by Steven M. Moore

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Son of Thunder*

Thriller through Space and Time

This is the first book that I have read by this author. I thought it was intriguing how he started the book. He sets it up like the person writing it (in 2025) is a scribe who is writing down the real-life tales of a woman who got into some intriguing adventures as an art detective. This is followed by a couple of different sections, like a cast of characters and an explanation of the agencies that are like the FBI and CIA in Great Britain and France. I actually thought all of this front material helped to prime the pump and got you curious about what exactly this book would be about.

I was surprised that it actually started in Renaissance Italy. The book not only takes us around the globe but also back and forth in time. What a fascinating concept! The book is mostly fast paced, though it does have times of relative stillness. I found it to be a thoroughly engaging read, written in a detailed style that is not overly much so (as can happen sometimes, unfortunately. I thought the pacing was a spot on and the characters well-formed for a thriller. If you like globe-trotting thrillers that are steeped in history, you may very well enjoy this book.

The Perfect Brew by Jo-Ann Carson

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The Perfect Brew*

Bumpy Start Morphs into a Good Read

I enjoy a good cozy mystery. This one, unfortunately, started off with an information dump, which I never like in any sort of fiction that I read. It did get better after that. The heroine got more than she bargained for when she came to a small town in the Pacific Northwest to settle her great-aunt’s affairs. The now-deceased lady has left the heroine a coffee shop… and a curse. Soon, a second body drops, and the heroine has determined to help figure out who the murderer is. She’s got a little something going on the romance front as well, or at least potentially. I found this novel a quirky and enjoyable read, which is how I like my paranormal cozy mysteries.

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook

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Burried in the Stacks*

Too Slow Getting to the Murder

Librarian Carrie has many projects going on at work when one of her colleagues is killed in a car accident and believed to be murdered. The library has a resident ghost who happens to be the dead woman’s aunt. The ghost wants to figure out what happened to her niece, and it turns out that the murdered women had a secret life that would make her many enemies.

Despite the paranormal aspect of this, I did not feel that this was a true cozy mystery. It is more like an amateur sleuth story with a paranormal element. I felt like the story started too slow. Until the murder (which happened near the 25% mark), we basically just saw Carrie meeting with her friend, her hospitalized colleague, and working at her job (even though there were new aspects to her job). It just felt like too much setup, not enough actually happening. The writing is straightforward and clean. Even the idea that there is a ghost who is such an integral part of the story is treated in a no-nonsense manner. I feel neutral about this book; it was an okay read, but I’m not particularly looking forward to the next book (which I hope to do for any series that I start).

Clairvoyant Clues by Paula Lester

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Clairvoyant Clues*

Another Delightful Visit to the Sunnyside Retirement Community

I think that I have read every single book in this series, and I just adore every one of them. The author has created a zany, quirky paranormal world that I love to revisit whenever a new installment comes out. What’s not to like about a series centered around a retirement home for witches and other magical people? Can Zoey, the young woman who is the director of this community, keep them in line?

In this particular story, Zoey has a lot on her plate. Her mother is just only back in the land of the living but still is not responsive; her father thinks that she is just faking it. Zoey has a new love interest. But the mystery centers around a psychic who is planning to move into the community; she disappears before she can do so. Law enforcement believes that someone at the retirement community, either a resident or worker, had something to do with it. Suspects pile up as many haven’t been so happy with the psychic’s predictions. So, that is what needs to be sorted out in this particular installment.

As always, I enjoyed the characters who make up the retirement community. There is so much humor in this book because of the wonderful characters that the author has created; she has taken great pains to make so individual and relatable as well as zany. Most of these people have what I would say are good intentions, but in trying to help Zoey, they more often make a hash of it all—and quite often in hilarious ways. Since this series now has several books, we have gotten to know some of these characters over time, so reading the book is like visiting your crazy friends; you just know it will be insane but a lot of fun. I totally would like to be the director of this community; you would never be bored! While the novel is a part of a series, it can definitely be read as a standalone, although you will get much more from it if you start reading the series at the beginning. If you like paranormal cozy mysteries with humor and an exceptionally well-drawn cast of characters, you might enjoy this series as much as I do.

Double Fudge Drowning by Diana DuMont

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Double Fudge Drowning*

I’ll Take Some Double-Fudge Rum Pie, Please!

I have read all the books, I think, of the Drunken Pie Cafe cozy mystery series. Sometimes I swear that I enjoy the names of the drunken pies more than the mystery! I wish the author included recipes. Anyway, about this book. I like that the author got to the first dead body rather quickly. I do get frustrated with cozy mysteries that spend too much time on the quirky characters or other world-building, delaying the murder and therefore not allowing much time for twists and turns and red herrings necessary for a mystery plot. This did have an extended scene before the crime was discovered, but it was relatively confined (at a town event) and necessary to set up the murder. This time, one of Izzy’s friends looks like the prime suspect, and her alibi doesn’t look too good and cannot be corroborated. Even Sheriff Mitch doesn’t like having to investigate her as he had considered her a friend as well. This book does have a few red herrings and blind alleys, which I always love in a mystery. I think, though, that the number of characters in Sunshine Springs that we know of needs to be expanded to give us more possibilities for suspects. It felt like the suspect pool was limited in this book. All in all, I still found it to be an enjoyable cozy mystery read.

Black Widow by Lucy Leroux

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Black Widow*

Good at First, Then Goes Off the Rails

I am not quite sure what to write for this review. I was surprised by this book, but not in a good way. When I read the book description, I just read the summary, not the quotes from other reviewers within the blurb; I never read those or other reviews before I read a book. From the couple paragraph description, I was expecting a somewhat standard historical romance. And the first part of the book and delivered on that, along with a little romantic suspense—which I also enjoy. The heroine has a variety of secrets that neither we nor the hero is privy to for a while. We learn from the first chapter that the heroine is not a murderer, as first suspected by the hero. I actually enjoyed watching their initial dance, shall we say, as they became reacquainted with each other and he tried to figure out if she had anything to do with her husband’s death.

But then it got weird. And, frankly, I didn’t see it coming. I read a variety of books, so I don’t have anything necessarily against weird so long as I am prepared for it. I certainly did not expect the book to go the way it did in the last roughly 40%. Actually, I kept thinking it would straighten back out into a standard story instead of going into a paranormal aspect that wasn’t appropriately foreshadowed and therefore felt entirely out of place. It almost felt like a deus ex machina move, which I never like in a story as it feels like a cop-out. I did enjoy watching the push-me, pull-you relationship of the hero and heroine at first, and the heroine’s naivete was surprising (in an intriguing way) in a story about a widow (and I liked watching the hero’s education of her). I do feel that there were too many intimate scenes after a certain point in the story; they did detract from the rest of the plot because, at times, it felt like the plot existed as something to happen between the intimate moments so it wouldn’t be just all that. So, I actually enjoyed the first part of the book, but the second half fell apart for me once it appeared as though the paranormal aspect was meant to be real.

Bound by Truth by Suzanne Cass

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and

Bound by Truth*

Thriller Romance on Small Island Off Australia

It’s rare to have a genre mashup of thriller and romance, but this book manages to pull it off. The story seemed to start out slow for a thriller, as the heroine first meets the hero when they’re taking a ferry to the island where she lives (and where he’s about to start a job as a cop) and she discovers that her home has been broken into and trashed. The hero and heroine do have chemistry, especially after he gets to know her as he takes part in the police investigation of the robbery. There’s a deep history with a stalker and some abductions. I don’t want to give too much away because part of the fun of a thriller is to follow it step by step. I thought some of the language was a little off and unnatural. There were definitely issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, but I found this to be a minor distraction. In general, I liked the story, and I definitely felt the characters to be believable and relatable—which I love in a story.

Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan

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Death of a Dowager*

Jane Eyre Rochester, Amateur Sleuth

I am a massive fan of Jane Austen fan fiction, but I do not think I have ever read any Bronte sister fanfiction. This book is told from the perspective of Jane Eyre Rochester, a few years after her marriage to Edward. Love and their infant son have transformed their lives, but repairs are desperately needed at the manor house, and Edward’s sight continues to worsen. The Rochesters go to London and are caught up in a variety of machinations, including a political intrigue involving the new king and a murder that happens when Jane visits a woman for tea. Unfortunately, one of Jane’s good friends is a suspect. This pulls Jane in so she can attempt to clear her friend.

I thought the author actually did a pretty decent job, in parts, in mimicking the tone and voice of the original Jane Eyre novel. Jane is a fascinating character in many ways, and I like the way that she looks at the world; trying to exist within high society is not easy for her, so it is fascinating to watch events from her perspective. I think it is odd that the author has chosen to place this book at the tail end of the Regency Era as the original Jane Eyre was written in the late 1840s, clearly and definitely part of the Victorian Era. Perhaps she wanted to use some political intrigue from that time of transition to the new king, which wouldn’t have been the same at all, of course, in the Victorian era. I found the political intrigue plot more interesting than the murder plot. As mystery plots go, it was relatively easy to follow and figure it out. I think the author needed a few more red herrings and twists and turns to make the mystery plot more engaging. But the political intrigue, as well as the interactions between Jane and those around her, kept me turning the pages. Frankly, though, I wish we had seen more of Mr. Rochester. All in all, I would say that if you enjoyed the original Jane Eyre and can forgive the author for inappropriately using the Regency Era, you will most likely enjoy this tale.

The Last Descendent by Kristina Kairn

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The Last Descendent*

Wasn’t Expecting a Vampire Story

I chose this book at my favorite book review site because it appeared as though it was going to be a medical thriller, which I do enjoy on occasion. While it has both medical and thriller aspects, it is more of a vampire story, which is something I didn’t quite glean from the book description. In general, I’m not really a fan of vampire stories. It is just not my jam. This book is more complex than many of the independently published books of this subgenre. I didn’t like the profanity (a personal thing) or the way that vampirism was sexualized. The latter was a little creepy at times, even right at the beginning. It was interesting, though, to watch the heroine try to figure out not only her task before her in her new job but also what is truly going on at the clinic and with those whom James knows. Things and “people” are not always what they seem. There is a complex cast of characters with a deep history that is slowly revealed. If you enjoy the vampire subgenre, you will most likely find this thriller something you can sink your teeth into. Yup, I went there!

Genetic Imperfections by Steve Hadden

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Genetic Imperfections*

Love and Redemption Overwhelmed by Greed

I was intrigued by the medical thriller aspect of this book, which is why I chose it at my favorite book review website. While the medical thriller part was certainly present, I felt like the novel had issues on a variety of fronts. First, it seemed like every time we met a new character, we got a very large information dump about them, their story, and how they related to the bigger story. I hate data dumps in novels in general, but to just keep running across them every time there was a new viewpoint character or a new character got a little wearisome.

Second, I am an RN, and I found the way that the author portrayed the hospital setting was grossly inaccurate. I hate that in stories. Given our ever-connected, networked world, it seems to me like authors could simply go on nursing groups on Facebook or other forums and ask if anybody would be willing to share their knowledge so books can be accurate. I know I would help an author out. There are so many things that are inaccurate, but I think the one that bothered me the most is that a nurse would just let a patient who survived an airplane crash just walk out of his room on his own. We actually have some pretty strict protocols in the hospital for mobility. A patient like him would have had to have been signed off by PT as able to walk around the unit independently. A nurse couldn’t make this decision and just let him go. And given what has happened to him, a good nurse—even with such permission—would have walked with him or had a nursing assistant walk with him to make sure he was safe on his own. I could go on about the medical, but I will not.

I also had issues with the characters. I had really hoped that this would be a story of redemption and love, as promised in the book description. But most of the characters were motivated by such greed and were so ugly that any positive themes felt completely overwhelmed. Too, probably because of the information dumps, I never felt like I connected with the characters, especially those at the heart of what should have been the romance and redemption. So I never really bought those themes for them anyway. I also did find issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. All in all, I found this to be a disappointing book.


The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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