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Kill and Run by Lauren Carr

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Kill and Run by Lauren Carr Kill and Run by Lauren Carr
Narrator: C.J. McAllister
Series: Thorny Rose Mysteries #1
Published by Acorn Book Services on October 14, 2016
Source: iRead Book Tours
Genres: Mystery
Length: 11 hrs 1 min
Format: Audiobook
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Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

Before long, the case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

The mystery in Kill and Run was good. Carr lets you think you know who the bad guy is, right up until you’re wrong. Everything tied together, although some of the coincidences were a little tough to swallow. I don’t know why I thought this was going to be a cozy mystery, because it’s got a harder edge than that, which is not surprising considering Murphy is with NCI and a member of an elite secret force called the Phantoms. The tone of the narrator made it seem more like a thriller and less cozy, too. It does have a bunch of quirky animals, though, which is a cozy trait and the amateur sleuth – Jessica – who puts herself in dangerous positions.

There are a lot of characters in this. From Murphy and Jessica’s families to the military folks, it’s a lot to keep track of. I listened to the audio, I guess print and ebook versions have a cast of characters in the front, but I didn’t have access to that. For the most part, I could keep track of everyone, but it is a large cast. We do get to know the main characters well.

Jessica and Murphy are obviously in love and make a good couple. They’re both smart and their own people. I did find their pet names for each other a bit annoying. Oh, and let’s not forget that Jessica’s eyes are violet, as we’re told more than once.

It was a good mystery with lots of action and just enough clues. My main complaint is that it does rely a lot on coincidence to get everyone involved in the case. A solid read.

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About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson

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The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Series: Xian Li-lin #1
Published by Audible Studios on February 23, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Length: 9 hrs 51 mins
Format: Audiobook
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It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

The Girl with Ghost Eyes is an enjoyable read, but I felt like it was straddling the line between YA and adult historical fantasy, which threw me off a little. I can’t put my finger on why it felt like that. Li-lin is not a teenager, she’s in her early 20s, I think, and a widow. So, it’s not her age. There isn’t a love triangle. I listened to the audio, and maybe the writing sounded a bit simple at times and there were definitely repetitive sections. I don’t know. Am I the only one who got that feeling? I listened to the audio and was glad that I did. Zeller brings Li-lin to life, but I also like to hear the Chinese words and phrases, not try to struggle with reading them.

Li-lin is a good character. She is tough and strong and a talented martial artist. She’s also a Daoist exorcist who has ghost eyes, meaning she can see all the spirits, ghosts and monsters that others don’t. But being a woman – and a widow, in Chinatown in the late 1890s is not easy. Her father is mean. I’m sorry, I know the it fits for the cultural and time, but he is condescending to her, does not give her the respect she deserves. The whole time I’m thinking maybe he does truly care about her, just isn’t able to show it, but in the end he totally disappointed me. Maybe that’s part of it, the issues with her dad. He treats her as if she is younger and less experienced than she is and she constantly needs to prove herself. She tends to dwell on things too, which gets a little annoying.

Tongs control Chinatown, but there is conflict between the new ways and the old ways. There’s a power struggle shaping up and the magical power that might be unleashed could destroy hundreds of lives. Of course, it’s up to Li-lin to save the day. I will say the author does not make it easy for her. She has helpers, but not many and she’s forced to make deals that may backfire on her. In some ways though, the constant need for action and fight scenes takes away from the story, at least for me.

I haven’t read many (any?)  fantasy novels that use Chinese folklore as their base, and I really liked that aspect of the novel. I loved the descriptions of the creatures and spirits. I think Boroson did a good job building his Chinatown, giving us a good feel for both the Chinese culture and the immigrang experience.

About M. H. Boroson

M. H. Boroson was obsessed with two things as a young man: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and kung fu movies. He has studied Chinese religion at Naropa University and the University of Colorado and now lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and three cats.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri

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The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Series: Commissario Montalbano #8
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on March 1, 2010 (first published 2004)
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 5 hrs 42 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Winning fans in Europe and America for their dark sophistication and dry humor, Andrea Camilleri's crime novels are classics of the genre. Set once again in Sicily, The Patience of the Spider pits Inspector Montalbano against his greatest foe yet: the weight of his own years. Still recovering from the gunshot wound he suffered in Rounding the Mark, he must overcome self-imposed seclusion and waxing self-doubt to penetrate a web of hatred and secrets in pursuit of the strangest culprit he's ever hunted.

The kidnapping of a beautiful young university student, Susanna Mistretta, rocks the community of Vigàta. Distrusting of his colleagues' ability to solve the case, Montalbano jumps in, his accute senses picking up on the subtleties that will leading his investigation on a winding trail of provincial politics, odious journalists, and delicious Italian food.

This is the second Montalbano mystery I’ve listened to in a row. To some extent, I could just copy the review from the last, Game of Mirrors; Montalbano and his circle just don’t change that much from book to book. For the most part, it’s only the plots that vary. But they’re easy, enjoyable listens, and usually available from the library, so I keep coming back to them.

This time, it’s a kidnapping, but the family clearly does not have enough money to pay a ransom, so who could possibly have kidnapped Susanna? An outsider who doesn’t know the family’s financial standing, or was she kidnapped for some other reason? The girl has a worried boyfriend and a father who would do anything to have her back. Her mother is on her deathbed and her uncle is doing all he can to help the family. I guessed most of the answer early on, although one piece took me longer.

Overall, it’s a good story. Camilleri really gives a feeling of the place and especially the people of both Sicily in general and Montalbano’s acquaintances. We do see a lot of his girlfriend this time around, and I’m not much of a fan of hers. There were several funny spots though and I found myself walking around the house repeating some of the Italian names and foods, one of the dangers of listening to a book like this on audio.

About Andrea Camilleri

Andrea Camilleri (born September 6, 1925 in Porto Empedocle) is an Italian writer. He is considered one of the greatest Italian writers of both 20th and 21st centuries. Camilleri lives in Rome where he works as a TV and theatre director. About 10 million copies of his novels have been sold to date, and are becoming increasingly popular in the UK and North America.

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