Lowcountry Boneyard

So I was given an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of this book in exchange for an honest review. I read it withoutI read this book first before book one and two, but decided to not change anything but leave the review the same.

Lowcountry Boneyard (Liz Talbot Mystery #3) Susan M. Boyer

I am an avid reader of mysteries, but have never been a fan of the supernatural mystery genre. I have often found them redundant, (as they seem to be the same story told over and over again); have the ghosts, ghouls, vampires, zombies, etc being the one to do all the actual work instead of the investigator or police officer; or used as just another venue to tell a supernatural love story. Most of the time when I read a synopsis involving the help of the dead, I pass it by.

However, Lowcountry Boneyard (A Liz Talbot Mystery), by Susan M. Boyer, intrigued me and once I started reading it, I found it extremely hard to put down.

Liz Talbot is a private investigator, placed on a case to look into the disappearance of heiress Kent Heyward. Assisting her is her boyfriend, and partner in business, Nate Andrews, and dead best friend from high school turned ghostly guardian, Colleen.

Liz is going to need all the help she can get as this case takes her into a world of the wealthy, involves a family with long reaching arms, and a dark secret that those involved would do anything to stop Liz from discovering.

I really enjoyed this book as the mystery was amazing. The characters are realistic in their approach to the case, not discovering the answer immediately, but going through a lot of threads until they find the one that leads to the right answer. This one had a wide collection of possible suspects and theories, leaving mystery lovers enthralled as they try to discover what really happened to Kent Heyward.

Liz Talbot is an endearing character with her Southern charm, ladylike ways, intuition, and stubbornness; all cumulating in the perfect P.I. She is equally matched with Nate Anderson, partner and lover, whose cool logic balances out her more impulsive personality. I also enjoyed the spirit of Colleen, who role as guardian has the right amount of restrictions on what she can and cannot do, allowing Liz to not diminish in her ability to solve cases, yet have a bit of help when she needs it.

After reading this novel, I am inspired to read all that came out prior, and stay on the lookout for those to come. I’d give this novel a five out of five.

For more Liz Talbot mysteries, go to Lowcountry Bombshell

For more by Susan M. Boyer, go to Lowcountry Boil

For more private investigators, go to The Key to Midnight

For more female private investigators, go to The Case of the Invisible Dog

For more disappearances, go to Kidnapped!

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Kidnapped!

Kidnapped! (Sweet Valley High #13) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

I’m going to find them and read them!

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

Wow…

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11.

Ooops…

So there is only one book between the last review and this one, and it turns out that Steven’s girlfriend has cancer and she dies. It is very sad, but it won’t be the end of it…unfortunately. But that a book for another day.

Not looking forward to that…

KIDNAPPED!

Elizabeth unfastened the chain lock as Carl became aware of what was happening.

“No!” he cried as he rose to prevent her escape. “Elizabeth, no!”

She unlocked the bolt and pulled on the door handle. It wouldn’t be long before she was free. But something was wrong. The door wouldn’t open! Elizabeth gasped as Carl seized her. He grabbed her under the arms and threw her onto the sofa with the force of a man possessed. His eyes now bright with anger, he came toward her.

This is it, though Elizabeth as she squeezed her eyes shut. This is the end.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Jessica and Elizabeth are candy stripers. Jessica only to meet Jeremy Frank, well-known handsome TV personality who had been laid up with a broken leg. While Elizabeth, of course, loves it. Tonight there is a party and Jessica is getting ready, while Elizabeth is still at the hospital and then going to tutor Max Dellon. Jessica has moved on to a new guy of her dreams, Nicholas Morrow who is everything she wants. Rich, handsome, etc.

Jessica waits, but at 8 she can’t do it no more-someone else might grab Nicolas-and has her friend Cara Walker pick her up-leaving a note for Elizabeth when she gets home. At the party Jessica meets the dreamboat, and Regina, his sister (who is deaf).

Meanwhile, in chapter 3, we see what happened to Elizabeth. Elizabeth stayed late at the hospital, and is hurrying to her car-hoping to hurry and get to Max’s. Next to her car is a junky creepy pedophile van, but Elizabeth doesn’t even notice. Really girl? As an adult it makes you wonder why something didn’t happen to her earlier.

She was grabbed, chloroformed, and kidnapped. And she is in a junky old place. Who took her?

Max is waiting for Elizabeth, but she is an hour late. That’s not Elizabeth at all. By 9:40, he knows something is up and decides to head to the hospital.

Todd is worried about Elizabeth, but Jessica makes up a lie as to where she is as she wants to focus on Nicholas.

Low Jessica, very low.

Elizabeth wakes up and finds herself alone, but then her kidnapper comes home. It is Carl, the janitor. Carl who asked her for help, Carl who she pitied, and now is a victim of his interests.

Help me! For God’s sake someone help me!”

Todd has had enough and calls Mr. Collins, who Jessica said Elizabeth was babysitting for. He finds out the truth and guns after Jessica. Jessica realizes the time and that Todd is right-

The Wakefields come home and see the note that Jessica left-growing worried about where Elizabeth is.

Where is she? How will they save her?

They discover her car and figure out something happened to Elizabeth at the hospital, or shortly after. When the police come into it, they start looking at Max.

Its up to the gang to track her down and clear his name.

On the case!

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading…yes it is campy, and predictable but I still really enjoyed it. I think that the suspense and drama was right on point. As a teen and an adult, it got me wanting to get to the conclusion to find out what happens next. And that opening scene, fantastic!

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what they wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

For the party when Jessica is trying to impress Nicholas Morrow

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

There was no way Elizabeth could mistake the look she saw in his eyes, a look that said, “You’re the one I want.” It made her feel awkward and uncomfortable. She had a strong suspicion that Nicholas hadn’t reacted this way with Jessica. And she dreaded what would happen when Jessica found out.

Will Elizabeth leave Todd for Nicholas? Find out in Sweet Valley #14, DECEPTIONS

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Too Good to Be True

For more mysteries on a kidnapping, go to Deadly Intent

For more mysteries about a sister disappearing, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries about a disappearance, go to He’s Gone

He’s Gone

He’s Gone by Deb Caletti

So I read a book by this author before, Stay, and it was very sad, but compelling and kept me turning every page.

So when I spotted this one, I checked out the back and felt drawn to it, just like her other novel.

So one morning Dani wakes up and finds that her husband Ian is gone. At first she doesn’t think much of it, hoping he went out for coffee or maybe to cool off as they had a disagreement the night before. They went to a work party for Ian, but Dani was a bit too much under the influence and wasn’t up to Ian’s standards.

Ugh! One of those guys!

But everything changed that night when Ian didn’t return. His car stayed parked in the same place all day. None of his clothes or things are missing. No one has seen him. And Dani has no memory of what happened after the party.

They and everyone she knows searches and searches but to no avail, what happened to Ian?

Between the modern day of the disappearance and the searching we also have Dani recounting how they met and how they unraveled.

Dani was married to an abusive man, always getting a fist or a kick-life was unbearable. She wanted out. She wanted to be rescued. And Ian felt the same feelings of being trapped in his marriage that was solely superficial-he made money and his wife spent it all on countless shopping trips and she flirted with everyone.

Ian saved her, and everything was good-until it wasn’t. Ian had a lot more faults than Dani had originally seen. In fact-he turned out to be just as abusive-except emotional and verbal instead of physical. He blamed her for his loss of friends, children, money, stuff in the divorce-taking no blame for something he instigated.

Jordan

The two began fighting more and more-unraveling faster than a ball of yarn.

So now the question is: did Ian leave? Or is he dead?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was compelling and kept you turning page by page to see what happened to Dani and Ian.

It was so sad how Dani left one abusive relationship, only to find herself in another. I think it is a travesty that more people aren’t educated about the many levels of abuse, only thinking it is physical or verbal.

For more disappearances, go to Deadly Intent

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to The Wife Between Us

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

Deadly Intent

Deadly Intent (The Nancy Drew Files #2) by Carolyn Keene

Background Information:

It’s been a couple of years since we reviewed one of this mysteries, so let me do a bit of background information.

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high schooler, an amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate. She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Hmmm…

Another thing this book series does,  as it is a “case file”, there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodonit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

ASSIGNMENT:Find a missing rock star-Bent Fender’s lead guitarist, Barton Novak, who disappeared suddenly after telling Nancy he had something important to tell her.

CONTACT: Roger Gold, Bent Fender’s drummer, whose father is a friend of Carson Drew’s.

SUSPECTS: 

  • Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She may have decided that ten percent isn’t enough. Maybe she’s going for it all.
  • Harold Marshall, the producer of Fender’s hit records. Could he also be producing pirate editions of those same tunes?
  • Dave Peck, a friend of Ned Nickerson’s, with a mysterious new job, and lots of cash to flash around.
  • Alan Wales, Bess Marvin’s new boyfriend, who’d give anything to be a success in the rock world. How far is he willing to go?

COMPLICATIONS: How do you prove there has been a kidnapping when there’s no ransom note? And how do you investigate a case when all the clues lead straight to your best friend’s boyfriend? But Nancy has to hang in there. Barton’s life is in danger-and before the case is over, so is hers!

Nancy has just finished her last case Secrets Can Kill, and is ready for some fun and relaxation. Her father, Carson Drew,  was college roommates with Sy Gold, who’s son is Roger Gold-drummer for Bent Fender. Carson is working on the band’s contract and in return, Nancy: George, Bess, and Alan all get to see the concert for free.

They hang out with the band before the show, talking about music and the like. Alan gets his dream wish as he plays with the group. Barton tells Nancy that he needs to talk to her about something strange he has discovered. They have to go and get ready, but Barton tells her they will talk after the show.

Hmm…

The band bursts back into the room with the shocking news that Barton has disappeared. Was he kidnapped or did he just take off again from the stress of fame?

The rest of the band think he just took off, but Roger is convinced that it is different this time. This concert is a special one, Rock for Relief, for handicapped kids, just like his sister. Roger knows he wouldn’t back out on this one. Not to mention he’s totally been into the music, so focused on the contract as he feels they are losing out on royalties.

Alan goes on stage in Barton’s place while Nancy does a bit on investigating. She discovers that two “roadies” no one knew took off with a large box-a box big enough to hide a person. Nancy also finds a wallet that matches one of the roadies rings, with a big L-shaped dragon. She then gets knocked out.

She wakes up with the concert over and the wallet missing. But even with that that she is on the case.

The next day Bess and Alan go to the label that carries Bent Fender to see if they will pick him up too. Nancy heads over with her father to speak to Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She is a very nice woman, just recently returned from China. She reassures the two that there is no cutting or dipping being done on her end. She thinks that Barton just didn’t understand the process it takes for the money to get into a  musician’s pocket.

Hmm…

Nancy then goes to see Harold Marshall, the producer, who is an angry bear of a man. He claims that it was all a stunt to sell records Bent Fender, just like Abbey Road and the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. He also tells Nancy that there is no way they are signing wannabe no talent Alan.

Like that will happen.

Nancy knows that whoever attacked her was dead serious and there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye. She’s definitely not giving up. Even weirder, Alan does get signed onto the label, and Alan saw Barton in Marshall’s office with his famous paisley scarf made by his sister and he confirmed that he was hiding out.

Hmm…

Nancy is confused at what is going on but then gets a note from Carl Rutland, a security guard, at the music hall. He found Barton’s paisley scarf-which means Alan was lying. But why?

Hmmm…

Ned calls Nancy and is very concerned about everything, joining her to help keep her safe.

Yes that is Rick Springfield. He played Ned in the Christmas episode which you can check out on Netflix or youtube.

Nancy and George are worried about Bess, and try to track her down but miss her along the way. They do discover something fishy going on with Marshall’s secretary Vivian, she’s messing around with the masters of the records-the originals.

Hmm…

After this point it is cause for more research and Nancy and George go to Jefferson Market Library.

They find out more about pirating records, China of course being the country that never follows copyright laws. The same country that Ann just returned from.

Another surprising twist, Ann has been dating Carson, could her father be dining a killer?

What?!

Later that night at the club. Bess and Nancy get in a fight as Nancy questions Alan. Bess is determined to stand by her man and not Nancy.

You’ve barely been dating while have been friends forever with Nancy.

After the fight, Nancy and Ned head out and go for a walk. They run into Dave Peck, someone Ned knew from Emerson, but was expelled from stealing from the record store he worked at. He has a Chinese connection and makes a lot of cash, somehow.

Hmmm…

The next night they are at the Bent Fender concert, when the lights fizz out and Bess is kidnapped. Now the stakes are higher than ever as Nancy needs to solve this case now! Before Bess and Barton end up dead.

Outfits-

George Fayne’s concert outfit, imagine this in all black:

Thoughts After Reading:

Loved it! From beginning to end.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

Nancy thinks a romantic ski vacation with Ned will solve their problems, but she’s in for a big–maybe fatal–shock! First comes a new case–matching wits with a dangerous killer. Then George falls in love with the chief suspect, a tight-lipped ski instructor with a murky, murderous past. A midnight chase down a stormy, sleet-covered slope may help Nancy put an end to the terror. Or will it become a lethal pursuit that puts an end to Nancy Drew?

Find out in MURDER ON ICE–Case #3 in The Nancy Drew Files,™ available in September.

For more Nancy Drew Files, go to Secrets Can Kill

For more disappearances, go to The Secret Adversary

For more kidnappings, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

The Secret Adversary

Today is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI or Armistice Centurion. For this special day I felt the need to review a WWI type mystery, and chose:

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #1) by Agatha Christie

This is one of my favorite mysteries and the second of her mystery novels to be published. It has a fantastic mystery duo team-Tommy and Tuppence.

The mystery begins with the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915. As they are moving people to the lifeboats, a man approaches Jane Finn and asks her to carry some secret papers. She questions him, but he tells her that she is a woman and American, much more likely to get on a lifeboat and out than him.

Five years pass and we pick up with old friends Lt. Thomas “Tommy” Beresford and Miss Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley who run into each other in London. It has been three years since the have last seen each other and they catch up. She worked as a nurse during WWI, then at a government office job, but was let go and on the search for a new job.

Tommy was in France, then Mesopotamia, and then in Egypt until Armistice. For ten months he too has been job searching. But they don’t just talk shop, they also just talk about all kinds of things, Tommy mentioning how he overheard two men mention a name “Jane Finn”, he remembers the name as he finds it very odd.

Tuppence wants money and adventure and comes up with the idea that the two could start their own business- The Young Adventures, Ltd.-and run this advertisement.

Two young adventurers for hire.

Willing to do anything, go anywhere.

Pay must be good.

No reasonable offer refused.

They part ways, but then Tuppence is approached by a man with a job offer. They meet the next day and he offers £100 to travel to Paris, speak in an American accent, and pretend to be Edward Whittington’s ward. Tuppence questions him some more but he deflects and compliments her.

When Tuppence brings up Tommy, Mr. Whittington doesn’t want him. But the real surprise comes when Mr. Whittington asks for Tuppence’s name. She gives him the name “Jane Finn”, and everything changes. Mr. Whittington is angry, accuses her of trying to play him, and questions who could have squealed-Rita? Tuppence “blackmails” £50 out of him, hears him talk to a “Mr. Brown” and agrees to meet him the next day. But Mr. Whittington disappears.

Tuppence won’t let this go and gets Tommy to put in a new advertisement:

WANTED:

Any information respecting Jane Finn

Apply Young Adventurers, Ltd.

They receive two replies. The first is Mr. Carter who Tommy recognizes as a member of the OSS, that he met in France. “Mr. Carter”, not his real name, relates to them how they had an operative on the Lusitania with the draft of a secret agreement, by various representatives of different countries. When the boat was sinking the operative passed the documents to a young girl-Jane Finn-and did not survive, his body washing ashore. But no one knows what happened to the girl and the documents.

The girl was listed on the survivors, was an orphan, and was headed to Paris to work in a hospital. They have tried everything but she has completely disappeared. They need the documents as if they were to be public today it would be disastrous. Agreements made in war do not always do well in times of peace. The head of unrest and Bolshevist movements is the elusive “Mr. Brown”.

Tuppence puts that together with what happened in Mr. Whittington’s office-they wanted her to be Jane Finn, that is until it seemed she knew all about their plan. The call from “Mr. Brown” was probably one of warning and that is why he disappeared.

Hmm…

He hires them and the two start investigating. They begin by meeting the second person who answered their advertisement: Julius P. Hersheimmer is Jane’s cousin and a millionaire. He’s searching for her, and came to get Scotland Yard to find her. He brought a picture to give, but it turns out “Mr. Brown” played him and took it.

The three team up together as this case takes ups and downs and twists and turns. Kidnapping, imprisonment, mistaken idea, red herrings, Bolshevisks, amnesia, spy games, etc.

Thoughts After Reading:

I LOOOOOOOVEEE this mystery!!!!! I could read it over and over a thousand times.

The characters are amazing, the mystery marvelous, I just LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEEEEEEEE It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Mysterious Affair at Styles

For more World War I, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more mysteries involving a disapperance, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries with amnesia, go to C is for Corpse

For more mysteries with kidnapping, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

For more spy stories, go to The Princess Plot

Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you all who have served and are currently serving. Thank you for giving the ultimate sacrifice.

Death Wears a Beauty Mask

Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Thoughts Before Reading:

Mary Higgins Clark wrote this book way back in the ’70s, but never finished it as she wasn’t sure how to end it. She shelved it and went on to write what would be her first book and bestseller, Where Are the Children?

Years later, she took another whack at it s here we are.

Janice Broad hasn’t seen her older sister, Alexandra, in forever. They used to be so close with Janice raising her after their mother died. Then Janice moved to New York City and started her modeling career and their time together grew less. When Janice moved to the LA area for college their time shrinked smaller still.

Now Janice is married and she and her husband, District Attorney Mike Broad, are heading to spend a week of their honeymoon in London and then a week with her.

Yay! Sisters back together.

When they get to the airport, Janice isn’t there. Nor is she at her apartment, and no one knows what happened to her.

They start questioning the men who are hounding her-first Grant Wilson, her agent. Alexandra was the face of a new line, Beauty Mask, but had been having troubles. The company producing Beauty Mask was making them do constant redos, over and over again. Alexandra looked bad and tired.

Grant had been after Alexandra to marry him but she kept saying no. He thinks that she will be sing yes soon, but then she just disappeared. Now he needs her redo the Venice shoot or else the company goes belly up as Beauty Mask won’t pay up without perfection. He says he has no clue to where she is. Could it be he did something because she kept refusing him?

They then see Larry Thompson, photographer. He has known Alexandra from way back. He hates Grant Wilson and never wanted Alexandra to sign with him. He says ever since she’s joined his company, Wilson has just overworked her and worn her out.  Larry tries to make it be that they are just friends, but he seems more interested, and to me extremely bossy, then just as a friend. He is also known to have a very short fuse. Could he have exploded on Alexandra? Or been angry if she could have refused him?

Mark Ambrose is the man who owns the plane that chartered the models and Beauty Mask. He too was another man interested in Alexandra and she too spent time in Venice together. He was supposed to give her a ride to her apartment, but then Alexandra disappeared. Hmm…what happened in Venice or the airport that made her change her mind?

Hmm…

As the couple investigates, they get in a car accident, who did they talk to that felt uneasy?

Then they find out Alexandra got the time wrong and was in the same cab as them and went back to the apartment. But when they get there they found out she has been strangled to death, her face covered Beauty Mask.

But when they do the autopsy, they discover that it isn’t Alexandra, but Lisa Markey, Alexandra’s friend. What happened to Alexandra. Is she alive? Dead? Where is she?

Thoughts After Reading:

Good, really well written until the reveal that the only reason the person was trying to kill Alexandra was because they wanted beauty mask to fail to make money.

That’s it?

A bit of a letdown for me.

But other than that I thought it was really good. I liked that she didn’t go overboard on the characters. But kept the cast short and focused.

And there was this cute little salute to her other novel as if you listen to what Alexandra hears on the news, there is a little snippet about Clark’s first book Where Are the Children?

At one point the detective says I should have known who it was because _________, and I was like facepalm! Duh, I should’ve known too!

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Where Are You Now?

For more modeling mysteries, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more disappearing sisters, go to The Night Sister

For more mysterious honeymoons, go to Death by Honeymoon

Tragic Toppings

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Tragic Toppings (Donut Shop Mystery #5) by Jessica Beck

Emily Hargraves, the owner of Two Cows and a Moose, the local newsstand, was last seen stopping at Donut Hearts to purchase two candy covered donuts.

After that she has disappeared without a trace: no answer on her phone, the newsstand left open, and nowhere to be seen.

Also missing is Suzanne’s ex-husband Max. Could he be involved with Emily’s disappearance? Or just involved with Emily?

As Suzanne was the last one to see her, she feels it is her duty to solve this case.

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Thoughts After Reading:

It was horrible!

The mystery described is solved in less than 15 pages and not even about that. It was badly written and a dumb move.

I was so mad I wanted to just toss it, but it was a library book so I didn’t. It is really about a handyman being hanged in a tree in the park and just horribly written and a horrible mystery, plot, characters, etc.

For more Donut Shop Mysteries, go to Evil Eclairs

For more mysteries by Jessica Beck, go to Sinister Sprinkles

For more mysteries involving disappearances, go to Death by Divorce

For more mysteries, go to The Boscombe Valley Mystery

 

Death by Divorce

Death by Divorce (Caribbean Murder Mystery #2) by Jaden Skye

Thoughts Before Reading:

I received this book free from BookBub an amazing site that you can get free ebooks from. You know me and free things.

Plot Synopsis:

So Cindy Blaine has solved the death of her husband in Death by HoneymoonCindy is lost at what to do next with her life when she is called by an old school friend Dalia who’s husband has gone missing.

Understanding how her friend feels, unsure that she can solve this crime too, she still heads down to Grenada. There she teams up with police detective Mattheus and sets out to solve the disappearance.

This is a tricky case as Ames was very unfaithful and would leave for weeks at a time, could he have left Dalia for another woman, like he did the wife before?

It also turns out that while Ames is very rich and lives a high life, most of his money has come from Dalia-who has refused to fund him any longer.

Oh

There is much more than meets the eye with drugs, deception, and a complex web of lies and other lives.

Hmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

This was a good follow-up novel. The mystery and characters were very interesting with some good twists and turns.

The combination of Cindy’s inexperience but emotional clarity, matched with Mattheus’ weary experience and logical thinking was great. I thought it was a good read sans all the awful spelling mistakes.

For more Caribbean Murder Mysteries, go to Death by Honeymoon

For more BookBub books, go to This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies

For more cheating husbands, go to Run Run As Fast As You Can

For more mysteries involving disappearances, go to The Night Sister

For more investigative reporters, go to Loose Screw

The Night Sister

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

So I went to the mall to buy a dress that I really wanted and had been thinking about for months afterwards.

But when I got there, the dress was no longer available. Since I couldn’t buy that I decided I would go somewhere that would make me very happy.

While I was walking around I found The Night Sister. I had read The Winter People and loved it, so I thought that I would enjoy this one too. Plus I was sad that I missed out on that dress and needed a pick-me-up.

Plot Synopsis:

This book takes place in three different times 1955, 1989, and 2013.

1955-1961

Sylvie and Rose are sisters who live at the 28 roomed Tower Motel in London, Vermont; designed after the Tower in London, England. Sylvie is blonde, beautiful, and obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock and the idea of becoming a movie star like Kim Novak.

Rose is dark, secretive, troubled, and jealous of her sister.

As the two grow up, Rose starts noticing odd behavior of Sylvie. As she becomes more and more determined to get to the bottom of it, Sylvie disappear one day without a trace and never to be seen again.

1989

Piper and Margot moved to London with their mom and befriended the coolest girl in town, Amy. Amy’s mother Rose left her with her Grandmother Charlotte, who lets her, Piper, and Margot run about the motel. The girls spend their time swimming, playing games, and avoiding Jason Hawke who is in love with Amy.

NERD!

Then one day they discovered something dark and sinister at the motel that ended their friendship with Amy forever.

2013

Years have past and the girls are now all adults. Amy had some wild years but married, had two kids, and runs the motel.

Margot married Officer Jason Hawke, and is about to start a family in between studying local history.

Piper moved to California and has her own video-production business.

Everything changes when Amy’s family is attacked and killed, the only survivor of the massacre being her daughter. Margot calls Piper and tells her what happened. But the horrible murders aren’t the only shocking news, at the crime scene a picture from Sylvie was left behind with the words “29 Rooms” written on it.

This brings those girls back to that summer of 1980s and the horrible secret of what lies in the Tower!

Thoughts After Reading:

The book had a good premise and build up but it all fell flat at the end of the book.

ugh

Everything was too easily resolved. And it was no surprise who the  night “mare” turned out to be.

For more by Jennifer McMahon, go to The Winter People

For more on sisters disappearing, go to B is for Burglar

 For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Wife

For more Alfred Hitchcock, go to Psycho

For more mystery reviews, go to The Last Suppers

Candy from a Stranger

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Candy from a Stranger by Daryl Buckner

I received this book free from Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

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Ben Cain has his Phd in psychology and teaches at the community college in a town where he can do the teaching he loves, but take off and go fishing on the weekends. Him and his family live an ideal life.

That all changes when his eight-year old boy disappears on his way to the park. Being unable to cope without having the answers, without having his son; Cain sets off to find the person who took him and make him pay.

Sadly, the police have no leads. After investigating whether or not Cain actually murdered his own child they have come up empty.

Cain will not let it go, even though his wife has left him and returned to Washington to her parents. Cain instead launches his own investigation, believing that this is a serial kidnapper/killer and starts searching to see what other children fit this profile.

He starts tracking down families and going out to question them; when he ends up being in the places as the abductions happen. And the number one suspect for the Police and FBI.

Cain has a suspect based on the food wrappers, and starts searching for the guy, trying to follow him and find more information on him.

But this doesn’t deter Cain as he finds a boy that fits the profile and moves next door watching and stalking him, in order to protect him and catch the killer, along with hoping to discover the truth about what happened to his son.

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I liked the idea of the tale of the missing child being told from a father’s point of view as that is not something really seen. However, I did not enjoy this book.

I felt the character was hard to connect to as they appeared so distraught that they had behavior that was really out there. From a character view it was well-done, from being the narrator of the story it made it difficult to read.

I also dislike that the author reveals who the kidnapper is so early on in the book, along with the way they portray police.

For more mysteries featuring disappearances, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more mysteries featuring kidnapping, go to Iced

For more serial killers, go to Psycho

For more not-in-a-series-mysteries, go to The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

In other news this is my 300th post

To go to the 200th post, go to The Murders in Rue Morgue

The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

Ready for our next Christmas mystery?

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The Disappearance of Edwin Drood by Peter Rowland

Background:

So you might recall me reviewing the classic, unsolved mystery, The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens two years ago. This book is one author’s attempt at trying to finish the unsolved mystery.

In 1870, Charles Dickens wrote the book The Mystery of Edwin Drood which involved the disappearance of a young man Edwin Drood. Before Dickens could finish his work, he succumbed to illness and died. This created an unsolvable mystery that has driven many people crazy.

AAAAHHHHH

  • In 1870, Robert Henry Newell published his version of the story, transporting the tale to America and more a parody than anything else.
  • 1871-1872, John Jasper’s Secret: The Sequel to Charles Dicken’s Mystery of Edwin Drood, was published by Henry Morford.
  • In 1873, Thomas Jane wrote his version of the ending and was praised as the “true version” for a long period of time as many believed him when he said that he had channeled Dickens’ actual spirit in writing.

Very suspicious

  • In 1935, Universal came out with the film Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Claude Rains as John Jasper and David Manners as Edwin Drood.
  • In 1980, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published by Leon Garfield. In his book every loose end is wrapped up by his introduction of several new characters.
  • In 1985 the musical Drood, aka The Mystery of Edwin Drood, came out. In this the audience is able to vote on who they think the killer should be. It was revived in 2012.
  • In 1992, Peter Rowland wrote The Disappearance of Edwin Drood, in which years after the incident a very old John Jasper asks Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve the case.

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  • In 1993 The D. Case or the Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini was published with the most famous literary detectives attempting to solve the mystery. It features Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, and more.
  • In 1993, A&E distributed the film The Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Robert Powell as John Jasper and Jonathan Phillips as Edwin Drood.
  • In 2005, the Doctor Who episode, The Unquiet Dead, has Dickens and the Doctor fighting aliens, causing him to end the novel with the Gelth being the murderer.
  • In 2012, The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Part II, The Solution, by David Saunders was published. He believes that not only is John Jasper a red herring, but that there is another murder that has been overlooked.
  • In 2012, BBC produced a two episode mini-series that took a lot of liberties with the book in it’s portrayal. It made John Jasper secretly Edwin’s brother not uncle, and Ned & Helen the half siblings of both Edwin and John Jasper.

So we can see that lots of people try, but let’s see how Rowland did.

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Thoughts Before Reading:

I picked this book up at a library book sale as it sounded interesting. Charles Dickens meets Sherlock Holmes?

Seriously?

Sherlock Holmes solving an unsolvable mystery?

It sounded perfect, but let’s see how it turned out?

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Synopsis:

This book takes place during The Return of Sherlock Holmes, after “The Adventure of the Empty House.” Sherlock Holmes has been recalled to life after the Reichenbach Falls episode.

So Sherlock Holmes has been sent quite a bit of correspondence from a man who is searching for his missing nephew.  This man is John Jasper, the one from The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

There is one thing that is very important to look at. The Mystery of Edwin Drood came out in 1870, while The Return of Sherlock Holmes, came out in 1905, that is a 35 year difference.

Hmm…

With 35 years this means it is a “cold case” or “murder in retrospect”. But don’t worry, Holmes can handle anything with his masters of observation.

Holmes and Dr. Watson head off to meet John Jasper and hear the case. John relates what happened in the original book. Edwin “Ned” Drood was his nephew who he raised after his father and mother; and later grandparents died. Edwin was engaged to a Rosa Bud, but secretly broke off the engagement.

Hmm…

Two siblings came to live in the area, Neville and his twin sister Helena. Edwin and Neville had gotten into an argument over Rosa. They supposedly patched up over their Christmas dinner, but then Edwin and Neville took off to look at the storm.

That night Ned was never seen again. Many believed that Neville did something to him but there is no proof. Jasper cannot stand  not knowing and asks Holmes to find the body.

Holmes agrees to take the case, but notices something that will make things harder; Jasper has Alzheimer’s.

As Holmes and Watson head off to Cloisterham, only to hear that that Jasper has also disappeared. Now they have to find the missing nephew and uncle.

Holmes and Watson look into Jasper’s old home and find his diary of which he wrote of the incident that Neville and Edwin fought and his fears of what might happen next between them.

They also read about Jasper’s secret love for Rosa and that whole love triangle.

The two are invited to the Deanery for Christmas dinner, where they meet the Crisparkles. After living with the family as a ward, Mr. Crisparkle and Helena fell in love and have been married this past 30 years. Her brother ended up much unhappier. He had to leave the area as he was always seen in suspicion, Rosa refused his advances, and he died alone and unhappy.

How sad

Sherlock Holmes tracks down Mr. Grewgious, Rosa’s lawyer, and found out that Jasper is not in a home, but is residing in an asylum. He escaped to find Holmes, but has been found and put back.

They also find out that Rosa married Lt. Jack Tarter; YES! what I wanted!

Before Holmes can set out to research more on this case he has to solve “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” and “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”.

After those two cases, Holmes and Watson continue their investigation and discover some beautiful paintings by the painter, Edmond Dupont.

It was so obvious here what happened. Edwin took off either faking his death or didn’t realize everyone thought he was dead and changed his name to Edmond Dupont, to become a painter instead of his parent’s dream of engineer.

In the end it turned out that I was correct; Edwin became Edmound and was unaware of what happened with Neville. He later met up with Rosa after the death of her husband, and the two fell in love. I did not like that as I hated Rosa.

Ugh

Jasper had been planning on killing Edwin when he drugged the stonecutter, but Edwin took off before he put the plan into effect. His guilt and drug induced state made him think he killed Edwin and he has been feeling guilty ever since.

The mysterious stranger Datchery that everyone has wondered who he was, turned out to be a friend of the lawyer.

That’s it?

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Thoughts After Reading:

It was okay as it was a fan novel and tried to give you what he thought the fans wanted.

Giving a happy ending, no murder, certain characters together you wished; etc.

I hate it

But it was just okay. Cute, a one time read, but not more than that.

And Rosa and Edwin getting together in the end was a disappointment as I hated Rosa.

For more on Edwin Drood, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to The Red Headed League

For more altered classics, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more Christmas mysteries, go to A Farewell To Yarns

For more retrograde mysteries, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more missing persons mysteries, go to Emilie and the Sky World

For more not-in-a-series mysteries, go to The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

The Turquoise Trail Mystery

The Turquoise Trail Mystery (Barbie and Friends Book Club) by Rita Baldacci

Barbie is a model working in Santa Fe, showcasing beautiful turquoise jewelry. She meets the designer, Rosa, and the two become instant friends.

Rosa is a Pueblo Native American and offers to show Barbie around the new and old parts of the region. As she hands her a map to show her where to go, Barbie remarks on the artistry of it and stumbles onto a mystery.

Rosa’s sister Susanna has been missing. She was a talented artist and wanted to leave the Southwest for New York City. Her grandfather, an elder in the tribe, did not want her to leave as he worried that she would forget her culture if separated from her people. After the fight, Susannah ran away.

And she isn’t the only thing to have vanished. Around that time a very important headdress, one used in an important ceremony, also disappeared. Until it can be recovered, no ceremonies are allowed to continue.

The jewelry photos come out perfect and Barbie gets time off. That works out perfectly as Rosa calls her up to invite her to come with her for an art show. They look at the paintings, but one of them puts Rosa into total shock! It is her grandfather in his headdress! It wasn’t signed but instead a symbol of scissors cutting through a blue line.

There are two other paintings by the same artist and when they look at the area where a signature should be, they discover two other symbols. One is a red half circle on a line, like a setting sun. The other had a box with a squiggly line coming out. Both remind Barbie and Rosa of the symbols that Susannah would use and decide they must be clues to lead to where she lives.

Hmm…

They look at a map and discover the Turquoise Trail, figuring that must be the blue line in the first painting/symbol and they make plans to investigate the next day. As the continue past ghost towns they come to near the end of the trail, going to Tijeras Canyon, figuring that is the scissors on the map (Tijeras means scissors in Spanish).

They later head down sunset road and find the symbol of the last painting to be group of trees by a river. As they continue down will they find what they are looking for? Susannah and the headdress? Or will this all have been one giant wild goose chase?

 

Thoughts After Reading:

It was an extremely cute story and I loved it. It is one of my favorite of the Barbie stories I received in the book club.

For more Barbie books, go to The Secret of the Three Teardrops

For more children’s books, go to The Silver Deer

For more mysteries involving a disappearance, go to Emilie and the Sky World

Emilie and the Sky World

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Emilie & the Sky World (Emilie Adventures #2) by Martha Wells

So Emilie is back in another adventure.

Her previous journeys brought her into the center of their world and introduced her to things she never imagined would have existed.

Emilie has finally been able to reach her cousin and gives her all the news, just as their interviews and adventures are published in newspapers all over. But before they can enjoy it, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of Professor and Lady Marlendes, warns them he she has come across something strange and deadly in the sky. There is a disruption in the air aether current.

But as they look into it, they realize it is another ship!

Could it be the one that was lost up there years ago? But impossible, there is no way they could still be alive.

Emilie is going to join the crew again and as they all prepare for the expedition they discover a surprise. Emilie’s uncle has come to take her away. As he screams ugly accusations; Emilie is defended by all.

They leave, but when they’ve started their journey they discover that they have a stow away. It is Emilie’s younger brother Efrain. It must run in the family.

Ugh

When they arrive on the ship it is absent of all people. Strange like the bermuda triangle.

They then find a flower-like creature and the whole group is transported to another world or dimension.

Now Emilie, her brother, and this plant like creature have to find the rest of the crew, return somehow to their ship, and battle a creature who is trying to posses a host and take over the galaxy.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. I thought it was compelling, interesting, and well put together.

The only thing that bothered me was that Emilie goes on and on about her older brother Erin, but he doesn’t appear in the book. It would have been perfect of he was a part of the stranded air crew and that was why he never come back.

So far there isn’t another book, but I would love to see a third installment.

For more Emilie Adventures, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more books centering on disappearances, go to The Missing Housewife

For more steam punk, go to Ticker

For more science-fiction books, go to The Falling Machine

The Madwoman Upstairs

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The Madwoman Upstairs: A Novel by Catherine Lowell

Samantha Whipple hates the Brontë sisters.

As the last remaining relative, she has found herself hounded by journalists, bombarded at every turn, and told time and time again about their genius and to further study their writings.

The only item that makes Brontë bearable is that the novels give her a connection to her deceased father.

Samantha has just started at Oxford University and hopes that this will be a way to move out of the past and into a new future. However, things do not go according to plan. Her tutorial involves a very attractive, yet unattainable, professor who is intent on having her study every bit of literature she hates and criticizing everything from her thoughts, to her writing style, and even down to her use of commas.

Really?

She is also being harassed by a writer for the school newspaper, finding her name in print every day; along with her father’s arch nemesis, Sir John Booker.

And to top it off, Brontë books that were believed to be burnt in the fire of her childhood home are mysterious reappearing in her room; along with a dead friend being revived. As Samantha finds herself not only on an extensive treasure hunt to discover her inheritance, but studying and reading Brontë more than ever before; will she find all the answers she is looking for? Will she be able to understand her father’s cryptic messages? Will this cause her to grow to love the Brontë work instead of abhorring it?

Thoughts After Reading:

This has been one of the hardest reviews I have had to write as I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I enjoy the irony of the main character hating Brontë, yet at the same time reenacting the same features she complains about. For instance falling in love with her professor, James Orville; who is not only tall, broody, and arrogant; having the temperament of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre; but also as unattainable as Mr. Rochester.

Although in this case the issue keeping them apart is not a mad wife, but the college’s code of conduct between student-teacher relationships. Or when Samantha is stranded in her room from a big storm and starts breaking down similar to the ill governess in Villette.

Hmm…

At one point in the novel, Samantha finds her journey barred by a huge storm and having to reside in the house of her father’s most hated person, Sir John; which is reminiscent of how the narrator in Wuthering Heights finds himself forced to remain with the inhospitable Heathcliff.

The character of Samantha is also very unusual. On one hand we have a very intelligent, sarcastic, logical, and thoughtful person. However, the pendulum swings back with her also being neurotic, anxious, awkward, impulsive, and fanciful.

Not that it isn’t realistic to have a character express so many traits, but for the reader it feels inconsistent, contradictory, and a bit scattered.

Samantha’s love interest Professor Orville is lacking depth within his own character, along with his relationship to Samantha being weak and having no chemistry. Professor Orville is shrouded in mystery as to his history and background; with the reader never really seeing as to who he is, but just him as the Professor or Brontë-like hero. Part of this has to do with the fact that he is a Professor and distances himself Samantha, not revealing much of his personal life, so the quick wrap up the author provides in the end when the two have married seems strange and too quickly sewn up.

After all, most of what we see in the novel between them is Samantha’s fantasies and crush on her professor, hardly anything in the novel showed that he seriously reciprocated.

On the question of the Brontë sisters the book gives quite a lot of information into their individual backgrounds and each of their novels; along with some very thought provoking analysis. Out of all the Brontës, the author spends the most time on the youngest, Anne; with a new viewpoint and direction.

However, as the book so truthfully points out, the novels we read become a part of us. The characters and stories become an active part of our reality, memories, and sometimes even family. So when a character or story is taken in a different direction than the one that you as a reader have perpetuated it can be hard to accept. There are a few ideas surrounding the Brontë‘s leading men, that depending on your own view and relationship with the books, you will find either inspired or idiotic.

The writer has a good voice and the ability to capture one’s attention and maintain it strongly through out the pages; but because I found it lacking in other areas I would have to give this book two and a half out of fives stars.

For more mysteries involving a treasure hunt, go to The Sign of the Four

For more mysteries that take place at Oxford University, go to Decked

For more mysteries that take place at a college, go to Murder at Oklahoma

For more mysteries involving a relationship with a Professor, go to Good, Clean, Murder

For more stand alone mysteries, go to Whistling in the Dark

The Missing Housewife

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The Missing Housewife (Steven Wade Mystery #2) by Iris Wynne

When a women long believed dead is spotted in China by an old friend on holiday, it opens a real can of worms. If she is indeed the woman believed murdered, than her drug dealer has been falsely imprisoned and there is a dead body who’s identity still needs to be discovered.

With the sister of the accused pushing for involvement to free her brother, and the family of the “deceased” wanting the dead to remain dead, it turns out to be a real muddle.

With such uncertainty there is only one thing to do, hire someone who can look into the matter: a private investigator Steve Wade.

On the case!

Since Wade solved the case of “the missing mah jongg player”, he has become a hot commodity and is asked to check out the case. But is the deceased, Patricia, really alive, or is it just a look-a-like in China? And if she isn’t dead, who died in her place? Did the drug dealer murder this Jane Doe, or was it someone else?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, The Missing Mah Jongg Player, which gave me high expectations for the sequel. Wynne didn’t disappoint with a cleverly crafted mystery that takes murder into mistaken identity and even further into assassins and a cover up.

We also have a return of the characters we enjoyed from the first novel; such as the intelligent, imaginative, analytical, and methodical Steve Wade; Candy the stripper turned private investigator, who is still coming to terms with her insecurities and the shadow of the past; and sweet Sarah, Steve’s secretary, who finally gains confidence and the ability to assert herself.

The only problem I had with this novel was that the secondary characters were not as well done as in the first book. In The Missing Mah Jongg Player, the other mah jongg players created a more personal connection to our missing person causing the viewer to see her as a person rather than a “victim”. Their different personalities also balanced well with Wade’s logical approach.

All of you

In this book our new cast of characters were interesting and developed, but not as fun or colorful as in the first.

On a whole I enjoyed this novel and give it a four out of five stars.

For more Steven Wade Mysteries, go to The Missing Mah Jongg Player

For more novels centering around a disappearance, go to The Sign of the Four

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to C is for Corpse

For more mystery reviews, go to Triple Six