The Business of Blood by Kerrigan Byrne – Review

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About The Business of Blood by Kerrigan Byrne

London, 1890. Blood and death are Fiona Mahoney’s trade, and business, as they say, is booming.

Dying is the only thing people do with any regularity, and Fiona makes her indecorous living cleaning up after the corpses are carted away. Her childhood best friend, Mary, was the last known victim of Jack the Ripper. It’s been two years since Fiona scrubbed Mary’s blood from the floorboards, and London is no longer buzzing about the Ripper, but Fiona hasn’t forgotten.

And she hasn’t stopped searching for Jack.

When she’s called to a murder in the middle of the night, Fiona finds a victim mutilated in an eerily similar fashion to those of the Ripper, and only a few doors down from Mary’s old home. The relentless, overbearing, and irritatingly handsome Inspector Grayson Croft warns her away from the case. She might have listened, if she hadn’t found a clue in the blood. A clue that will lead her down a path from which there is no return. As a killer cuts a devastating swath through London, a letter written in blood arrives at her door, and it is only then that Fiona realizes just how perilous her endeavor is. For she has drawn the attention of an obsessive evil, and is no longer the hunter, but the prey. Fiona Mahoney is in the business of blood.

But she’s not the only one…

With intriguing twists, blood-chilling discoveries, and dazzling prose, USA Today Bestselling author Kerrigan Byrne proves a woman’s work is never done, even when she is sleuthing out a serial killer.

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Review of The Business of Blood

I am a follower of Kerrigan Byrne.  I haven’t read everything she’s written, but I’ve read enough to know that The Business of Blood is a bit of a departure from her norm.  I am accustomed to her protagonists that may have had a dark past, but in the present, they strive for the light.

In The Business of Blood, Fiona is a protagonist with a dark past and a current life that keeps her alive in an era where single women are not generally taken care of.  That she takes on the job of cleaning up after corpses is not the only thing that makes her life a dark journey.  Her obsession with Jack the Ripper as well as other activities that could get her hanged complete the picture for Fiona’s grim life.

And yet, Fiona is a character to connect with.  As she went from one perilous adventure to another, I found myself cheering for her.  And trying to solve the mystery of the current rash of Jack the Ripper -like killings.

The Business of Blood is full of plot twists and turns.  I suspected just about everyone at one point or another.  Which means, at the end I could honestly say, “Aha!  I knew it!”  I guessed the culprit.  Then I changed my mind.  Then I changed my mind again.  This is the sign of a great mystery plot.

This book has many fascinating characters, including a cop, an organized crime boss, a henchman, Oscar Wilde, and a psychic aunt.  Each deftly carries out their vital part in the story.  I will enjoy learning more about these characters as the story continues.

The persecution of several peoples (the Irish, Jews and American Indians) is brought into the story.  Not meant to be a political statement, the effect was to prove that the more different people are, the more they are the same.

There is no way I will miss the rest of this series.  The story ends on a teaser for the plot of A Treacherous Trade, which is due out in December.  Not that I want to wish my summer away, but come on December!

 

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A Stroke of Malice (Lady Darby Mystery, #8) by Anna Lee Huber – Review

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About A Stroke of Malice by Anna Lee Huber

Scotland 1832. After enjoying a delightful holiday with her family, Lady Kiera Darby is looking forward to finishing her new friend, the Duchess of Bowmont’s portrait, as well as attending the duchess’ annual Twelfth Night party. Though she normally avoids such fashionable events, Kiera trusts the attention will not be focused on her, but rather her notorious hostess and her family. But upon their arrival at the opulent Scottish estate, Kiera and her husband and fellow investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, swiftly deduce that all is not merry in the duke’s household. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes.

However, matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the merrymakers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castle’s crypt. This corpse is certainly no laughing matter, especially when it is identified as the duchess’ son-in-law, the Earl of Helmsdale, who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage step in to investigate, at the duchess’ insistence. Kiera and Gage must swiftly reexamine the facts, for a ruthless murderer walks among them and may well be a member of the duchess’ own family. Kiera soon discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.

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Review of A Stoke of Malice

The latest book in one of my favorite historical mystery series reminds me of the very first Lady Darby Mystery, The Anatomists Wife.  The two books have in common a country manor, a house party and a murder.

I’ve always like the country manor setting for a mystery.  In A Stroke of Malice, it is not necessarily a locked room mystery, because the murder happened before the party even started.  But one assumes that all the pertinent suspects are present.

And there are plenty of suspects.  The Duchess has a large family with many connections that may or many not make them suspects.  In their usual discreet yet insistent investigative manor, Kiera and Gage sift through the family members and all their possible connections.  You will want to pay attention, there are many suspects!

Through the 8 books of this series, I have come to love Kiera.  Due to her past, she is can be plagued with self-doubt and fear, but her intelligence, courage, and tenderness help her overcome and make her special. Gage supports his wife in her unorthodox activities, making him just as lovable.  I also appreciate the author’s historical research, providing details and dialog that take me back in time.

Anna Lee Huber shines again, giving us suspense, romance, history and heart in A Stroke of Malice.

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1) by Darynda Jones – Review

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About A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

Sheriff Sunshine Vicram finds her cup o’ joe more than half full when the small village of Del Sol, New Mexico, becomes the center of national attention for a kidnapper on the loose.

Del Sol, New Mexico is known for three things: its fry-an-egg-on-the-cement summers, strong cups of coffee—and, now, a nationwide manhunt? Del Sol native Sunshine Vicram has returned to town as the elected sheriff—thanks to her adorably meddlesome parents who nominated her—and she expects her biggest crime wave to involve an elderly flasher named Doug. But a teenage girl is missing, a kidnapper is on the loose, and all of this is reminding Sunshine why she left Del Sol in the first place. Add to that the trouble at her daughter’s new school, plus and a kidnapped prized rooster named Puff Daddy, and, well, the forecast looks anything but sunny.

But even clouds have their silver linings. This one’s got Levi, Sunshine’s sexy, almost-old-flame, and a fiery-hot US Marshal. With temperatures rising everywhere she turns, Del Sol’s normally cool-minded sheriff is finding herself knee-deep in drama and danger. Can Sunshine face the call of duty—and find the kidnapper who’s terrorizing her beloved hometown—without falling head over high heels in love…or worse?

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Review of A Bad Day for Sunshine

What a great start to a new series by Darynda Jones.  Sunshine Vicram is the smart-talking new sheriff of Del Sol, New Mexico.  Elected without even knowing she was on the ballot, Sunshine shows up to her first day of work and as soon as the muffins arrive, the roller-coaster takes off.  No, I am not going to explain that remark.

Sunshine moved into her parents guesthouse with her daughter Auri, with whom she shares a close relationship.  Auri is smarter than the average teenager, which is just fine with the adult me who appreciates her maturity.  And her wit.  For example, when mom asks, “I do look rather badass, don’t I?”, Auri responds with “All that matters is that you think you look badass.”

Sunshine’s best friend is Chief Deputy Quincy Cooper. He is Sunshine’s straight man at the office.  Or is it the other way around?  At any rate, the BFF’s make a great team.

Sunshine has a past, the details of which are grudgingly revealed throughout the story.  The main story line(s) follow Sunshine’s first cases in her new job.  A missing girl, a chicken/rooster feud, an escaped prisoner and a deputy that is always conveniently unavailable.

Readers of Ms. Jones’ Charley Davidson series will see many similarities between the two series in both characters and construction.  The similarities include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • chapter openers of funny ads or signs
  • smart-mouthed humor (you will laugh out loud)
  • a BFF
  • an adorable lovable teenager
  • a deaf person
  • a major case
  • a minor case
  • a paranormal element
  • coffee
  • Mexican food
  • a promise there is more to the story
  • somebody that doesn’t like her
  • and last, but not least, our heroine being attracted to a mysterious man who is not necessarily a nice man

So if you lamented the end of Charley Davidson, take heart. Sunshine Vicram is just a charming, just a funny, just as complex, just as smart, has just as much heart, and I think I might like her even more than I liked Charley.

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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