Reviews - April 2018

What They Say

“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.”
—Hunter S. Thompson


Reviewers

Review Coordinator
Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D., MHt:

Cynthia Lee Clark

Former Miss Chicago (Miss USA), Cynthia Lea Clark continued school, graduating from Northwestern University (multiple degreed), attended nursing school, and became a Firefighter Paramedic. After working as an actress in Chicago, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked on many television shows, such as DAYS OF OUR LIVES and STAT, while continuing her education with a Masters in Psychology and then a Doctorate of Psychology. While working on STAT, she was stalked which led her to work in Forensic Psychopathology. She has over 70 interviews with serial killers, mass murderers, etc. Today she mixes Forensics with writing and acting.  She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death Chapter of RWA, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and the American College of Forensic Examiners International.

 

Aaron Paul Lazar:

Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A bestselling Kindle author of 22 books, including three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming release, UNDER THE ICE. Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of "cheap therapy." Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers.

 

Virginia Lo Monaco:

Virginia Lo Monaco

Virginia Lo Monaco lived in Sicily, Italy for 16 years and recently returned to California. She was trained as an operatic soprano, and has worked for numerous Opera Companies in America and was director of the Schola Cantorum for the Church of Sant'Anna in the town where she lived with her two dogs (including Tim, the overgrown Fox Terrier that co-stars in the Terry Strong, P.I., series) and three canaries. In order to pay for the years of vocal study, she worked for five years as a Fingerprint Technician for a sheriff's department and five years as a Group Counselor for juvenile offenders.

She started writing fiction in November, 1998. She started her first Terry Strong, P.I., novel, "Lethal Relations," in January, 2013.

She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the Private Eye Writers of America, the Short Mystery Fiction Society and Sisters In Crime-Los Angeles Chapter.

The first Luigi Mancuso story, "Oil in a Day's Work," was published in the Oct/Nov/Dec 2002 issue of Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine. 

The second Luigi Mancuso story, "Hearts and Diamonds," was published in the April/May/June 2004 issue of Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine.

Among other short stories originally published in Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine were: "A Man of Honor," Feb/Mar 2001 and, "Saturday Night Reruns," April/May 2001.

She is a former editor of FMAM.

In July, 2001, "A Man of Honor" (translated into Italian), won SECOND PLACE in the Akery National Literary Competition in Acerra, Italy (V Edizione Concorso Letterario Nazionale di Narrativa "Akery"). In November, 2001, it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her Science Fiction short story, "Intermezzo a Cappella," won an HONORABLE MENTION in the Writer's Digest 2001 Writing Competition. It ranked 22 in a field of more than 1,600 genre short stories.


 

 

THE FMAM MOSTLY MYSTERY REVIEW is the place to come to find out what to read next. Want to know what readers are saying (as opposed to critics) about the books you see around you? You’ve come to the right place! And, if you appreciate a critical review we’ll have those, too. Come in, sit down and see what’s write with the world! (Or, right in the world of write!)

New reviews will be posted on FMAM the 1st day of each month. Reviews will be kept on the FMAM website for 12 months.

New reviews this month from:

Cynthia Lea Clark, Aaron Lazar . Virginia Lo Monaco

 


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  • Death al Fresco
    Leslie Kars
    Crooked Lan Books, 320 pages, March 13, 2018, $26.00
    eBook $10.99
    ISBN: 978-1683315322

Sally Solari, former attorney turned restaurateur finds herself in a “culinary conundrum.”  Her father has been accused of murder and no one is looking for the real killer except for Sally.  Of course, the fate of her father is at stake but so is the restaurant. 

Santa Cruz is a beautiful town know for beautiful sunsets over the ocean.  As Sally’s restaurant is named for the famed artist Paul Gaugin, when a plein air painting class is offered she decides to take it.  With her faithful dog, Buster by her side she walks the coast marveling at it’s beauty soaking it in for her potential art piece when Buster finds a body.  And it’s not just any body, it’s Gino.  Gino was a frequent patron of her restaurant and the last time anyone remembers seeing him was there.  Some claim he left drunk which puts her dad on the chopping block for allowing him to leave drunk.  However, the waitress serving him swears he only had two beers.  Things just don’t add up! 

Who was Gino?  As Sally investigates him she discovers many people had motive.  Things on the wharf aren’t as “ideallic” as the art portrays it.  Time is not on Sally’s side as she dices her way through a delightful a cast of characters on the wharf and throughout the town.

DEATH al Fresco is charming, fun, delightful and while reading it I was constantly hungry.  It is witty, clever, and peppered with the right amount of culinary wit to make me hear the sizzle of food as well as smell the food.  Excellent writing!  Enjoyable, fast read!  Leslie Kars is a writer that engages your senses as well as your mind while entertaining you!

On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 5.0.

Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D., Ph.D., MHt

 

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  • Title: Dead Mule Swamp Druggist (an Anastasia Raven Mystery)
    Author: Joan H. Young
    Publisher: Books Leaving Footprints
    ISBN-13: 978-0-9908172-4-6
    ASIN: B0773H7P8W
    eBook Price: $2.99

  • I have been anticipating the newest book in the Anastasia Raven Mystery series for quite some time. And I’m here to say, it was worth the wait!

    One of the most interesting aspects of these mysteries is the revelation of small town foibles…not all is as peaceful or gentile as it appears…ever! Secrets abound, and seem to multiply, until one can’t believe the layers of lies that simmer beneath the supposed peace of this lovely community.

    I have to say that the small town and vibrant characters created by Joan H. Young attract me as much as the storyline, because they are so well-drawn I feel as if I have lived in this beautiful part of the country as neighbors to them all.

    Rather than recap the plot – which was admittedly delightful and complex, and definitely not one for “guessing whodunnit” in advance – I would like to recount some of my favorite aspects of the story.

    I love that the main character, Ana, is so strong. She’s smart, down-to-earth, and a no-nonsense lady who isn’t afraid to follow her instincts. Her previous excursions as an amateur detective have led her to the new job she holds as a news reporter. And this gives me hope that she’ll be involved in many more mysteries to come!

    Ana’s friends, Cora is one of my favorites – with her braids and denim overalls, her sharp wit and historical knowledge, she’s a great addition to Ana’s life.

    Cherry Hill is a community in which I’d feel comfortable living. I love that nature is so important in the story, that we “get to” go for walks with Ana in the beautiful trails that snake around the plentiful rivers and lakes, and that autumn is so beautifully portrayed. I felt the brisk air on my skin, reveled in the gold leaves piling up in the woods, and imagined the placid surface of the nearby waters.

    Ana’s home is also a familiar and well-depicted dwelling. I’d love to live there, on the cusp of the swamp, with no neighbors with whom to contend!

    Once again, I’m now trying to wait patiently for the next book in the series. Thank you, Ms. Young, for this enjoyable cozy mystery.

    Highly recommended, award-winning author Aaron Paul Lazar www.lazarbooks.com.

 

 

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  • The Walnut Tree
    Author: Charles Todd
    Publisher: William Morrow 
    Release Date: October 22, 2012, 272 Pages.
    ISBN-10: 0062236873
    ISBN-13: 978-0062236876
    Hardcover Price: $15.20
    Paperback Price: $9.10
    Kindle E-book Edition Price:  $8.99
    ASIN: B0087KA9EW

In 1914, Lady Elspeth Douglas is in Paris visiting her friend, where she becomes engaged to her friend’s brother, Alain Villard, who is leaving for the war front. War has broken out and the Germans have quickly overrun Belgium, threatening France.

It becomes clear Paris is next and Lady Elspeth heads for Calais to catch a boat home, but she's too late. An army captain, Peter Gilchrist, helps her get onto a train. She makes it back to England where she meets Bess, a member of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, who tells her how and where to train for and become a battlefield nurse.

She has grown up under impressive privileged circumstances but against the wishes of her guardian, her cousin, Lord Kenneth, she takes on a career in nursing which was considered much beneath her social position. In order to hide her career choice, she avoids mentioning her social rank and goes as plain Elspeth Douglas.  

She experiences all the blood and gore of the battlefield as a military nurse while at the same time, she is troubled by having fallen in love with Peter while engaged to Alain. Then news comes that Alain is MIA and Peter is gravely wounded.

Elspeth is torn between the men she loves. How she must choose a way to reconcile her feelings for both men is her almost unbearable dilemma.

I found this small book (4”x7”) to be a very satisfying read. When I read “A Holiday Tale” on the cover, I girded myself for a smarmy, sticky-sweet Christmas love story. But “The Walnut Tree” is anything but smarmy and sticky-sweet. I particularly enjoyed her adventures as a nurse during World War I. I only wish that Charles Todd (the mother-and-son writing team of Charles and Caroline Todd) would have written more of Elspeth’s experiences.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy a good love story that isn’t too sugary-sweet and overly sentimental.

Virginia Lo Monaco