Reviews - June 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:

Aaron Lazar . Virginia Lo Monaco


book cover
  • Title: Death by Opera
    Author: Erica Miner
    Page count: 260
    Published date: May 15, 2018
    Price: $3.85 Kindle, $18.95 print
    ASIN: B07C895SZL
    ISBN-10: 1606191306
    ISBN-13: 978-1606191309

I have to admit it, I love Opera. So, when I had the chance to read Erica Miner’s new novel, my heart beat a little faster. Anything to do with divas and tenors and the drama behind the scenes gets me salivating, and Death by Opera didn’t disappoint!

Set in the rich culture and gorgeous landscapes of Santa Fe, the story draws readers through the pristine landscapes of New Mexico deep into the bowels of the opera house, wrapped in vibrant colors, exotic costumes, and the (imagined) illustrious voices of the singers.

Death by Opera is book two in a series featuring Julia Kogan, a Metropolitan Opera violinist who’s on assignment for the summer in the coveted role of concertmaster for the Santa Fe Opera Company. Her significant other, Larry Somers, is a NYPD detective. Both have just come off a previous season at the Met, where murders took place and they were intimately involved in the solving of the case.

Others will rehash the plot line of the story in their reviews, or, you can just ready the synopsis on this page. But I’d rather tell you how the book made me feel.

I found the main character to be believable, if a bit flawed due to anxiety and fearfulness. But Julia’s dedication to her craft and her unjustly accused friend, Marin, redeemed her admirably! Her partner, Larry, is also realistically painted as a perfect male counterpart to Julia. Their relationship is not quite solid when the story starts out, as Julia keeps a number of secrets from Larry. But as time moves on, they learn to trust each other and appear to be committed by the end of the story.

Several lush and magnificently described operas were performed or referenced while the plot progressed, including “Lulu,” “Lucia di Lammermoor,” and “Romeo and Juliet.” I hadn’t ever been exposed to these particular operas on my too infrequent jaunts to the Met, but I found myself craving more and more the music of my own favorites, such as “Tosca,” “Carmen,” “Rigoletto,” “Norma,” “Traviata,” “Aida,” or “La Boheme.” So inspired was I by the lovely accounts of the productions, that I rushed to my music collection to regale in the beauty of my favorite arias.

Even if you aren’t an opera buff, you’ll love the drama of the ghastly murders that occur backstage, and the rush to the finish to survive as the production doesn’t miss a beat, because, as we all know, “the show must go on!”

Highly recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar.
www.lazarbooks.com

 

book cover

  • A Last Goodbye
    Author: J.A. Jance
    Publisher: Pocket Star EBooks
    Release Date: November 24, 2014
    54 Pages
    Kindle E-Book Edition Price: $1.99
    ASIN: B00MK38YL2
    Audio CD: $9.58
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition
    ISBN-10: 1442382058
    ISBN-13: 978-1442382053

Ali Reynolds and B. Simpson have planned a lovely wedding in Las Vegas. She’s invited her family and friends and is looking forward to having a completely catered (down to the verbiage in their vows) stress-free ceremony. But when her grandson, Colin, and granddaughter, Colleen, showed up with a frightened miniature dachshund, it threw the stress-free out the window. The dog had been thrown from a passing car and Colin had grabbed it, saving it from certain death on the busy highway. Of course, the only ones able to keep the dog were Ali and B. But Ali doesn’t want a dog. So…the hunt began to find the owner. Her owner is found, but she’s in a hospice, unable to care for Bella. How Bella ended up thrown into the street is a mystery that B. and Ali strive to unwind before their nuptials the next day.

Using, what she calls, “my literary license to re-create the portions of Bella’s story that we’ll never know,” New York Times bestselling author, J.A. Jance has created a heart-warming story of loss and recovery. This is a small book, more of a novella, and it makes for easy reading. I recommend it.

Virginia Lo Monaco