Tag: Books

Dead Stop by Barbara Nickless

Book Summary

It’s been five months since Special Agent Sydney Parnell survived a violent confrontation with a gang of brutal thugs, an encounter that left her physically and emotionally scarred. Deep down, Sydney fears she isn’t ready for another investigation. But when a woman is murdered on the train tracks and a child goes missing, she knows she’s the only one who can lead the hunt for the killer. While Denver police and the FBI chase down blind alleys, Sydney focuses on a single cryptic clue left behind at the crime scene—one that will send her down a path of greed, violence, and long-ago love.

With Denver beset by a series of monsoon like thunderstorms that threaten to flood the city, Sydney and her K9 partner, Clyde, must wade through a murky trail of murder that stretches back thirty years—all to rescue a child…and catch a killer with a long memory and an insatiable appetite for destruction.

DEAD STOP by Barbara Nickless is one hell of a twisted read full of taut drama, nail-biting tension, with a compelling plot that utterly blindsided me. But what sets this book apart from other murder-mysteries I’ve read of late, is it’s MC. Sydney Rose Parnell is the kind of character you not only root for the entire time, but is someone you can identify with and feel an affinity for because of her past … because of the baggage she carries.

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Books, Books, Books for 2021

I need to quit Twitter, now, seriously … okay, maybe I don’t but damn it, every time I go on there I end up adding yet another one or two books to my Wish List. And today? *groans* I added at least ten. Yes, TEN new books coming out next year that, well, I just have to read. And this doesn’t even take into consideration a whole slew of books I put in my little blue book. Yes, I have a little Moleskine that I jot down titles and authors in, for all the books I need to check out and or research further before I add them to that all important wish list!

Due diligence is key to making sure I buy only books I feel I’m going to enjoy, and, in doing so this last year, I’ve had a lot less duds on my TBR pile—and only one DNF this summer. A brilliant and necessary strategy that’s paying off. But strategy or no strategy, it means I’m also adding a lot more books to my wish list for this coming year than ever before.

Thanks book twitter. And now, the books …

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The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

Book Summary

The brutal killing of the Romanovs meant the end of the Tsars.

Nearly a century later, the people of Russia have voted to bring back the tsar, a ruler to be selected from the distant relatives of the last tsar; Nicholas II, who was murdered along with the rest of the Romanov family in 1918. Miles Lord, asked to run a background check on one of the candidates, has a ringside seat as history is being made.

But excitement turns to terror when Miles is nearly killed by gunmen. Suddenly, he is racing across continents with only a cryptic utterance by Rasputin, made at the time of the Romanov massacre, as his guide. The implications of this prophecy are earth-shattering — not only for the future star and Mother Russia, but for Miles himself.

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#MurderMondays: Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith

Book Summary

The reporter Tatiana Petrovna falls to her death from a sixth-floor window in Moscow the same week that a mob billionaire is shot and buried with the trappings due a lord. The trail leads to Kaliningrad, a Cold War “secret city” that is separated by hundreds of miles from the rest of Russia. The more Arkady delves into Tatiana’s past, the more she leads him into a surreal world of wandering sand dunes, abandoned children, and a notebook written in the personal code of a dead translator.

Finally, in a lethal race to uncover what the translator knew, Renko makes a startling discovery that draws him still deeper into Tatiana’s past—and, paradoxically, into Russia’s future, where bulletproof cars, poets, corruption of the Baltic Fleet, and a butcher for hire combine to give Kaliningrad the “distinction” of having the highest crime rate in Russia.

What I Thought

This chess-inspired 8th outing for the cranky melancholy police investigator, Arkady Renko, is a fast-paced romp through the underbelly of corrupt police/politicians/media in Putin’s crumbling modern Russia. Where just about everyone has an agenda hustling from the streets to the highest office, for everything from stolen goods to billion ruble contracts. And where Cruz Smith’s cast of well-drawn characters are all doing their best trying to avoid being collateral damage amid the warring factions.

I enjoyed the pace, which is fairly brisk and doesn’t lag, because a lot of the action is split between a number of the characters, not just our world-weary investigator. While Renko is essentially trying to discover who killed investigative reporter, Tatiana Petrovna, and more importantly, why, he connects her murder to that of recently assassinated mafia kingpin, Grisha Grigorenko. And, as he pieces together snippets of information, he stumbles upon a much larger picture than just revenge, or murder, collusion and corruption at the highest levels.

What I love about Cruz Smith’s writing, is his seedy bunch of twitchy characters doggedly trying to keep ahead of the action, while also dropping in actual historical events into the background—events like the sinking of the Kursk in the Baltic and the utter destruction of the city of Konigsberg (in an isolated slice of Russia abutting the baltic sea) and the building of the secret city of Kaliningrad. And thus, Cruz Smith cleverly draws us into a tangled web of secrets, lies, and corruption.  

While Renko engages in a game of cat and mouse with mobsters trying to find answers to Tatiana’s murder, his old friend and partner, Victor, along with Zhenya and his girlfriend Lotte, are left behind in Moscow trying to unravel a mystery of their own, never mind survive being murdered. Of course, all the loose ends slowly begin to make connections, leading to a confrontation along with a number of revelations and an open-ending finale that tells us that even Renko cannot bring everyone to justice in a world ruled by corruption.  

I can highly recommend this one if you enjoy a good thriller with plenty of misdirection, well-drawn characters, snappy dialogue. This one has plenty of grit and background detail that all helped bring Tatiana to life.

TATIANA (Arkady Renko #8)
Martin Cruz Smith
Simon & Schuster