The Last Straw

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sharon Sala

General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Published February 23, 2021 by MIRA

Charlie Dodge may be down, but he’s most definitely not out. He’s still reeling after a series of earth-shattering events, so when a desperate woman hires Dodge Investigations to find her missing sister, the head-scratcher of a case is exactly the distraction Charlie and his steadfast partner, Wyrick, need. Two weeks prior, Rachel Dean disappeared without a trace from her locked-from-the-inside Dallas apartment, and every possible trail has gone cold.
Grappling with the fallout of her efforts to dismantle the shadowy organization Universal Theorem, Wyrick throws herself into her investigative work. Charlie knows his partner can handle herself, but when she uncovers a past connection that paints a target on her back, the threat of losing her hits Charlie hard. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep Wyrick safe, but with the clock ticking on a victim they’ve yet to find, it’s only a matter of time before the cold-blooded killer leads them to a deadly end.

My Thoughts:

I got this ARC and immediately went and found the first 3 books so I would know everything that had happened from the beginning. I read all 4 within 1 week. I loved the mystery. A woman disappearing without a trace? It was spooky and a little creepy. Once I started reading I was completely invested from the first page to the last. While I knew the romance part of it was coming, it still was hard to switch gears from them holding each other at arms length to “let’s have a relationship!” I liked that they became a team in more ways than one, but it was still a hard switch.

Thank you to #SharonSala and #Edelweiss for allowing me to read this book. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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The Jigsaw Files – #1-3 – Sharon Sala

⭐⭐⭐⭐ for all three

Overall: I loved them. I read the first book on Monday, the second one on Tuesday, and the third, I read Wednesday and Thursday. (Life got in the way) Can’t wait for book #4.

PI Charlie Dodge knows what it’s like to have something important disappear. His wife, Annie, suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s, causing her to remember little of the life she shared with her husband. Charlie has devoted his career to saving what he can—missing people, threatened lives. But when prominent Denver multimillionaire Carter Dunleavy vanishes without a trace, Charlie and his assistant, Wyrick, discover missing doesn’t always mean gone.

It turns out Carter didn’t vanish after all—he’s gone into hiding. Someone in his inner circle wants him dead and now Carter needs Charlie to expose the culprit before the Dunleavy empire spirals into ruin. But with a tangled web of suspects looking to silence Charlie’s investigation, he’ll have to find Carter’s would-be killer and fast, before the traitor can finish the job.

My Thoughts

This is different from all of Sharon Sala’s other books (no romance) but there are still key elements will be familiar to long time readers (I’ve been reading her stuff since she was writing as Dinah McCall) such as seeing the view point of the “bad guy. ”

At first I was a little put off by Wyrick because she is so different from the typical heroine, but the more I learned about her, the more I loved her. Charlie and his devotion to his wife made my heart melt and Wyrick is a kick-ass woman with a tough no nonsense shell that protects who she really is. Charlie and Wyrick are the perfect team and I loved the first book so much I rushed to find the second the moment I read the last word. The language isn’t too bad but there is one scene (really a paragraph) that I found rather crass and I wished the author had skipped it. It didn’t add anything to the plot or storyline.

The clock is ticking…

When Charlie Dodge gets a phone call from a frantic woman stating her daughter has been kidnapped by her ex-husband and taken into a cult called Fourth Dimension, he takes the case without hesitation. The cult’s rumored purpose is to gather men with psychic abilities with the goal of breeding a race of people who have supernatural powers. Once accepted into the cult, men are given a young girl to marry in exchange for one of their own daughters.

The FBI has been monitoring the cult’s activities, but Charlie and his assistant, Wyrick, aren’t bound by the same rules as the feds. They head to the mountains of West Virginia to infiltrate the cult’s compound. The lives of children are at stake, and Charlie and Wyrick will risk everything to destroy the cult and its leader—no matter the cost—because this case is personal.

My Thoughts:

Oh I loved this one! I listened to the audio book most of the time ( I didn’t want to put down the book, so when I had no choice I switched to the audio book and then stuck with it) and the narrator was so great. The voice of Charlie!!! Oh, that’s a voice I could listen to for a long time. Anyway, I adored Jordan. Sometimes she seemed older than 12, but when you add in her physic powers and the stubbornness of a 12 year old girl, it worked. It goes to show that if one person has the courage to resist and stand up to what is wrong, it gives others the courage to do so as well. The storyline was fast paced through out the book and I never got bored. Charlie and Wyrick are still a favorite! Clean-ish: occasional language, not excessive.

He has nothing and everything to lose…

When a seventeen-year-old boy goes missing while camping with his buddies in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend, the case is right up PI Charlie Dodge’s alley. Charlie’s reputation for finding missing people—especially missing kids—is unparalleled. Unfortunately, trouble seems to be equally good at finding him.

Charlie’s still in the thick of it when bad news arrives regarding his wife, Annie, whose early onset Alzheimer’s is causing her to slip further and further away. The timing couldn’t be worse. Thankfully, Charlie’s ride-or-die assistant, Wyrick, has his back. But when Universal Theorem, the shadowy and elusive organization from Wyrick’s past, escalates its deadly threats against her, it pushes both partners past their breaking points. Finding people is one thing; now Charlie will have to fight to hold on to everyone he holds dear.

My Thoughts:

This one wasn’t as fast paced as the other two, but still a great read. Charlie is losing his Annie at a faster rate and UT won’t leave Wyrick alone. The beginning had my heart pounding (don’t like heights, and when I hike I’m always worried about falling over the edge, even when it’s not warranted.) But after that, the cases take a bit of a back seat as each character has to deal with more problems in their personal lives. Cleanish: language, not excessive.

A Broken Bone

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Melinda Leigh

General Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Published November 3, 2020 by Montlake

On Widow’s Island, the secrets are dark…and everybody has one. So when Deputy Tessa Black responds to a call about an explosion in a quiet neighborhood, she gets more than she bargained for: the body of a teen who went missing weeks ago.

Until recently, Gavin was living in a reputable foster home. But now that he is found dead—Tessa can’t help but wonder if sinister forces are at play. Who would want to hurt him, and why?

With the help of her partner, Park Ranger Logan Wilde, Tessa tries desperately to decipher what happened to Gavin before another life is cut short. Someone on Widow’s Island knows the explosive truth. Will Tessa find the answers she needs before someone else turns up dead?

My Thoughts:

This book is not a stand alone book. I highly recommend reading the previous 5 before reading this one. In the 6th book of the Widow’s Island series we switch back to Tessa and Logan’s story. We have the usual murder to solve and I was surprised by the resolution of that problem. I didn’t figure out who the murderer was before it was revealed in the book. I really liked how Tessa and Logan’s relationship is played out and portrayed, although I was a little confused that he was consistently her back up. Maybe in his role as a forest ranger it was okay? But I digress. Logan is a companion that grounds Tessa and keeps her going. Dementia is a hard, hard disease. We had my husband’s grandmother with us for one week while arrangements were being made for her care and it was a very difficult week. We didn’t know what to expect from one moment to the next, if she would know us, if she wouldn’t and how she would react. Ms. Leigh did a good job of showing the beginnings of the disease with Tessa’s mom in this book and previous ones. I enjoyed how the book ended.

Below the Bones

⭐⭐⭐

Kendra Elliot

General Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Published October 27, 2020 by Montlake

Former FBI special agent Cate Wilde is a new bakery and bookstore owner—and retirement is now complete with a doctor boyfriend. Although she struggles with PTSD, the sweet life she’s living is a far cry from the gruesome work she left behind six months ago.

But when skeletal remains turn up on Widow’s Island—and the MO of the killer is too familiar to Cate—the dream comes to an abrupt end. What if the case she solved eight years ago isn’t as closed as she thought? Her hometown needs her, and despite her mental health and her boyfriend’s protests, she has no choice but to return to her dangerous past life.

Soon Cate is in a desperate race to stop a cold-blooded murderer from killing again, once and for all…only this time, she’ll have so much more to lose.

My Thoughts:

First off, this is not a stand alone book. You will be lost if you haven’t read the previous 4 novellas.

This one is hard to review. Because I can’t tell if the novella was lackluster or if I was so distracted by events all around me that I couldn’t concentrate on it. I listened to the majority of the book on Election Day and I would find myself tuning out and then having to rewind to try and listen again. I don’t think it pulled me in as much as the previous 4 books did. The relationships between the characters was barely there. There was a internal dialog with Cate as she tried to decide what to do about the FBI, and in turn the murder, but not much dialog between her and the other characters.

I have alternately listened/read the previous 4 books so I know I have heard the narrator, Christine Williams, before but this time I thought her performance was lackluster as well.

I remain a fan of Ms. Elliot, but I don’t think this was her best.

See Her Die

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Melinda Leigh

New sheriff Bree Taggert is called to a shooting in a campground shuttered for the winter. But she arrives to find a perplexing crime. There is no shooter, no victim, and no blood. No one but Bree believes the sole witness, Alyssa, a homeless teenager who insists she saw her friend shot.

Bree calls in former deputy Matt Flynn and his K-9 to track the killer and search for Alyssa’s friend. They discover the battered corpse of a missing university student under the ice in Grey Lake—but it’s not the victim they were looking for.

When two more students go missing and additional bodies turn up, Bree must find the link between the victims. She knows only one thing for certain: the murders are fueled by rage. When Alyssa disappears, Bree must race against time to find her before her witness becomes another victim.

My Thoughts:

Another great book from an author who is becoming a favorite of mine. The second book in the Bree Taggert series kept me guessing to the very end. I was having an anxiety filled day and who would have guessed a murder mystery would put the smile back on my face.  I love the characters of Bree and Matt. They are honest with themselves, each other and the story picks up shortly after the first one left off. I like how the conflict between Matt and Jim was resolved as well. This could be read as a stand alone, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You would miss too much of the backstory of just about everyone. I can’t wait for the next one. 

The Silence

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kendra Elliot

General Fiction / Romance

288 pages

Published by August 25, 2020 by Montlake

A man is savagely murdered outside Portland, and Detective Mason Callahan finds blood-spatter evidence that tells a troubling story. Files reveal the murder victim, Reuben Braswell, was a radical conspiracist. In his home, investigators find pages of diatribes against law enforcement as well as ties to Mason’s fiancée, FBI special agent Ava McLane. The victim was her informant—and had strong reasons to be paranoid.

To Ava, Braswell’s rants were those of a wearying and harmless man…until they collide with her investigation into the murders of police officers and finding the connection becomes urgent. Meanwhile, Braswell’s brother and Ava’s twin sister both disappear, and disturbing acts of sabotage target Ava’s personal life.

For Mason and Ava, the brutal crimes and escalating mysteries create a perfect storm for a terrorist conspiracy that becomes dangerously personal—one that has yet to claim its last victim.

My Thoughts:

I love Kendra Elliot’s books. Ever since I read her author bio and found a fellow Trixie Belden fan I made it a point to read all her books and I’ve never been disappointed. 
Mason and Ava are back in the 5th book of the Callahan & McLane series and the 2nd book in the Columbia River series. I alternately listened to the audio book and read it on my kindle. It was good enough that when I didn’t have time to sit and read anymore I turned on the audio so I could continue with the story. ** there are some f-words so if you have little ears paying attention you may want to use earbuds.** 

Jayne is up to her usual tricks, the wedding is nearing, and they have a killer and cop killer to hunt down. But Mason and Ava are always there for each other.  Ms. Elliot skillfully wove the clues through the story so I alternately was sure I knew who the culprit was and then had doubts about my theory. It was worth the loss of sleep when I got to the end and quietly shouted “I knew it!”

Fans who like a murder mystery with some light romance will be happy with the book.