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Mystery / Thriller

  • The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait

    by Liese Sherwood-Fabre

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot/Idea: The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait perfectly combines a young Sherlock Holmes, mystery, and historical fiction in a very convincing addition to Sherlockian lore, which fans are sure to love.

    Prose: Vividly crafted prose evokes the time period with easy-to-read yet setting-appropriate dialogue that adds to the tension of climactic moments.

    Originality: Classic mystery staples such as codes and mystifying poems, combined with deeply buried family secrets and the ghost of the French Revolution create a truly unique, atmospheric tale that is Sherlockian through and through. 

    Character Development/Execution: The craftiness of teenaged Sherlock Holmes evokes a true sense of literature’s famed detective, and readers will enjoy watching him grow. Sherlock’s mother is inherently clever and exudes inner strength that clearly has inspired her son.

  • Plot/Idea: The third Louise Moscow novel is a fast-paced, globe-spanning narrative focused on an international banking scandal. A highlight of the novel is the author's attention to historical detail, landscapes, and architecture.

    Prose: The prose is evocative and smooth, with ample detail sprinkled throughout. 

    Originality: Devil's Ledger is an international mystery with numerous original elements and high personal stakes for the protagonist. 

    Character Development/Execution: Louise is finely developed as a character, although one never fully discovers the secrets of her heart. Side characters are written with attention and care, adding layers of intrigue and verisimilitude to the story. Perhaps some attention could be revisited to Big Steve's vocabulary and dialect. 

  • Plot/Idea: Hamilton’s novel is a tense, meticulously plotted story that will easily hook readers. The storyline is seamless, despite a plethora of characters who work in the hotel, all of whom have unique motives to find the previously stolen and currently missing six million dollars.

    Prose: The prose is carefully wrought, and the dialogue proves snappy and memorable.

    Originality: Traditional heist story beats, combined with well-crafted suspense elements, create an interesting spin on the genre.

    Character Development/Execution: Despite the numerous cast members in IMPLOSION, all are memorable, interesting, and incredibly varied characters.

    Blurb: This suspenseful tale of a hotel slated for imminent destruction will keep readers on the edge of their seats as the mad dash for six million dollars in stolen cash begins.  

  • Switched Up

    by Rosy Fenwicke

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot/Idea: Fenwicke delivers a solid plot, with easy-to-follow exposition that will immediately draw readers in. The story maintains ample excitement near the conclusion – and will leave audiences ready for another installment.

    Prose: There are a few instances when Fenwicke’s prose does not quite keep pace with the plot, but overall she uses economical and accessible writing that supports the story’s forward movement. The author’s tone and composition advance the more tense scenes particularly well.

    Originality: Switched Up consists of a distinctive storyline that is bolstered with creative characters, lending it an air of novelty that will set it apart.

    Character Development/Execution: Fenwicke’s characters are equal parts relatable and intriguing, offering readers familiar experiences alongside their peculiarities. Given this is the second in a series, the author skillfully incorporates character backgrounds to give new and already acquainted followers a comprehensive understanding of her main players.

    Blurb: An exciting montage of villains, superheroines, and good-versus-evil that will leave readers asking for more.


    by james gilbert

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot/Idea: Gilbert delivers a straightforward mystery with a vivid setting and intriguing setup. The author enhances the storyline through its exploration of the parallels and differences between U.S. and Mexican legal systems, while the story keeps readers guessing the culprit right up until the conclusion.

    Prose: The prose is generally even and clear, with some lovely descriptions.

    Originality: This storyline feels quite original, as it takes place in a Mexican sauna and spans several countries and languages. The author insightfully explores and exposes systemic undercurrents of homophobia.

    Character Development/Execution: Amanda is quite clearly drawn, a complex character with a big conscience. A few of the male characters are also well developed, such as Captain Gonzalez, a gruff Mexican police captain whose prejudices are authentically delved into during the course of the story. 


  • White Gold

    by Micheal E. Jimerson

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot/Idea: White Gold takes readers on a breakneck ride raging with murder, greed, and desperation, through the eyes of embittered lawman E.J. Kane, who stumbles into danger at every turn in his quest to survive the untimely death of his son, all while trying to save his drug-addicted daughter. The tension builds quickly, and Jimerson’s plot submerses readers in action before delivering the final unexpected, but satisfyingly complete, blow.

    Prose: Despite some rough transitions, Jimerson crafts easy prose that helps readers sink into the novel’s mood. Dialogue flows naturally, and the effective writing style steadies the plot’s pace, even in high stakes moments.

    Originality: Though this novel boasts a gritty crime narrative with conventional whodunit hijinks, Jimerson’s smooth approach gives it somewhat of an edge; the story’s polished prose is a standout.

    Character Development/Execution: This book’s main players are well-defined, albeit stereotypical at times, and their backstories help unite them in a collective web of intrigue. Savvy mystery fans may guess the perpetrator, but the process will be entertaining enough to keep them hooked until the end.

  • Juiced

    by ted mulcahey

    Rating: 7.25

    Plot/Idea: Juiced leans into traditional mystery/thriller novel territory while providing a thoroughly enjoyable adventure.

    Prose: Mulcahey’s prose is dialogue-heavy, with characters working out the mystery aloud, making readers feel like they’re standing right alongside the action. At times, the dialogue can feel ever so slightly forced, but overall it contributes to the effectiveness of the story.

    Originality: Juiced is a fun, thrilling adventure involving secret, breakthrough research and the sudden death of a neighbor, though fans of the genre may find some expected plot turns.

    Character Development/Execution: Protagonists Kevin and Jenne are believable and likable, while the antagonists range from classic villains to crooks with hearts of gold.


  • Who Killed Coriolanus?

    by Ron Fritsch

    Rating: 7.00

    Plot/Idea: In this work of historical fiction, a sequel to Helena's Orphans, Fritsch establishes numerous strong plot points that, while predictable by their nature, will captivate many readers. 

    Prose: Who Killed Coriolanus overuses perspective switching when balancing the two main characters' viewpoints, leading to rich texture, but an occasionally distorted storytelling style. Readers may be sidetracked by various awkward moments and stiff prose.

    Originality: Fritsch adds novelty to familiar historical events by spotlighting legendary relationships in new ways. 

    Character Development/Execution: The enticing circumstances are the primary strength of Who Killed Coriolanus. Those with a passion for mythology and Greek and Roman history will savor the historical details Fritsch provides.

  • You Have The Right to Remain Silent

    by Mark M. Bello

    Rating: 6.25

    Plot/Idea: You Have the Right To Remain Silent presents a classic jilted lovers tale with a promising start and appealing development, yet a number of lukewarm elements. 

    Prose: Bello makes liberal use of common tropes, lending the story a definitive criminal thriller feel, but the descriptors feel excessive at times. The narrative is heavy with dialogue to drive points home, with Bello frequently depending on conspicuous statements as opposed to subtlety.

    Originality: The story merges several themes, resulting in an entertaining but unsurprising murder mystery that suffers from a too-clean setup.

    Character Development/Execution: Bello could infuse more delicacy into his characters; readers may find them formulaic, making it difficult to become emotionally invested in their development. Protagonist Mia is leaden in a number of scenes, which forces her to take a backseat to the dynamic swagger of attorney Zach, who swoops in to figuratively save the day in a conclusion that--though readers may see it coming--is gratifying.