Justice Delayed (DCI Mike Saxby #2), by David Field

Eight stars

As I have with his other series, I find David Field’s DCI Mike Saxby novellas to pack the same punch without all the unnecessary writing fluff. Picking up where the series debut ended, Field drops the reader into the middle of a DCI Mike Saxby situation. News has hit the wire that journalist Jeremy Giles is dead. Arriving at the scene, his body has been hanging from a roof beam with an odd ‘U’ carved into the skin. Surely not your run of the mill suicide or murder, but with Giles’ past connection to Saxby, he’ll want to look a little deeper. It was Giles who brought Saxby the news of 17 Cavendish Square, a high-end brothel that was the centre of a recent case (see Book 1), that was supposed to have been haunted for over four centuries. Giles was also working on a book to tell of all the mysterious goings-on along Cavendish Square, something that might be useful when trying to draw a list of suspects. Might Giles have stepped on a toe or two while researching his book? DCI Saxby and his team begin looking into some of the genealogy related to Cavendish and some unsolved cases from the recent past, trying to tie things together. Could there be a connection to the murder of a purported witch centuries ago? Saxby will have to juggle this and some personal things that have come to the surface with a member of the team. It’s Saxby’s call to tread lightly or forge ahead full speed, in this case that has elements of the paranormal. Field does it again, pulling together a strong story and events from the past to shape his narrative and keep the reader enthralled. Recommended for those who enjoy police procedurals, as well as the reader who wants something quick to digest.

I have enjoyed David Field for a while now. He knows how to create an alluring tale, a full mystery, and telling it without all the bells and whistles of extemporaneous characters and setting development. This story works well in its modern setting—dabbling into the past when needed—with a well-paced narrative and strong characters. DCI Mike Saxby emerges as a better protagonist this time around, holding the story in his proverbial palm as the investigation takes on many twists and turns. Through the eyes of a senior administrator, the reader is able to see the building the case and its various pitfalls, as interviews lead in a variety of directions. The reader is able to see a little more of the Saxby family, though the struggle is replaced with Field offering up some more ‘personal’ sides to Mike Saxby that were not as evident when I read the debut. There are some interesting character development moments with the secondary characters, which adds a little drama to the story and gives the reader others with whom they can relate. Pulling on some of the crumbs left in the debut novella, Field builds new and interesting sub plots throughout and I found the storytelling to be just as intense as anything else Field has penned. I enjoyed the story and found the mix of personal and professional tensions leaving me wanting more in this series. The reader must find an attachment to the story early on or risk losing the overall reading experience. I’m pleased to see how well things progressed throughout and hope Field has more pieces in this and his other newly-released series to keep readers coming back.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another great piece. Your work never ceases to amaze me and I find your versatility refreshing in this day and age, when authors seem to peddle the same type of work.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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17 Cavendish Square (DCI Mike Saxby #1), by David Field

Eight stars

David Field’s recent police procedural novellas contrast nicely with some of his past writing, which some will know I have enjoyed a great deal. While I discovered Field with his ‘Victorian’ and ‘Tudor’ writing, this modern story has a peppering of times past, which helps to pull things together in a wonderful mix of mystery, history, and grit. When the manager of a high-end brothel is found with a hypodermic needle in her arm, everyone is baffled and highly troubled. It would appear someone injected Linda Clifford with some laced heroin, though the victim had no known enemies. When the authorities arrive, it soon becomes evident that Clifford’s ongoing cooperation with ‘Operation Delilah’ could be one glaring reason to see her exterminated. Delilah has been covertly monitoring sex trafficking from the former Balkan states over the past number of months, something the British authorities have sought to eradicate. Enter, DCI Mike Saxby, who is asked to head up the investigation and oversee two incompatible detectives who are working many angles. He’s also being harassed by a local journalist who wants to share the history of the building. It would seem that 17 Cavendish Square has a long history of hauntings and strange goings-on, though Saxby has not yet accepted that this crime has anything to do with it. Digging a little deeper and trying to find the one employee who was mysteriously absent just after the body was found, Saxby and his team work to gather the numerous shards of information and determine who might know more than they are letting on. If that were not enough, Saxby is trying to deal with his family life, which includes a daughter who seeks ongoing financial compensation for her various needs. With press building on the case, it will be up to Saxby to determine if this was another ghost-related criminal act, or if someone will have to be held accountable for the murder. The motive must be evident, though it will surely take Saxby and his team a great deal of effort to connect the dots. Field does well entering the modern police procedural, keeping his story on point in short order and holding the reader’s attention throughout. Recommended for those who enjoy police procedurals, as well as the reader who wants something quick to digest.

I have enjoyed David Field and his writing since I first stumbled upon his Victorian crime series. He is able to compact a full mystery into a novella and keep the reader wanting to learn more, without weighing them down with too much minutiae. This story works well in its modern setting, as the narrative is fast-paced and the characters take little down time. DCI Mike Saxby proves to be the protagonist, more because he is the spoke in the wheel than being front and centre in the investigation. His management of the information garnered by two DIs helps to show his management style, which is offset with his subordinate role in the Saxby household, with a strong-willed wife and financially dependant university daughter. The reader learns a little about Saxby throughout, both personal and some backstory, though it is his case management that proves to be the most prevalent part of this story. Other characters serve well to keep the story moving in a positive direction, as the reader learns much about the case through their dialogue and some of the narrative direction that pushes them towards certain discoveries. Field uses the compacted time he has to reveal much, while also injecting a great deal of history—modern and more dated—to educate the reader throughout. Deception awaits at every turn, though the reader can revel in it all and try to piece together what’s going on, based on the various bits of information that are revealed. I quite liked the story and found the mix of regional tensions and historical goings-on quite well done. As with many of Field’s pieces, the reader must attach themselves early on or they will be lost in the overall experience. I am pleased to have another DCI Mike Saxby story close at hand, as I am eager to see what threads left to dangle are utilised in the follow-up mystery.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another entertaining piece. I always enjoy seeing your ides put to paper and marvel at how they are all released at the same time, though prove vastly different.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Black Summer (Washington Poe #2), by M.W. Craven

Nine stars

After devouring M.W. Craven’s series debut, I was quick to get my hands on a copy of this sequel, which packs just as much punch with its sensational storytelling and strong plot. Washington Poe is still reeling from the fallout of the Immolation Man case and he carries the burns on his hands to prove it. When he is called back up to Cumbria, he cannot be sure if there is more he will have to remember. However, it is another of his past cases that comes to the forefront. Six years ago, Poe helped to put Jared Keaton behind bars for the murder of his daughter. While working in the front of house of her father’s restaurant, Elizabeth Keaton was apparently attacked, spilling enough blood in the kitchen to ensure she could not have survived. However, with no body, it was all circumstantial evidence, which Poe used to ensure the Michelin-star chef did not see the light of day. When a woman claiming to be Elizabeth Keaton stumbles up to a police officer, all bets are off. Poe is sure that Elizabeth is dead, citing the forensics found at the scene, though the blood of this woman matches the victim perfectly. Elizabeth claims that she was abducted, but cannot remember much of anything else. Poe must work fast to see what is going on, calling upon his analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, whose book smarts and social awkwardness may help forge ahead. They explore all the evidence once again and thrust themselves into the cutthroat world of the culinary arts, trying to piece the crime together, while Jared Keaton prepares to be exonerated and Poe’s future hangs in the balance. How can the blood lie, twice, and what happened six years ago to turn things completely upside down? ‘Elizabeth’ disappears again, adding depth to an already confusing set of facts. Poe and Bradshaw will have to work quickly, though with the help of their National Crime Agency colleagues to find answers. There may be something embedded in Keaton’s gastronomical gifts that tells the tale, but time is limited. Another stunning novel that Craven uses to captivate the reader throughout. Not to be missed by fans of the first book, and highly recommended to those who want a stunning read to pass the time.

M.W. Craven takes the reader down one rabbit hole and up another in this stunning sequel that carries on not long after the debut piece. It is not only a wonderful story, but the reader can find themselves in the middle of relentless action while discovering the darker sides of police procedurals. Washington Poe is again front and centre in this piece, with grit and determination to solve the crime offset by a desire to be sociable wherever possible. Poe’s desire to see things through to their completion adds a thread to the story, as he forges ahead to ensure that he truth prevails, even if it could cost him everything. Poe refuses to back down and will work outside the chain of command if he feels that he is in the right, though he understands the need for deference during certain situations, usually of his choosing. The other members of the National Crime Agency prove able to complement Poe and contrast nicely with all he does, particularly Tilly Bradshaw. Her social cluelessness is balanced with extensive knowledge and dedication to working no matter the hour. When not adding levity to the story, Bradshaw is extracting needed results to help Poe prove his point, no matter the location of facts and information. Others work well to keep Poe in line (or defying them) and there is no shortage of clashes throughout this piece. The story was stellar, pulling on both past and present, with excellent detail embedded in a narrative that flows freely. The smallest of facts can prove to be the most important, given enough time and effort, forcing the reader not to discount anything that Craven puts to page. Those looking for something deeper, but not wanting to lug around a thick novel ought to locate M.W. Craven’s work, as he packs a punch like no other in a compact writing style. And now we wait for the next book, to help replicate this awesome feeling of excitement I’ve come to know this week!

Kudos, Mr. Craven, for another strong novel. You surely have a way with words and can captivate me like no other when you put your ideas to paper (or on screen).

This book fulfils Topic #6: Current Equinox in the Equinox #8 Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Without Fear or Favour (Constable Thomas Lincraft #2), by David Field

Eight stars

With the release of the second novella in this new series by David Field, I was able to transport myself back to Elizabethan England and enjoy a short mystery full of intrigue and political scandal. Senior Constable for Nottinghamshire, Tom Lincraft, is out to investigate the discovery of a body. Edward Franklin is the town miller and was hanging by a rope at his place of work by his son. Under the presumption of foul play, there is a question as to who might have wanted to harm Franklin. Lincraft and his colleague, Giles Bradbury, begin exploring the possible motives, which leads to a few seedy pubs, where the victim had quite the reputation. It is then that Lincraft learns that his young protégé is well-known in his own right. Following leads and whispers, Lincraft discovers that there may have been some secrets the victim knew. In a country still hesitantly accepting the reign of Queen Elizabeth, plotters abound at every turn. Lincraft will have to work his magic, not only to find the killer, but also to discover what is being hatched in secret. Field does well to being history and mystery together into a wonderful mix of literary flavours. Recommended for those who enjoy short mysteries, as well as fans of David Field and his work.

A new series by David Field is always worth celebrating and the first two books have proven that he has quite the magical touch. I am again impressed with the strong start to this series—rumoured to only be a trilogy—and how easily the reader can attach themselves to Thomas Lincraft. While the opening novel offered more of an isolated side to the man, in this piece, Field offers a little more of his family and the compassionate side to the man who serves as a Senior Constable. Lincraft is still dedicated to his work and is strongly religious, at a time when love of country depends on which side of the ecclesiastical aisle you find yourself. He seeks answers and an overall resolution, but is less stuffy than he came across in the opening novella. Others provide an interesting supporting role, mainly new faces and names wedged into this short piece. There is little time to develop characters, yet Field makes time for it in his concise narrative. I enjoy the Tudor period and while this is more of an Elizabethan story, there are still hints of the clashes that came about during the time. The story develops well in this time period and gives the reader something on which to feast as they progress through the back alleys and into the taverns, as well as with some of the more official and royal individuals who grace the pages of this piece. Field offers short chapters to push the story along, whetting the appetite of the reader throughout, while forcing them to ponder the possibilities before the truth comes to the surface. There is much to learn by the end of this piece, which surely paves the way for an intriguing final novella, yet to be released to the reading public!

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another wonderful novella in this short trilogy. I am eager to get my hands on the final chapter, though you have enough being published to keep me occupied.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

She Died Unshriven (Constable Thomas Lincraft #1), by David Field

Eight stars

A fan of David Field and his writing, I was pleased to stumble upon this novella set in Elizabethan times. When the body of a young woman is discovered, the coroner feels it important to call an inquest. Believed to be Amy Brinkley, a domestic servant with a penchant for promiscuity, the initial blame seems to be with her master. During the inquest, evidence begins piling up, though Constable Thomas Lincraft is not so sure. The testimony by witnesses seems weak or quite outlandish, including an apparent clue to the victim’s identity by an apparition. Risking his position, Lincraft vows to get to the bottom of the murder to see if Amy Brinkley is even the victim and who might have wanted her dead. Fuelled by wanting to find the truth, Lincraft will unearth truths that others may not want to see the light of day, in a story that mixes greed, lust, and determination. Time is of the essence in this short piece, as a man’s life hangs in the balance while the townsfolk watch in awe. Field shows that he has a great handle on mystery writing with a legal flavour. Recommended for those who enjoy legal thrillers, particularly set in times past, as well as fans of David Field and his other series.

The first in the series, I am again impressed with the start to another David Field collection. The story develops an interesting legal thriller with a story set centuries ago, which forces the reader to accept both pieces to enjoy the story. There is the usual connection to the protagonist that Field has made a trademark of his writing, as well as the historic backdrop to educate the reader. Thomas Lincraft is unlike many men of his time, questioning all that is put before him. Not happy to accept his role in the larger legal machine, Lincraft seeks answers, even when he is warned away from doing so. His attention to detail and seeking for the truth will surely make many enemies for him, though he seems more concerned with ensuring the right person faces the consequences at the Coroner’s Inquest. Others in this piece offer interesting support for a narrative that has little time to lag. I can see myself curious to see those who make return visits to the series, as it will surely complement Lincraft’s role in the stories. I love history and David Field does a wonderful job at bringing it to life. Using Elizabethan England as the backdrop, the story grows from there and uses the knowledge of the time to flavour the narrative. With a curious mystery and the need for resolution, the reader is left to ponder the possibilities before the truth comes to the surface. However, the jury waits for no one, so it will have to come together as fast as Lincraft can find the central thread to the entire mystery.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another wonderful novella. I love that I can tackle them in a day or two and feel as though I have accomplished something monumental.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Hush Hush (Detective Harriet Blue #4), by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Eight stars

Returning for another collaborative novel, James Patterson and Candice Fox add to their highly popular Harriet ‘Harry’ Blue series. With Blue incarcerated, her world has been turned upside down. Forced to watch over her shoulder at every turn, Blue does not hesitate to defend herself, even if it means a trip to the infirmary. During her frequent trips, Blue befriends the doctor, who has an affinity for the copper. When the doctor’s body turns up in a pool of blood on the infirmary floor, many eyes turn to Blue. While she does have a temper, Blue is also in possession of a strong alibi. However, another prisoner seems to be the prime suspect, leaving Blue to investigate, sure of her friend’s innocence. Wanting to pursue the case on the inside, Blue begins poking around as best she can. On the outside, the daughter of one of the city’s police commissioners has gone missing. With a sordid history involving drugs, one can only wonder if she’s out on a binge. However, she has her young daughter with her, something that defies much of her past behaviour, which also puts everyone on high alert. Wanting this case to take high priority, an agreement to see Blue released is negotiated, though Harry will have to swallow her pride, as she was never a friend of the police brass. As Blue is reunited with her partner, Ed Whittaker, they work together to trace the whereabouts of their missing person, but the clues are few and far between. Might this have been a drug deal gone bad, with the toddler used as leverage? When not in middle of the investigation, Blue returns to the prison to find evidence of who might have killed the hard working doctor. What Blue discovers is more than she might have expected, with little time to waste. Patterson and Fox exemplify how well they work together with yet another addition in the Harry Blue series. Recommended to fans of Harry Blue novels, as well as readers who like Patterson’s style while paired with a capable collaborator.

It’s never a sure thing that the reader will find a great book when James Patterson’s name appears on the cover—though his name alone seems to sell books, quality be damned—but when paired with Candice Fox, one can almost be assured of success. Working to create wonderful police procedurals set in Australia, the reader is able to experience something a little different (for those who do not live Down Under) without sacrificing quality. Harry Blue has always been an entertaining character, even if she is not known for her verbal filter. Her actions to track down some of the worst criminals in sex crimes, she has finally allowed her emotions to get the better of her. Locked away for killing an Australian pedophile, she must answer for her actions, while also being labelled ‘cop’. This does nothing to ensure her safety, as she come face to face with all forms of female inmates. Forced to sacrifice her standards to help someone else, Blue agrees to run two investigations that appear greatly different on the surface. The reader will notice her unique approach to policing and her inability to stomach the ignorant. There is surely some development here, though much of the focus is on her ability to locate criminals in short order. There are others, both returning a new characters, who add depth to the story and whose presence will surely entertain the reader. Working to extract key facets of the Harry Blue personality, Patterson and Fox paint these secondary characters in such a way that they complement the protagonist effectively. The story is strong, pushing the reader out of their comfort zone as a prison is one of the primary settings for the story. In order to stay on the ‘outside’, Blue will have to do all that is asked of her, though success is far from guaranteed. Patterson and Fox do well to push the story forward with this spin and keep the reader wanting more until the very last pages.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Fox, on another masterful story. I have enjoyed Harry Blue to date and hope your collaborative efforts continue well into the future.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada, by Ron Graham

Nine stars

Having recently read the tome associated with Canadian Confederation in the History of Canada series, I wanted to complement it with Ron Graham’s book about the eventual Canadian patriation of the British North America Act, 1867—its own constitution—and the battles that ensued to do so. While likely not of great interest to those readers who are not Canadian political geeks such as myself, the detail Graham uses to present his arguments are both convincing and easy to comprehend. That Canada failed to create an amending formula for its constitution was lost on few, even as far back as 1867. As some historians mentioned, the Fathers of Confederation knew this, but thought it a trivial aspect that could be ironed out later on. A gaffe that had not been rectified over the 115 or so years up to this point, though many had tried. Many contentious issues arose to create clashes amongst the players, which Graham explores in depth. However, it was one day at the 1981 First Ministers’ Conference on the Constitution—Wednesday, November 4, 1981—that saw things go from disaster to a shaky agreement that many of the premiers could accept. Graham discusses the events in detail, including the many characters who served as political hurdles for Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to bring home Canada’s beloved constitutional document. From linguistic arguments by a separatist premier to refusal to cede control of knowing what its people wanted best when the Gang of Eight sought to torpedo the amending formula and even trying to ram a Charter of Rights and Freedoms past these wily men, Graham delved into the drama of this single day that tipped the scales and brought home the Constitution, once and for all. Riveting in its detail and discussion of many political issues of the day, Ron Graham turns Canadian history into something that many can comprehend with his flowing style. Recommended to those who enjoy all things Canadian politics, especially the reader (geek or not) who loves constitutional discussions.

When I noticed that this book was part of the History of Canada series, I knew I would have to get my hands on it as soon as possible. The topic has long been something that has interested me and while I am somewhat well-versed on the topic, this insider look hooked me from the opening pages. Graham does set the historical narrative on a single day, though he weaves in much of the political and social backstory that brought things to this point. There is a discussion of many of the key players: Trudeau, the premiers, federal and provincial ministers, and even some advisors. All these men (yes, like 1867, it was men making the decisions) clashes and fought as best they could, each feeling they knew what was best. Graham offers powerful backstories and some of the behind-the-scenes discussions that took place on that fateful November day, including some of the late-night moments that broke open the logjam and led to an agreement that most could agree upon, even if it was still contentious. There was much to learn from this and historians (and Canadians alike) can still learn from the arguments made at this conference. But, when the dust settled, however bloodied the actors were, Canada had what it needed. True, this opened up a new can of worms, but that is for another review. Full of well paced chapters that clearly explore central political and social events, the reader is able to better understand the nuances of the political infighting and the cleavages that separated some of the central players. Graham is fair in his depiction, though he surely could have written something three times as long and still held the attention of many.

Kudos, Mr. Graham, for such a great primer on the topic of Canadian constitutional reform/patriation. I will have to keep my eyes open to see what else you’ve published on the subject.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race, by Douglas Brinkley

Nine stars

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing only a few days away, Douglas Brinkley’s latest book surrounding the early years of space exploration, seemed the perfect fit. Told as a loose biography of the race to get into space, Brinkley explores the two main camps vying for control of the territory outside of Earth’s atmosphere—USA and USSR—as well as bringing in the promise President John F. Kennedy made about sending a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s. Brinkley begins his narrative by examining the mystery of space, at least as seen through the eyes of those positing about missions into the atmosphere. Writers have long created stories about inter-planetary adventures and trips to the Moon, even before they was a means to get off the ground. As Brinkley discusses, this science fiction soon turned into a spark that began a race to use the skies as a means of transportation at high rates of speed. The Nazis capitalised on this, though both superpowers poached their rocket scientists at the end of the War to begin creating their own rocket weapons and early prototypes of space vehicles. The Soviets pushed full speed ahead, while America lagged behind with President Dwight Eisenhower less than keen on the space race. Enter John Kennedy, a young congressman from Massachusetts, who sought to harness this race as being of utmost importance to the American psyche and as a key element of the Cold War.

Brinkley uses the middle portion of his book to really explore the Space Race and how the Soviets sent so much time focussing their attention on outmanoeuvring the Americans. It was truly a Cold War battle, but one in which the Americans were not—surprisingly—invested. One can speculate that America had domestic issues that needed solving, while the Soviet state suspended everything to ensure a cosmonaut made world headlines. There is an interesting undertone throughout this portion of the book, one that argues that Eisenhower was less than interest in seeing man enter space or land on the Moon. It was the Kennedy push, with Lyndon Johnson working his magic on the Senate floor, who pushed for the American Space Program. Brinkley thoroughly explores the early talk of rockets and the Space Program, strongly supported by Kennedy and Johnson, while Eisenhower continued to fumble and remained in constant catch-up mode. Seeing the price tag as being unrealistic or unfeasible, Eisenhower acted only to ensure the egg left on America’s collective face did not solidify. Kennedy’s eventual win in the 1960 Presidential election paved the way for a new era in space, one in which Kennedy vowed to push America ahead and land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade.

Brinkley proves repeatedly how the contrasting US Administrations tackled space in different ways. Under Kennedy, space was finally of the utmost concern, even if it was still a lukewarm idea to many who saw the expense as being too high. Kennedy pushed forward with missions orbiting above the Earth and locked in a location for many of the future launches into space. Kennedy was convinced that the Americans could land a man on the Moon and do so before the Soviets, though it would take innovation and excellence, something the president felt the country had in large quantities. During his brief time in office, Kennedy watched as the US Space Program came to life and the world could see its progress on television. More familiar names, such as Glenn, Shephard, and Armstrong, pepper the narrative and show how incremental successes helped Kennedy disprove his detractors. Armed with ongoing Cold War issues, Kennedy worked to keep the Space Race going, even as Khrushchev sought to tighten his grip in Europe with the Berlin Wall and pushed the Soviet Space Program to take risks to keep pace. During his short time in office, JFK showed the world just how dedicated he was to his pledge, which miraculously continued on after an assassin’s bullet ended the life of the 35th President of the United States. Kennedy’s footprint remains permanently etched on the American Space Program, with his insights leading to the eventual Apollo 11 Moon Landing, whose anniversary reminds the world of the important innovation made when humans eventually made their way onto the Moon’s surface.

While I am no expert on things related to space, my interest in history fuelled my desire to give this piece a try. Brinkley does a masterful job of creating an intriguing narrative about the Space Race and how it became one plank of the ongoing battle throughout the Cold War. More than that, Brinkley effectively argues that an obsession with getting into space far surpassed when he became feasible, citing numerous books and articles on the subject. His pinning the development of space exploration on the keenness of JFK’s life-long curiosity proved a secondary biography of sorts that will appeal to those who have an interest in all things Kennedy. Brinkley has been able to create a seamless narrative discussing the enormous world of space progress and its science into something that can be easily comprehended by the layperson. Using a number of key characters in both American and Soviet space camps, the story takes on a new light as the race to land on the Moon heated up throughout the 1960s. With political vilification of the US-USSR politicians, as well as in-fighting within America, Brinkley shows just how controversial and divisive this venture would be, as well as the astronomical amounts spent to see Neil Armstrong make that prolific walk outside of Apollo 11 in July 1969. With detailed chapters full of information and told in a well-paced narrative, Brinkley brings space development to life throughout and paves the way for the event 50 years ago that many who were alive can remember with great detail. It was surely one of the great feats humans have undertaken in their constant march towards technological mastery, though Brinkley asserts that the exploration should never stop, even if they race to do so is no longer as fervent.

Kudos, Mr. Brinkley, for telling this wonderful tale and bringing history to life yet again. I have enjoyed both books of yours that I have read and will have to try more, when time permits.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Cause to Dread (Avery Black #6), by Blake Pierce

Eight stars

The Avery Black series continues to gain momentum in Blake Pierce’s six novel. With the dust still settling in the aftermath of the devastation of the previous piece, Avery has become a recluse, living in a rural cabin and staying clear of anything police related. Her once strong relationship with Rose has been strained again because of a murder spree and with Ramirez gone, there is little direction. When a man is discovered dead in his closet, his death is strongly suspicious. Covered in venomous spider bites, the victim appears to have heightened levels of natural chemicals inside him as well. Further digging leads to some interesting clues, especially when some close to the victim reveal that he was deathly afraid of arachnids. Avery is intrigued and agrees to help with this case alone, missing a sense of importance. Partnered up with someone new, Avery and Officer Courtney Kellaway begin scouring for clues of a killer with an odd penchant for fear. When other victims emerge with what seems like a loose connection to their original crime scene, Avery works her magic and ties them all together. However, an urgent call about Rose has Avery rushing from the scene. With Rose in the hospital, Avery will have to show her mothering abilities and come to terms with the reasons behind Rose’s being there. A killer on the loose and Howard Randal likely alive and on the lam leaves Avery looking over her shoulder at every turn as she seeks answers in a life that has lost its meaning. Pierce has helped the story and characters rebound well in this sixth novel, though there is a feeling of finality in the writing. Recommended to those who have loved the Avery Black series, as well as readers who love a quick mystery.

Blake Pierce has done well crafting an exciting series in a handful of novels. Avery Black and those around her have grown so much, with strong story arcs connecting the series as a whole and leaving the reader wanting more. The growth of Avery can be seen by those series fans who have paid attention throughout. Many will have seen the slow start to the Avery-Rose relationship, which only got strong to shatter apart when a string of murders drives a wedge between them. Avery is also forced to come to terms with the loss of Ramirez, who has been a part of her life for the previous novels. Avery Black is fiercely independent, though she needs people more than ever at this part in her life. With a new killer targeting unknowing victims and Howard Randall still on the loose, Avery can only wonder what will come of it all. Others in the series have grown incrementally in the background and allowed the reader to see some development. Still, there is so much that could be done, should Pierce ever wish to come back to further this series. With a strong story, Pierce entices his series fans to return after unleashing so much trouble in the past book. Always ready to offer a new and intriguing murder mystery, Blake Pierce has continued to impress me through my series binge. I can only hope others will take on the challenge and find just as much worth reading about and pass the recommendation along.

Kudos, Mr. Pierce, as you continue to dazzle with this series. I may have to check out some of your others to see if they are just as addictive. That said, I have to wonder if you’ve thought of some cross-over novels with your other female protagonists.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Cause to Save (Avery Black #5), by Blake Pierce

Eight stars

Blake Pierce has saved the best for this fifth novel, placing Avery Black in the middle of her most explosive mystery yet. As Boston reels with the news that Howard Randall has escaped from prison, Avery is still focussed on Ramirez, who sits in a coma. When a young co-ed is murdered, many wonder if this is Randall continuing what he did best, but Avery is not sure, finding it all a little too convenient. Having finally fostered a good relationship with her daughter, Avery and Rose are able to enjoy one another’s company. When news that Ramirez is awake comes from the hospital, Avery rushes there, dodging the ongoing attacks from her superiors that she cannot be on the case. Avery and Ramirez share some insights, leaving a clearer picture as to who might be behind the killing. In a macabre way, all the pieces fall into place and it turns out that Avery knows the killer well, another of her former clients when she was a defence attorney. The killings hit close to home and no one is safe, including Avery, as she tries to work the case while not tipping her hand. Two serial murderers are on the loose in Boston and no one is safe. Avery will have to summon all her courage for this case, as someone is out for a revenge that is as frigid as it is violent. Blake Pierce lays it all out in this novel, leaving series fans to pick their jaws off the floor before rushing to finish. Highly recommended for those who gave enjoyed Avery Black to date and enjoy seeing her pushed to her limits.

Blake Pierce has done well to lay the groundwork for a great series with his four previous novels, but nothing will prepare the reader for what is to come in this piece. The one man who sunk Avery’s career is on the loose, though Howard Randall has also been a father figure to her. Avery sees herself at a real crossroads with this book, trying to piece her life back together. A fallen partner/boyfriend is in the hospital from injuries sustained on the job, while a brutal serial killer hides in the shadows and another one seems keen on mocking her from afar. Avery has finally found the sweet spot for her relationship with Rose, though it will be tested throughout this piece. Wanting to catch a killer and be a good support will force Avery to make some hard decisions, ones that she may come to regret. Others surrounding Black keep the story riveting and push the narrative to new levels. Most are familiar to the series reader, allowing the reader to ply off the past banter and current connections to deepen the flavour of the overall story. The writing remains strong and held my attention as the narrative takes more twists that I could have predicted. The balance of shorter and more developed chapters kept me pushing on and not wanting to stop at any point. Blake Pierce left me shocked with how he brought this novel to a close, adding more unsettling finality on one hand and some cliffhangers on the other. The sixth novel is sure to pack a punch like no other..

Kudos, Mr. Pierce, for never letting up and making me glad to have taken the recommendation of this Avery Black series.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons