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Friday, December 19, 2014

What Strange Creatures By Emily Arsenault

by Sandra Murphy

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Theresa Battle knows her family is–well–messed up would be the polite way to say it. She’s been married, divorced, has three cats and a dog, all while trying to finish a dissertation that so far has lasted seven years. It’s not happening. Instead of a degree, she has a copywriting job at a local candle company. The fun part is describing the various scents.

Her brother, Jeff, is a genius but works well below his potential. He’s basically wandering through his life without much of a path or purpose to follow. He did manage to attract a waitress, Kim, and she seems not to mind.

Kim has a weekend trip to take alone and Jeff volunteers Theresa to dog sit for Kim’s “puggle”(Pug/Beagle mix). Of course, he volunteered Theresa first and then asked if it was okay. Well, sure, how much trouble could one little dog be? And it’s just for the weekend.


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Kim doesn’t come home though. When her body is found, Jeff becomes the prime suspect. Used to disappointments is one thing but being accused of murder is beyond the pale. The evidence seems to be overwhelming, but Theresa is sure Jeff is innocent. The old “know the victim, find the killer” saying comes to mind and Theresa is off and running to learn about Kim’s life. How complicated could it be?

There’s a lot more to Kim than any one person knew. Each time Theresa thinks she has a handle on Kim’s personality her findings veer off on another tangent. Kim seems to have been a different person depending on who she was with. So what’s the right answer? Was she a fun loving waitress, a political supporter, a go-with-the-flow gal or ambitious to the point of obsession? Kim’s life was a lot more complicated than anyone suspected and she wasn’t’ always likable though most of the other characters are.

The truth involves a secret, the motive for many a murder. Politics, murder, scandal–it’s all part of the truths and lies Theresa discovers on her journey into Kim’s life. There’s even a potential romance for Theresa but will she survive to find out? In saving her brother, she might just be sacrificing herself.



Image source: William Morrow

Theresa and Jeff are great characters, realistic in their brother/sister relationship. Theresa investigates not only to protect him but to take her mind off the dissertation she no longer has any interest in. If she doesn’t finish, then what? Start another or take a new path? Stay at the candle company or move on?

In the end, the book is a satisfying read that will have you rooting for Theresa as she figures out not only Kim’s life but her own. Theresa is a character I’d like to see again.

Previous books by Arsenault include Miss Me When I’m Gone, In Search of the Rose Notes and The Broken Teaglass.

To enter to win a copy of What Strange Creatures, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Strange,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 27, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including Bananas Foster.




Friday, December 12, 2014

The Last Alibi By David Ellis

by Sandra Murphy

Jason Kolarich is an attorney, a good one too. He pulls stunts in court that you just wouldn’t believe and wins his cases. James Drinker, on the other hand, is a loser kind of guy. He’s not much to look at, doesn’t have anything going for him. He does have a suspicion that he’s being set up for a series of murders.

James comes to Jason for legal advice. What should he do? He has no alibi for the nights in question, did have a passing acquaintance with the two girls who were murdered and all in all, would make a good suspect of the “He was a quiet neighbor, who would have thought?” kind.

Jason pretty much thinks James is fantasizing the whole thing in order to feel important. He gives him general advice and forgets their meeting–until a third and fourth murder occur. Now he’s worried. Is his client guilty or imagining it? It’s against attorney/client privilege to alert the police, but what if James is guilty and the killings keep happening?


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Jason finally decides to err on the side of caution, even if it could lead to problems with the Bar Association if he’s ever found out. He sends an anonymous message to the police and feels he’s done his part. Until…

James can figure out, if Jason is the only one who knew of the connection he had with any of the girls, Jason is the only one who could have pointed the police in his direction. Jason is forced to examine James’ life in detail to find out just how dangerous his client might be. Nothing is as it seems. What’s even worse, the frame isn’t around James’ neck–the man who is being set up for the murders is Jason.

The list of people who would want to do this is long since Jason has won so many of his cases, using whatever means possible. This couldn’t have come at a worse time either as his partner, Shauna, has a huge case of her own to win, really needs and has relied on getting, Jason’s help.

Jason is beyond helping her. He’s taking too many pills, focused on the frame up, waiting for the police to come for him. Without breaking attorney client privilege in court, which would get him disbarred, he’s pretty much unable to protect himself.



Image source: Berkley

Sure enough, the police come to interview and then arrest Jason for the gruesome murders. Shauna will represent Jason but his prospects are grim. It seems whoever’s behind the frame is very detail oriented and has thought of everything. In Jason’s impaired state, will he be able to win his freedom?

This is one of those books where you think you know what’s going on but really, you have no idea until the very end. It’s one you’ll want to read in one sitting because of the need to know what happens next and if Jason gets out of the murder charge. On the other hand, the book is so good you don’t want it to end. At 597 pages, each one filled with suspense, intrigue and complicated relationships, it’s a satisfying if frustrating read with all the twists and turns that Jason has to navigate. Be sure to take note of the chapter headings to see whose point of view is used, Shauna’s or Jason’s. Prepare for the ending. It will be a surprise for sure.

Previous Kolarich books include The Wrong Man, Breach of Trust, The Hidden Man, Eye of the Beholder, In the Company of Liars, Jury of One, Life Sentence and Line of Vision. Books written with James Patterson are Mistress and Guilty Wives.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including Bananas Foster.