MIRACLES AND MENORAHS by Stacey Agdern

November 11, 2020

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THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly

November 10, 2020

The Lincoln Lawyer is back! No worries, Harry Bosch makes a few appearances as well, but this is Mickey Haller’s story. And it is personal.

Haller is pulled over by a cop for a missing rear license plate. When the cop approaches, he sees what looks like blood dripping from the trunk of the car. He puts Haller in the back of his squad car and opens the trunk to find a dead man dripping blood from gunshot wounds.

Haller is arrested and bail set for $5 million so he remains in prison, separated from the other prisoners. He decides to defend himself and his partner, ex-wives/girlfriend, private investigator Cisco, and Harry Bosch step up to help. His daughter, Maddie, is also around. Now a law student, she takes some time off to learn from her dad, and of course to support him.

Haller knows he’s been framed but the evidence is all pointing his way and he has no idea who would have done it. Luckily, he is shrewd and smart and fighting for his life, with a team equally committed to securing his freedom. He wants the “NG”, not guilty verdict but more than that, he wants to be proved innocent. Interestingly, there is no law of innocence, but Haller knows finding the actual murderer will go a long way towards proving his innocence.

The ins and outs of a murder case are illustrated in the most interesting way as we are invested in Haller’s innocence. He has a formidable opponent in the D.A. but feels a kinship for the judge, a former defense attorney. Lots of legal action here and with the twists and turns of the case, the pages fly by.

This was a one night read for me as I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Connelly keeps getting better, and I didn’t really think that was possible. If you haven’t read him, you can easily start here. Don’t miss it.

NOTE: This is the first book I’ve read that has touched on the pandemic. It is set in the fall of 2019 through the end of February 2020, just as we were starting to understand that the coronavirus was going to be a major problem. I wouldn’t call it a plotline, but rather it lurks insidiously in the background, just as it did while we were living it. I’m mentioning it because I believe it means Connelly went back to his manuscript to update it. Most books are turned in about a year prior to publication, which would put the finished manuscript submitted to the publisher in late 2019. Kudos to Connelly and Little, Brown for being flexible enough to make these changes. I really think it added to the tension, probably more for the reader than the characters. It was incredibly well done.

11/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

From Paul Lane:

This novel featuring “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller is the prolific Michael Connelly’s 31st published book. Similarly, to his previous works, it incorporates his gifted sense of plot, and his ability to frame events in a manner that keeps his readers glued to the pages unable to put the book down until finished.

Mickey has just successfully concluded a trial and has joined his staff and friends in a celebration of the win at a local club. He pays the tab and leaves by himself to drive home. On the trip home (in one of his three Lincolns of course) he is stopped by a police officer who checks his documents and then gets him to open the trunk of the car. In a totally unexpected occurrence, a body is found in the trunk; a man that has been shot to death. The police begin an investigation and proceed in charging Mickey with murder.

The main part of the novel is devoted to the trial and Mickey’s defense. For a good part of the time, he is incarcerated when he is not in court and has to work with his associates with the disadvantage of not being able to meet during the evening or weekends.

The machinations of the prosecution working to convict Mickey are well documented as are the defense rebuttals and strategy. Connelly brings out the psychology of a trial, the attempts to color any evidence based on who is presenting it, and on the other side who is in opposition to it. Mickey has elected to use his right to demand a speedy trial. He knows that he not only must convince a jury to exonerate him but even more important has to get a clear not-guilty verdict to forever remove any cloud accruing to him and clear his reputation as a defense attorney in order to continue trying cases.

As in any real-life situation, the court action is always accompanied by personal events occurring outside of the trial. In Mickey’s case his daughter, a law student, comes to court to cheer her father on. His partner in his law firm experiences her father passing away and must leave to attend his funeral. One of his two ex-wives arrives to help out in the trial by taking over for his partner and Mickey finds that he still is in love with her.
Engrossing, yes, an all-nighter, of course. The only question is how soon can we have the pleasure of getting Connelly’s next book.

THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (November 10, 2020). ISBN 978-0316485623. 432 pages.

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LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT by Suzanne Park

November 9, 2020

LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT by Suzanne Park. Avon (August 18, 2020). ISBN 978-0062990693. 368 pages.

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WAITING ON A COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan

November 8, 2020

McGrath Series, Book 1

 

From the publisher:

Meet New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan’s McGraths: a family as untamed as the land they call home. 

Tate McGrath just didn’t get it. Why was Liz Scott, his best friend—and the person he relied on and trusted most—suddenly avoiding him! When he finally tracks her down, he finds her with a man he knows nothing about and she’s been dating for weeks. Suddenly, he can’t make himself ignore her tempting curves and deep green eyes, and all he wants to do is keep her all to himself. What was going on? Could he possibly be…jealous

Liz had made the decision: stop carrying a torch for Tate and find a guy who wants to be her everything. Tate had always seen her as honest, dependable, smart, kind…Best friend, not girlfriend! And she needed to give up the dream of marrying the man she’d loved since preschool and move on. 

But when Liz’s boyfriend turns dangerous, Tate steps up to help and soon realizes he’s the cowboy hero she’s been waiting for him to be all along. 


Ryan writes some of the best cowboy romances, so I was very happy to see a new series in the works. Look at me, starting with the first book! There is some connection to her Wild Rose series, but you don’t have to have read that series to enjoy this book. It is a really good series though!

This story revolves around lifelong friends Liz and Tate. Liz knew she was in love with Tate when she was pretty young, but Tate is a player who has kept Liz firmly in the friend zone. She finally decides to give up and see who else is out there for her.

Liz meets Clint, who seems like a really good guy and she is determined to try and make the relationship work. But fairly quickly his true colors start to show. He becomes abusive and controlling, and Liz is troubled.

Tate slowly realizes that he hasn’t seen Liz in a while. Then he hears she has a boyfriend but he knows nothing about it. They are best friends, and he can’t figure out why Liz is avoiding him. But when Tate sees what’s going on with Clint, it is the wake up call he needed. His protective side rears up, and he starts to realize that he is also feeling jealous. He eventually figures out that Liz is the love of his life. 

Meanwhile, there is a lot of suspense and tension around Clint and his stalker tendencies, which helped make the pages fly by. I really liked how serious problems are addressed here, but no worries, the happily ever after is guaranteed. A great start to a new series!

Just a personal note: I actually read this book back in the summer. Right now I have a list of about 15 books I’ve read that need reviewing. If you didn’t notice, great, but I was having a hard time updating my website for a month or two. Not for any real reason other than the stress of life. I was also having a hard time reading, I couldn’t focus. 2020 can’t be over soon enough for me. So thanks for sticking around anyway, and lots more reviews to come.

11/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TOUGH TALKING COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan. Avon (August 18, 2020). ISBN 978-0062851932. 384p.

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KILL KITCHENER by Andrew Joseph Blasco

November 7, 2020

From the publisher:

In 1899, Fritz Duquesne, an aristocratic South African, is sent to England for his formal education. During his time there, tensions rise between the British and his homeland as the age of African colonialism peaks. A boiling point is reached between Fritz and his adopted brethren when he is sent back home–this time as a commissioned British army officer.

Simultaneously, the screams for freedom are still being heard just on the other side of the Irish Sea. There John MacBride does anything to join the revolutionary Irish Brotherhood and end the British occupation of his island once and for all. With funding running low for their cause, MacBride is forced to seek financial backing from overseas. This leads him to South Africa where the recent discovery of gold has drawn the attention of everyone looking to exploit the newfound riches, including the ever-hungry British Empire.


This is the author’s first published book and a highly successful one in presenting the world of the late 1800s to early 1900s in England and South Africa. The lead protagonist, Fritz Duquesne, was a man that actually lived during that period and is thought to have interacted with many of the key figures portrayed in the book.

Fritz is an individual born into a high-level family with his father and uncle holding leadership positions in the emerging government of South Africa. He is sent to England by his father as he comes of age and enrolled in Oxford University where he is to complete a liberal arts education to properly fit him for a leadership role in the land of his birth. By chance, Fritz meets another young man on his arrival in England, of noble birth, and also destined to attend Oxford University. The two become great friends with Fritz being invited to Jack’s home many times, meeting his parents and his sister. The sister develops a love for Fritz and his father considers him a second son, and an eventual husband for his daughter.

Jack’s father, a lord of the realm, is a man that is involved at high levels in the policy making of the British government. He is in favor of sending troops to South Africa to militarily annex the country and begins to think of Fritz as assuming an important position in the government that will be set up. To bolster his plan he arranges for both his son Jack and Fritz to be enrolled in the British military academy, earning commissions and be available to help set policy based on England’s directives for the area.

Blasco also portrays a second group of foreign colonists for high level interaction in South Africa. These are men and women from Ireland fleeing a land with limited opportunity due to adverse economic conditions, and taking an active part in events in Africa. John MacBride was forced to flee Ireland after he became involved with an assassination attempt there. He realizes the need to finance any revolutionary movement and ends up in the gold fields of Africa as a means of obtaining funds to help the revolutionary movement in Ireland.

The novel culminates in the conflict known as the Boer War, in which the residents of South Africa fight a guerilla action against what was a highly mechanized and disciplined army protecting an empire upon which the sun never sets. Sir Herbert Kitchener is second in command of the British army involved in the fighting. He has attained fame and fast promotion mainly due to his conquest of the Sudan for England and the author depicts him as a martinet with little people skills but a natural soldier quite at home in commanding men involved in battle. A possible tie in which is not brought out in the book is the sinking of a ship Kitchener was on going to attend a meeting in Russia during the first world war. Kitchener was killed and of the many rumors involved in his death was the mention, in real life, of Fritz Duquesne’s name as fomenting the assassination.

The novel is easily an all-nighter, with the reader brought headlong into a tumultuous period in world events. I would certainly be first on line to pick up succeeding books by Blasco, enjoying the work of a fast-emerging author at the top of his game.

11/2020 Paul Lane

KILL KITCHENER by Andrew Joseph Blasco. Hansen Publishing Group, LLC (October 1, 2020). ISBN: 978-1601822680. 356 pages.

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SPOILER ALERT by Olivia Dade

November 6, 2020

SPOILER ALERT by Olivia Dade. Avon (October 6, 2020). ISBN 978-0063005549. 416 pages.

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DOUBLE AGENT by Tom Bradby

November 5, 2020

From the publisher:

Kate Henderson Thrillers, Book 2

Kidnapped in Venice by a Russian defector, Kate knows she’s in trouble. But when he offers her conclusive evidence that the British Prime Minister is a live agent working for Moscow, Kate’s holiday quickly becomes the start of her next mission.

The defector has proof of the PM involved in a sordid scandal―a video supposedly used to blackmail him into Russian service decades prior―and a financial paper trail that undeniably links him to the Russians, but his motives are anything but clear. Riddled with doubt that the evidence she is presented with may not in fact be as bulletproof as it seems, Kate reopens the investigation into the PM. As she works through the case, Kate runs up against key people at the heart of the British Establishment who refuse to acknowledge the reality in front of them. And, more worryingly, clear signs that there’s still a mole in her department.

But Kate had already identified and eradicated the mole, codenamed Viper. Could she have been mistaken? And could this horrifying video be a fake, produced by the Russians to sabotage British democracy?

These questions plague Kate as she tries to keep it together for her children and ailing mother, steadily losing sleep and, she fears, her sanity. This mission will push Kate dangerously close to the edge as she continues her relentless fight for the truth.


The second Kate Henderson novel is a continuation of the exploits of people high up in the organization of MI6 with all the good points of the previous book.  A kidnapping of Kate in Venice leads her into a situation in which the British Prime Minister might be a traitor working for the Russians. She is presented with a teaser indicating his guilt and promised all of the file if the individual presenting it is granted asylum in Great Britain. Her working through the facts of the allegations spreads through the highest echelons of the government as well as bringing her into a secret trip into Russia to interview the individual presenting the file.     

The characters portrayed in Bradby’s book have personal pictures of them showing normal situations and private problems that do sometimes conflict with their work.  In Kate’s place, she has two teenage children with their normal motivations living with her since she is divorced from her husband. Her feelings about the rupture with her husband are shown as complex as those of any individual’s emotions would be in a similar situation. 

Additionally, the normal politicking present in any organization affects the thoughts and actions of the people involved.  For example, one of her fellow executives is going through the personal trauma of his wife dying from inoperable cancer and having to face that while going through the problem of giving asylum or not to the people demanding it in order to release the information of the Prime Minister’s guilt. 

Kate’s group is also obviously caught up in the possibility that the file of the PM’s guilt might not really be anything but a misinformation campaign by Russia.  The novel is an interesting read and while not a red hot all night draw is certainly a book that will cause the reader to seek out future Bradby’s works and enjoy them.

11/2020 Paul Lane

DOUBLE AGENT by Tom Bradby. Atlantic Monthly Press (November 3, 2020). ISBN: 978-0802157645. 368 pages.

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RETURN TO VIRGIN RIVER by Robyn Carr

November 4, 2020

RETURN TO VIRGIN RIVER by Robyn Carr. MIRA; Original edition (October 13, 2020). ISBN 978-0778388340. 320 pages.

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HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT by Jeffrey Archer

November 3, 2020

CLICK TO PURCHASE

From the publisher:

William Warwick Novels, Book 2

Jeffrey Archer’s Hidden in Plain Sight is the second novel featuring Detective William Warwick, by the master storyteller and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Clifton Chronicles

William Warwick has been promoted to Detective Sergeant, but his promotion means that he, along with the rest of his team, have been reassigned to the Drugs Squad. They are immediately tasked with apprehending Khalil Rashidi, a notorious drug dealer, who operates his extensive network out of South London.

As the investigation progresses, William runs into enemies old and new: Adrian Heath, from his school days, now a street dealer who he convinces to turn informer; and financier Miles Faulkner, who makes a mistake that could finally see him put behind bars. Meanwhile, William and his fiancée Beth enjoy making preparations for their upcoming wedding, though an unpleasant surprise awaits them at the altar.

As William’s team closes the net around a criminal network like none they have ever faced before, he devises a trap they would never expect, one that is hidden in plain sight . . .


This is the author’s second book featuring William Warwick, a man that has chosen a career with Scotland Yard rather than the path his father had been in favor of for him. His father was one of the top attorneys in England and would have gladly taken his son into his practice and helped him rise to the top of that profession. William stuck to his guns and book two finds him earning his first promotion with the police to Detective Sergeant . The new post sees him and his squad reassigned to the Drug division and tasked with the arrest and prosecution of Ahmed Rashidi a top tier drug lord with tentacles throughout south London. In pursuing Rashidi he also becomes involved with Miles Faulkner a very wealthy financier and one also mixed up in the drug world.

While working on police business William is seen moving on with the personal life touched on in book one. Beth, the girl he met while investigating art skullduggery in the first book now becomes his wife. Their honeymoon to Rome is described and much made of Williams leaving his wife behind before the planned trip is complete to return to England to help capture Faulkner. The action provides more insight into Wiliam’s commitment to his chosen work. And, of course Beth’s understanding that her rival for her husband is his profession.

Faulkner is brought before the court to stand trial for his crimes. William’s father is the prosecutor in the case, and is assisted by Wiliam’s sister who is given her first chance to question a defendant on trial; doing a commendable job. Mr. Archer provides the reader with a description of the trial’s events, the thoughts and actions of both the prosecution and the defense and describes the maneuvering that takes place in any trial that seeks to prove guilt or innocence of a defendant.

It is no surprise when the ending of the novel sets up book three of the series with a small prelude of the basis for the impending police action.

11/2020 Paul Lane

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT by Jeffrey Archer. St. Martin’s Press (November 3, 2020). ISBN: 978-1250200785. 304 pages.

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HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS by Susan Mallery

November 2, 2020

HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1335081285. 352 pages.

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