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J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States)
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Denial of Murder (A Harry Vicary Mystery)
Denial of Murder (A Harry Vicary Mystery)
by Peter Turnbull
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing except police procedures., 26 Mar 2014
The title of this novel tells the reader that this will be a police procedural so I was expecting that. What I wasn't expecting was that it would be absolutely nothing but a police procedural. Minimal description, clipped on-topic-only dialog, and a tiny amount of character revelation which often left me more confused than informed is what I found here. If you want to be a fly on the wall to listen in while police have strategy sessions, attend postmortem examinations, and interview witnesses........well, this is definitely the book for you. Frankly, it was more bare-bones than any mystery novel I've ever read and not a favorite style for me, but I can understand how readers who want only to concentrate on the crime involved and the processes used to solve the crime would like it.

Detective Inspector Harry Vicary is the head of this team with four investigators in the Murder and Serious Crime Squad of New Scotland Yard. Members of the team are Frankie Brunnie, Tom Ainsclough, Penny Yewdall, and Victor Swanell. Also featured is John Shaftoe, the forensic pathologist. I think these characters were present in the previous three novels in this series since none of them was introduced as new to the team, but this is the first Peter Turnbull novel I've read so I can't be completely sure about that. A milkman on the early morning portion of his route has found the body of a dead man lying in the street between parked cars in the suburb of Wimbledon. When Vicary and his team arrive to investigate they discover that a car, later found to have been stolen, was set ablaze a few streets away from this crime scene the previous night in this same section of Wimbledon. The investigation begins to identify the victim and determine the cause of death. Twenty-four hours later a second body and a second burned out vehicle are found in the exact same locations. Now police must work to try to find a link between these two victims and hope that link will lead to the killer.

As I've said, this novel was not a favorite of mine. I like to feel that I get to know the characters in a story and I got no personal involvement here at all. It was also clear very early on who the officers would be looking for so the only discovery for me as a reader was to see the past histories of all the victims, witnesses, and criminals uncovered and watch as the police gathered evidence to make arrests. There was this really annoying element of having snatches of dialog repeated two or three times during conversations which was quite irritating for me. Bare-bones, cut-to-the-chase, no time wasted on the feelings or personalities of the official investigation team; these all describe what I found in this novel. Perhaps it will suit your reading pleasure more than it did mine. This is not a bad book, it just did not make me want to read any other novels by this author.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.


All the Things You are
All the Things You are
by Declan Hughes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The past never goes away., 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: All the Things You are (Hardcover)
Under normal circumstances this novel should have been one that I would not have chosen or, indeed, even liked. First, the description of the book felt as if it had given away the entire plot. Second, once I began reading I found the style was that of an unnamed narrator, which definitely is not a favorite literary style for me. Initial impressions can be deceiving, though; in this case they definitely were. The description of the book does give quite a bit of the plot away and yet there is so much more to discover after Clair Taylor finds the horribly mutilated body of her family's dog in the back yard of her unbelievably empty home in Madison, Wisconsin when she returns from a week-long trip to Chicago. Clair then discovers that the body of the dog is gone, but the body of a man is definitely there instead.

I still don't especially enjoy the narration style in which the novel is written, but I became so engrossed in the suspense of what was happening to Clair that I stopped making the style my main focus. The novel takes the reader back into the youth of these characters to see how incidents happened which led to the present situation. Clair's husband, two daughters, and household belongings vanish without her receiving any indication of why or how this could happen. The police presence in the novel is almost miniscule, with Claire being the primary one who investigates the case with some help from her best friend. This author doesn't wait until the last few pages to reveal what the solution to the mystery is, but I was never sure until the very end that there wouldn't be one more twist in the story, one more rabbit to jump out of the magician's hat. This was an enjoyable, well written, and well plotted novel. I will certainly have to look into reading more of Mr. Declan Hughes' novels.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.


The Boy in the Woods
The Boy in the Woods
by Carter Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Sizzling suspense, 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Boy in the Woods (Hardcover)
If you had witnessed a murder, how would you cope with having to keep the information secret? Tommy Devereaux finally found an outlet for his torment by becoming an author. Now it has been over thirty years since that awful afternoon in the woods and Devereaux has put a teaser first chapter for his next book in the back of his current bestseller. Life and fortune have been kind to Tommy so he changed all the names of those involved with the exception of the killer - and expected life would continue as before. Then he found the anonymous note.

This novel was a sizzling, suspense filled reading experience. I found myself asking "why" along with Tommy. Why had the killer decided to come after him, what purpose could there be? Watching the devastation to the men who had been young teens when the incident happened by have their lives turned inside out by a diabolical killer was a heart pounding experience for me. Author Carter Wilson created tension within the story which was almost palpable. This was a tightly drawn plot with convincing characters. I'm glad the recap of the story was written the way it was for the ending because it showed that everyone touched by that tragedy in the woods came away wounded. That's the way it would be in real life too. This novel is definitely for readers who enjoy thrills and suspense and who like to watch as characters are moved around by a master manipulator, almost as if they are pawns on a board. Who will follow their instructions, who will not, and what will be the consequences?

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.


Marbeck and the Privateer (A Martin Marbeck Mystery)
Marbeck and the Privateer (A Martin Marbeck Mystery)
by John Pilkington
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful historical espionage adventure., 26 Mar 2014
I have never read a novel by John Pilkington before this one, but I can certainly say that this will not be my last. This story of intrigue and espionage takes place in 1604, the year when King James has resolved that the war with Spain will be ended before both their countries fall completely into bankruptcy. The problem is that so many people have been making huge fortunes attacking and looting Spanish ships and even after the king's decision to stop all such activities there are some who want to continue the practice. If the peace negotiations can be stopped, all will continue as it had been. Martin Marbeck, one of the Crown's intelligencers, is given the job by spymaster Levinus Monk of keeping an eye on the Spanish ambassador to make sure no harm comes to him while the negotiations are going on. Marbeck can't help but wonder how he is supposed to carry out his mission when he can't even get close to the ambassador and hurdles are put in his way whichever way he turns. When Marbeck stumbles upon a group known as the Sea Locusts his investigations take him away from London and into very deep waters indeed.

This was a very well written adventure with spies and double agents and men placed in situations of power who were not all necessarily working toward the same ends. The routes Marbeck took throughout on his adventures in London were described in such a precise way that I felt I was looking at an old map and plotting his destinations as he went along. Knowing who to trust was hard enough, but then you also had to work out what someone's motivation was for what they were doing. A tangled web to be sure, which was nicely resolved at the end of this story while still leaving open the sure option for Marbeck to come back again with another adventure just as entertaining. I know there are several previous novels in this series, but it was not necessary for me to have read any of them prior to picking up this novel. The author doesn't spend a lot of time backtracking, which I was thankful for, even though it is obvious that there is much history with these characters which has played out before. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author who has a real touch for presenting intriguing characters and a plot that kept me guessing as to what Marbeck would find at the end of his search.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.


Murder at Mullings (A Florence Norris Mystery)
Murder at Mullings (A Florence Norris Mystery)
by Dorothy Cannell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A good start to a new series., 26 Mar 2014
This mystery novel is set in the English country house of Mullings in the village of Dovecote Hatch in 1929 and the early 1930s. It reminded me very much of a mystery version of Upstairs, Downstairs since the principal characters are Florence Norris, housekeeper, and Edward Stodmarsh, grandson of the present owner of Mullings. Most of the other servants and all the extended members of the Stodmarsh family play prominent roles in this folksy, homey type mystery novel. Because this is the first novel in a new series there is a lot of information concerning the inhabitants of Mullings as well as the village, with backstory filling in a lot of detail. The story does not move quickly until the ending, but I did get a sense of having learned a great deal about the characters and that was an important aspect when it came to understanding the motive for the crime. There is almost a playful feeling written into the novel, an amusing sense which made me think it was almost tongue-in-cheek regarding the typical country house English mystery. I don't know if this is the usual style of this novelist.

The characters in this novel tend to be a little more stereotyped than I would like, but it was very easy to either like or dislike them. The stark contrast of good vs. bad made deciding who the culprit was somewhat easy to do in spite of red herrings littering the pages. Also, I would have liked for there to be more detailed definition given so I could easily tell the novel was set in the 1930 time period. Except for several times when the year was actually spelled out I felt the novel could easily have been set any time after World War I and before the boom in electronic technology. And yet, even having made these statements I have to say I did enjoy reading this novel. I have not read any other books by Dorothy Cannell so this one has piqued my interest enough to send me to the pages of Amazon.com to check out what else is available that I might be interested in. There is much to choose from and I am glad to add this author to my list for reading.

I received this novel as an ARC through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.


The Summoning (Shadow World)
The Summoning (Shadow World)
by F. G. Cottam
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New guardians begin their work of keeping out the evil., 26 Mar 2014
A routine archeology dig in Scotland turns into something completely unexpected when student Adam Parker unearths an object which seems to exude menace. He is very surprised by the reaction of his professor to his find, but agrees to abandon the dig and journey to Brighton to meet the man who will explain the significance of this horribly ugly piece of silver.

The Summoning is a story of two worlds existing side by side; one our present day, one ruled by those who would use unspeakable evil means to gain control, ruled by The Crimson King. Throughout history the duty to maintain control of the present has been passed on within familial lines from one generation to another whenever possible. The fight can be seen in each dynamic crossroad in history with evil often coming out the victor. The artifact has now found Adam Parker and is calling for him to come begin his fight to keep out what could be called the dark twin of our world. Fellow students Jane Dobb and Martin Prior will join Adam and have their part to play in this adventure as the guardians who have fought for so long are beginning to grow older or die out.

This is the first book in the series The Shadow World and forms all the background information about who the fighters are on the sides of good and evil. There is one of the best names for a villain I think I've ever come across, Rabanus Bloor. Don't you just know you can hate him on sight? There is so much background information given that it delayed anything much happening in the story for quite a while. I did enjoy the book in spite of some awkward phrasing and sentence structure. I think it was supposed to impart intellectual weight to the characters, but instead it was just somewhat odd. I have not read any previous writings by this author so that may just be the style of Francis Cottam. All three of these young people are very young to be given the task of saving the world so readers will just have to hope their youth will be offset by their enthusiasm and their evident physical attractiveness. The attractiveness aspect is mentioned quite often.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.


Hunting Shadows: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries)
Hunting Shadows: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries)
by Charles Todd
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.06

5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding 5 star reading experience for me., 26 Mar 2014
Now this is what I call an excellent addition to the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series. It was set up exactly the way I prefer my mysteries. The plot and the investigation took center stage without the distractions of trying to involve Rutledge in a romance and Hamish McLoed was present, but only minimally. If you prefer to read about Rutledge fighting the psychological battle of the presence of Hamish in his mind or if you want to read of romantic attachments for the main characters you might not be quite as pleased as I was.

Scotland Yard is called in when two murders take place within a two week period in the Fen country of England. The time is August and September of 1920, so almost every incident which takes place has some relation to the recently ended war. In this case a rifle is being used to kill men who seem to have absolutely no connection with each other. There is a new Acting Chief superintendent at Scotland Yard and he is impatient with the slow progress Rutledge is making in the two cases, but he also doesn't take into consideration how tangled the relationships are between all the concerned parties and how deeply the secrets are buried. Rutledge solves the problem of how to deal with his boss by simply staying away from London.

The writing in this novel is absolutely first class. Reading the description of the fog Rutledge runs into on his journey from London was so realistic it almost made me claustrophobic myself! Especially when I looked out my own windows and saw everything coated with ice and nothing moving about except the freezing rain. Talk about the right weekend to read this book! I thought I had figured out who the killer was after reading about a lot of investigating by Rutledge and I wasn't even disappointed when I found out I had been following the red herring the authors set for me to follow. For me this was the best Charles Todd novel I've read in quite some time and it was a pure pleasure to read it. The atmosphere is outstanding, the plotting is outstanding, and the investigative process used by Rutledge is outstanding. A five star reading experience. If you are new to this series, you can begin here and completely understand everything that is important to the series. If you like period mysteries, I think this writing team one of the best.


He Drank, and Saw the Spider (Eddie Lacrosse)
He Drank, and Saw the Spider (Eddie Lacrosse)
by Alex Bledsoe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.73

4.0 out of 5 stars What kind of trouble can a sword-jockey get into while he's on vacation? Plenty!, 26 Mar 2014
Once upon a time a king drank from a cup and he saw the spider. For an explanation of what that means you will have to read this book. If you like fantasy mixed in with your mysteries, and you like some wry humor stirred into the whole mix, you will like this one. In fact you will like this whole series. Crazy King Jerry is the one who saw the spider, but you need to keep in mind that Jerry isn't called "crazy" for nothing. Eddie Lacrosse and Liz Dumont are on vacation. So what does a sword jockey like Eddie do when he's on vacation? He finds a mystery, of course. This one had its beginnings sixteen years before when he saved a baby girl from being killed by a bear and then found a perfect family to leave her with. But the thoughts of that little girl came back to prey on Eddie's mind when he found himself in that same little town again. So, of course, Eddie discovers himself in a whole mess of trouble when he finds Isidore again.

I like this fifth book in this series. Author Alex Bledsoe has the knack of blending just the right touches of humor with fantasy imagination to make for interesting characters and plots. Another point in his favor from me is his ability to write about genuinely strong women without taking away their feminine qualities. Not nearly as easy to do as it sounds. Plus he came up with a fantasy concept here utilized by the sorceress Opulora which totally took me by surprise, and I like to think I'm pretty good at figuring out the answer to mysteries. But.....because the unusual idea came from a professional imaginer (the author) my guesses got left behind in the dust. My only quibble is that this book didn't have quite as much action in it as previous stories. It took quite a while to develop. I didn't mind, it was still a darn good book and Eddie's character underwent a lot of good development in the process. The first book in the series is The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse Novel) if you want to start at the very beginning. You can't go wrong with any of the books, in whatever order you choose, but starting from the beginning will help settled the characters in the stories to come.

I received this ARC through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.


The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse Novel)
The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse Novel)
by Alex Bledsoe
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 4.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and fun to read genre-jumping novel., 26 Mar 2014
Take some favorite devices from fantasy and noir detective novels, mix in some chuckles for the reader, then make it a true investigative novel and you've got.....a darn good time! Especially for readers who are willing to give an author some or lots of leeway when it comes to not staying rigidly within genre "rules". Eddie Lacrosse is unashamedly referred to as a sword-jockey. That's what he is, a detective who uses his sword in this made up land to solve the question of why King Philip of Arentia's wife killed their only child. Eddie and Phil grew up together getting into all kinds of trouble. When this tragedy happened Phil sent for Eddie because he knew that was the one person he could trust to solve the mystery of why his wife would do such a horrible thing. The problem is that Eddie is fighting all kinds of mental demons from his past and they all center around Arentia and Phil's family. There are lots of reasons Eddie has been staying away all these years.

I really appreciated the balance author Alex Bledsoe achieved between the light and humorous and the dark and heavy aspects of this novel. Child murder is not easily associated with a novel that makes me laugh out loud so I was pleased that the author kept those two aspects so firmly apart. This is the first book in the series and I enjoyed it so much I've already bought more. The most recent book will be released soon, He Drank, and Saw the Spider (Eddie Lacrosse), and I am looking forward to reading that one too.


Blood and Iron (Book of the Black Earth)
Blood and Iron (Book of the Black Earth)
by Jon Sprunk
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.59

4.0 out of 5 stars An inventive and unusual type of sorcery ability., 26 Mar 2014
I see from the information on the back cover that this book is the beginning novel in an "epic" fantasy series. I can certainly see that this can be considered the first adventures in the life of an intriguing character. This novel shows how Horace progressed from being a simple ship's carpenter to being First Sword for Queen Byleth of Erugash. The countries and cities in this novel rely on a slave and master caste culture and Horace has his time of suffering as a slave before his latent powers in a very inventive sorcery come into the picture. Other perspectives in this fantasy world are shown through the actions of Alyra, a handmaiden of the queen and Jirom who is an ex-mercenary who now fights as a gladiator for his owners.

Readers who enjoy high action novels will certainly find that in this novel. Even though the start of the novel was somewhat slow in developing there was certainly enough action during the exhibition of the magical abilities by Horace and other sorcerers to get your heart pounding. I've not read any other novels by Jon Sprunk so I can't say if this style of writing is usual for him, but I would describe it as being on the sparse and elementary side when it came to description and dialogue. That was not completely to my personal taste and yet Sprunk does definitely get his points across. If you are already familiar with and enjoy other works by this author, I'm sure you will want to read this opening novel in a new series. If you aren't necessarily looking for lyrical prose, but prefer that the author give you more facts than fancy, this will also be a good reading experience for you. I do read quite a bit of fantasy literature and I would say this novel is standard in the amount of violence it contains. Especially considering that one of the main characters is a soldier and gladiator.

This was an interesting reading experience for me. I appreciated the unusual source of magical abilities and can see how the story arc concerning how to end slavery within this fantasy world will provide a lot of scope for the author to work with throughout the series.


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