Category Archives: Mysteries

Review: Black River – Jess Bridges Mystery #1 (Joss Stirling)

Jess Bridges, out with her reading group on the banks of the river Thames, decides to go skinny dipping after a bit too much to drink. Her clothes are taken by a dog, and her friend goes running after it, leaving Jess shivering in the bushes. She spies a boat, and thinking it may have a tarp or something else she can cover herself with, slips into the water and pulls it toward her. She doesn’t find a tarp – she finds a dead man.

Thus begins Black River, which is listed as “Jess Bridges Mystery, #1”. That would be remarkable for me, as I usually find myself landing in the midst of an ongoing series. However, it seems as if Jess has found a dead body previously – both she and DI Leo George mention “the West case”, as if it’s something the reader might know about. And the reader might know about it if there were a book about it prior to this one.

Jess is discovered on the bank by Jago Jackson, who had been jogging on the path. He happens to be the author of a book Jess’ book club was reading, on wild swimming – that is, going to swim in places people usually don’t go, or a hidden swimming hole, and things of hat nature. Of course he wants to ask her out, and does. DI George shows up, and begins his investigation, questioning Jess. Of course he wants to ask her out, but does not, as that would be unseemly.

The investigation itself is well written when it’s DI George on the trail, moving from dot to dot to trace who the dead man is and what he would be doing there. Then, another two bodies are found, this time in a place Jackson has mentioned in his book, and where he had taken Jess to go swimming. Is someone targeting Jackson? Jess? The culprit does seem to be picking places Jackson has written around, so DI George calls in Michael Harrison to consult. He, of course, was involved with Jess years ago, and of course Harrison and Jackson have some animosity toward one another, it’s said, but it doesn’t appear all that much except for when Michael is handling the narrative.

We also get DI George taking his turn at the narrative reins (as does Jackson), but it’s clear Jess is the primary character. I found I would rather have stayed with DI George throughout.

There is a subplot involving Jess and her breakup with her boyfriend, and her taking a case for her side job of finding missing persons. The missing person is not actually missing – she’s just gone to her father’s, and the father is threatening the mother about claims the girl has made. The girl, to me, seems to be a sociopath in the making. Jess’ job is to find out what’s true and what is not about the situation.

The main and the subplot dovetail in the end, as various adults, except Michael, fanning out to search for both the girl and her young brother. The culprit is revealed during the course of the search and captured, and the subplot’s resolution explained to us all.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad read. It isn’t a five star read, though, and I have a hard time with female protagonists who attract virtually every man they come across, including some gay dudes. The opening coincidence between Jess and Jackson is something I know is required for the plot, and I’m feeling generous today, so I’ll give it a pass. The theory of the murders is at least possible, although the first murder is never really fully explained in terms of what connection it has to Jackson’s book on wild swimming.

I’ll give it four out of five stars.

Thanks to One More Chapter/HarperCollins UK and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: Missing Persons – Buddy Steel #1 (Michael Brandman)

Buddy Steel, who has relocated from LA to the small town of Freedom to take over the Sheriff reins from his father – who has been recently diagnosed with ALS -finds himself investigating the apparent disappearance of the wife of a well known and well liked local preacher of a megachurch.

This is listed as “Buddy Steel #1”, and is the first in a series for Brandman, who some people may know picked up Robert Parker’s Jesse Stone novels after Parker died, and who has also written some of the Jesse Stone movies.

Unfortunately, Buddy Steel reminds me a ton of Jesse Stone (for those who have not read those books, Stone relocates from LA to the small town of Paradise, although on the other side of the coast, has loads of sarcastic dialogue, doesn’t like wearing his uniform, beds the local ladies, etc.). Steel is sardonic, doesn’t like wearing his uniform, doesn’t waste time falling into bed with a woman with whom he comes into contact due to an investigation, and so on.

In Steel’s case, the woman part of that equation is the sister of the preacher – and Brandman has tried a bit too hard to make the woman quirky (she has a quirky blog, wears quirky clothes, etc.). He wears civilian clothes and often does not identify himself as he wanders in and out of areas like the living quarters of the family at their megachurch location. The dialogue is also trying to hard to make Buddy seem sarcastic and/or humorous, and it sometimes misses the mark.

The story is fairly straightforward, although in some cases stretches the limits of suspension of disbelief. The housekeeper for the Long family reports Catharine Long as missing, and further says Preacher Long is acting oddly about it. She’s in fear for her life, because of course the Longs run everything in town, so she reports it to Steel, then vanishes, never to be heard from again.

Steel doesn’t care where he has to go or who he might offend, and starts poking around. Various people declare that Catherine is fine, the Long family attorneys threaten to sue, there’s a subplot involving another Long brother of being in cahoots with a local gang, as well as a Ponzi scheme, and the entire thing reads like an episode of American Greed, as if various elements were pulled out, tossed together, and this is what the end result is.

It’s a very fast read, but reads more like something written for TV than something written for a novel. In some places, descriptions are scarce. In others, it’s hard to track who is saying what in the dialogue – even though I am a firm believer in using as few dialogue tags as possible, I think there needs to be *something* in place every so often so the reader doesn’t have to backtrack to match up dialogue. This is made particularly difficult when it’s anyone but Steel and the quirky sister talking (although I counted one 19-exchange instance between the two of them that had no attribution beyond Steel beginning the exchange) as everyone in the department seems to have the same sardonic tone and is trying to be funny. This sort of thing is fine for TV, since there will be bother visual cues and the actors’ voices won’t be the same, but can make for some difficult novel reading.

The book (originally released in 2017) sets itself up well for further books in the series, as evidenced by the three books that followed this one. In a rare twist for me and ARCs, this is the first book I’ve read in a series new to me, versus the nth. I’m not quite sure if I’ll read the books that follow (although who am I kidding, I have some weird compulsion to read all the books in a series).

Overall, a fast read with a decent enough mystery at its heart.

Three stars out of five.

Thanks to Poisoned Penn Press an NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: When the Past Kills – DI Ridpath #5 (M.J. Lee)

I wasn’t that enamored with the title, even though it does reflect the goings-on in the book. That said, the synopsis was intriguing, and although I’d not read any of the previous DI Ridpath books, I was hopeful that the character and the writing was fairly mature.By that, I don’t mean in age, but in development. There have been some series I’ve read where the author still doesn’t really know what they’re doing with their main character until they’re ten books in, and it makes reading the books a bit of a chore.

Not so with When the Past Kills: DI Ridpath, recently diagnosed as being free of the cancer that forced him to take time off, is working as an investigator in the Coroner’s Office before he can return to the major incident team (MIT). Throughout the book, he’s just a guy – albeit a good investigator – trying to balance his work and personal life. Fortunately, he wasn’t constantly moping or preoccupied with how his work life interferes with his personal life. When I see that in books, I have to roll my eyes, and I want to yell at the character that they chose this career, and if they wanted one where they could spend more time with their family, they could do that. Otherwise, man up and let’s get the story rolling.

Ridpath’s old team is now being led by DCI Paul Turnbull, who is exactly like That Guy all of us know: convinced of his own superiority in every aspect, who is in a rush to close out an investigation or case or issue orders without much contemplation about what resources should be set where, kissing the boss’ ass, and in general, being an all around terrible person. Turnbull is not pleased that Ridpath is on loan to MIT due to a series of events related to an innocent man being sent to prison before the real killer – who Ridpath helped catch – was caught and sentenced.

The book opens with the coroner being sent a video of the previous coroner being hung. We then backtrack to the desecration of a grave – that of an investigator who was lead on the case that jailed the innocent man. Others are picked off (warning – if you can’t abide animals being harmed, do not read this book) one by one as Ridpath and MIT desperately attempt to get one step ahead of the killer, who they are sure is the once-innocent man who is not so innocent any longer.

There are loads of twists and turns, and the only item that really bothered me is something I can’t list here without it being a spoiler. Suffice to say that we directly meet a lot of people along the way in this book except one that matters quite a bit. The very end bothered me just a tad, as I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, but I’m more forgiving of those in an established series.

That said, it was an enjoyable read. A solid four out of five stars.

Thanks to Canelo and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: The Reflecting Pool (Otho Eskin)

I do love a sardonic, grey-moral kind of main character.

Marko Zorn is a Washington, DC detective who dresses well, drives a Jaguar, and basically doesn’t look the part in this noir-ish book. He happens to catch a case of the death of a woman in the Reflecting Pool. He’s also been assigned a new, young partner who is part new guy, part puppy.

When he begins investigating the murder, he’s suddenly being told to stand down by everyone from the FBI to the Secret Service – all telling him to let it go, but as he tells the mysterious Miss Shaw, the woman looked like his dead sister, and he promised to find out who killed her.

In the middle f this, a woman named Sister Grace – a local gangster, and for whom Zorn occasionally does some jobs, which allows him to wear those snazzy clothes and drive that fancy car – has another job for him. This time, though, it’s murder, to take out her second in command (Cloud), who is getting a bit too full of himself. That, however, is a line Zorn has told himself he would not cross. Sister Grace doesn’t care about his ethics, of course, and tells him to figure it out.

The investigation flows along nicely, without things like DNA or toxicology coming back in thirty minutes. There are times when witnesses or interviewees melt a bit too quickly under Zorn, but it’s a good, fun (if murder can be fun) story that is both gritty and strangely polished at the same time, due to Zorn’s personal habits and the interplay of his professional role and coming into contact with Federal offices, and the jobs he does to appease what is basically his gangster boss.

I enjoyed the dialogue. It was neither too stilted nor trying too hard to be edgy. There were some instances where it was rather snappy, and overall, it was what you’d expect if you were shadowing a detective doing their job.

In the end, Zorn does figure out a way to complete the task given to him by Sister Grace, via proxy, by setting up Cloud and Cloud’s right hand against one another. That scenario was more believable than the conclusion of the mystery of the murder.

The reveal of the killer was a bit of a letdown,and I didn’t think it was totally believable. But it was one conclusion that could have been reached by the investigation, and was possible, if not probable, so I didn’t ding it too badly for that.

Overall: a decent read, and a solid four out of five stars. I am hopeful that Zorn becomes a series character.

Thanks to Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: Hanging Falls – Timber Creek K-9 #6 (Margaret Mizushima)

Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo find a body in the spill basin of Hanging Falls while hiking with Glenda, who is a Park Ranger. After they manage to fish the man out of the water before he’s washed further away, they find the word “PAY” carved on his torso. An instant mystery! I like it! He’s wearing what look to be homespun clothes, with buttons as closures. I have to admit, I saw this bit and knew instantly there was going to be some kind of quasi-Amish religious group involved.

The rest of the book follows Mattie and Robo, and the rest of the Sheriff’s office, running who this man was, who killed him, and why he was dumped in that location.

During the investigation, Mattie and Robo find a young man camped out on a ridge overlooking the falls. He doesn’t have a ton of money on him, and seems a bit scared when they bring him in to pick his brain about the murder they think he may have seen. He insists he knows nothing, and ultimately is released. He pops up in a scene a little further into the book, and not in a good way – you’ll understand when you get to that part.

A secondary story running under the main story is Mattie finally getting in touch with her long-lost sister and her grandmother. The plan was for Mattie to take some vacation and go to meet her sis and grandmother. Instead, since she’s hung up in this murder, her sister decides to come to her instead, with grandmother in tow.

Meanwhile, my guess about the quasi-Amish religious group is correct, but there’s a dash of polygamous Mormonism tossed in as well. While the people of the Sheriff’s Office are suspicious of the residents of the compound, they have nothing concrete to charge anyone with anything – they can’t prove polygamy in the compound or that the children are in danger, and so forth. The dead man was part of the congregation, but according to the men running the group, he had left, saying he was returning home.

There are a couple of cowboys on the property next to the Amish/Mormon folks, and the two groups have clashed, and the two men had a run-in with the dead man, but insist they did not kill him.

There’s also a third story point running through this – Mattie’s relation with her vet boyfriend, and the vet’s relationship with his daughters. If you’ve not read the previous books in this series, the vet’s daughters provide a way, in the narrative, to know some of the sordid details of Mattie’s past (warning here: this features Mattie, her brother, and her mother being kidnapped by a very, very bad man. Domestic abuse is detailed, and child sexual abuse is intimated, so if these are no-gos for you, you’d better skip this one). This third story point also involved a veterinary drug rep dealing meds to a farrier illegally.

Eventually, through some very good and realistic work, the Sheriff’s Office find the culprits for all the crimes and various arrests are made. Mattie’s family meetup give her some details about her father’s death, and the book ends on an intriguing note about Mattie tracking down her mother.

The book is well-written, and the characters, when they speak, speak like normal people would in whatever the situation is. There are no glaring plot holes, and there’s no driving horses into doing things they would not do in real life (which is something I care about, with horses or other animals). Mattie’s personal life issues are informing her current life, but she’s not a mope about it, or thinking about it 24/7 to allow it to invade her every moment.

Recommended, and I’ll likely head back to the start of the series to read up on what has come before.

A solid four stars out of five. Just one ding because the baddies were fairly easy to guess for me, but it’s still an enjoyable read.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: Home Fires Burn – DS Catherine Bishop #4 (Lisa Hartley)

DS Catherine Bishop is returning to work after a (presumably) harrowing and traumatic incident in a previous book. This is book four in the series, but it stands well on its own as a standalone if you’re coming in somewhere in the middle (or current end) of the series, as I have.

Bishop has returned, and is immediately thrown back into the field. There’s an arsonist roaming around, randomly setting things on fire, and Bishop is sent out with another detective to stake out a business.

In the midst of their arson problem, the police are presented with another issue: two people, a man and a woman, killed in their flat. Murder-suicide? Possibly, since the couple argued often, according to the nosy neighbors, but the clues don’t point to that, as the woman has been shot and the man has died of brute force trauma to the head.

We have the usual tropes that show up: the previously mentioned nosy neighbors, the pissed off family members of the dead woman who wanted to get her away from this abusive partner of hers, interveiwees possibly hiding something, and so on. However, they are not intrusive, and are more along the lines of what readers expect in the genre.

Adding to the problems DS Bishop and her colleagues is yet another arson, this time with someone crisped by the fire – but with a twist I won’t mention.

There’s a secondary story about Bishop and her relationship with Isla, a woman on a specialized department who may or may not be heading to London to go with her superior officer in a promotion of sorts. There are times when the remarks by some of her colleagues are annoying, but overall, the feelings Bishop has about a new and long distance relationship come through as authentic.

There are twists and turns galore, tons of suspects and people to question, and perps that can be guessed, but there’s a situation with the secondary perp at the end that is a hold your breath and then breathe a sigh of relief that’s well done.

Overall, I can rate this book in this way: after I finished it, I went and bought the first three in the series, so I can catch up. I don’t do this often, as first novels introducing characters have to carry a lot of baggage to get the series underway.

A solid four stars out of five.

Thanks to Canelo and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: The Forger’s Daughter (Bradford Morrow)

This is a slow starting book. And I don’t mean a “get past the first couple chapters slow” kind of book. I mean more along the lines of “get to about 30% on the ereader” kind of slow. The pace is enough to turn off the reader. This reader, however, plunged onward. I really wish I hadn’t, because outside of some things I’ll get into below, this book annoyed me. A lot.

Twentyish years ago, the now-reformed Wil was a forger, specializing in books and letters. What I did not know going into this book is that it is a sequel to a book called, aptly enough, The Forgers. I’ve not read that, but I will give this book points for at least being able to stand on its own. Annoyingly, however, this is only possible by the characters telling us all about what happened before. Wil got caught, lost part of his right hand, they moved, and so on. He’s now a stay at home dad who occasionally does consulting for the bookstore where his wife Meghan works, as well as authenticity checks for auction houses and book dealers to weed out forgeries. There is a humorous moment when Wil is asked to authenticate something that is his own forgery. Although he points out for the acquirers that it is, in fact, a forgery, without telling them it is *his* forgery, they proceed to overrule him and sell it at auction for a tidy sum. Most of the time – he tells us – they defer to his opinions.

We come to know – via incredibly stilted prose and dialogue, as if this is taking place in 1900 instead of now – that Wil’s old nemesis, Slader, is basically blackmailing him into copying Edgar Allen Poe’s first book, Tamerlane. Wil doesn’t seem to have much of a backbone to me, but there are vague threats and he gives in rather immediately, with his daughter Nicole – herself now an accomplished author and copier – pitching in. I suppose this is what the title meant, and the title implies that the daughter has taken over the forging (at least to me) and that’s actually what pulled me in to request it. Alas, it is not the case. Nicole mainly stands by while Wil does most of the work, occasionally going with him to various places because…..because the plot requires it/it’s in the script, I suppose.

There’s no real tension in the bits where Slader presents Wil with the copy he’s lifted from someone’s home, with a directive to get a forgery made by x date so he can slip the forged copy back in place and take the (also forged) one he’s lifted to sell without the owner being the wiser for it. Wil just gives us giant infodumps about how things were before and how he has all the feels, but in the end, we know forging is in his blood and what he loves to do – because the things he tells us in his lengthy monologues make us understand this is so.

In fact, there’s a TON of telling in this book, whether it’s Wil or Meg, in their confusingly presented, alternating narratives, running down “what came before” for the reader or just telling us how they feel in the moment. That’s the bad sort of telling. The good sort of telling are the details about forgeries and paper and ink and printing and the other things in which a bibliophile (like me; like the author, I presume) would be interested. Those are, unfortunately, the best part of this book.If the author were to write a nonfiction book about the history of forged books, letters, and papers, or even one restricted to a particular genre or author, I’d probably like that lot more than this, which is not very suspenseful, seemed to be wrongly attached to the mystery genre when it would seem more at home in the literary fiction group, and which has an ending I neither liked nor believed, even for a fictional tale.

I’ll go briefly into the language of the book – that is, the tone of the prose – as I’m not certain whether the author was writing this way intentionally or ironically (as I’d not read the book previous to this, so could not compare): as I said, this reads like a novel from 1900. The language is stilted for a 21st century couple. Eloquent it may be, but most people – even forgers and bibliophiles – do not speak the way Wil and Meg speak to the reader when they are doing what I always think of as the English parlor act: telling a tale in the age before television or internet, using language that my grandmother would have called high-falutin’. That is to say, their manner of speaking reminds me a great deal of academia, as the sort of oft-parodied tone of upper crust English novels or Downton Abbey and period shows like it. While I would be perfectly fine with this were Wil and Meg and their family placed in that time, it is not the case in this book, and here they (and the author) come across as pretentious.

As for the ending: I rarely say this, but I hated it. It doesn’t match the rest of the book, and at least part of it I would like to have known sooner, as it would have not just informed everything leading up to the end, but it would have informed a choice at the end as well.

If you’re a bibliophile, you’ll probably like those parts very much. It’s clear the author is either working in the field or has done a great deal of research in this area. If you’re looking for a more mystery-influenced novel, as I did, unfortunately, I don’t believe this reaches the level of a book you’ll stay up late into the night reading.

Overall: two stars out of five. Sorry, this simply was not my cup of tea.

Thanks to Mysterious Press and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: Payback (Lorenzo Carcaterra)

Payback begins with Detective Eddie Kenwood coercing a murder confession out of a young black man.

We then cut to Tommy “Tank” Rizzo watching his nephew Chris shoot hoops, and a tiny infodump about how Tank and his partner Frank “Pearl” Monroe were shot off the job and how Chris came to live with Tank – more specifically, how Tank’s brother and sister in law (Chris’ parents) were killed in an auto accident.

This is about the extent of how character development goes throughout the book. As this is book two in the series, perhaps we get to know the characters better in book one. Alas, I’ve not read it.

Tank and Pearl, ex-cops that they are, get thrown cases by the Chief of Detectives from time to time when the official NYPD detectives are overloaded. In this book, however, the focus is on determining if Tank’s brother – as his nephew insists – was murdered in that car accident, versus it being a real accident, and to find out is the company is laundering money for bad guys locally and from around the world. The secondary focus is on Tank and Pearl collecting evidence about Eddie Kenwood and more specifically, getting the young man who confessed at the beginning of the book out of prison.

Tank and Pearl run an investigative service, but there isn’t a ton of investigating of the main case done on the page – probably because it’s accounting, and pulling up spreadsheets and putting numbers all over the page would slow things down, as it’s difficult to put tension into that.

The better parts of the book are when Tank and Pearl actually go back into the field to get informants and cons to talk about Kenwood so they can build a case. Those parts are gritty and seem much more realistic (and are certainly much more interesting) than the primary case.

There are a number of murders, some tough guy talks by fixers from the accounting firm, a few scenes with Tank and his girlfriend, who is the daughter of a local mob boss with whom Tank is friendly, and who Tank brings in to help with the accounting firm parts, and an entirely unbelievable talk with the DA about blanket immunity for a group of Romanians up to and including murder if they have to be brought in to the accounting firm case.

Minus the group talks about the accounting firm, the book is a quick read, and fans of the genre will forgive the things like the DA’s immunity agreement, because those things make the story more interesting. Putting Tank’s brother’s death to rest by finding answers, but I think the two cases in this book would have been fine in a book devoted just to each.

Overall, a three star out of five read for me. Your mileage may vary.

Thanks to Random House/Ballantine and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: Rigged (DP Lyle)

Rigged is part of the Jake Longly series, and my first introduction to both the series and to DP Lyle.

The book opens with Jake in a courtroom, and Pancake (Tommy) in a bakery. The former wins his case, and the latter misses Emily, a woman he’s known since 6th grade and who he crushes on just as he did when they were young.

Emily is in the midst of a divorce, and her lawyer, Walter Horton, is the very same man who defended Jake at the opening of the book. Longly Investigations is hired to look into Emily’s husband’s finances.

Emily fails to show for a meeting and also does not show up for her job, which is unusual. Pancake heads out to look for Emily, only to find her and her boyfriend Jason dead, shot execution style.

We then get moving with the book, as Longly is pulled in to investigate (alongside the police investigation) who killed Emily. Her soon to be ex Sean has an iron tight alibi: he was on an offshore rig, working. Did he find a way to be in two places at one time? Or were the couple murdered by an unknown third party? The team consists of Pancake, Ray (owner of the Longly Investigations business) Jake (Ray’s son, Pancake’s friend), and Nicole, a stunning to all, perfect woman who doesn’t wear makeup because she doesn’t “need to” (and Mr Lyle, please run these things by a woman first).

The plot is decent, and the book is perfectly readable as a standalone, so the question of whether you have to have read the previous books is a no. The books switches back and forth between first an third person, and I found that to be irritating. Also equally irritating is Pancake’s supposed “love” for this woman since they were in sixth grade – this is mentioned over and over again, and I do not understand why writers do this. You told us once. Twice is fine. But past that? Enough. I was also left wondering way Pancake, so in love with this woman, made no attempt to contact her at all in the decades after sixth grade. There are some sex scenes between characters, and when they’re not having sex, but investigating Emily’s murder, we get sex-related dialogue. We get it. We do.

On the plus side, there is a lot of dialogue, much of it pretty snappy, and the book moves along at a quick but steady pace. It seems to me that the dialogue propels the book forward more than the main plot/investigation. The characters are well-drawn, and I imagine if I read the previous books they would be even more well developed for me. There’s enough humor in the book to keep it from being completely macabre. It was entertaining and light enough to be read at the beach or on a plane.

Three point five stars out of five for the teenage-like sex talk banter, four stars for everything else. I went back and forth, deciding between three stars and four.

Ultimately: four stars out of five.

Thanks to Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy.

Review: Death Rattle (Alex Gilly)

Nick Finn is an agent with Customs and Border Patrol. Mona Jimenez is a human-rights attorney attached to a firm that provides legal services for people caught crossing the border illegally.

Of course they’re married.

They also wind up being the trope-ish investigative team that looks into the murky death of Carmen,who was caught and placed in a detention center after crossing the border to escape her drug cartel-associated boyfriend. There’s also the spectre of dirty CBP agents, as Finn notices interdictions in one particular office is solely resulting in rounding up people illegally crossing the border, and zero drug traffickers or their mules.

The story takes a bit to get moving, and in my opinion, the actual opening of the book is a little ways in from where it starts here. However, it is a necessity to give us some information on our main characters.

Curiously enough, these two could just as easily been colleagues instead of husband and wife, as there’s no real zing in their relationship. Whatever the case, they do at least work well enough together to investigate what’s happening here and bring a little justice into play.

The setting and subject matter are certainly topical and important, the story is decent, and the writing is fine. Some of the Spanish in the text was not translated in the text – I’m not sure if this was because I was reading an ARC or if this was intentional, but it’s just a note for folks who may not be able to read the language.

A solid three star out of five read.

Thanks to Forge/Macmillan-Tor and NetGalley for the review copy.