Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas



The opera singer Sophia Siméonidis wakes up one morning to discover that a tree has appeared overnight in the garden of her Paris house. Intrigued and unnerved, she turns to her neighbours: Vandoosler, an ex-cop, and three impecunious historians, Mathias, Marc and Lucien - the three evangelists. They agree to dig around the tree and see if something has been buried there. They find nothing but soil.

A few weeks later, Sophia disappears and her body is found burned to ashes in a car. Who killed the opera singer? Her husband, her ex-lover, her best friend, her niece? They all seem to have a motive.

Vandoosler and the three evangelists set out to find the truth.


I was looking for French crime authors for my #InternationalCrime meme, and I stumbled upon Fred Vargas. Winner of International Dagger Award for three times, she (Fred is shortened from Frédérique) is not just a writer, but also historian and archaeologist. I assumed that I would love her books, and I wasn't wrong.

The Three Evangelists is her first book which won International Dagger Award and it is written in 1995, translated in English in 2006. The story starts with an opera singer, Sophia Siméonidis, who wakes up one morning just to notice a big tree in her backyard, a tree that wasn't there the day before. She is a famous person and she considers this as a personal threat from a lunatic fan. The house next door is a home of four extraordinary people. Armand Vandoosler, a former police commissaire, his god-son Marc, Lucien and Matthias. The old Vandoosler names the three young men the three evangelists, Saint-Mark, Saint-Luke and Saint-Matthew. The three evangelists are historians, for different time of history and they are all live in their own world, in the time they study. Sophia asks their help for the tree, they dig it and find nothing. But soon after that, Sophia disappears. Later, her body is found burned in what suppose to be a car accident.

The three young historians with the help of the old former detective are in the search of their neighbour's killers. Who would think that the knowledge of history can help solving a murder?

Saint-Marc, Saint-Luke and Saint-Matthew are so original characters. Each one of them lives in his own world, each one of them is some kind of knight in shining armour. Some people might consider them lunatic, but they are all very intelligent and perfectly stand on their own feet. Their conversations are even more interesting than the plot itself. Their medieval knowledge is perfectly incorporated in not just the plot itself, but also in their every day fights and talks and their own very unique view of the world.

There are other characters in the story, characters that might be involved in the murder. The husband, the neighbour, the niece, they are all suspects. They all seem like nice people, all of them concerned for Sophia's death. But nothing can trick the old commissaire's eye. And with the help of his three house mates, Sophia can finally rest in piece.

It is my very first book of Fred Vargas, but certainly it won't be the last. I am hooked on her crime noir writing and I'll be definitely in the search of her other books. And they are so many.

My opinion: 4,5 / 5.



Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: The Collector by Anne-Laure Thiéblemont

*ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Publication date: August 11-th, 2015.





In the merciless microcosm of Paris art auctions and galleries, some people collect pre-Colombian statuettes, while others, like Marion Spicer, collect trouble. When she inherits a prestigious art collection from the father she never knew, her problems start. In order to come into possession of her inheritance, she must first find three priceless works of art, a quest that draws her into a world where people will kill for a love of beauty.

Edmond Magni is one of the greatest collectors of eighteenth-century art and an owner of a very imposant collection of pre-Columbian art. He is so obsessed with it, those figures are more important to him than actual human beings. But when he dies of an unexpected death, his only relative is a long lost daughter who never met him. The entire collection is her inheritance now, but there are conditions: she must find three missing statues. It might be a hard work for someone else, but not for Marion Spicer. She is also into the world of art, working as a private investigator and looking for stolen art. The collection of her long lost father is not a source of income for her, but a treasure of beautiful pieces of art that have to be preserved for future generations. But the world of art is not a safe place at all. Marion throws herself into the world of thieves, fake auctions, grave diggers, smuggling and making perfect replicas. In order to find the three missing statues, she stamps on something bigger: a murder!

This is my very first book from this author and from the very first page I was captivated by the plot. A very prestigious collector of art dies and his daughter who works also in the world of art inherits the most wanted collection of pre-Columbian statues. There are some very fine pieces of art here and also a detective story. It's like Indiana Jones meeting Lara Croft. The story takes you from the most prestigious museums of Paris to the old tombs in Colombia and Peru.

But what started very enthusiastic and fully-packed with adrenaline, ended somehow diluted. Maybe it was just me, but the ending left me very disappointed. After that kind of rush, I was expecting a real BAM at the end. The end didn't surprise me nor left me with my mouth open. But, that's just my opinion.

I liked Marion as a character. I liked her hunger for justice, her hunger to finish whatever she started. I liked her passion for art, her admire of pieces of history. She sees the things as evidence of existence of the people that lived on this planet before us, not as a source of money.

Overall, The Collector is a beautiful piece of art full of mystery and action. It is an interesting and fast-paced read perfect for the fans of Indiana Jones. And everyone else, of course.

My opinion: 3,5 / 5.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Friday, July 17, 2015

Book review: Dead Money Run by J.Frank James






Dead Money Run is the first book in the Lou Malloy Crime Series.

Lou Malloy learns of his sister's death right before he is released from prison, having served 15 years for the theft of $15 million from an Indian casino. He wants two things: to keep the $15 million, which no one has been able to find, and to track down and punish whoever killed his sister.

Lou Malloy teams up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator. In no time, Lou has found the hidden $15 million, recovered guns and ammunition hidden with the money, and murdered two low-level mobsters and fed them to the crocodiles.

As the body count rises, the story grows more complex and his sister's death becomes more mysterious.


*Copy provided by Book Publicity Services in exchange for an honest review. *

Fifteen years ago, Lou Malloy robbed a casino on Indian territory. A casino involved in money laundering. Fifteen million bucks. He is caught by the police and serves fifteen years in prison. Money never found. Just before he comes out of prison, Lou finds out that his sister is murdered. He is thirsty for vengeance. Is she murdered because of him and his fifteen million bucks? Those bastards have to be punished!

Many people are interested in those money. Dirty money that were already included in the laundering process. Hilary Kelly, a PI, tails the former prisoner for the same reason. Very soon, they start to work together as a couple. She wants a revenge too. Lou's sister was her friend, at least she says so.

No one is safe. There are many people after Lou and Hilary. Lou and Hilary are after the people who killed his sister. Everyone wants the money. No one can be trusted. The run for the dead money starts.

Lou Malloy is a classic anti-hero as a main character. He kills people almost everywhere, he doesn't choose the place or time. There is too much blood where ever he goes. But there is some decency in his character. He doesn't kill innocent people. He loves his sister very much, he is doing whatever it takes to find her murderers. He has been hurt in life and he is not afraid to hurt others. An eye for an eye. He is smart and brave, but also too much impulsive.

With a character like Lou Malloy, the action scenes are so tensed and hard-boiled. The author visualized the killing scenes very well, included many bullets and blood all over the places. Described to the tiniest details, the killing scenes are so vivid and adrenaline-fulfilled. Some of them happen so fast, you've turned the page and BAM, three people dead! In the same time, the author added Hilary, as a balance, a person who can restore Lou's faith in humanity. The characters are so unpredictable, it is very hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys. There is no single character that can be described as just good or just bad. Even Hilary is like a wolf in a sheep's clothing. You don't know who to trust.

Overall, I enjoyed in this very bloody run for the fifteen million bucks. Full of action, blood and bullets, it is a fast-paced thriller that will keep you on alert-mode till the very last page.

My opinion: 4,5 / 5.

You can buy the book on Amazon.com


About the Author:

J. Frank James has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thrillers, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation. Jim's experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. He has also traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thrillers from his travels. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with.

J. Frank James writes crime thriller novels that are gripping and suspenseful. He is the author of the Lou Malloy Crime Series and the Indigo Marsh Detective Series.

J. Frank James is also an artist and he creates all of his own book covers.

To learn more, go to http://www.jfrankjamesbooks.com/

Connect with J. Frank James on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book review: Flambé in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen

* ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Publication date: August 6, 2015.


In the heart of Gascony, a fire ravages the warehouse of one of Armagnac s top estates, killing the master distiller. Wine expert Benjamin Cooker is called in to estimate the value of the losses. But Cooker and his assistant Virgile want to know more. Did the old alembic explode? Was it really an accident? Why is the estate owner Baron de Castayrac penniless? How legal are his dealings?"


I recently started the new meme „International Crime“, starting with French crime authors this month. I really think that there is no better start for this meme than a book about wine, mystery and a French castle.

I met Benjamin and his assistant Virgile previously in „Mayhem in Margaux“ and joined them solving the mystery of the car accident. This time they are back with another brand of wine and mystery to solve. There has been a fire in a castle where the best wine Armagnac is produced and the master distiller is dead. Benjamin Cooker is called to estimate the losses and find out more about the fire. Was is an accident or was it all about the insurance? Was the death of master distiller an accident or an attempted murder? Benjamin Cooker has to leave his wife alone on New Year and with his assistant Virgile drive on thin ice to the Chateau Blanzac to find out. But the Chateau doesn't reveal its secrets that easy. The winemaker duo has to use the detective skills to solve the mystery behind the sweetness of the Armagnac.

The character that I absolutely adore here is Virgile, Benjamin's assistant. He is smart, young, clumsy, everything. He is very educated about wine, but he is also a great detective himself. With every other mystery his observation skills are more and more expressed. He is also Virgo, like me, and I can see many of my Virgo habits in his character. It is very easy for me to connect with him as a character.



I also love the writing style of the authors. There are many expressions and old sayings that are used in my country and it is easy for me to understand the whole story. I fell in love with the characters and the plot and I felt like almost tasting the Armagnac.

So, wine lovers, and book lovers also, if you love a perfect break in the shadows of your garden or under the sun on the beach, get a glass of the tasteful Armagnac, and enjoy this cozy mystery perfect for relaxation. Even your gray cells will enjoy!


My opinion: 4,5 / 5.

Preorder the book on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Review: The Fisherman's Lily by Suzanne Spiegoski



When Lily Dietz, an ambitious yet short-tempered Asian-American NYC homicide detective, and longtime partner John Fremont begin to work a unique but gruesome murder case, cryptic clues in the evidence start to link with Lily’s dark and troubling past—one deeply imprinted with many psychological and emotional issues.

Borderline manic-depressive and a self-destructive alcoholic, Lily is strikingly beautiful and spoiled by her younger brother, CJ, a NBA All-Star basketball Knicks player, due to guilt uprooting from their own family history; separations of heart-wrenching losses and disappointments. The hunt for the killer escalates when the detectives discover more than one murder. Someone with cruel and twisted intentions motivated by a taste for sophistication yet also depravity is targeting and brutally mutilating Asian-American women. And somehow, the murderer knows Lily far too well.
Soon the game of cat-and-mouse becomes a thrilling chase from beginning to end, where Lily’s reality and the people in it begin to doubt her, not only as a detective but as a person. Who will be able to save this damaged soul? Or who will be the one to destroy it ?

*Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. *

A woman's body has been found in the park, mutilated, wrapped in a rug. It is Lily's case. She and her partner John are working on this very disturbing case. Is there a serial killer on sight?

Lily works for the police department her entire life. Solving murders is her priority in life and often comes before anything else. Her best friend is a dog named Cuffs and sometimes it seems that the German Shepherd is the only friend she has. From the very first page we can see her relationship with her brother CJ, who plays basketball for the NBA. That relationship is the strongest she has, her brother and his daughter are the only family she has chosen to have. Her love life is a mess, she even involves herself into a sexual relationship with her partner John, knowing that he is married and his wife is her friend and a colleague. No saint at all, Lily is devoted to her work, and this case triggers something familiar, something deeply hidden in the past.

Almost in the same time with finding the first body, we meet the killer. Too soon, according to me. Page after page, we can get into his mind and see how he chooses his victims and what is his final goal. We can see his obsessions and be there when he hurts and kills his victims. They all have one thing in common.

The murder cases are solid and creepy enough, and the main character is a real anti-hero. What bothers me, is the pace of the story. Sometimes goes too fast, sometimes too slow. Sometimes is very detailed, sometimes is skipping months. Also, the killer is introduced very early in the story, the purpose of his murders is revealed too soon, not at the end. But I must say that the end did surprise me. I wasn't expecting that kind of outcome. There is a big plus for the surprise effect, but still not sure how I feel for that kind of ending.

Overall, The Fisherman's Lily is an adrenaline rushed thriller. The characters are Asian-American, but you won't see much of the Asian-American culture. There are moments when your blood freezes in your veins, and others that make you literally burst into tears. The whole story brings mixed emotions. It is an interesting story with serial killer vs. detective and definitely deserves a try. 


My opinion: 3,5 / 5.

Buy "Fisherman's Lily on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Find Suzanne Spiegoski on twitter and facebook

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Meme: International Crime

Hi, everyone.
I am starting a new meme, INTERNATIONAL CRIME, featuring four crime authors from one country every month.
Starting with French crime, this July I am reviewing four books:






You can join me by sharing your favorite #FrenchCrimeAuthors. I would love to hear about your favorite crime authors from France.














Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book review:Evil Games by Angela Marsons

The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time - it’s personal.

Ok, I must admit! With every other book, Angela Marsons' writing goes better and better. I am getting more and more hooked as I read her stories. This author became one of my favorites right after her first book. And with the second, she literally overcame herself. She really deserves the place among the top crime writer ever.

This time, D.I.Kim Stone is facing a very hard and emotional case that includes molesting children. Dealing with children that have been abused is hard and requires patience and bravery. And courage not to kill the bastard responsible for hurting the kids. It requires emotional distance in order to catch the real culprit and make sure he/she pays for what he/she did. But the hardest thing of all is helping those kids to go on with their lives and forget the scars that physically and emotionally damaged them.

On the other side, there are different kinds of criminals. The ones who do the bad job and the ones who make others  to do their job. The ones who leave their fingerprints on the crime scene and the ones who don't. D-r Alexandra is a psychologist. She considers herself as an explorer, a scientist. She studies human will, human fear, human reactions of certain things. She plants ideas in her patient's minds, she encourages them to do the things they want, but the things that are bad. She lies, she fakes emotions, she is incapable to feel, to love, to hate, to cry. It's in her blood. It's all fake. She is the mastermind, she doesn't leave fingerprints,  she can not be responsible for anything, no one can connect her with certain crimes. 

D-r Alexandra is incapable to feel, just like Kim. She is smart, so is Kim. She has built walls around her, just like Kim. She lies about her feelings, just like Kim. Maybe that's why Kim is the only one that senses something wrong around her. Maybe that's why Kim is the only one that can not close the case of the raped woman who kills her rapist. Kim's sixth sense is never wrong. 

This time, Kim Stone is more than an anti-hero. We can peek in her past and see why is she the way she is. We can see the reasons that made her built the walls around her, but in the same time we can see those walls breaking. But the disappearance of the walls doesn't make her vulnerable as she thinks. No, it makes her more human, it finally brings her emotions on the surface. In the first book, the author added a child with illness. This time, she added a dog. Man's best friend. Someone who is always there, who never asks questions and gives unconditional love. A small add that brings emotions to the whole story full of  tension and hard feelings. 

Alex and Kim are total opposites in the story. Very same, but also very different. Both are very intelligent and brave, both hide their feelings. Total opposites, but complete match. Like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty. Their development as characters goes slowly, step by step, which makes you more and more hooked to the story. There are moments when you can not be certain who is the good one, and who is the bad one.  Together, they create a perfect balance. 

Evil Games is a masterpiece made from the creative pen of Angela Marsons. Second in the series, hope not the last. Nail-biting to the last page, it will make you turn the pages like there's nothing else out there in the world. Totally recommended! 

My opinion: 5 / 5.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Book Review: Mayhem in Margaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen



It s summer in Bordeaux. There s a heat wave, the vineyards are suffering, vintners are on edge, and wine expert Benjamin Cooker s daughter is visiting. A tragic car accident draws the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgile into a case where the stakes are very personal, and they uncover some dirty secrets hiding behind the robe of some of Bordeaux s finest grand cru classe wines from Margaux."






*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *

France, wine and summer. A perfect recipe for pure joy! And when you add mystery to it! It is an absolute divine!

Let me introduce you with the plot. The main character is Benjamin Cooker, a famous winemaker in Margaux, France. His lovely daughter, Margaux, who is a student, visits him for the summer. She is a lovely and beautiful young woman, and men are interested in her, especially Antoine Rinetti, the new manager of Gayraud-Valrose chateau. Margaux and Antoine go for a trip by car and they have an accident that almost kills them. Like every concerned father, Benjamin is very worried about his daughter, especially after he hears that the car has been sabotaged. He has been helping the police before, and this time he uses his detective skills to find the culprit behind the car accident.

I loved Benjamin Cooker as a main character. He is old-fashioned husband and father, an excellent winemaker and true noir detective. Like every father, he sees his daughter as a little girl, even if she is woman, and acts very protective. He is suspicious for every man around her. As a winemaker, he has an excellent taste and works very hard to make the best wine he can. And as a detective, he has very old-fashioned skills that always work. He doesn't need modern technology to find out what he wants to know. He is not a real detective, but his style reminds me of the very famous Hercules Poirot.

It seems that even the wineyards aren't safe these days. But with winemakers like Benjamin, we can all feel little bit safer. And with a glass of wine, you can enjoy this interesting cozy mystery, perfect for this summer.


My opinion: 4 / 5.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: The Anti-Aging of Harmony Richards by Fiona Jane Collins

*Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

Harmony Richards is forty-five years old. A forty-five wife and mother of three. A loving wife and devoted mother. But forty-five, just five years off fifty??? No, she can't bear it. She was young just ten minutes ago. She can't face it. Getting old is definitely not her style.

There is one thing you can be sure about Harmony. She loves her family more than anything in the world. So when her husband's old flame shows up in the radar, she decides to take the things in her own hands. Melissa might be thirty-something beautiful blonde, but Harmony is the one who loves Tom and who has devoted her life to be amazing mum and wife. Her spying on Melissa puts her in very ridiculous and silly situations. And with her efforts to stay young and beautiful, she is so funny and charming.

At first I didn't like Harmony as a main character. Frightened of aging, she sees wrinkles everywhere even if they don't really exist. She feels so sorry for herself, almost pathetic. But then she finds about Melissa and the story goes into another direction. Harmony focuses on her own life, not just her family's. And suddenly the desperate housewife becomes a confident woman with goals. Just like the one she used to be so many years ago. The one that her husband Tom fell in love with. The one that Tom married.

„The Anti-Aging of Harmony Richards" is a wonderful romcom story about aging, marriage and „the other woman“. In a humorous way, the author writes about middle-aged crisis, setting goals in life and feeling young again. With so many laugh-out-loud moments and silly situations, we follow Harmony on her spying mission in order to save her marriage and bring back the time when she was young and beautiful. She is a lousy detective and acting undercover is not her best skill, but that just makes the story more interesting. Harmony grows up as a character, and she is not getting older! I definitely enjoyed her story and will look the books from this author in future.


My opinion: 4 / 5.

Link to The Anti-Aging of Harmony Richards  on Amazon: 

http://amzn.to/1FPGLvc


@FionaJaneBooks on Twitter

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Pretty Shore by Carla Caruso

*Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

The summer is around the corner and all I want is to sit down in a comfortable chair on the beach and read. And what's better read than easy summer chick lit with a mystery in it? Pretty Shore is exactly that. It has a beach, a cat and a mystery to solve, perfect for relaxation.

Let me tell you something about the plot. Celeste has started her own business as a professional organizer. Working with her assistant Filippa, or Flip, they are hired by famous fashion designer Sabine Cloud to organize her apartment on the beach. Celeste decides to kill two birds with one shot and organizes a vacation with her boyfriend, and her cat too. She and Flip suppose to finish the work for a week and then continue with the vacation on the beach.

Sabine Cloud's apartment belonged to her daughter Romy, a famous model-in-rise who recently killed herself. But Romy's friend Blaise is absolutely sure that she would never ever kill herself. And there is no harm in doing a little bit of research, right?

Things never turn out as you've planned to, and Celeste and Flip go from professional organizing to amateur investigating. Because something here is wrong, very wrong.

It is hard to say who is the main character here in the story, because there is more about Flip and Blaise than Celeste herself. Celeste is really nice as a person and a good boss, but she is little bit afraid of life, according to me. It is her first vacation with her boyfriend Lenny, and her nerves are on the edge all the time, afraid that she is out of his league and doing the wrong things. But there are no right and wrong things when two people are in love , right?

Flip is such an adorable character, much younger that Celeste, but so mature for her age. And she has an attitude! She knows what she wants and she won't accept being somebody's second choice.

I also admire Blaise as a character. A son of a famous music star who always had on plate everything he ever wanted. But he decides not to live on his father's fame and his father's money and do something by himself. He finds out that he really likes black-and-white movies and wants to produce documentaries. He meets Romy and she is the only one who sees real him, who believes in him. And now she is dead.

Overall, „Pretty Shore“ is a lovely beach read perfect for having fun under the sun. Light, enjoyable and mysterious in the same time, will relax you after a hard working day.


My opinion: 3,5/5