Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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REVIEW: Obsession by Patricia Bradley

Wow! I can breathe again. I’m reading (well, listening to) this series in a mixed-up order, but each book has been so full, with a riveting story, twisted plot, and engaging characters.

Set near the Mississippi River, the story involves likable characters amplified by an amazing vocal performance by Rachel Dulude. I’ve been listening to books more often nowadays. Some, like this one, are SO well done! (Seriously, I’ve listened to a few that I’d rather hear a computer voice than the narrator.) Rachel Dulude’s performance enhances the book like cream cheese icing on a red velvet cake.

And this book is already that scrumptious. The story amps up from chapter 1 and only gives a few chances to breathe as it progresses. I teared up and even laughed out loud, but mostly, I just braced myself as Emma and Sam tracked through confusing clues while dodging stalkers and even bullets.

Speaking of the characters, I really liked Emma. At first meet, I got the impression of a little slip of a thing ill-equipped to step beyond her safe haven of documenting historical details and leading tours. Boy, was I wrong! Sure, she has a passion for history, but she enjoys archeology and investigating it as much as sharing it. And the stubborn streak in this gal can substitute for a Glock anytime a weapon is needed.

Her counterpart, Sam, isn’t quite as stubborn, but really close. He’s a little kinder about it, but resolute, especially when it comes to trying to keep Emma safe. . . Safe being a relative term.

Romantic suspense and mystery lovers will love this winning story!

Here’s a little more about it:

Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she’s forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed. 

Sam knows that he has failed Emma in the past and he doesn’t intend to let her down again. Especially since her life is on the line. As the threads of the investigation cross and tangle with their own personal history, Sam and Emma have a chance to discover the truth, not only about the victim but about what went wrong in their relationship.

Get a copy of Book 2 of the Natchez Trace Suspense series.


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I’m not sure how I missed this the first time around …

Cute covers, too!

But I’m sure not going to miss it this time as I’m beginning a series of reviews called Digging Through the Backlists

First up ar the Squeaky Clean Mysteries by Christy Barritt. 

What a delight! These mysteries feature a crime scene cleaner as the amateur detective. I can’t tell you that’s why I missed these the first time around. I heard about Christy’s series when I was finishing up my Grime Fighter series which also has a crime scene cleaner as the main character. I didn’t want to read hers until I was completely finished, but now that I am . . .

And her character is so much fun. Straight-talking and a little coarse, Gabby St. Claire is a character to truly love. She’s authentic and sincere if a little rough around the edge. She has a genuine desire to do her best, so it’s easy to like her. 

The first story, HAZARDOUS DUTY, jumps into action immediately. Gabby cleans up from what is assumed to be a robbery gone wrong, leaving the homeowner with a bullet in his leg and the man’s wife dead. Gabby imagines all sorts of duplicity as she works, but she isn’t alone for long before her suspicions are confirmed in a heart-pounding way.

The action has a good rhythm throughout the book. Add to that the bud of a romantic triangle, some quirky neighbors that add to her trouble, and her cleaning assistant who is blamed for the crimes that occur, and Gabby is in more than the muck from her crime scenes. 

This is a fun story, and the characters have all sorts of potential. I enjoyed Book 2 as well (SUSPICIOUS MINDS) and I’m now well on my way through Book 3, ORGANIZED GRIME

If you, like me, missed this series when it was new, don’t miss it now! 


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BOOK REVIEW: Rules of Murder

There was a time when I read constantly and reviewed at least one book per week. When I started editing for a living, reading become less of a joy and more of a job. As a result, I pretty much stopped reading for fun, but I did listen to books on Audible from time to time.

Well, I’ve begun to listen to books even more than before. I hope to review them more often as well. Lately, I’ve reviewed several books at the Suspense Sisters blog.

My latest review is one that I put up on the Goodreads website. I’ve added that link to the bottom, but suffice it to say that enjoying Julianna Deering’s book, RULES OF MURDER, made my week! Drew Farthering is an outstanding hero – with the status and wealth to do what’s needed, but also possessing just enough humility and insecurity to be real and empathetic. His leading lady has just the right amount of snark combined with spunk and charm. I can’t wait to see what happens in this relationship.

And Farthering’s best friend is quite intriguing. I’m hoping that Ms. Deering has plans for him in the coming stories! And you can bet, with or without the audiobook option, I’ll be reading the rest of the series!

Here are the details of the story:

From the tip of his black Homburg to the crease in his cheviot trousers, he’s the epitome of a stylish 1930s English gentleman. His only problem? The body he just discovered.

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. With the help of beautiful and whip-smart Madeline Parker, a guest from America, Drew proposes to use the lessons he’s learned reading his mysteries to solve the crime. Before long, he realizes this is no lark, and no one at Farthering Place is who he or she appears to be – not the butler nor blackmailer, the chauffeur nor embezzler. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer – and trying harder to impress Madeline – Drew must decide how far to take this dangerous game.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads about the book:

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What a delightful “read.” True confessions, I enjoyed this through audible, and I loved the vocal talent almost as much as I loved the story! Excellent choice!

And this story is one of the best I’ve enjoyed! A tight mystery with the charm and intrigue of days gone by. I can’t wait to enjoy the others from this series!

View all my reviews


Review: TROUBLE UP FINNEY’S NOSE by Dana Mentink

In my book, Dana Mentink is a bonafide master! She’s an award-winning suspense author, and has several highly successful romance novels, (love her “Love Unleashed” series starring various adorable dogs!) but started her career in cozy mysteries. Wow! Just Wow!

Trouble Up Finney's NoseMy daughter and I had the pleasure of listening to the first of her cozy series set in a quirky, small town on coast of northern California. Trouble Up Finny’s Nose had us in hysterics one moment and twisted in curiosity the next.

Here’s the Short Version:

Continue reading


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Christian Suspense Review: DECEPTION by Elizabeth Goddard

DeceptionThe Mountain Cove series continues with a story about the town’s much respected police chief, Colin Winters. I’m so glad the author decided to include this seasoned professional among her younger heroes. He’s been there for all of the other stories and deserved one of his own.

Here’s the short version (Amazon):

Jewel Caraway thought she’d left her mistakes in the past—but then her past arrives at her door. Though she’s thrilled to reunite with her estranged sister, something about her sister’s new husband makes Jewel uneasy. Does he know her secret? Is he the one behind the growing list of attacks against her? And if he is involved…does that mean her sister is, too? With nowhere else to turn, Jewel must rely on police chief Colin Winters—the first man to make the widow question her resolve to never love again. But will he stay by her side when her guarded secrets are revealed?

Mountain Cove: In the Alaskan wilderness, love and danger collide.

My take:

I find it hard to believe that Elizabeth Goddard didn’t grow up in Alaska. Her descriptions of the beauty, intricacies, and uniqueness of this land are so vivid. I felt I was in the ice cave (and feeling a little chlostorophic, by the way), and getting slapped by juniper trees as I fled through the forest.

And yes, I ran right alongside Jewel Caraway. (Though my running days are long over!) I lived her panic with her, though I don’t think I would have put myself in some of the questionable situations that she chose. Yikes!

I must say that Chief Winters was my favorite character in this story. His internal battle was so true to life, and he had just enough faults to make him an incredibly sympathetic character. And what a satisfying romance! The two mains were like chocolate chip cookies and milk. Every page made me anxious for their next encounter – and I was never disappointed.

Your Turn: Is there a setting that you’d like to see through the “eyes” of a novel?


Christian Fantasy and Allegory Review: IGNITED by Jackie Castle

IgnitedThough fantasy isn’t usually my genre of choice, Jackie Castle’s books have made me flexible! Her White Road Chronicles have been such a blessing to me, my daughters, and even their friends! Her latest, book 5, is titled Ignited. Don’t you LOVE the cover! (Well, in this case, it’s good to judge! The book’s even better!) Continue reading


Tension, Romance, and Twists

Rising DarknessLast weekend, I delighted in inhaling Rising Darkness by fellow Suspense Sister, Nancy Mehl.  This is the 3rd book in her Finding Sanctuary series, but I’ve found that the two I’ve enjoyed (this one along with the first) are carefully crafted, stand-alone books. The well-loved characters from past books revisited in the third enhancing the story for readers who have followed along, but Continue reading


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I’m Gonna Gush!

fire-hydrant-412211_1920I can’t help it. I just finished reading one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of cracking open!

  • The writing – exquisite
  • The characters – deep, broken, and real
  • The plot – twisted, yet timeless.
  • And the message… ah. God’s grace is sufficient – AMEN!

This was no ordinary romance. And get this – it was neither Continue reading


Christian Suspense Review: LEGITIMATE LIES by Julie B. Cosgrove

Legitimate LiesLegitimate Lies by Julie Cosgrove proved to be an intense suspense filled with secrets and lies.

Sometimes those can be the best kind!

Here’s the Short Version: 

Though immersed in witness protection, Jen is discovered by an associate of her husband, the head of a human trafficking organization. Relocated again from the small Florida town, this time, she ends up in England. But even there, surrounded by federal agents, she’s pursued, separated from her safety net, and eventually held captive in a beautiful mansion. She’s not the type to accept defeat, however, and uncovers and twisted plot full of greed and betrayal.

My Take

I found this story intriguing from the beginning. It took a number of turns that I didn’t anticipate. Even the setting changed drastically, throwing me a bit, but then suspense stories often put me in uncomfortable positions.

I liked this story. The main characters were fully fleshed out, though I did get a bit frustrated with some of the ancillary characters. In particular, the change of location took out some characters that I’d gotten to know and like. But that issue didn’t change the well-written plot with a strong element of faith.

The betrayal and lies mounted throughout. I felt despondent and alone right along with the main character. Seriously, every time she felt she could trust someone her faith backfired. And indeed, who can be fully trusted except the Lord Himself? As misplaced faith seemed to be the theme of this book, it also displayed that even the most well-meaning can be persuaded to do the wrong thing. Even to the point of believing the actions are for the right purposes.

I would certainly recommend this book to readers who like edgy suspense laced with realistic situations. It isn’t the type of book that I’d share with my high school daughters due to some mature situations and a little foul language, but most suspense readers will LOVE it!

Your Turn: What book is on your bedside table right now? If you’ve started reading it, what are your thoughts so far?


Christian Romance Review: SAILING IN STYLE by Dana Mentink

Sailing in StyleI’ve relished Dana Mentink’s romantic suspense novels, but I’ve found that my love for them has as much to do with the author’s writing style as it has to do with their genre. Well, maybe not as much, but close!

I’ve just finished a pure romance of hers, her newest and recently released, Sailing In Style. Continue reading