Required Reading

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Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Spotlight on The Coroner by Jennifer Graeser Dornbush

When a young doctor makes a reluctant trip home and confronts her past, she is sucked into a dangerous mystery

LOS ANGELES, California – When surgical resident Emily Hartford returns to the small town where she grew up after more than a decade away, she is confronted with issues from her past, and a mystery from the present.  Her father, the local coroner, has had a heart attack, and is unavailable to autopsy the body of a girl found in suspicious circumstances at a horse stable. When he asks her to take over in his stead, she is resistant, especially as that would mean working closely with the sheriff, who just happens to be her ex-boyfriend. Emily worries about her father’s declining health and tries to tend to her tenuous relationship with her fiance from afar. And as she and Nick delve more deeply into what happened to Julie Dobson, Emily realizes they will  be in danger if they keep poking around where they aren’t wanted.  Fans of crime drama and strong female characters will love this twist on a detective novel that will leave your heart racing and keep you turning pages until the end.

About the Book

Summoned from her promising surgical career first to her estranged father's bedside, and then his post as medical examiner when his small town needs urgent help with a suspicious death, Emily Hartford discovers home is where the bodies are in this pitch perfect mystery debut.

Recently engaged and deeply ensconced in her third year of surgical residency in Chicago, Emily Hartford gets a shock when she’s called home to Freeport, MI, the small town she fled a decade ago after the death of her mother. Her estranged father, the local medical examiner, has had a massive heart attack and Emily is needed urgently to help with his recovery. 

Not sure what to expect, Emily races home, blowing the only stoplight at the center of town and getting pulled over by her former high school love, now Sheriff, Nick Larson. At the hospital, she finds her father in near total denial of the seriousness of his condition. He insists that the best thing Emily can do to help him is to take on the autopsy of a Senator’s teen daughter whose sudden, unexplained death has just rocked the sleepy town. 

Reluctantly agreeing to help her father and Nick, Emily gets down to work, only to discover that the girl was murdered. The autopsy reminds her of her many hours in the morgue with her father when she was a young teen—a time which inspired her love of medicine. Before she knows it, she’s pulled deeper into the case and closer to her father and to Nick—much to the dismay of her big city fiancĂ©. When a threat is made to Emily herself, she must race to catch the killer before he strikes again in The Coroner, expertly written and sharply plotted, perfect for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Julia Spencer Fleming. 

Next Post An Interview with Ms. Dornbush

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Spotlight on River of Secrets: A Wallace Hartman Mystery by Roger Johns

River of Secrets: A Wallace Hartman Mystery” by Roger Johns

Louisiana detective risks everything to uncover the truth behind the murder of an infamous politician

Detective Wallace Hartman returns in Roger Johns’ new novel, “River of Secrets

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. –  Louisiana is full of politicians who will say anything to suit their agenda, but when one of them winds up dead under suspicious circumstances, Detective Wallace Hartman must dig through his list of enemies to find out who wanted him gone – permenantly.
Was it the politician’s son, with whom he had a troubled relationship? Was it the social justice activist who also happens to be related to Wallace’s childhood best friend? Does the cleaning lady who discovered the body know more than she is saying?

While the detective works the case, she also has to deal with complications in her own life, including a standoffish new partner, her mother’s new suitor, and her own relationship.

Roger Johns fills his second Wallace Hartman mystery with details that will make you race to the end -- intriguing questions, disappearing suspects, an exploration of racial and political tensions, a rich Southern setting, and a strong woman who will do whatever it takes to solve this case.

Roger Johns, a 2018 Georgia Author of Year for his debut mystery, is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor, and the author of the Wallace Hartman Mysteries, Dark River Rising (August 2017) and River of Secrets (August 2018) from St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books. His checkered past includes, in no particular order, med school dropout, bookseller, ranch hand, drapery hanger, party photographer, hospital orderly, shoe salesman, and tuxedo rental clerk. Roger lives in Georgia, and belongs to the Atlanta Writers Club, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime. With four other crime-fiction writers, he co-authors the MurderBooks blog at Please visit him at

About the Book

Herbert Marioneaux, a Louisiana politician infamous for changing his mind on hot-button issues, has been murdered and his body posed to send a message. Baton Rouge homicide detective Wallace Hartman has to figure out who’s sending that message. DNA points to Eddie Pitkin, a social justice activist who also happens to be the half-brother of Wallace’s childhood best friend. But even with the combative history between Pitkin and Marioneaux, murder seems out of character for Pitkin whose usual MO is to confront the wealthy and powerful with their inconvenient past. As Wallace digs deeper, she unearths a possible alibi witness, along with evidence of a deeply troubled relationship that points the finger of suspicion at Marioneaux’s son.

While Eddie’s supporters are convinced of his innocence, his enemies are equally certain of his guilt. Under pressure from all directions, Wallace pursues her investigation into the dark heart of the political establishment as Baton Rouge falls under the shadow of escalating violence. When it appears a police department insider may be sabotaging her efforts by leaking information about the case, and after menacing messages are left for her and her loved ones, Wallace is forced to untangle a trail of old and disturbing secrets unaided by those she most needs to trust.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Girl on the Bridge by James Hayman

This is a McCabe and Savage mystery.   I think it is the first one I have read but it won’t be the last.   It is a story of revenge or retribution depending on your point of view.   A suicide and some murders get Detectives McCabe and Savage involved.  

The story is a good mystery but it also makes one pause and consider that some of the assumptions made in college may have been grossly incorrect and possibly caused long term damage.   The college mind is so often dead certain of it’s facts are mores and retrospect makes one realize how often the college mind was immersed in self-delusion.  

The story is horrific and yet anyone who went to college was aware of one like it.   The consequences of this story were dramatic and perhaps justified. 

Hayman sets up an intricate plot while leaving breadcrumbs for the sleuthy reader to pursue.   (sleuthy being self coined)

I enjoyed the story and recommend it.  

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

One Deadly Summer by Sebastien Japrisot

The author is described by the New York Times as a master of psychological suspense.   I really never found the book compelling.

The story takes place in a village and is self proclaimed as a classic of French suspense.  Sadly my tastes appear to be more plebian than many of the reviewers.  To me the book was tedious and difficult to read.  I do like character studies but the minutia in this left me cold.

Elle is certifiable and I suspect Florimond might also be committed.  Due to all the accolades the book has received, I suspect I may be a lonely voice that didn’t like it but loneliness can also be ascribed to a matter of personal taste.  This book was not to my taste.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Box by Marc Levinson

The box is the ubiquitous metal container that is seen at loading docks, on the back of semi-trucks, at harbors and wherever goods are transported.  According to Levinson, the container changed the worlds economy.

Surprisingly this non-fiction book was more interesting than I expected.  The introduction of shipping goods by containers revolutionized international shipping.  It changed the geographic aspects of commerce due to the location of ports acceptable to container ships.   The transshipping of containers via train and truck impacted the placement of factories, towns and jobs.  

Levinson offers a quite convincing argument for the world changing aspects of the not so simple container.


This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Spotlight on Deadly Reception by Karen Randau

Karen Randau, author of Rim Country mystery series, releases novella in conjunction with seven other authors.  A happy occasion turns deadly when scattered body parts turn up at a wedding
A severed head. A philandering husband. A skeleton in the basement. This was not the perfect wedding Rita Avery planned for her daughter Zoe!

Rita Avery and her detective husband Cliff arrive at New Jersey’s Tawnee Mountain Resort prepared to greet Zoe’s wedding guests in just three hours. Who would have expected to find a man’s torso in their closet?

Things explode into high gear when the victim’s head shows up at the
golf equipment shack. A good look at his social media makes Rita
wonder if a wife murdered her husband as revenge for infidelity. Or did
a secret admirer decide to liberate the wife from her scoundrel husband?
Worse, is Zoe in life-threatening danger . . . again? And will Rita and
Cliff escape the trap in which the murderer snares them?

Murder and a passel of twists that will keep you on the edge of your
seat. Zoe’s wedding is the most exciting you’ll attend!

Deadly Reception is a part of the Tawnee Mountain Mysteries series, a collection of seven brand new mysteries, from seven award-winning and bestselling authors, taking place at the same final destination, the Tawnee Mountain Resort.

Deadly Reception features characters from Karen Randau’s Rim Country Mysteries series.  It can be purchased at Amazon and fine book stores. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.