Giveaway & Review: Shades of Murder by Lauren Carr

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Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 5 hours 25 minutes

Series: Book 3 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

Mac Faraday, a retired cop and the unexpected inheritor of a famed mystery writer’s fortune, decides to delve into a cold case file when a long-lost painting comes into his possession. With the help of his girlfriend Archie, his dog Gnarly, and his half-brother cop David, they may be able to untangle this cold case. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, lawyer Joshua Thornton has agreed to look into yet a different cold case, one that nearly everyone assumes was committed by a serial killer who has been behind bars for years. Detective Cameron believes him and offer her aid along with a bit of mutual affection.

I really enjoyed this addition to the Faraday/Thornton murder mystery series. It was great seeing how Joshua’s and Cameron’s relationship got started. Cameron’s cat Irving was also a lot of fun and Joshua’s initial response to this ‘detective’ cat was amusing. Honestly, I love how forward Cameron is about everything. She makes no excuses or apologies for her cat and she gets her job done even if it means pissing off management. It’s great that she was the first to show real interest in starting a relationship.

I’ve read several Lauren Carr mysteries by now and I was guessing that the two cold cases were probably related somehow but the link between the two was not immediately obvious and for a good chunk of the tale, I thought that perhaps this book would be the odd ball. No worries! It’s not and I enjoyed how the author tied the two together.

In this particular book, Mac reveals that he’d like a little more out of his relationship with Archie and he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t sleep over, or why he’s not invited to sleep over at her place. After all, they have a fully affectionate relationship otherwise. The answer at the end of the book was amusing and I’m glad these two worked it out.

The murder mysteries themselves were very interesting. Initially, I was more interested in Joshua’s since it involved a serial killer, who is in prison, making a heartfelt plea to the lawyer to look into this particular Jane Doe, swearing he had nothing to do with her. That definitely piqued my interest. Faraday’s mystery took me a little longer to get interested in simply because it looked like so much was known about it all those years ago. However, it turns out that it’s not that simple. There’s plenty there for Mac and Archie to piece together.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Alger was a good fit for this tale. I liked his voice for Cameron quite a bit as he managed to sound like a mature yet playful woman who knows her mind. I also liked his voice for Mac, sounding decisive. He was great with the humor as well. I did feel his accent for Greta could have used some polishing.

What I Liked: Cold case murders; how Joshua & Cameron got together; Irving’s need for company all the time; Gnarly’s love of beach towels; famous artwork; a serial killer’s plea.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really liked this one!

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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Giveaway & Review: Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: James C. Lewis

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 7 hours 40 minutes

Series: Book 2 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Set in Maryland, Mac Faraday is looking forward to a nice companionable evening with his neighbor Archie and his dog Gnarly when his ex-wife Christine unexpectedly shows up. She wants to reconcile but Mac isn’t even going to consider it. Making sure she’s safely ensconced at the nearby resort for the night, he plans to have a final conversation with her the next morning when she’s sober. However, she and the man that wrecked their marriage, Stephen, are both found dead at the resort. The plot thickens when Stephen’s room is searched and old case files that concern Mac are discovered.

It was nice to return to Mac Faraday’s neck of the woods. I have previously enjoyed Book 5, The Murders at Astaire Castle. Here, I get to know more about Mac’s origins. He’s a retired homicide detective who unexpectedly inherited a fortune from his birth mother. He’s also got a half-brother (David), the large mansion he now resides in, and the local resort. With no day job, the mystery of his ex-wife’s murder becomes the focus of his keen wit and all his energy.

As with every Lauren Carr novel I have experienced, this mystery has layers, some of which go back decades. For some reason Stephen was looking into old case files, several of which were tied to Mac in some way. The Chief of Police (David) has to take a hard look at Mac before he can be cleared in the murders, and their blood relationship ruffles some people’s feathers. Now I did find it a little too convenient that David was OK with Mac investigating the murders. Even with him cleared, he still has a stake in the outcome of the investigation. While it makes for great drama having Mac run around asking tough questions and discovering clues, I did have to work hard to suspend my disbelief on this point.

Archie is a wonder with modern electronics and worked closely with Mac’s birth mother (a famous mystery writer) for over a decade before she passed away. She’s become friends with Mac and there’s potentially a romance building between the two. While I do like her character, the author doesn’t really do much with her. Christine, who dies pretty early on, has more influence on the story than Archie does.

There’s this one side character who is of South American decent and works as a maid. The plot felt a little weak when Christine’s sisters immediately equated this person to a South American maid they had years ago. How many documented and undocumented South American women work as maids in the US? Too many to count. So I did feel that it was a really big leap for everyone to assume this maid was the same one who worked for the sisters in the past. While this leap did move the plot forward, it could have been done much better.

Otis the squirrel added some perfect comedic relief. I also liked Gnarly’s klepto behavior, not that I want to encourage it. Still, it was funny how he was so picky about what dog chew he stole from the store.

The answer to the big mystery wasn’t what I was expecting. I liked the surprise, but I felt the execution was a little far-fetched. I wanted a bit more build up or a few more details – something to help me buy into it. Even with that, I found the over all story to be engaging and entertaining. I really like Mac’s character.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: James C. Lewis makes a really good Mac Faraday. He sounds like a retired cop. I also liked how he managed to make David, Mac’s half-brother, sound related. His female voices could use more femininity but each character was distinct.

What I Liked: A layered mystery; Mac’s character; Gnarly and Otis; Archie’s skills; David’s easy relationship with Mac; an unexpected twist at the end.

What I Disliked: I had to work hard several times to suspend my disbelief and just go with the story; Archie’s character is under used.

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr

CarrTheMurdersAtAstaireCastleNarrator: Dan Lawson

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2014)

Length: 8 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 5 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 5 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone novel.

Set on Spencer Hill, in Deep Creek, Maryland, Mac Faraday won’t balk at exploring his property in full, and that includes the Astaire Castle which has been closed up since his biological mother passed away. It’s haunted and even his own half-brother David O’Callaghan (local police chief) thinks it’s a very bad idea to go exploring the castle. The Astaire Castle is the site of suicides, disappearances, and murders. As Mac Faraday, retired homicide detective, delves into the castle’s history yet more bodies turn up, and he and David are soon forced to reopen the case of the missing horror writer Damian Wagner.

This was an entertaining story, especially for the Halloween season. This tale has the haunted castle, a missing horror writer, and a wolf man! And that’s just the opening few chapters to this book. Mac and David argue like brothers and there’s a real  friendship there even if they disagree on things. Hector, the blunt Australian, was a favorite character as well. I liked his (sometimes snarky) humor. Gnarly, the big friendly, food-oriented German shepherd, often stole the show.

While the men get to do most of the action and decisions for the book, there are a few ladies that stand out. Archie, Mac’s lover, has  some role attached to the police department, though the details of which remained a bit fuzzy to me. While the guys often left her behind as they went off to adventure, she did have her moments with her gentle teasing, easing info out of this character or that. Chelsea with her medical condition and her service dog, Molly, also added to the story, specifically as an interesting love interest for one of the characters.

The wolfman was an interesting touch and one I didn’t expect. It definitely added a dimension to the book. The reveal of who did it came as a surprise as well. The wrap up left me wondering if there was a supernatural element to the story after all. All told, my only quibble is that I would have liked the ladies to be a bit more involved. Other than that, it was a pretty fun read.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author (via iRead Book Tours – thanks!) at no cost.

Narration: Dan Lawson makes a great Mac Faraday. He sounds decisive and also  captures the characters fondness (and sometimes exasperation) for Gnarly. His female voices were believable.  His voice for David was similar to Mac’s  (which makes sense since they are related) and he kept it distinct from Mac’s most of the time.

What I Liked: Haunted castle; multiple bodies from different methods; the wolfman; Gnarly and his willingness to put anything in his mouth; Chelsea and her service dog; Hector the blunt Australian; good ending. 

What I Disliked: The ladies often get pushed to the backseat. 

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