Book Review: Hooked by Polly Iyer

Hooked by Polly Iyer features Lincoln Walsh, special investigator with the NYPD, and Tawny Dell, glamorous, exclusive, and retired call girl.  They battle a common foe, each other, and their mutual attraction.

The discovery of a murdered prostitute’s body leads police to a high-class brothel, but they can’t make a solid connection between the crime and the brothel, in fact police can’t even prove the young woman worked there.  Walsh tracks Tawny down at her vacation paradise, threatens her with charges of tax evasion, and coerces her into spying.  To stay out of jail, she must return to the life she recently abandoned and work for a man she despises.  Meanwhile, another prostitute disappears and is presumed dead, and a local mob boss makes an unexpected appearance. Tawny’s straightforward snooping mission turns dangerous and deadly.

Iyer’s novel, which I downloaded as a free Kindle mystery, is a bit mystery, a bit erotica, and a bit romance.  While I don’t believe it’s a particularly well-constructed novel in all respects, it is a thoroughly entertaining story.  I recommend it.

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Book Review—The Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith: A Rebecca Schwartz Mystery

The Sourdough Wars is the second volume of Julie Smith’s Rebecca Schwartz Mysteries.  It is set in early 1980’s San Francisco where Rebecca is a thirty-year-old attorney with a penchant for finding dead bodies of people she knows.  Her very-Jewish mother and successful-lawyer father are, of course, upset and concerned each time it happens. 

Peter Martinelli, a struggling actor, inherited the sourdough starter–it is required to make San Francisco’s famous bread–from his parents.  His sister got the fabulous house, but wants the starter, too.  The Martinelli sourdough was once the best, but the bakery went out of business.  The parents, hoping to recoup lost glory, put some of the starter in frozen storage.  When Peter needed money to save a struggling theater, Rebecca and her partner suggested he auction off the starter.  Several interested (and interesting) people arrive to bid, the starter is missing, Peter is murdered, and the Sourdough War ensues. 

As with the first Rebecca Schwartz mystery, the story proceeds with a touch of San Francisco, a bit of Jewish family life, and a measure of humor.  Smith moves the story along to a somewhat unexpected and action filled conclusion. 

I found this cozy mystery to be a satisfying and entertaining read.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Leslie Diehl was kind enough to invite me to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop in which authors are invited to talk about what they are working on.  The blog hop has been going on for some time, and for the most part, those who want to participate have already done so.  I suppose I’m bringing up the tail end of this little piece of BSP (blatant self promotion).

Leslie has a beautifully done and informative blog at http://anotherdraught.blogspot.com.  Visit and check her out.  She has interesting posts about writing and other writers as well.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:


What is your working title of your book?


Imperfect DaddyA Sophia Burgess and Ray Stone Mystery

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The truth is that I’m releasing the book next month and have taken this opportunity for BSP.  In fact, my signing for the book is on at 7 p.m. on February 1 at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore in Delray Beach.

Where did the idea come from for the book?


All of my mysteries feature bright, edgy, dedicated nurses who go beyond expectations to get the job done, often risking their professions and their lives in the process.

For Imperfect Daddy, my brain tagged onto a piece I read about child abuse.  The rest of it grew somewhere in the back of my brain and spilled out, as is the case with all my stories.  Child abuse is a somewhat taboo topic, or so I was told when I shopped the manuscript around for an agent.  I’ve tried to handle it in a sensitive
manner for all of the concerned characters.

What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery.  Subgenre: Medical mystery, amateur sleuth, and female sleuth

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?


Wow!  I should dream that big.  Jolie and Pitt!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


Sophia nurses a child rape victim and gets pulled into the investigation,
then she antagonizes the wrong man.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


I will release it on for Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace in January, 2013.  That translates to independently published.  Now the self-published authors are called Indies
which is a step up I suppose.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?


It took a good year.  I work full-time teaching nursing school, so I write when I can.  But, of course, that is only the beginning.  As an Indie author, I am not blessed with an agent or editor, so I work with a critique group.  I submit each chapter for critique, suffer through the sometimes brutal comments, then rewrite to make it better.  I believe independent authors have a responsibility to make their novels as cleanly written as possible.  Critique groups, beta readers, and unsuspecting husbands make that possible.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?


I was inspired by Barbara Parker, but I’d never claim to compare.  Perhaps the only comparison is the female protagonist has an ongoing and evolving relationship with her alpha-male boyfriend.  I aspire to write like Barbara did.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?


I don’t think that nurses get enough credit for the work they do or that abuse issues get enough publicity.  I intend to center all of the Sophia Burgess and Ray Stone Imperfect Series books around abuse issues.  The next one, I think, will deal with elder abuse.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?



Each of my books has a focus on a medical or nursing issue as a subplot.
In Imperfect Daddy, the subplot deals with the courage and
challenges of a young woman with Multiple Sclerosis.

Please visit the following blogs and see what the authors are up to.

Christy English:  A Writer’s Life:  Working with the Muse
http://www.christyenglish.com/2012/09/26/the-next-big-thing-find-out-what-im-working-on-next/

Stephanie Cowell, author of the beautiful novel CLAUDE AND CAMILLE
http://www.stephaniecowell.com/blog.htm

The Real Writer: Write For You: Inspiration. Information. Imagination. http://www.therealwriter.com/my_weblog/2012/10/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop.html

Brykan Chaffin’s GeekTells
http://geektells.com/work-in-progress-blog-hop-the-next-big-thing/

Michelle A. Hansen
http://www.michelleahansen.com/2012/09/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop-week-14/

Book Review: Hot Rocks by Randy Rawls

Randy Rawls’ mystery, Hot Rocks, features Elizabeth (Beth) Bowman as a tough, sassy, intelligent, occasionally feminine PI who’s building a career in South Florida. 

Beth contracts to investigate yet another wandering husband, but this time the case becomes a bad headache.  She follows the man to a hotel room, enters the room because she hears someone being threatened, and ends up knocked unconscious.  The man, who is really not anybody’s husband, is dead, the gun used in the murder belongs to Beth, and the police cast a suspicious eye in her direction.  The only good that comes of the whole mess is that she meets the hunky Dr. Rasmussen when he tends to her wounds. 

While fighting to save her reputation and career, Beth tangles with thugs, is befriended by street people, falls for the good doctor, and follows a trail leading to hot rocks and life-threatening danger. 

Hot Rocks is an entertaining, fast-paced read filled with surprises, drama, a bit of romance (sorry Randy), and a good measure of humor.

Book Review–Crossed: A Jayden Morrow Mystery by C.J. Graves

Crossed: A Jayden Morrow Mystery by C.J. Graves was a pleasant surprise.  I downloaded the book for free onto my Kindle application.

Jayden Morrow, a private investigator and karate devotee, is a former MP who served in Iraq.  She carries some baggage from the war and from her life before the military.  When her sister talks her into taking on a murder investigation–a young man at the sister’s church is accused to murdering his girlfriend–she balks but then agrees.  The result is that she ends up tangling with a powerful leader of a mega church and his minions.  The resolution was a surprise, and I found the ending satisfying.

I didn’t know that Jayden was female for several electronic pages.  Keep in mind that this comment comes from Gregg–the girl.  I’m perhaps overly sensitive to that sort of thing, but my initial image of the protagonist was of a male.  When I discovered Jayden was female, it stopped me.  I was motivated to go back a few pages to see what I missed rather than reading on.

Based on the blurb, I expected a readable story.  I was pleased to find not only a good story, but decent storytelling as well.  This indie book was also well-edited and properly formatted.  I recommend it as an enjoyable read.

Book Review: Mama Sees Stars: A Mace Bauer Mystery by Deborah Sharp

Mama Sees Stars is the fourth novel in the Mace Bauer Mystery series by Deborah Sharp.  Following the pattern set by the previous volumes, the humorous story unfolds in the fictitious central Florida cattle town of Himmarshee. 

A Hollywood production crew sets up camp in Himmarshee to film a historical movie featuring cowboys, horses, and cattle.  Mace Bauer hires on to manage the livestock, her sisters schedule vacation time to help, and Mama takes advantage of the situation to fraternize with the actors and secure a tiny part in the film.  When the movie’s executive producer is murdered—and Mace finds the body—the true personalities of the famous cast emerge.  Mace swears she will do her job with the animals and not get involved in the investigation, a vow she can’t keep as events escalate around her. 

Mama Sees Stars is humorous—laugh out loud funny in places—entertaining, and true to Sharp’s Florida roots.  I recommend it.

Book Review: Sorrow Without End: A Medieval Mystery by Priscilla Royal

Sorrow Without End:  A Medieval Mystery is the second novel in Royal’s series.  The story is set in 13th Century England in the Fontevrauldine daughter house of Tyndal.  Eleanor, a woman in her early twenties, is the prioress of Tyndal, which is a female lead organization of nuns and monks.  Tyndal’s prior recently died and two monks are in contention for the vacated position, providing some of the intrigue and back-story.

A distraught man brutally murders another returned crusader while on the road to Tyndal.  The man, who watched the crusader rape and murder his infidel wife while in Outremer, is overcome with grief and guilt, believing himself responsible for his wife’s death.

Ralf the Crowner (investigator for the sheriff) believes the murdered may be hiding among the sick and dying in Tyndal’s hospital.  Ralf, with Eleanor’s tenuous support and assistance, conducts the investigation within the bounds of Tyndal.  Ralf, his assistant, Eleanor, and Brother Thomas interview suspects and possible witnesses, seeking clues or inconsistencies.

As a lover of historical fiction, I found this story to be an interesting page-turner.  The details of the time and the description of the priory meshed with the story, feeling real.  I believe the author has done her research.  I recommend the book.