Customer Reviews: Ashes to Dust (Las Vegas Mystery Book 2)
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on June 6, 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ashes To Dust (A Las Vegas Mystery Series)
Rex Kusler
AmazonEncore; Original edition (July 26, 2011)
4 Stars

When I read the first book written by Mr. Kusler, I knew I would have to continue on with the series. The crime fighting team of Alice James and Jim Snow from the first book are at it again. Both former Homicide Detectives they opened up the own Private Investigative agency known as James and James Detective Agency. Business is slow but it only takes one to get them busy like now. When a Las Vegas Cocktail Waitress, Laura Roberts is murdered her father Jack hires them to find her killer since he figures the police are not working fast enough.He just knows its Kevin Miller, Laura's on again, off again boyfriend, and that's why he plans to stalk him daily till the police arrest him.

With little clues to go on we soon find there are plenty of suspects and that Laura is not the sweet little innocent girl her daddy thinks she is. From her boyfriend to her dentist, to the girl she rooms with and any number of other friends, Alice and Jim have to sift through the list and bring the reader to a surprise ending. With all the suspects involved in the case,its up to Alice and Jim to see if they can weed out the innocent, and find the guilty one. Will they get to the bottom ofit and the truth come out.

This is a very fast read and delightful mystery with humor interspersed throughout. If youy are a mystery lover that likes the who-dun-it type books and tries to figure out the suspects from the clues throughout the book, then I feel you will enjoy book two in Mr. Kusler's newest Las Vegas Mystery Series "Ashes to Dust".
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VINE VOICEon August 1, 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
From Ashes to Dust was a fun and fast-paced read that gave a glimpse into residential Las Vegas. The characters were well written and likable, and the story had a nice pace. At times, it was a bit difficult to keep up with the multitude of characters, but it was easy to get back on track. The mystery was satisfying and not too complicated, making it a fun, quick read. The character contrast between the detective partners was enjoyable, and their relationship could easily evolve into a long-term relationship that would be fun to explore. Overall, an enjoyable story that could be the start to an entertaining mystery series.
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I enjoyed Rex Kusler's first book in the Las Vegas Mystery series -  but I liked "Ashes to Dust" more.

The protagonists, Jim Snow and Alice James (thus the James and James as the name of their business) are more comfortable together in this second book of the series, even though the characters aren't deeply developed. The plot is more cohesive, too.

This is a quick, light read with some fun moments scattered throughout. It was still (like "Punctured") able to surprise me at the end, though.

I'm off to read the third book in the series now - Desert Drop (Las Vegas Mystery).

This was another Amazon Encore published book - the third that I've read, I believe, and I have liked them all so far.

Oh, and if you are expecting a poker playing character, Jim Snow seems to have left that life behind to solve crimes. Also, this is a different Las Vegas than the Strip and all the glitz and glamour. This is residential Las Vegas and buffets at smaller casinos.
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VINE VOICEon July 21, 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jim Snow and Alice James who were together in Rex Kusler's Punctured team up again in a plot to find the killer of a Las Vegas cocktail waitress named Laura Roberts. Laura turns out to be the center ofthe plot of a not too nice person and the plot to find her killer involves several characters who are described well. You'll be doing a lot of guessing in the who-done-it. It's easy and light reading, and the involvement of Jim and Alice with each other is often humorous.
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on June 27, 2014
Since first joining forces in Punctured, Alice James and Jim Snow have been a great—if odd—crime-fighting team. He’s a forty-something former Las Vegas homicide detective who quit the force to become a full-time poker player. She’s a model-turned-cocktail waitress whose foray into casino security led her into law enforcement. Together they are the James & James Detective Agency, and their newest case is a doozy. Jack Roberts comes to them for help solving the brutal murder of his daughter Laura, a cocktail waitress whose body was found burning in the Nevada desert. Among the suspects: an obsessive ex-boyfriend, a mentally unbalanced construction worker, a temperamental roommate, a shady fiancé…perhaps even the client himself! Alice knows that if they can crack this case, business will come pouring in. But first she will have to manage Snow’s ill-timed midlife crisis and deal with the chemistry crackling between them. Ashes to Dust is pure entertainment, sure to please even the most hardboiled of mystery fans.
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VINE VOICEon June 11, 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am an avid mystery reader so I'm always on the lookout for a new series I can get into. This one has all the right elements in the set up. The book has an interesting detective team -- Alice James the outspoken black woman (former police detective) and Jim Snow the laid back white detective who left the force to become a professional gambler. A setting that gives them unique opportunities for story telling -- nothing more unique than Vegas. And a plausible premise -- two former cops decide to launch a detective agency.

So all the elements were there...but the author didn't develop any of the elements. There were so many story lines beyond the actual mystery, he couldn't take any of them anywhere interesting or the book would have been 800 pages.

~ Alice and Jim are flirting with getting involved with each other...but should they?
~ Alice's birth father abandoned her at birth, is filthy rich and she knows where he is...will they connect?
~ Jim is only half heartedly doing this detective stuff, he doesn't even want to carry a gun. Will the agency survive?
~ And several others...

Oh yeah, and there's a mystery to solve in there. The mystery itself is sort of predictable and how they discover the killer's identify is anti-climatic. There are too many red herrings (seems like everyone is crazy in Vegas) and the author didn't use his backdrop. This mystery could have been set in Virginia, Florida or Oregon without many copy edits. So even the character that is Las Vegas remained shallow and flat.

I really wanted to like these characters and this book. But in the end, I didn't care. I didn't care who murdered the victim, I didn't care if Jim and Alice got together and I didn't believe the whole "birth father" story line because it was so ridiculous.

Amazon calls this one of their AmazonEncore books - "an exceptional yet overlooked book that Amazon works to re-introduce to readers." Well, if Amazon thought this book was exceptional -- they need to read more.
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on June 20, 2012
This was really more pleasing than I thought it would be. I had previously read Punctured, the first in the series, and had enjoyed it. This one is much better, much stronger novel. It's a quick read. Likable characters. Nice plot and twists. But what I liked most about it was the humor in it. Jim Snow is hilarious. He can make you laugh out loud in the middle of investigating a gruesome murder. And he did, several times.

It's a murder mystery but it's not a really heavy one. After reading four Harry Bosch novels in one week, I turned to Ashes To Dust because I knew it would be lighter, yet enjoyable reading. I was not mistaken.
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on April 12, 2016
I really enjoyed this book because as you get into it you actually start thinking every person that is involved is guilty. It seems like each person could have a possible motive. Keeps you thinking. I just woke up at 1 AM and had to finish it.
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on August 11, 2012
AHSES TO DUST, by Rex Kusler, starts with a bang, with the dead body right there in the first sentence. The tightly-plotted book speeds along and before too long, there are plenty of suspects, from the ex-boyfriend to the roommate and her fiancé. With classic twists and turns, red herrings, and plenty of questionable characters to choose from, I didn't know who the killer was until the conclusion was almost upon me.

The two main characters, Alice James and Jim Snow, are about as far apart on the spectrum as sweet and sour, with dispositions to match. Alice, a former model and cocktail waitress, brings the sweet, while Jim, the ex-homicide detective and card shark, brings the sour. The two keep up a lively flirtatious banter, making for fun, easy reading. The suburbs and streets of residential Las Vegas provide an unusual backdrop, as it's a part of the city that's not typically used as a setting.

If you like mysteries with puzzles, fun characters, and an unusual setting, try ASHES TO DUST. I'm looking forward to seeing what's ahead for these two.

Nancy Wood is the author of "Due Date"
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on June 1, 2014
It's a light read, what I call an airplane book. Some of the dialog seems awkward, and there is the obligatory scene at the final pages of the book where the villain is revealed. I stopped reading this series after this book (#2).
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