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Debra Purdy Kong "Mystery Author" RSS Feed (British Columbia)

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Quinn Checks In (Liam Quinn Mysteries Book 1)
Quinn Checks In (Liam Quinn Mysteries Book 1)
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Complex, and Well Written, April 28, 2015
Insurance investigator Liam Quinn is faced with a big challenge and a lot to prove. The challenge is to find a valuable painting stolen during a party at a small art gallery. Liam also needs to prove to his family that, after serving three years in prison for art forgery, he's turned his life around. Thanks to a sympathetic family friend, this job gives Liam a chance to redeem himself with his retired cop father. He also needs to repay the huge amount of court-ordered restitution. Needless to say, several unsavory characters would rather see Liam die than succeed.

Quinn Checks In is one of the most engaging mysteries I've read this year. The plot is interesting and complex, but the character of Quinn really stands out. This guy is smart, remorseful, flawed, and completely likeable. Given that ex-cons can't carry guns, he uses his boxing skills to stay alive. He draws on contacts from both the criminal and cop world for help and information. Family dynamics are also interesting with a cop brother who hasn't forgiven Liam, another who's a priest, and a strong Irish mother who's not shy about giving her opinions.

As the story unfolds, more unsavory characters appear in subplots. All the names and relationships became a little confusing at times, however everything wraps up nicely at the end. This series is definitely worth reading.

Farewell, My Deuce: A Reed Ferguson Mystery (A Private Investigator Mystery Series - Crime Suspense Thriller Book 4)
Farewell, My Deuce: A Reed Ferguson Mystery (A Private Investigator Mystery Series - Crime Suspense Thriller Book 4)
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Blend of Cozy and P.I. Styles, April 25, 2015
P.I. Reed Ferguson is determined to find his missing friend, Deuce Smith. Deuce's disappearance is so uncharacteristic that both of his brothers believe something awful has happened to him. The leads Reed chases down gives him the same feeling. Will he even find Deuce alive?

Farewell My Deuce is a fun read that not only pays homage to the classic P.I. novels of the 40's and 50's, but also incorporates a distinct cozy flavor. Renée Pawlish's clever blend of both styles adds a welcome mix of suspense with lighter moments. The cast of secondary characters is equally appealing with a smart girlfriend whose nursing skills come in handy and a longtime buddy whose computer skills are also useful.

Although this is the fourth installment in the series, I didn't need to read the previous three to understand what's going on in Reed's personal and professional life. Other than the occasional short reference to a previous case, the story works well as a standalone. Mystery fans who love P.I. novels and cozies sprinkled with references to Humphrey Bogart and Chandler novels will likely enjoy this read.

Witch Hunt: An Urban Fantasy Mystery (Preternatural Affairs Book 1)
Witch Hunt: An Urban Fantasy Mystery (Preternatural Affairs Book 1)
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Mystery/Urban Fantasy, April 23, 2015
Cesar Hawke is a witch who works at the Magical Violations Department of the Office of Preternatural Affairs, a secret division of law enforcement that chases demons, rogue witches, and other creatures who wreak havoc in the human world. After a night of celebrating his latest capture, Cesar wakes up to find that the waitress he'd brought home has been shot dead in his bathtub. It isn't long before the police arrive and Cesar learns that his own department isn't going to help him out of this mess. The evidence against him is so overwhelming that Cesar has no choice but to escape and find the truth about a night he doesn't remember. Needless to say, others don't want him to find the truth.

Witch Hunt is the first in this series and it's pretty good. Cesar is a likeable character, his coworker and friend Suzy is interesting. The worlds within worlds and a couple of plot twists kept me turning the pages in a novel works well in giving equal weight to mystery and fantasy. Cesar's job and skills provide plenty of opportunity for further intriguing storylines in the series.

Having said that, this particular story doesn't have a lot of developed subplots or complexity in the main plot. While half dozen or so characters are introduced, including Cesar's brother and boss, there isn't a lot of backstory or extra layers, and the potential was certainly there. If the plot and obstacles had been ramped up and fleshed out in a few more places, the book would have been even better.

Death Comes eCalling (Book 1, Molly Masters Mysteries)
Death Comes eCalling (Book 1, Molly Masters Mysteries)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Enjoyable Cozy, April 18, 2015
While Molly Masters' husband is sent on a job overseas, Molly moves their two kids from Colorado to her parents' home in Albany, New York. It's a tough adjustment for all, but especially for Molly who's facing unresolved issues from her high school days. The largest one is to apologize to a teacher she wronged seventeen years earlier. When the teacher suddenly dies from a heart attack and Molly receives threats advising her to leave town, it looks like the move was a huge mistake.

Death Comes eCalling is a smart cozy that merges old troubles with present conflicts and uncertainty about the future. I like that the author doesn't set out to find a killer but is motivated by a desire to protect her children and make peace with the past. Although Molly takes a few risks in her quest for answers, the risks aren't outrageous.

As in many good mysteries, relationships are tenuous in this novel. The old high school jealousies and petty gripes were a bit predictable, yet Molly's desire to set up her own specialized eCard business adds a relevant spin. Homebased businesses created by busy, somewhat tech savvy single (and married) moms is something readers will relate to. O'Kane's smooth writing style clearly shows a skilled professional who enjoys writing in this genre. It will be interesting to see how relationships and Molly's career develop in future installments.

10 lb Penalty
10 lb Penalty
by Dick Francis
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $8.99
77 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Comfort Read for Cozy Fans, April 12, 2015
Seventeen-year-old Ben Juliard is pulled away from jockey training to help his father George campaign in his first by-election. George has obstacles to overcome by way of a popular opponent and the wife of the deceased politician George is replacing. Ben soon discovers that the father he's really never known is actually a charismatic and gifted speaker who presents a serious challenge to the opponent. Someone else realizes this too, given that George is shot at, his car tampered with, and his headquarters set on fire. Will George win the election or wind up dead?

10-lb Penalty is the first Dick Francis novel I've read in years. I forgot how smooth the writing style is and how well-drawn the characters are. While the book starts out to be your average cozy, it takes an interesting turn. The election result doesn't come at the end of the story but launches the start of new beginnings in Ben's life. In fact, the last third of the book quickly sketches the next five years until Ben is a gainfully employed twenty-two-year-old.

Aside from the plotting, I really liked George and especially Ben. At seventeen, Ben is bright and astute for his age, yet still plagued with teenaged angst and naivety. By twenty-two, his growing maturity is deftly portrayed as he helps his father deal with unresolved issues. This is a nice comfort read, which cozy fans will likely enjoy.

The Origin of Species
The Origin of Species
by Nino Ricci
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.02
49 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I'd Hoped For, April 5, 2015
This review is from: The Origin of Species (Paperback)
Twenty-six-year old grad student, Alex, is going through a tough time. After two years he's still struggling to nail down his dissertation theme and deal with unresolved relationship issues. He's sought a thesis supervisor and a therapist for his personal problems, but neither man is that helpful. Afraid that his life will be a total failure, Alex flounders in his attempts to turn things around.

I had high expectations for this book. After all, it's a Governor General's award winner written by a man who's already won many prestigious awards. Unfortunately, the novel fell flat for me. I've spent most of my adult life reading Canadian literature and literary magazines from accomplished writers who occasionally use academic settings. To my recollection, most of them have made academia seem tediously eccentric, petty, political, and above all boring. I realize that many authors come from this background and write what they know with confidence and authenticity. But that doesn't mean it will make interesting reading, even for those of us familiar with academic environments. I was hoping this book would break through and create a new perspective on the worn out eccentric, embittered professor angle and academic snobbery, but it didn't.

Set in Montreal in the mid 1980's, shortly after the Chernobyl disaster, there's also a fair amount of political discussion surrounding the Anglophone/Francophone debates which is again was more annoying than interesting. On the plus side, the angst Alex feels about past and present relationships and his future in general is something readers can probably relate to. Although the lengthy backstory sections were unnecessarily long, the scenes set in the Galapagos were so vividly described, in a negative way, that I'm glad I have no plans to ever go there. Personally, I wouldn't have chosen this book as a GG award winner, but as you know, prizes and preferences are completely subjective.

The Beggar's Dance
The Beggar's Dance
by Farida Somjee
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.86
8 used & new from $10.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Beautifully Written, March 25, 2015
This review is from: The Beggar's Dance (Paperback)
First, I want to disclose that I know the author from a critique group we both belonged to four years ago. At that time, Farida brought chapters of this book which I clearly remember for its Tanzanian setting and distinctive voice. I'm happy to see that The Beggar's Dance is now available for others to enjoy. To that end...

Life for eleven-year-old Juma and his mother isn't easy in Tanzania. They barely sustain themselves from begging on city streets. Constantly in danger at night, Juma and his mother hide to grab some sleep as best they can. When an acquaintance offers Juma a chance to make real money quickly, Juma is tempted. But others come into his world, people who offer different choices. Juma eventually must choose between sinking further into an abyss involving criminals and desperation, or working hard to educate himself in hope that he'll rise above his situation. Which choices does he make, and will he survive?

Set from the years 1977 to 1992, The Beggar's Dance is an insightful look at the politics, geography, and socio-economic diversity witnessed through the eyes of a protagonist born into poverty. The descriptions of city smells and lifestyles, and the gamut of emotions Juma experiences are beautifully portrayed.

Written in present tense, the story instantly engages the reader. The three sections depict different circumstances in Juma's life, but most of the story unfolds in the first two sections. The third section is much shorter and glosses over a certain period of time, adding an element of mystery about another change in Juma's life. I would have loved to have read more about his maturing, and how he managed to get to where he is by the end of the book. Having said that, the ending (which I never read in critique group) was quite satisfying. Great care was taken to ensure that the book was carefully edited, and it shows. For those who enjoy novels in unique settings, this is a terrific choice.

Ghostwalker (The Chronicles of Zanthora: Book One)
Ghostwalker (The Chronicles of Zanthora: Book One)
Price: $0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars A Story With Potential But Missed Opportunities, March 18, 2015
Ghostwalker, Kendril, is passing through the Howling Woods when he comes across a woman who's been tied up and is barely conscious. After rescuing the woman, Kendril soon realizes that she is being hunted. The woman he calls Jade doesn't remember her name, but Kendril feels bound to protect her. With the help of a diplomat named Maklavir, they manage to fend off the band of bounty hunters looking for Jade, but for how long?

Ghostwalker is the first in The Chronicles of Zanthora series and it's not a bad start. Kendril and Maklavir are interesting characters with a lot of potential. While the story was great on atmosphere, the plot was a bit thin. The book is one long chase scene with ebbs and flows from light humor to suspenseful danger.

Backstory would have added more depth to the story. For example, Jade starts remembering bits and pieces, but they aren't elaborated upon. Kendril appears to have had quite a past that he refuses to discuss. Maklavir also appears to have led an interesting life, but again too little reference is made to it. By the same token, we learn that bounty hunters have been hired to capture Jade, but why and by whom is never disclosed. Nor is their final destination revealed.

The missed opportunities made the story feel like it was floating along the surface without any anchor. Although some of these questions will likely be answered in the second book, the real question is if there was enough in the first installment to entice readers to buy the second. Some fantasy fans will find this book disappointing. Others might appreciate a quick read rather than a long, drawn out story. Although I wouldn't want a five-hundred-page book, I definitely wanted more from this one.

Dark Blonde: A Mike Angel Mystery (Mike Angel Mysteries Book 3)
Dark Blonde: A Mike Angel Mystery (Mike Angel Mysteries Book 3)
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Throwback to Earlier Times, March 11, 2015
Private eye Mike Angel has been hired by Julia Gateswood to find her sister who's been missing for four days. Ordinarily, Mike wouldn't be interested in the case if it wasn't for the fact that Julia is gorgeous and wealthy enough to pay him well. Since Julia's husband is campaigning to become a senator, she's desperate to avoid a scandal. But scandal is just what she gets as death and violence blast through Julia and Mike's world.

Set in 1962 Chicago, Dark Blonde is an entertaining, hardboiled mystery featuring a macho, reasonably intelligent, thirty-two-year-old protagonist who cheats on his girlfriend now and then. At least he's not a drinker, otherwise the stereotype would be a little too much. Nor is he a complete loner, thanks to longtime girlfriend Molly and his older, former cop partner, Rick.

Reminiscent of classic mysteries from the 40's and 50's, there are plenty of plot twists, secrets, and unsavory relationships to sort through before the truth is revealed. Most of the one-liners in the book would do Raymond Chandler proud, but a few were clunky or overwritten. Still it was fun to delve into old school crime detection before CSI, DNA, and GPS's began to dominate. More to the point, it's a good that kept me interested from beginning to end.

Strong Spirits (A Daisy Gumm Majesty Mystery, Book 1)
Strong Spirits (A Daisy Gumm Majesty Mystery, Book 1)
Price: $3.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Fit for Fans of Historical Cozies, March 4, 2015
Twenty-year-old Daisy Gumm Majesty makes her living reading tarot cards and communicating with the deceased relatives of rich clients. Daisy's favorite client, Mrs. Kincaid, desperately needs her services when her family begins to unravel. Wild daughter Stacy is arrested for drinking in a speakeasy. Days later, Mrs. Kincaid's nasty husband goes missing. Stacy accuses the stable boy, Quincy, of murdering him, but Daisy isn't sure that Kincaid is even dead. Unfortunately, the investigating detective thinks he is. Given that he doesn't approve of Daisy's career, she also comes under suspicion.

Strong Spirits is the first in this cozy mystery series set in 1920, Pasadena, California. The author provides so much detail about Daisy's life that I wouldn't have guessed this was a mystery in the first half of the book if it hadn't been labeled as such. Only at the halfway point, when Kincaid goes missing, does the mystery really get going. Even then there is only one clear suspect, yet two or three others have motives that could have been fleshed out a great deal more. There's not a lot of tension and suspense, but there is a great deal of historical flavor that reflects different social and moral codes from today. Fans of this genre will no doubt be entertained.

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