March Book Reviews Part One

Hey, readers! I read quite a few books this month, so in order not to make this post so long, I divided it into two parts.

Sealed Off

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I don’t read a lot of cozy mysteries with amateur sleuths, but I saw this one available for check out through my local library and decided to give it a try.

Julia Snowden helps run her family business, and she’s also overseeing renovations of an old family home. She and her boyfriend, Chris, also run a restaurant during the tourist off-season. When the body of one of the family’s clambake employees turns up, Chris’s ex-con brother is the prime suspect. Chris asks Julia to do some digging on her own in hopes of clearing his brother.

There is a secondary story of a hidden room found during the renovation of the family mansion. This, in my opinion, was much more interesting than trying to solve the murder.

Sealed Off was an okay read, but this is the eighth in a series. Just how many murders can happen in a small town and all of them solved by an amateur? Doubt I’ll bother to read the rest of the books.

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Coyote’s Regret

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I picked up a free copy of this book last year and it’s been on my Kindle for a while. It’s my first time reading this author, but the story sounded intriguing.

When a retired married couple is found dead in a remote section of Utah, Deputy Sheriff Manny Rivera is called upon to help solve the crime. At first, it appears to be a murder-suicide, but there are a few clues that lead Rivera to believe otherwise.

During the course of his investigation, Manny meets and questions two wealthy landowners, a reclusive war veteran, and members of a nearby Navajo tribe. When a third person is killed, the death confirms Manny’s suspicions the couple was murdered.

Who and why? The answer may be linked to an event that happened a half-century earlier during “The Summer of Love.”

The story is well-written, and the author (who spent many years in this part of the country) paints vivid descriptions of Southeastern Utah. I also learned a bit about the Navajo culture, which is of great interest to me.

This is the eighth book of the Manny Rivera series, but my first to read. Not being familiar with the others, I think this one is fine as a stand-alone novel. However, I am interested in reading more works by this author.

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Long Lost

Rating: 4 out of 5.

James Scott Bell is my go-to author when it comes to books about the craft of writing. However, I’ve read only a few of his fiction stories. I picked up a free copy of Long Lost last summer.

Steve Conroy is a thirty-year-old “almost divorced” lawyer who has kicked a cocaine habit and is trying to revive his struggling law practice. His life has been full of tragedy. When Steve was five, someone kidnapped and murdered his older brother. His father eventually committed suicide, and his mother died of cancer when Steve was ten.

His life in foster homes was less than ideal, but despite everything, Steve made it through law school, married, and had a successful practice until he succumbed to using cocaine.

The book opens with Steve having lost another “unwinnable” case. Not only that, but he’s also behind on his office rent and his landlord tries to kick him out. Enter law student Sienna Ciccone. She not only helps with getting his eviction overturned but also locates a potential client.

Johnny LaSalle is a convicted felon who is about to be paroled. The one-time white supremacist vows he has changed and has found God. He offers Steve a five-thousand-dollar retainer with a promise of more to come.

But the biggest surprise is that Johnny claims to be Steve’s long-lost brother, Robert. Steve always blamed himself for Robert’s kidnapping and death. With nothing to lose, he relocates from Los Angeles to the small town of Verner. His “job” was to represent Johnny and the man who raised him as his own son. Eldon LaSalle wants to incorporate his “church” as a non-profit organization.

Long Lost has elements reminiscent of the Branch Davidian cult in the 1990s. The book is part legal thriller and part mystery. Although there were a few things I thought could have been better (DNA testing, anyone?), I finished the book in a couple of days. Of note, the book was originally published in 2008 under the title of The Whole Truth.

Amazon Purchase Link

That’s it for now. The second half of my March reviews will post next week.

29 thoughts on “March Book Reviews Part One

  1. Thanks for the great reviews, Joan, and I have to say, your comment about the number of murders in a small town is one of the main reasons I’ve never been able to get into cozy mysteries. Glad I’m not the only one who’s wondered about that. The other two sound intriguing, and I’m making a note to check them out. Looking forward to March Reviews Part Two! 😊💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good reviews, Joan. Regarding Sealed Off, last week a woman renovating a real-life house in my mother-in-law’s little town in Kansas found a sealed off door. She put an ad in the newspaper asking if longtime residents knew the story about the sealed off room. How mysterious!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A varied assortment of books, Joan. I’ve been tempted by the Manny Rivera novels a time or too. Sounds like they would be worth looking into based on your review of Coyote’s Regret. Love that title, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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