Review: Buried by Ellison Cooper

Format: Hardcover
Pub Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Length: 356 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

An FBI agent and his working dog stumble across a cavern filled with human bones. And discover that fresh bodies are also being deposited in the site.
SSA Sayer Altair gets assigned to the case which would ordinarily require a task force. Only one problem: the FBI is being investigated and resources are scarce. She cobbles together a small team to help her investigate the horrendous crime scene, while also worrying about the political fallout in Quantico that is, partially, her fault. 
The complicated subplots dilute what should be an utterly terrifying book. The chapters that deal with an anonymous, powerful psychopath and the shitshow at the FBI headquarters don't serve the plot or the book at all. 
This is clearly a mid-series book with threads that lead to the book before and presumably the next book in the series. If you like every thread neatly tied up, this book will annoy you to no end. I actually liked the various subplots, some tied up and some left hanging. My main complaint was the flatness of the characters. I wanted to know more about them. Instead, they felt flat and didn't add much to the story. 
It's a decent book, but could have been excellent with tighter editing and character development. Recommended, but check it out from the library.
My Grade: C
The Blurb:
Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair studies the minds of psychopaths. But even she didn't expect to uncover a killer within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rooting him out and exposing internal corruption got her a bullet wound and six months of desk duty. Now, she’s finally back in the field, called in when an off-duty FBI agent and his cadaver dog fall into a sinkhole filled with human bones. 
Found deep in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the skeletal remains date back almost two decades, the same time a beloved local teen disappeared. The cold case quickly heats up when Sayer's team finds two fresh corpses among the bones. When a gruesome clue ties these new bodies to a woman recently kidnapped along with her young daughter, Sayer has to uncover the connection between the old bones and the new bodies before the mother and child become the next victims. 
But the killer is one step ahead, attacking her team and sabotaging their efforts. With Sayer's investigation compromised and unsure of who to trust, she receives unwanted help from Subject 037, one of the anonymous psychopaths she is currently studying. She has the chilling realization that he’s someone powerful in Washington D.C.―and he is not about to let a mundane serial killer jeopardize his own ominous agenda for Sayer…


Review: The Demon You Know (Others series) by Christine Warren

Format: Mass market
Pub Date: May 2007
Publisher: St. Martins
Length: 344 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: used copy from the TBR, purchase date unknown

Christine Warren is one of those authors who can be hit or miss with me. Some books I really enjoy, and others are kind of meh. This book, however, was actually bad. I almost DNF'd it, but stayed with it out of sheer stubborness.

Abby Baker, a low level employee for a local TV station who is unremarkable in every way except for having eyes of two different colors, gets caught on the street during a riot. While hiding from various violent factions, she ends up getting possessed by a fiend, a sort of evil spirit. NOT a demon, as we're told over and over and over again. Demons good, fiends bad.

Rule, an actual (good) demon, is on the hunt for a big bad fiend. He happens across Abby just as she's possessed by the fiend he's looking for, so he (of course) grabs her and carries her fireman style to an Others-friendly club. Abby considers it kidnapping; Rule considers it protective custody.

Much of the book consists of Abby trying to escape her involuntary confinement. There is a giant parade of secondary characters who don't really add to the story other than to confuse the narrative. Not only is Abby unremarkeable physically, her personality is rather bland as well (except for her determination to escape which constantly puts her in danger). The only interesting parts of the book are where she's arguing with the fiend who possessed her: a pervy, juvenile one named Lou.


June Reading Overview

I fell into a romantic suspense rabbit hole during June. Not only did I read the other two in the Flashpoint series by Rachel Grant, I read the entire 8 books in her Evidence series as well. They are fantastic archaeology/anthropology books where the heroines are nearly always as smart or smarter than the tough guys they're paired with.

Then I moved on to a Piper Drake series about military working dogs and some retired servicemembers who run a training center.

Mixed in there were a few rereads of Laura Lee Guhrke favorites (Guilty Pleasures is one of my all time favorite books) and a few ARCs of books due out this month.

I'm a hybrid reader: I read in both e and print, with the occasional audiobook, but for backlist gloms nothing beats the ability to one-click your way through a series as you finish. Binge reading for a mood reader is bliss. I might not have ventured outside all month if it wasn't the last month of schools for the kids.


Review: Black and Blue by David Rosenfelt

Format: Hardcover
Pub Date: March 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Length: 290 pages
POV: 1st, present
FTC: Review Copy courtesy of the publisher

This is the second Doug Brock thriller books I've read, and despite being written in the one tense and POV combo I despise, I really enjoyed it.

Doug Brock is a New Jersey state police officer with shooting related amnesia, which is a real drawback whenever he has to revisit a past case he can't remember, although it's a plus in his personal life, as it's allowed him a "do-over" with his one-time fiance, Jessie.

This new case is a serial sniper, and figuring out the connection between victims requires lots of interviews with family and witnesses: which is ten levels of awkward when you don't remember most of your past cases. I liked how tight the chapters were, how methodical the police work is. I liked the supporting characters, especially Jessie, which is why I wish the book were 3rd past instead of 1st present. I wanted more of her thoughts and feelings.

My only real issue with the book is the nonstop fat shaming of Doug's partner, Nate. It's constant and unnecessary.

Overall, a solid police mystery.

My Grade: B

Doug Brock hasn't had it easy since his getting shot in the line of duty as a New Jersey state police officer. Between the amnesia and having to solve two murder cases, it hasn't been the most restful recovery. He’s slowly earning back the trust of his girlfriend Jessie, since he doesn’t remember their breakup, and has focused on new crimes with his partner, Nate. 
But now an old case of Doug’s has resurfaced, and it’s up to Doug to retrace his steps – steps he can’t remember – to solve the case. Eighteen months ago, Walter Brookings was shot through the heart. With no clear motive and no similar murders, the investigation stalled and became a cold case. 
When another man is murdered in the same fashion and the ballistics come back as a match, Doug begins to reinvestigate, and starts to question his own actions from the previous investigation.Finally, what Doug uncovers may be more dangerous than any case he’s faced yet.


Review: The Time Collector by Gwendolyn Womack

Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Picador
Length: 386 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Way back when, in the days before college burnout, I was going to be a history teacher. Even though that never worked out, my love of history has never waned. This book made that nerdy bookworm happy, with its vignettes of various historical events and people.

Roan West is a psychometrist. He can see and experience the past of objects he touches. Sometimes he makes money with it, sometimes he uses it to return lost family heirlooms to their rightful owners. His friend, Stuart, has gone missing, but he gets sidetracked on his quest to find him by a viral video of a young woman just discovering her psychometry talents.

This is a genre-bending book. It has romantic elements, a mystery/thriller element, a historical fiction element, some mild paranormal themes, a quest...Pieces from all kinds of stories are woven in here, but I particularly liked how vivid and well researched the historical "flashback" scenes were. The author chooses some particularly painful events to tie to objects, and doesn't shy away from showing those events with unflinching honesty.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I did feel like the romance was a little shoehorned in. The author tells us the two characters are attracted to each other instead of showing us. I wanted some more emotion there on the page, because while this isn't genre romance, it is a book about all kinds of relationships, and the emotional connection just seemed muted.

My Grade: B
The Blurb:
Travel through time with the touch of a hand.
Roan West can perceive the past of any object he touches. A highly skilled psychometrist, he uses his talents to find and sell valuable antiques, but his quiet life in New Orleans is about to change. Stuart, a fellow psychometrist and Roan's close friend, has used his own abilities to unearth several "ooparts"―out-of-place artifacts that challenge recorded history. Soon after the discovery, Stuart disappears, making him one of several pyschometrists who have recently died or vanished. When Roan comes across a viral video of a young woman who has discovered a priceless pocket watch just by "sensing" it, he knows he has to warn her―but will Melicent Tilpin listen? And can Roan find Stuart before it's too late? The quest for answers will lead Roan and Melicent around the world, bringing them closer to each other and a startling truth.