When you look for my reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, you’ll find only four- and five-star ratings. One reason is that I rarely finish a book if I don’t like it by the end of page ten. The second reason is that I don’t want to discourage a reader who might find a book right up their reading alley, even if I didn’t care for it. The third reason is that I know how much work goes into writing a novel–the writing, the rewriting, the editing, the querying. Some novels take years to write and find their way to publication. No way I’m going to put down those efforts because the story or the characters didn’t suit my mood of the moment.
On the other hand, when you do see one of my four-or five-star reviews (or mini-reviews), you’ll know that author gave me hours of joy for one or more elements of the novel and that it suited my mood of the moment brilliantly. Here are three of my most recent five-star reads.
Every Cloak Rolled in Blood
by James Lee Burke
This novel is a continuation of the Holland Family series and features Aaron Holland Broussard, an elderly writer who is suffering after the unexpected death of his daughter. It’s hard to tell at times whether Broussard is experiencing a psychotic break or if he has truly blundered into the realm of spirits, both evil and benign.
Burke himself has lost a daughter, and that probably accounts for the depth of emotion in this book. The story made me cry more than once. I found no fault with the plot, the writing is brilliant (as always), and Broussard and his daughter’s ghost very sympathetic characters. Burke feels this is his best novel, and I agree that it’s the best of his novels I’ve read so far.
I read an advance review copy of this novel through Net Galley. The release date is May 24, 2022 and is available now for pre-order.
by Jodi Burnett
I am hooked on K-9 dog mystery series with female protagonists, so discovering Jodi Burnett’s Tin Cup K-9 series set in Wyoming on our Sisters-in-Crime-CO book club list was a nice find. The first book, Renegade, introduces Caitlyn Reed and her dog Renegade. They find the body of a missing young woman, and Caitlyn is shocked to discover her brother Dylan is apparently the last person to see the woman alive. In an even more shocking turn of events, the sheriff says the bullet that killed the woman came from Caitlyn’s handgun that she keeps locked in her truck. The writing is solid, the characters interesting, and the plot twisty enough to keep me turning the pages. I’m looking forward to reading the next books (Maverick, Marshal, Justice) in the currently 4-book series.
by Pamela Nowak
Pamela Nowak’s research is always meticulous for her historical fiction, and her detailed review of what’s true and what’s not true a gift to the reader. Necessary Deceptions: The Women of Wyatt Earp is a great example of her work. In this novel of frontier fiction, Nowak explores the lives of the two women who were married to Earp the longest, their dashed dreams and their broken lives as they try to survive in brothels, their lies as they attempt to reinvent themselves and Wyatt as well. The brothel scenes were pretty explicit, but they work for the story. Nowak’s writing is excellent.