Category Archives: Mystery

Book Review: “Tidal Rage”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author David Evans published the novel “Tidal Rage” in 2021. This is Mr. Evan’s first publication. 

I obtained this novel through promotion by the publisher. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence, mature situations, and mature language. The story is predominantly set on cruise ships. The primary character is Max Cutler an experienced Secret Service agent. 

Sebastian McKenzie is a very odd man. He is also a brilliant musician so his eccentricities are overlooked. He is part Asian and has an unusual look. He has spent years at sea being the star performer on one cruise ship after another. He doesn’t stay too long on any one ship. He isn’t very social but that isolation suits him well. He is an accomplished serial killer that no one knows exists. His first murder was of a neighbor girl as a child. Now his victim tally is in double digits. He has discovered that deaths at sea fall into a gray area. The next port of call handles the investigations. Missing passengers are often attributed to suicide or just wanting to disappear. The cruise lines just want any bad publicity to go away.  

Cutler has been working in Europe with Interpol. The case he is completing has put ex-Stasi agent Josef Werner behind bars. Werner has been making millions counterfeiting US currency. Cutler’s work on the case is disrupted when his 18-year-old sister Elisa disappears. She has been on a cruise with their parents. Cutler takes a leave of absence and flies to Alaska to meet his parents. The gray area on crimes at sea emerges as he begins his investigation. He resigns from the Secret Service and forms his own investigation agency to focus on crimes at sea. 

Werner uses his organization and wealth to arrange an escape from custody. Cutler’s attention is fixed on the tragedies his family has suffered. Even with the disappearance of his sister he has not forgotten about Werner. He has a new employee looking for Werner. Cutler and his team must face challenges from many fronts. He wants to bring both Werner and those behind his sister’s disappearance to justice.

I enjoyed the 8.5+ hours I spent reading this 297-page thriller. There were a few ‘technical errors’ in the story and the writing is not the best. That said the story is a very enjoyable thriller and a quick read. The selected cover art is appropriate to the story. I give this novel a 3.8 (Rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “The Hollywood Spy”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Susan Elia MacNeal published the novel “The Hollywood Spy” in 2021. Ms. MacNeal has published 10 novels and two non-fiction books. This is the 10th novel in her ‘Maggie Hope Mystery’ series. The novel went on sale on July 6. I had the opportunity to interview Ms. MacNeal earlier this year. You can read the interview here

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains a few scenes of violence and mature language. The story is set in 1943 Los Angeles, CA. The primary character is Maggie Hope. 

Ms. Hope has already enjoyed quite an unusual career. She has dropped behind German lines as an SOE agent. She has also helped both MI5 and Scotland Yard with investigations. She has now traveled to California to aid her friend and former fiancé, RAF officer John Sterling. The body of a young woman, Gloria Hutton, was found floating in the swimming pool of the Garden of Allah Hotel. Stirling had been engaged to her. He asked for Hope’s help because of concerns that the death was not an accident. 

Hope arrives on the scene with her friend Sarah Sanderson. Sanderson has gone to Hollywood to dance in a movie. She, Hope, and Stirling are friends from London. Hope does not waste any time and begins asking questions and digging into Hutton’s death. She had hoped for assistance from the local police, but they are not proving helpful. Not only is there the mystery to solve, but Hollywood, like much of the country during the summer of 1943 is tense. The concern for the war is only part of it. 

Racial tension and confrontations have appeared across the country. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan continue to stir up trouble in the LA area. Compounding the situation are strong Nazi sympathies even after months at war. Ms. Hope must determine on her own if the death of Hutton was an accident. Only then can she begin to investigate who killed her and why. 

I enjoyed the 8+ hours I spent reading this 368-page WWII era mystery. I have read three of the Maggie Hope mysteries and I enjoyed them all. Ms. MacNeal has done a wonderful job of mixing historical facts into her fiction [Follow Ms. Hope on Twitter for daily posts about the war]. She has also been able to find a way for Maggie Hope to run into several celebrities of the age. These mystery/thriller novels are enjoyable, though not books to keep you on the edge of your seat. I do like the chosen cover art. It is eye-catching and portrays the glitz of 40s Hollywood. I give this novel a 4.2 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 550 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: The Bounty

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Authors Janet Evanovich (https://evanovich.com) and Steve Hamilton (http://authorstevehamilton.com/) published the novel The Bounty: A Novel. It was just released last week on March 23, 2021. Ms. Evanovich has published more than 30 novels. This is the 7th in her ‘Fox and O’Hare’ series. Mr. Hamilton has published 16 novels on his own. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The story is set across Europe and North Africa. The main characters are FBI agent Kate O’Hare and criminal Nick Fox. 

Earlier O’Hare had tracked down the charming international criminal Fox and arrested him. After negotiating a deal he now works with the FBI to close other cases. O’Hare has reluctantly become his handler. While their relationship began as adversaries, a bit of romance has emerged. 

The two find themselves pitted against The Brotherhood. They are a clandestine group with ties back to the Vatican Bank priests who helped the Nazis during WWII. They are now searching for a lost train carrying $30 billion in gold. O’Hare and Fox find themselves in a race to follow the clues and find the treasure before The Brotherhood. With Interpol penetrated by the Brotherhood, they find themselves on their own. They reach out to their only reliable potential allies, their fathers.

Clues lead them from one tight spot to another. The Brotherhood always seems to be just half a step behind them. Every encounter exposes them to more danger. 

I enjoyed the 6+ hours I spent reading this 316-page mystery novel. The pursuit of clues reminds me a little of Robert Langdon’s The DaVinci Code. While not the most exciting mystery, it was enjoyable. I do like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “Germania: A Novel of Nazi Berlin”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Harald Gilbers published the novel “Germania: A Novel of Nazi Berlin” in 2020. This is his first English publication and the first of his Richard Oppenheimer series. Read my interview with author Harald Gilbers.


I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The story is set in 1944 Berlin. The primary characters are Jewish former Police Inspector Richard Oppenheimer and SS Hauptsturmfüher (Captain) Vogler.


Oppenheimer had been living a secluded life since his dismissal from the police. He had been able to avoid the plight of most Jews because his wife is a gentile. The Sicherheitsdienst (German SS intelligence) wake him and his wife Lisa one morning.


They take Oppenheimer to the site of a brutal murder. A young woman has been killed. SS Hauptsturmfüher Vogler is leading the investigation. Vogler recruits Oppenheimer to assist as a consultant. Oppenheimer has little choice but to cooperate.


The investigation proceeds over a period of weeks from May 7 until June 25. The murder is the work of a serial killer. The killing won’t stop until they find the perpetrator. Vogler receives criticism for involving a Jew. Oppenheimer fears more than once for his very life.


There is more than just a murder investigation going on. The Nazi leadership wants a quick solution. They also want to make sure that there are no ties back to the party.


I enjoyed the 16+ hours I spent reading this 348-page WWII era mystery. The situation of a Jew working with the SS in wartime Berlin provides a very different setting. The mystery itself is a little slow and dull, but the image of wartime Berlin is interesting. There are a few abrupt transitions between characters. This makes it a little difficult to read. The selected cover art is not great, but it does fit the image of a Police Inspector. I give this novel a 3.9 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 510 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Don’t Look for Me”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Wendy Walker (https://www.wendywalkerbooks.com) published the novel “Don’t Look for Me” in 2020. Ms. Walker has published five novels.
I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence, mature language, and mature situations. The story is set in rural Connecticut. The primary characters are Molly Clarke and her twenty-one-year-old daughter Nichole.


Molly has been to see her son play football and is on her way home. She runs out of gas in the midst of a huge storm. The next day the police find her car abandoned on the side of the road outside the small town of Hastings. There is no sign of Molly. The police discover her credit card was used at a nearby hotel. They begin to think that Molly simply walked away from her life.


This fits with the Clarke family circumstances. Five years earlier to the day Molly had killed her youngest daughter in a traffic accident. Her family had begun to fall apart after that. Walking away from it all seemed to be a reasonable conclusion.


Nichole had fought with her mother just before she disappeared. Now she is desperate to find her. When a new lead comes up Nichole travels back to Hastings. She had been there while the police had been searching. It has been two weeks since her mother disappeared. She doesn’t want to go home without her.


Nichole finds that the residents of Hastings have many secrets. Nichole can’t tell who to trust. Someone she has met in Hastings knows what happened to her mother.


I thoroughly enjoyed the 6+ hours I spent reading this 345-page mystery. The story is a little unusual. The part told from Molly Clarke’s perspective is in the first person. Ms. Walker has done a superb job of creating a compelling plot. Twists and a surprising ending all contribute to making this a very enjoyable read. The selected cover art is simple but feels like a good choice. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “If I Disappear”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Eliza Jane Brazier published the novel “If I Disappear” in 2021. This is Ms. Brazier’s first publication. I have had the opportunity to interview Ms. Brazier and you can read that interview here.


I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The story is set in a remote part of Northern California. The primary character is Sera Fleece. A divorced woman in her 30s who has become obsessed with a true-crime podcast.

Another young woman, Rachel Bard, produces the podcast. When the podcasts suddenly stop, Fleece feels driven to find out what happened to her. Fleece drives to the small town near where Bard lived. She finds her way to the Fountain Creek Guest Ranch. Bard’s parents own and run the ranch.


Fleece got undercover. She is nervous and has been fighting mental disorders for several months. She gets hired at the ranch as a summer worker and begins to investigate. The clues are few and the suspects plentiful. So many are keeping secrets.


I enjoyed the 7+ hours I spent reading this 304-page mystery. I have to say that I found this novel a bit odd. Part of that is from the first-person narrative. The flow of the plot also felt a little disjointed. Fleece turns out to not be much of a ‘detective’. I do not like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 3.4 (rounded down to a 3) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “Blame the Dead”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Ed Ruggero (http://edruggero.com) published the novel “Blame the Dead” in 2020. This is his first novel, but he has published a few non-fiction books.


I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Language, and Mature Situations. The story is set in WWII Sicily. The Primary character is US Army First Lieutenant Eddie Harkins. He is a former Philadelphia beat cop who is now in the Military Police.


Harkins has most been dealing with minor issues – traffic, drunkenness, fighting. Suddenly he finds himself appointed as the investigator for a murder. After an air raid on the US Army’s 11th Field Hospital occurs, the body of a surgeon is found.


At this time in 1943, Sicily is a war zone. The hospital is relatively near the front lines. The hospital is dealing with heat, dirt, the threat of a German counterattack, and a flood of wounded GIs. There are many who don’t like Harkins digging into their business. he is wondering if he is over his head with the investigation.


The only good thing about it is the chance it gives him to reacquaint with nurse Kathleen Donnelly. Donnelly is a childhood friend from his neighborhood in Philadelphia. She may be growing into more than an old friend!


The obstacles everyone is throwing at Harkins gives him little hope. The hospital staff seems to have many secrets. When he and those closest to him become targets, Harkins resolves to find the killer.


I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5+ hours I spent reading this 330-page WWII mystery. I liked the Harkin character and the setting of the mystery. I think that the author has done a good job weaving details of WWII into his story. I look forward to reading further novels in this series. The cover art is OK but seems to have little connection to the story. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


— — —

If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 500 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “All the Best Lies: A Mystery”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Joanna Schaffhausen (https://www.joannaschaffhausen.com) published the novel “All the Best Lies: A Mystery” in 2020. Ms. Schaffhausen has published three novels, all in her “Ellery Hathaway ” series.


I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Situations. The story picked up shortly after book #2 (No Mercy: A Mystery) ends.


The primary characters remain FBI agent Reed Markham and suspended police officer Ellery Hathaway. Markham has been promoted and now has some latitude with the cases he investigates. He takes the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to examine the circumstances of a murder. More than forty years ago his mother Camilla died from a brutal knife attack leaving him an orphan. The mystery remains unsolved.


Markham asks Hathaway to travel with him and assist in his inquiry. He has evidence that a connection exists between his adoptive father and his mother. The two poke and prod those who are still around. Before long they uncover a trail to the killer. At the same time the relationship between Markham and Hathaway heats up. The liaison is far from smooth. Before it is over one of them finds themselves staring down the barrel of the killer’s gun.


I thoroughly enjoyed the 7+ hours I spent reading this 328-page mystery. I have been fortunate to read both of the previous novels in the series (“The Vanishing Season: A Mystery” and “No Mercy: A Mystery“). This one is every bit as good as those and I am looking forward to the next volume in the series. Both of the characters carry a lot of personal baggage. While you could read this novel on its own, it would be best to start with the first one in the series. The cover art is good but does not seem to be tied to the plot. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.


My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “No Mercy: A Mystery”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Joanna Schaffhausen (https://www.joannaschaffhausen.com) published the novel “No Mercy: A Mystery” in 2019. Ms. Schaffhausen has published four novels, all in her “Ellery Hathaway” series. This is the second novel in that series.


I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story picks up a short time after the first novel “The Vanishing Season” ends. The primary characters remain FBI agent Reed Markham and Police officer, Ellery Hathaway.


Hathaway is suspended pending the review of her shooting at the end of the first novel. Markham is back working at the FBI and is a candidate for promotion. Hathaway gets involved with a rape victim. She meets her through the therapy group she is reluctantly attending.


Hathaway also meets a woman at the group sessions who survived a fire that took her young son. She begins digging into both cases and calls Markham for help. Markham has been warned that his work with Hathaway will endanger his career, but he goes anyway.


Hathaway knows the poking around will not endear the authorities to her return to duty. She feels like she needs to help both women. As they get deeper into their investigations, there are those that want to stop them.


I enjoyed the 7.5 hours I spent reading this 321-page mystery. I liked these two characters in the first novel. I still find them interesting in this volume. Both are a bit broken but have a tenacity for finding the truth. The cover art is OK, but I think something better could have been chosen. I’ve enjoyed the first two novels in the series and look forward to more. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.


My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “The Vanishing Season”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Joanna Schaffhausen (https://www.joannaschaffhausen.com) published the novel “The Vanishing Season: A Mystery ” in 2017. This is the first of her “Ellery Hathaway” series. She has published four novels.


I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is set in Woodbury, MA. The primary character is Abby (aka Ellery) Hathaway.


Hathaway knows about serial killers first hand. She was taken when she was a young girl. She was the final victim and lone survivor of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. She has moved on with her life and taken her middle name. She is also a law officer in Woodbury and no-one there knows of her past.


She believes that there is a serial killer in Woodbury, but no one takes her seriously. When the time of the year comes around again for another person to disappear, she reaches out for help. She contacts FBI Agent Reed Markham, the man who rescued her from Coben.


Reed has fallen upon difficult times since he saved Hathaway. Even though he is on leave from the FBI he decides to go see Hathaway. Hathaway’s request for help does not go down well with her department. Before long though, Hathaway and Reed begin to find evidence to support her theory. Their progress does not go unnoticed by the killer.


I enjoyed the 7+ hours I spent reading this 279-page mystery. The character of Hathaway is damaged. She went through too much at the hands of Coben to be normal. Nor has she been able to confront her feelings. She has few friends and is a loner. She needs Reed’s help but has a difficult time trueing him. Reed has made some professional mistakes and is separated from his wife and daughter. he makes an effort to avoid alcohol and give Hathaway the best help he can. I understand whey the cover art was chosen, but I am not a fan too it. I give this novel a 4.4 out of 5.


You can access more of my book reviews on my Blog ( https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/).


My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).