Tag Archives: Mystery

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.


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 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).

Book Review: “Bikini State Red”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Paul Whiteman published the novel “Bikini State Red” in 2019. This looks to be his first publication.


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 little Violence. The story is set in the 1990 era UK. There are several characters that are important in the novel. Commander Tom Falconer is the most prominent character.


The gist of the story is that the Royal Navy has been conducting tests of a secret missile system in the North Sea. While the test vessel is on the return trip to the UK things disappear. Missing is the principal scientist, a sample missile, and secret documents. Falconer has retired but becomes involved in the investigation. He is looking for a former crew member who disappeared after the ship had arrived back in the UK.


The Russians are behind the left of the secret information. The story becomes a mystery/thriller as the identities of the Russian agents are pursued. There is also the matter of the men who have disappeared.


I enjoyed the 5.5 hours I spent reading this 202-page mystery/thriller. Even though the plot was simple, I liked it. It was a ‘lightweight’ thriller and was a little slow. The cover art is very plain, but it is OK. I give this novel a 3.7 (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: “Keep Calm and Carry On, Children”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Sharon K. Mayhew (https://skmayhew.blogspot.com) published the novella “Keep Calm and Carry On, Children” in 2019. This is her first publication.


I received an ARC of this novella through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novella as ‘PG’ because it contains a few scenes of Violence. The story is set in the UK during late 1940. The primary character is eleven-year-old Joyce Munsey.


Munsey and her eight-year-old sister Gina survive a German raid on London during the Blitz. Their parents decide that the girls need to leave for a safer location. They become part of the Operation Pied Piper exodus in September of 1940. Their destination is Leek, Staffordshire in the West Midlands of England.


On the long train ride to their temporary home, the girls meet two other children, Sam Purdy and Molly Neal. They are both about Joyce’s age. The Mumsey girls and Molly end up with caring foster families. Sam ends up with a man that just wants him for farm labor.


The kids all end up in Leeks and are able to continue their friendship. The kids stumble upon men involved in the black market. This puts them in a dangerous situation.


I enjoyed the 2.5+ hours I spent reading this 157-page young adult mystery. The mystery is ‘lightweight’, but that seems appropriate for a young adult book. I like the view of WWII as seen through young adults’ eyes. Clearly, this seems to be the start of a series of books describing the kid’s adventures. I like the selected cover art. I give this novella 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 Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 490 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: “We Are All The Same in the Dark”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Julia Heaberlin (https://juliaheaberlin.com) published the novel “We Are All the Same in the Dark” in 2020. Ms. Heaberlin has published six 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 a small rural town in Texas. The primary characters are the young policewoman Odette Tucker and Angelica Odette Dunn.


Tucker comes from a law enforcement family. When her father dies she returns home and joins the police. She has been quietly working on a Cold Case. A decade before she was in an auto accident where she lost her foot. That was the same night that her friend Trumanell Branson went missing. Branson’s father also disappeared. Everyone thought her younger brother Wyatt was responsible, but there was no evidence.


After years of searching Tucker thinks she may have the answer, but then . . .


Five years pass. Eighteen year old Angelica Dunn, shows up in town. Tucker had helped her years ago when she needed it the most. Now Dunn hopes to find out what happened to her.


I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5+ hours I spent reading this 332-page mystery. I liked this novel. The plot started a little slow, but it ended up with a great twist. I’m not crazy about the cover art, but is is OK. I give this novel a 4.6 (rounded up to a 5) 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).