December 2020 Book Review Wrap Up

So many books, so little time! I am an avid reader and love to share recommendations with fellow readers. My choice in books tend to vary by my mood but some of my favorites are mystery, suspense, thriller, and humor. Get my reviews direct to your inbox every Wednesday and check back here for monthly features.

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Forgiving Stephen Redmond

By: AJ Sidransky

It’s a hot August day in New York when Detectives Tolya Kurchenko and Pete Gonzalvez are called to a Manhattan demolition site to investigate a strange discovery. Inside a wall on the third floor of a building, the construction crew has discovered a murder victim, fully dressed in a suit and hat. The discovery sends the detectives into an investigation of a decades old cold case.

Forgiving Stephen Redmond is the third installment in Sidransky’s Forgiving series and brings the series full circle. The story ties back to the first book in the series, Forgiving Maximo Rothman. Set in the 50s and 60s, the story explores the experience of Hungarian Jews who fled WWII Europe to the Dominican Republic, before immigrating to the United States. I found the cultural experience of this group, and the contrast in those who remained orthodox versus those who chose to become secular, very interesting.

The crime drama, at the heart of the plot, was well-developed and well-paced. It kept me guessing to the very end. The historical detail and various subplots interweave to create a compelling read. I highly recommend this book.

Forgiving Stephen Redmond is scheduled for release on January 16, 2021 through publisher, Black Opel Books.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Something in Madness, Book 3 in the Darkhorse Trilogy

By Ed Protzel

Something in Madness is the third, and final, installment in the DarkHorse Trilogy. Set in post-Civil War Turkle, Mississippi, Durk Hurst and his companions find themselves in a South that is still fighting to hold on to it’s way. Durk opens a law practice while attempting to recover the rights to his lost plantation.

This is a gripping work of historical fiction, which creates an action-packed depiction of American life in the Reconstructionist Era. Protzel does a remarkable job of highlighting the prejudice and violence faced by newly freed slaves suddenly thrust into a tumultuous world. The dialogue is well-crafted to portray the speech patterns of the time period. The story is well-paced. I was captivated from beginning to end.

While exploring a particularly dark period in our nation’s history, the story comes to a hopeful conclusion.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Butch: A Psychological Thriller, the Debut Novella by R. D. Weber

By: R. D. Weber

When a violent abduction rocks the small town of Chadwick, Detective Joseph Hinkler finds himself pursuing the investigation of his career. Nothing like this has ever happened in the quiet hamlet. But as the details begin to unfold, Hinkler finds himself dealing with something far more sinister than he could have possibly imagined.

Butch: A Psychological Thriller is a debut novella by author, R. D. Weber. This well-paced story will keep you guessing to the last. The characters are well-developed. I found Hinkler an empathetic character. This is a perfect crime drama to read in a single sitting.

Butch: A Psychological Thriller is pending a release date.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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The Book of Two Ways

By: Jodi Picoult

Dawn Edelstein life changes in a moment when an announcement on her flight is made to brace for impact. She survives the crash, and after being checked out by medical staff, is offered a flight to wherever she’d like to go. Home to Boston is the obvious choice. But her last thoughts in the moments before impact were not of her husband, waiting at home. But of a man she hasn’t seen in fifteen years.

Dawn’s life was interrupted when her mother becomes terminally ill. In another world, she is studying for her doctorate in Egyptology. But, as they say, life happens and her path changes completely. Dawn finds herself working as a death doula.

This one was difficult to put down. The story is brilliantly researched with fascinating details into the world of archeological research and dig sights. I also found Dawn’s career path as a death doula really interesting. What an incredible gift to give someone at the end of life. Providing care, support, and peace of mind is such a selfless act.

The title of the book alludes to Egyptian hieroglyphics that adored tombs in ancient times to provide souls paths to the afterlife. I found the exploration of how one choice can change a person’s path and the course of their life really interesting.

I found this a thoroughly engrossing story. An absolute pleasure.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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The Lost Shtetl

By: Max Gross

Imagine, if you will, a village so remote that time has seemingly passed it by. In his book, The Lost Shtetl, Max Gross transports us to a village, home to an Orthodox Jewish community, in a remote part of Poland that has been untouched by history. That is until a young woman, newly married, vanishes in the middle of the night. Suddenly, the village time forgot is rediscovered by the outside world.

Gross brings a very interesting approach in this story that asks the question, what if? The story is set post-Shoah but for this Jewish community, the Holocaust never happened. They were untouched by the Nazis, unaffected by the Cold War that followed. Unaccustomed to modern conveniences like electricity and running water. Living lives uncomplicated by modern technology.

The story takes some unexpected turns and is brilliantly paced. Gross’s writing invokes a wide range of emotions. The story is at times dryly witty and at others incredibly moving and emotional. I was rapt from start to finish and, without giving spoilers, the last line gave me chills.

I look forward to reading more from Gross.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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