Category Archives: Off-beat

A Review of Close to the Bone by Stuart MacBride

Close to the BoneClose to the Bone (Logan McRae, Book 8) 

by Stuart MacBride

One of these days I will learn that jumping into the middle of an ongoing series can be tough. This series is a bit tougher for us Yanks to dive right into, because a few of Mr. MacBride’s characters speak in a strong Scottish accent. But once you are able to put it all together, the story overcomes the obstacles and is quite good.

The police are an odd bunch of men and women that are always trying to jab at one another. It has a crazy feel, kind of like an old police sitcom, but with a real mystery to figure out and a crime to solve. The language can be a bit blue and maybe even more off-color than that if you really understand the dialect. But the writing is good, with a sense of reality to it. The plot keeps you off-balance and even though most of the clues are there, the majority of readers won’t figure it out before DI Logan McRae does.

I give this book 4 Stars out of 5 and a Thumbs Up. I think that if you are willing to put a little work into it, you will enjoy this series. It has a bunch of interesting and fun characters. I will be putting some of the earlier books on my to read list. I think that they will grow on you.

This novel would probably be easier to listen to as an audiobook than to read, so if you have that opportunity, go for it. I think I’ll see if my library has any of the first books in this series available as audiobooks.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from after being approved by HarperCollins.

Book Description

Release date: May 14, 2013 | Series: Logan McRae (Book 8)

The third consecutive No.1 bestselling crime novel from the author of the DI Logan McRae series and Birthdays for the Dead.

The first body is chained to a stake: strangled, and stabbed, with a burning tyre around its neck. But is this a gangland execution or something much darker?

Someone’s leaving little knots of bones outside Detective Inspector Logan McRae’s house, but he’s got more pressing things to worry about. Rival drug gangs are fighting over product and territory; two teenage lovers are missing; someone’s crippling Asian immigrants; and Logan’s been lumbered with an ambitious new Detective Sergeant, a mountain of paperwork, and the unwelcome attention of his superiors and the local crime boss.

When another body turns up, it looks as if the similarities between these murders and the plot of a bestselling novel are more than just a coincidence. And perhaps those little knots of bones are more important than they look…

Product Details

Hardcover: 528 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (May 14, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0007344260

ISBN-13: 978-0007344260

Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.9 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds

About the Author

Stuart MacBride was born in Dumbarton, near Glasgow and moved to Aberdeen at the age of two. After dropping out of university to work offshore he went to work for himself as a graphic designer, eventually becoming studio manager for a nationwide marketing company. He gave it all up to have a go at becoming an actor, until it became clear to him that he was never going to be good enough to make a decent living out of it. Whilst progressing through a whole new career in the IT sector ending up as project manager for a global IT company, he also wrote in his spare time.

Stuart MacBride is the author of several bestselling novels featuring DS Logan McRae, including Shatter the Bones, which reached No. 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list.

The McRae novels have won him the CWA’s Dagger in the Library, the Barry Award for Best Debut Novel, and Best Breakthrough Author at the ITV3 crime thriller awards.

Stuart’s other works include Halfhead, a near-future thriller, Sawbones, a novella aimed at adult emergent readers, and several short stories.

He lives in the north-east of Scotland with his wife, Fiona and cat, Grendel.

The book description is from Amazon  Close to the Bone (Logan McRae, Book 8)  and author information is from HarperCollins Author Profile

A Review of The Famous and the Dead by T. Jefferson Parker

The Famous and the Dead

The Famous and the Dead
by T. Jefferson Parker
Dutton Adult: April 18, 2013

This book is the final chapter in the series featuring Charlie Hood. This is a confusing book if you haven’t read the previous books in the series. There are devils and angels, and crooked cops delivering cash to the drug cartels in Mexico. One of the devils is holding an angel captive in a pit in a cave. The same devil gives a gun to a crazy guy and suggests that he use it to assassinate a politician. There are a lot of story lines that continue from earlier books in this series, but even if you aren’t at all familiar with the Charlie Hood books you will eventually be able to figure out what is going on. You won’t enjoy it as much as someone would who had read the whole series

I have only read a couple of the books in this series, so I was one of the people who had to work a little bit harder at understanding the intertwined stories. Some of the story was a bit contrived and didn’t have that ring of truth that the best novels provide.

I give this book 3 stars out of 5 and only recommend it to Charlie Hood fans.

I received this book for free from
Book Description
Release date: April 18, 2013

The explosive conclusion to T. Jefferson Parker’s New York Times bestselling Charlie Hood series
Los Angeles County sheriff ’s deputy Charlie Hood is attached to the ATF, working undercover on the iron river that flows across the U.S.-Mexican border. The diamond fillings he wears in his left canine glimmer, distracting the men who sell the illegal firearms that enable the unspeakable violence on both sides of the map. Spotting the sparkle when “Charlie Diamonds” opens his mouth is often their first step toward life behind bars.

Meanwhile, Bradley Jones, sheriff ’s deputy and employee of the Baja Cartel, son of the love of Charlie’s life, the deceased L.A. outlaw Suzanne Jones, is expecting a son of his own. Suzanne was descended from famed Mexican desperado Joaquin Murrieta, whose embalmed head Bradley inherited from her and keeps nestled among piles of cash, proceeds from Bradley’s own life of crime.

Charlie knows all of Bradley’s secrets; the question is what he’ll do with the information. Until he decides, his obsession remains the inexplicable existence of Mike Finnegan, the diminutive devil who flits in and out of both men’s lives, knowing things he shouldn’t, seemingly immortal.

Three men: earnest law-enforcer, inveterate lawbreaker, and the man who pits them against each other—hurtle toward one another in the jaw-dropping conclusion to T. Jefferson Parker’s mesmerizing vision of the border. Their climactic showdown brings to a spectacular close a crime series that obliterated the boundaries of the genre.

Product Details

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (April 18, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525953175
ISBN-13: 978-0525953173
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

Jefferson Parker is the bestselling and award-winning author of nineteen previous novels and a three-time winner of the Edgar Award. Formerly a journalist, Parker lives with his family in southern California.

The book description is from Amazon. The Famous and the Dead

A Review of Pale Horses By Jassy Mackenzie

Pale HorsesPale Horses

By Jassy Mackenzie

This well written detective thriller gives you a disturbing glimpse into the lives of the citizens of South Africa. Ms. Mackenzie presents the extent that lawlessness and the need to for self-protection is just an everyday part of the life of everyone living in South Africa. This is not the theme of the story, but rather the backdrop for the action. Very eye-opening, and it makes you glad that you aren’t subjected to that much violence.

The private investigator, Jade de Jong is an interesting and troubled person. She has some issues that must have been developed in the previous books in the series. Even though you know that she is dealing with something that happened in an earlier book, it doesn’t prevent you from reading and understanding what is going on in this book. It just makes you want to read those earlier works. You feel a strong empathy for her, even though you might not want her as a friend.

I enjoyed reading this South African puzzler. The story has a very realistic feel to it. There is plenty of action and quite a few unexpected twists. I am planning on reading some of Ms. Mackenzie’s earlier novels.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Description

Release date: April 16, 2013 | Series: Jade De Jong

Book 4 in the PI Jade de Jong thriller series set in South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa: At first, the case appears to be one of simple misadventure. Sonet Meintjies, a base jumper, falls to her death while attempting to parachute off a newly built sixty-five-story skyscraper. But Sonet’s jumping partner insists that this was no accident, and he hires private investigator Jade de Jong to uncover the truth.

Jade discovers that Sonet worked for a charity that helped impoverished communities become self-supporting farming units. When Jade travels out to the community farm in Limpopo, she finds it not just abandoned but razed to the ground. Digging deeper for answers about where the residents went, Jade learns about a fatal but unidentified disease that swept through the entire community. A deadly harvest has been gathered, and the person who knows the real truth about it has been forced to become collateral in its trade.

Product Details

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Soho Crime; Reprint edition (April 16, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616952210

ISBN-13: 978-1616952211

Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

Jassy Mackenzie was born in Rhodesia and moved to South Africa when she was eight years old. She is the author of three previous Jade de Jong novels, Random Violence, Stolen Lives, and The Fallen, and she edits and writes for the annual publication Best of South Africa.

The book description and author information is from Amazon. Pale Horses

A Review of Little Elvises (Junior Bender #2) by Timothy Hallinan

Little Elvises LargeLittle Elvises (Junior Bender #2)

By Timothy Hallinan

Soho Press:   Jan 29 2013

I’m delighted to see that Junior Bender has returned in another fun, action packed, but sometimes thoughtful detective novel. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Crashed, make sure that you get a hold of a copy and read it too. You will enjoy that book also. Take a look at my review of Crashed that I wrote last November. A Review of Crashed by Timothy Hallinan

In this story, you see a little deeper into the human side of Junior. He has found a woman, Ronnie, that he thinks he is starting to have feelings for. He spends a lot of time with his thirteen year old daughter, Rina, and has to figure out how to deal with her male friend, Tyrone, and how to explain his relationship with Ronnie to Rina, when he isn’t really sure where it’s going himself.

Meanwhile, he is dodging someone in a huge Humvee that is trying to kill him, as he tries to figure out who killed an investigative reporter, Derek Bigelow, who was also a blackmailer. If he can’t solve this murder, a crooked cop, DiGaudio, is going set him up as a fall guy for an armed robbery of an elderly, wealthy, Beverly Hills couple. Junior is screwed if he can’t figure this out quickly because the DA is looking for a rapid resolution to this high-profile case.

Mr. Hallinan knows how to write. He keeps you engaged and wanting to keep reading, even when you need to do something else, so leave yourself a few hours and enjoy another Junior Bender adventure. I give this book 5 stars out of 5 and a big thumbs up. Just read “Little Elvises“, you will enjoy it.

I received this book for free from


Junior Bender untangles one of the weirdest mysteries in Tinseltown 

LA burglar Junior Bender has (unfortunately) developed a reputation as a competent private investigator for crooks. The unfortunate part about this is that regardless of whether he solves the crime or not, someone dangerous is going to be unhappy with him, either his suspect or his employer.

Now Junior is being bullied into proving aging music industry mogul Vinnie DiGaudio is innocent of the murder of a nasty tabloid journalist he’d threatened to kill a couple times. It doesn’t help that the dead journalist’s widow is one pretty lady, and she’s trying to get Junior to mix pleasure with business. Just as the investigation is spiraling out of control, Junior’s hard-drinking landlady begs him to solve the disappearance of her daughter, who got involved with a very questionable character. And, worst news of all, both Junior’s ex-wife and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Rina, seem to have new boyfriends. What a mess.

Product Details

Hardcover: 347 pages

Publisher: Soho Crime (January 29, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616952776

ISBN-13: 978-1616952778

Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches

Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces

About the Author

2011 Edgar Nominee Timothy Hallinan has written ten published novels, all thrillers, all critically praised.

In the 1990s he wrote six mysteries featuring the erudite private eye Simeon Grist, beginning with “The Four Last Things,” which made several Ten Best lists, including that of The Drood Review. The other books in the series were widely and well reviewed, and several of them were optioned for motion pictures. The series is now regarded as a cult favorite.

In 2007, the first of his Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers, “A Nail Through the Heart”, was published to unanimously enthusiastic reviews. “Hallinan scores big-time,” said Kirkus Reviews, which went on to call the book “dark, often funny, and ultimately enthralling.” “Nail” was a Booksense Pick of the Month and was named one of the top mysteries of the year by The Japan Times and several major online review sites.

Rafferty’s Bangkok adventures continued with “The Fourth Watcher” (2008) and “Breathing Water” (2009), both of which also appeared on “year’s best” lists. New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart said about the 2010 book, “The Queen of Patpong,” “You won’t read a better thriller this year,” and Ken Bruen said, “John Burdett writes about Bangkok. Tim Hallinan is Bangkok. I adore this book.”

Hallinan has written full-time since 2006. Since 1982 he has divided his time between Los Angeles and Southeast Asia, the setting for his Poke Rafferty novels.

The book description and author information is from Amazon.   Little Elvises (Junior Bender #2)

A Review of Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

Thre Graves smallerThree Graves Full

by Jamie Mason

Gallery Books: February 12, 2013

I am really a lucky guy! I have been privileged to read some really great books since I started on my book reviewing journey, and this debut novel by Jamie Mason is no exception!

Somehow Ms. Mason is able to twist three off-kilter characters, with their strange, nearly crazy thoughts and actions into a cohesive and spell-binding story. And then, bring the story to a very satisfying and thought-provoking conclusion. Bravo! What a great first novel.

The writing flows easily, even when the ideas that the character is thinking are anything but mainstream. I was drawn into the narrative and had many ideas how it could turn out, but I was never positive of where I was going to end up. I will look forward to reading Ms. Mason’s next offering. Hopefully it won’t be too long coming.

I think that most people will enjoy this book. I give it a big thumbs up and 5 stars out of 5. I recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh new voice and an off-beat story.

I received this book for free from

Book Description

Release date: February 12, 2013

There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.

But it could always be worse. . . .

More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property—neither of which is the one Jason buried.

Jason races to stay ahead of the consequences of his crime, and while chaos reigns on his lawn, his sanity unravels, snagged on the agendas of a colorful cast of strangers. A jilted woman searches for her lost fiancé, a fringe dweller runs from a past that’s quickly gaining on him, and a couple of earnest local detectives piece clues together with the help of a volunteer police dog—all in the shadow of a dead man who had it coming. As the action unfolds, each character discovers that knowing more than one side of the story doesn’t necessarily rule out a deadly margin of error.

Jamie Mason’s irrepressible debut is a macabre, darkly humorous tale with the thoughtful beauty of a literary novel, the tense pacing of a thriller, and a clever twist of suspense.

Product Details

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Gallery Books (February 12, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1451685033

ISBN-13: 978-1451685039

Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches

Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

About the Author

Jamie Mason was born in Oklahoma City, but grew up in Washington, D.C. She’s most often reading and writing, but in the life left over, she enjoys films, Formula 1 racing, football, traveling, and, conversely, staying at home. Jamie lives with her husband and two daughters in the mountains of western North Carolina.

The book description and author information is from Amazon. Three Graves Full