Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lauren Carr Merges Series Characters for Two Books of Super Sleuths in Twofer Murder!


Present Day - Spencer Manor, Deep Creek Lake, Maryland 
“Just twenty minutes more.” Mac Faraday followed up his request with a kiss to the back of his wife’s neck. The soft touch of his breath feathering across her ear and cheek made Archie Monday giggle. She tightened her grip on his arms, pressing her body in close to his chest. She loved nothing more than their time alone together in bed, enjoying the quiet of the morning after releasing Gnarly, their German shepherd, to patrol the estate. Her ultra-short blond hair inadvertently tickled his nose when she shook her head. “Twenty minutes will turn into thirty and then forty-five. Next thing you know, it’ll be mid-morning and you guys will decide to leave after lunch. Then, it’ll be after dark by the time you get to the creek.” 
“At which point we might as well cancel the whole fishing trip.” Hope oozed into Mac’s tone. 
“And David won’t get his deposit back on the fishing cabin. Do you really want to do that to your brother?” 
Seeing that someone had to make a move, Archie threw back the covers and climbed out of their king-sized bed. Mac frowned to see her cover up her luscious nude body. Even after more than a year of marriage, the petite emerald-eyed blonde never failed to excite him. Oh how he wished he were spending the long spring weekend with her instead of with five men fishing in the deep woods of the Appalachian Mountains. 
Placing her soft manicured hands on her slender hips, Archie seemed to have read his mind. “You made your bed, now lie in it.” 
“I am and right now it’s awfully lonely.” With a grin, he pulled back the covers to invite her to rejoin him. Her lips curled while she took in his naked body. This would be their last chance to be alone together. From here on out, they were going to go their separate ways. While Mac was fishing, Archie would take off for a ladies’ weekend at a luxurious resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania. She, her stepdaughter, and friends were the guests of honor at the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Writers Guild Awards. Mac’s daughter, Jessica Faraday, would accept the lifetime achievement award being posthumously awarded to Mac’s late mother, Robin Spencer. 
One of them had to take responsibility before they ended up barricading themselves in the master suite. Deciding it had to be her, Archie picked up her silk bathrobe from where she had draped it across the foot of the bed and shrugged into it. “The Sherlockians invited you to accept the award for Robin,” Archie said while tying the belt to her robe, “but you chose to go fishing with David instead. It was your choice-spending the weekend in the presidential suite at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort or impaling worms on hooks while standing up to
your thighs in a creek.” With a broad shrug of her shoulders, she trotted to the dressing room. “We gave you a choice and you chose the latter.” 
“Why couldn’t anyone have given me a third choice?”
~~~




The book cover and title for Lauren Carr's latest book reveals exactly what you are going to find--two different stories! Not only that, she has brought together the main characters from three different series! That's not too hard to do because many of her main characters are from the same families or friends of family.  I must say, though, that in doing so, I felt like I was reading a Super Sleuth story. Imagine that not only do you have the key characters from one series...but, now, three! I think it is about time that we have figurines for our Super Sleuth characters just like those of heroes! Super Sleuths using brains and training as opposed to special supernatural abilities...What do you think?! Carr does an excellent job of interface between the two stories, using the romantic connections between and among the characters, making for some quite interesting things happening, such as nude sexting interruptus! Carr has developed an openness with her characters as she and her readers have grown to know them well, so that we are now privy to some of their intimate lives...mostly humorous! I loved this book!

At the same time, given that we are reading two books at once, as the scene shifts back and forth between the two sites, the complexity, scope, and depth of each story requires the readers' total concentration and absorption of what is happening... 

For purposes of my review therefore, I've split the two stories out... Essentially, the women of the families are attending a mystery writers conference, while the men are on a fishing trip, to the chagrin of several of them, in particular, Mac!😒 Now how can a fishing trip lead to...murder?



David felt as if he had just slipped off into a deep restful sleep when his cell phone blasted the opening notes from the theme song of Rawhide, the 1950s
television western. Dallas had at some point changed the ring tone on his cell phone when he wasn’t looking and he had never bothered changing it back— a task he made a mental note to do every time his phone rang— especially when others were around to hear it. 
“What the hell!” Joshua sat straight up in his bed. 
“I’ve got it.” David snatched up the phone and checked the caller ID to see that it was Dallas calling. 
“Go back to sleep.”
...“Dallas, is everything okay?” 
The back door flew open to smack David in the face when Gnarly galloped out of the bedroom he shared with Mac and slammed into the rickety door to swing it open. He ran off into the darkness. 
Between being woken from a sound sleep and getting whacked by a door, David was only able to hear the last few words of Dallas’s declaration. “— and someone’s gonna be playin’ harps with the angels before sunrise Monday. I just know it!” 
“Wait a minute,” David said in as soothing a tone as he could muster. “Are you saying that someone is going to commit murder this weekend?” 
“That has to be why she’s here. I mean it’s what she does.” 
“She who? Who are you talking about?”
“David, didn’t you hear a word I said? She’s here.” 
“Who is she? Tell me.” 
“David, pay attention.” Dallas bit off each word as she said, “The Black Diamond.” 
David felt the blood drain from his face as he realized that the woman he loved was at the same hotel as an infamous hired assassin.
~~~

Having a fishing trip scheduled to which you are invited...by your brother... puts those who don't enjoy fishing on the spot...but, hey, they were all related and their ladies were going away for the weekend...so, why not?

Well, the thing is, when you go into the country where the good fishing is, you're bound to meet up with some good ole boys itching to deal with city slickers... Unfortunately, they were not prepared for Super Sleuths invading where they weren't wanted...

By the way, Carr is one of those special authors that provides a list of her characters up front, so that you know who will be in the book. David is a local sheriff and planned the trip, while his brother, Mac, is a retired cop, who is now a rich man, married not so long ago, and would have preferred spending alone time with his relatively new wife... Instead, he's now participating in discussions on the need to get up early to fish and who will be cleaning those fish, based upon how many each man catches...You get the idea, guy stuff... but each of those guys are in families where danger and adventure is a routine part of their lives, for which they have prepared...

Multiple issues in the area surrounding their rented cabin have been festering for many years, based upon an accident where four friends were involved, two of which died, apparently due to the driver of the car... Years have gone by but a man who had been in the area at that time has come back to the area and is soon murdered... Plus a major job to sell timber off of leased property had been questioned by a landowner, when he figured out by counting the trucks that passed his home and quantitatively determining that he was not getting the supposed share of the income from sales... His nearby cabin was burned, and they found the landowner's body in the debris from the fire.

David had been around during those early years as well and discovered that a former lover was right in the midst of the investigation of one of those deaths. She asked for his help...and that's all it took to get all the guys visiting from Maryland to begin their own investigation that turned out to require a new investigation of exactly what happened in that accident that had occurred 20 years ago...

The local police was quite happy to have David and the others help, especially since there was a group of, well, thugs, that worked for the company selling the timber... Readers will totally enjoy what happens to each of them, especially when Gnarly gets into the fighting! And by the way, fishing? Well they had many caught to take back home but you know how men brag about their catches... You might enjoy my hint... 


And at Nemacolin, if you are going to a conference to celebrate professional mystery writers, you don't really expect an actual murder!

Since Sarah was more interested in the adventure programs at the resort than the conference, her luggage consisted of a single duffel bag. For evening, she had stuffed her all occasion little black dress into the bag. She assumed the resort would have an iron that she could use to press out the wrinkles. If not, she’d steam it out with a hot shower. 
Seeing that the coast was clear, Sarah gently cradled the plastic box against
her stomach and whispered to the spider inside, “Okay, Monique, remember what I told you. Just play it cool and maybe no one will notice you.” She scurried down the stairs and across the foyer. She had almost escaped out the front door before Jessica’s voice from the dining room brought her to a halt...
Dallas threw open the door and stepped inside. “All aboard.” Upon seeing the clear plastic case with a blue lid containing air holes in Sarah’s hands, she asked, “Well, what have you got yourself there?” She moved in for a closer look at the black and brown furry creature inside. 
Sarah bit her bottom lip. Dallas started to coo at what she had thought was a small guinea pig or large hamster when she realized that the creature had eight legs. It took a full moment for her brain to correct itself. Realizing that she was looking at a tarantula that, at eight inches in diameter, was the size of a luncheon plate, Dallas’s coo turned into a scream. 
Clutching the case, Sarah tried to shush Dallas as if there were still a chance of stowing away the uninvited guest in the SUV. Dallas’s scream drew Archie, dressed only in her underwear, down the stairs from the master suite. She followed Dallas’s index finger to where Sarah was trying to hide the case under her form-fitting T-shirt...
“If she’s Tristan’s bug, why is she goin’ with us?” Dallas asked. “Why didn’t Tristan sneak her into the van to go with the guys?” 
“Because Monique is a girl and it’s a girls’ weekend,” Jessica said with a giggle. 
Dallas failed to see the humor.
~~~

As I read what happened at the Mystery Conference, I started to wonder about how much of the story was based upon the author's participation at such events... If it was, I hadn't realized just how cut-throat the publishing world could be! LOL  We even have a psychopath coming to seek Archie's editing skills for...a...really...bad...book. The scene where she talks him out of holding a gun on her is simply brilliant!

Actually, the book begins with a young woman being found walking along a road who was immediately placed in the hospital due to her condition. They later discovered that she had dug herself out of a shallow grave after having been buried. She turns up as one of the main authors at the conference... and an interesting twist was that she had admired Robin Spencer so much and had earlier met Archie, who was then her editor, that the new author had done a makeover of herself to look as much as possible like Archie... a cute idea on the part of the author and fun to see the reactions...

Archie is there to participate in several ways, including as the individual to interview the new author whose book had flew to the top of the charts. But how many of her readers realized that she had written about a murder that had already occurred, and even identified who had done it?! Jessica, the granddaughter of Robin Spencer was there to accept a lifetime achievement award given posthumously.  Other women from the family and friends were there purely to enjoy the ambiance of a spa retreat...so they thought...

I lost track of the number of murders, old and new, that are in this epic mystery novel. Having the separation from the female and male characters into two different stories was especially intriguing as each of those individual characters had the chance to "do their thing" within that story. Even the one female cop who couldn't come wound up heading to Nemacolin, close to her area, to provide help in solving the murder mysteries... And there's even a paid female assassin there to keep things interesting and, if my intuition is right, may just also be a family member. Let me know if you agree!

Not being able to read all of Carr's books like I wish I could, I am certainly happy that I lucked into seeing the cover for this one! The book is intense, compelling, as readers follow the story lines for two different books. Yet the humor, family interactions, and loving relationships in Carr's books keeps reading both entertaining and fun... Carr gets better and better in her humorous scenes, as well as snappy dialogue that comes only from within close-knit friends and family...

If you aren't reading this author, you are missing much more than an average mystery writer. You are missing living in a small community in Maryland and meeting Mac Faraday who seems to have assumed the role of patriarch in the extended family of his birth mother and author, Robin Spencer, as well as delving into murder mysteries that are new and uniquely presented in every novel. This and all of her books are highly recommended. But if you start with this, her latest, be prepared for one of her best and most complex, if not the best, as of now! 

This author continues to move into the area of top authors for the era. One note... I and others are currently working to help correct the errors found in this book. The author lost her former editor and the quality is not what we normally expected...Knowing that she's in the midst of an updated version, I suggest you wait a week or so before you purchase... I am giving the 5-star rank it deserves, based on the new version to come...


GABixlerReviews



An Amazon All-Star Author, Lauren Carr writes mysteries that have made Amazon's best-selling ranks internationally. 

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

Order! Order!
Numerous readers have asked the order of Lauren Carr's titles. All of Lauren Carr's books are stand alone. However for those readers who want to start at the beginning, here is the list of Lauren Carr's mysteries in order. The number next to the book title is the actual order in which the book was released.

Joshua Thornton Mysteries:
Fans of the Lovers in Crime Mysteries may wish to read these two books which feature Joshua Thornton years before meeting Detective Cameron Gates. Also in these mysteries, readers will meet Joshua Thornton's five children before they have flown the nest.
1) A Small Case of Murder
2) A Reunion to Die For

Mac Faraday Mysteries:
3) It's Murder, My Son
4) Old Loves Die Hard
5) Shades of Murder (introduces the Lovers in Crime: Joshua Thornton & Cameron Gates)
7) Blast from the Past
8) The Murders at Astaire Castle
9) The Lady Who Cried Murder (The Lovers in Crime make a guest appearance in this Mac Faraday Mystery)
10) Twelve to Murder
12) A Wedding and a Killing 
13) Three Days to Forever 
15) Open Season for Murder 
16) Cancelled Vows
17) Candidate for Murder

Lovers in Crime Mysteries
6) Dead on Ice
11) Real Murder
18) Killer in the Band 

The Thorny Rose Mysteries
14) Kill and Run 
19) A Fine Year for Murder (January 30, 2017)