Tag Archives: murder

Dirty Heart (Cole McGinnis #6) by Rhys Ford

Dirty Heart CoverRelease Date:  March 18, 2016
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Review Copy from Author


Final book in the Dirty Series arc.

Former LAPD detective Cole McGinnis’s life nearly ended the day his police partner and best friend Ben Pirelli emptied his service weapon into Cole and his then-lover, Rick. Since Ben turned his gun on himself, Cole thought he’d never find out why Ben tried to destroy him.

Years later, Cole has stitched himself back together. Now a private investigator and in love with Jae-Min Kim, a Korean-American photographer he met on a previous case, Cole’s life is back on track—until he discovers Jeff Rollins, a disgraced cop and his first partner, has resurfaced and appears to be working on the wrong side of the law.

As much as Cole’s fought to put the past behind him, he’s soon tangled up in a web of lies, violence, and death. Jeff Rollins is not only trying to kill Cole’s loved ones, he is also scraping open old wounds and long-forgotten memories of the two men Cole loved and lost. Cole is sure Rollins knows why Ben ruined all their lives, but he isn’t looking for answers. Now Cole is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a cold-blooded killer with the key to not only his past but his future.

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Get ready, Cole McGinnis fans, because Dirty Heart is exactly the conclusion to this series you’ve been waiting for. Rhys Ford wraps up the final installment with all the mystery, suspense, and intrigue we’ve come to expect and the sweet, smoldering romance we know and love. (With a healthy dose of Korean swearing thrown in.)

I’ll admit I was apprehensive to begin reading knowing this is the final story in this arc, but I couldn’t be happier with the way Ford ties up all the loose ends.  I’m not sure how I’ll manage to part ways with Cole and Jae – that won’t be easy. Their story is one that draws me in and makes me part of their world as if I’m right there with them whether it’s tender moments or terrifying bloodshed. Reading those final lines is definitely like saying goodbye to old friends, but I have a feeling I’ll be back to visit from time to time. These are the kind of stories you read again and again, finding new details with each reread.

At risk of spoiling anything about this book – it’s certainly something you should experience firsthand – I’ll be deliberately vague. What I will say is it’s pretty much no holds barred; no one’s safe,  and danger is out there, rearing its ugly head at every turn.  Jae is back in all his awesome Jae-ness while Cole’s up to the usual – solving impossibly complicated mysteries involving extremely dangerous people. Ford holds us in suspense as she cleverly works her plot, making what seem like a million complex twists and turns before finally revealing the answers to questions new and old.  Untangling the web is a bit messy to say the least, but man, is it oh so satisfying.

If you’re new to this series, congrats! You’ve stumbled upon an amazing mystery series in completion which means no waiting for new books! For the rest of us, it’s a somber see ya later to characters we know and love.  Thank you, Rhys Ford, for a fantastic ride.


Drama Queen: A Nicky and Noah Mystery (#1) by Joe Cosentino

Drama Queen Cover
Cover Design: Ben Baldwin

Release Date: June 6, 2015
Published by Lethe Press
Review Copy from Author


It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant…and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!

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In a crafty whodunit where everyone’s a suspect, Joe Cosentino leads us on a dramatic chase for answers. The setup is brilliant and the execution of the mystery plot is flawless.  The delivery from Nicky’s point of view is perfect for the story, giving an almost stream of consciousness feel. I especially enjoy the way Cosentino works in Nicky’s inner thoughts adding a lot of levity in an otherwise tragic and suspenseful situation.

The first victim of the crime is none other than a widely disliked, loudmouth professor in the theater department. His tragic demise is untimely, leaving motive and opportunity for so many characters. I love a story of this nature and how it keeps you analyzing and guessing throughout as you try to piece together the puzzle and discover exactly what happened. Cosentino masterfully reveals his clues while twisting things just enough to maintain the element of surprise. It seems no one is safe as suddenly members of the Treemeadow theater faculty begin dropping like flies.

If I had to choose, I’d say my favorite scene is from the department meeting right after the first faculty member is killed. The combination of acting talents present in that room loans itself to a very entertaining scene where most are trying to feign sadness over his passing. Trying to discern the genuine feelings from the theatrical performances is a lot of fun, and I think exemplifies the playful nature of this murder mystery quite well. I look forward to reading the next Nicky and Noah mystery!



Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery.




Murder and Mayhem by Rhys Ford

Murder_Cover_Ford_smallRelease Date: June 5, 2015
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Review Copy from Author


Dead women tell no tales.

Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.

Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner’d falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still made his blood sing.

Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.

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If you’re like me, when you heard Rhys Ford had a news series coming out, it couldn’t get here fast enough. I was so ready, because I love the way she can build a complex mystery blended with some sweet, smoldering romance. Let me tell you, Murder and Mayhem does not disappoint.

Ford hits the ground running, dropping us right in the middle of the action from Page One. The pace doesn’t stop, and the mystery and suspense never falter. She masterfully conceals hints and clues, only revealing them for maximum impact. I don’t know how else to describe it –  you’ll lose yourself in it from the very beginning. It’ll  suck you in, chew you up and spit you out when – and only when – it’s good and ready. That’s not to say it’s unenjoyable – you will love every bloody second of it.

I alluded to it earlier, and it’s no big secret one of the things I love about many of Rhys Ford’s books is how romance is always part of the story but not the whole story.  This formula is definitely present here, even as she ratchets up the tension between Rook and Dante. The romance bleeds over into the mystery/suspense plot, because Dante’s M.O. is taking Rook down. They have a past – again mixed business with pleasure – so things are complicated to say the least.

That’s not to mean they can’t make it work, right? It’s the impossible situation: Dante’s a cop, Rook’s a thief. Well, reformed thief?  Either way it seems like life’s working against them. I absolutely love this case of strange bedfellows, and I was pretty much making bets the entire time about how long they’d last before they gave in to the attraction between them.  They definitely have some unfinished business, and Ford makes them work for it.  I really enjoy romances where lovers defy the odds and find a way to connect, so this story’s fulfilling on so many levels.

I have one rather random piece of advice regarding Murder and Mayhem – you might not want to eat while reading it. That’s all I’m going to say about that. ;)


Hunting the Spy by Tyler Flynn

Hunting the Spy CoverRelease Date: September 22, 2014
Published by Carina Press
Review Copy from NetGalley

About the Book:
England, 1792

Revolution rages in France, and war with England is imminent. But Nathan Kennett is fighting his own battle. An undercover spy catcher, he’s after an unknown informant who’s supplying valuable secrets about the English coastal defenses to the French.

When he discovers a dead body in his employer’s house, with Sir Peter Ross hunched over it, he has his suspect. Lean, strong and firm, Peter is Nathan’s ex-lover—and a member of the aristocracy. He represents everything Nathan hates and has the arrogance to match. Peter broke off their affair with no explanation, but is he capable of murder, and treason besides?

Trying to keep one step ahead of his enemies, Nathan has only two days to identify and deliver the informant to his superiors in London. Peter swears his innocence and offers to help find the true culprit, but as riots swell in the streets, Nathan can’t be sure he can trust him. Or himself, when they’re together.

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Our Thoughts:
I am in love! Murder, mystery, espionage, scorned lovers…this book has absolutely everything. After reading some really great m/m historicals lately, I set the bar pretty high for this one. Thank you, Tyler Flynn – you totally deliver.

There’s no “waiting for things to pick up” with this story – it’s set up on the fly. We’re introduced to the characters as the action unfolds, and I have to say it’s exciting to try to discern their true natures during those opening scenes. We know there’s a history between Nathan and Peter and we know it didn’t end well, but what’s withheld is the why. Why is Nathan so bitter? Why is Peter in Deal to begin with? Why are they both so concerned with Boulton? Is it personal or strictly professional?

The dynamic between Nathan and Peter is fantastic. There’s a level of tension that keeps things really interesting without making it irritating. Flynn gives us a little taste of progress  and the sense that all will be fine, only to take it away with minor setbacks – a case of one step forward, two steps back, if you will. This romantic tension paired with the suspense of trying to identify Boulton’s informant and the turmoil around them really gives us no time to relax. It’s a fast-paced, exciting ride.

In the end, I was able to predict the identity of the informant, although Flynn doesn’t show his hand too early. In fact, I’m sure there’re plenty of readers who’re still pleasantly surprised when all is revealed.  I’m content with the way Flynn wraps things up, even though he does so in a way that’s not at all neat and tidy. I feel like leaving it any other way would be inconsistent with the political and civil unrest of the times.