Tag Archives: J.A. Menzies

Review: Shadow of a Butterfly, by J.A. Menzies

Shadow of a Butterfly, by J.A. MenziesShadow of a Butterfly, by J.A. Menzies (MurderWillOut Mysteries, 2015)

In typical Golden-Age mystery style, J.A. Menzies creates a tapestry of well-formed characters whose interplay offers – and masks – motive and opportunity for murder. The dynamics between old-school detective Paul Manziuk and his much younger partner, Jaquie Ryan, add another satisfying layer.

The murder takes place in an upscale apartment complex for senior citizens, making everyone on that floor of the building a potential suspect. The novel includes a list of characters for helpful reference, as well as a floor plan.

I’m one of the many readers who’ve been looking forward to a new Manziuk and Ryan Mystery, and Shadow of a Butterfly does not disappoint. The title is significant on two levels, but you’ll have to read the novel to find out why.

Favourite quotes:

… their appearance bore no similarities beyond the fact that each was dressed in the manner she felt most likely to intimidate the other. [Kindle Advance Review Copy location 169]

… when we begin, we only have our dreams. If we could see the sacrifices and struggles ahead, how many of us would set foot on the path to reach those dreams? (Hilary Brooks) [Kindle Advance Review Copy location 2669]

J.A. Menzies is the alter-ego of Canadian author N.J. Lindquist. Shadow of a Butterfly is book 3 in the series. If you haven’t read book 1, Shaded Light, it’s available for free on all ebook platforms. For more about the author and her books, visit jamenzies.com.

[Review copy provided by the publisher.]

Review: My Brother’s Keeper, by N. J. Lindquist

My Brother's Keeper, by NJ LindquistMy Brother’s Keeper, by N. J. Lindquist (That’s Life! Communications, revised edition, 2014 — formerly titled In Time of Trouble)

Shane Donahue is 18 years old and he hates his life. And his super-perfect twin brother, Scott. They’re identical twins, but they’ve turned into polar opposites. Scott excels at everything, while Shane… well he’s ordinary at best.

He’s been dumped from the basketball team, fired from his job, he’s failing at school, and even in the party crowd he can’t rise to the top. Oh, and his dad took his car away after the latest speeding ticket.

The characters are real, complex, and Shane will capture your heart in the opening pages even while you’ll be shaking your head at his attitude. His frustration, his sense of hopelessness to be good at anything, are feelings we know too well. He doesn’t really know who he is—just who he’s trying to project himself to be.

Favourite quote: Shane describes one of his friends, Ethan, as “kind of comfortable to be around. Like an old pair of sweat pants. He’s maybe the only person who’s never tried to change me.” [Kindle location 495]

As Shane’s world falls apart and his family life gets more turbulent, he figures he’s far enough gone that he might as well check out this God stuff Ethan’s been spouting. It’s either that or kill himself and get it over with.

Shane doesn’t expect what he hears to make so much sense, or to realize he wants God in his life. He also doesn’t expect life to then get harder! His father is more angry about God-talk than he was about Shane’s plummeting grades, and the party crowd is downright hostile about the change in him.

You don’t have to be an 18-year-old boy to appreciate My Brother’s Keeper. It’s for everyone who’s ever felt like a loser, ever felt too far gone to change, or ever felt too ordinary to be any use to God.

N.J. Lindquist is a Canadian author and speaker who has played key roles in The Word Guild and in the Hot Apple Cider anthologies. As well as writing YA fiction under her own name, she writes cozy mysteries as J.A. Menzies. For more about the author and her writing, visit her website: njlindquist.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Shaded Light, by J.A. Menzies

Shaded Light, by JA MenziesShaded Light, by J.A. Menzies (MurderWillOut Mysteries, ebook version 2013)

It’s the July long weekend, and there’s a house party at George and Ellen Brodie’s new mansion in an exclusive Toronto community. Expected guests: their son, his close friend, Ellen’s country cousin, both of George’s lawyer business partners and their wives.

But there are also unexpected guests, three to be exact: a black sheep nephew, an ex-wife, and a wallflower sister.

Add in two household staff to complete the picture.

At least one of the fourteen will die before the party’s over. Because at least one other among them a murderer.

Shaded Light reads like a contemporary Agatha Christie novel. Instead of Hercule Poirot, readers meet Detective-Inspector Paul Manziuk (man’s-hook) and rookie detective Jacqueline Ryan. He’s experienced, old-school and white, she’s young, female and black.

Manziuk’s under pressure to catch a serial killer who leaves no clues, and now he’s handed the Brodie case too. He doesn’t have time to find out if Ryan can do the job… or if she’s just a political appointment.

To solve the case, Manziuk and Ryan must pierce the suspects’ outer facades and untangle the secrets within. It’s fun to watch them learn to work together along the way.

Shaded Light is book one in the Manziuk and Ryan mystery series, originally published by St. Kitts Press in 2000. The newly-issued ebook includes the author’s original prologue, omitted from the print book. The prologue works well to set the tone, and I think it’s an improvement.

I read the print version years ago and was curious to read it again. The story holds up well to a second reading. As it happens, I only remembered a few details and none of them spoiled the ending. Even if I’d remembered whodunnit, it would have still been a good read to watch the case set up and the unfold.

J.A. Menzies is the pen name of N.J. Lindquist, a Canadian author, speaker and teacher who writes fiction and non-fiction for adults and young adults. She’s a founding director of The Word Guild, co-editor of the Hot Apple Cider anthologies, and she’s usually juggling two or three projects at a time. With such a diverse list of activities, you can see why she chose to use a pen name to minimize reader confusion. To learn more about the author, visit Canadian Mystery Author J.A. Menzies.

Shaded Light and its sequel, Glitter of Diamonds, are both available as ebooks, and J.A. Menzies is working on a third in the series. I look forward to spending more time with these two detectives.

Purchase links for Shaded Light: Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Kobo, Ganxy.

[Review copy provided by the author. Amazon links are affiliate links for The Word Guild.]