Tag Archives: suspense

Review: The Christmas Hummingbird, by Davis Bunn

The Christmas Hummingbird, by Davis Bunn (Kensington Books, 2022)

Find out how a rescued hummingbird becomes a symbol of hope for a town on the brink of despair in this heartwarming, feel-good story with a thread of mystery and danger.

This Christmas, the fictional southern California town of Miramar Bay, ordinarily a haven, is under threat of sweeping wildfires. Wildfires which some clever thieves can use to their advantage. After all, if the evidence of break and entry burns up, who’s to say the stolen items didn’t burn too?

Stopping the thieves is personal for Ethan Lange, who barely escaped the fire with his life. And it’s one of many Christmas wishes for hard-edged police officer Ryan Eames, a single mom with a socially awkward son, Liam.

This is the backdrop for a sweet love story between two wounded souls—and a tale of friendship between Ethan the artist and eleven-year-old Liam with his secretive drawings.

The Christmas Hummingbird is book 7 in the Miramar Bay series, and while readers of previous books will recognize some of the other town residents each story stands alone with its own central characters.

Fans of Davis Bunn (and his pen name, Thomas Locke) know he writes in many genres from gentle stories like this one to thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. While much of his work is overtly Christian fiction, some, like the Miramar Bay books, are not. They’re still clean reads.

[Review copy from the public library via Hoopla Digital.]

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Included in the Angel Book Awards!

I’m excited to share that my newest release, Bitter Truth, received second place in the Angel Book Awards (mystery/suspense category)!

Congratulations to first-place Carrie Stuart Parks with Woman in Shadow and third-place Mary Dodge Allen with Hunt for a Hometown Killer. I feel like my characters are in good company!

You can see the full list of winners at the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival page on Facebook. Here’s the link to the announcement post.

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Review: The Inn on Hanging Hill, by Christy Barritt

The Inn on Hanging Hill, by Christy Barritt

The Inn on Hanging Hill, by Christy Barritt (River Heights, 2021)

A dilapidated old inn. A painful past. A reunion of friends.

Childhood friends Lindsey and Benjamin haven’t seen each other since the night she was abducted and he was sent away to live with relatives. She doesn’t remember that two-week period of her life. He’s hiding secrets.

As they work to renovate the inn where Lindsey grew up, can they discover what really happened that night and somehow unlock her memory?

Between threats, unfriendly locals, a suspicious sheriff, and fallout from her disastrous former job, will they have the chance?

Set in a small Virginia town on the Chesapeake Bay, the novel is a quick read where nothing is as it seems. It’s a clean read with a thread of faith. The atmospheric old inn adds a suitably spooky touch.

The Inn on Hanging Hill is book 2 in the Beach House Mystery series but it reads well as a stand-alone. I haven’t read book 1, The Cottage on Ghost Lane, and I had no trouble finding my place in this one. They appear to have entirely different characters.

Christy Barritt has written over 70 books in a number of fast-paced romantic suspense series. Some are funny, some quirky, and some serious. For more about the author and her work, visit christybarritt.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Interviewed at Fiction Finder!

I missed sharing this interview back in May. Pop by and have a read. Fellow Canadian writer Pearl Fredericksen asked some fun questions, including “If I were not an author, I would be __).”

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Behind the Scenes of Bitter Truth


Mystery and suspense writers joke about law enforcement flagging our internet searches. For the murder in the opening pages of Bitter Truth, I spent hours looking up ways the killer could dispatch the victim from a distance or with a time delay. 

Truth told, it’s a little creepy looking at weapons sites on the internet. There are some disturbing subcultures. If you want to know what a “TEOTWAWKI kit” is, first try to guess. Then I’ll tell you at the end of this post.

On the upside, I discovered you can buy “Batman Batarang Throwing Knives.” I’m not a weapons person (although I love a good kitchen knife) but these are, well, if you’ll pardon the pun, they’re very “sharp looking”! 

Back to the research… So many options for a fictional murderer! I decided it would be dramatic to have the killer use a poisoned dart. So I studied various types of poisons. And blowguns, because he could fold it up and not look suspicious. How long would he need to practice with something like that? And how close would he have to be?

It could work. I wanted it to work. 

Then I thought about the character of the killer, his goals and his style. 

All he needed was a sniper rifle. 

There went all my fancy plans! But you never know, a poison dart may show up in a later book. Nothing’s ever wasted. 

And the answer to the mystery question is…
“TEOTWAWKI” = “The End Of The World As We Know It” 

Yikes! It’s good to be prepared for emergencies, as Green Dory Inn character Nigel Foley would attest.

Still, in these days following Easter I’d rather focus on the One who laid down His life on the Cross to save us and took it up again in triumph three days later. His purposes are best, His promises are true, and His love never fails. As the Bible says, our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15).

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What are readers saying about Bitter Truth?

“A nice assorted cast of possible suspects, and lots of twists in the plot that will keep you guessing.” ★★★★★
Jeffrey C. Reynolds, blogger and reviewer

“Recommended reading for all who love a good puzzley story.” ★★★★★
Violet Nesdoly, author, blogger, and reviewer

“I definitely recommend this book!” ★★★★★
Amy C. Blake, author and Goodreads reviewer

“Lots of twists and turns. A must read!” ★★★★★
Charlene, Goodreads reviewer

“A fun and thought-provoking read” ★★★★
Miranda S., Goodreads reviewer

“I did NOT see the ending!!” ★★★★
Trudy C., Goodreads reviewer

"Janet Sketchley’s tight writing is full of homey details—nicely appointed rooms in a seaside inn on the shores of beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada, cups of coffee, tea, and fragrant baking—disarming us for the plot’s next whiplash development." ★★★★★
Violet Nesdoly, author, blogger, and reviewer

If you like clean Christian mystery and suspense, read Bitter Truth today! This link has international options for major ebook retailers and Amazon for print: books2read.com/bitter-truth.

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It’s Release Day!

Happy “book birthday” to the newest Green Dory Inn Mystery, Bitter Truth! The paperback version sneaked onto the scene early, and now the ebooks are live too.

What readers are saying about Bitter Truth.
Click the image to reach the buy link or click here to for more about Bitter Truth.
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Review: False Pretense, by Heather Day Gilbert

False Pretense, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2022)

Missing persons, unexpected power flickers, and sightings of a creature from West Virginia folklore… except the huge grey Mothman is being seen by trustworthy witnesses. And the winged creature isn’t just a guy in a costume, because it flies. More troubling still, its appearance seems to coincide with the disappearance of two local women—women who look a lot like Tess Spencer.

Mysteries keep finding Tess. She’s solved three as an amateur sleuth, earning enough respect from the police in her small town that Detective Zeke Tucker has hired her as admin assistant. Sure, it’s a desk job, but Zeke values her insights on active cases.

As Tess begins to suspect this case may be personal, she’s also concerned about her mother-in-law’s health and the dirty politics being played by her husband’s rival. As readers of the series know, Tess isn’t one to allow anyone to mess with her family.

I’ve liked Tess from book one. She’s a smart, brave, loyal, self-reliant woman of faith. Since she lives in a state where it’s allowed to conceal-carry a weapon, she takes a handgun and sometimes a knife into danger.

Favourite line:

I’ve always felt the woods are my native environment, a place I can be protected from the pressures of life. Now something—maybe some age-old evil, if I let my imagination run wild—has invaded our area. [Kindle location 539]

The mystery in False Pretense offers enough clues for readers to feel like we’re part of the investigation. I came up with a few ideas, but they were definitely off-base. Fans of the series will be glad to spend time with Tess and her family again, and will be hoping to finally learn the truth about the mysterious Axel Becker. And while this finishes the series, it left me wanting to go back and read again from the beginning.

Readers of the author’s Barks ‘n Beans mystery series will recognize a few mentions of those characters. I enjoy seeing nods like this to other fictional friends. 

False Pretense is a satisfying finale to a mystery series filled with heart and truly likeable characters. If you’re new to the Murder in the Mountains series, you could start here without feeling lost. But I’d encourage you to start with book 1, Miranda Warning, and enjoy the development of characters and relationships through the full series.

Author Heather Day Gilbert writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. To quote her bio on the Goodreads site, “She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love.” For more about the author and her work, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.

[Review based on an advance reader copy provided by the publisher, because I couldn’t wait to read the copy I’ve preordered. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.]

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Less than 30 Days!

The clock is ticking down! With Bitter Truth releasing later this month, I had the chance to chat with blogger Jeffrey C. Reynolds about the novel, writing in general, and a few other things. And I may have let slip something about the print version that’s not yet been shared… come join the conversation!

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Review: Tears in the Desert, by Karen V. Robichaud

Tears in the Desert, by Karen V. Robichaud

Tears in the Desert, by Karen V. Robichaud (Word Alive Press, 2020)

From the aptly-named Desolation Creek in the Australian Outback to a lighthouse in Blackheart Bay, Nova Scotia, this novel’s descriptive details draw the reader in with a strong sense of place.

Told in present tense from the point of view of Raine Hunter, both as a child and as an adult, the voice is sure, strong, and taut.

The first part of the novel introduces the trauma in Raine’s childhood. The second two thirds of the book, part two, bring Raine back to her hometown to care for her widowed brother Quinn’s children after he goes missing. Rumours hint that he killed himself or skipped town, but Raine blames the hostile neighbouring family for abducting or harming him.

Raine’s tragic experience as a child shapes her into a bitter person with poor social skills. Because we see the event first, we can be patient with her brusque—rude?—behaviour and hope she’ll discover a positive change. We may even find some of her interactions funny. This woman has no clue how to interact with children. I had to be careful her crankiness didn’t jump-start my own. 😊

Raine is in that difficult place, spiritually, of not being able to fully walk away from God while not being able to press in with Him either.

After the story, I found myself thinking about some of the more extreme characters: the eccentric, the hostile, the bullying… and the unconditionally accepting. Some of the latter modelled Jesus’ love far better than most of us do.

Tears in the Desert is a winner in The 2021 Word Awards for work published in 2020. It’s Canadian author Karen V. Robichaud’s sixth novel. For more about the author and her work, visit kvrobi.wixsite.com/karen-v-robichaud.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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