An engrossing and satisfying mystery with a humble Texas physician/sleuth at its heart.

ACT OF MURDER

From the A Doc Brady Mystery series , Vol. 1

The death of a child shocks a tightly knit community and sparks an intense homicide investigation in this series opener.

Veteran Houston physician and debut author Bishop kicks off a medical thriller series featuring Texas family man and orthopedic surgeon Jim Bob “Doc” Brady. It’s the spring of 1994, and Brady hears a “sickening thud” and the screeching of tires behind his house in what is typically a peaceful neighborhood. He discovers 10-year-old Stevie Huntley, a neighbor’s son, crushed in the street, the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Immediately labeled a vehicular homicide, the case is assigned to local detective Susan Beeson. Without leads, Beeson leans on the Brady family for discreet assistance and insider information on the neighborhood. His conversations reveal that Stevie had a bone fragility disease and raise the suspicion that the homicide was premeditated. And when medical colleague T. Edmund “Ed” Wilson begins acting with uncharacteristic aggression, Brady fears something more nefarious is afloat. Shaken but unbroken by the tragedy, the resilient Doc Brady aims to help police solve a crime that, as things progress, involves genetics, adoptions, and the extended Huntley family along with some heinously dishonorable intentions. Bishop never lets genetic jargon overwhelm the story’s momentum as more suspicious deaths occur and the race to bring the perpetrators to justice becomes everyone’s top priority. Greed—not surprisingly—figures into the plot. Though the action ignites from the opening pages, Bishop incrementally introduces his characters, including Brady’s computer-savvy son, J.J., and the doctor’s wife, Mary Louise, with whom he shares a playful intimacy. Brady is a naturally warmhearted first-person narrator, describing events with urgency while incorporating homespun nuances and clever banter. With a marked absence of gore, graphic violence, or offensive language, this novel gives readers an intriguing puzzle to solve yet not an overly complicated one, opening his readership to a young adult audience as well.

An engrossing and satisfying mystery with a humble Texas physician/sleuth at its heart.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73425-110-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Mantid Press

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2020

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A weird, wild ride.

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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