An engaging and satisfying supernatural tale with Highland charm.

THE HEALER'S LEGACY

From the Highland Spirits series , Vol. 3

Romance, murder, and ghosts cause mayhem in this mystery.

In this third volume of her Highland Spirits series, MacKinnon hands the starring role to Nesbitt General Hospital nurse Colleen “Fitz” Fitzgerald. When Colleen has her heart broken by the beguiling and duplicitous Dr. John Clayton and her career is unjustly trashed, she knows it is time to leave New Jersey for Inverness, Scotland, where her two best friends now live. Like Aubrey and Kate before her, Colleen takes up residence at Nessie’s boardinghouse. She finds herself in Nessie’s sitting room, under the scrutiny of the four “Owls,” guests who seem always to be around when one of the young women in the house faces turbulent times—Gladys Chesher; her son, Ronald; former dancer Maxine Deyeaux; and Old Harry Campbell. They are an eccentric group that has a sense of what lies ahead. This time, they bring Colleen good news. Harry has found her a job in a nursing home that has had a problem retaining staff. Evidently, Balfinnan House, a former castle, is haunted. But the position is perfect for Colleen. She specializes in geriatric patients and has always had a special rapport with them. Plus, Balfinnan House is owned and managed by the young and very handsome Graham Anderson. Unfortunately, there is also a malevolent entity prowling the halls. Patients are dying before their time. Readers new to the series will likely find themselves initially stumbling over the Scottish terminology that MacKinnon uses liberally in the early chapters. But there is a frontmatter glossary that proves to be most helpful. A healthy supply of secondary characters, including a few who make fine suspects, keeps the imaginative and entertaining narrative flowing at a good clip. And then there are the ever present spirits—the “Grey Lady,” the resident ghost of a World War I nurse, and the recently arrived, sinister “Ghruamachd,” who appears determined to prevent Gordon MacNabb from reaching his 100th birthday. Even after the murderer is revealed, the author holds one final surprise for the end, and it should leave readers chuckling.

An engaging and satisfying supernatural tale with Highland charm.

Pub Date: March 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-951490-54-6

Page Count: 374

Publisher: DartFrog Books

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2020

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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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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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