Maestra is L.S. Hilton’s debut novel and you would never guess it is her first book. The writing is great and packed with enough suspense that you just keep reading. Judith is an incredibly ambitious person who has worked hard to overcome her meager beginnings and won’t stop until she has everything she has ever desired. She has transformed herself, including her accent, and is now working for a prestigious London art house. However, the world isn’t fair and she is unjustly fired from her job after she discovers a fraudulent painting and a dark secret. Refusing to give up her lifestyle and feeling reckless, Judith finds someone who will pay her way – until she discovers a murder. As her life keeps spiraling away, Judith keeps finding ways to stay on top and sometimes crime is the best way.
If you are in the mood for a little art history, a little darkness, and just a touch of naughtiness, then this is the perfect book for you. Judith never stopped surprising me. Every time I thought the game was up, she would find a way out (which often was not the moral high ground or necessarily legal, but a girls got to do, what a girls go to do). My favorite part of this novel was the art history and information on art forgeries. I don’t have much knowledge in this area, so the process for determining a forgery and the whole underworld of art was fascinating. I do have to say, Hilton’s novel is not for the pure of heart. Judith is calculating, cold, and likes to have steamy love affairs on the side. That being said, Hilton creates an interesting female character who is strong, determined, and refuses to let anyone else be in control of her life. I am quite curious to see where Judith’s story goes from here, but I am sure it will be suspenseful and a little spicy.
By Book or By Crookby Eva Gates is the first in the Lighthouse Library series. This is a fabulous beginning to this series for any book lover or cozy mystery enthusiast. Lucy is very excited to be hired as the new librarian for the Outer Banks and is hoping it is exactly the escape from Boston she needs. However, her new job is off to a rocky beginning when the chair of the library board is found murdered and a priceless Jane Austen novel has gone missing. Now Lucy is finding herself right in the middle of the investigation.
The setting of Bodie Island and the lighthouse is wonderful. You can visualize how beautiful the inside of the lighthouse must be. I also enjoyed all of the characters. Lucy is smart and doesn’t do the typical, “I know I shouldn’t go in there” routine that occasionally happens in cozy mysteries. I am excited to see how the characters progress. All of the them have potential to really develop and grow as we continue our library journey. The books in this mystery are amazing. I loved how the entire community embraces the Austen collection and becomes fans. This is a fun and cute series to start if you are looking for something that isn’t a cooking or knitting cozy. Although I think fiction fans might enjoy this story. It is very much a character driven tale.
After reading FaceOff, I knew there were several new authors I wanted to read. My fist pick was Heather Graham’s Let the Dead Sleep. Her character that was featured in FaceOff was so intriguing that I wanted to know more about her, and let me say wow, it was excellent. The book takes place in New Orleans and is a mystery with a bit of a paranormal kick. Danni is the owner of an antique shop and for the most part nothing too exciting happens. However everything changes when a mysterious statue is brought to her store. Before she can even decide to buy it, the original owner is found dead and the statue is missing. Danni discovers that she is not the only one looking for the statue. A PI has been trying to track it down and destroy it and the long evil history that goes with it. Joining forces, the two begin the harrowing search.
As I said before, this is a great book with not only suspense but quite a bit of creepiness too. In fact there were a few times that I had to set the book down because it was just too late at night to be reading a scary novel. Graham does a great job creating all of her characters. Their interactions are engaging and genuine and it is easy to start rooting for them. I also enjoyed the southern setting. Graham did a great job of incorporating the spooky elements of New Orleans into her tale along with a side of southern charm. If you enjoy your mysteries on the scarier side, then this is the perfect series to start.