TTP Review of Sherlock Holmes: and the Mystery of the Broken Window by William Todd

With the possible exception of Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. Sherlock Holmes is perhaps the most famous literary character of all time. Along with his constant companion and confidante, Doctor Watson, Holmes has been portrayed in print, on radio and television, and on stage and screen. His creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has been dead for over eighty-five years yet the Holmes legacy lives on stronger than ever. If, therefore, you endeavor to tell a new Sherlock Holmes story you better make sure you does it right.   In Sherlock Holmes: and the Mystery of the Broken Window, author William Todd did just that.

The story is not a traditional locked room who done it. In fact, when a beautiful fifteen-year-old girl disappears from her home, the first and most obvious clue is that her bedroom window has been smashed. There are, however, no other signs of entrance or egress.   A local constable has his theory but the missing girl’s brother does not believe his assessment of the situation so he heads to Baker Street in search of Sherlock Holmes.   With Watson in tow Holmes does what he does best, investigating the scene and using his uncanny powers of deduction to perceive what others do not.  He of course solves the mystery and does so in stunning fashion.

Sherlock Holmes: and the Mystery of the Broken Window is William Todd’s first Sherlock Holmes story and I hope others will follow. In my opinion, the author does an admirable job remaining true to Doyle’s original Holmes adventures and that is no easy task. Todd crafts a pretty compelling mystery too. Give it a try and see for yourself.


If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.


TTP Review of WHIP HAND by Dick Francis

  Dick Francis was never much for reoccurring characters. However, there were a couple protagonists that popped up now and again during his more than five decade long career of penning bestselling, award-winning and brilliant suspense novels.

Sid Halley, a personal favorite of mine, made his first appearance with the release of Odds Against in 1965.  In case you’re unfamiliar with Sid, here’s the back story. He was a champion steeple chase jockey but that career ended abruptly when a horse stepped directly on his left wrist and left him crippled. He became a private investigator although he didn’t take to the job right away.  Sid’s left hand was later amputated following a run in with a bad guy with a steel poker and a bad temper.

I don’t know how old I was when I started reading what would be considered adult fiction but Dick Francis was one of the first authors I really latched onto. Honestly, I thought I’d read every book he wrote. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered recently that I’d somehow missed one… and it featured Sid Halley.

   In Whip Hand (1979), Sid’s investigative services are very much in demand. He’s hired to look into some suspicious racing syndicates, an alarming trend of extremely promising horses from one trainer suddenly underperforming and falling ill, and a con man who has Sid’s ex-wife facing a possible jail sentence due to her involvement in what turns out to be a bogus charity. Sid initially doesn’t make much progress on any of those fronts, and one person wants very badly to keep it that way. He not only warns Sid off but threatens him with very specific bodily injury. Bottom line, he’s told if he persists with his inquiries, he’ll be missing two hands instead of just one. The message gets through and Sid backs off, for a while, but then events conspire to throw him back into the fray and he soon discovers there are others that will go to great and painful lengths to stop him from uncovering the truth.

If you can’t tell, I am a huge Dick Francis fan and have been for as long as I can remember. In fact, he was perhaps the biggest influence behind A Shot at Redemption, my first mystery novel. I decided that, if he could write dozens of incredibly compelling and entertaining stories about horse racing, a sport I know and care little about, I should be able to craft at least one decent plot with short track auto racing as the backdrop. My readers can judge how well I succeeded. The point is Francis inspired me as a reader as well as a writer. Sid Halley remains the only Dick Francis character to appear in more than two books, and Whip Hand is one of just two novels to win the Gold Dagger and Edgar Award. In case you’re wondering, John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is the other. Dick Francis sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 89. I assumed that had to be the end for Sid Halley too but he was resurrected in 2013 when Felix Francis released Dick Francis’s Refusal. Like all the other Sid Halley novels, it’s definitely worth reading. I encourage you to take a look at my Turn the Page review.


If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

TTP Review of EXTREME PREY by John Sandford

I published my first novel in early 2014 and I’m now at work on my third. They are all stand-alones because, although I believe I create interesting and well developed characters, I have yet to conceive of a character or storyline that extends beyond the pages of a single novel. A series, at least at this stage of my young literary career, feels slightly out of reach. Of course, there’s no telling what the future might hold. Plenty of authors try it and to varying degrees of success.   But in my opinion, the true master of the long-running series is New York Times bestselling author John Sandford

extreme-prey_sandford    Extreme Prey is the latest addition to Sandford’s highly acclaimed Lucas Davenport saga. Following the events in Gathering Prey, Lucas is no longer employed by the Minnesota Bureau for Criminal Apprehension and finds himself at something of a professional crossroads. Of course, he still has friends in high places and that includes the governor. There is a supposed plot against a politician with presidential aspirations. Lucas is brought in to investigate whether or not the threat is real. In doing so, he uncovers a network of potentially dangerous political activists and soon finds himself in the crosshairs.

Rules of Prey, the first novel featuring then police detective Lucas Davenport, came out in 1988. There have been twenty-five subsequent novels in the Prey series, all bestsellers, plus another 8 novels featuring Virgil Flowers, one of Davenport’s sidekicks. Those were bestsellers too and deservedly so.

It’s no secret that, once a fiction author achieves a certain level of popularity, landing on the bestseller’s list becomes a whole lot easier.  Name value carries a lot of weight in the literary world. I don’t want to point fingers but, in my opinion, certain authors have taken advantage of that and kind of taken their foot off the gas. In other words, their books just aren’t as good as they used to be. Sandford, however, continues to prove why he’s been so adored for so long. Extreme Prey is every bit as solid as any of the novels in the series. I give it five stars and I’m looking forward to the release of Golden Prey in the spring of 2017.


If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.


TTP Review of THE BONE TREE by Greg Iles

The Bone Tree is the fifth Greg Iles novel featuring fiction author and politician Penn Cage, and the most explosive so far. If you are at all familiar with Iles’ work, you know that’s really saying something.

Bone Tree_Iles  The Bone Tree is the second novel in a trilogy that began with Natchez Burning and will culminate with the 2017 release of Mississippi Blood.   As much as I’m looking forward to that final volume, I honestly can’t imagine how Iles can improve upon what he’s already done. I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on spoilers but I’m going to drop a couple right here.  At the end of Natchez Burning, a local newspaper reporter dies in spectacular fashion taking one of the bad guys with him, and Penn and his fiancée barely escape with their own lives. The Bone Tree picks up right where that left off, and for the next 880 pages, the level of tension only increases. Penn’s whole world crashes down around him. He should be busy preparing for his wedding. Instead, his father is on the run in connection with two different murders, his betrothed, an incredibly driven journalist, continues to peel layers off a decades old story with deadly implications, and a network of ruthless and powerful people, including some high ranking law enforcement officials, prove they will go to any lengths to protect their interests and keep their secrets buried. If you’re looking for a rainbow that ends at a pot of gold, this is not the book for you. It’s dark, ugly, incredibly compelling and, in my opinion, Greg Iles’ strongest work to date.


With some book series, you could start with volume two, three, or seven and really not have missed a heck of a lot. I wouldn’t recommend that in this case. The trilogy that begins with Natchez Burning reads like a single continuous storyline. The second novel picks up right where the first left off, and the characters barely have time to take a breath before they are thrown back into the fire. I’m speaking literally and figuratively, as readers of book #1 may have already surmised. Iles probably broke things up where he did because of writer’s cramp and because he knew a single volume totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,400 pages would get a tad weighty and cumbersome. He was giving his readers a break too. The novels are explosive to say the least. Our collective blood pressures might not be able to handle it if all that action was packed into one.

In fairness to the author, Iles does do a masterful job opening The Bone Tree with a summary of the preceding events.  You could, if you were pressed for time or something, begin with The Bone Tree and it wouldn’t take you too long to get up to speed. However, as I’ve already suggested, I really wouldn’t advise it. The books are brilliant. Do yourself a favor and read them all. I can’t wait for the release of Mississippi Blood to find out what happens to….   Never mind. That would be too much of a spoiler.


If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova. Drop me a line at And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.


TTP Review of YOU by Caroline Kepnes

Second person narrative is a fairly common technique for things like song lyrics, guide books, how-to books and role playing games. You (the most common pronoun in second person narrative) encounter it a whole lot less often in literary fiction. It isn’t unheard of, though. It’s also very definitely not my preference. In fact, I will typically not even bother with a novel if I know that’s how it’s written. Maybe that is shortsighted on my part. I won’t apologize for my taste in books. I will, however, very gladly give credit where credit is due.

A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a webpage. I don’t remember the details, but someone had compiled a list of ten must-read novels with descriptions of each. I don’t know if they were all psychological thrillers but that was a common theme. One of the Tana French books was on the list. I am a big fan of her work, as you’ll see if you read my Turn the Page reviews of Faithful Place or The Likeness. Tana being there immediately gave the other novels credibility, and that was the main reason I downloaded You by Caroline Kepnes.




As the title suggests, although I didn’t pick up on it at the time, You is written primarily in the second person. I must admit that I almost gave up on the book by the time I finished the first sentence. “You walk into the bookstore, and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam.” The plot summary sounded really interesting, but second person narrative usually feels so…awkward.   I didn’t know if I could deal with it for the next 440+ pages. However, I could tell right away that the protagonist had some serious issues. I was curious to learn his story. Some other intangible kept me going too. The further I got, the more fascinated I became and the more I realized second person was the ideal voice for the story.

Joe is a bookseller. He’s likewise judgmental, obsessive, compulsive, manipulative, and he’s got some real anger management issues. It’s also possible he’s flat out crazy. He’s fallen in love before… and it didn’t end well. There’s absolutely no reason to think it will be any different this time around. Yes, Joe has a new sweetheart but she’s got a boyfriend, sort of, and a best friend with problems of her own. Of course, if you know Joe, you also know nothing and no one will prevent him from getting what he wants.

You is fascinating, compelling, and one of the most intriguing psychological thrillers I’ve read in quite some time. As I said, the second person POV Kepnes chose for this book is a bit off-putting at first, at least it was for me; but I very quickly got lost in the story. Before long, the flow of the narrative not only felt natural but absolutely perfect. Five stars for this novel. I’ll give another five to the author for winning me over.


If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to my blogs. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter @Micsova, or drop me a line at And please pick up a copy of A Shot at Redemption or my latest novel, Parlor City Paradise.

TTP Review of SUSPECT by Robert Crais

Suspect_CraisThe two main characters in Suspect by Robert Crais are Maggie and Scott. They both suffer severe symptoms of PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder. Scott is a cop who was badly hurt during an unexpected and horrifying shootout. In addition to his own life threatening injuries, he had the extreme misfortune of watching his friend and partner die. Maggie took bullets in Afghanistan and was nearly killed herself. And like Scott, she also witnessed her partner’s sudden, violent and bloody death.   Here’s the big difference. Maggie is a German shepherd. She was a service animal with the United States Marines. If you’re wondering if dogs really can suffer from PTSD, the unequivocal answer is yes.

It’s hard enough to characterize an animal in human terms. Crais not only pulls that off flawlessly, but takes it to the next level by giving Maggie what’s typically viewed as a human disorder. Scott deals with his PTSD with the help of psychiatrists. He’s able to talk through his problems and address his fears directly. Maggie obviously can’t do that and has to deal with her issues mostly on her own. She ends up in the canine unit with the LAPD but is viewed as damaged goods. She’s on her way to being taken out of action altogether but then Scott, also new to the canine unit, sees something in her and a cautious friendship is born. As Scott and Maggie heal and get more comfortable with each other, they begin to investigate the murder of Scott’s former partner.

Robert Crais     I am a big Robert Crais fan, as evidenced by my Turn the Page reviews of The Watchman and Hostage.   His most popular book series features private investigator Elvis Cole and his mercenary partner, Joe Pike. There are over a dozen of those novels and they’re great—well crafted and packed with suspense. Some of them are told from Cole’s point of view and other’s from Pike’s. That leads into what impresses me most about Crais and that’s his versatility. To date, he has released four standalone novels and they are all vastly different from the Cole/Pike Series. Suspect is perhaps the best example of that. It’s brilliant and daring and, in my opinion, an absolute must read.


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