Skewered and Other London Cruelties by Benedict J. Jones

I bought this collection of shorts after I read Pennies for Charon, the first stand alone Charlie “Bars” Constantinou  and wanted to know more.

You first meet Charlie Bars in this dark, bleak and brutal story collection. Fresh out of his 3rd stint in prison and working in his Uncle’s kebab shop he appears as the anti-hero in 3 of the tales. He is trying to make a go of the straight and narrow but quickly falls back into gray.

Charlie Bars is a gangster who is good at solving problems and finding people, the author is still wonderfully vague at filling in Charlie’s gangster past. Providing just enough detail to make him an intriguing character. We meet Mazza and witness the formation of their PI business.

He has bad luck with women, his cases often take unexpected bad turns, and with “friends” like Mazza who needs enemies.

He is Noir perfection as I never quite know whether he is basically a good guy who occasionally does some really bad things or if he is basically a bad guy who occasionally does some really good things. Just like I like it.

Skewered and the two other shorts that feature Charlie sees Benedict J. Jones fleshing this character out and this collection shows an author who is honing his craft. The writing is great here and even better in Pennies for Charon.

I went in thinking I would just read the “Charlie Bars” stories but quickly demolished the whole book. I liked the occasional paranormal twists and some of shorts featured out of the box shockers.

Now for a cup of Devil’s Brew!

White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux

I received an advanced digital copy of White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux compliments of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. This novel will be published October 29. 2019.

Amazon Book Blurb says:

A crackling Christmas mystery that combines murder and blackmail at a holiday office party, in a mashup reminiscent of Big Little Lies and Clue.

There are only a few rules in a White Elephant gift exchange: 1) Everyone brings a wrapped, unmarked gift. 2) Numbers are drawn to decide who picks first. 3) Gifts don’t need to be pricey—and often they’re downright tacky.

But things are a little different in Aspen, Colorado, at the office holiday party for the real estate firm owned by Henry Calhoun and his wife Claudine. Each Christmas sparks a contest among the already competitive staff to see who can buy the most coveted gift: the one that will get stolen the most times, the one that will prove just how many more commissions they earned that year than their colleagues. Designer sunglasses, deluxe spa treatments, front row concert tickets—nothing is off the table. And the staff is even more competitive this year as Zara, the hottest young pop star out of Hollywood, is in town and Claudine is determined to sell her the getaway home of her dreams.

Divorce is Murder by Elka Ray -Crime Wave Press

Elka Ray's latest book is a gripping mystery set in Victoria, British Columbia, a tale that combines romance and murder.

Publisher: Seventh Street Books (Simon & Schuster)  Publication Date: August 20, 2019

My thanks to the author and to Henry Roi of Crime Wave Press who sent me a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The book blurb states:

As teens, they bullied her. Twenty years on, she's not scared of them. Except she should be. After returning to her quiet hometown to care for her ailing mom, divorce lawyer Toby Wong is hired by Josh Barton, a guy who broke her heart as a teen at summer camp. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, Josh wants to divorce Tonya, the mean girl who tormented Toby all those years ago.

When Tonya is found murdered, Josh is the prime suspect. Together with her fortune-teller mom and her pregnant best friend, Toby sets out to clear Josh, whom she still has a guilty crush on. As she delves deeper into Tonya's murder, Toby keeps running into catty ex-campers she'd rather forget.

Are her old insecurities making her paranoid? Only too late does she realize she's in danger. The first entry in an addictive new series, Divorce is Murder introduces fans of mystery and romance to an irresistibly smart and sarcastic new heroine - Chinese Canadian divorce lawyer Toby Wong. 



Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.