ARC Review: One Right Thing (Matthew Iden)

There’s going to be another time when you’ll wonder if you got it in you to do the right thing. You gonna be up for it?”

 

This is the third installment of Marty Singer mysteries — and only within few days, and three books in, I already know that this will be a series I follow religiously. Marty is driving on Virginia’s Route 29, when he sees a billboard not far from Cain’s Crossing, with a sign “J.D. HOPE WAS MURDERED ON MAY 6TH. DO YOU KNOW WHY?“. The sign causes him to stop and calls the number on the sign. Because Marty knew J.D. Hope. Twenty years ago, he arrested Hope for murder in D.C. And so the story begins…

Some people lose their night sleep because they’re reading a great book. For me, though, I have a very strict sleeping time. I rarely sleep late even if I am in the middle of reading a good book. Instead, it is when I ‘sacrifice’ my shut-eye during morning commute, when I can’t keep my eyes off my Kindle when I am standing/sitting on a train or a bus, THAT is when I know that I’m in a company of a special book.

That’s what happened to me when I read One Right Thing . It is another solid entry of the series and simply the best yet.

Marty’s health issue is one element that draws me into this series in the beginning. A former detective fighting cancer is not something I stumble upon often. It also humanizes Marty as someone facing a grave illness and knowing his own limitation when working a case.

Interestingly, Marty’s health issue now resides to the background. After having successful surgery, Marty is in remission. While it should’ve eliminate the unique element of Marty’s situation, it actually strengthen the story line here somewhat. Being in remission enables Marty to be more focused, to be more relentless, in trying to gather information, to ask people around even when he is being stonewalled by Hope’s family, Hope’s wife, as well as Local PD. Heck, Marty is even able to give one-two ass-kicking lessons to a couple of bad guys.

This creates a very smooth flow between the investigation and action. I could guess what drives Marty to try finding out who murders Hope, to do that one right thing, and that what makes the answer of the murder as the ‘punch-in-the-gut’ revelation. It sure will stay with me for a longer time. This is an ending to remember, and elevated the whole story to my 5-stars level.

In addition, Matthew Iden provides several twists and turns that make the case more complex than simply a murder of a local crook. There are other things in play within the small town of Cain’s Crossing, and one development made my eyes go wide and I muttered, “Oh, shit“.

Bottom line,  One Right Thing is a very well-written, intelligent, and one of my most satisfying reads of the year. I am so happy that I discover this series and I look forward to reading more Marty Singer books in the future (and I will, I already have book #4 and #5 with me).

RATING: 5 out of 5

5stars

 

 

The book is provided by Thomas & Mercer publishing via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

17671864Title: One Right Thing (A Marty Singer Mystery, #3)
Author: Matthew Iden
Genre: Mystery
Length: 258 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing)
Release Date: December 16, 2014

ARC Review: Blueblood (Matthew Iden)

Sam Bloch, a lieutenant with the MPDC Major Narcotics Branch, who is also a mid-level HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force) comes to Marty Singer after he suspects a serial killer is murdering cops, one of them Bloch’s team member. Nobody in Bloch’s department thinks the case worth investigating. Being stonewalled, Bloch asks Marty’s favor to gather information and do the legwork for him…

Blueblood is the second book featuring Marty Singer, a retired MPDC homicide detective. I thought this was definitely more solid than the first book — and more balanced between the investigation/mystery as well as Marty’s health issue. I really don’t mind about Marty’s cancer plot, because that’s the one that draws me into Marty in the first place. However, in the first book, Marty’s chemo also somehow puts the investigation into a halt several times over, which for me, interrupts the pace of the action. Also, the ‘alternate’ chapters (which shows a different third person perspectives in italic) don’t reveal big clues until the right moment (unlike in the first book).

As a character, I really like Marty. Marty doesn’t push the boundaries, going into lone-wolf, don’t care about the rules kind of guy. Sometimes when it comes to gritty mystery with homicide detectives or PIs, the protagonists fall into hard-ass guys territory. Not Marty though. I think it’s because he’s a good cop with thirty years of experience on the department — in addition to being saddled with cancer. So he does thing rationally, trying to cross the edge a little bit when gathering evidence, but never overboard.

I also love Marty’s relationship with Amanda — the daughter of a murder victim first appeared in the first book. She has become like a daughter for Marty and I think she’s a very good influence in Marty’s life. Marty seems lacking in that family department, so I’m glad that Amanda fills that space. I see few reviewers think that a hint of romance will help humanizes Marty more, but I beg to differ. I think the romance in the first book is not a believable story line and doesn’t fit with the mystery — at least for me. At this moment, I feel happy enough if I see more Amanda and father-daughter moment with Marty. So unless there’s a good basis for romance, I don’t mind if Marty sticks with just Amanda for a while.

I don’t really care about the gang issues though — and that’s probably the only thing that stops me from rating this higher. I like the mystery, and the idea of a serial killer behind the cops’ death. I like the twist in the revelation as well. But the whole gang issue itself, I really don’t care about them.

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

The book is provided by Thomas & Mercer publishing via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:
16047701Title: Blueblood (A Marty Singer Mystery, #2)
Author: Matthew Iden
Genre: Mystery
Length: 258 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing)
Release Date: December 16, 2014

ARC Review: A Reason to Live (Matthew Iden)

*3.75 stars rounded up*

It has been awhile since I started a new mystery series by a new-to-me author. I picked this up from “Read Now” Mystery Section at Netgalley on a whim; I liked the cover. But as I started, it turned out to be a good decision. I really enjoyed this mainly because of one element. Marty Singer, the former DC homicide detective retired because he suffered cancer. For me that was one of the major factors contributed to my thinking this was different. I don’t think I have read detective stories whose character are battling major illness. Workaholic, yes. Addict, yes. Lack of ability for social connection, yes. But one with cancer, no.

On one hand, the cancer plot humanizes Singer greatly. Matthew Iden doesn’t pull punches too. We have Singer undergoing chemotherapy as well as suffering from the horrible after effect that makes him passed out or feeling weak or losing appetite. It was appealing to me because it shows that even a good detective is not indestructible. I sympathized for Singer greatly.

On the other hand, though, I also thought the cancer plot slightly put the investigation on a break. Due to his illness, Singer can’t exactly going full speed in gathering information, or physically kicking other people’s ass to get his answer. It’s not exactly a double-edge sword situation… I mean, I wouldn’t want Singer to be miraculously healed because that would take out the unique part of this series. I guess I just need to readjust my expectation when I continue with further books.

The mystery part is pretty decent. Singer is not a private detective actively taking cases so the dead body in this story is from 12 years ago (we have more dead bodies near the end though). The case comes to him on a ‘chance’ when the daughter of a murder victim sought out Singer’s help after thinking that her mother’s murderer is back taunting him. I said “decent” because Iden has these italic chapters as part of the other major player’s perspective which kind of reveal big clues (and later, the villain), which kind of taking the suspense (or the fun of me guessing) out of the equation. There are still few twists along the way, but not one that made my eyes go wide in disbelief for example.

Iden adds a ‘touch’ of romance for Singer; but I thought it was a bit out of the blue (especially considering the woman character). Don’t think the story needs a romantic flair anyway, so I was happy the way that it ended.

All in all, I think this is a good start of a series. I think I will check out the sequel; I’m in the mood for mystery now.

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

The book is provided by Thomas & Mercer publishing via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

23881082Title: A Reason to Live (A Marty Singer Mystery, #1)
Author: Matthew Iden
Genre: Mystery
Length: 360 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing)
Release Date: December 16, 2014

ARC Review: Unnatural (Joanna Chambers)

Friends-to-lovers theme (and to that extend, second chances as well) is my weakness. I simply love it. It doesn’t matter that often the issue that stops the friends to be lovers is cliché (i.e. doesn’t want to change the friendship status) or that it becomes repetitive and frustrating, I will still choose to read them. Because then what matters to me is how the story makes me FEEL. Like, how many times I will feel my heart tied up in knots, even when I want to knock the character’s head for being unable to recognize that happiness is right before their very eyes. Yes, it all boils down to that.

Joanna Chambers’ Unnatural, a spin-off from her Enlightenment series fits that criteria to the “T” … and oh, how it makes me feel. What can I say, everytime I read about Iain’s regret, about how he wants to reconciliate with James, and then the thick tension of the two men when Iain finally sees James again after two years, it just done wonders to my heart. I devoured the story like it was a precious gem. I savored each moments … from their early childhood moments, growing up, first kiss, the big blow out at Kit Redford’s place (P.S. you can also read about that from Chambers’ free short story, Seasons Pass), until the reunion, and finally, FINALLY the happy ending.

Yes, it was a bit frustrating because Iain keeps going back and forth from rejecting James to coming back to him. However, reading the early scene that contributes to Iain’s guilty feeling as well as the baggage of upholding his family honor helped me to surpress my frustration. I knew that the ending would be worth it — the moment when Iain can finally let go, and embraces the promise of happiness that James can give him. And oh, it was GLORIOUS. I admit that my eyes became all watery.

The only thing that stops me from giving this 5-stars is the structure of the story, which is moving back and forth from past to present. On one hand, this structure helps build up momentum because I kept wondering how the past unraveled to understand more about what happens in the present time. On the other hand, it also made me a bit impatient since I wanted to read how Iain can fix everything.

This is MY kind of romance, MY kind of story. It is tender, sweet, frustrating, but romantic, oh, how it is so romantic. It might lack sexy times but that what draws me to it, honestly. Because it makes better emotional connection for me as a reader — knowing that the thread of love between Iain and James is more than just physical. It is something stronger, something more binding, something more … meaningful. Thank you so much for this story Ms. Chambers. It’s definitely one of my favorite of the year.

*draws little ♥ all over my Kindle*

RATING: 4.5 out of 5
4.5

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

26344445Title: Unnatural
Author: Joanna Chambers
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Word Count: 70,076
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: November 24, 2015