Anastasia by Colin Falconer

Published (first published December 1st 2003)

ISBN 1863254676 (ISBN13: 9781863254670)

AnastasiaWhen American journalist Michael Sheridan jumps into the Whangpoa River to save a woman he met in one of Shanghai’s taxi clubs, his life is changed irrevocably. A Russian refugee, Anastasia Romanov bears an extraordinary resemblance to the princess of the same name, who was rumored to have survived the brutal murder of her family at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries.

The fate of the youngest daughter of the last Russian Czar has become one of the most talked-about mysteries of the time. But Michael’s Anastasia is suffering from amnesia and remembers little of her life before Shanghai.

Unraveling the mystery of Anastasia’s identity and past takes them both from the streets of Shanghai to the decadence of pre-war Berlin and London, from Bolshevik Russia to New York just before the Wall Street crash. Michael is the only man who has ever helped Anastasia without wanting something in return – but can she give up the chance to be a princess for true love?

Another Colin Falconer book, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This is the second one I have read, but I enjoyed it.

Anastasia is sold into slavery not once, but twice, and expects Michael to bail her out, however he actually ‘sold’ her on one occasion, but he does come to her rescue, because there is something about the enchantingly exotic woman that intoxicates him, and he always finds himself not far from where Ana turns out to be.

Colin shows that he really does carry out careful research when he investigates a story because never once did this story feel fake, or that a detail was missing.  While everyone knows that the real Anastasia did suffer the same fate as her family, you almost wished that the Anastasia of Colin’s book would actually be the real Russian Princess.

The details of the story are rich, and I felt myself sitting, listening to the bustling streets of Shanghai, to the poor and desperation of Berlin and finally the rich life of pre-depression US.

A love story with a difference, and a surprisingly open ending.

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Finding Lubchenko – Michael Simmons

ISBN 1-59514-021-2 Published by Penguin Group

Since his tightfisted millionaire father never gives him any money, Evan ‘liberates’ equipment from his Dad’s business and sells it online.  But when a man is murdered at the office and Mr Macalister is accused of the crime.  Evan is faced with a terrible dilemma.  He alone can clear his father’s name – but only by revealing his own theft operation.  And then he’ll never be grounded forever.

There’s just one thing to do: find the real murderer himself.  Armed only with a cryptic email from someone called Lubchenko, Evan sets off on a quest that catapults him and his two best friends into a world of danger and international intrigue.

Evan has to find out who killed the office worker, because it certainly wasn’t his father.  But he can’t tell anyone without incriminating himself and he doesn’t want to get into any more trouble than he already knows he is going to get into.

Evans father is a cantankerous old man.  He is horrible.  I wouldn’t want him as my father, and I think I would have just let him rot in jail, however, Evan seems to be a sucker for punishment, and he uses all means necessary to find out the story behind the murder.  Even if it involves spending his fathers money.

This story felt like it was written in second person, where you are included in the story, except instead of drawing the reader in, it almost alienates them.  The way the story is told is stilted and hard to follow at times.  The flashbacks feel heavy and clunky, and sometimes the reader has to wonder just what is going on and what the main character is thinking.

Apart from the clunkiness of the story, the storyline is interesting and once they get passed all the “why my dad treats me like this”, and “another example of how my father treats me” and yet another “my father treats me like this”.  Without all of the backstory that pulls the reader out of the story, this would have been a more exciting story.

Sloane Monroe Boxed Set by Cheryl Bradshaw

Publisher: Pixie Publishing ASIN: B0080I5GTY

BLACK DIAMOND DEATH:

On the slopes of Park City, Utah’s newest ski resort a woman is found dead. At first glance, it has all the makings of an accident. But what if she was murdered? Although skeptical, PI Sloane Monroe takes the case and learns not everyone is who they seem, and some will go to any lengths to protect their identity.
SINNERMAN:
PI Sloane Monroe has solved every case that’s come across her desk with the exception of one—the brutal murder of her sister Gabrielle. Three years have passed without a trace of the serial killer until today, when a young woman’s body is discovered on a patch of dirt in front of the local supermarket. Will Sloane exact her revenge before Sinnerman slays his next victim, or will she be too late?

I HAVE A SECRET:
It’s been twenty years since PI Sloane Monroe has returned to her hometown of Tehachapi, California, but when a former classmate is stabbed and tossed overboard during the high school reunion cruise, Sloane isn’t about to allow a murderer to run free in her own backyard. But in a town where everyone is harboring secrets, how many more men will die before she discovers the truth?

This was a freebie on Amazon and I thought I would give it a try, and I enjoyed it very much.

Sloane is a likeable character, a private investigator who gets herself into some interesting cases, but manages to alienate some in the police force along the way.

Add into the mix, a policeman boyfriend who is extremely jealous of her abilities, a mobster, who she is strangely attracted to, a whole range of different scenarios and you have a rich tapestry of well told, good old fashioned whodunnit’s.

I enjoyed the character of Sloane a woman who is troubled yet strong and confident, a woman I could relate to.  I liked the subtle humour in the books and the flow, they didn’t drag and you wondered where the story would go next, the storyline kept on coming.

3rd Degree – James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Headline Book Publishing ISBN 0 7553 0025 4

Detective Lindsay Boxer is jogging along a beautiful San Francisco street as a ferocious blast rips through the neighbourhood.  A townhouse owned by an internet millionaire explodes into flames, three people die and a sinister note signed ‘August Spies’ is found at the scene.  Soon a wave of violence sweeps through the city – and it seems that whoever is behind it is intent of killing someone every three days.

Even more terrifying, the four friends who call themselves the Women’s Murder Club discover that the killer has targeted one of them.  And Lindsay learns that one member of the club is hiding a secret so dangerous and unbelievable that it could destroy them all.

The Women’s Murder Club is one of my favourite reads by James Patterson, with the fast paced action and short chapters, it is easy to read this story in a couple of days.

Lindsay Boxer is on hand when the bomb explodes in a nearby house and finds herself drawn into the mystery right from the word go, but then so is the FBI and Special Agent Joe Molinari from the Department of Homeland Security.

Terrorists are holding the city to ransom, threatening to kill people every three days if their demands for freeing up the rights of the third world country, and to make things worse, a G8 summit is scheduled to begin inSan Franciscoin a matter of days.

The team have the clock against them as they try to work out who is behind the killings, and it is down to the final minutes.  The clock is ticking loudly with every action that takes place, right down to the G8 summit.

Another fast paced action thriller from the master of suspense.  I enjoyed the pace and the freshness of the story (even though this one is a few years old now!).

Bare-Naked Lola – Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

Going undercover is second nature for Private Investigator Lola Cruz, but she’s out of her league when the case of a murdered Royals Courtside Dancer leads her to a local nudist resort. Parading around the sidelines of Sacramento’s professional basketball scene in a barely-there cheerleading outfit is one thing—but parading around in nothing but smile? If she has any chance of hiding this from her traditional family and on-again/off-again boyfriend Jack, she’s going to have a lot more than her duct tape bra and killer dance moves to keep under wraps….

Sadly, I haven’t read the first two of this series – though that doesn’t really matter as Miss Ramirez does a great job of seamlessly introducing any necessary history into the narrative without bogging the story down.

It was a great, light weight read. I powered through it in less than 24 hours and it provided me with a nice little escape and plenty of giggles. Lola Cruz is a character I could easily grow to love: she’s kick ass, loyal to her family and friends, true to her values (once she realizes what they are), and also has a softer side.

There is quite a large cast in the novel, loads of secondary characters, most of whom are a mix of the usual people you’d find in these novels, but each with a unique spin on that archetype. The story line was hilarious, and the situations Lola found herself in had me in stitches.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes these kinds of mysteries – so if you are a fan of Stephanie Plum, then you’ll probably enjoy this one. Worth checking out.