Book Review: The Last Valentine: A Labyrinth of Love Letters by Felix Alexander

 

Genre: Romance, Historical

Length: 282 Pages

Publishing Date: July 20, 2017

Buying Links for The Last Valentine: A Labyrinth of Love Letters:

Amazon

Author Website:

http://www.felixalexanderwriter.com

Twitter: ForeverPoetic

 

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From the Blurb:

When Olivia Villalobos finds a bloodstained love letter she endeavors to deliver it before Chief Inspector Sedeño finds it in her possession. A city along the southern coast of Puerto Rico emerges in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Olivia, daughter of a drunkard police investigator who never knew the truth behind her mother’s disappearance, finds a bloodstained love letter in the hidden compartment of her father’s coat. Convinced it belonged to the man recently found dead she sets out to deliver it to the Labyrinth of Love Letters. A mysterious place believed to be an urban legend where the transients of forbidden love leave missives for one another. She enlists the help of Isaac Quintero to find the Labyrinth and they soon realize their quest has opened the door into Old Sienna’s darkest secrets–the perils, madness and depth of tragic love.

 

My review:

Set in 1935 in Old Sienna, a lovely Puerto Rico town, the book takes the reader on an adventure filled romantic mystery. An unidentified man is found murdered in a street of Old Sienna. The man’s identity remains unknown. The only clue that can lead to reveal the victim’s identity, a bloodstained love letter found with the victim’s body disappears from the police evidence files. Chief Inspector Sedeno who takes on the investigation suspects one of his colleague, Inspector Javier Villalobos of the theft. Unknowingly, the letter lands in Inspector Villalobos’ daughter, Olivia’s hands, prompting a search for the mythical Labyrinth of Love Letters. Will Olivia Villalobos with the help of her childhood friend, Isaac Quintero, succeed in finding the mysterious Labyrinth? What happens when long-buried secrets come out in the open and threatens to change lives of everyone involved?

In The Last Valentine, Alexander depicts love in its full glory, be it the happily ever after scenario or tragic end to some unfortunate love story angle in a sweet, old-fashioned world. For those who do not care about romance genre much, The Last Valentine would seem a bit over the top when it comes to depiction of to what extent a lover could go for the sake of their love. The mystery part of the story; finding the identity of the murder victim and that of murderer, nevertheless, is very intriguing, I would have loved to see the author depicts it in more of a hard-boiled stance: whereas the beginning of the book promises a delicious, old-fashioned, cozy mystery story, it becomes heavy on romance as the story proceeds. Not that it would hamper the reader’s ability to enjoy the book any less though.

Alexander’s writing is elegant and lovers of classic literature would find intermittent citations of stunning pieces of classic literary giants’ work (including the lesser known ones’ that I’m itching to get my hands on right now!) a pleasure to read. The setting of old-world Puerto Rico as well as the concept of Labyrinth of Love Letters is fascinating. The lovers of historical romance genre with a healthy dose of mystery would definitely love The Last Valentine.

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Book Review: Beyond the Fence by Sheldon Peart

 

Genre: Mystery, Thrillers, Suspense

Length: 323 Pages

Publishing Date: June 16, 2016

 

Buying Links For Beyond the Fence:

Google

 

Author Website:

http://sheldonpeart.com/

 

33774439

 

From the Blurb:

Frustrated by constant praedial thieves, Victor Buddom erects an electrified fence on his property in rural Jamaica. After a man is electrocuted and another brutally murdered, the fence becomes the centre of a shocking mystery. The handsome and experienced Inspector Donovan Black is assigned to the case, but things take a turn for the worse when his colleague is murdered on the Buddom property. Determined to uncover the truth, Inspector Black launches his investigation but an ingenious plan to conceal murder sets him off on conflicting leads. With puzzling and chilling evidence pointing to several persons, including a respected businessman and the undercover leader of a criminal gang, questions emerge about whether the police will manage to unearth the real story. A searing and suspenseful tale filled with plots and counter plots, blackmail and seduction, the exciting thriller leaves the reader constantly guessing and on the brink of unimaginable reveals.

 

My Review:

Most of the time when blurb of a book pulls you in, the book delivers. The same is true in case of Sheldon Peart’s Beyond the Fence. The blurb is intriguing (I wouldn’t say so about the cover though which I find quite bland) and the book is equally absorbing. The plot is quite dense, the story arresting and there are plenty of twists and turns that will keep readers turning the pages.

The book starts with electrocution of a gang member on Victor Buddom’s property and the parallel happenings reminded me of James M. Cain’s ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’: not that there is any planning going on about killing the husband, but the emerging overall picture seems to promise the same flurry of activities. Soon other sub plots emerge and the author did a pretty decent job of keeping all of those together.

The pace is fast, story intense and there is lots of action. The book is set in Jamaica and the setting adds intrigue to the story.

When it comes to characterization, Sheldon Pear has done a good job. There are many characters in the book. I’m tempted to say too many, but they don’t create confusion in readers’ mind which easily can happen with such a vast array of personalities in a story. The only confusion occurs in the last chapter where readers are unable to make up their mind about the characters or happenings for that matter. Apart from that, the characterization is good, especially, if you don’t mind all the women depicted as sexually starved flirts and selfish and men all crooks: even the good detectives in the story. So, yes, there is no likable character. But it wouldn’t stop readers from enjoying the tale: remember Raymond Chandler’s books, the men mostly crooks and women sensual goddesses? You get the drift.

The plot is quite dense and it comprises of many sub plots. Peart has done a good job of bringing everything together and tidied up all the lose ends nicely. Characters’ ties to criminal gang is explored in details, something that looked like a small-part of the main plot but is actually quite significant. Peart took time to drop surprises after surprises all through the story: something mystery lovers would really love.

My warning: there is quite a lot of violence, women abuse and profanity, so the book is suitable to 18+ readers.

The surprising thing is there is no review for this book on goodreads. Any mystery/thriller lover reading my review, do give a try to this book. It’s worth it. You wouldn’t be disappointed.

Loved it!

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Book Review – Tied to Deceit by Neena H. Brar

Genre: Mystery / Whodunit

Length: 326 Pages

Publishing Date: August 4, 2018

 

Buying Links For Tied to Deceit:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Chapters / Indigo
IndieBound
Bookdepositery

 

Author website:

http://neenabrar.com

From the Blurb:9781775158028Tied to deceitcover

On a drizzly August morning, the inhabitants of the hill town of Sanover, Himachal Pradesh, wake up to the shocking news of the murder of the exquisite, secretive, malicious, and thoroughly immoral Devika Singh.

As Superintendent of Police Vishwanath Sharma begins to sift through the hidden secrets of Devika Singh’s life, it becomes evident that everyone who knew her seems to have a clear-cut motive for killing her.

Faced with the investigation of a crime that appears to have as many suspects as there are motives, Vishwanath Sharma probes the sinister web spun around a tangle of lies and deception.

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My Rating: 5/5

My Review:

Five stars for me. It was awesomely satisfying to sink my teeth into a book full of layers and complexities.

Devika Singh is a woman nobody likes; she is beautiful, cunning, thoroughly immoral and vicious. One morning, she is found murdered in her bed. Enters SP Vishwanath Sharma. As he starts to investigate the murder, it becomes clear that there are too many suspects and motives; almost everyone who knew her seems to have a motive for killing her. As Sharma delves further into the investigation, he unravels layers of deceits, lies and hidden secrets.

The thing to remember is, it’s not your usual mystery. The book is much more than that; it is dense; a story not only of murder but of infidelity and its devastating consequences, how it affects a marriage and alters the mindset of the other spouse (hint: ending but no spoilers here); of human relations, of social issues and psychological complexities. The quote below summarises a failing marriage nicely:

“He had swept her off her feet then, and was all charm and charisma but then the magic slowly diminished and finally died due to his secret betrayals over time. Thousands of little resentments had replaced the early warmth. But their hearts, although heavy with bitterness and anger at the failed expectations, had gotten used to the solace of each other’s company that often comes with years of living together, and they never stopped performing this morning ritual of their married life.”

The characters are thoroughly developed; complex and very human. Devika, I hated. Hated with an intensity. Though, she died quickly in the first few chapters, she made me fall in hate with her. I couldn’t feel sad for her. And despite her early death, it is she who dominates the story until the very end.

I liked Gayatri Bhardwaj’s character for her strong personality; especially the way the author wrapped it up for her in the end (no spoilers). Urvashi is another strong character. She is not there much in the story, but nevertheless, succeeds in leaving a strong impression on me.

Thanks to the author for creating proper women characters. It seems all the literary heroines in today’s time are super-confused, drunkard, delusional and fickle.

The main detective, SP Sharma takes out the role of an observer throughout the story instead of being overly personalised. The plot is tight, sharp and concise.

I loved the ending. The ending is fast, to the point and nicely tidied up. Author wrapped it up quite well. There are no long chapters or unnecessary details that goes on and on just for the sake of adding another few pages to the book.

Even if you’re a traditional mystery buff, or have a keen whodunit interest, you may not be able to figure the culprit on your own.

There is one thing I want to say. If you like pulp fiction (The Couple Next Door kind of books) this book is not for you. Read it if you have a good taste in mystery.
I will be looking forward to Brar’s next book.

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