book reviews

3 More Detective Stories from Netgalley

Here are three more great detective novels you won’t want to miss:

  1. Storm Rising — Meg and her working dog Hawk must battle the after-effects of a hurricane to save underage girls trapped in the sex  trade
  2. Broken Ground — Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit has three crimes to solve this time and a boss who doesn’t like her
  3. Wolf Pack — Joe Pickett, Wyoming game warden, must learn about drones that are frightening the wild herds to unravel this mystery
–all received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review
–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

Storm Rising

by Sara Driscoll


In Sara Driscoll’s Storm Rising (Penguin Random House 2018), Meg Jennings and her working dog, Hawk, partners on the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team, are sent on search and rescue after a hurricane devastates Virginia Beach Virginia and surrounding areas. One of the rescues is a teenager who has been forced into the sex trade, now free only because the van her pimp was driving crashed during the storm, almost drowning all of the girls. But not him–he escapes, leaving his ‘property’ to certain death. Though several do die, Meg and Hawk rescue one of the girls and her friend and through Hawk, becomes the one person these youngsters feel they can trust. With their help, Meg and the FBI team hope to cut off the head of this sex trade food chain. But they must move fast because several girls are still out there and if the ringleaders find out the Feds are on to them, they will flee.

The story is filled with authentic information and protocols about the part K9s play in search and rescue. I came away feeling like I understood the process much better than before reading the story. Here’s an example:

“Do not enter a structure you feel is unstable. X-code any structure you search. If you need assistance from another team or from first responders, call it in, and I’ll make sure they get to you. Now, get out there. Sunset is 20:18 tonight”

Driscoll is a talented storyteller, on a par with Mizushima’s working dog stories, with a more modulated pace and a set of characters who are able to maintain a positive frame of mind and a tight circle of committed family and friends despite the work they must do and the hours they must keep.

I love dog stories and picked this from Netgalley because one of the co-stars is a dog. Driscoll does a great job characterizing Hawk and treating him with all the respect that members of the canine species deserve. Here are a few of my favorite Hawk lines:

“…his entire back end undulating with his enthusiastic tail wags.”

“Hawk stood up and stretched after his nap, and then wandered over to her. “Hi, buddy. How’s my boy?” She stroked a hand down his glossy black”

“Hawk crossed his front paws and laid his head down on them with a gusty, patient sigh.”

The ending is satisfying, making me eager to read the rest of this series. This is highly recommended for readers who like stories about working dogs, about natural disasters, and female protagonists.

Broken Ground

by Val McDermid


In Val McDermid’s Broken Ground (Atlantic Monthly Press 2018), in the Karen Pirie series, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit is chasing down a decades-old sex crime murder when she gets called to help with a body found in the grave of a 1944 motorcycle–but the body was buried well after the motorcycle. How it got there takes most of the book to figure out but Pirie does what she always does–starts at the beginning, one brilliant step at a time. As if this isn’t enough for her three-person squad, she becomes involved in a double murder.

Karen Pirie is a fascinating character. She is a woman’s woman.

“She’d never fitted his image of what a woman should be –obsequious, obedient and ornamental.”

She is intelligent and quick thinking, logical and rational, and comfortable leading her squad, being a hard-a** female, and standing up for right when no one else will. When her soulmate died, she assumed she would never again find love and convinced herself she would be content to find justice for victims. But here, in the Scottish bogs (the setting of one of the murders), she surprises herself by feeling a flicker of interest–that is returned.

An integral part of the story is the growing animosity between Pirie and her boss, Ann Markie. It’s not only Pirie’s success that threatens her boss but her refusal to play the deference game.

“Ann Markie was devoted to the kind of justice that let her craft sound bites for the evening news.”

Now, juggling three high-profile murder cases, her boss is annoyed to the point Pirie fears for her job.

I am addicted to Val McDermid’s books because she has such a way with words. From her pen, the phrases are evocative, pithy, uniquely clever, and often very Scottish. See if you agree:

“…the cool night air wicked the sweat from the back of his neck.”
“…tacked on at the back like a grudging afterthought”
“But I know one thing. You’ve left way too late to make a good first impression.”
“An insult of a window looked out across an alley on to a blank wall.”
Broken Ground is as much a procedural on police work and on how to run a squad in Scotland as it is a fast-moving, twist-filled murder-mystery. It is highly recommended for those who love police crime novels and murder mysteries.

Wolf Pack

by C.J. Box


In Wolf Pack (G.P. Putnam 2019), C.J. Box’s nineteenth in the wildly-popular Joe Pickett series, Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett is back to work patrolling the beautiful loneliness of the Wyoming wilds thanks to the legal efforts of the former Wyoming governor and the ineptitude of the new one.

“…cold hard rain to Winchester with dark storm clouds pressing down on him and obscuring the mountains.”

“The stream had jumped the banks, and water pooled within stands of willows and around the trunks of pine trees. Large branches and even entire trees had come down from above and were wedged into hazardous deadwood dams that diverted the flow and changed the banks.”

As part of the settlement (read about that drama in Book #18), he has a new house, a new car, and his old seniority number. But instead of wild herds and hunters, he runs into a drone, herding the natural herds, frightening them so badly, they run themselves to death trying to escape.

“The pilot was destroying winter-weakened mule deer by running them until they collapsed.”

Working with another game warden, he begins to hone in on where the drone is coming from and who controls it, thanks in no small part to his long-time friend, Nate Romanowski. Nate trains falcons for lots of interesting jobs but most recently, to take down drones by grabbing them from underneath–the non-propeller side. Fighting drones is new territory for Joe but anyone who has read earlier books in this series knows that no problem frightens Joe away. He may bend the rules and break new territory, but he’ll figure out how to protect the lives of his beloved wild animals. The other piece of investigating that he’s good at–really good–is connecting the dots. Joe often sees what no one else does and pulls that thread. Again, despite drones and falcons, he does just that but not without a strange group of hard folks visiting his town and the murder-suicide of a couple who seemed to have lots to live for and the zest to do just that.

And the last ten pages–you don’t want to miss those.

More detective novels

Dead Authors Writing

5 Detective Story Reviews from NetGalley

My Month With Alex McNight

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

42 thoughts on “3 More Detective Stories from Netgalley

  1. Pingback: 4 More NetGalley ARCs–3 Great, 1 Good | WordDreams...

  2. Pingback: 2 Great NetGalley Finds and 1 That Left Me Shaking My Head | WordDreams...

  3. Thanks Jacqui – I keep saying I need to settle to read … but don’t do fiction … but remember many years of reading detective series in my late teens, early twenties – then did sport … must have read somethings … but not many books – cookery ones probably! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These sound like great picks! I’ve never actually read Val McDermid myself but I know I’ve bought one or two for my folks in the past. Will have to add this one to the list for my father’s birthday in September. x

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve heard of all these authors, although only read Val McDermid. I like the sound of CJ Box, but being 19th in the series puts me off. My anal personality means I like to start with book 1 and that’s a lot of books if this is 19!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Three more great books with exciting plots, good for keeping one up late at night. That Storm Rising addresses the sex trade is well worth a read as this is a real world wide epidemic. The tension between the two strong women in Broken Ground demonstrates how truth reveals one’s sense of loyalty. What a unique spin on the ancient art of falconry used to confound the new technology of drone criminals in Wolf Pack. Your reviews make me want to read these compelling books.

    Liked by 1 person

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