book reviews

More Great Novels From NetGalley

I am always thankful for having found NetGalley and their vast collection of fascinating, tempting books that I can read for free (opinions are my own). Here are a few more I’ve read over the past months and enjoyed:

  • Fool’s Paradise–Chief Jess Stone knows the murdered male he finds and takes it as a personal goal to catch the criminal
  • Dragonfire–Lord Hawke again don’s his international spy cap to rescue the kidnapped grandson of the Queen
  • Prodigal Son–The next in Hurwitz’s Orphan X series–have you ever tried to quit something that was bad for you and failed?

–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

Fool’s Paradise

by Mike Lupica


In Robert B. Parker’s Fool’s Paradise (G.P. Putnam 2020), #19 in the Jesse Stone series originally begun by Robert Parker and now continued by his estate, the murder of a recovering alcoholic in Paradise sets Chief Jesse Stone on a long path of tangled clues. It starts out complicated when Jesse realizes he knows the man and gets moreso when the case takes an unexpected turn.

For a police drama, this one has lots of attitude. Jesse talks often about how he got where he is, as the chief law enforcement in this small town, as do many of the other characters, sharing their introspection on life. At times, to me, these diversions overshadowed the police work and approached becoming a distraction to why I selected a police drama novel. Other readers might come away feeling more connected to the characters.

Whichever side you fall on, you’ll definitely agree that Lupica tells this story with a sense of humor and a light touch that keeps events from becoming too serious. Here are some of my favorite lines:

“I think of myself as a work in progress” 

“…having a hangover was like having a second job.”
“… he’d rather be caught wearing women’s clothing than catch another floater.”

“Molly Crane had always said he was the alonest man she’d ever known.”

Overall, a worthwhile read if you want your police chiefs to be human and not too busy to be friendly and personable. A note. If you watched the TV show with Jesse Stone, this series is much better.


by Ted Bell


Despite a dramatic though somewhat unbelievable opening scene in Ted Bell’s Dragonfire (Penguin 2020), 11th in his storied Alex Hawke series, where Hawk is almost killed defending his manservant and sometimes best friend Pelham, the story quickly becomes the usual hard-charging who-done-it-and-how involving the talented British spy Lord Alexander Hawke and his sidekick Stokely Jones, spiced up with their usual enticing and cleverwit:

“Well! Zhang, my dear, here I was, all prepared for a battle of wits, but you appear to be unarmed. . . .”

They are charged with finding the Queen’s missing adult grandson, also Hawke’s godson, last seen at the swanky Bahamian resort, Dragonfire. To solve this requires a cold but fresh eye on events that happened during WWII that unexpectedly intersected with the present.

I’m a long time fan of the Alex Hawke series though the last few have lacked the earlier luster. They seem to be trying to present the same skill and cleverness of previous novels with a hand tied behind the back, like I sometimes experience when reading novels from ghostwriters. I’d love to hear what you thought of this one.

Prodigal Son

by Greg Hurwitz


Greg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series is incomparable. Throw-away kids are saved from a life of poverty and misery by a stranger who then trains them to serve the government by killing bad guys. Evan Smoak was one of the chosen boys, became the best at his job, and then couldn’t live with what he was doing so quit, vowing to use his prodigious skills to save people in impossible circumstances. In Book 6 of the series, Prodigal Son (Minotaur Books 2021), the case involves Andrew Duran, a young man working minimum wage jobs to pay child support for a daughter he loves more than anything. When he’s blamed for a murder, he must run for his life but he’s no match for the forces arrayed against him. Enter Evan Smoak–Orphan X. He is slow to commit to help this desperate man until he finds out pieces of Duran’s backstory that make Evan understand he must help, and for all the right reasons. The fact that he’s made a deal with the government to retire from what he calls his ‘Nowhere Man’ business, this situation transcends even their threat to prosecute him and toss him in a prison he’ll never escape.

The story, like all in this series, is fast paced with lots of nuance and clever characters you’ll like spending time with. It’s highly recommended to those who love thrillers. In fact I have three more of the books on my table waiting anxiously to be read

More thrillers

Another Thriller from NetGalley

3 More Thrillers–Loved these

3 More NetGalley Mystery-Thriller Wins

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 on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Fall 2021. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning


48 thoughts on “More Great Novels From NetGalley

  1. Do you have to review a book from NetGalley? I was under the impression you did – but you only review books you liked so I’m thinking that isn’t the case?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jacqui – Jesse stone’s stories ring a bell … not to say I’ve read any – we might need to bury ourselves in x number of romances, sci fi stories for a few days … take care … Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These sound like good reads, Jacqui, especially Prodigal Son. My eye was caught by the font size of the authors’ names. It’s interesting when the author becomes as important as the title, or more important! Thanks for the recommendations. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • So he’s ghost writing Robert Parker’s series. He’s probably better than I thought. The problem is, no one can write like Parker. It’s like anyone trying to reproduce Tony Hillerman. or Agatha Christie. Just doesn’t work.

      Liked by 1 person

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