BOOK REVIEWS: #MYSTERY – JACQUIE BIGGAR, #YA – YVETTE CALLEIRO, #CHILDREN – D.L. FINN
I’ve read many interesting books last month and this month and am happy to share the reviews with you.
Virtually Gone: A Julie Crenshaw Murder/Mystery by Jacquie Biggar
Virtually Gone by Jacquie Biggar is Book 6 of the High-Tech Crime Solvers, but this book reads well as a stand-alone book. Julie Crenshaw is a Vancouver Island Broadcasting System reporter assigned to investigate a series of sexual assault cases. The last victim, Emily, is raped and killed. Detective Matthew Roy is at the crime scene when Julie wants to interview him. He only agrees to do so because Julie is his partner’s girlfriend. The rise of crime in recent years frustrates him. These cases particularly upset him because his half-sister was raped and murdered ten years ago. It’s his determination to get this predator.
The plot develops tightly and moves along at a steady pace. Some evidence, such as Emily being pregnant, takes the investigation all over the place. Other evidence makes Matt think the current rapist on the loose is the same one who killed his half-sister. He gets a sketch of a suspect’s profile through high-tech phenotyping using DNA. He uses other high-tech that lead the chase closer to catching the killer. But it’s like a cat-and-mouse game and the suspect is outsmarting them for ten years.
I’ve read Jacquie’s romance books. It’s a delight to discover her talent in thrillers. In this book, she presents a seamless explanation of the high-tech using DNA to do profiling that tracks down the suspect. She also describes the investigation protocol well throughout the story. I enjoy murder mysteries and this book kept me hooked from the beginning. I read the book in one sitting and finished it in half a day.
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HYPE by Yvette M. Calleiro
I love the cover of HYPE. Cecilia (Cici) in the story is the girl wearing the cheering leading uniform. Gaby is the girl in gothic style. The face with duct tape crossing the mouth describes the horror and the girls’ fear of speaking out. The story is told in the first person POV. I find it intimate to listen to Cici telling her story.
Yvette Calleiro creates this story with the seamless blend of her experiences as a high school cheerleader, later a high school teacher, and the observation of the TRUST counseling at the school. Cici has everything a teenage girl hopes for, a loving mother, a comfortable home, co-caption of the cheering leading team, and a sincere relationship with Ryne who won the title of Prom King. Whereas Gaby is a self-absorbed and gothic-looking girl every student tries to avoid. Cici’s world turns upside down when her mom remarried John, bringing Gaby to be her stepsister. Cici is happy for her mom to marry a loving guy but dreads having Gaby in the same house. The unthinkable happens after John and Gaby moved in. John rapes her and threatens the safety of her mom. Cici then finds out Gaby is John’s stepdaughter who suffers from the same fate. The girls have become friends and talk at school. They are afraid that they must allow John to abuse them for one more year before they leave the house for college.
The story is well constructed. Young adults can identify many high school activities and social life in the first half of the book. The second half of the book powerfully describes the predator who appears to be a wolf in the sheepskin who preys on the teenage girls. He looks smart, friendly, and successful. He is skillful to threaten these young girls to keep their mouths shut while continually abusing them for a lengthy period. I’m glad to learn that some high schools have TRUST counselors who establish a trust relationship with the students to help them during crises. I was glad that it came to a clever ending. Highly recommended.
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Dolphin’s Cave by D.L. Finn
This delightful fantasy book is one of my favorite books by D.L. Finn. The story is set in Maui, Hawaii. Coral is a fifteen-year-old girl whose parents disappeared in a plane crash going from Oahu to Maui in Hawaii. She has lived with her Aunt Ruby for eight years. She has a recurring dream about riding a dolphin going into the depth of the ocean. The dream is always the same, but short at leading her to the crash site to find out about her parents. She wants her aunt to take her on a vacation in Maui to solve this mystery.
Coral’s dream comes true when Aunt Ruby plans a work-related trip to Maui. Mr. and Mrs. Penny and their children Ben and Beth are going on the same trip. The first half of the story has a slow build-up with many fun activities such as sunbathing on the beach, watching the sunset, shopping, eating, and sightseeing. They remind me of my frequent visit to Maui.
The vacation turns into an adventure when a strange woman seems to spy on them and take photos of them. A strange man follows them, then pretends to fall in love with Aunt Ruby. A strange thing happens when Ruby is almost hit by a car when she crosses the road. Eventually, Ruby is in a car accident with a broken foot and sprained shoulder and ends up in a hospital.
Coral knows her aunt wants her to have fun. So, she, Ben, and Beth go swimming while Ruby is in the hospital. It is during this swimming that she meets the dolphin and the turtles that appear in her dream. The dolphin takes her to a golden city with the water people, where she discovers her hidden heritage. She also finds out about the spies trying to murder her aunt to control her. This fantasy story has a satisfying magical conclusion. I recommend this book to older children and young teenagers.