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November 27, 2023

Reading Books in a Series Out of Order

by Susan Roberts

The last two books that I read were part of a series - one was book three in the series and one was book four.  In both cases, I was not aware that the books were part of a series until I had read part of the books. Both books worked fine as a standalone but there were unanswered questions about the main character's past and motivations that would have been more clear if I  had read each series in order.  In both cases, the main characters intrigued me enough that I've ordered the earlier books in each series.

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The House of Love and Death by Andrew Klavan  

book cover of hard-boiled mystery novel The House of Love and Death by Andrew Klaven
October 2023; Mysterious Press; 978-1613164464
audio, ebook, print (312 pages); hard-boiled mystery 

Ex-spy-turned-English professor defies accepted narratives and corrupt local authorities to investigate the murder of a wealthy family in the Chicago suburbs.

Cameron Winters is a college professor and loves the written word.  His past life is another story.  He was a spy and his main job was to kill people that the government wanted dead.  Because of his past life and his lack of remorse, he has become interested in solving crimes -- not all crimes but those that appear puzzling.   He becomes interested in a local crime after reading a news article about it.  Three members of a family plus their live-in nanny were found in a house fire but all had been killed by gunshot before the fire was started.  No one survived but a young boy who had memories that were more confusing than helpful.  The local police believe that the crime was committed by the daughter's boyfriend who was a scholarship student at the daughter's prestigious high school.  To Cameron, the police had taken the easy way out and hadn't investigated enough.  He's told by the local police in no uncertain terms to mind his own business and get out of town.  Still, something keeps taking him back and doing more investigating.  While he is investigating he's also sharing his past with his therapist which is an interesting way of providing a back story to the reader.

This was a well-written mystery and I wasn't sure of the outcome until close to the end.  Cameron was a well-written character.  He was trying to get rid of his thoughts about his past as an assassin and devote himself to teaching literature and solving a few crimes but thoughts of his past life kept coming back and he was seeing a therapist to work through it.  He was an interesting character and definitely more than just an English professor! 

Justice Be Done by Carla Damron 

book cover of police procedural Justice Be Done by Carla Damron
September 2023;  Bella Rosa Books; 978-1622681815
ebook, print (302 pages); police procedural

Columbia South Carolina becomes a war zone with racial tensions threatening to ignite.  A young man is in prison for beating up a store clerk -- his reason is that he just snapped after years of racial treatment and comments.  It's enough to ignite racial tensions in the city.  A bomb is thrown into the young man's mother's home and she ends up in the hospital near death.  Then the protests start - at first there is calm but soon there are protests on both sides and they begin to get violent.  There is prejudice in the police department and in the local politicians and the protests keep getting worse until there is a dead police officer and a group of white supremacists who decide that they want justice.

In the middle of all of this is social worker Caleb Knowles who is working to get to the bottom of who is egging on the problems as he tries to restore order to his town.  Caleb is a good guy who loves his town but also likes working out of the box when he can help other people.   This book is a real page-turner as tensions in Columbia continue to increase.  Caleb is a well-written character and I plan to read the previous books about him to get more of his background.

Buy Justice Be Done at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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