Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Tag: Colorado

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

Featuring Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo, Burning Ridge by critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima is just the treat for fans of Alex Kava.

On a rugged Colorado mountain ridge, Mattie Cobb and her police dog partner Robo make a grisly discovery—and become the targets of a ruthless killer.
Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime—and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.
Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?
A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her—but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.


Thanks to Netgalley for this advance reviewer’s copy! This is Margaret Mizushima’s fourth book in this series, and I’m happy to say that it’s holding my interest just as much as the first one did.

Mattie and loyal K9 partner Robo are handling a crime that hits too close to home. Mattie is slowly coming out of her emotional shell, but still has a long way to go when it comes to opening her heart to veterinarian Cole Walker. As she is preparing to reconnect with her brother, whom she has not seen in many years, she becomes involved with a body that is found deep inside the forest. Is she really surrounded by people that she can’t trust – or does she need to let her guard down and see what happens?

Mizushima’s characters are true to life and nuanced. Mattie is definitely more emotionally grounded, but still views her German Shepherd, Robo, as her closest ally. Robo is superb as the K9 officer, who can alternatively tug at your heartstrings when he plays with Mattie or make you cheer as he takes down the bad guy. We should all have a dog as loyal and supportive as he is.

Twists and turns kept me reading for hours – I didn’t want to put it down! This police procedural is just the right mix of action, dialogue, canine antics, and suspense. Most of the suspense comes in the last 20% of the book, but it’s worth waiting for. Robo’s skills are put to the test as he handles his most daunting task so far, and I held my breath to see what would be happening next. Mizushima’s writing is easy on the brain, despite some plot nuances and characters that appear in the beginning, only to disappear, then pop up again. The love the author has for the Colorado mountains and forests is evident in her thorough description of Mattie’s surroundings. I felt as if I were right alongside the characters, fully immersed.

The only concern I have is early on, when veterinarian Cole shows up at his clinic early in the morning. Some patients stayed overnight, and they are described as just waking up from anesthesia. It’s not proper medical practice to leave a patient unattended immediately after anesthesia, much less overnight without care. Yes, the procedure was a “routine” spay – but there is no mention of any veterinary nurses other than Cole’s coworker. This was jarring to me and it took me a while to get past that. Every other instance of veterinary work was perfect, and an excellent layer to the book. Note to the author: add more veterinary scenes to your book! It’s always a good thing to have the public see how hard vets and nurses work to care for pets and livestock.

If you have not read any Timber Creek mysteries yet – pick this up! To better gain an understanding of Mattie and what makes her tick, start with the first book. This one could stand alone, but the backstory will help some of the details make more sense.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

Nailgun Messiah by Jim Heskett


Ticking off the wrong people sends Micah scrambling to flee Denver. But his hideout choice may not supply the sanctuary he craves. In the little Colorado mountain community of Nederland, he finds his sister, thinking he can disappear into obscurity with her. But she’s living in some kind of commune with a domineering and cruel woman named Lilah.
And Lilah doesn’t trust Micah from the moment he appears on the scene.
Soon enough, Micah becomes convinced that Lilah and her people are concealing scandalous activities. Activities that will bring the wrong kind of attention. FBI, DEA, CIA…maybe all of them at once. And if Micah can’t persuade his sister to leave with him before the bomb drops, they’ll both be torn apart by the explosion.

Thanks to the author for gifting me this review copy!

In this chapter of Micah Reed’s life, he has gotten on the wrong side of an angry drug dealer (purely by mistake, of course). He decides to kill two birds with one stone: leave town for a while until things cool off, and visit his sister in the meantime.

Unfortunately, his sister isn’t that overjoyed to see him –  and neither are her roommates. Apparently she has gotten herself mixed up with a religious cult. Micah is offered room and board there, and he immediately starts snooping around. What he finds is nothing but trouble. He has to un-brainwash his sister in time to save both their lives.

This book is truly action packed and funny. Micah is still asking the head of Boba Fett for advice, shakily remaining sober (even managing AA meetings in his newfound home), and missing his family. He is frustrated and confused by his sister’s lack of interest in him, and this lack of interest adds more information to his backstory. We learn more about why Micah had to go into Witness Protection, and we continue to see him as a somewhat reckless but always goodhearted hero.

I’ll admit, NAILGUN MESSIAH is a strange name for a book, but it all becomes clearer towards the end. Heskett’s knack for sly humor and off kilter action is front and center at the denoument. Also evident is the author’s knowledge of the Nederland area and the Frozen Dead Guy festival (it’s all true). Setting the story here provides an unusual and refreshing backdrop to the story; the things that happen here seem so much more plausible given the locals.

We also get to know his sister. Personally, I think she is way too hard on Micah – she treats him to stony silence and sneers, even after he apologizes for his past actions and gives her a thorough explanation. He loves her, though, and sticks to his rescue plan long after I would have given up on her and left her to her fate with the religious nuts.

But that is what makes Micah a wonderfully flawed leading character. As I mentioned in a previous review, he is clearly human, with a knack for helping people at his own expense. I think he is sometimes lonely but doesn’t really want to admit that. His relationship with his AA sponsor is the most multi leveled thing he has in his life, and it keeps him steady and grounded.

The ending of the story paves the way for many story lines; I’ll be eagerly awaiting to see what lies ahead for Micah in the future!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B019KNRPU0″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].


Airbag Scars (Micah Reed #1) by Jim Heskett


Micah Reed’s name isn’t Micah Reed. He was born someone else, before the trial, before his new identity. Now he wants to leave his life of crime in the past, but it seems to keep finding him.

After a serious car crash, he wakes to find his body aching and battered, with bruised knuckles and a black eye. What happened last night?
And while he chases clues to piece together the events preceding the car crash, a psychotic former acquaintance will make a sudden and violent appearance. Donovan went to jail because of Micah’s testimony, and now he wants to see Micah pay for his sins.
And it won’t only be Micah’s life in jeopardy, if he can’t fight off Donovan and solve the mystery of where his missing time has gone.

Thanks to author Jim Heskett for providing me with this review copy! He is also the author of Reagan’s Ashes, reviewed by GTB here.

Micah is an alcoholic who fears that he may have killed someone while driving drunk. He’s a self deprecating, honest character whose private thoughts run from the sublime to the ridiculous. The part when he was in rehab and talking to his orange juice made me laugh, as did the parts where he addresses the head of Boba Fett (his constant companion, in his pocket).

The tone and style of this book is very different from Heskett’s other work, and I can see more Micah Reed books on the way. His character is written such that bits and pieces of his former life are doled out slowly along the way, and even by the end of the book you may not know exactly what makes him tick.

The story line seems convoluted in parts, especially in the case of Donovan, who is seeking to ruin Micah and is going about it the long way. Donovan is an angry guy given to fits of rage, and has cooked up a dish of revenge that he’s desperate to serve to Micah. There is a strip club with multiple bodyguards that are out to get Micah as well, and the specter of the bottle is always lurking.

As the book progresses some of the plot twists become a little murky, but eventually it clears up. The last few chapters go by in a flash, and it seemed a bit hurried and a bit unsatisfying to me. Overall I enjoyed it, just not the way the way things were wrapped up. For example: there was a character killed by Donovan and then never mentioned again, not even to have the others ponder her demise…kind of a loose end. It seemed like most of the book was full of showing, and the last part was full of telling.

None of these things were deal breakers, however. I chalk that up to the author becoming familiar with this new character and developing his voice. Micah is a likeable guy despite his flaws; indeed, because of them. He’s caught in a world where his past has come home to roost, and he’s at a loss. I’m looking forward to the next installment to see what new details are revealed about his past, and how he manages to get himself (and Boba Fett) out of trouble again.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B015QH2O3C” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].




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