The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven Elvestad

My friends at Kazabo Publishing sent me a copy of this story, which I really enjoyed! It read like a Sherlock Holmes (though taking place in Norway). It was well-plotted and clever and kept me guessing.

Sven Elvestead was a popular Nordic crime writer who died in 1934. Here’s a bit on him:

Sven Elvestad, aka Stein Riverton, was born in Fredrikshald, Norway, in 1884. Author of over 90 books, he is acclaimed as the father of Norwegian crime fiction. Even today, the Riverton Prize is awarded annually to the best Norwegian crime story.

Thank you, Kazabo Publishing, for my copy!

Here’s the scoop:

It is an evening in early May when the quiet of Montrose Abbey is shattered by the sounds of shouting and broken glass. When the police arrive, they find the abbey library ransacked and bloodstained. Broken furniture and a burning carpet bear witness to a violent struggle. And the abbot himself, the scholarly Abbot Montrose, is missing. Only a torn fragment of his cassock remains, caught in the wrought-iron fence surrounding the abbey.
The police, the press, and citizens of this northern city fear the worst. What could have befallen the missing abbot? Has he been murdered? Abducted?
As world-renowned Detective Asbjørn Krag and his partner, Detective Sirius Keller, begin to unravel the tangled knot of clues left behind, they find themselves in the city’s infamous Krydder District, “where the dark doorways are as close together as rat holes in an old warehouse.” The more answers they find, the more questions seem to pop up.
This well-constructed, evocative and witty mystery by Sven Elvestead, also known as Stein Riverton (for whom the Norwegian Riverton Prize was named), will keep you guessing until the very last page.

A Lovely Girl: The Tragedy of Olga Duncan and the Trial of One of California’s Most Notorious Killers by Deborah Holt Larkin

My friends at Wunderkind-PR reached out to me and offered my a copy of this new novel by Deborah Holt Larkin, retelling the story of the murder of Olga Duncan. Though raised in Northern California in the 70’s, I had never heard of this sad story. Olga was a young, married woman, pregnant with her first child, and murdered by her mother-in-law who wanted to keep her son for herself. Hard to believe and at times hard to read, but apparently that is what happened.

Here’s the overview:

The incredible story of a 1958 murder that ended with the last woman to ever be executed in California—a murder so twisted it seems ripped from a Greek tragedy.

Deborah Larkin was only ten years old when the quiet calm of her California suburb was shattered.  Thirty miles north, on a quiet November night in Santa Barbara, a pregnant nurse named Olga Duncan disappeared from her apartment.  The mystery deepens when it is discovered that Olga’s mother in-law—a deeply manipulative and deceptive woman—had been doing everything in her power to separate Olga and her son, Frank, prior to Olga’s disappearance.

From a forged annulment to multiple attempts to hire people to “get rid” of Olga, to a faked excoriation case, Elizabeth seemed psychopathically attached to her son. Yet she denied having anything to do with Olga’s disappearance with a smile.

But when Olga’s brutally beaten body is found in a shallow grave, apparently buried alive, a young DA makes it his mission to see that Elizabeth Duncan is brought to justice.  Adding a wrinkle to his efforts is the fact that Frank—himself a defense attorney—maintained his mother’s innocent to the end.

How does a young girl process such a crime along with the fear and disbelieve that rocked an entire community?  Decades later, Larkin is determined to revisit the case and bring the story of Olga herself to light.  Long overshadowed by the sensationalism and scandal of Elizabeth and Frank, A Lovely Girl seeks to reveal Olga as a woman in full.  Someone who was more than the twisted family that would ultimately ensnare her.

As we follow the heart-pounding drama of the case through Larkin’s young eyes—her father was the court reporter—A Lovely Girl is by turns page-turning yet poignant, and makes the reader reexamine how we handle fear, how we regard mental illness, and how we understand family as we carve our own path in a dangerous world.

The details of the story are pretty disturbing and the story sticks with you long afterwards. Larkin tells the tale through a variety of voices. For me, the strongest portrayal is when she writes as her young self and about her family at that time. Larkin’s father was a newspaper reporter who covered the case closely, and her depictions of their family life with all is eccentricities was at times laugh out loud funny. The picture she paints of middle class California family life in the late 50’s is vividly detailed. I found these “young Deborah” chapters, as well as the chapters following the court trial – which used the actual court scripts – a more vivid portrayal than some in other voices. This story is in depth – it clocks in at over 500 pages.

Overall, if you are a true crime reader, don’t miss this sad but interesting story. You will remember Olga long afterward.

Thank you for my review copy!

Harper-Collins Holiday Romance Blog Tour: A Match Made at Christmas by Patricia Davids

I’m back with another holiday story — this one a romance taking place in Amish country. I haven’t read too many Amish stories, but I know that it is a popular genre. I do appreciate that they are always a clean read and usually with a warm and happy ending. What better time of year to read a happy story than holiday time?!

Here’s the overview of this charming and touching tale:


Author: Patricia Davids

ISBN: 9781335453471

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Publisher: HQN

Buy Links: NOT affiliated with BBNB



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Author Bio:

USA Today best-selling author Patricia Davids was born in Kansas. After forty years as an NICU nurse, Pat switched careers to become an inspirational writer. She now enjoys laid back life on a Kansas farm, spending time with her family and playing with her dog Sugar, who thinks fetch should be a twenty-four hour a day game. When not throwing a ball, Pat is happily dreaming up new stories where love and faith conquer all.

Book Summary:

USA Today bestselling author Patricia Davids continues her Amish romance series set in Harts, Haven, Kansas, with this emotional story about a cancer survivor and a grieving widower who are brought together at Christmas by the matchmakers of Harts Haven who have a little help from the hero’s daughters.

With Christmas just around the corner, an Amish cancer survivor moves to Harts Haven for a fresh start as the new schoolteacher. She wants to escape the pity that she felt from the people back home and throw herself into her new job. She’s worried her illness might return at any moment and isn’t looking for love. Neither is a local widower with two daughters. The loss of his wife devastated him, and he never wants to feel that kind of pain again. The matchmakers of Harts Haven set their sights on the pair, by having them work together on a living Nativity for the school Christmas program. With three elderly matchmakers, a school full of rambunctious children, a handsome widower, rowdy sheep and one cantankerous donkey, Harts Haven is about to witness an unforgettable Christmas Eve where two unlikely people discover healing love is the true Christmas gift.

If you enjoy an inspirational romantic story set at Christmas time, don’t miss A Match Made at Christmas by Patricia Davids.

Thank you for my copy and for making me part of the tour!