Reviews of Bark M for Murder
Bark M for Murder by J. A. Jance, Virginia Lanier, Chassie West, and Lee Charles Kelly
Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader
Bark M for Murder is a collection of "canine crime tales" from some favorite authors. Ranging in length from short stories to novellas, the four entries feature canine companions in the solution of the mysteries.
In the shortest of the stories, "Red Shirt and Black Jacket," by the late Virginia Lanier, dog handler Jo Beth Sidden tracks the two individuals who held up a convenience store in south Georgia, in the process killing a woman in her fifties. Jo Beth deals not only with her nemesis Deputy Sergeant Lyons and another deputy with a death wish, but also the too warm trail that leads them straight into gunfire.
Chassie West's "Nightmare in Nowhere" features A. J., who wakes up to the smell of wet dog in a car teetering over a rushing river. The dog, Duke, takes her to his adopted owner's cabin. A. J. remembers very little about how she got to the wilderness location, where the closest town actually is called Nowhere, but there is something frighteningly familiar about the dog's owner, Jake. Neither is sure whether they should trust the other, until a common enemy forces them into an uneasy alliance.
Former NYPD detective Jack Field is counseling the stunning Cady Clark on her poodle's behavioral issues when her ex-husband arrives, fresh from robbing a bank. So begins his association with the sociopathic beauty in Lee Charles Kelley's "The French Poodle Connection." The mysterious Cady Clark leaves a collection of kidnappings, robberies, murders, and broken hearts in her wake, but Field manages to escape relatively unscathed, ultimately bringing her to a sort of justice.
In J. A. Jance's "The Case of the London Cabbie," delightful septuagenarian Maddie Watkins suspects her sister's new love, a twenty-nine year old cabbie, may be a con man, so with her two trusty golden retrievers in tow, sets off to Seattle to prove it. Ascertaining that Jamil is indeed a scam artist doesn't take Maddie long, but when he comes after her with a tire iron, she shoots him, leading to her own arrest. Extricating her sister from his web while proving her own innocence is only a small challenge to this Agatha Christie-esque heroine.
The dogs really are the only link between these four unique stories, each from a different genre, but each very well-written and quite enjoyable.
And as reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader
Four mystery writers have written short stories pitting dogs against criminals. At the end of a long hard, each of these stories kept me entertained through a bubble bath and a glass of wine.
Reviews for Killer Chameleon
Chassie West's series starring ex-D.C. cop Leigh Ann Warren has been showered with award nominations for good reason: The books are infused with warmth, lively characters you'd want to meet and an unhurried pace. The long-awaited fourth entry, Killer Chameleon (HarperTorch, 368 pages, $6.99), has all of those traits, as well as one of the most unhinged psychos in recent memory, whose goal is to stalk Leigh Ann, derail her wedding plans and destroy her life - and possibly kill her. West has stated in interviews that she finds plotting to be "as hard as pulling an impacted wisdom tooth" but there's no evidence of any difficulty here.
Sarah Weinman, Baltimore Sun, Sunday, December 26, 2004
This is a very ingeniously fast-paced and plotted story where, if you are not careful, you might miss the red herrings that have been meticulously planted. It is well-written and action-packed with fully rounded characters that are a pleasure to spend time with. It is clear that Leigh Ann is quite self-sufficient, but what comes across is also the fact that she is the type of person who is not afraid to lean on others in times of need.
KILLER CHAMELEON also gives the reader an illuminating and fascinating insight into the lives of middle-class African Americans and their neighborhood including all it entails.
--Ayo Onatade, Reviewingtheevidence.com October 2004
One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was Ms West's graphic development of each character. It's clearly a black and white picture with the good guys who surround Leigh being extremely likable, full of life and full of personality, while the villain is fittingly sinister with a dark persona and a twisted view of the world around her. The story moves at just the right pace, it doesn't make the reader feel rushed but it will satisfy even the most ravenous adventure hound. . . . It's a good book worthy of a starred review. Read the full review at:
"Though West's series is well established, her latest installment is a stand-alone novel that will immerse the reader from page one. Charismatic characters and a well-plotted story highlight this captivating read, which may inspire readers to investigate other novels in this unique series."
--Sheri Melnick, Romantic Times Bookclub, ****
"...stand-alone novel that will immerse the reader from page one. Charismatic characters and a well-plotted story highlight this captivating read..."
Chassie West is one of Maryland's wonderful mystery writers.
MYSTERY LOVES COMPANY (Baltimore bookstore)
Reading a Chassie West book is like having a house party with old friends--there's a real warmth that infuses her work, even when some seriously nasty things and people (and trust me, the villain here is a seriously unhinged piece of work) are afoot. West isn't prolific, which means her books should be savored for the gems they are.
--Sarah Weinman, Mystery Critic, The Baltimore Sun (One of the A Picks of the Week )
"a standalone novel that will immerse the reader from page one. Charismatic characters and a well-plotted story highlight this captivating read, which may inspire readers to investigate other novels in this unique series."
—Romantic Times BookClub, 4 stars
Author Chassie West delivers an intricate, well-constructed tale of revenge and paranoia in Killer Chameleon's suspenseful plot. In West's fourth novel in this series, Leigh continues to develop as an appealing character whose strength comes from her inner resolves as well as from her friends and those relatives who still live in the small town where the residents are predominantly black and where she will be setting up the first police force. West, whose series has garnered three award nominations, keeps the plot realistic, the dialogue sharp and characters believable in Killer Chameleon.
--Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Featured October (2004) Mystery Title: Overbooked
Chassie West has created such realistic characters that the reader never once considers them to be fictional characters. From the supporting cast right up to the main characters, each person is multifaceted, authentic, and vital to the full flavor of the story. There is an easygoing flow to the way the book reads, but beginning mid-story, the flow of the story action itself picks up pace and takes the reader along for the ride. KILLER CHAMELEON is a great book, and the latest of author West's Leigh Ann Warren mysteries.
--Deb Jones, Roundtable Reviews
More reviews of Killer Chameleon
Reviews for Killer Riches
KILLER RICHES is a fabulous tale that keeps reader's attention from start to finish. When it appears that the plot is obvious, Chassie West pulls a sleight of the hand that sends a clever twist to the story line. Leigh Ann is a wonderful protagonist struggling at first to save Nunna and ultimately to learn who she is. The relationship subplot that anchors the main sleuthing story line makes for a complete tale that fans of both genres will enjoy and seek previous works by the talented Ms. West (see SUNRISE).
--Harriet Klausner, Amazon.com
Edgar nominee Chassie West has created a novel of almost unbearable tension in KILLER RICHES. The reader agonizes with Leigh Ann as she desperately tries to uncover the truth.
--Toby Bromberg, Romantic Times
Mystery readers with a penchant for good plotting, clear and precise writing and three-dimensional characters can rejoice that Chassie West didn't make her fans wait as long for the third Leigh Ann Warren book as she did for the second, "Killing Kin."....This is a riveting, can't-put-down novel....Highly recommended.
--Doris Ann Norris, BookBrowser .
There's none better than Chassie West at drawing readers into her stories and keeping them turning the pages. Leigh Ann is a wonderful character, strong inside but limited physically by the bum knee, making her all too human. The dialogue flows and is peppered with homey Southern dialect that adds flavor to KILLER RICHES like butter to grits. This is one of those pleasurable reads you don't have to feel guilty about enjoying. Just kick back, put your feet up, honey, and dig in!
--Susan McBride, Myshelf
Chassie West is a supremely underrated mystery novelist. Her latest....is a wonderful piece of writing.... A rich blend of mystery and suspense. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
....The third entry in West's underrated series .... with human characters, nice plot twists, and engaging dialogue, West is definitely the best storyteller that not nearly enough people are reading.
--Wendy Crutcher The Mystery Reader, 5 Stars
Chassie West never fails to delight her readers,a natural storyteller.
--Helen Chappell, author of Giving Up the Ghost
Reviews for Killing Kin
Killing Kin (Edgar (R) & Anthony Finalist)
West (Sunrise) has a knack for creating colorful yet realistic characters and witty dialogue. This pulsing mystery will keep readers guessing to the end....
"Killing Kin" is a "can't-put-down" mystery with an intriguing plot and populated with a fascinating cast. Leigh Ann, Duck and most of the other characters are African American. The author, however, never dwells on the race issue. While their ethnicity has made them the people that they are, it is their humanity which draws us to them and makes us care. Chassie West is a real find and deserves a larger audience. "Killing Kin" is most highly recommended. It is certainly to be hoped that there will be a third Leigh Ann Warren book in the near future.
--Doris Ann Norris, Book Browser
For Killing Kin review at The Mystery Reader: see http://www.themysteryreader.com/west-killing.html
West's characters dance off the page with believable dialogue; her setting rings true; and her action leaves the reader breathless and begging for more. If you have not yet encountered Chassie West, you'll want to add her to your must-read author list." B Mystery Time
A ...must read for this year... B Susan McBride, Charlotte Austin Reviews
KILLING KIN is an intriguing puzzler full of twists and turns. The story will capture your imagination and the quirky characters are appealing. --Toby Bromberg, Romantic Times
This is the second mystery featuring Leigh Ann Warren, and hopefully not the last. West has crafted a likeable and realistic character, one that this reader had no trouble understanding or relating to. Leigh is a feisty woman, and this reader hopes that there are many more mysteries in her future.
--Wendy Crutcher , The Mystery Reader, 5 Stars
An intriguing puzzler full of twists and turns.
Loss of Innocence
Chassie West creates characters so warm, wonderful and delightfully quirky they jump right off the page.
--Bestselling author Janet Evanovich
Chassie West immerses you in atmosphere--she's a female Walter Mosley.
--Award-winning author Eileen Dreyer
...Eccentric and well-developed characters, snappy dialogue... --Publishers Weekly
Edgar Nominee Chassie West has delivered a well-written mystery full of believable, likable characters. A delight to read. --Booked for Murder
Reviews for Sunrise
I thoroughly enjoyed SUNRISE and found LOSS OF INNOCENCE just as good. These books do not include the same characters, but do enjoy comparisons in the rich detail of the characters and the South.
--Tales from a Red Herring
A new Chassie West mystery is always cause for great rejoicing and dancing in the streets. No one does it quite like our girlfriend the divine Ms. West! --Helen Chappel, author of The Oysterback Tales
Sunrise (Edgar (R) Finalist)
Chassie West has created a heroine human enough to appreciate a mother's hug, gutsy enough to solve a murder, and sensible enough to love Italian shoes. Bravissima!
--Edgar 7 Award Winner Lisa Scottoline
Chassie West's vivid writing brings the town of Sunrise alive with its memorable characters and buried secrets.
--Rebecca York, award-winning author, 43 LIGHT STREET SERIES
The point of the book is for Leigh Ann to come to grips with her own questions about the direction of her life, and West does this with a good eye for detail and a fine ear for dialogue.
SUNRISE is a masterpiece of suspense. One surprise after another had me literally on the edge of my seat. The characters and their lives came alive, and I couldn't put it down until the last page was turned. The surprising and dramatic climax is the perfect ending to this top-notch tale. --Rendezvous
...A decades-old murder surfaces, a kill strikes close to home, and Leigh Ann learns that Thomas Wolfe was right. --Booknews from The Poisoned Pen
Leigh Ann's discoveries of many buried secrets and skeletons in Sunrise make for exciting reading. SUNRISE contains an excellent mix of action and character development. Romance is secondary to the mystery, which remains believable and suspenseful throughout. Readers will want to see more of Leigh Ann Warren, a fresh and welcome addition to the roster of female detectives.....one blockbuster mystery...Pacing is brisk and meticulous....few will suspect or be unaffected by the unorthodox resolution the author throws at them.
West's talent is bursting at the seams as she creates a clever, complex, intricate tapestry of buried secrets, smoldering greed and suppressed memories. She shapes the nuances of the small town black and white South to a A t. She tatoos her characters with a grasp of the language willing and more than able to do her bidding. The complicated plot and subplots will meld in your mind as you are first pushed then shoved along by the pace of the events.
--The Drood Review of Mystery
Chassie West's romantic suspense holds a bunch of surprises, all of them terrific, and none of which have anything to do with the subtle skill she uses to snare us into this very entertaining mystery. ...There's so much to like about this book.... the vignettes..breathe such life into this book. ...Don't let the October sun set until you've read SUNRISE. It's an illuminating story [sic].
--The Time Machine , A Book Rack Publication
Well-deserving of its accolade as an "Edgar Award Nominee," SUNRISE is a delightfully written, intriguing mystery novel. ... The story has twists and turns that will hold the reader's interest from beginning to end... You'll like this one.
--Arlington, TX Mid-Cities News; Grand Prairie News
"West's first Leigh Ann mystery earned her a nomination for Edgar Award and this book proves that wasn't a flash in the pan. She has a feel for dialogue and small southern towns reminiscent of Fried Green Tomatoes."
--TeleGraphics; Baldwin Ledger
Edgar Award Nominee Chassie West delivers mystery, suspense, and intrigue in her highly praised novel SUNRISE....West displays her unique talent by blending the romance and mystery genre to create this suspenseful, yet passionate tale. --National Black Review
Sunrise was a 1995 Edgar Award nominee for best paperback original mystery, and deservedly so. West introduces a very likeable character with an original story....
--L esa Holstine , Ed's Internet Book Review