Three challenges I am working on this year are Beat the Backlist, Finish the Series and an Audiobook Challenge. These books fit all three of those and were very enjoyable, a win/win for me.

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First Blood (D.I. Kim Stone #0) by Angela Marsons, Jan Cramer (Narrator)

Published November 14th 2019 by Hachette UK – Bookouture

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

First Blood is a prequel to the Kim Stone series. It was nice to go back to the beginning and meet all the members of Kim’s team as she does. Seeing their first impressions, personalities and quirks was enjoyable. The case was interesting as it involved someone meting out punishment of crimes committed, often not public or even general knowledge. Ad Kim and her team find more victims of similar crimes, they try to get all the cases brought to them without any luck. It is tough to crack the case. I loved Kim’s comment about solving this case is like trying to put together a puzzle with only half the pieces. Each member of the team has their strengths and they work together to figure out who is doing the killing and to catch the killer.

First Blood (D.I. Kim Stone #0)

I listened to this book after reading and listening to the first 9 in the series. I still loved this book and was white knuckling it as I listened. This story was not populated by the strong, well-formed team of the other books, but laid them out with all their insecurities, social issues and problems with authority. Of DI Kim Stone is not the easiest person to get to know or work with and you need to earn her trust if you want to stay on her team. I liked getting to know each of them better as some of the backstory gives us insight into why they act in certain ways and who they really are. As they get to know each other, trust begins to build which allows them to put the pieces together to solve this multi-layered crime. Believe me, this was not just an introduction to the team, but a twisted crime spree by an evil or disturbed individual that was as interesting as any other case they have solved in other books. I began listening to the audiobooks somewhere around book 5. Jan Cramer has been the narrator and I love her performances. She gives each character an individual voice that fits what I expected from each of them. She has a strong voice that uses tone and expression to bring intensity and emotion to the story. I recommend the D.I. Kim Stone series to those who like police procedurals and crime thrillers and if you like audiobooks, then I do recommend you listen to them.


The Third Victim (Robin Lockwood #1) by Phillip Margolin, Thérèse Plummer (Narrator)

Published March 6th 2018 by Macmillan Audio, Minotaur Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Third Victim is the first book in the Robin Lockwood series by Phillip Margolin. I have had this book and series on my TBR for a few years and finally got the chance to read this one. It is a legal thriller dealing with a brutal crime. A woman is found on a dark rural road in Oregon having been tortured, battered, and bound. She says she was kidnapped and tortured, until she managed to escape. Two other women were not as lucky and were killed. Se identifies the house/cabin she was held at and the owner, a well known lawyer, Alex Mason was arrested. He insists he is innocent and that he was framed. His wife shares that he was a sadistic lover and some of the things they did matched the story from the victim. The house has physical evidence as well, enough to convict. He contacts and hires Regina Barrister is a legendary criminal defense attorney, who agrees to take the case. Her second is Robin Lockwood, who has just recently been hired. As the case progresses Robin becomes worried her boss’s behavior and the details in the case against their client don’t quite add up. With the help of Regina’s investigator, Robin uncovers evidence and information that might just clear Alex Mason.

The Third Victim (Robin Lockwood #1)

This is a gripping story. There are courtroom scenes, but a lot of the story involves the investigation of Alex, his wife, the victim and some other characters who are involved in the case. The story is told from various points of view as the story unfolds. The storyline has many twists and turns and I listened straight through with minimal breaks. The chapters are short, which always make a book go faster for me. There is a lot going on in this book, whether out searching for clues or in the courtroom, but it is easy to follow and I always knew what was happening. I did have an inkling of what really happened but I was not sure until it was revealed in the story. I liked the way Phillip Margolin doled out bits of information sparingly until we get all the facts laid out before us. I am a big Margolin fan, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series. Thérèse Plummer narrated this audiobook and I do enjoyed her work. She is able to give distinct voices to the characters and her expression and tone bring emotion and intensity to the story.