This book came from the library, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.
Love Is Murder
by Sandra Brown
An anthology of 29(!) short stories revolving around love and murder in a mix of romantic suspense and thrillers with a few paranormal tales.
I primarily picked Love is Murder up because several authors whose work I follow are in it. It’s an uneven mix of good authors and bad ones. It starts with the really bad stories and gets unevenly better.
“Diamond Drop” (Bullet Catcher, 8.75)
“B.A.D. Mission” (B.A.D. Agency, 4.5)
“Deadly Fixation” (Belador, 5.5??)
“Hot Note” (Detective Shelley Caldwell, 2.5)
“Without Mercy” (Mercy Street, 3.5)
“Dying to Score” (Black Ops, Inc., 7.5)
“Dirty Low Down” (Jackie Mercer, 1.5)
“Holding Mercy” (Mercy Gunderson Mystery, 2.25)
“Vacation Interrupted” (Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan , 4.5)
“Dying to Score” (Black Ops Inc., 7.5)
Roxanne St. Claire’s “Diamond Drop” is a potentially cute story of a diamond courier escaping thieves. The end has a wee twist. Predictable and jerky in the writing. The last scene was, pardon the pun, thrust in at the last minute. The story reads more like she suddenly remembered she needed to get it in for its deadline.
Carla Neggers’ “Cold Moonlight” is a sweet romance, although I have no idea where “cold moonlight” comes in as it’s daytime when the action occurs. This story was one of the worst. I liked the characters, and I think it has potential, but…
I’m guessing that Charlie got lost? Is that why Grit got pulled in and is so readily available? What is Elijah’s purpose here? They’re not Secret Service. Yes, I know that Neggers tells us that Grit has an easier time finding Charlie, but why is he trusted to do this? What has Charlie done? The romance that flares up between Grit and Marissa? Oh, gag. Neggers, please spend some time developing romances in the future. Don’t give us this melodramatic claptrap that sounds like a wooden soap opera!
Beverly Barton’s “Poisoned” is another lame story. I’m sorry, but I’ve had food poisoning before and it’s never affected me like this. This was just stupid. Barton compounds it with that insta-HEA.
My really big question is: if Olivia is so weak, throwing up, terrible stomach cramps, and Jed has caught up to her, close enough to touch her. How is it that she’s able to run away from him and hide? Dumb, dumb, dumb. It’s at this point that I seriously considered giving this up. Then I went and looked at the list of authors still to come.
Robert Browne’s “Speechless” will appeal to adults whose mothers “always know best”. It’s clever, although I was also annoyed that “I” never spoke to David but cut him completely out. Browne does provide a nasty twist at the end.
Andrea Kane’s “Lockdown” is an improvement on the earlier stories in this hostage situation during a wedding. Thank god. It’s mostly tell, but Kane at least provides a smooth, flowing story with enough background that it feels complete.
William Simon’s “Spider’s Tango” is a cute blend of two stories. An ex-husband encounters his ex-wife during an FBI operation in which they’re desperately trying to find the kidnapped president’s daughter before the really bad guys get her.
Laura Griffin’s “Night Heat” is heated on at least two levels. One being the hot, humid night and the other being the nighttime rescue operation, for the ambassador’s party has been crashed by terrorists. And Mike Dietz is enthralled by the bravery of one of the party guests.
Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “B.A.D. Mission” finds Sam Garrett coming out of retirement to arrest an old girlfriend. It’s okay. Nothing special. It doesn’t feel like a B.A.D. story, though.
Dianna Love’s “Deadly Fixation” is a paranormal fantasy about a minor character, Devon Fortier, in a race with a bounty hunter to capture a troll with a major spell that could start a war. Interesting conflict even though it drove me nuts with the conflict between Devon and Joleen.
I shouldn’t think Joleen wants to get on VIPER’s bad side…
Patricia Rosemoor’s “Hot Note” is cute enough. A quick peek at a case Shelley must solve that involves suicides by drowning in this paranormal tale.
Jon Land & Jeff Ayer’s “Last Shot” is one for our economic times as a family is being forced into foreclosure. It’ll get your heart racing and the end will have you looking for your own copy machine! Very clever, with me on the edge of my seat, hoping and praying for Molly.
Heather Graham’s “Grave Danger” is too true and the title is a double pun. Graham does a great job of creating a whole story that flows well, even if the love story is a bit quick. She does at least provide some good reason for it. There’s plenty of action in here with movie props, zombies, and an on-the-loose serial killer. And a helping hand from the great beyond!
Mariah Stewart’s “Without Mercy” finds Mallory Russo investigating a cold case when new information comes to light (parents, this provides an excellent reason to know who your child’s friends are!!). Gruesome and heartstopping as the truth comes out.
D.P. Lyle’s “Even Steven” starts with a clear-up as Martha and Tim are planning their move. It’s heartbreaking to read as they look over all that they must leave behind. Their son’s murderer is being released from jail, and they can’t bear to live in the town that will let him out so soon. Lyle keeps you wondering throughout the story until the very end. And justice is served.
Cindy Gerard’s “Dying to Score” is a quickie mission that goes sour for the BOIs when Reed gets hit and is bleeding out. It’s only Tink’s determination that has, so far, kept the bad guys back. It’s a pip, and I always enjoy a visit with Gerard’s BOIs.
J.T. Ellison’s “The Number of Man” is a frustrating blend of annoying, confusing, and scary. I wish he’d done a better job of telling us that Michael is the stalker and his thoughts about dating Caitlyn are his fantasies. Not reality. It would have been better if he’d played up Michael’s mental issues rather than this confusing blend of Michael telling us he’s dating Caitlyn and then distancing Michael from the stalker calls Caitlyn is getting.
Bill Floyd’s “Hard Drive” is a conflict of interest for Howie when his ex-girlfriend is arrested for murder…and he stays mum. It’s an old trope that Floyd does well, even though I didn’t like Howie for his philandering.
William Bernhardt’s “After Hours” is a sexual mix-up with she/hes and he/shes who haven’t a clue. The two primary detectives in this alternate between warm and bigoted with casual exchanges between them. It’s a clever solution to the truth in this case. Nicely done.
Brenda Novak’s “Blood In, Blood Out” was a pip. Two guys who met in prison and befriended each other ended up in WITSEC together. And they’ve been on the run, dodging The Crew ever since. There’s a side story going on with Rex’s relationship with Virgil’s sister, Laurel. It’s a love-hate thing, and Rex is giving up. Very nicely done.
Vicki Hinze’s “Wed to Death” will have you worried and then crying as the wedding keeps getting postponed. It did tick me off that Matthew would be sacrificed if the op goes wrong when he was against it from the very start! All I can say is, emotionally, I’m so glad this was a short story. I’m not sure my heart would have survived if I’d had to read pages and pages!
Julie Kenner’s “The Honeymoon” will blow your mind with the betrayal and stupidity. It’s a sad tale, and yet, most of the ending you’ll feel quite righteous about.
James Macomber’s “Execution Dock” is a wide-ranging adventure with child custody issues setting off this male chauvinist pig who refuses to listen to the truth. And he’ll stoop to kidnapping and murder to salve his pride. Very good. Macomber is going on my TBR.
Alexandra Sokoloff’s “In Atlantis” starts as a typical chick lit that hits on Melissa’s curatorial interests as she shadows a potential art thief. It’s the ending that provides a surprising twist — and had me re-reading it several times because I couldn’t believe it.
Pamela Callow’s “Break Even” finds Eddie Bent, a lawyer whose caseload took a dive, anxious to take on this new case that could bring him back to the top. He’s also too soft for his own good as he too quickly learns. A lot of story for this short story. Nicely done. It sure took me in. Callow does leave us hanging at the end. Well, I think I want to be hanging. I don’t think I like the direction Callow appears to be pointing us.
Debra Webb’s “Dirty Low Down” finds a cocky private eye agreeing to be bait for a serial killer — and all the ways it goes wrong. You’ll laugh, you’ll panic, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.
Toni McGee Causey’s “Broken Hallelujah” is about vengeance and vigilantes in New Orleans as two “opposing” forces take down the bad guy. Causey does get a lot in this story, and I have to agree with Brown, I want more, even if I am confused about that ending.
Lori Armstrong’s “Holding Mercy” is cute as Mercy Gunderson, FBI agent, tries to meet her boyfriend for a romantic date only to have her law enforcement training kick in. Poor baby. She does get, ahem, satisfied at the end.
Allison Brennan’s “Vacation Interrupted” means law enforcement is never truly on vacation. It’s a good story with a scary stalker who has the law on her side. Fortunately, Lucy and Sean are more interested in the truth.
Lee Child’s “I Heard a Romantic Story” is so incredibly sad. It’s all in a day’s work for our “protagonist” as he waits for his moment and has to sit through hours of the chief’s stream of consciousness prattling, trying to reassure himself about the undercover job his girlfriend is doing. I gotta wonder if the girlfriend knew what the plans were for that day.
The Cover and Title
The cover has a white background with the author/editor’s name at the top and a few of the contributors’ names at the bottom. In between is the title writ large and the letters functioning as a window to a red background with a woman in a very low-backed little black dress stepping forward, a gun in one raised hand.
The title is the theme, for Love is Murder is all its possible forms.