Dani is a Book & Wine Pairing Blogger from the mountains of West Virginia. She loves to read anything she can get her hands on while sipping on a glass of wine and snuggling with her fur-babies.

Professional ReaderReviews Published
Mystery Thriller Reviews.png

I started a new job and what is more mysterious and thrilling than starting a new job? Reading a couple mystery thrillers! So this week, I have the following reviews for you:

📚Joseph Knox’s The Smiling Man (Aidan Waits Thriller #2) (2019 Crime Thriller)
📚Pamela McCord’s The Haunting of Elmwood Manor (2019 Middle-Grade Mystery)

From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.

The Smiling Man
(Aidan Waits Thriller #2)

By Joseph Knox


Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime


From the bestselling author of Sirens, Detective Aidan Waits is on the hunt to find the identity of The Smiling Man.

Disconnected from his history and careless of his future, Detective Aidan Waits has resigned himself to the night shift. An endless cycle of meaningless emergency calls and lonely dead ends. Until he and his partner, Detective Inspector Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe, are summoned to The Palace, a vast disused hotel in the centre of a restless, simmering city.

There they find the body of a man. He is dead.

And he is smiling.

The tags have been removed from the man’s clothes. His teeth filed down and replaced. Even his fingertips are not his own. Only a patch sewn into the inside of his trousers gives any indication as to who he was, and to the desperate last act of his life…

But even as Waits puts together the pieces of this stranger’s life, someone is sifting through the shards of his own.

When the mysterious fires, anonymous phone calls and outright threats escalate, he realises that a ghost from his own past haunts his every move.

And to discover the smiling man’s identity, he must finally confront his own.


Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Google Play / IndieBound


The Smiling Man is the second book in the Aiden Waits series by Joseph Knox. I, being the Aiden Waits novice that I am, was a little concerned when I first picked this book up, wondering if I needed to read the first one before jumping into this one. Luckily, I didn’t. While there are a few happenings mentioned that I assume happened in the first book, they are nothing vital to this story line. Anyone can pick up The Smiling Man and understand the entire story with no problems.

This police mystery takes place in England, so laws and jargon are a little different than those in the States, but the story itself if a complex one! There are so many people and different story lines involved that it was 1) hard to get bored and 2) easy to get lost. DC Waits would be working on one case one second and then all of a sudden he’d be working on another one that somehow or another would eventually tie back to the first case. Throw in his past showing up and you have a whole other story line to follow! While I know this is how real-life detective work (you can’t compartmentalize your cases and personal life into neat little chapters), I found the way Knox sowed the pieces of DC Waits’ life together was a bit rough, and needed some tailoring done.

The overall story was an enjoyable as a mystery can get. I was constantly trying to put the pieces together, always a step behind DC Waits due to his inside knowledge because of his badge. And I do have to say, the ending was one that I didn’t see coming together the way that it did! For one roughed up cop that probably needs to go to rehab and anger management, he really does have a great mind for puzzling out the mysteries of the policing world!


Dani's Score out of 5: 🍾🍾🍾🍾

The Haunting of Elmwood Manor
A Pekin Dewlap Mystery

By Pamela McCord


Publication Date: March 1, 2019
Genre: Middle-Grade, Mystery


Pekin Dewlap hasn’t seen a ghost since she was twelve. But she’d do anything to get them back. Starting a ghostbusting business with her two best friends, Amber and Scout, seems like the perfect way to accomplish her goal. Of course, playing with ghosts isn’t high on their wish list, so Pekin has to do some arm-twisting to get them on board. 

Once committed, Pekin and her friends find themselves in deep, trying to solve the disappearance of fourteen-year-old Miranda Talbert. Miranda went missing in 1918, and her spirit has wandered the halls of Elmwood Manor for the last hundred years.

In the midst of finding Miranda, discovering her budding feelings for Scout, and consoling a terrified Amber, Pekin is met by an angry ghost set on thwarting her plans. Will the Ghosties be able to help Miranda, or will Pekin’s business die before she solves the mystery?



Amazon / B&N / Kobo


I was given a copy of Pamela McCord’s The Haunting of Elmwood Manor by Xpresso Book Tours for this month’s Mystery & Thrillers review, and I’m quite happy that received the copy! I always enjoy reading middle-grade stories, especially ones that I can share with my teacher friends and my nephew!

McCord’s story of Pekin and her friends, Scout and Amber, forming a ghostbusting business is one that I think many middle-graders will enjoy reading. There is enough excitement and mystery to it to keep the boys interested, and enough romance for the girls.

While I felt that some parts of the story may be a little intense (I got a little nervous reading it late at night with the creeks and shadows of my old house around me), I think the story overall had a happy tone to it. It is a story of the paranormal, but it’s also a story of being brave, growing up, and knowing when to ask for help. It’s a story of love, friendship, and helping others.

The Haunting of Elmwood Manor is a PG mix of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, with the light hearted and ‘friends-first’ feel of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. Perfect for any middle-grade reader who enjoys ghosts and the paranormal!

Dani's Score out of 5:🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

Have a book you’d like to suggest or one you’d like me to review? Please feel free to leave your comments down below.