Monday, December 30, 2013

REVIEW: "Ruby Heart - The Neve & Egan Cases" - by Cristelle Comby (Tribute Books Blog Tours)

"When elderly client Doris Hargrave informs private investigator Alexandra Neve that her beloved antique ruby heart necklace has gone missing for the second time in a period of over sixty years, Alexandra knows this is no ordinary jewellery theft. The ruby heart is a family heirloom and the only thing that connects an ailing Mrs Hargrave to her parents, who were murdered during the Holocaust.

To solve the case, Alexandra and her business partner, blind history professor Ashford Egan, must sift through obscure Holocaust documents to find out the truth. It’s that way that they learn of a secret World War II-era love affair which could hold the key to all the answers they are looking for. Meanwhile, Egan is under immense pressure from the university to quit his private investigating business, and Alexandra is afraid that a man she trusts will leave her. Again.

When Alexandra begins to receive anonymous threats and her flat is vandalised, this all becomes personal. Knowing that there is someone out there to hurt her, Alexandra vows to find that elusive ruby heart if it’s the last thing she ever does."



Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Ruby Heart is her second new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.


It doesn't take a lot of cultural examination to discover Americans' love for mystery...especially when that mystery comes with a British accent.  Sherlock Holmes still captures our imagination, we still flock to watch whodunit shows, we involve ourselves in real life mysteries as if it is our very lives they touch (and, sometimes, they do), etc.  Mystery adds a little spice to life....but what if that mystery comes with a touch of the Holocaust and its horrors, physical limitations, the Russian mob, and romance?

Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5, and here is why....

This book tests and stretches the meaning of true friendship, what one can accomplish when one's physical limitations are tested, old grudges, old and new love, history, intrigue...

Alexandra Neve, familiarly known as Lexa to some (but only to some), is a young lady who lives in England and has established a private investigation firm with her best friend who also happens to be her past history professor - Ashford Eagan.  A not-so-young (read "quite old and frail") woman shows up on her doorstep asking for help locating a priceless necklace that was fashioned by the woman's father.  Oh, and this woman happens to be the daughter of Jews who did not quite make it through the Holocaust.  And this necklace was originally stolen during a dreadful evening when many Jews were "rounded up" (ugh, the very thought of that term applied to humans makes me shudder), found years later in a secret stash in a crumbling house, and was restolen.  That's where Neve & Egan come in.  

Their task: find the stolen necklace. 

The reality surrounding that task: successfully locating a necklace that has been twice stolen comes with some rather interesting and dangerous peril. 

I truly enjoyed reading this book.  : )  Now, it is the second book in the series and I have not yet read the first.  That being said, this book contains a quality that I adore for books in mystery series - while reading the previous books are informative and helpful for fully understanding the current plot, the current plot is perfectly fine standing alone on its own two feet.  

Comby tells the story through Lexa's eyes.  We hear the inner dialogue of a young woman who is trying to figure out if this PI thing is truly right for her despite the fact that men in her life seem to want to complicate matters.  She's a loveable character who rather reminds me a bit of Starbuck from "Battlestar Galactica" mixed with Evie from "The Mummy" mixed with Beckett from "Castle": a woman, scholarly in her own right, who has a strong penchant for justice and is a bit reckless....that's Lexa!  

The trusty sidekick?  Ashford Egan.  Now, Ash and Lexa are best friends with nothing romantic happening between the two of them (yes, men and women can have deep and fulfilling friendships without being romantically entwined).  Ash teaches history due to the rather pesky fact that the PI firm finds more lost dogs than lost jewelry (not a lot of $$ in finding lost dogs) and generally does his best to keep Lexa out of trouble.  He's got some sort of difficult past that is alluded to, but about which we get a frustrating lack of detail...and he seems to want to keep it that way.  What we do know is that he's blind, keeps his environment as rigidly controlled as possible to avoid stumbling, and is amazingly clever.  I really like him.  

At the end of the book, despite the fact that - as mentioned - I haven't read the first book yet, I felt as if I knew these two!  Their interactions make sense for best friends (seriously - they rib each other like siblings, know each other super well, and make a great team).  They are well developed, likeable, clever, and have amazingly selfless hearts for people...

....but I'm gushing too much about the characters.  The plot deserves some attention too.  Now, I'm super picky about mystery novel plots.  I enjoy being surprised.  While I figured out halfway through the book a major point that was revealed towards the end (I did, after all, cut my reading teeth on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books), much of the ending surprised me.  Much of it tied to the previous book, which is alluded to constantly, but not in a way that detracted from the current story.  A whirlwind of a ride, this plot is engaging, approachable, friendly, and just plain fun to read!

I have to say this as well - I really and truly enjoyed the fact that one of the main characters is blind.  Not that I wish everyone were blind, but it is refreshing to finally find a mystery book that helps make the case that physical limitations do not ruin a person's ability to be a fully contributing member of society.  Thank you, Comby.  

Local lingo peppers this work, the cover reminds me of a flag t-shirt that one of my best friends used to wear constantly, it is a quick and enjoyable read, the characters feel like real people I actually know, the plot is surprising and can be sure I'll be reading more in this series!!

Did I forget to mention that Comby is super good at painting the setting?  Yes?  Well, Comby is super good at describing setting in a way that lets readers focus on the plot.  There, now that point isn't forgotten.  : )

THE BUGLY (Bad/Ugly)
I adore this book, but it is not without its faults: 

First, it bugs me significantly that the number of rubies noted in the book itself to have been used to fashion the necklace in question does not match the number of rubies in the heart on the cover.  Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm being annoyingly particular - but I'm good that that (I was also very annoyed that Effie's dress in the first "Hunger Games" movie was a garish pink when the book explicitly notes that it is green!!).  Picky, picky Nora.  :P

Second, as much as I like the descriptive quality of this doesn't always flow the best in a few places.  There are points when it feels like the author was struggling a bit between describing the scene in a way that made sense and in a way that was interesting...some of the descriptions felt forced, or like the author was just trying too hard.

Third, the characters sound like each other far too flibberting much!  Yeah yeah, I harp on this constantly, but it bugs the daylights out of me.  People from the same region talk like each other, this is true.  It is also true that personality dictates our vocabulary and speech patterns to a certain extent (example: I once had a friend be able to tell I was irritated about something simply because of the vocab that I was using in a text....and I wasn't even swearing!!).  When characters blend into one another, I become bugged.  Here I was bugged.  In Comby's defense, however, Lexa uses vocab that is unique to her (Italian swearwords, anyone?).

That's it.  I really enjoyed this work and definitely plan on scooping up the other books in the series as soon as they come out!!   Please try to read it - it is just plain fun!  Scary in some parts, but an absolute literary delight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No comments:

Post a Comment