Masked to Death – REVIEW

2 out of 5 stars.

Last week, I presented a spotlight on this book, Masked to Death, the 5th in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series by Christina Freeburn. Today, I’m reviewing the same book.

Masked to Death Book Cover - green background on top and aqua background on bottom; drawn

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Brief Synopsis

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

Line of rope with metal anchor tied to right end
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I was really excited about this book when I first read about it. It sounded great. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed in the actual thing.

The mechanics of the book, like grammar, sentence structure, etc. were fine, which is why it gets 2 stars and not just 1. The rest of the book is unfortunately, not nearly as stellar. In fact, I felt it was pretty horrid. Mostly because of the characters, but some of the plot twists also got to me. I try very hard to find positive things to comment on when I review because I know the author worked hard at writing the book. Unfortunately, aside from liking one character and one scene, I really just did not like this book.

Now, I admit, I have not read the other books in the series, but I found the characters annoying, shallow, and the only one I really liked was Garrison. I thought Garrison was kind and compassionate, yet he had the ability to stand up for himself, which many of these characters seem to lack.

Faith needs a backbone. I understand wanting to please people all the time. I’m guilty of that myself; I struggle with trying to be a people-pleaser everyday, but sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself and live your life. Not the life that everyone else wants for you. It’s possible to do that and not be disrespectful. It’s called boundaries, which Faith seems to be very much lacking.

Maybe Ted is a better character in the other books, but his indecision in this one, the coddling of his daughter even when she’s being Royal Brat #1 (applause for brother Bob who finally called his niece on her behavior and warned her she needed to straighten up or she might not be in their wedding after all! Someone had to stand up to her!), and his seeming lack of interest in carving out time just for him and Faith (with one or two exceptions) makes me not like him at all and I want to tell Faith to dump him.

Throughout the book there is talk of a mental illness, but we don’t have any idea what type until the end. There are very vague hints, but even knowing people WITH this mental illness, I didn’t guess it (I’m not saying which mental illness because I consider that to be a spoiler). Even at the end, it’s simply thrown at us with no real explanations. Ms. Freeburn misses a terrific opportunity to deal with the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, particularly the one involved.

Another thing that was a little bit annoying (tho’ admittedly not as much as the characters were) was that even though this cruise was supposedly taking place during Mardi Gras, aside from the one masked ball, we hear nothing about the holiday. Why make an emphasis to say it’s happening during Mardi Gras and then not actually incorporate more than one Mardi Gras themed event? Why didn’t the cruise ship stop at some of the islands that celebrate Mardi Gras/Carnivale?

There are plenty of positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but I just could not see the positives in this book other than Garrison’s character and then Bob standing up to his niece for being such a brat.

Maybe you’ll have better luck with it.

** I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. **

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© Graphic Garden

Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars

Black book cover with diamonds all over it and text

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scattered grouping of diamonds - heavier on the right than the left

Brief Synopsis

On February 15, 2003, a group of thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in the international diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium and made off with over $108 million dollars worth of diamonds and other valuables. They did so without tripping an alarm or injuring a single guard in the process.

Although the crime was perfect, the getaway was not. The police zeroed in on a band of professional thieves fronted by Leonardo Notarbartolo, a dapper Italian who had rented an office in the Diamond Center and clandestinely cased its vault for over two years.  The “who” of the crime had been answered, but the “how” remained largely a mystery.

Enter Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard Law grad and diamond expert, and Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds, who undertook a global goose chase to uncover the true story behind the daring heist. Tracking the threads of the story throughout Europe—from Belgium to Italy, in seedy cafés and sleek diamond offices—the authors sorted through an array of conflicting details, divergent opinions and incongruous theories to put together the puzzle of what actually happened that Valentine’s Day weekend.

This real-life Ocean’s Eleven—a combination of diamond history, journalistic reportage, and riveting true-crime story—provides a thrilling in-depth study detailing the better-than-fiction heist of the century. (Source: Goodreads)

scattered grouping of diamonds - heavier on the right than the left


Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby & Greg Campbell is a book that I had wanted to read for quite awhile before I was actually able to pick it up and read it. I was afraid that with all the anticipation, the book was going to fall flat. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. It surpassed my expectations!

These gentleman managed to pull off the largest diamond heist in history without a single person being injured or killed and without a single alarm being triggered. They spent two or three years working on ideas and gadgets to thwart all the various security measures in the Antwerp diamond vault. The amount of planning and ingenuity that went into this heist is simply amazing.

Unfortunately, through a couple of strokes of bad luck, the police caught onto them rather quickly after their getaway, though the police were never able to recover the diamonds and other valuables.

I found this book to be well-written, flowing smoothly from one segment to another. If you enjoy reading books or watching movies about heists or about criminals who find ways of meeting their goals without violence (like “The Italian Job” or “Ocean’s Eleven”), you will enjoy this book!

scattered grouping of diamonds - heavier on the right than the left