02 | Ruby Heart

What do book bloggers say about it…



The Neve & Egan Cases, book two

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 witty…..you 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. 😛

Second, as much as I like the descriptive quality of this work…it 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!

30.12.2013 – http://onlygodwritestrees.blogspot.ch

Did someone say cozy? I’m in. I love a good cozy. RUBY HEART is a good cozy. I really enjoyed this book. The characters are fun, well-rounded, likable, and strong. The plot is complex and believable.
RUBY HEART is book two in the series about two private investigators, Alexandra Neve and history professor Ashford Egan. Though I haven’t read book one in the series, yet, it pulls Alexandra into an investigation after her best friend is murdered. Now Alexandra and her friend, Ashford, are enlisted to help a Jewish woman recover a RUBY HEART necklace that belonged to her mother. The necklace had been returned to the family sixty years after it was stolen in war torn Germany. And then it was stolen again.
Are the two thefts connected? Can Alexander and Ashford find the missing necklace before the elderly woman dies? Where to start?
Well, never fear. This dynamic duo of private investigators are good at their job, and fun to be around. I’d recommend this book to all who like a good mystery, especially those who love a good cozy.

30.12.2013 – http://ryderislington.wordpress.com

As a private investigator, Alexandra Neve enjoys what she does. She gets to uncover clues about all sorts of mysteries, and sometimes delivers happy endings to those involved. There’s nothing she’d rather do than immerse herself in uncovering anything and everything. The thrill of doing so always leaves her feeling she’s accomplished something.
Until the moment a new case lands on her lap, that is. Only then, does everything change. Alongside Egan, her partner, Alexandra has been tasked to discover the mystery of the ruby heart. The pendant has supposedly been in Doris Hargrave’s family for as long as she can remember, but the necklace has gone missing yet again.
While she might not have a clue as to what’s happened to it, Alexandra knows she’ll be able to get to the bottom of things soon enough. She just has to dig a little deeper in order to find what she’s looking. Granted, things aren’t as easy as they sound, but she’s willing to give things all she’s got. With her trusty sidekick by her side, anything is possible. They just have to stay alive long enough to make sure that the necklace is finally returned to its proper place.
Action packed from the get-go, the Ruby Heart is a story that will pull you in, and keep you focused on the mystery surrounding Doris Hargrave’s missing pendant. Cristelle has laid out a beautiful foundation for what promises to be a great series. The end has a little bit of a cliffhanger, but I think the way she ended things leaves a lot to the imagination. I can’t wait to see what happens next for both Alexandra and Egan.

19.12.2013 – http://www.simplistik.org/lissetteemanning

It seems that humour is an integral part of modern cosy mysteries. I didn’t really expect it when I began reading the book but I very much enjoyed it. Alexandra (Lexa) narrates the story and her tone is often flippant and full of deadpan humour. This is one of the things that most appealed to me about the novel – and made Lexa an appealing character.

Lexa and Ash are two rather bumbling private investigators and that adds to the book’s appeal. I liked the pair and wanted them to solve – and survive – their latest case. They aren’t completely inept but they still have a lot to learn about detective work. I admired the way the author handled Ash’s blindness. A handicapped protagonist who has moments of heroism in a crime story is unusual but Ash is portrayed with realism, including his limitations as well as his strengths.

Lexa and Ash are very different from each other and there is a significant age difference between them but they are a good team and good friends. There’s also an unacknowledged attraction between the pair that adds to the story’s tension.

The novel ably weaves together elements of the past in Nazi Germany with a mystery in present day London. Using the clues the author drops into the story, I thought I knew who stole the necklace and why. I was on the right track but I had to read to the end to tie up all the ends. Having an idea ‘whodunnit’ before the last page didn’t make me lose interest – I was engrossed in the private investigators’ lives and had to find out how they worked it out.

Ruby Heart is aimed at the new adult reader and, as the story unfolds, the author gets inside Lexa’s head to reveal the issues and insecurities that concern her as a young adult. While I am past that stage of my life this didn’t deter me from reading the story. Lexa is a well drawn character and I could empathise with her despite our differences.

The novel has a pair of likeable main characters and an intriguing mystery to solve. Despite being a mystery, it is a funny and a feel good story. I think it has a broader appeal than just the new adult market: it will appeal to any readers who enjoy cosy mysteries.

19.12.2013 – http://dianneascroft.wordpress.com

Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are private detectives who have been hired by Doris Hargrave to find her family’s antique ruby heart necklace. Mrs. Hargrave’s family lost the necklace during WWII the first time and it was recovered by the Italian police years later, only to be stolen again recently. Mrs. Hargrave wanted the necklace back for her granddaughter’s wedding and as she is so sick, she wants to see it once more before she passes on. When they start digging into the past, Lexa gets threatening notes, her flat broken into, and it doesn’t help anything that Egan is getting pressure from the university to choose between his teaching job and the private investigation business. The heat is on, but Lexa and Egan have no intention of giving up so easily. ‘Ruby Heart’ is the second of The Neve & Egan Cases series, but I didn’t feel lost at all for not having read the first book. ‘Ruby Heart’ stands very well on its own, with an interesting cast of characters and a very intriguing mystery. The investigation took readers back to a horrific period of time, World War II, because in order to find the current thief Lexa and Egan had to uncover the past thief. The past and current mysteries blended seamlessly and there wasn’t a dull moment. I definitely recommend ‘Ruby Heart’ and I’m going to be picking up the first book, ‘Russian Dolls’.

18.13.2013 – http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com

Alexandra is a struggling PI with a blind university professor as her assistant. Most of her cases range from missing pets to cheating spouses. All of which barely pays her bills. She longs for a real case. She gets it in the form of an elderly woman who’s heirloom, a ruby heart necklace is stolen, for the second time in a period of sixty years. This necklace is no ordinary piece of jewelry. It has a historical connection to the holocaust era. In order to solve the case of the stolen necklace, Alexandra and her partner, Ashford, delve into the past to figure out who stole it the first time. Her investigation lands her in a lot of trouble. When her home is sacked, her family threatened, and the only evidence she has linking the past thief to the recent one, Alexandra knows she is close to the truth.

Ruby Heart is the second book in the Neve and Egan series. Having not read the first book in the series, I was afraid I would miss a lot but I was pleasantly surprised that while sometimes references were made to incidents in the first book, they did not confuse or hamper the story line in Ruby Heart. I love a good detective story and this one has been added to my list. I have to admit, I was worried how a blind character could possibly be of any use to a PI but I loved Ash in the story, he certainly can pull his weight if he needs too (and he does :D)

13.12.2013 – http://www.worddiaries.blogspot.ch

A tough girl and a Mr. Nice guy team up in this mystery series that includes some history on WW2 and art. There are a couple action segments that add an element of danger.

I fell in love with this private investigation duo. Their interaction and respect for each other is a nice draw to continue to follow them. Also, the fact that one of the PI’s is blind presents an extra challenge while on cases which puts an interesting twist on things. Actually, all the main characters are likable in a comfy way.

13.12.2013 – http://vvb32reads.blogspot.ch

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This is book two of The Neve and Egan Cases. Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are at it again in this action filled mystery. Doris Hargrave seeks out Neve and Egan to assist her in finding a beautiful ruby heart pendant, a family heirloom and the only item she has of her parents both of whom were murdered in the Holocaust. This is a particularly bizarre case as this is the second time it has been stolen. Ms. Hargrave is desperate to have it back before she passes away or her granddaughter gets married. Time is running out and Alexandra inadvertently puts her mom and Egan in harm’s way. Will they be able to unravel this mystery? Will Alexandra be able to keep everyone she holds dear safe?

This was a hard book to put down. Every page was filled with so much intrigue that you had to find out what happened next. You will easily connect with the main character, Alexandra Neve, as she strives to protect her friend Ashland and her mother. I couldn’t help but enjoy the story and the historical background of the Holocaust as well. This was a great mystery, a wonderful book to snuggle up under a blanket on a cold evening to read.

11.12.2013 –

In Ms. Comby’s previous novel, Russian Dolls, Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan team up to investigate the death of Alexandra’s friend. Ruby Heart is the second novel featuring this private investigation team. The two work well together despite their obvious differences in temperament, and are engaging and unique characters. Operating on a shoe-string budget, Neve and Egan have no real office and often meet clients in a local bar. However, they are anxious to establish themselves as professionals and are delighted to tackle the case of a stolen ruby necklace (as opposed to searching for missing dogs).

Comby has drawn a sympathetic portrait of an elderly and gravely ill woman trying desperately to recover her family heirloom. She has also done a very good job of weaving together current events with the back story of World War II and the plunder of valuables from Jewish victims.

This is an interesting and enjoyable novel, and readers will no doubt look forward to the third novel in the Neve-Egan series.

08.12.2013 –

First off, I’m finding the Neve & Egan series to be quite charming. The first book, Russian Dolls, was offered to reviewers to obtain the introduction to this unlikely sleuthing pair. However, I think Ruby Heart gives enough backstory to be able to follow it without having first read Russian Dolls, though I would still recommend reading the series as a whole just because it is good.

After the events of the first book, including the loss of her best friend, and the subsequent media frenzy, Alexandra – or Lexa to her friends – decides to leave the university life behind for the life of a PI. Part-time university history professor and her blind business partner, Ashford Egan, is a prickly character to both students and faculty alike. But Lexa is able to see beyond the candy-coated shell to the soft chocolate center. Thus the friendship and business relationship begins.

At first I was worried this would devolve into a middle-aged professor meets much younger student – you get the picture. But I’ve been very pleased to see the relationship grow more like a father/daughter scenario (Lexa’s father died years before) and it’s very sweet to “see” played out in the pages. Ash gets onto Lexa when she lets her frustration and mouth get the better of a situation (I can sooo relate to her that way), and Lexa helps Ash to express emotion and better relate to others. Plus in their business relationship, Lexa can explore where Ash can’t, and Ash’s other senses are heightened due to his blindness and can detect intentions and what isn’t being said by the people they interview.

So getting back to Ruby Heart. Lexa is visited by Doris Hargrave, an ailing, old woman with an urgent plea. Mrs. Hargrave emigrated to England in the nineteen-thirties as a young child from a wealthy German family of jewelers – and they were Jewish. During the events of the Holocaust, she lost her entire family and a precious family heirloom, a pendant made from the finest rubies and diamonds and fashioned into the shape of a heart. The pendant turned up recently when a home in Italy was demolished, returned to it’s rightful owner, and subsequently stolen from Mrs. Hargrave once again. Now she’s desperate to recover it to pass on the hope of a happy marriage to her beloved granddaughter.

If a half-century old mystery isn’t enough pressure for Lexa, Ashford is being forced to decide between being a blind detective or remaining with the university (and guaranteed income). Lexa knows what Ash should do and is torn by what she wants him to choose.

To discover the reason for the current theft, Lexa and Ash have to follow a cold trail that forces them to explore the horrors of the Holocaust through the pages left over from the path through Germany to Italy – and possible ties to the Mafioso.

At times, just when they have no further leads to go on, something pops up to turn them in the right direction. A time or two this almost felt too easy and contrived, but since I was already invested in the characters and the story, I didn’t let it bother me too much.

I liked the bit of play between Lexa and Stensen, a young officer she’s worked with on her cases, and I suspect a bit of foreshadowing of a possible relationship building for later in the series (wink-wink). Then there’s the fact that those with whom Lexa is close seem to be getting hurt – namely in this one, her mother. But one thing I find interesting is that even though it is Lexa and Ash doing the investigating, Lexa’s home is the only one that seems to get invaded. The bad guys never seem to know where Ash lives so that feels a bit odd to me. I’ve just chalked it up to the fact that Lexa seems to be the one doing the majority of the footwork.

Through the series, I really enjoyed the variety of characters Ms. Comby has created in this series. Ashford’s “friend”, Dimitri, provides a little more backstory on how he came to be indebted to Ash – very interesting. And I’m especially liking this mysterious underworld character who we never see but who is lurking in the shadows behind the series. Oh, and this character is the one REALLY responsible for Lexa’s best friend’s death in book one. His only name? The Sorter.

Ooooo! So if you’re looking for a mystery series that isn’t too deep (but has the promise to be), has some action, and threatens to teach you a bit about history, pick up Ruby Heart. Better yet, just start with book one of the Neve & Egan series. You’ll be glad you did.

05.12.2013 –

Have you ever heard of a blind PI? Well, read the Neve & Egan series, and you’ll meet one. Ashford Egan is the analytical, organized, and blind component of the detective team of Neve & Egan. Alexandra Neve is the impulsive, loose cannon. Somehow they complement each other.

Ruby Heart is the second novel in the Neve & Egan series. After I read the first ten pages, (the Prologue), I had to buy the first book, Russian Dolls. I devoured both novels. But you don’t have to read Book One before you read Ruby Heart. It stands by itself, and explanations are given for reference, when necessary for the story.

Ruby Heart is a necklace, a very dear necklace. It was given to Neve & Egan’s client before World War II. The client is elderly and seriously ill. Actually, she’s at death’s door. So the pressure to find the necklace before Doris Hargrave’s death is critical.

Alexandra Neve searches Nazi newspapers and actually does see the necklace on the neck of a lady, in one of them. She identifies the woman, and tries to see if anyone in her family still has the necklace. The necklace was probably used to buy safety from the Nazi’s.

Don’t forget that Doris is dying. She wants to see the necklace before she dies. She especially wants her granddaughter to wear it on her wedding day. It’s a family tradition that it will be a happy marriage for the wearer.

Did I mention that Alexandra’s house is burned down: that the police think the stolen necklace case is too old to investigate, that a mysterious “mob boss,” called “the Sorter,” seems to be a step ahead of them? There’s more, too.

Ruby Heart inspired me to look into my jewelry box to see if I had something similar to a ruby heart necklace. Better than finding my own family heirloom, I found a new detective series that I love. I am looking forward to the next case.

02.12.2013 –