Book Review: Death at the Dakota by M. K. Graff

Nurse Trudy Genova is making plans to take her relationship to NYPD detective Ned O’Malley to the next level, when she lands a gig as medical consultant on a film shoot at the famed Dakota apartment building in Manhattan, which John Lennon once called home. Then star Monica Kiley goes missing, a cast member turns up dead, and it appears Trudy might be next. Meanwhile Ned tackles a mysterious murder case in which the victim is burned beyond recognition. When his investigations lead him back to the Dakota, Trudy finds herself wondering: how can she fall in love if she can’t even survive?

Readers of Death Unscripted, the first book in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series, will find the same pleasures in this sequel: fast pacing, engaging characters, twists and turns on the way to a satisfying close. Once again M.K. Graff reveals her talents in crafting this delightful mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.

Find all of Marni Graff’s books here
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My Review

I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review. I enjoyed reading Death Unscripted so I was looking forward to reading Death at the Dakota.

This is my favorite kind of mystery. Even though there’s murder involved, it’s still a fun and quick read. I was also a bit surprised a couple of times which is always good.

I like the main character, Trudy Genova. She appears strong and independent, and she’s finally getting over her trust issues with men thanks to Detective Ned O’Malley. They have trouble finding time to be together because they’re both so busy with their jobs, but they’re finally ready to take their relationship to the next level. Will it ever happen?

There’s not one but two murder mysteries and both end up being Ned’s cases, one being on the set where Trudy works. The way everything was solved was both interesting and exciting. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.



About the Author

Marni Graff had a successful career as a registered nurse who wrote on the side before writing full time. She has a degree in English Lit and studied Gothic Mystery at Oxford University in England. She also wrote articles for Mystery Review magazine, where she interviewed many of the authors whose work she admired.
Marni is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England. The Blue Virgin introduces Nora, an American writer living in Oxford. The Green Remains and The Scarlet Wench trace Nora’s move to the Lake District where murder follows her.  In process is The Golden Hour, set in Bath, England. Premiering in the next few months will be Graff’s new Manhattan series, Death Unscripted, featuring nurse Trudy Genova, a medical consultant for a New York movie studio. This new series is based on Marni’s favorite nursing job in real life.
Marni is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes crime book reviews at Auntie M Writes and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, an author’s cooperative. A member of Sisters in Crime, Marni runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven which allows writers experience reading their work out loud and getting immediate feedback. 










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A Slumbering Feast

Cynical Wordsmith

Insomnia, I find,
Is very bittersweet.
The night of,
And the day after,
Are utterly miserable.
The trudgery and drudgery of the day,
Seems ceaseless.
This way, that,
Do that, this,
The mental exhaustion continues
Until I am a shell, hollow,
An empty cockpit
On autopilot.

I’m filled with daydreams
Of such glorious sleep.
That all day yearning
That has led to this moment
Where I can finally,

But that second wind comes,
And the Gods laugh at my pain.
And this night, like every night,
Will invariably be the same.
I feel as though I’ve been starving,
Searching for fruit or for game,
And when I finally appease this hunger,
I fear I shall never wake again.

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Book Review: The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker

Hear No Evil
For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten; a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth concealed for decades.

See No Evil
Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer—discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina—clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil
Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos—a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious 4MK serial murders turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation, but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil
With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

My Review

I received an ARC of this novel from the author. All opinions in this review are entirely my own and completely unbiased. Over the past couple of years, I read The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die when they were published. They were so good that I made the time to read them again before reading The Sixth Wicked Child which is the final book in the trilogy.

I read about 25% of The Sixth Wicked Child and then I had to stay up last night and read the rest of it. I was SO tired that I’d put the book down and close my eyes and…I had to read more. That’s not something I do very often but I literally couldn’t put this book down.

Sam Porter is obsessed with finding the suspected serial killer Anson Bishop even though he’s been told to stay away from the case. The deeper Sam goes, the more confused and frustrated he gets. After being shot in the back of the head years ago, he has amnesia for different periods in his life. When he really needs to remember his time as a rookie, he can’t remember much of anything except actually getting shot.

Agent Poole with the FBI has been on the 4MK case for a few months, and he knows that something is going on with Sam. He understands Sam wanting to catch Bishop, but he doesn’t understand the obsession, and he begins to suspect Sam is more involved than he’s letting on.

There is a stack of diaries supposedly written by Bishop that need to be read, and as Sam reads them, Bishop’s past unfolds. If it’s true. They know that Bishop is a liar so everything in the diaries could be fiction. At the same time, the bodies are piling up. I lost count of how many people are killed, and it is obvious that Bishop has help or there’s a copycat.

There are a lot of characters and many twists but, amazingly, I was able to keep up with it all. J.D. Barker has a remarkable ability to have a lot going on in the past and the present while making it easy for the reader to follow. Yes, I was confused, but only as confused as Sam was.

The Sixth Wicked Child can be read as a standalone but this is such a good trilogy, I recommend reading all three books to get the most out of them. Each book has so much information! You won’t be disappointed.

The ending was brilliant. The trilogy is incredible. I’m looking forward to reading more by J.D. Barker.

About the Author

J.D. Barker is the international best-selling author of numerous novels, including FORSAKEN and THE FOURTH MONKEY. His latest novel, DRACUL, co-authored with Dacre Stoker, released October 2018. His novel, THE SIXTH WICKED CHILD, released in August. He is currently collaborating with James Patterson. His novels have been translated into two dozen languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker resides in coastal New Hampshire with his wife, Dayna, and their daughter, Ember.

A note from J.D.
As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.


I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.