#BookReview A Better Part of Valor (Valorie Dawes Thrillers Book 3) by Gary Corbin @garycorbin

A Better Part of ValorAbout the Book

While jogging off-duty along the riverfront, rookie cop Valorie Dawes discovers the body of a young girl  – and ignites a manhunt for a serial killer.

The Shoeless Schoolgirl Slayer has remained a step ahead of the Clayton, CT police for months. All of his victims drowned. All were found barefoot. And all bear the same strange, fresh tattoo. Then rookie cop Val Dawes notices patterns that eluded the department’s more traditional senior detectives. Following her intuition, she discovers clues that convince her she’s closing in.

But is she? Or is the clever and elusive Slayer laying a trap to make Val the next victim?

Format: eARC (423 pages)                      Publisher: Double Diamond Publishing
Publication date: 21st September 2021 Genre: Crime

Find A Better Part of Valor (Valorie Dawes Thrillers Book 3) on Goodreads

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My Review

I seem to be making a habit of reading Gary’s books part way through a series! For example, I’ve previously read The Mountain Man’s Badge, book three in the Mountain Man Mysteries series, and Lying in Vengeance, the follow-up to courtroom drama, Lying in Judgment.  True to form, A Better Part of Valor, published on 21st September 2021, is the third book in the author’s Valorie Dawes series. The book can be read as a standalone but the references to key events in Valorie’s life and the previous investigations she’s been involved in would be spoilers for the earlier two books. So if you fancy embarking on a new police procedural series, start with the first book, A Woman of Valor.

The book contains meticulous detail of police procedure and the step-by-step process of a murder investigation: narrowing down suspects, cross-checking alibis, interviewing witnesses, identifying connections between the victims, trawling social media for background information on victims and suspects, not to mention recording every piece of evidence, every conversation and interaction in minute detail. As the hunt for the killer progresses, the long hours take their toll on everyone involved in the investigation, including Valorie who seems to exist solely on a diet on coffee and the odd snatched breakfast.  How she finds the energy for runs and punishing gym sessions I don’t know! The team also have to put up with interference from the Mayor, Megan Iverson, anxious for a crime wave not to jeopardize her political ambitions, shared by her husband.

Val’s back story, the details of which are slowly revealed, helps the reader understand why she is so driven to solve the case, why she often underestimates her abilities and can at times take unnecessary risks. Luckily, she has former partner, Gil, to provide wise advice. Recovering from a serious injury incurred in a previous case, Gil is the person who knows Valorie best and one of the few people from whom she will accept advice – and actually take it! Gil’s description of Valorie as ‘intelligent, intuitive, relentless, and gutsy as hell’ sums her up nicely and makes her an engaging protagonist. I really liked the relationship between Gil and Valorie, and his wise advice when Valorie doubts herself, ‘Find the best part of you. That’s the key’.

Given the nature of the crime, the suspects are all male most of whom are rather unpleasant characters or suspiciously too helpful.  I had various suspicions about who the perpetrator might be but the author skilfully led me up several blind alleys before returning to main street. The tension ramps up in the final chapters in which the hunter becomes the hunted.  But is the real conflict within Valorie’s heart as she ponders the risks of crossing the boundary between friendship and something more?

A Better Part of Valor is a chunky read but its intricate plot, likeable central character and sense of authenticity kept this reader turning the pages way past her bedtime.  My thanks to the author for my digital advance review copy.

In three words: Intriguing, detailed, suspenseful

Try something similar: Payback (DI Charley Mann #1) by R.C. Bridgestock

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GaryCorbinAbout the Author

Gary Corbin is a writer, editor, and playwright in Camas, WA, a suburb of Portland, OR. In addition to eight published novels, his creative and journalistic work has been published in BrainstormNW, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, and Global Envision, among others.  His plays have enjoyed critical acclaim and have been produced on many Portland-area stages.

Gary is a member of the Willamette Writers Group, Nine Bridges Writers, the Northwest Editors Guild, PDX Playwrights, and the Bar Noir Writers Workshop. He serves as treasurer of The Pulp Stage, and participates in workshops and conferences in the Portland, Oregon area.

A homebrewer and home coffee roaster, Gary is a member of the Oregon Brew Crew and a BJCP National Beer Judge. He loves to ski, cook, and root for his beloved Patriots and Red Sox. And when that’s not enough, he escapes to the Oregon coast with his sweetheart.

Connect with Gary
Website | TwitterGoodreads

#WWWWednesday – 15th September 2021

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too?  Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

A Single Rose Blog Tour CoverA Single Rose by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson

Rose has just turned forty when she gets a call from a lawyer asking her to come to Kyoto for the reading of her estranged father’s will. And so for the first time in her life she finds herself in Japan, where Paul, her father’s assistant, is waiting to greet her.

As Paul guides Rose along a mysterious itinerary designed by her deceased father, her bitterness and anger are soothed by the stones and the trees in the Zen gardens they move through. During their walks, Rose encounters acquaintances of her father – including a potter and poet, an old lady friend, his housekeeper and chauffeur – whose interactions help her to slowly begin to accept a part of herself that she has never before acknowledged.

As the reading of the will gets closer, Rose’s father finally, posthumously, opens his heart to his daughter, offering her a poignant understanding of his love and a way to accept all she has lost.

Daughters of War CoverDaughters of War by Dinah Jefferies

France, 1944. Deep in the river valley of the Dordogne, in an old stone cottage on the edge of a beautiful village, three sisters long for the end of the war.

Hélène, the eldest, is trying her hardest to steer her family to safety, even as the Nazi occupation becomes more threatening. Élise, the rebel, is determined to help the Resistance, whatever the cost. And Florence, the dreamer, just yearns for a world where France is free.

Then, one dark night, the Allies come knocking for help. And Helene knows that she cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. But bravery comes at a cost, and soon the sisters’ lives become even more perilous as they fight for what is right. And secrets from their own mysterious past threaten to unravel everything they hold most dear…


Recently finished

A Better Part of Valor (Valorie Dawes #3) by Gary Corbin

While jogging off duty along the riverfront, rookie cop Valorie Dawes discovers the body of a young girl – and ignites a manhunt for a serial killer.

The Shoeless Schoolgirl Slayer has remained a step ahead of the Clayton, CT police for months. All of his victims drowned. All were found barefoot. And all bear the same strange, fresh tattoo. Then rookie cop Val Dawes notices patterns that eluded the department’s more traditional senior detectives. Following her intuition, she discovers clues that convince her she’s closing in.

But is she? Or is the clever and elusive Slayer laying a trap to make Val the next victim? (Review to follow)

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

The story of a murder, a miscarriage of justice, and a man too innocent for his times . . .

Mahmood Mattan is a fixture in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay, 1952, which bustles with Somali and West Indian sailors, Maltese businessmen and Jewish families. He is a father, chancer, petty criminal. He is a smooth-talker with rakish charm and an eye for a good game. He is many things, but he is not a murderer.

So when a shopkeeper is brutally killed and all eyes fall on him, Mahmood isn’t too worried. Since his Welsh wife Laura kicked him out for racking up debts he has wandered the streets more often, and there are witnesses who allegedly saw him enter the shop that night. But Mahmood has escaped worse scrapes, and he is innocent in this country where justice is served. Love lends him immunity too: the fierce love of Laura, who forgives his gambling in a heartbeat, and his children. It is only in the run-up to the trial, as the prospect of returning home dwindles, that it will dawn on Mahmood that he is in a fight for his life – against conspiracy, prejudice and cruelty – and that the truth may not be enough to save him. (Review to follow)

Blasted Things by Lesley Glaister

1920: Britain is trying to forget the Great War. Clementine, who nursed at the front and suffered her own losses, must bury the past and settle for a life of middle class respectability. Then she meets Vincent, an opportunistic veteran whose damage goes much deeper than the painted tin mask he wears to face the world.

Powerfully drawn together they enter a deadly relationship that careers towards a dark and haunting resolution.  (Review to follow for blog tour)


What Cathy (will) Read Next

The Improbable Adventures of Emily SoldeneThe Improbable Adventures of Miss Emily Soldene by Helen Batten 

‘I rode on the stage in such style, that the men in front forgot I was a girl, and also forgot to laugh.’

From humble beginnings as the daughter of a Clerkenwell milliner, Emily Soldene rose to become a leading lady of the London stage and a formidable impresario with her own opera company. The darling of London’s theatreland, she later reinvented herself as a journalist and writer who scandalised the capital with her backstage revelations.

Weaving through the spurious glamour of Victorian music halls and theatres, taking encounters with the Pre-Raphaelites and legal disputes involving Charles Dickens in her stride, Emily became the toast of New York and ventured far off the beaten track to tour in Australia and New Zealand. In The Improbable Adventures of Miss Emily Soldene, a life filled with performance, travel and incident returns to centre stage.