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Spring Thaw: A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery Novella and Other Mystery Short Stories

Narrated by: Mike Alger
Length: 6 hrs and 59 mins
Regular price: £18.29
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Summary

In today’s hectic world, many whodunit fans don’t have time to get their mystery fix diving into a whole novel. Lauren Carr’s Spring Thaw is for these fans - but that doesn’t mean whodunit fans who do have time can’t dive in as well.

Spring Thaw features retired federal agent Chris Matheson from Lauren Carr’s newest best-selling cold case series. When his late father’s former friend is indicted for the seven-year old murder of a church bishop, Chris renews old broken friendships to thaw out the cold case.

Featuring Mac Faraday from Lauren Carr’s popular Mac Faraday Mysteries, an estate auction turns into a deadly affair after Gnarly's antics cause Mac to purchase a gem of a dress, which isn't his color in "Killing Bid".

"Beauty to Die For" features the Lovers in Crime characters Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates in a race against the angel of death to clear the name of a dying woman's son, who was framed for murdering Miss Pennsylvania.

"Countdown to Murder" returns to the Lovers in Crime where Cameron and Joshua try to solve the murder of a young pregnant widow before it happens.

Mystery fans will discover that every dog has his day, especially if that dog is Gnarly. In Lucky Dog, Gnarly helps Mac Faraday to solve the murder of a wealthy society girl.

Dog-loving mystery fans will get a special treat when they listen to "The Gnarly Rehabilitation Program". In this Gnarly mystery short, Bert and Ernie learn the hard way that crime does not pay when they dognap Gnarly.

Gnarly, the rambunctious German shepherd, is also featured in Lauren Carr’s Christmas short, "A Gnarly Christmas". It is Christmas day, and Gnarly has been up to his old tricks again. Now he's in the doghouse - or rather the boathouse - after stealing the Christmas feast! Moments after Archie and Mac leave Spencer Manor, Gnarly hears a call for help from Rocky the Maltese down the street. Four assassins for hire have invaded the home of Rocky's elderly owners. While the home invaders wait for instructions from a mysterious caller, Gnarly must plot to stop them. Can Gnarly save Christmas with only the help of an eight-pound Maltese dressed in an elf suit? 

©2018 Terri Lynn Zaleski (P)2018 Terri Lynn Zaleski

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  • Amy C
  • 07-12-18

Spring Thaw

Spring Thaw: A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery Novella and Other Mystery Short Stories is a collection of seven novellas by Lauren Carr. These novellas include:
Spring Thaw: A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery Short - Chris Matheson gets caught up in a cold case murder mystery of a bishop and his father's former friend is the accused.
Killing Bid: A Mac Faraday Mystery Short - Mac Faraday gets into a predicament because of his German shepherd, Gnarly.
Beauty to Die For: A Lovers in Crime Mystery Short - Joshua and Cameron has to help solve a murder of a beauty queen, Miss Pennsylvania.
Countdown to Murder: A Lovers in Crime Mystery Short - Joshua and Cameron finds themselves helping a pregnant widow.
Lucky Dog: A Mac Faraday Mystery Short - Mac gets the help from Gnarly to solve another murder.
The Gnarly Rehabilitation Program: A Gnarly Mystery Short - Gnarly gets abducted!
A Gnarly Christmas: A Gnarly Short Story - It is Christmas time and Gnarly gets himself into a little bit of trouble.
I enjoyed every one of these stories. Since I have just discovered Lauren Carr recently, I got a good taste of what her other series are about They are fun and entertaining stories with laugh out loud humor. My favorite story would have to be A Gnarly Christmas. That pup sure knows how to cause trouble. This one is the one that made me giggle throughout. So much fun!
Spring Thaw: A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery Novella and Other Mystery Short Stories gets a well deserved five plus stars from me. I cannot wait to read full length novels the series the stories are from. Most definitely worth a read. Highly recommended!
I received an audio version of this book from the author. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • DabOfDarkness
  • 29-01-19

Great way to get introduced to Carr's works

This collection contains the novella Spring Thaw along with these short stories: Killing Bid, Beauty to Die For, Countdown to Murder, Lucky Dog, The Gnarly Rehabilitation Program, and A Gnarly Christmas. If you’re new to Lauren Carr’s works, this is a great collection to jump into, giving you a sampling of her various inter-related mystery series.

For me, the Gnarly stories were my favorites. Spring Thaw was fun and it’s always interesting to see how an investigator tackles a cold case but I don’t recall it as vividly as Gnarly tacking assassins, dognappers, and fake birds residing on someone’s hat. Still, there’s something endearing for a woman on her death bed still attempting to prove her son innocent. I liked the little twists and turns in this tale.

The entire collection is like picking up a group of old friends. Perhaps I’ve heard their stories many times and yet I still enjoy hearing them tell the tales again. In many ways, these mysteries make me think of the old Perry Mason stories – usually someone finally spills the beans in a mess of emotions and that’s how the mystery is finally solved. While that may be a little cliched, it’s still immensely satisfying.

The Gnarly Rehabilitation Program is hands down my favorite story in this collection. These dognappers (Bert and Ernie) had no idea what they were in for! Hahahahahaha! I love how Gnarly plays with his victims before getting the big guns out. A Gnarly Christmas had a similar theme with some ill-informed assassins going up against the clever dog.

Killing Bid had it’s fun moments as well. I liked that auction setting and the mysterious and glamorous estate of a now-deceased film star. Of course, Gnarly only wants the bird on a fancy hat. Mac Faraday unintentionally bids a small fortune on a silly outfit, much to his chagrin. Meanwhile, Countdown to Murder had it’s chilling moments. Single red roses now have a new meaning for me.

Over all, it’s a great little collection of Carr’s works showcasing many favorite characters, especially Gnarly. And that large skunk cat. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book. My opinions are wholly my own.

The Narration: Mike Alger does a great job as Mac Faraday. I like his voice for all the mysteries though I have to say that the number of his voices are limited. For instance, he uses the same voices from mystery series to mystery series for the most part so it’s a little hard to tell from the voices alone which crime-fighting duo is featured in each story. Perhaps that’s why I like the Gnarly stories so much as they stand out clearly. Alger’s pacing is perfect, his female voices are feminine, and there were no technical issues with this recording. 4.5/5 stars.

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  • Dawn H
  • 13-12-18

Mysteries with characters I already know & love

I chose to read this book after receiving a free audio copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Spring Thaw and Other Mystery Short Stories contains several stories that have characters from the Mac Faraday, Chris Matheson, and Lovers in Crime series. Of course, since these are short stories the mystery occurs and is solved quickly. Lauren Carr's full-length novels are great, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these stories as well. It's fun to read short stories about characters I already know, including the animals. Gnarly, Mac Faraday's German Shepherd, is such an amazing character he's always fun to read about.

I like the author's writing. She makes it seem that you actually know the characters. The narrator did a good job with pace and timing and his voices for the different characters were done very well.

Whether you are a fan of Lauren Carr or haven't read any of her books yet, if you like a mystery you'll like these stories. This would be a good book to read to get a taste of her writing.

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  • Cheryl
  • 13-12-18

Fun short stories

I have "listened" to a handful of Lauren Carr's books. However, there are still many books that I have not "listened" too yet. This is a fun sampler of short stories. A nice introduction to new readers of Lauren Carr and her books. It gives the readers a chance to get to know some of her main characters from the various series. Of course, my favorite stories involved Mac Farady and Gnarly. I am a sucker for a good dog story or any story featuring animals. Than, there is Mac, who I have gotten to know pretty well now.

The first story in this audiobook is more like a full length story. It is the longest. There was a twist or two thrown into the storyline. Overall, while I may not have loved each story on their own or overall this audiobook, it is one to listen to. Another reader did mention that most of these stories were not new as they had been previously featured. So, fans of this author who have read the prior books have been warned. Although, they may not mind revisiting with old characters. Kind of like family.

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  • Amy's Booket List
  • 12-12-18

Great collection

My Thoughts:

Normally, I'm not really into short stories, because I am always left wanting more. More drama, more mystery, more everything. But these short stories were an absolute joy to listen to. The narrators did a fantastic job. I never had trouble keeping the characters straight during dialogue heavy scenes, nor did I feel the need to constantly speed up the playback.

The characters themselves were very well done, though not necessarily extraordinary. I don't think they are supposed to be, as the mystery is what is compelling each tale. The real stars for me were the dogs. Each story featured a different dog, and each dog had their own personality. If you are a dog lover, you know that no two dogs are alike. Each is unique with its own traits and quirks, just like humans. Often dogs will be written generically, with traits of loyalty, cuddling, and sometimes mischief. When a dog lover writes a dog, you can see the appreciation for the different types and instincts each dog has and just as much thought is put into their personality as any other character. I truly appreciated Lauren Carr's understanding and love of animals and the significant roles they play in our lives.

If you enjoy a good story with intrigue and plot twists, pick up this collection of stories. You will not be disappointed.

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  • Jan M
  • 11-12-18

Great Stories! Great Narration!

I love this short story collection by Lauren Carr. I had previously read several of them, but think they fit this short story book so well. I so enjoy the books featuring Gnarly and Mac Faraday along with Chris Matheson and his motley crew of animals and Joshua Thornton/Cameron Gates with their pets as well. Each story in this book is a standalone that brings more dimension to the characters that I have grown to love. The author has a great way of writing humor into the books along with vivid imagery. Each story has some very unexpected twists and I love how the criminal is revealed. I so enjoy it when the villain is not obvious. Of this collection, I do not have a favorite story because each is so good, but I am partial to the Mac Faraday stories as that is the character that led me to discovering the author Lauren Carr. I am definitely hooked on reading more from this author. I highly recommend this book to discover more about some favorite characters in various series. Listening to this collection, I thought that Mike Alger did a wonderful performance. He has the perfect voice inflections for these stories and adds to the enjoyment. I requested this review copy audiobook and have voluntarily written this review.

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  • Merrci
  • 10-12-18

So Amusing and Entertaining!

Lauren Carr’s collection of short stories is sure to keep you smiling through each story. Featuring characters from her bestselling series, fans will love visiting again. New readers will get a taste of the humor found in each book.

Animal lovers can’t resist Gnarly especially, and the many other pets included in each series. Gnarly plays a major roll in most of these. He makes a great star, if troublesome at times. His antics always amuse, as do his ’serious side’ when there is trouble. Then we see his training as a law enforcement dog come into play. He is very good at what he does.

Mike Alger is the narrator who will keep you amused and tense as appropriate. His voice becomes the character’s voices. You will get attached.

It’s a fast listen, yet oh-so entertaining. Don’t miss this one! We received a copy of this audiobook as part of IRead Book Tours virtual tour for Spring Thaw. Can't wait for more.

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  • Hall Ways
  • 10-12-18

Quick hits of humor, mystery, & a touch of romance

Audio book review. At under two hours listening time, Spring Thaw and Other Mystery Short Stories gives listeners a very satisfying, quick-fix of what author Lauren Carr does so well. Within just a few minutes of starting Spring Thaw, the first story, Carr fully defines a not-so-holy bishop (he’s a jerk), sets the tone for the scene (contentious), and brutally kills-off a character (BAM)! To say I was sucked-in to Spring Thaw is an understatement. Whether they’ve met main character Chris Matheson and crew before or not, readers won’t be able to resist this fully developed mystery packed into a novella.

“Chris cast a glance at the coffee pot; it was only one third full. The way his day was going, it was two thirds empty.”

Back to main character Chris Matheson and crew… Carr’s writing makes you feel like you are at the kitchen table with Chris and Doris, his FABULOUS mother, and part of this family and life. They are my people! If you haven’t read ICE, the first book in the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, you need to get busy! Spring Thaw, like Ice, is smart, infused with subtle humor, and keeps leading and misleading you along until the big reveal to neatly tie-up the loose ends.

In addition to the two books thus far in the Chris Matheson series, the only other of Carr’s series I have read is Murder by Perfection, one of the Thorny Rose Mystery books. So, Spring Thaw is a great sampler of what readers can expect in the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime series. There are a few common denominators in all the short stories (these people are rich, for one), but the real scene-stealer in these is Gnarly the dog. Actually, Gnarly is pretty much the main character in three/four of the seven short stories! His stories are fun little capers full of irony and yes, even a Scooby-Doo line (“I would have gotten away with it if…”) and ending or two. This light-hearted comedy is perfect.

The two Lovers in Crime short stories are surprisingly intricate and complete mysteries for such brief stories. Again, Carr’s writing skills shine as she masterfully and efficiently writes the twists and turns and surprises. Each of the stories involves a wide cast of characters (tip: trust no one), and I was completely caught off guard with the ending of “Beauty to Die For.” WHOA. This and “Countdown to Murder” shows the sparks and connections between MCs, Joshua and Cameron, and make me want to go back to the beginning to see how they met in the first place.

Several of the story lines take place in in Pennsylvania and in/around Pittsburgh, which adds a layer of fun and interest for me since I lived there for seven years. The descriptions of landscape and places is richly written, and even those who aren’t familiar with that part of the world will enjoy it. It’s been more than a few years since I lived there, so it’s possible these things have changed, but my ear did catch some misfit information: one, (sadly) I never once came across a person in Pennsylvania who offered sweet tea, and two, (sadly) Hershey Park (well, the rides anyhow) aren’t open in April. Who knows? Maybe since the ‘80s, circumstances have evolved, but consider this a PSI to avoid a potential Griswold kind of experience.

ABOUT THE AUDIO BOOK: There are some jaunty music snippets that introduce the book and provide segues between the stories, which give the audio a real production feel. Also, there’s a little echo sound-effect to indicate we’re hearing a character’s internal monologue/thoughts – super helpful. Mike Alger is back as narrator, and though his pace is a little slow for me (I swear he could be the Smuckers commercial guy), I left it alone and listened at regular speed. He voices the numerous characters well (Doris is best) and his accents really complement the personalities. There are a few technical issues – places where voices overlap and sound blips that draw the ear. It is a little hard to separate the characters from story to story when listening to the audio book – for example, Mac and Catherine from story two sound like Chris and Doris from story one. The stories are so good that I listened straight through, so from this perspective, it might be better to take a breather between and not listen back-to-back. Overall, it’s a recording well-done.

I highly recommend this set of short stories, which are perfect listening for quick hits of humor and mystery -- with a dash of romance. And with that gorgeous winter-y cover, go ahead and add a print copy to your library to show your shelf some love. I am looking forward to immersing myself into my next adventure from Lauren Carr, and fortunately there are a lot to choose from … decisions, decisions.

Thank you to iRead Book Tours and the author for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.