Saturday, August 23, 2008

Review - Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe

Poison Pen (a forensic handwriting mystery)
Written by: Sheila Lowe
Fiction / Mystery
Rated: Excellent (*****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

Claudia Rose joins a crowd at the star-studded funeral of her former friend, Lindsey Alexander. Claudia is amazed at the GQ model pall bearers, high profile attendees looking for one more big party, and swarming paparazzi trying to capture the best photo.

Claudia, Lindsey, and Kelly had been friends in college. Claudia and Lindsey studied handwriting analysis. Claudia stuck with it while Kelly studied law and Lindsey moved into high profile public relations. Lindsey’s personal actions and behavior pushed Claudia and Kelly away, yet there was still a lingering attachment between the trio.

Claudia would love to see the suicide note found beside Lindsey’s body due to professional curiosity, but she is not involved in the investigation. She is hired by a mutual friend of Lindsey’s who suspects foul play. Claudia hesitates to get involved, but finds herself suddenly propelled into the investigation and she has no choice by to follow the myriad of disturbing clues to the life-changing conclusion.

Sheila Lowe has crafted a unique protagonist using her professional experience. Claudia Rose is an independent career woman with a tender heart, great instincts, and the ability to deal with scary situations, including romance, as they come at her. Claudia learns from past experiences and gives people the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible.

Sheila Lowe is a handwriting expert and the author of the best-selling books The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis and Handwriting of the Famous and Infamous. She is also the author of the award-winning Sheila Lowe’s Handwriting Analyzer software. A British transplant, Sheila currently lives in Ventura, CA. Poison Pen is Sheila’s first published fiction and the first in the Claudia Rose series. Learn more about the series at:

Poison Pen is a solid mystery as well as a learning experience. The reader is pulled along with the protagonist as she follows the trail of clues to their conclusion, while being privy to some insight into handwriting analysis. It’s a great pairing.

Available at:,, other online outlets, and local book stores.

Title: Poison Pen (a forensic handwriting mystery)
Author: Sheila Lowe
Publisher: Penguin/Obsidian Mysteries
ISBN: 978-0-451-22369-2
Pages: 311
Price: $6.99

Monday, August 11, 2008

Review - Dead Witness by Joylene Nowell Butler

Dead Witness
Written by: Joylene Nowell Butler
Fiction / Suspense / Thriller
Rated: Very Good (****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

Valerie McCormick is combining a solo all-expense paid dream trip to Seattle with business, while her family is at home in Canada. Her trip takes a life-altering turn when she accidentally witnesses two murders.

Valerie realizes how alone she is when the murderers give chase to silence her. She is unfamiliar with the area and panics even more when she realizes what she dropped. Her inner need for self-preservation to stay alive and get home to her kids keeps her alive. She wrestles with her conscience about what to do about what she saw. It’s her personal family history that helps her make the tough decision and it might not be the safest one.

Learning she witnessed the murder of two FBI agents does nothing to soothe Valerie’s nerves as she makes her way home and tries to keep the graphic images out of her mind. With her brother’s unwavering support, she focuses on the family lumber business and raising her three daughters.

Joylene Butler’s protagonist is a ‘real person’ – a mother, wife, and co-owner of a family business – but it’s the exceptionally crafted, extreme circumstances Butler devises for the protagonist that yank the reader into the prose and keep eyes focused on the pages. Butler’s research is seamlessly written to make the story move along as quickly as the action. The tight, descriptive writing makes the characters seem like they are on a movie screen and not mere text in a book.

Joylene Nowell Butler was born in Manitoba, Canada, grew up in Haney, and raised her sons in Pr. George, BC. She and her husband built and now live in a cottage on Cluculz Lake. The jury is out whether they'll retire there or not, but it’s where Joylene is currently at work on her sixth novel. Check out her blog at:

Dead Witness is a true suspense novel. The reader naturally tries to anticipate where the story is going, but Butler has a surprise around every corner. If you enjoy thrillers or suspense, this book does not disappoint. The novel is a literal page turner if you focus on the story and overlook any editorial issues. Butler is a name to watch in the thriller genre.

Available at:

Title: Dead Witness
Author: Joylene Nowell Butler
Publisher: Lulu Press
ISBN: 978-0-9810-3050-0
Pages: 282
Price: $19.95