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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 3/19-25/2023


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Harlequin Essential Romance & Suspense Collection

The Book Drop

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Liar's Dice by Gabriel Valjan (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Liar's Dice by author Gabriel Valjan!

Book Review

Liar's Dice by Gabriel Valjan
Book #4: A Shane Cleary Mystery Series
Publisher: Level Best Books
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
Format: Paperback - 246 pages
               Kindle - 1716 KB
               Nook - 1 MB
ISBN: 978-1685122065
BNID: 978-1685122072
Genre: Mystery / Historical Crime Fiction / PI Mystery / Noir Fiction

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery Series
Book 1: Dirty Old Town
Book 2: Symphony Road
Book 3: Hush Hush
Book 4: Liar's Dice

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Book Tours.

Book Description:

Boston might be white with snow, but there’s nothing but a winter’s darkness for Shane Cleary, a former cop, veteran, and reluctant PI. There’s an international war within the mafia over drugs, and he has been asked to find the nephew of the local crime boss. When federal agencies descend on the city and order the police department to stand down on a homicide, the BPD reaches out to Shane for answers.

Shane’s past in Vietnam comes to haunt him when the corpse of a veteran is found on Boston Common, frozen to death in front of the State House. Then, a former army buddy comes to town looking for justice. His presence endangers all that Shane holds dear.

Shane must come to terms with a side of himself he thought he had left behind. The mounting body count and circumstances compel him to play a game of Liar’s Dice. Can he deceive and detect deception around him? Protect those he loves, while he solves the cases?

Praise for Liar’s Dice:

“Gabriel Valjan writes like a poet but his PI Shane Cleary packs a wallop worthy of Mickey Spillane.” -
Clea Simon, Boston Globe bestselling author of Hold Me Down

“Gabriel Valjan is the godfather of organized crime fiction and Liar's Dice is all the proof you need.” - James L’Etoile, author of the Detective Nathan Parker series

“Gritty, smart, sharply written, Valjan’s Liar’s Dice is a welcome addition to the canon of fine PI fiction.” - Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of Sleepless City

“A fast-paced mystery that kept me flipping the pages, needing to find out what would happen next. Shane Cleary is a complex, brilliantly written protagonist. A terrific read.” - Hannah Mary McKinnon, internationally bestselling author of Never Coming Home

“Warning: Pick up a copy, turn the page, and you’ll be hooked. Liar’s Dice ticks the boxes: an interesting tale that’s economical and tight, descriptions that are full and rich, dialogue that’s real, and characters that spring to life. Gabriel Valjan just has a way of making every word count.” - Dietrich Kalteis, winner of the 2022 Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence for best novel

“Gabriel Valjan crafts a vivid portrait of 1970s Boston to life in Liar's Dice. Shane Cleary deserves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the city’s other famous PIs—a haunted but compassionate character who cuts through a swath of Mob crime with Valjan’s trademark wit and style.” - James D.F. Hannah, Shamus-winning author of Behind The Wall Of Sleep and She Talks To Angels

As much an intricately plotted mystery as a deep exploration of the dark side of Boston in the 1970s, this latest installment of the critically-acclaimed Shane Cleary series takes an unflinching view of the once powerful Boston mafia, while Shane deals with the aftermath of his time in Vietnam. Richly drawn characterization and a well-plotted mystery will have you eagerly awaiting what comes next in this enticing series! - Edwin Hill, author of The Secrets We Share

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Thou Shalt Not Say No

I heard the slap of the Boston Globe on our doorstep.

It was seven-thirty and Bonnie had already kissed me goodbye. It was a kiss. A long, slow kiss to make a man lose his dignity. I begged her to stay home, to play hooky from work and give the boys in the office a reprieve. She told me she couldn’t. I watched her walk out the front door. Her perfume may have hinted of spring but the mercury in the thermometer said winter.

The phone rang and interrupted my trip to the front door for the paper. I answered on the second ring.

“Glad you’re still there,” she said.


“I’m at a payphone on Comm. Ave.”

“Forget something?”

“I noticed a Cadillac parked across the street when I left.”

“It’s a car that stands out, I’ll give you that, but what’s the problem?”

“The man inside the car. He’s getting out.”

“I thought I was the PI and you were the lawyer.”

“I’m serious, Shane.”

“So am I. Okay, I’ll play. Describe him to me?”

“Six-six. Menacing. Dark winter coat. He’s headed to our door. Wait, he’s stopped.”

“He stopped?”

“To light a cigarette, but he’s not having any luck. He keeps trying with his lighter.”

“Tony Two-Times.”

“That’s Tony Two-Times? Not exactly subtle, is he?”

“It goes with the job description.”

“Oh my god, Shane. He’s reached into his jacket.” I’d never heard Bonnie’s voice hit that note, not even during sex, though in my defense, this was panic and not ecstasy. We were nearing our anniversary, and I suppose months of cohabitation or what the Census Bureau calls POSSLQ or Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters had eroded her tough exterior.

“Never mind,” she said. “It’s a newspaper. I thought he might’ve had a gun.”

“Go to work, Bonnie.”

I did the rude thing and hung up on her. It’s not that I wanted to do it, but Tony Two-Times, uninvited and unannounced, was not the same thing as the guy at your door with the news you’ve won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. Tony was a ‘friend’ and the mob always sent your friend to kill you. I moved fast and pulled my .38 out of the holster, hidden under a coat on the rack. I opened the door and kept the revolver behind my back.

The cold air punched my lungs and my eyes watered. I found Tony doubled over, picking up my Boston Globe. When he stood upright, he blocked the wind and the sun. An unlit cigarette stuck to his lower lip. “You gonna invite me in, or what?”

I stepped aside, back against the door. He pressed the paper into my chest. I put a hand over it. He paused before he stepped in. His dark eyes bore into me. “Relax, Cleary, and saddle the Colt you’re hiding behind you.”

“You could’ve called.”

“This conversation is best in person, face to face.”

“If you say so, Tony.”

“I say so. I’ve gotta job for you.”

Tony had tapped one foot against the other to knock off any snow, salt, or sand. He took the cigarette from his lips and pocketed it. He wiped his feet on the small mat, and took off his hat and coat and hung them on the coat rack. I holstered my sidearm and directed him to the kitchen. He walked down the hallway, talking. “You really thought you needed to draw your piece on me?”

“You weren’t what I expected with the morning paper.”


Excerpt from Liar's Dice by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2023 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Liar's Dice, book four in the Shane Cleary Mystery Series, author Gabriel Valjan takes the reader back to 1970s Boston to follow the latest investigative case of ex-Boston cop turned PI Shane Cleary. 

In this installment of the series, Shane is asked to find Sal, the nephew of Mr.B., the mob boss of Boston's Italian North End. There is an undercurrent of a potential territory feud that has it's sights on Boston, and Mr.B. isn't pleased with this development, especially when it involves bringing distrbution of cocaine into the city by the Canadian mob, the Boston Irish Southie Winter Hill Gang, and the NY five families. And if that isn't enough, Jimmy Hoban, a Vietnam veteran and advocate for veterans, the mentally ill, and the homeless, has been found frozen on the street, which draws Shane's attention since he is also an Army Vietnam veteran. And to make matters worse, tension in the city increases when three Boston Police Officers are shot dead, and the Feds show up. Shane has a lot on his plate, but it just gets more intense when an old Vietnam Army buddy shows up, and Shane's memories of Vietnam surface when his buddy Hunter is in town on a personal mission. Shane gets caught up in a dangerous game of Liar's Dice, a game of guesses, bluffs, and deception. Can Shane put the pieces of the puzzle together, and solve the interwining cases that are wrecking havoc in Boston? 

Liar's Dice is a riveting crime story that easily draws the reader in from the start. The author provides the reader with a fascinating and richly detailed crime thriller set in 1970s Boston. Told in the first person narrative by Shane, this gritty noir story has enough drama, secrets, deception, tension, greed, murder, and surprising twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing if Shane will be able to uncover enough evidence to solve the various cases that are plaguing Boston. Shane deals with hostility from his ex-police brethren, crooked cops, mobsters, and wealthy individuals who try to hinder his every move. Trouble always seem to find Shane, it's the hazard of his job and it comes with the territory, but it doesn't deter him from finding the truth. 

This suspenseful storyline is about intertwining cases that Shane slowly puts the pieces of the puzzle together, uncovering the underlying mafia tension, drug deals, and corruption in Boston that will keep the reader guessing. With an intriguing cast of characters, a great description of Boston and the throwback to the 1970s decade, and flashbacks to Shane's military past, Liar's Dice takes the reader on one heck of a thrilling rollercoaster ride!

Liar's Dice is a well-written, fast paced crime thriller story that left me interested in finding out what Shane's next investigative adventure will be in the continuation of the series.


About The Author

Gabriel Valjan writes historical crime fiction. He is the recipient of the Macavity Award for Best Short Story and he has been listed for the Bridport and Fish Prizes, the Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion Awards. He lives in Boston’s South End and answers to a tuxedo cat named Munchkin.

Author Blog - Gabriel's Wharf
Amazon Author Page

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

03/19 Review @ Leanne bookstagram

03/20 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

03/21 Review @ Blogging with A

03/22 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

03/23 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

03/23 Review @ mokwip8991

03/24 Review @ Melissa As Blog

03/24 Review @ Novels Alive

03/25 Review @ Coffee and Ink

03/26 Review @ Guatemala Paula Loves to Read

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 3/12-18/2023

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Authentic Books

Just The Right Book!

The Book Drop

Romance Reveal Book Box

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 3/5-11/2023


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Books & Treasures

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