Customer Reviews for

Blue Smoke and Murder (St. Kilda Series #3)

Average Rating 3.5
( 35 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

Blue Smoke and Murder - by Elizabeth Lowell (on sale May 27th in hardcover) Meet Jillian 'Jill' Breck. A white-water river guide, ex-Fundamentalist Mormon, artist, new owner to 13 un-signed paintings by a famous Western genre artist, and the woman who once save...
Blue Smoke and Murder - by Elizabeth Lowell (on sale May 27th in hardcover) Meet Jillian 'Jill' Breck. A white-water river guide, ex-Fundamentalist Mormon, artist, new owner to 13 un-signed paintings by a famous Western genre artist, and the woman who once saved the life of the son of two of St Kilda Consulting's premier operators. They now owe her...and it's time for Jill to collect. You see, Jill just had her vehicle totally vandalized, one of the questionable paintings shredded and a death threat issued. Meet Zach Balfour a part-time consultant for St. Kilda and ready to finish a long awaited vacation. With his expertise in gathering information and analyzing it, he isn't so happy to learn that he is needed to cut short his plans to 'baby-sit' Jill. Until he meets her and realizes that this in NOT just another babysitting job. Jill is an earthy, smart, woman who is used to looking out for herself. She can guide people through the tumbling rapids of the Colorado river and discuss Zach's favorite topic. But now people are setting fires and shooting at her. This fast paced, action driven, very well researched, romantic suspense/ thriller takes us deep into the world of very high priced Western genre art and the people who perpetuate millions of dollars in art fraud each year. While some may say that Ms Lowell over-emphasizes the technical part of painting, collecting art, and the manner in which one may perpetuate a fraud...I found it to be highly interesting both in learning about the Western genre Masters, of painting and the technical side of collecting. Ms Lowell does a very fine job combining these issues with a wonderfully fast paced cat and mouse game with Jill's life at stake and a blossoming romance between Jill and Zach that never seems to stretch credibility. Jill and Zach, along with the secondary and tertiary characters are very well drawn, well fleshed and believable. The situations that Ms Lowell puts Zach and Jill in never make me need to fight for the suspension of disbelief I loved this book right from the very first chapter until the nail biting conclusion, and have already ordered the other 2 books in the St Kilda's series. I certainly hope we hear more about these men and women of St. Kilda's.

posted by Anonymous on May 16, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Rock-Bottom

I started reading Elizabeth Lowell books in college. I have all of Elizabeth Lowell's books. Winter Fire, Pearl Cove and Enchanted are among my favorite books. Every time Lowell releases a new book, I get super excited and head to B&N to purchase it. I have all of them!...
I started reading Elizabeth Lowell books in college. I have all of Elizabeth Lowell's books. Winter Fire, Pearl Cove and Enchanted are among my favorite books. Every time Lowell releases a new book, I get super excited and head to B&N to purchase it. I have all of them! (I've already noted that :) )

Now, I am fully aware that Elizabeth Lowell as well as other commercial romance novelists are no Fitzgerald or Steinbeck. Still, I can't help feeling depressed and disappointed. My disappointment started with "The Secret Sister" and has now hit rock-bottom with "Blue Smoke and Murder."

First, the characters are boring. I don't even remember their names and I just finished reading it three hours ago. I found Jill to be absolutely annoying and Zach uninteresting. Jill...aargh...wasn't she supposed to save Faroe's son life... she is after all an expert river guide. In fact had she been doing her job right, he shouldn't have fallen into the river in the first place. The only remarkable attribute was her lack of fake boobs. There was no vulnerability in her character like in Hannah from Pearl Cove. Even her past is muddled and bland. I found myself thinking boo hoo who cares. Zach was also a waste and incompetent. Really, why did he not check the bugged phone? Zach is nothing like any of Lowell's best male characters. Where is Archer's sharp wit or Simon's devotion? Nothing in the book makes me believe that Zach and Jill will live happily ever after--forever! In fact, their romance is more like a one-night stand than anything else.

The plot is also frail and predictable. I guessed what the whole plot twist was at the beginning. Trust me you'll know what I mean. There was absolutely no surprise. Which leads me to my next complaint...really I know that romances tend to be repetitive --woman meets man, they like each other, struggle, have sex, struggle some more and then live happily ever after-- yet it feels like Elizabeth Lowell simply recycled Always Time To Kill onto this story, changed the names and title, and took out all the excitement. It makes me wonder if she was even trying.

All in all I give this book and F. Don't buy! It's a waste of 8 bucks. I bought it, which is unfortunate for me. I can truly say that this book broke my heart. My romance with Elizabeth Lowell books is officially finished.

posted by 1608729 on July 17, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2009

    Rock-Bottom

    I started reading Elizabeth Lowell books in college. I have all of Elizabeth Lowell's books. Winter Fire, Pearl Cove and Enchanted are among my favorite books. Every time Lowell releases a new book, I get super excited and head to B&N to purchase it. I have all of them! (I've already noted that :) )

    Now, I am fully aware that Elizabeth Lowell as well as other commercial romance novelists are no Fitzgerald or Steinbeck. Still, I can't help feeling depressed and disappointed. My disappointment started with "The Secret Sister" and has now hit rock-bottom with "Blue Smoke and Murder."

    First, the characters are boring. I don't even remember their names and I just finished reading it three hours ago. I found Jill to be absolutely annoying and Zach uninteresting. Jill...aargh...wasn't she supposed to save Faroe's son life... she is after all an expert river guide. In fact had she been doing her job right, he shouldn't have fallen into the river in the first place. The only remarkable attribute was her lack of fake boobs. There was no vulnerability in her character like in Hannah from Pearl Cove. Even her past is muddled and bland. I found myself thinking boo hoo who cares. Zach was also a waste and incompetent. Really, why did he not check the bugged phone? Zach is nothing like any of Lowell's best male characters. Where is Archer's sharp wit or Simon's devotion? Nothing in the book makes me believe that Zach and Jill will live happily ever after--forever! In fact, their romance is more like a one-night stand than anything else.

    The plot is also frail and predictable. I guessed what the whole plot twist was at the beginning. Trust me you'll know what I mean. There was absolutely no surprise. Which leads me to my next complaint...really I know that romances tend to be repetitive --woman meets man, they like each other, struggle, have sex, struggle some more and then live happily ever after-- yet it feels like Elizabeth Lowell simply recycled Always Time To Kill onto this story, changed the names and title, and took out all the excitement. It makes me wonder if she was even trying.

    All in all I give this book and F. Don't buy! It's a waste of 8 bucks. I bought it, which is unfortunate for me. I can truly say that this book broke my heart. My romance with Elizabeth Lowell books is officially finished.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2009

    Mind Numbing and Predictable

    I have read a couple of Lowell's other books and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed them. The Donovan books are by far her best works. I bought and finished the Wrong Hostage about a week ago, and for the first time was really disappointed. The characters, which also appear in Blue Smoke and Murder were so blah and the story was very tepid. Nevertheless, I decided to buy Blue Smoke and Murder, after all one bad book was not necessarily an indicator of future Lowell books. I was wrong, of course.

    Blue Smoke and Murder is one of the most dull and predictable books I've ever had the displeasure of reading. The characters are underdeveloped and boring and Lowell bogs the reader down with long and boring conversations about the art trade. I found myself skimming over dozens and dozens of pages. Ugh!

    Furthermore, the twist--per say--is the lame and predictable. The first couple of pages give it away. I don't know if Lowell's talent is on hiatus but I hope it returns. Her books are in need of some freshness and suspense. I sorely miss her old books but lately all that she has been producing is ----.

    Buy if you are having problems sleeping...I think I fell asleep reading this junk of a book about ten times. Otherwise don't buy. Trust me, it's a waste of money, waste of time and waste of environmental resources.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Extremely Boring!

    Not at all up to the usual standard of St. Kilda books. The characters were unremarkable and sometimes foolish (not checking the sat phone for a bug right away was just unbelievable, especially for operatives of that caliber!) They also droned on way too long about the ins and outs of the art world. It was almost like listening to a western art appreciation manual, with snippets of a story woven in. I purchased the audio book and it was SO not worth the money! Rent it from the library if you must, but I recommend not wasting the time it would take to read it, let alone the money to purchase it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2008

    A reviewer

    Blue Smoke and Murder - by Elizabeth Lowell (on sale May 27th in hardcover) Meet Jillian 'Jill' Breck. A white-water river guide, ex-Fundamentalist Mormon, artist, new owner to 13 un-signed paintings by a famous Western genre artist, and the woman who once saved the life of the son of two of St Kilda Consulting's premier operators. They now owe her...and it's time for Jill to collect. You see, Jill just had her vehicle totally vandalized, one of the questionable paintings shredded and a death threat issued. Meet Zach Balfour a part-time consultant for St. Kilda and ready to finish a long awaited vacation. With his expertise in gathering information and analyzing it, he isn't so happy to learn that he is needed to cut short his plans to 'baby-sit' Jill. Until he meets her and realizes that this in NOT just another babysitting job. Jill is an earthy, smart, woman who is used to looking out for herself. She can guide people through the tumbling rapids of the Colorado river and discuss Zach's favorite topic. But now people are setting fires and shooting at her. This fast paced, action driven, very well researched, romantic suspense/ thriller takes us deep into the world of very high priced Western genre art and the people who perpetuate millions of dollars in art fraud each year. While some may say that Ms Lowell over-emphasizes the technical part of painting, collecting art, and the manner in which one may perpetuate a fraud...I found it to be highly interesting both in learning about the Western genre Masters, of painting and the technical side of collecting. Ms Lowell does a very fine job combining these issues with a wonderfully fast paced cat and mouse game with Jill's life at stake and a blossoming romance between Jill and Zach that never seems to stretch credibility. Jill and Zach, along with the secondary and tertiary characters are very well drawn, well fleshed and believable. The situations that Ms Lowell puts Zach and Jill in never make me need to fight for the suspension of disbelief I loved this book right from the very first chapter until the nail biting conclusion, and have already ordered the other 2 books in the St Kilda's series. I certainly hope we hear more about these men and women of St. Kilda's.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2013

    book 3 of 4

    good read

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    Surprisingly disappointing

    As others have said, this is not one of Lowell's stronger works. In fact, I found it utterly boring. The summary is more interesting than her execution. It's hard to believe this is the same writer who wrote Wrong Hostage or some of the Donovan series. Unfortunately, I don't recommend this book at all - BUT if you enjoy romantic thrillers (and are generous in your expectations of writing style), there are other books Lowell has written that you might enjoy.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    Blowing smoke in the plein air

    Jill Breck inherits a run down ranch and cryptic notes from her great aunt Modesty's estate. The cryptic notes lead to a cache of unsigned plein air oil paintings. Jill's attempts to find an appraiser lead to not so veiled threats and nasty attempts on her life. Fortunately, Jill is owed a favor by a member of the elite St. Kilda Consulting firm and Zach Balfour is sent to assist the capable but perplexed Jill. The novel set in the west and south west, gives the reader a chance to feel the heat of the sun and the grit of the desert sand.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    What a Bummer!

    Everything about this book tries too hard.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    More of the same

    Elizabeth Lowell hasn't written a book I haven't read. However, I notice that they are becoming the same story with name and cover changes. Still, for a rainy day, I enjoy reading this author. I can count on her to make her characters work for that happy ending.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fast paced read.

    I enjoy all Ms. Lowell's storylines and this one is no exception. I especially like how she pulls characters from previous novels into the present one. This book was exciting from the beginning to the finish. The story of Jill's grandmother would make for a great read also.

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  • Posted October 16, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Romantic Suspense

    I found Blue Smoke and Murder, by Elizabeth Lowell remarkable. Elizabeth Lowell is a New York Times bestseller of such titles: Innocent as Sin, Forget Me Not, Amber Beach, The Wrong Hostage, Midnight in Ruby Bayou, A Woman Without Lies, and Only Love. She resides in Arizona with her husband, with whom she writes mystery novels under a pseudonym.<BR/><BR/> When Jill Breck saved the life of Lane Faroe she thought she was just doing her job as a river guide. She didn¿t think she¿d ever need to take up his father¿s offer of using St. Kilda¿s expertise if she found herself in trouble. But when a mysterious fire kills her aunt and a feud within the Western art world over twelve family paintings immerges with a death threat, Jill calls in the favor. Zach Balfour is a part-time consultant for St. Kilda. He much prefers analyzing and gathering information from dangerous sources then playing bodyguard. Protecting Jill is familiar ground, but she¿s in deeper than she knows. Zach and Jill are in a race against time to unveil a merciless killer who is hidden in a blue smoke of art dealers, lies, and money.<BR/><BR/>I obtained the advance reading copy of this romantic suspense for review, so I won¿t bother with the very few errors I found. Aside from that, there isn¿t a negative word to be said about this book.<BR/><BR/>I was certainly familiar with the name Elizabeth Lowell prior to this review. However, this is the first novel of hers I have read. I do believe I have found a new author to love. The plot was fast-paced, intriguing, and captivating. I, at no time, lost interest, nor were there any dead spots. The characters were believable and cogent. The suspense angle was jaw-dropping and had more twists than a gourmet pretzel. The romantic elements were tastefully written and not overly flighty or exaggerated. I especially like that readers can learn a thing or two about the art world. I certainly did. The setting was interesting, too, as well as the characters background steeped in some religious truth.<BR/><BR/> Blue Smoke and Murder will grip your attention from the first page and hold you hostage until the very last period. Elizabeth Lowell is a true icon in the romantic fiction genre! I cannot wait to pick up more of her books.<BR/><BR/> <BR/><BR/>Kelly Moran,<BR/><BR/>Author and Reviewer

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2008

    Establishing motive

    Jill¿s great-aunt dies in a fire and she¿s out to prove it¿s murder but first she¿ll have to establish the motive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    Continuation of a great series

    Ms Lowell does another great job meshing the art world with intrigue and a bit of romance in Blue Smoke Murder. She is one of the few who can give readers a consistent underlying theme and integrate new characters and twists. A recommended read by me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    Another excellent read from Lowell

    I found Blue Smoke and Murder, by Elizabeth Lowell remarkable. Elizabeth Lowell is a New York Times bestseller of such titles: Innocent as Sin, Forget Me Not, Amber Beach, The Wrong Hostage, Midnight in Ruby Bayou, A Woman Without Lies, and Only Love. She resides in Arizona with her husband, with whom she writes mystery novels under a pseudonym. When Jill Breck saved the life of Lane Faroe she thought she was just doing her job as a river guide. She didn¿t think she¿d ever need to take up his father¿s offer of using St. Kilda¿s expertise if she found herself in trouble. But when a mysterious fire kills her aunt and a feud within the Western art world over twelve family paintings immerges with a death threat, Jill calls in the favor. Zach Balfour is a part-time consultant for St. Kilda. He much prefers analyzing and gathering information from dangerous sources then playing bodyguard. Protecting Jill is familiar ground, but she¿s in deeper than she knows. Zach and Jill are in a race against time to unveil a merciless killer who is hidden in a blue smoke of art dealers, lies, and money. I obtained the advance reading copy of this romantic suspense for review, so I won¿t bother with the very few errors I found. Aside from that, there isn¿t a negative word to be said about this book. I was certainly familiar with the name Elizabeth Lowell prior to this review. However, this is the first novel of hers I have read. I do believe I have found a new author to love. The plot was fast-paced, intriguing, and captivating. I, at no time, lost interest, nor were there any dead spots. The characters were believable and cogent. The suspense angle was jaw-dropping and had more twists than a gourmet pretzel. The romantic elements were tastefully written and not overly flighty or exaggerated. I especially like that readers can learn a thing or two about the art world. I certainly did. The setting was interesting, too, as well as the characters background steeped in some religious truth. Blue Smoke and Murder will grip your attention from the first page and hold you hostage until the very last period. Elizabeth Lowell is a true icon in the romantic fiction genre! I cannot wait to pick up more of her books. Kelly Moran, Author and Reviewer

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2008

    Another winner for Lowell

    Elizabeth Lowell never disappoints her readers. Her plots may be a bit over the top and her heroines superhuman but she fleshes them out and makes the reader a part of the cheering squad. In Blue Smoke and Murder she introduces us to several over achievers and steriod using villain as well as some shady practices of the art world and makes sure we enjoy the adventure with clean, fast reading prose.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2008

    Boring!

    The most boring St. Kilda book she has written. No romance, no action, it was all talk about art. Wait for the paperback.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    St Kilda's investigator never thinks to check equipment / possessions for a tracking device? Must be a new low for less-than super sleuths. Interesting art data, boring characters, & stretched plot line: amongst the bottom St Kilda offerings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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