August 2016


A Book Spy Review: ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ by Janey Mack

by Ryan SteckJaney Mack’s latest novel picks up right where her last one left off. Shoot ‘Em Up opens with Maisie McGrane in an ambulance on her way to the hospital. Surrounded by her entire Irish Catholic, close-knit family, Maisie wakes up from surgery to find everyone waiting for answers about why she was mixing it up with criminals and how she managed to get herself stabbed in the thigh. MORE




Nobody in this genre makes me laugh harder or more often than Janey Mack. Maisie is a breath of fresh, politically incorrect air and I love the sarcastic, edgy one-liners that she’s become known for.

In Time’s Up, Maisie shut down an over-eager guy at the bar with “Move along, pal. I haven’t upgraded to misery yet.”

This time out she hits back with “Think again, pal. Casual sex isn’t in my job description or my repressed Catholic schoolgirl DNA,” when someone suggests she sleep her way into a convincing cover story.

Whether it’s lines like those, or comparing her hobbled self to the “girl version of Jimmy from South Park,” Maisie’s inner dialogue is hilariously entertaining.


Janey Mack’s writing style makes her work attractive to a very diverse group of readers. If you enjoyed Gone Girl or Girl on the Train, meeting Maisie McGrane is an absolute must. Likewise, if you’re into mysteries and police dramas, there’s more than enough of that in this book to go around.

Mack’s sharp dialogue, which is truly in a class of its own, is the icing on the cake, though. If screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, Moneyball, The Social Network, The Newsroom) wrote a novel, this is exactly how I imagine the characters would speak to each other.


Author: Janey Mack

Pages: 341 (Paperback)

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: September 27, 2016 (Order now!)



April 2016


LSF Close up
By Lincoln Farish
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Not my usual genre to read, but once again I found myself being sucked into the action and really enjoying the story. Maisie is back, a bit wiser, more sure of herself and her place in the world. Problem is she can’t tell anyone about her new job and it’s eating her up. Despite the tension of keeping secrets from her boyfriend, her family, her coworkers, and a Serbian gangster that takes a liking to Maisie, she is, for the most part, able to keep her wits and do her job. The jokes are still there, the family is still a looming presence, and her coworkers are as goofy/irritating as always, but the tension is ramped up, the stakes are higher, and Maisie has to use her considerable skills and wits to keep everything separate and not screw up again.

March 2016


Throwback Thursday

by Ryan Steck

Get ready, because with this throwback review I’m going all the way back to… 2015! I know, I know, it’s not that long ago. But if you buy and read the book I’m about to recommend, you won’t care for two seconds when it was written, trust me!

Just yesterday, mega-author Stephen King tweeted, “few things are better than an engrossing, well-written story that doesn’t try too hard to impress you.” I couldn’t agree with King more, at least about that, as one of my biggest turnoffs as a reader is a book that tries too hard.

Last year, Janey Mack released her first novel, Time’s Up. If ever there was a book that epitomizes King’s tweet, it’s Mack’s. Time’s Up is a brilliant mystery–but as good as the plot is, the real strength is Mack’s writing style and ability. She oozes talent on every page, writing effortlessly with flair and an abundance of quick wit.

Time’s Up introduces Maisie McGrane, a twenty-four-year-old knockout who comes from a big Irish family of police officers. Maisie’s dad and three of her older brothers are all cops in Chicago, and her other two brothers followed their mother’s footsteps and became lawyers. They’re a close family, still getting together for dinner on Friday nights to catch up and spend time with one another. MORE

Janey Mack Times Up



Warren-Newport Public Library’s Debbie Hoffman is back, this time reviewing “Choked Up” for her “Let’s Talk Books” video review blog.




January 2016


by Sandra Murphy

Maisie McGrane is a traffic enforcement officer aka meter maid. It’s a bad enough job on its own, but considering three of her family members are cops and three are defense attorneys, well, she’s at the bottom of the employment totem pole.

Her personal life is much better–at least in the boyfriend department. She’s got a smoking hot boyfriend whose job is, well, better not ask about that in too many details. Her dad tried to break them up, so things are a little strained there. Her brothers are overbearing, pushy, and protective, too, just like most brothers. 

When Maisie finds a dead body on the car she’s driving (her boyfriend’s), it’s a sign of very bad things to come. Maisie ends up with teenagers egging her ticket-mobile, a killer out to get her to spite her boyfriend and a benefactor she’d rather not know—a Serbian mobster nicknamed The Butcher. She’s also recruited to work undercover—as a meter maid? Seriously? Yep. The irony of it all. It seems there’s a group of car thieves working in the area. They tow a car and either strip it, chop it or ship it to foreign countries for a lot of cash. Maisie’s job as meter maid is the perfect cover for spotting tow trucks in the act.

Poor Maisie, her boyfriend said he’d never date a cop. A meter maid is okay, just not a full-fledged cop. Now she is one. Her brothers and Dad are hovering, mother being helpful, and Maisie’s keeping secrets from all of them—including the Serbian.

It’s hard to tell much more of the story without giving away important, telling clues. Suffice it to say, this is a quirky mystery, full of suspense, fast action, tricky situations, and lots of humor. It’s a fast read, not only because the story is so good, but because readers will be chomping at the bit to find out how it ends, all the while, wanting the story to last.

This is the second in the Maisie McGrane Mystery series with Time’s Up being the debut. Find them both. Read fast. Hope Mack writes faster than you read.

Choked Up: A Maisie McGrane Mystery


Choked Up by Janey Mack
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (354 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe


Maisie absolutely hates being a meter maid. Absolutely! She could have been part of Mayor’s elite team but she turned it down. He’s crooked and cruel and an asshole in general. She’d do meter reading rather than work for him. Her dad has blocked her from police work by making her psych test teacher mark her not suited to the job. Life is not as happy as she would like it, but she does have Hank.

This author has a lot of similarities to Janet Evanovich. She makes her female character strong on the outside with some weak points inside and throws her in situations no one would like to be in. It’s a good thing Maisie can think on her feet and lies so well. Of course, with a house mix of brothers and a dad who are cops and the rest of the family are lawyers, it shouldn’t be so surprising.

When Maisie gets a chance to go undercover, she’s excited! Here’s the opportunity to excel at something her father can’t stop. It’s also easy to keep it a secret because she’s still working as a meter maid during the day. Her only concern was that Hank said he wouldn’t sleep with a cop and she’s not sure how long she can hide it from him.

Only Maisie could be the target of a hitman and get saved by gangster. The Serbian man is involved in a lot of schemes but he likes her spirit. When she has to spy on him, she hates it. She likes him a lot. He’s gay, so it’s no threat to her relationship with Hank. Then a photographer puts their picture on Facebook and her brothers see it and forward it to Hank.

There’s a lot going on that Maisie doesn’t understand. A lot of Hank’s life is a secret. It’s a good thing he’s working on saving her, because she needs it.

This author writes well and keeps your interest all the way through the story. Her characters are unforgettable. There’s another book in this series coming out in 2016 and I’ll be watching for it. Maisie’s life is getting more and more interesting and I want to see what’s going to happen next.

December 2015


LSF Close up
By Lincoln Farish
Fun. That’s what Time’s Up is, it’s fun. Pure simple enjoyment in literary form.

This is not my usual genre, and yet I found myself truly drawn into the plot, Maisie’s struggles and wonder, “Who dunnit?” To get me to not just read but thoroughly enjoy a story outside of my normal literary haunts requires great skill, and Janey Mack has it.

Strong believable characters are penned with a deft touch the kinds of characters who leap of the page. Maisie is at times smart, hardheaded, kind, stubborn, foolish, and hungry to seize her place in the world. Embroiled in family dynamics and situations, which, especially if you are a younger sibling, you will recognize and empathize with. While this maybe a story about a woman who starts off with one of the worst days of her life, the are plenty of absurd, laugh out loud moments.

In the end it was a book I enjoyed and I look forward to the next in the series when it arrives.

November 2015


By RJ BeamRJ_SinC

A few months ago I reviewed the debut novel by Janey Mack titled Times Up. Mack is back with her crime-stopping meter maid Maisie McGrane in the follow-up Choked Up.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 6.51.56 PMThe premises is a bit more complex this time. If you did not read the first book don’t worry this one is written as a stand-alone story. I would still suggest you pick it up the first book just because it was a fun read. Otherwise here is some backstory, Maisie McGrane is from a family filled with cops and lawyers. She tried to become an officer, but her dad (a high-ranking Chicago police officer) convinced police academy staff to wash her out. She then settled for second best and become a parking enforcement officer.

When this book picks up she is one of the top performing meter maids in the city. At the end of shift one day, she finds a man on the hood of her car. Well actually it is her boyfriend’s car, but she took it to work that day. The man is dead and was left there was a warning to the boyfriend, who happens to be a mercenary. Later Maisie is attacked but luckily saved by an underworld kingpin.

This criminal takes a liking to Maisie and asks her to work for him. I don’t want to spoil anything but her job is to act as his girlfriend, hiding the fact he is gay from other criminals and mobsters. At the same time, she is approached by the special undercover unit of the Chicago police to work for them to build a case aginst the criminal.

These books are written in the first person. Maisie offers up thoughts and sarcastic remarks as comments to what is happing to her. Often times her inner dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny. She will be thinking one thing to herself then say something the opposite to the people she is with. Something we all do.

Maisie is truly in over her head in this one. Which makes part of the story perversely entertaining. Not everything goes her way. It seems all too often in many stories the hero can do no wrong. This is one hero that gets a few things wrong. Still she is a fighter and works hard fix her mistakes, which sometimes just digs her in a deeper hole. Even so if Maisie McGrane was real she is the kind of officer I would love having working on my shift with my crew.

Choked Up comes out on December 29th. Order it now and makes sure it is one of the first things you read in 2016.


In Mack’s sprightly second Maisie McGrane mystery (after 2015’s Time’s Up), Maisie, who’s been working as a meter maid in Chicago, gets her wish to become a full-fledged police officer, only to be assigned to duty as an undercover agent posing as a meter maid. Target number one is a ring of automobile thieves, which Maisie manages to infiltrate, cozying up to its chieftain, Stannislav “The Bull” Renko. No ordinary car-grabbers, Renko and his gang specialize in high-end luxury cars and collectible models worth up to $1 million each. Renko, who’s seeking an attractive companion, decides that Maisie is perfect for the job. Meanwhile, Maisie has to hold her real boyfriend and her own large family of lawyers and cops at arm’s length. A wild whirl of plots and counterplots, the book offers occasional hot sex and equally occasional violence. Mouth-watering descriptions of lavish meals are a plus.