Cover Image: Blow Up

Blow Up

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

Ellen Crosby's mystery novel, "Blow Up," takes readers on a thrilling ride through the corridors of power, secrets, and unexpected connections. Set against the backdrop of Washington, D.C., this book weaves together suspense, political intrigue, and a dash of danger.

Sophie Medina, our intrepid photojournalist protagonist, stumbles upon a web of deception when she discovers the body of Associate Supreme Court Justice Everett Townsend. The justice's death seems straightforward, but Sophie's instincts tell her otherwise. As she digs deeper, she uncovers a shocking secret that could shake the very foundations of the American justice system.

Crosby masterfully blends the personal and the political. Sophie's determination to uncover the truth propels the narrative forward, while her complex relationships with old friends and new acquaintances add depth to the story. Father Jack O'Hara, Sophie's running partner, provides a calming presence and a moral compass amidst the chaos.

The novel's pacing is spot-on, with twists and turns that keep readers guessing. Crosby's prose is elegant yet accessible, allowing us to immerse ourselves in Sophie's world. The descriptions of D.C.'s homeless community and the city's iconic landmarks are vivid, making the setting come alive.

What sets Blow Up apart is its exploration of power dynamics. The Supreme Court, the homeless, and the media all intersect, revealing how seemingly unrelated events can have far-reaching consequences. As Sophie races against time, we're reminded that justice isn't always blind—it can be manipulated, hidden, or blown up entirely.

Ellen Crosby delivers a thought-provoking mystery that resonates long after the final page. If you're a fan of fearless female sleuths, intricate puzzles, and a touch of political drama, "Blow Up" is a must-read. 📖

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I read this third book in the Sophie Medina series without having read the previous installments, and it works perfectly well as a standalone mystery. The idea of a professional photographer protagonist is unusual and appealing, offering a totally different point of view than more traditional investigators, but still one that makes sense in light of the photographer's status as an observer of subtleties. Sophie and her old friend Jack go out for a run and find a dying man lying in the street. Jack recognizes him as Supreme Court Justice Everett Townsend, whom Sophie thinks she saw earlier that day in a compromising context. All manner of very inside-DC complications and machinations ensue as Sophie tries to understand what’s going on. Enough new threats to Sophie and her friends appear to keep the drama going, though I found the pace unnecessarily hampered every time someone new appeared and there was an introductory paragraph of police-blotter details about the person’s physical appearance and dress. Also, this may be a regional or perhaps generational thing, but I was totally unfamiliar with Rhett as a nickname for Everett or Leo as a short form of Napoleon; this kept being momentarily distracting while I wondered why the characters were changing names. (By all means use unusual names/nicknames, but please just call the guy Everett “Rhett” Townsend the first time to avoid confusion.) As the backdrop to the murder mystery there is a secondary story about Sophie’s family, a photo exhibition, and a surprising legacy—plenty to keep Sophie busy as she juggles the dangerous investigation with the attentions of more than one admirer.

Thanks to Netgalley and Severn House for a digital advance review copy.

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Blow Up had intrigue, suspense, espionage and all the things I love in a good book. The lead character in the book was Sophie. There were two main stories. The first one happened when Sophie and her priest friend Jack were out for a run and they came upon Supreme Court Justice Townsend on the ground, unconscious. They called for an ambulance, but when the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Sophie's friend Javier was there and when Townsend was brought in Javier recognized him as a homeless man by the name of the Professor. Someone at the hospital heard Javi and followed him home and tried to kill him. Javi was able to get away. He phoned Sophie and asked him to meet her in a park. He told her about the Professor and about the attempt on his life. Apparently someone saw them in the park together, because the next day someone showed up at Sophie's house and broke into her studio, wreaked havoc and left a deadly message on her wall. Sophie was determined to get to the bottom of White Townsend and had faked his death.

The second story is about Sophie's grandfather Charles aka Chappy who was a world renowned photographer. He passed away and left his very lucrative estate to a university. Word got out and a woman, Oriana, contacted Sophie and invited her to lunch. She told Sophie that she and Sophie's grandfather had gotten drunk in Las Vegas and got married in 1958. She said they never divorced. She also showed Sophie some erotic photographs of her and wanted the pictures to be in the exhibition of Chappy's work. Sophie didn't believe the pictures were done by her grandfather, but Oriana showed her some other pictures of herself and Sophie's grandfather in bed together. She blackmailed Sophie saying that if she didn't include the pictures in the exhibition that she would come out with a story about her having been married to Chappy and never having been divorced. This would have been a huge scandal because Chappy had married Sophie's grandmother who gave birth to Sophie's mother. So Sophie took pictures with her cell phone of the photographs, all of them. She knew she had to tell her mother about Oriana and show her the photographs.

I'd love to go into how these stories were solved, but I don't want to give away the ending. I will say that the author crafted the endings with a finesse that she must be famous for. This author had my attention from the very beginning to the very end. I couldn't put it down. I gave this book five stars.

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First time reading Anything by this author and i really enjoyed it. I will certainly watch for other work by this author

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I've read and enjoyed the author's Wine Country series, so I was intrigued by this new series. Sophie Medina, a world-renown photo journalist, is reeling from the sudden death of her husband. Out for a run with a friend in D.C., they discover the body of a Supreme Court Justice. Or was it. Answering that question leads Sophie down a dangerous path. Literate and engrossing mystery.

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Sophie Medina needs to figure out the death of how Supreme Court Justice Everett Townsend dies and how a young homeless man murdered and how the two deaths could be connected. This is the third Sophie Medina mystery in a series well worth reading.

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Discovering a body in an alley can be a very inconvenient event. Calling the police to report the event casts the net of suspicion over you. Sophie identified the body as belonging to Mr. Townsend.

His widow, eager to get his affairs in order and the will settled asked for an immediate release of the body and subsequent cremation! One day later the ashes were delivered back to the widow and the case closed!

Sophie was certain of her identification of the victim, but doubt was cast on her veracity. Is it possible the judge could have been misidentified? Cremated remains are hard to get an identification from and so the will was in the process of being settled.

Sophie’s childhood sweetheart has become a Catholic priest and a confidant. Father Jack is trying to help her through this tough situation but there are too many sticking points. Will they be able to confirm the identity of the deceased even over the objections of the spouse who does not want probate to drag on? Read this book and enjoy the twists and turns. 4.5 stars - CE Williams

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I loved the first two Sophie Medina mysteries and was disappointed when there were no more, so it's no surprise that I did a little happy dance when I learned about Blow Up. This third in the series certainly does not disappoint.

Sophie is just the sort of protagonist that I like. She's talented, smart, and caring and has a lot to deal with in Blow Up. She's still grieving over the death of her husband, and she will continue to ask questions until she knows how he died-- no matter how much the CIA tries to stonewall her. Her beloved grandfather, a famous photographer in his own right, recently died and left a will that profoundly shocked his family. Going through his papers and photographs brings even more surprises.

The mystery involving the death of the Supreme Court justice is strong and compelling, and although it's filled with danger for Sophie, it brings to the fore another reason why I like her so much. As a photojournalist who has covered extremely dangerous and life-threatening situations, she doesn't take unnecessary risks. When she started, her boss enrolled her in a two-week intensive course in hostile environment training, which certainly stands her in good stead. Sophie's life may be threatened in Blow Up, but it's not due to anything stupid that she's done.

After reading both her Sophie Medina series and her Wine Country mysteries, I can only say that Ellen Crosby is one of my favorite writers and deserves to be much better known. Her writing is intelligent and engaging, and not only do I get to enjoy a well-told mystery with a fine cast of characters, I learn things along the way. You can jump right into this series with Blow Up and not be the least bit confused, but don't be surprised if Sophie gets under your skin and you find yourself looking for the other two books in the series, Multiple Exposure and Ghost Image. I'm really looking forward to the next book.

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An okay read! This was well written and the mystery kept me guessing. I struggled to get through some of this book but it was good for the most part. I would recommend to everyone!

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The author has two series currently published. This series has three books so far. Sophie Medina lives in Washington D.C. She is a professional photographer. Her husband Nick was killed. She finds that he was an undercover operative for the C.I.A.
Sophie meets up with Quill who runs a high powered consulting firm. He asks her to photograph his weekend retreat for a comemorative book as a present for his wife. She reluctantly agrees to this work. Unfortunately on one of her visits she sees Vicki - Quill's wife, naked with a man. She gets away hoping she has not been seen.
Sophie visits her mother and step father. Her grandfather had died and left all his photography work to the Connecticut Fine Arts Institute.Sophie's mother is very annoyed that this was done by her father without their knowledge.
One of Sophie's oldest friends is Jack O'Hare. One time lover but now he is a Catholic Priest. Whilst on a run with Jack they find an unconsious man, who Jack recognises as a Supreme Judge - Everett Townsend. Sophie recognises him as Vicki's lover! Later Sophie is told by a homeless man that recognised Townsend but that he was actually a homeless man known as the Professor. Later her informer is found dead. Is Sophie in danger?
To further complicate Sophie's life she is contacted by a woman who claims she was her grandfather's first wife and that the marriage was never anulled. The woman knows of an exhibition of his work and wants to include some very explicitive photographs of her young self.
This is the second book I have read in this series.It is very informative on Washington life. At times a little far fetched, but a good read and definitely recommended.

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Loved this juicy book about a photojournalist investigating the death of a Supreme Court justice. I’m definitely picking up the other two books in the series, although this one worked perfectly as a standalone. Can’t wait to read the next one.

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I'm going to be the odd one out on this one, which I found unpersuasive and kinda silly in the realm of Washington DC conspiracy novels, Photojournalist Sophie's husband is dead under mysterious circumstances, she's hired to take pictures and finds herself looking at what appears to be an affair, and then, while out for a run with her friend Jack,, a priest, they find an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court unconscious in an alley. But it seems the Justice might not be the Justice and that the real Justice has a dark secret. I liked Sophie and Jack but the rest of it just didn't work for me. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Over to others.

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Blow up, the third book in the Sophie Medina series by Ellen Crosby, is a well-written mystery that picks up a year after the death of Sophie's husband.

I’ve read the first two books in the series and was looking forward to seeing where this third instalment will take the main character next.

The story revolves around the suspicious death of an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, which Sophie witnesses in a compromising situation the day before. As she tries to uncover the truth, she puts herself in danger and unravels a web of deceit and corruption.

The book's strengths lie in the quality of the writing, the intriguing mysteries, and the well-developed characters. However, the book falls short in its heavy-handed political references, which may be off-putting for some readers.
Overall, Blow up is a well-crafted mystery novel that will keep readers engaged.

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Blow Up is the third book in the Sophie Medina mystery series by @ellencrosbyauthor 📸 The main character, Sophie, is a photojournalist who lives in Washington D.C. While on a run with a friend, they come across Supreme Court Justice Everett Townsend lying in an alley, barely alive. This event leads to unexpected repercussions throughout her life.

This was my first novel by Ellen Crosby, but now I NEED to go back and read the first two books in this series! Blow Up had me hooked from the first chapter and the shocking reveals and twists just kept coming throughout the book. I loved the atmospheric descriptions of D.C. and felt like I was an asset or source on a thrilling case! I highly recommend reading this book especially if you love tough female investigators and well-plotted spy thrillers with a splash of politics.

Thank you @netgalley and @severnhouseimprint for allowing me to read this book ahead of publication in exchange for my honest review.

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3.5 stars

Number #3 in the Sophie Medina series, featuring photojournalist and newly-widowed Sophie Medina. Sophie had been overseas for years, based in London, covering war zones and disasters. Her husband Nick, who did some CIA type work, disappeared and was murdered in Vienna and Sophie is still dealing with the aftermath and her many questions in this book.

There are several intertwining plot threads -- somewhat unbelievable but suspenseful. The main event is that Sophie and her former boyfriend, now priest, discover a critically ill man while they are out jogging -- and it turns out to be a Supreme Court Justice. He is a known diabetic and it is assumed he is in a medical coma. He later dies in the ER where (conveniently) Sophie's brother works.

Things get more complex from there. Sophie spends a lot of time working with the unhoused, taking pictures, delivering aid packs, etc. One of her formerly homeless acquaintances disappears but later contacts her, telling her the victim who died in the ER was not the judge at all, but rather another member of the homeless community who looked just like him. Sophie tries to tell the story to the proper authorities but who would believe such an outrageous tale?

Meanwhile, Sophie's beloved grandfather has died and her family is untangling his affairs and dealing with his estate when she is contacted by someone out of his past whose revelations explode their family and their memories of her grandfather.

And through it all, Sophie is still seeking answers to Nick's death and dealing with the several men who are interested in her. A lot of good Washington D.C. background information. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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As far as I understand this is the reboot of a series and I quite liked it. A well plotted and compelling story featuring an interesting MC
Solid plot, good mystery that kept me guessing.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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3.5 stars

I really like the idea/ plot line of this book and it intrigued me. However, I feel that it could’ve been made even better if the main themes were explored a little more and some middle bits got taken out. It did enough to just hold my attention. The plot could’ve been made much stronger and more thriller if some changes were made, for instance, if the author explored more about the judge, his background and subsequently the ending.

What I liked about this book;
- The plot was good although it could be made better
- There was some character development

What I didn’t like;
- the characters. I thought they were all so closed off and didn’t like them one bit
- the ending felt a little rushed
- some chapters were too long

All in all it was a good book, not my favourite and not the worst. I would still recommended to a friend for a quick read, or someone who wants to start reading thriller books as this is pretty tame

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While out for a run with a friend,
photojournalist Sophie Medina finds the body of Supreme Court Justice Everett Townshend, barely alive. Townshend dies in the ER; Sophie realizes that she has seen him before. She also hears a shocking allegation about Townshend from Javi, a homeless man she knows; Javi is murdered soon after, and Sophie finds herself in danger as she works to determine the truth.

Sophie is a wonderful heroine, brave, insatiably curious, and deeply caring. Her investigation causes her to worry about one of her best friends. In addition to her current danger, she is grieving for her husband, killed overseas, and for the grandfather who inspired her career. She is told uncomfortable facts about both men in the course of the story, adding to her burdens. And yet she persists.

Crosby weaves several threads into this well-plotted story. For this reader, the most rewarding aspect is her portrayal of Sophie and several other well-drawn characters. Highly recommended.

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Setting the Scene: Ellen Crosby's latest book in her Sophie Medina series takes place several years after the 2nd, and it isn't giving anything away to say that it begins with the news of her beloved husband's death and the aftermath of that tragedy. More than a year later, Sophie has questions, and she will stop at nothing to get them answered; but, as her friend Jack warns her, sometimes you may find out things you do not want to know. When Sophie and Jack literally run upon the body of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the day after Sophie witnessed him in a compromising situation, things get even more heated, especially after Sophie learns of some irregularities in his death. In keeping with the "be careful what you ask" theme, that knowledge proves to be quite hazardous to the health of those who have it, or even suspect it, when another death follows, and Sophie becomes a target herself. Not to pile on, but Sophie's beloved grandfather also died a few months earlier, and questions are raised that threaten his estate and his legacy. All in all, Sophie has her plate full.

What I thought: I loved the first 2 books in this series, and this book is just as well written. The mysteries are top notch, and I still enjoy the characters. So, why did this book not measure up for me? First, I found the blatantly one-sided political references, possibly even unfounded, to be distracting and unnecessary. Setting those aside, because they were passing references and some readers will have no objection, I also am not a fan of figuratively throwing a grenade into the midst of the lives of virtually the entire cast of characters. A great part of the Sophie Medina from the first 2 books cannot exist going forward; Jack's life is upended, as well; and other characters' lives are left in turmoil, not just the bad guys. Yes, life happens. Good people's lives are irrevocably changed, whether by their own actions or others, but I can watch the news or read non-fiction for those stories. I finished the book dissatisfied and sad. For those of you who enjoy such tumult and mayhem, this book will be a 5 star for you because, as I said, the writing, the mysteries, and the characters are first rate. It is the soul I found in the first 2 books that is missing for me. That said, I cannot say whether or not I will read the next book in the series. Only time will tell.

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A simple assignment leads renowned photojournalist Sophie Medina down a dark and dangerous path in this gripping puzzler of a mystery set in Blow Up by Ellen Crosby.

Sophie is a good protagonist and likable. She seemed to make appropriate decisions, and the story flowed well. I did not read the other books in the series, and I don't feel I missed anything. This can be read as a stand-alone book. The author skillfully unravels the story and provides nice atmospheric descriptions that make you feel like you are right in the action.

I would recommend this book. I will also check out more books by this author. I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

#SophieMedinaMystery #NetGalley @severnhouse

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