Touch & Go (Tessa Leoni #2) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2013

Format: Audio

This is my family:  Vanished without a trace…

Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by friends and family.  A perfect life.

This is what I know:  Pain has a flavor…

When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer.  The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind.  No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive.  Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.

This is what I fear:  The worst is yet to come…

Tessa knows better than anyone that even the most perfect façades can hide the darkest secrets.  Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices. Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family?  And how far would such a person be willing to go?

This is the truth:  Love, safety, family…it is all touch and go.

Review –

Five stars.

Fantastic read!

“Ever since Libby Denbe caught her husband, Justin, a handsome and wealthy Boston construction czar, cheating on her, their marriage has been on life support. Their experimental night out turns into a nightmare when they return to find three masked men in their Beacon Hill home terrorizing their 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn. Swiftly overpowered and driven off in the kidnappers’ van, the family can only wonder why they’re being held in an unused prison in northern New Hampshire. At the same time, corporate investigator Tessa Leoni, whose firm had been hired by Denbe Construction to handle security problems, and New Hampshire county cop Wyatt Foster wonder why all three of them were kidnapped when Justin is clearly the one worth the most money—and why long hours pass with no ransom demand. The clues point to an inside job masterminded by one of Denbe Construction’s top brass: chief financial officer Ruth Chan, chief operating officer Anita Bennett, or construction manager Chris Lopez. Alternating, as in Catch Me (2012), between third-person installments of the search for leads in the case and the beleaguered heroine’s first-person accounts of her torment at the hands of the bad guys, Gardner generates such irresistible momentum that most readers will forgive the combination of cool-eyed professional investigation and heavy-breathing domestic soap opera as a family even Libby describes as “three mere clichés” begins to disintegrate still further under the grueling pressure.

Even readers who figure out the ringleader long before Tessa and Wyatt will get behind on their sleep turning pages to make sure they’re right.” from Kirkus Review

I HIGHLY recommend this book!

 

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When Secrets Strike (House of Secrets #2) by Marta Perry

Book Description:

Published: October 27, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In Laurel Ridge, Pennsylvania, a community once united must suspect one of their own.

Amish quilter Sarah Bitler’s dreams no longer feature a husband and family. Instead, she searches for success in the quilt shop within Blackburn House, a place once tarnished with deadly secrets. She refuses to let the past influence her future…until an ominous fire forces them to collide.

Firefighter Aaron King was the first to touch Sarah’s heart—and the first to break it. Now a widower and father of two small girls, his return to Sarah’s life brings her buried feelings to the surface. As a string of horrific incidents tears apart their community, an arsonist’s wrath threatens to destroy them all. With Aaron as the only suspect, Sarah must follow her instincts to find the truth. But to protect an innocent man, she might risk her heart to Aaron again…and risk her life to an unknown killer.

Review –

Amish Sarah Bitler is a single businesswoman, partnering with Allison Standish (the  heroine in the previous book, Where Secrets Sleep) to run a quilt shop. The love of her life, Aaron King, married someone else and is now a widower with two daughters, and she assumes she’s lost any chance of gaining his affection. They’re brought closer together by a series of arsons that seem to be targeting local farms, which also puts Aaron’s life at risk, as he’s a volunteer firefighter. As the investigations continue, with subplots involving a shady real estate deal and an aging widow, the stakes rise. Perry weaves a deft tale, taking a solid traditional cozy mystery plot and melding it nicely with a largely chaste romance. The spatterings of Amish culture and German phrases (“that makes gut sense,” “was ist letz”) are either explained contextually or explicitly, and they serve the story well.  

Excellent series.

The Hope That Kills (DI Fenchurch #1) by Ed James

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The body of a young woman is found on the streets of East London, in the shadow of the City’s gleaming towers. No ID on her, just hard-earned cash. But there is no doubting the ferocity of the attack.

DI Simon Fenchurch takes charge but, as his team tries to identify her and piece together her murder, they’re faced with cruel indifference at every turn—nobody cares about yet another dead prostitute. To Fenchurch, however, she could just as easily be Chloe, his daughter still missing after ten years, whose memory still haunts his days and nights, his burning obsession having killed his marriage.

When a second body is discovered, Fenchurch must peel back the grimy layers shrouding the London sex trade, confronting his own traumatic past while racing to undo a scheme larger, more complex and more evil than anything he could possibly have imagined.

Review –

This book introduces us to DI Simon Fenchurch and  we follow him around the streets of East London as he delves deeper into the criminal underworld to crack the case. In this first book we learn a bit about Fenchurch’s backstory, which I really like as you feel like you’re getting to know him and it makes sense why he (re)acts the way he does in certain situations. He is a very likeable guy, who is still troubled by the unsolved case of his missing daughter.

This story wasn’t as thrilling as some other police procedurals (eg. the DCI Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza) however, it does take you into the nitty gritty criminal underworld of East London; gripping in a raw, hard-hitting way.

I haven’t decided if I will read/listen to any other books in this series because the narrator of this one was not very good and narrators can make or break an audio book and the jury is still out on this one.

 

Evil at Heart (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #3) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Chelsea Cain’s novels featuring Portland detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell have captivated fans through two nail-biting entries, Heartsick and Sweetheart, both of them multi week bestsellers in The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly.

Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she’s more of a cause célèbre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers weekly and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, Portland Herald reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre kind of fan club, which celebrates the number of days she’s been free.

Archie Sheridan hunted her for a decade, and after his last ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong, remains hospitalized months later. When they last spoke, they entered a détente of sorts—Archie agreed not to kill himself if she agreed not to kill anyone else. But when a new body is found accompanied by Gretchen’s trademark heart, all bets are off and Archie is forced back into action. Has the Beauty Killer returned to her gruesome ways, or has the cult surrounding her created a whole new evil?

Review –

“She’s extracted his spleen, hammered nails into his chest, broken his ribs, whittled away at him with an X-Acto knife, but these and an array of other scarifications, emotional as well as physical, have not dampened Archie’s ardor. He remains crazy about Gretchen Lowell, aka the Beauty Killer. And crazy, too, in the sense that as the result of her ministrations, he currently resides in Portland, Ore.’s Providence Medical Center, termed by Archie “the loony bin.”

As for Gretchen, until recently she’s been residing in the slammer, where Archie helped put her. Having busted out, however, she’s up to her old tricks—murdering with undiminished enthusiasm, leaving her signature heart carved into the torsos of her victims, usually before they’re dead.

Seldom indeed, when in the hands of Gretchen the grotesque, does anyone die in a hurry. And now, perversely, she’s become a media darling. Her glam photographs seem omnipresent. She sells newspapers, she boosts ratings, she has fan clubs: global constituencies, gleefully marking the days their hero has been able to elude slew-footed police forces—76 and counting. So suddenly the question takes on an unsettling nuance. Is it Gretchen and Gretchen alone who’s been dismembering and disemboweling? Or has she been joined by copycats?

It’s enough to get Archie into his clothes, out of the hospital and back into bossing his catch-Gretchen task force, the trauma of it all having driven him sane.” from Kirkus Review

The reader or listener never does find out for sure if Gretchen is or is not responsible for the latest killings but in my mind she was.

Looking forward to the next installment.

 

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

Book Description:

Published: March 17, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened …

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

Review –

Most of the reviews that I read prior to listening to this book said NOT to read the reviews because there is a GIANT surprise twist in the story so I’m telling you the same thing: DO NOT READ THE REVIEWS!

Sal and Charlie have known each other since college and married quickly after meeting without Sal really getting to know Charlie. Even before the marriage there were signs of a controlling, short-tempered personality, but Sal choose to dismiss it.

After the marriage, Sal was cut off from friends and family and the verbal abuse became physical. Suffice it to say that the longer they are together the worse it gets. Even after the birth of their daughter, Maggie, it continues to worsen.

Finally, Sal can’t take it any longer and decides to leave, confiding in the neighbor, but Charlie finds out and there is a knife involved and this is when I will stop because the TWIST happens.

I must confess, I DID NOT see this particular twist coming and I’m glad because it made the SURPRISE even bigger.

I loved this book and applaud the author, Lisa Hall, on tackling the subject of domestic violence so well.

I highly recommend it!!!!!!  4.5 stars

 

Where Secrets Sleep (House of Secrets #1) by Marta Perry

Book Description:

Published: February 24, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In Amish country, not everything is as simple as it appears…

After suffering a terrible betrayal, Allison Standish flees Philadelphia for the small Amish village of Laurel Ridge. There, she comes into an unexpected inheritance—her late grandmother bequeathed her a mansion housing various shops. Allison intends to sell Blackburn House, until one of her tenants, single father Nick Whiting, challenges everything she believes about her estranged grandmother and the Amish community, and she decides to stay—temporarily.

Soon, strange stipulations in her grandmother’s will bring to Allison’s door distant relatives and seething townsfolk who think Blackburn House shouldn’t belong to an outsider. As anonymous threats escalate, Nick is protective of Allison, and she finds herself falling for the handsome carpenter. But when she discovers her grandmother’s death may not have been accidental, Allison must face the truth that someone wants her gone…permanently.

Review –

WHERE SECRETS SLEEP contains likeable characters you’ll find quaint if your are familiar with small town rural America and all the intricacies that make it a well-rounded place to live. It’s a charming story that focuses on the relationships of the Amish with the Englisch, exposing their differences as well as their willingness to be compatible as neighbors. There are some references to Amish faith and how it affects their way of life, but this story isn’t about faith, or just the Amish, as much as it’s about learning to live a fulfilling life. This story is modern but still exemplifies the less modern way of life in an Amish community.

There is a sweet  romance  between Allison and Nick and some violence that is typical in a romantic suspense that reads more like a cozy murder mystery. Blackburn House is the perfect setting for a blending of characters from the charming Amish spinster, to the city girl who is transplanted into rural America and is attracted to a handsome carpenter with a cute child, to the meddling Englisch bookstore owner who can’t keep his nose out of anyone’s business, mixed in with various other characters including some devious villains.

This book was a very pleasant read and I throughly enjoyed it and will look forward to reading others in the series.

 

Damaged (Rosato and DiNunzio #4) by Lisa Scottoline

Book Description:

Published: August 16, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Damaged finds Mary DiNunzio, partner at the all-female law firm of Rosato & DiNunzio, embroiled in one of her most heartbreaking cases yet. Suing the Philadelphia school district to get help for a middle school boy with emotional issues, Mary ends up becoming the guardian ad litem of her minor client. As she goes up against Nick Machiavelli, her opposing counsel and the dark prince of South Philly lawyers who will use any means necessary to defeat her, she becomes more and more invested in the case—and puts everything, including her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, on the line.

Review –

Mary DiNunzio, a partner in the Philadelphia law firm of Rosato & DiNunzio, takes on a heartbreaking case involving a dyslexic fifth grader, Patrick O’Brien, who’s bullied at school and is getting no support for his language disability. Patrick, who’s being raised by his paternal grandfather, allegedly attacked a school aid with scissors, and now the aid is suing both Patrick and the school board for damages. On the brink of her wedding to college professor Anthony Rotunno, Mary becomes emotionally attached to Patrick, more so than any previous client, and finds herself pitted against a diabolical attorney, Nick Machiavelli (aka the Dark Prince), who’s determined to win a settlement, despite the emotional cost to the 10-year-old boy. In her struggle to save Patrick, Mary finds herself fighting her associates, her fiancé, and social services. Tensions mount until the story concludes with a satisfying, unexpected twist. 

This was the fourth  book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series, and it’s an excellent addition to the series although it can certainly be read as a stand-alone novel. Damaged made an excellent addition to my Scottoline collection, and I highly recommend it!

After the Games (The Field Party #3) by Abby Glines

Book Description:

Published: August 22, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl who no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgins finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?

Review –

This is the third book in The Field Party series and my favorite so far.

Riley was run out-of-town, Lawton, Alabama, for accusing Rhett Lawton of rape but now she’s back to help her parents take care of her Grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. She’s not the scared young girl of two years ago. Being pregnant and giving birth has changed her and made her grow up fast. She’s not afraid of the people of Lawton or what they say about her.

Brady Higgins is the golden boy of Lawton, Alabama and the best football player on the team. Besides that, he is smart, polite, caring and has a perfect family. That is until the day he catches his father having sex with his secretary in his office.  Things change for the Higgins family after that. Without Riley in his life he wouldn’t have survived.

They have declared their love for one another but with Brady going  off to college Riley will be left behind. But she has a plan to put her daughter, Bryony,(what kind of name is that) in day care and go to college  and work in Nashville to achieve her dreams. Brady wants her to come to the university and live in family housing with him and when she refuses, saying that would be no life for Bryony or herself, he gets angry.

Finally, with a lot of angst and tears they agree to have a long distance relationship and see each other when they can and eventually marry one day.

This book was full of emotions and had me in tears several times. I LOVED IT.

Five stars!

 

 

The Late Show (Renee Ballard #1) by Michael Connelly

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From New York Times best-selling author Michael Connelly, a new thriller introducing a driven young detective trying to prove herself in the LAPD.

Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the cases entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.

Review –

I love Michael Connelly and his character, Harry Bosch, is one of my favorites so I was a bit surprised to see that he is starting  a new series with a female LAPD detective, Renee Ballard, as the headliner.

Ballard has been banished to the police department’s night shift — the Late Show — because of an ugly incident with her boss. Her Lieutenant made a sexual advance toward her and she filed a sexual harassment claim against him, of which he denied and even denies to her face that it ever happened.  She also feels betrayed by her former partner, and her new partner wants to spend as much time as possible with his wife. So Ballard operates as a lone wolf, Southern California-style.

She doesn’t exactly live anywhere. When her shift ends, she greets the morning by pitching her tent at the beach, changing clothes in her van, getting out her paddle board and hitting the waves, washing away the horrors of the night before. Ballard grew up in Maui. Her father, a surfer raised in California, drowned; her Hawaiian mother wants nothing to do with her. Her closest companions are the grandmother she seldom sees and Lola, her beloved dog.

In the book she  begins by answering an elderly woman’s complaint about credit card fraud. Then she learns of a cross-dresser who’s been savagely attacked. As usual, Connelly relies on his inside-baseball knowledge about police attitudes. “Drag queens, cross-dressers and transgenders were all generally referred to as dragons in vice,” he writes. “No distinctions were made. It wasn’t nice but it was accepted. Ballard had spent two years on a decoy team in the unit herself. She knew the turf and she knew the slang. It would never go away, no matter how many hours of sensitivity training cops were subjected to.”

Then, during the same night, there are “four on the floor in a club on Sunset” — four shooting victims in one booth, and a waitress near the back exit who turns out to be a fifth. This club, the Dancers, takes its name from another in Raymond Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye,” and its drinks are named for Los Angeles literary titles. Connelly doesn’t give Ballard Harry Bosch’s taste for jazz, but he laces the book with noir references. There’s a character who favors brass knuckles that say “Good” and “Evil,” à la Robert Mitchum’s “Love” and “Hate” tattoos in the film “The Night of the Hunter.”

By the end of a highly populated book Ballard will get to the bottom of every aspect of several crimes. And she’ll do a lot more. Smart and fierce, she never stops working. She’s also steamy enough to weaponize seduction if it will help her, and absolutely blunt when she speaks her mind. When a colleague who betrayed her tries to apologize, she responds with an unforgiving tongue-lashing.

The pacing of Ballard’s debut story is breathless. Unless she’s in the water, she never has a peaceful moment: There’s always a lead to follow, a house to scope out, a late-night call to make. One thing she loves about the night shift is feeling entitled to assume a combat stance at 3 a.m., scare some miscreant out of bed and shout: “Police! Let me see your hands.”

Mr. Connelly has hit a home run with this one and I can’t wait for the next installment in the Renee Ballard saga.

Fantastic read.

Five stars!!!!!

 

The Bone Box (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus #24) by Faye Kellerman

Book Description:

Published: February 28, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this thrilling chapter in Faye Kellerman’s bestselling series, Rina Lazarus makes a shocking discovery in the woods of her upstate New York community that leads her husband, police detective Peter Decker, through a series of gruesome, decades old, unsolved murders, pointing to a diabolical, serial killer who’s been hiding in plain sight.

On a bright and crisp September morning, while walking a bucolic woodland trail, Rina Decker stumbles upon human remains once buried deep beneath the forest grounds. Immediately, she calls her husband, Peter, a former detective lieutenant with LAPD, now working for the local Greenbury Police. Within hours, a vista of beauty and tranquility is transformed into a frenetic crime scene. The body has been interred for years and there is scant physical evidence at the gravesite: a youthful skeleton, a skull wound and long dark strands of hair surrounding the bony frame. As Decker and his partner, Tyler McAdams, further investigate, they realize that they’re most likely dealing with a missing student from the nearby Five Colleges of Upstate—a well-known and well-respected consortium of higher learning where Rina works.

And when more human remains are found in the same area, Decker and McAdams know this isn’t just a one-off murder case. Short-staffed and with no convenient entry into the colleges, Decker enlists Rina’s help to act as the eyes and ears of campus gossip. Winding their way through a dangerous labyrinth of steely suspects and untouchable academics, Decker, McAdams, and Rina race to protect their community from a psychopathic killer still in the area—and on the hunt for a fresh victim.

Review –

I am fairly certain that this is the first book I’ve read from this author and maybe because I haven’t read any others in the series, this one fell short for me.

I could not get invested in any of the main characters and the storyline, while plausible, was predictable . For me, this book was just okay, but to be fair I plan to start at the beginning and read The Ritual Bath and maybe that will change my mind.