The Twilight Wife by A. J. Banner

Book Description:

Published: December 27, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare.

Review –

What if everything you remember is a lie?

A diving accident causes marine biologist Kyra Winthrop to lose her memory of the previous four years, and her husband Jacob tries to help her rebuild her life. The Twilight Wife is a psychological suspense thriller set in an isolated community called Mystic Island, and fans of the genre will already know what to expect.

Flashes of memory return to Kyra that don’t quite match up with what she’s been told. She and Jacob have a happy marriage, but why does she have memories of intense attraction to one of his friends? She and Jacob were trying for a child, but why is there a condom in her wallet? Who is the odd man on the island who seems to recognize her but refuses to say why? And why does she dream of a third diver in the accident, when all the newspaper accounts mention only her and Jacob being involved? Add to that the locale of a remote island, which has no Internet connection apart from the line Jacob managed to rig up for their home, and Kyra can turn to only a tiny circle of friends whom she barely remembers.

The Twilight Wife is a quick read/listen and finished it in one sitting. The twists and turns are packed right in, and to Banner’s credit, she doesn’t go overboard with the red herrings designed solely to build suspense.  The ending felt rushed, and the last two chapters seemed disconnected from the rest of the story and seemed to come from nowhere. But overall, it’s a fun and fast-paced read that’s a perfect weekend treat for fans of the genre, and i must admit-it is one of my favorites.

My favourite part of this novel was the atmosphere. The isolation of the island adds to the dreariness of the plot and as trouble ensues, a storm begins to brew on the island. I loved this use of pathetic fallacy and found myself completely absorbed into Kara’s struggle.  

Fantastic read!

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Not As Bad As You Think

 

 

Not As Bad As You Think

 

don’t take it so hard –

it could be worse –

the sun could never shine

and the sky could always be gray –

but look at it this way darling –

i love you

and it was meant to be.

i couldn’t love but now i can

and i always will.

so during the hard times

think of me

and you’ll discover life

isn’t as bad as you think.

 

written by me 2/27/1968

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Book Description:

Published: August 15, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Review –

Karen Krupp is left with a bad concussion after crashing her car into a pole while fleeing from an abandoned restaurant in a sketchy neighborhood in a town in upstate New York. She claims she has no memory of what happened, and her doctors acknowledge that this could happen, but add that she might regain her memory.

Police surmise that Karen may have something to do with a man found shot to death in the empty restaurant. Karen’s husband, Tom, is at a loss at what to believe. Karen’s accident, and the fact that she left that night without her purse or cellphone, are out of character for his normally calm, organized wife. Tom begins to wonder just how well he knows Karen. She never talks about her background and her family, and she appears to have only one friend, Brigid Cruikshank, who lives across the street. But Brigid is hardly the caring friend, spending most of her day in front of her living room window watching the comings and goings of the Krupps, consumed with jealousy over their life.

The author keeps the well-developed twists churning, with each a surprise notch in this ever-evolving plot, and she continues this skillful storytelling until the stunning twist at the end, which I’m sorry to say was very predictable about half way through the book.   Usually in a story such as this there is at least one likable character but it’s hard to connect with the cold Karen, the naive, almost vapid Tom or the creepy Brigid. That being said, I enjoyed it very much and look forward to the author’s next book.

 

 

The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello

Book Description:

Published: March 5, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.

Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants—to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life.

Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits—and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised—crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters—he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price.

The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed.

Review –

“A former Army epidemiologist contends with greedy locals and the harsh Alaskan terrain in order to prevent the recurrence of a deadly pandemic. . . . Masello weaves several disparate genres—medical thriller, historical novel, ghost story—into a coherent whole. A delicious sense of creeping dread permeates the first act, greatly enhanced by its setting in the stark but beautiful landscape of northwestern Alaska. . . . Tense, taut and impossible to put down.”—Kirkus Reviews 

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Fantastic book !  I definitely be reading more by this author.

Back of Beyond (A Highway Quartet #1) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: August 2, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Cody Hoyt, while a brilliant cop, is an alcoholic struggling with two months of sobriety when his mentor and AA sponsor Hank Winters is found burned to death in a remote mountain cabin. At first it looks like the suicide of a man who’s fallen off the wagon, but Cody knows Hank better than that. Sober for fourteen years, Hank took pride in his hard-won sobriety and never hesitated to drop whatever he was doing to talk Cody off a ledge. When Cody takes a closer look at the scene of his friend’s death, it becomes apparent that foul play is at hand. After years of bad behavior with his department, he’s in no position to be investigating a homicide, but this man was a friend and Cody’s determined to find his killer.

When clues found at the scene link the murderer to an outfitter leading tourists on a multi-day wilderness horseback trip into the remote corners of Yellowstone National Park–a pack trip that includes his son Justin–Cody is desperate to get on their trail and stop the killer before the group heads into the wild. Among the tourists is fourteen-year-old Gracie Sullivan, an awkward but intelligent loner who begins to suspect that someone in their party is dangerous.

In a fatal cat and mouse game, where it becomes apparent the murderer is somehow aware of Cody’s every move, Cody treks into the wilderness to stop a killer hell-bent on ruining the only thing in his life he cares about.

Review –

I believe this is my first read/listen by C.J. Box and found out the Edgar Award-winning author has built an impressive career with mysteries and thrillers set amongst the small towns, vast expanses, and rugged beauty of America’s rural and backcountry areas.

Along with his terrific series starring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, Box has penned some impressive standalones (Blue Heaven and Three Weeks to Say Goodbye). This novel brings back Cody Hoyt, the maverick, alcoholic cop first seen in that latter book. Hoyt is now living in the Montana mountains, struggling with the mess he’s made of his life; he’s two months sober, divorced, disliked and distrusted by many, and barely sees the son he loves. Things get worse when a body is found in a burned cabin in the woods, and Hoyt realises it’s his AA sponsor Hank Winters, the only man who’s kept him off the ledge recently. Despite initial evidence to the contrary, Hoyt can’t believe Winters fell off the wagon and was burned to death in an alcoholic stupor, accident or suicide.

Determined to find a killer others don’t even believe exists, Hoyt digs himself into an even deeper hole when he shoots and wounds the county coroner in a botched stakeout, and is suspended from duty. Badge or not badge, Hoyt can’t let go, and is driven to find justice for one of his only friends – and perhaps, in doing so, a small measure of salvation for himself.

When clues point Hoyt in the direction of an outfitter leading a multi-day horseback trek, a trip that includes Hoyt’s estranged son, he – and the novel – shifts focus to the remote ‘back of beyond’ that is the magnificent, rugged landscapes of Yellowstone National Park. On the hunt for a killer disguised amongst the motley crew of tourists. A killer that is far too close to the only thing that Hoyt really cares about in his downward-spiralling life.

The story lulls a bit for a brief period as it switches from Hoyts misadventures following Winters’ death to the pursuit through Yellowstone, as an intriguing cast of characters on the horse trek are introduced and we adjust to their layered interactions. But Box gives readers a terrific sense of Yellowstone, especially its mix of beauty and danger (with or without the added human element). Box’s wilderness isn’t just a pristine or spectacular backdrop, a natural curtain in front of which the action is played out – it’s layered and textured itself; Mother Nature in all its vim and volatility. It’s clear that Box has a real appreciation and understanding of the great outdoors, which comes through in the authentic evocation of the landscapes.

It’s a great read and I will definitely be reading more from this author.

 

 

The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad #5) by Tana French

Book Description:

Published: September 2, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

Review –

Detective Stephen Moran, ambitious and working in the Cold Case unit and hoping to graduate to the Murder Squad, gets a surprise visit from Holly Mackey. Holly is the teenage daughter of a colleague ,Frank Mackey, and a boarder at St Kilda’s school, a very private  girls school. She has brought a message she’s spotted pinned up on the eponymous “secret place”, a noticeboard where the girls may relieve their feelings by anonymously posting their innermost secrets. A photograph of murder victim Chris Harper, 16-year-old heart-throb student from Colm’s, the neighbouring and equally exclusive boys’ school, is accompanied by the words “I know who killed him” – cut, in the manner of a ransom note, from a book.

Moran presents the evidence to Antoinette Conway, the detective who has been investigating the as-yet-unsolved year-old case, and he is permitted to accompany her to St Kilda’s to help with the resulting inquiry. Hard-bitten and abrasive, Conway isn’t popular with her colleagues, and both she and Moran have a lot to prove. Neither of the detectives, both of whom come from working-class backgrounds, are particularly comfortable in such a bastion of privilege, and the headteacher, Miss McKenna, already unhappy about the damage done to the school’s reputation when young Chris was found in the grounds with his head bashed in, is less than delighted to see them.

Taking place over a single day, with flashbacks to events in the preceding year counting down the time to the boy’s death, The Secret Place is told from the points of view of Moran (the present) and Holly and her three friends (the past). The characterization of the girls is particularly strong: all the manufactured attitude, intense loyalty, harsh judgment and vying for alpha status with a rival clique in the way that only adolescent girls can. Joanne Heffernan, a rival clique’s queen bee – dealing out casual humiliation even to her acolytes and claiming virtual, if not actual, droit du seigneur over any boy she fancies – is an absolute masterpiece of vulnerable cruelty. Here, as in Megan Abbott’s Dare Me and The Fever, the incessant and often vicious jockeying for position is described with such appalling accuracy as to leave this reviewer practically weeping with gratitude that she is no longer a teenager.

Beyond the murder mystery, which leaves the reader in suspense throughout, the novel explores the mysteries of friendship, loyalty and betrayal, not only among adolescents, but within the police force as well.

This was another great read in a great series.

 

 

 

The Thirst (Harry Hole #11) by Jo Nesbo

Book Description:

Published: May 9, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In Police—the last novel featuring Jo Nesbø’s hard-bitten, maverick Oslo detective—a killer wreaking revenge on the police had Harry Hole fighting for the safety of the people closest to him. Now, in The Thirst, the story continues as Harry is inextricably drawn back into the Oslo police force. A serial murderer has begun targeting Tinder daters—a murderer whose MO reignites Harry’s hunt for a nemesis of his past.

Review –

I love this series and the character of Harry Hole, especially. He is portrayed as a REAL human being, not a Super Cop.

Hole has retired from the murder detective business and is teaching in Oslo’s police academy when a series of grisly murders rocks Oslo. The killer appears to be a “vampirist,” someone who drinks the blood of his victims – presumably, it is thought, to get some kind of kinky sexual thrill.

The early chapters of the book deal with a lot of intramural infighting in the Oslo police department. From a plot perspective, this is necessary to get Harry back into the thick of the investigation as opposed to being merely a lecturer in the academy. Harry assembles a team made up of some characters from previous books as well as a few new additions. His detective instincts come back into full flower as the danger to him increases.

Clever and surprising twists keep the reader on edge, leading up to an exciting crescendo  in the final third of the book. As with previous books by this author, when the twists come, you realize they had been set up all along from the beginning, if only you had been able to recognize them. It’s the kind of plotting device that makes you feel like reading each book a second time!

The  murders are grizzly and creepy as the author describes the killer’s stalking and disposing of victims and his habit of using  pointed steel dentures. Nesbo knows how to do gore.

Harry is no longer sober by the end of the book and I can’t wait for the next book to see how Harry reclaims his life.