Closed Circles (Sandhamn Murders #2) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: March 29, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It’s a beautiful day for a regatta—until one of Sandhamn Island’s most prestigious residents is killed aboard his sailing yacht.

Oscar Juliander was a rich lawyer and deputy chairman of the prestigious Royal Swedish Yacht Club. While at first his death seems like a tragic accident, there is evidence of foul play. Police detective Thomas Andreasson teams up with local lawyer Nora Linde to investigate. As they work to uncover clues, they face resistance from an elite world where nothing but appearance matters.

When the rich and powerful inhabitants of Sweden’s idyllic island getaway come under scrutiny, Thomas and Nora must work closely and secretively to seek justice.

Review –

The murders destroy the island’s calm and make the resident’s anxious.  Last’s summers murder were, they were sure, an anomaly.  Now there are more.  And worse, respected members of the community.  It is also a closed community, one with plenty of secrets that they don’t want to share with the detective in charge, Thomas.

Thankfully, he’s dedicated and dogged and unlikely to give up.  He’s also really likeable and pretty well balanced, avoiding the many stereotypes of dysfunctional police officers with family issues and drinking problems.  Whilst not everything in his life is perfect, he handles it like a grown up – and manages to set it aside when working on the case.  

His best childhood friend, Nora ,a lawyer at a bank, she spends her summers on Sandhamn so it makes perfect sense for Thomas to ask for her help on the case.  They don’t team up, she is on the periphery of the investigation – though does help it come to it’s conclusion. I could have felt cheated by this if I hadn’t been so caught up in Nora’s own story, which runs parallel to the investigation and isn’t crime related at all but very personal.

This might have been a distraction but wasn’t at all,  and is a testament to how well both characters were developed and how well written (and translated) the book was.  It had a good pace and a good plot – simple but with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until close to the end. And, speaking of the end, it was a total surprise and added a bit of “well, there you go” to the book. 

Fantastic series!!!

A Conspiracy of Faith (Department Q #3) by Jussi Alder-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Carl Mørck holds in his hands a bottle that contains old and decayed message, written in blood. It is a cry for help from two young brothers, tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. Could it be real? Who are these boys, and why weren’t they reported missing? Could they possibly still be alive?

Carl’s investigation will force him to cross paths with a woman stuck in a desperate marriage- her husband refuses to tell her where he goes, what he does, how long he will be away. For days on end she waits, and when he returns she must endure his wants, his moods, his threats. But enough is enough. She will find out the truth, no matter the cost to her husband—or to herself.

Carl and his colleagues Assad and Rose must use all of their resources to uncover the horrifying truth in this heart-pounding Nordic thriller from the #1 international bestselling author Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Review –

Inspector Carl Mørck and his raffish colleagues at Copenhagen’s Department Q  go up against a truly fiendish kidnapper.

A few days after he and his brother Tryggve were abducted, Poul Holt managed to scrawl a plea for help in his own blood, deposit it in a bottle and toss it into the sea. Hundreds of miles away, the bottle made landfall and was turned over to Scottish police Sgt. David Bell, who made no attempt to open his discovery. Years passed. Bell died. A computer expert in his station smashed the bottle and immediately contacted Department Q, the perfect venue for the case since “it’s old, it’s unsolved, and no one else could be bothered.”

The group’s assignment begins with trying to figure out, after all this time, what the message says, who wrote it and when. These tasks are made more difficult since no one reported any children missing at the time and place the message indicates. While Carl and his crew are working feverishly on the dead case, the kidnapper is at work bringing it very much back to life by targeting another pair of children, Magdalena Krogh and her big brother, Samuel. (The reason why he prefers to snatch two victims at a time is the story’s most cunning secret, and its most disturbing.) Even after Carl and his Syrian assistant Hafez el-Assad have surmounted the obstacles thrown up by Poul Holt’s parents, who insist that he’s still alive, they’ll have to overcome a much wider conspiracy of silence the kidnapper has been counting on to make accomplices of his victims’ families for all these years.

Fantastic story that will pull at your heart-strings.

I love this series!

 

Home again, home again, jiggiddy jig

 

My husband and I drove to Alabama to visit family for Thanksgiving and just got back yesterday. It’s a long drive and we stop after 8 hours driving going and coming, get up the next morning and continue the trip. While I love being there, I HATE THE DRIVE.  The last few years I have become a horrible passenger, having to close my eyes going through large cities and flinch when semi-trucks pass. My husband, bless his heart, is a saint and puts up with my craziness, but said before we go on another long trip he wants me to ask my doctor for something that will calm my nerves!!!!!!

Great trip, but I’m glad to be home.

Find Her (Det. D.D. Warren #8) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2016

Format: Audio

Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora Dane was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime–a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him–she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.

Review –

A kidnapping survivor–turned-vigilante tries to save another young woman while the police do everything they can to save them both.

Flora Dane might look unscathed but she’s permanently scarred from having been abducted while on spring break in Florida seven years earlier by Jacob Ness, a sadistic trucker who held her captive for 472 days, keeping her in a coffin for much of the time when he wasn’t forcing her to have sex with him. Now back in Boston and schooled in self-defense, Flora is obsessed with kidnapped girls and the nature of survival, a topic she touches on a bit more than necessary in the many flashbacks to her time in captivity. The author  must walk a fine line in accurately evoking the horrors of Flora’s past ordeals without slipping into excessive descriptions of violence; she is not entirely successful. When Flora thwarts another kidnapping attempt by killing Devon Goulding, her would-be abductor, Sgt. Detective D.D. Warren’s interest is piqued even though she’s meant to be on restricted duty. Then Flora disappears for real, and Warren, along with Dr. Samuel Keynes, the FBI victim specialist from Flora’s original kidnapping, fears it’s related to the kidnapping three months earlier of Stacey Summers, a case Flora followed closely. Gardner alternates between Warren’s investigation into Flora’s disappearance and Flora’s present-day hell at the hands of a new enemy.

The world of the FBI, the terror of abduction and victim advocates blend into this tense and sometimes hard thriller. The author knows how to invoke  strong emotions, and readers will be forced to deal with tough questions that don’t necessarily have answers.

Five stars !!!!!

Fear Nothing ( Det. D.D. Warren #7) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Audio

My name is Dr. Adeline Glen. Due to a genetic condition, I can’t feel pain. I never have. I never will.

The last thing Boston Detective D. D. Warren remembers is walking the crime scene after dark. Then, a creaking floorboard, a low voice crooning in her ear. . . . She is later told she managed to discharge her weapon three times. All she knows is that she is seriously injured, unable to move her left arm, unable to return to work.

My sister is Shana Day, a notorious murderer who first killed at fourteen. Incarcerated for thirty years, she has now murdered more people while in prison than she did as a free woman.

Six weeks later, a second woman is discovered murdered in her own bed, her room containing the same calling cards from the first: a bottle of champagne and a single red rose. The only person who may have seen the killer: Detective D. D. Warren, who still can’t lift her child, load her gun, or recall a single detail from the night that may have cost her everything.

Our father was Harry Day, an infamous serial killer who buried young women beneath the floor of our home. He has been dead for forty years. Except the Rose Killer knows things about my father he shouldn’t. My sister claims she can help catch him. I think just because I can’t feel pain doesn’t mean my family can’t hurt me.

D.D. may not be back on the job, but she is back on the hunt. Because the Rose Killer isn’t just targeting lone women, he is targeting D.D. And D.D. knows there is only one way to take him down:  Fear nothing.

Review –

“Recovering from a nasty fall down a flight of stairs, Detective D.D. Warren, of Boston Homicide, tangles with a pair of sisters who put her pain in a whole new perspective.

Forty years ago, Harry Day, about to be arrested for killing eight prostitutes, got his wife to slit his wrists before the police closed in. He left behind two young daughters: Shana, a sociopath who followed so closely in her father’s footsteps that she was jailed for life when she killed a neighborhood boy at age 14, and Adeline, not quite a year old when her father died, who’s grown up cursed by an inability to feel physical pain. Naturally, Adeline went to medical school and became a psychiatrist specializing in pain management, and it’s in that capacity that D.D. consults her after an accident at a blood-soaked crime scene leaves her with an impressive set of injuries. Christine Ryan, the victim who’s been smothered and flayed by someone who left behind a bottle of champagne, a pair of fur-lined handcuffs and a long-stemmed rose, is followed distressingly quickly by a second victim, occupational therapist Regina Barnes. Even worse, the handiwork of the Rose Killer is gruesomely linked to the criminal careers of Harry Day, dead these 40 years, and his daughter Shana, who’s been in the Massachusetts Correctional Institute for over 25 years. Alternating as usual between third-person chapters following D.D.’s investigation and first-person chapters dramatizing Adeline’s point of view, Gardner (Touch & Go, 2013, etc.) paints an indelible portrait of two troubled sisters so closely bound together by blood that they agree: “Blood is love.”

If you think Gardner pulled out all the stops in D.D.’s previous cases (Catch Me, 2012, etc.), you ain’t seen nothing yet. Better fasten your seat belt for this roller-coaster ride through family hell.” Kirkus Review

Fantastic read!!!!

 

Preppy: The life and Death of Samuel Clearwater (King #5) by T M Frazier

Book Description:

Published: October 25, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Samuel Clearwater, A.K.A Preppy, likes bowties, pancakes, suspenders, good friends, good times, good drugs, and a good f*ck.
He s worked his way out from beneath a hellish childhood and is living the life he s always imagined for himself. When he meets a girl, a junkie on the verge of ending it all, he s torn between his feelings for her and the crippling fear that she could be the one to end the life he loves.
Andrea Dre Capulet is strung out and tired.
Tired of living for her next fix. Tired of doing things that make her stomach turn. Tired of looking in the mirror at the reflection of the person she s become. Just when she decides to end it all, she meets a man who will change the course of both their lives forever.
And their deaths.
For most people, death is the end of their story.
For Preppy and Dre, death was only the beginning.”

Review –

SORRY THESE LAST TWO ARE OUT OF ORDER, I THOUGHT I HAD ALREADY POSTED PART ONE. OOPS!!

Preppy is back, back from the dead, but he isn’t the same Preppy that we’ve grown to love over the course of the ‘King’ series. His time in captivity has really done a number on him. After everything he endured, it is nothing short of a miracle that he managed to survive…and surviving is exactly what he’s doing, no more.

When Dre seeks closure, she never imagined that she’d find Preppy alive. So much for saying “goodbye” and making her peace. She is immediately taken back to their time together, even if she’d rather forget the heartache that he left her with.

As Preppy begins to heal physically, he is plagued by the psychological after-effects of the torture. While all of his closest friends want him to face his issues, he wants nothing more than to escape from the pain. He loses himself in drugs and alcohol, racing to the bottom.

The only time that Preppy is able to find any peace is when he is with Dre. She has a calming effect on him. Despite the pain he’s caused her, she still can’t seem to give up on him. She does her best to keep him at arm’s-length, but as always, he manages to creep into her heart.

At times, I did find myself scratching my head over details related to the timeline of some events. It just didn’t seem to add up for me, but I could have been mis-reading something. At one point, Preppy’s captivity is said to have been for a few months. Yet at other points in the story, it was implied that he didn’t know about the kids that Doe and King had. He was also clueless to the fact that Bear had entered into a serious relationship and Thia was now “huge” in her pregnancy, which wouldn’t happen until the third trimester. So, I was a little confused as to how he could have missed so much if he’d only been away for “months”. I think it would be more like three or four years.

It does end with another cliffhanger, so expect to be banging your head against a wall until you can get your hands on Part Two.

 

 

 

Preppy: The Life and Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two (Kind #6) by T M Frazier

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Preppy finds himself back in a world he once loved, but no longer recognizes. His dim smile can’t hide his inner turmoil and the people he views as family all suddenly feel like polite strangers.

Except for one person. A girl with dark eyes and even darker hair.
A girl who isn’t even an option.

At least, not anymore.

Dre can’t decide who she’s going to listen to. Her heart, her head, or her body. Because two out of those three things have her heading right back to Logan’s Beach. Closure is what she tells herself she’s seeking, but when she unlocks doors that were never meant to be opened she soon discovers that when it comes to Samuel Clearwater, closure might NEVER be an option.

Review –

Preppy and Dre share a passionate and yet volatile relationship. When Preppy left Dre the first time, he broke her. Now that Preppy is back, he is struggling with learning how to live again. Dre is finally clean and sober and getting tangled up in Preppy might be the one thing that brings her back into her life of addiction and yet, is it possible that Preppy is the only drug that she needs to survive?

Told in dual POV, Preppy, is an unforgettable character. I found the circumstances in this installment to be more intense because I feared that Preppy and Dre may not be able to overcome the distance and pain between them. Although the primary emphasis is on Preppy and Dre, the supporting characters continue to enhance the overall story as they act as an ensemble driving the action. The intimacy between Preppy and Dre is raw, rough, and so so sexy! Out of all of the characters in this series, I believe Preppy and Dre are my favorite due to the complex relationship they share. The story arc is well-developed, and although I was quite frustrated with the amount of time it took for Preppy to make things right, I recognize that he remains true to his character and does everything in his own way and in his own time!

I’m listening to Part Three now and can’t wait for Preppy and Dre to have their HEA.

 

 

 

 

 

Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

The fears and horrors of being a new parent take on a shocking dimension in in this heart-stopping original story, only from Audible.

A young married couple, Matt and Gillian have just bought a gorgeous house located next to a lake in the Catskills. They want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city to raise their baby girl, Hope, in relative peace and quiet. When night falls, however, their dream home becomes a house of nightmares. Matt and Gillian soon learn that darkness takes many forms. And sometimes, darkness is hungry.

New York Times best-selling author and Bram Stoker Award winner Jonathan Maberry delivers a haunting Audible Original that will give listeners the Halloween creeps all year round. Scott Brick, the man with the golden voice, perfectly captures the experience of hearing a classic ghost story told around the campfire.

Review –

 I was excited to grab this free horror story off of Audible last month. I’d just finished up a novel, and was in the mood for something quick to listen to while knitting a scarf, so I hit play on this short story.

Lullaby is about a husband and a wife who decide to move into a house they are told is haunted because the price was just too low to resist. They’re about to welcome into the world their new daughter, Hope, and this home seems perfect. It’s not too long before they start to see why the price was so low, and why the realtor was obliged to tell them that the place was haunted.

This short story is bleak, dark, and creepy. The haunted house presented here is not given a life of its own at all, and has no real presence itself, but the way the author described the haunted aspects of the story were unsettling. The finale that it builds towards hit me like a punch to the gut.

Scott Brick – who I’ve come to learn in my short time becoming an audiobook “connoisseur” is the most divisive narrator in the business – did an excellent job with this material. I loved his approach, which went from playful in the beginning, to haunting in the middle, and then powerful in the end. He displayed an impressive range in less than 40 minutes of narration.

Lullaby did more than I expected. It delivered on a creepy, quick tale, but it also went to much darker places than I could have imagined, and though it won’t be for everyone (trigger warning for those that don’t like to see children in peril), I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am happy I selected it for my Audible Original last month.

 

 

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Book Description:

Published: August 23, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors–a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Review –

Holy Smokes! What a roller coaster ride!

The Couple Next Door had me gripped right from the very beginning. It essentially follows the disappearance of Marco and Anne’s baby daughter Cora, who is taken from her bed one night while the couple attend a dinner party next door. The couple are racked with guilt, and as the investigation continues, more and more secrets and betrayals are revealed…

The narrative is told in the third-person and follows the experiences of Anne, Marco, Detective Rasbach and Jennings, the couple’s next door neighbour Cynthia, and Anne’s parents Richard and Alice. The narrative provides an in-depth and detailed analysis of all of the characters, as they attempt to piece together the puzzle that is Cora’s disappearance.

Anne and Marco are the central protagonists. Anne, suffering with Postpartum (or Postnatal) depression after the birth of her daughter Cora, is racked with guilt and anxiety after her disappearance. She struggles to cope emotionally, and seeks comfort from her parents and husband. Her motherly instincts take over, and she will ultimately do anything to save her daughter. But of course, she has a few secrets lurking in her own past.

Marco is strong and determined, and puts on a brave face to support his wife. But deep down he is really struggling to come to terms with what has happened, and Cora’s disappearance challenges everything he thought he knew. I flitted between hating Marco and feeling sympathy for him, and if you read the book you’ll discover why. He makes some major mistakes, and must pay the price for them. Marco is a much more complex character than he first appears to be.

The other minor characters are all excellently portrayed. Rasbach and Jennings attempt to solve the case as efficiently as they can, but when lots of new clues and curveballs are thrown in, the investigation becomes difficult. Anne’s parents Richard and Alice are incredibly rich, and it seems they will do anything to get their grandchild back. And the neighbors Cynthia and Graham are much more complex than they first appear to be.

As the narrative goes on, more and more mysteries and secrets are revealed. This is a novel where you think you know where the story is going – but then the author throws in a clever curveball, and all expectations are reversed. There is an excellent attention to detail in this highly-complex narrative – it’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” kind of narrative. It does require lots of concentration and attention from the reader, but is definitely worth it in my opinion.

So, let’s talk about the ending. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the final ending, and to me that majorly let the book down. I was pleased with what I thought was the final revelation, as it gave a sense of hope for the future of the characters. But then a new element in thrown into the story, and to me it just seemed unnecessary and too exaggerated to be deemed as realistic and for me, ruined the whole story. One minute there was a happy ending and the next there was anything but.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who like domestic thrillers, particularly if you enjoy reading complex, multi-layered plots. It has excellently-constructed characters, plenty of mystery and suspense, and killer twists. The ending did really disappoint me, but don’t let that put you off – you might enjoy it! A great read.

 

Still Waters (Sandman Murders #1) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.

Review-

As you can see, I finally got around to reading the first in the Sandman Murders series and I’m kinda glad I did hear this series out of order.

I learned many things in this book that related back to the two other books that I have already read and it made it more enjoyable. Had I read the books in order the incidents in Book One would have been just that-incidents, but with the background I already have the incidents make others things become crystal clear.

The story starts with the introduction of the setting of a crime. The weather is hot, it’s July and a body is found on one of Sweden’s islands named Sandhamn. The body is a horrible sight to behold as it is entangled in a fishing net. Thomas Anderson is the police detective that has been assigned to the case. He is also the first person to arrive at the spot. A little research helps him identify the victim. The victim’s name is Krister Briggren. Krister has been missing for a number of months or so the official reports say.

Thomas’ investigation leads him to believe that the death was an accident till something happened to change his beliefs. A local bed and breakfast reported another body. The body was identified as Krister’s cousin. Thomas attempts to solve the mystery with the help of an old friend named Nora Linde! 

The story revolves around  a very intriguing plot and  are the  police  right when they believe that the death was an accident? There is a huge surprise twist in the story and makes for a very emotional discovery for  Nora and to me since through reading three books I am acquainted with the character involved and couldn’t believe it!

I love this series and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who loves a good  murder mystery.