When You Disappeared by John Marrs

Book Description:

Published: July 13, 2017

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing – except him.

Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth – about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.

And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

Review –

The very description of this book intrigued me, what would I do in the position of the main character Catherine?  How does she go on?  What thoughts are running through her mind when she discovers her husband has gone and never returns?  Also, and why does Simon to do this?  So much about this book just screamed “READ ME”.

The book opens on the day that Simon walks out of his life and you see the impact this has on his friends and family, watching the ground beneath their feet crumble and their lives are inexplicably changed.  But we also experience the life that Simon goes on to lead in the twenty-five years he spends estranged from his family before returning “home”, and allowing Catherine to find out who he really is and his reasons for leaving like he did.

From the onset, my heart went out to Catherine.  How awful it must have been for her to try and hold things together for the sake of her children while wanting to curl up and stop living.  Her marriage had some issues, and life wasn’t always easy with small children around but she thought that things were stable, that life was ok ay and that she and Simon were okay.  Not knowing that all the while that Simon had an ulterior motive, that he was planning to walk out on them all and not look back and leave them to try and pick up the pieces and get on with life.  From that moment I didn’t like Simon, I couldn’t help but feel a hatred towards him, yes I admit, I hadn’t read all of his story yet to find out what was driving his decisions but part of me didn’t want to find out.Part of me wanted to stop there and then, but of course I listened on. It’s always a good sign if an author can evoke such strong emotions from their readers with the characterization in their books and I have to admit that John Marrs has done that with When You Disappeared, he seems to have found a formula in his writing that makes readers hate characters but at the same time feel that they aren’t 100% sure of their gut instinct, keeping them questioning whether there may be an underlying story that might just save a character…….

Narrated from alternating perspectives, readers experience the lives of both Simon and Catherine, seeing how their lives have progressed in the intervening twenty-five years, leading up to the moment that they meet again.  I did feel that it pulled at my attention somewhat, the jumping back and forth between the two main characters did feel a little disjointed but it did add to the overall suspense and intrigue so kept me on my toes.  The pace felt that it matched the plot well, not an adrenaline packed, fast paced read, but more a slow build to increase the tension levels and keep readers wondering what might happen.

Why did Simon leave ? How did Simon and Catherine change as individuals? Did they find love again?  Were they successful and happy or did grief and hatred turn their lives into something even they wouldn’t believe possible?  To find out, you will have to read the book. 

Fantastic Five Star Read!!!!!

This book was previously published as The Wronged Sons.

Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare

Book Description:

Published: March 5, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Margot’s clients all lie to her, but one lie could cost her family and freedom.

Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children, and a successful career. On a warm spring morning, Margot spots one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches. That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train. Suddenly, one tragedy leads to another leaving her, her family, and her patients in danger. As misfortune unfolds, listeners will soon question Margot’s true role in all of these unfortunate events.

Tell Me Lies is a fast-paced, psychological, whodunit mystery that will leave listeners wondering if anyone can actually be trusted.

Review –

This was offered free on Audible and is an Audible Original. What is an Audible Original you may ask, it’s a story that is written with the listener in mind. The story goes from thoughts in a persons head to words on a page to to words being narrated to a listener.It is never printed as a book.

This psychological thriller takes place in Australia in the home and office of psychologist Margot Scott. When her family falls victim to an arsonist, she suspects one of her clients. I won’t give any of this story away, but It will grab you by the throat from the beginning and never let go and you won’t believe the ending!

I highly recommend.

 

 

When She Returned by Lucinda Berry

Book Description:

Published: October 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

One woman’s reappearance throws her family into turmoil, exposing dark secrets and the hidden, often devastating truth of family relationships.

Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot eleven years ago, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult.

Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down–her husband is remarried, and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before.

While the family tries to help Kate reintegrate into society, they discover truths they’ve been hiding from each other about their own relationships. But they aren’t the only ones with secrets. As the family unravels what happened to Kate, a series of shocking revelations shows that Kate’s return is more sinister than any of them could have imagined.

Review –

Dark and disturbing…

When Kate Bennett vanished from a Target parking lot, her husband and daughter never thought they would see her again. But eleven years later, Kate shows up dehydrated and malnourished, showing signs of severe abuse in Montana holding a baby. With Kate returning, her family’s lives are turned upside down. As they struggle to understand what happened with Kate during those years, shocking revelations come to surface and threaten to destroy their lives. The narrative shifts between past and present and is told from the perspectives of Kate(first wife), Meredith(new wife), and Abbi, (daughter). Kate’s story is chilling and full of dread as she recounts the shocking cruelty from her days/years in “captivity”. The author’s exploration of Kate’s complete entrapment in the cult community is both compelling and disturbing. The pace gets hampered in the middle from the monotony of Kate’s story, but Berry threw in another twist that invests readers’ interest until the shocking culmination and what an ending it is!!!

I listened to this while traveling from Oklahoma to Alabama last month and kept my mind off the HUGE semi-trucks that traverse I-40.

Five star read!

 

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Book Description:

Published: December 30, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4 1/2

New York Times bestselling author Tarryn Fisher delivers a pulse-pounding, fast-paced suspense novel that will leave you breathless. A thriller you won’t be able to put down!

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.

Review –

“Businessman Seth is married to three women. Well, he’s actually only legally married to the narrator, a Seattle nurse he only sees on Thursdays. She calls the other two Monday and Tuesday since she doesn’t know their names. They’re polygamists, but Seth has no interest in a sister wife situation, and he’s done a good job so far in keeping the three lives he leads, and the women he leads them with, separate. Until now. In fact, his Thursday wife is getting downright restless. She’s tired of living only for Thursdays and is still haunted by the loss of a child. Though she truly believes she loves Seth, she frequently wonders how she lost herself so completely in such an unsatisfying and unbalanced marriage. When she finds a slip of paper with the name Hannah, who she believes is another of Seth’s wives (the pregnant one, in fact), a whole new world of snooping opens up to her. She even goes so far as to set up a meeting with Hannah—without revealing her true identity, of course—and is alarmed to see that Hannah is hiding some bruises that look an awful lot like finger marks. What she subsequently discovers leads her down a rabbit hole of startling revelations, and the narrative takes a sharp left turn that would be shocking if most genre readers hadn’t already seen similar twists before. It’s all a bit over the top, but Fisher is a slick writer who keeps a tight rein on her lightning-fast plot, and the lengths that her feisty narrator goes to in order to reclaim her life make for salaciously satisfying reading.

Derivative and shamelessly manipulative but still a lot of fun. Fisher is a writer to watch.” Kirkus Reviews

If the ending were different and not so predictable, I would have rated it 5 stars, but a great read all the same.

 

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

n the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

Review –

Abigail Knight, the protagonist of this complex, emotionally intense debut novel by Christina McDonald is determined to get answers after her seventeen-year-old daughter, Olivia, who recently seemed unusually distracted and moody, is found, brain-dead and pregnant, at the bottom of an embankment below the ZigZag bridge in her hometown of Portage Point, Washington. Meanwhile, Abi manages the grief of seeing Olivia being maintained on life support just long enough to allow her granddaughter to live.

The chapters told from Olivia’s viewpoint in the months leading up to the accident, during which she struggles with friendships and romantic relationships while piecing together the truth about her absent father, convey the cadence and the awkward urgency of teenage thought and behavior without exaggerating it. Every carefully fleshed-out character behaves authentically, yielding a satisfying sense of tragedy rather than one of villainy. McDonald dives into the mother-daughter conflict without compromising the reader’s compassion for either of them. Fans of twisty domestic suspense novels will be rewarded.

A fantastic read and I can’t wait to delve into the author’s newest book, Behind Every Lie!

 

Split Second (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell #1) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2004

Format: Audio/Library Book

Stars: 4

Michelle Maxwell has just wrecked her promising career at the Secret Service. Against her instincts, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight for the briefest moment and the man whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air. Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. Eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service agent allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second. And the candidate he was protecting was gunned down before his eyes. Now Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge.

Drawn into a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, the two discredited agents uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making – and are a long way from over….

Review –

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

The author sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in big trouble with the Secret Service.  Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Although there are a lots of critics about the lack luster characters in this book and series, I’ve only read the first two and I find the books on point with traits of any crime thriller: drama, suspense, mystery and a bit of possible romance.

 

 

 

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?

An electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

Review –

Struggling Manhattan makeup artist Jessica Farris impulsively decides to chase some quick cash by lying her way into an NYU psychiatrist’s study—of ethics and morality, no less—in this slickly twisty psychological thriller from bestselling authors Hendricks and Pekkanen.

 Still shaky after a disturbing #MeToo encounter with a top theatrical producer that dashed her dream of doing stage makeup, the twenty-eight-year-old laps up the supportive attention from impossibly chic and self-confident Dr. Lydia Shields, whose second-person narrative alternates with Jessica’s first person. So when the therapist starts to enlist her in increasingly dicey real-life role-playing assignments, including trying to pick up specific targets, such as a stranger in a hotel bar, Jess pushes aside her doubts and goes along—until she hears some information too alarming to ignore about the fate of Dr. Shields’s previous protégé. The page-turner’s second half whizzes along at a furious pace, exploiting the dual perspectives for maximum tension. Though some of the gasp-worthy final twists require substantial character flip-flops, and an eye roll or two, it’s a fantastic, suspense filled mystery that I HIGHLY recommend .

 

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Description:

Published: April 16, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence .

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover–movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora–and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted–not even those closest to Cora.

Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe–even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

Review –

After investigating a local urban legend, (which was assigned by a teacher )a twelve year old girl(in sixth grade) is brutally attacked in the author’s latest thriller.

Like nearly every almost teen, Cora struggles in middle school. She’s shy and sheltered and tries every day to navigate the stormy social seas of friendships and crushes, even within the small town of Pitch, Iowa.

When Violet and her family move to Pitch,  from New Mexico, she connects with Cora and helps her begin to come out of her shell, but this is complicated by the on-again, off-again presence of Queen of the Mean Girls, Jordyn. All three girls end up working together on a social studies project to explore the truth behind an urban legend; they choose to research the story of Joseph Wither, a boy supposedly responsible for the disappearances or deaths of several local high school students across the decades.

As they dig deeper into the mystery, Cora begins corresponding online with someone claiming to be Joseph, in a chatroom on a “not so safe” web site. She knows this could be dangerous, but when her classmates find out and mock her for believing in the legend, Cora decides to meet up with Joseph and prove them wrong.

The book opens with an assault and then slowly unravels the events leading up to that act of violence; also functioning as a mystery, it is not until the VERY end that the perpetrator is revealed. There are interesting layers of psychology at work here, but it can be exhausting inhabiting the world of these teenage girls, so concerned about appearances, so protective of their own secrets. 

There  are so many suspects and people of the town are visibly cautious of everyone they meet going about their daily routines. You almost have a notepad handy to keep track of all the twists and turns as the end approaches, and they will blow you away. THE ENDING!!! That’s all I’m going to say.

It is so timely, dealing with bff’s, jealousy, cliques, wanting to so badly to belong, bullying many more things that young girls of today come across on a daily basis.   

This is one book that you HAVE to read!.

The Washington Decree by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

The president has gone way too far. . . . These are practically dictatorial methods we’re talking about.

Sixteen years before Democratic Senator Bruce Jansen was elected president of the United States, a PR stunt brought together five very different people: fourteen-year-old Dorothy “Doggie” Rogers, small-town sheriff T. Perkins, single mother Rosalie Lee, well-known journalist John Bugatti, and the teenage son of one of Jansen’s employees, Wesley Barefoot. In spite of their differences, the five remain bonded by their shared experience and devotion to their candidate.

For Doggie, who worked the campaign trail with Wesley, Jansen’s election is a personal victory: a job in the White House, proof to her Republican father that she was right to support Jansen, and the rise of an intelligent, clear-headed leader with her same ideals. But the triumph is short-lived: Jansen’s pregnant wife is assassinated on election night, and the alleged mastermind behind the shooting is none other than Doggie’s own father.

When Jansen ascends to the White House, he is a changed man, determined to end gun violence by any means necessary. Rights are taken away as quickly as weapons. International travel becomes impossible. Checkpoints and roadblocks destroy infrastructure. The media is censored. Militias declare civil war on the government. The country is in chaos, and Jansen’s former friends each find themselves fighting a very different battle, for themselves, their rights, their country . . . and, in Doggie’s case, the life of her father, who just may be innocent.

Review –

“The creator of Denmark’s Department Q, that unforgettable squad of misfit detectives, jumps the pond in this ambitious, paranoid fantasy of how quickly things can go wrong in the hands of an American president who’s determined to take a strong stand against threats of violence.

Sixteen years after Virginia governor Bruce Jansen’s first wife, Caroll, was stabbed to death during a very public moment on a visit to China, his successful run for the presidency comes to the worst possible climax when his second wife, Mimi Todd Jansen, is gunned down, perhaps in his stead, on election night. Deeply shaken by the first death, Jansen is so traumatized by the second that observers wonder whether he’ll take the oath of office or resign in favor of Vice President-elect Michael K. Lerner. As it turns out, Jansen not only assumes, but transforms the office, using agencies and executive orders already in place to step up surveillance on his fellow citizens, unplug the internet, defang or shutter critical journalistic outlets, and ban first ammunition, then guns from private ownership. Members of paramilitary militias like Moonie Quale predictably go ballistic, but members of Jansen’s cabinet, many of them touched by personal violence against their loved ones, overwhelmingly support him. So far the scenario recalls that of It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis’ classic 1935 novel of homegrown American fascism. Adler-Olsen’s complication is his decision to focus not on a single American oppressed and powerfully radicalized by the new regime but by an oddly assorted group—journalist John Bugatti, presidential press secretary Wesley Barefoot, Sheriff T. Perkins, and staff attorney Dorothy “Doggie” Rogers, whose father is convicted of arranging Mimi Todd Jansen’s murder—who were all present on that fateful day in Beijing.

Despite a disturbing and all-too-plausible concept duly supported by an appendix listing real-life executive orders ripe for tyrannical misuse, this nightmare gradually turns into a standard-issue lots-of-good-guys-versus-even-more-bad-guys scenario populated by characters you’ll hardly miss when they’re killed, as so many of them are.” Kirkus Review 

I highly recommend this book, it’s scary to think this could happen in our not-so-distant future.

Final Scream by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2005

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

It’s the sound every killer waits for . . .

WHEN THERE’S NO ESCAPE FROM A COLD-BLOODED KILLER . . .
As white-hot flames sear the dark night, a killer waits in the trees, watching the mill burn, listening for the screams–the only proof that justice has finally begun for the sins of long-ago.

SCREAM . . . SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU CAN . . .
For journalist Cassidy Buchanan, this inferno is a living nightmare: a reminder of the horrible, mysterious fire that destroyed her wealthy family seventeen years ago–and of Brig McKenzie, the handsome hellraiser accused of setting the blaze. That tragic crime has never been solved, and already the whispers have begun in Prosperity, Oregon: Another fire, more deaths, and one common denominator–Cassidy herself.

OR IT MAY BE THE LAST SOUND YOU EVER MAKE . . .
Cassidy came home to Prosperity to put the past behind her, but it seems the past isn’t finished with Cassidy. Someone doesn’t want her to uncover the chilling truth…someone who has killed before and will kill again…a cold-blooded psychopath who is only waiting to hear her final scream . . .

Review –

This haunting story begins with an inferno that sears the night, snuffing out lives and dreams, and leaves a killer go unpunished for the next seventeen years until they once again feel threatened and slash out at the innocent victims of Prosperity, Oregon.

The tale revolves around journalist, Cassidy Buchanan, who at sixteen suffered the loss of her older half-sister, Angie Buchanan and her unborn child. With no leads as to who was responsible for the arson fire that took her life and that of Jed Baker, the case was closed but now, seventeen years later, the arsonist strikes again injuring both Cassidy’s husband, Chase McKenzie, and a John Doe. With Cassidy being the only link between the original fire and a new one that takes the life of another victim towns folk could have been responsible for the fires or if she had also been an intended victim that had been lucky enough to escape with her life. Meanwhile Cassidy’s teenage crush, Brig McKenzie, who had been a suspect in the arson returns vowing to keep the woman he never stopped loving safe while readers can’t wait to learn if the killer gets his/her wish, to hear Cassidy’s FINAL SCREAM before dying.

The author is a master of suspense and manages to create characters that are both full and rich while fully exploring all the emotions that an extremely dysfunctional family could experience. The only surprise I found was that much of the book spent time exploring past events while covering the current events in much less detail. This was particularly evident in Brig and Cassidy’s relationship since it never focused on an adult love relationship but rather tried to get the reader to assume that their young love was enough to bring the adult one into fruition. Fortunately, the mystery was great and the villain was presented in such a manner that they were neither too obvious nor too obscure making it a quite enjoyable read.

Fantastic read.