Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

Book Description:

Published: February 11,2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

Review –

In two words, this book was SUPER CREEPY!!!!

Jack has a horribly violent past and he lives to satisfy his predilection , which is to psychologically terrorize and break women and sometimes physically hurt them.

Grace is mature beyond her years and the sole guardian of the sister, Millie, who has Down’s Syndrome. They meet Jack in the park and he ingratiates himself into their lives. To Grace he is the perfect man and she agrees to marry him. Millie is to be her bridesmaid, but on the way to wedding site Jack pushes Millie down a flight of stairs, unbeknownst to Grace. The wedding proceeds and they fly to Thailand for the honeymoon. Jack hasn’t been very sexually attentive in their relationship but Grace has chalked this up to his busy lawyer status . Jack has NEVER lost a case, the irony being that he defends battered women.

Jack disappears on their wedding night and when he does reappear he explains to Grace exactly what her life will be like. She will have no phone, no passport, no money and she will do as he says or else Millie will suffer. He locks her out on the terrace for hours at a time while he goes off and feeds her only when he feels like it.

Arriving at their new home Grace sees that it is everything they had discussed prior to the wedding but try to escape and each time a privilege is taken away until finally she is kept in black pajamas  in a small plain room with bars on the one small window. She can have no books or newspapers, no television, no writing implements , nothing to offer distraction and stimulation. 

When Millie turns eighteen the plan is for her to come live with them so Grace has to get free before that happens.

THAT is all I’m going to tell you, except to say that this book is told from Grace’s POV in Past and Present modes.

Does she get free from the clutches of her crazy, murderous psycho of a husband?  You will have to read or listen to this book for yourself. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and flipping pages or listening from beginning to end inn one sitting. (I almost did.)

Fantastic debut novel. Can’t wait to see what this author brings us next.

Five stars *****

 

Home (Myron Bolitar #11) by Harlan Coben

Book Description:

Published: September 20, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Ten years after the high-profile kidnapping of two young boys, only one returns home.

A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend?

Harlan Coben delivers a thriller about friendship, family, and the meaning of home.

Review –

There is something very special about reuniting with a cast of characters you haven’t read about for some time. Myron Bolitar and Windsor Horne Lockwood III, (Win) are two of my favourite characters in all of fiction,(next to Harry Bosch) and we haven’t seen them (besides brief appearances in Coben’s YA Mickey Bolitar trilogy) since 2011’s Live Wire. That is a very long time to wait.

Home brings these characters back, alongside the classic cast: Esperanza; Big Cyndi, Myron’s parents. Heck, even the kids wh0 starred in Coben’s YA series play a vital role in proceedings, and it’s great to be reunited with Mickey, Ema and Spoon. Their presence adds a cool continuity to things. So, sure; this book is for the fans. The readers, like me, who clamour each and every year for a new Myron novel. But there’s plenty here for “non-Myron” fans to enjoy. If indeed there even are such people out there.

There’s a big mystery here, and there are surprising twists (unleashed rather late in proceedings, admittedly, but no less effectively than in other novels) but it’s the emotion of the characters that really lifts Home above the rank and file. The heart and soul of this novel are the twin families coping with the loss of a child, and the extremes parents go to in order to protect them.

Ultimately, it’s just great to be back with Myron and the gang. The novel’s ending is possibly conclusive – – with a real lump-in-the-throat moment –(with 28 minutes left tears formed in my eyes and at 19 minutes left they started to fall) – so who knows when we’ll see these characters again? In many respects, I wish I’d taken my time with the novel and truly savoured it. Instead, I smashed through it in almost one sitting. That’s the true evidence of Coben’s class: his books are so gripping, you can’t put them down or turn them off.

Five stars *****

 

The Last Mile (Amos Decker #2) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: April 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution–for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier–when he’s granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.

Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars’s case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men’s families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.

The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars–guilty or not–a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now?

But when a member of Decker’s team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger–and more sinister–than just one convicted criminal’s life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed.

Review –

Decker is unlike any of Baldacci’s other characters, made unique by an extremely rare neurological condition called hyperthymesia–the result of a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit on the football field, which makes it impossible for Amos to forget anything.

While the idea of being able to vividly remember everything sounds awesome at first, in Decker’s case it’s also a curse.

Nearly twenty years after his NFL career ended, Decker, now a police detective, returned home to find his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law brutally murdered. Unable to forget even the smallest of details from that night, he’s haunted and tortured by the loss of his family every single day. Those events take place in Baldacci’s previous novel, Memory Man, which came out last year–but also play a role in this year’s The Last Mile.

Because of the similarities  in their lives, Amos convinces the FBI team to take on Marvin’s case and the investigation seems straightforward enough until one of the team members turns up missing as a result of their poking around. Soon things begin to unravel as Decker races to answer a series of questions, including who might want to help free Melvin Mars, and why. 

The action is fast and furious but it is so much more than a good action thriller. It sheds light on racism, a father-son relationship and capital punishment.

Both Mars and Decker are substantive, solid characters. Although their football dreams were shattered in their youth by their respective tragedies, they hold their heads high and forge ahead.

I loved it and can’t wait for the next installment, The Fix, due to be released April 18th and I hope in future books the author reunites Amos and Melvin. They became friends in this book and it would be a shame not to team them up again!

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

Book Description:

Published: July 5, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She sets a trap. But is he really a killer?

The famous bestselling author Linda Conrads  is a mystery to her fans and the media. For eleven years she did not leave her villa on Lake Štarnberškom. Despite the problems, Linda was very successful, but no one knows her remoteness has been brought about by a traumatizing memory. Years before  Linda found her younger sister, Anna,  in a pool of blood – and saw her killer  flee.  The killer’s face haunts her dreams. One day she experiences an incredible shock when seeing the killer’s face on television. He is a prominent journalist . For Linda, it’s reason enough to forge a dangerous and devious  plan – to lure the killer into a trap.

But what really happened the night of the crime?

Review –

This was my first read/listen by this author and I enjoyed it very much.

Everyone thought Anna was perfect and ignored plain Linda and one day Linda finds her sister dead in a pool of blood. She had been stabbed seven times. She saw the killer. Looked him right in the face before he fled through the terrace doors. The police took her statement but were skeptical . There was no forced entry and nothing was disturbed.

Now plagued by panic attacks, Linda copes with debilitating anxiety by secluding herself in her house, her last safe haven. But the sanctity of this refuge is shattered when her sister’s murderer appears again–this time on her television screen. Empowered with sudden knowledge but hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use her only means of communication with the outside world–the plot of her next novel–to lay an irresistible trap for the man.

But as the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda’s memories of that traumatic night–and her very sanity–are called into question. Is this man really a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?

I won’t give the ending away but there are many twists and turns and even a hidden love story .

The author is German and the book was a  translation and while I’ve seen reviewers that did not like it at all, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

 

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Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder #1) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 23, 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a serial killer strikes bucolic Painters Mill, Ohio, the killer’s signature -—Roman numerals ritualistically carved into each victim’s abdomen- —matches the MO of four unsolved murders from 16 years earlier. Police chief Kate Burkholder, who’s reluctant to dredge up the past, must keep secret that she knows why the old murders stopped. Not satisfied with the case’s progress, local politicos set up a multijurisdictional task force to assist, including a law-enforcement agent battling his own demons. The added scrutiny and the rising body count threaten to push the chief over the edge. Adept at creating characters with depth and nuance, Castillo smoothly integrates their backstories into a well-paced plot that illuminates the divide between the Amish and English worlds.

Review –

Since I enjoyed number eight, Among the Wicked, in this series – I decided to go back and start from the beginning and I’m so glad I did.

In this first book in the series we learn more background on Kate’s reason for leaving the Amish life and her estrangement from her siblings. We also meet her love interest-to-be, John Tomasetti for the first time and learn more of his back story. Both were tormented with a serious past yet they were drawn together during the hunt for the serial killer. 

We also learn the lengths to which people will go to cover up ugly things in their lives and the affect in has on all around them.

I enjoyed this book more than number eight so I will continue with the series.

A great read.

 

Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 12,2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff’s department in rural, upstate New York to assist on a developing situation that involves a reclusive Amish settlement and the death of a young girl. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and “English” communities, the sheriff asks Kate to travel to New York, pose as an Amish woman, and infiltrate the community.

Kate’s long time love interest, State Agent John Tomasetti, is dead set against her taking on such an unorthodox assignment, knowing she’ll have limited communication – and even less in the way of backup. But Kate can’t turn her back, especially when the rumor mill boils with disturbing accounts of children in danger. She travels to New York where she’s briefed and assumes her new identity as a lone widow seeking a new life.

Kate infiltrates the community and goes deep under cover. In the coming days, she unearths a world built on secrets, a series of shocking crimes, and herself, alone… trapped in a fight for her life.

Review –

This is another new author for me and although this book was number eight in the series; it works well as a stand-alone.

Since I haven’t read or listened to any of the earlier books I’m not sure what tragic event happened in Kate’s life while she was a young Amish girl, but I can guess. Her past has caused her to become the strong woman she is and few books feature strong women a main characters.

The plot was weak in places and dragged a bit here and there but on the whole I enjoyed it and plan to find others in the series.

The Ice Princess (Patrik Hedstrom #1) by Camilla Lackberg

Book Description:

Published: June 15, 2010

Format: Audio/Audible

Returning to her hometown of Fjallbacka after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life.

Erica conceives a book about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their own shared past. While her interest grows into an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about a small town with a deeply disturbing past.

Review –

This is the second book from this author that I have listened to and I loved it. The first one was The Stonecutter, and I listened to it over a year ago and it was number three in the series. This was number one and we meet up with the main characters of Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck. He is a police detective and she is a writer and most of the action takes place in the small fishing village of Fjallbacka, Sweden.

Erica’s childhood friend, Alex, is found murdered in a bathtub with both wrists slit. Alex and her family moved away when she was around ten and she was never the same outgoing little girl. Soon after Alex’s murder, a  close friend of hers is found hanging in his home. Can these two murders connected?

There are many twists and turns in this foreign crime fiction  and we learn about the horrible things done to Alex as a child by someone who should have been a protector and why she and Anders were close.

The murderer is someone I never expected, which always makes a  book even better.

Right along with the murder investigation we see the chemistry between Patrik and Erica evolve into more. Although they knew each other in school, over twenty years ago, Erica had no idea the depth of feelings that brewed between them.

Great read and a great who-dun-it.  Looking forward to finding more in the series.

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Death of a Macho Man (Hamish MacBeth #12) by M.C. Beaton

Book Description:

Published: 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Randy Duggan is the macho man of the title of this work of fiction. He claims to be a professional wrestler and he becomes known in the small village of Lochdubh for his tall stories. When Randy is found murdered, Constable Hamish Macbeth hopes that the killer is not one of the villagers. However, there is enough local resentment against Randy, that someone in quiet, peaceful Lochdubh may have been driven to slaying this macho man.

 

Review –

This is the twelfth book in a series of cozy mysteries featuring lovable Highlander, Hamish Macbeth, the constable for the sleepy village of Lochdubh in northern Scotland. In this book, village life takes center stage and the village characters beguile the reader, giving the book that cozy feel. Moreover, readers will enjoy the dynamics between Hamish and is ex-fiancée, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, as they try to achieve a détente and resolve their relationship. The book is laced with sly humor throughout that is engaging, keeping the mood of the book light and highly enjoyable.

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Cell 8 (Grens & Sundkvist #3) by Anders Rosalind and Borge Hellstrom

Book Description :

Published: January 3, 2012

Format: Audio

Detective Superintendent Ewert Grens of THREE SECONDS returns in a riveting mystery that centers on perhaps the most controversial subject in the modern criminal justice system: the death penalty.
In Ohio, seventeen-year-old John Meyer Frey rots on Death Row for the brutal murder of his girlfriend. The victim’s father hungers for revenge, while a prison guard is torn by compassion for the young man. When Frey unexpectedly dies of heart disease before he either receives his just punishment or achieves redemption, the wheels of justice grind to a halt.

Six years later, on a ferry between Finland and Sweden, a singer named John Schwarz viciously attacks a drunken lout harassing a woman, leaving the man in a coma. The Stockholm police arrest Schwarz for aggravated assault, but when Grens learns that the assailant has been living in Sweden under a false identity, he begins to suspect that something darker and more complex underlies the incident. Following his intuition, Grens launches an investigation that spans from Sweden to the United States and reveals a startling connection between the Frey and Schwarz cases.

Featuring a multilayered plot with a killer twist, CELL 8 takes readers on a gripping, page-turning journey that explores the devastating repercussions of the death penalty as well as the fallout from the conflicting desires for public justice and private retribution.

Review –

This was a first time listen to this author’s work and I loved it. I will definitely  be trying to find the others in the series.

This is a heart-wrenching story of a man named John who was seventeen when he was convicted of murdering his sixteen year old girlfriend although he claims he didn’t do it.  Several years go by and now  he sits waiting for his day to be executed.

One of the main prison guards feels compassion for the young man and believes in his innocence and so with several others they fake the man’s death (really cool the way they did it) and send him on his way to Sweden with a fake identify. There he lives peacefully, marrying and having a son, until one night on his job he kicks a man in the face and almost kills him. He is arrested and little by little they find out that he is none other than a convict from Ohio who everyone thought was dead. 

This is where things become political and finally he is extradited to the United States and put to death. THEN there is a GIANT surprise twist and we find out the identity of the real killer and what was put into motion all those years ago come to fruition. 

Fantastic book.

Five stars *****

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The Night Stalker (DCI Erika Foster #2) by Robert Bryndza

Book Description:

Published: June 2, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.

A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.

The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?

As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.

Review –

This is only the second book in the DCI Erika Foster series and I’m totally hooked.

I just love DCI Erika Foster…she’s abrasive, yet extremely loyal, willing to go as far as necessary to solve a case. Her and her team will do whatever it takes to get the bad guys and that is clearly evident in this book. Erika is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  She may not always see eye-to-eye with her bosses and her co-workers – those that are equal to her – but those that work for her know her dedication to the job and are usually willing to go to bat for her.

The one thing that does make my blood boil in this book (and in the first one as well) is that the upper ranks of the police department are made to look totally incompetent and just plain stupid. It’s like without Erika no crime would get solved. And once she does bring in the killer, she is not even given a pat on the back and her promotion is given to someone less talented. You would think after a while that they would come to expect the unexpected from her. I guess I’ll have to wait for other books in the series to see if they wise up.

I found myself completely invested in this story right from the beginning because it’s another fast-paced, shocking thriller and even though this one takes place in the sweltering heat of the summer, it’s still has that chilling factor to it that all good mysteries do. 

Excellent read/listen.

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