The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: February 3, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder. Fans of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train will love this modern reimagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Trainfrom the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart—which the Washington Post said “should be a contender for crime fiction’s best first novel of 2014.”

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

Review –

“A chance airport meeting between strangers sets in motion a Strangers on a Train–inspired murder plot. 

During a delay at Heathrow, wealthy Boston businessman Ted Severson shares drinks with fellow American Lily Kintner, an archivist at a small Massachusetts college. One thing leads to another, but instead of sleeping together, the two confess their deepest secrets: Ted wants to kill his two-timing wife, Miranda, and Lily wants to help him. In case the Patricia Highsmith connection isn’t blatant enough, Swanson (The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, 2014) shows Lily reading The Two Faces of January—“not one of her best”—in the airport. While the title implies that Ted’s (and Lily’s) enemies are the kind worth killing, the reader almost immediately decides it’s the cold, heartless protagonists who should ultimately get the ax. Miranda is indeed cheating on Ted with Brad Daggett, the handsome and dim contractor who’s building the couple’s extravagant Maine vacation home, yet it’s hard to feel sorry for a man who tells a complete stranger that he fantasizes about killing his spouse, let alone a woman who openly encourages such behavior. Lily’s past is slowly, predictably revealed, and we discover her penchant for violence, but instead of making her character more complex, it merely becomes another layer of frustration.

While there are twists, most of them are so clearly telegraphed that only the most careless of readers won’t see what’s coming, especially since Swanson needlessly doubles back over the same events from different points of view. Kirkus Review

I really enjoyed this one and even though I thought I knew all there as to know about the characters, the author throws a curve ball for a great ending.  Fantastic read!

 

 

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All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: April 3, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “otherworldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

Review –

The crux of this story is this: a woman begins an affair with her stepson. As the story progresses, readers discover she was involved in a similar affair as a young person, too, and are drawn into this repulsive web of taboo relationships. These relationships are not technically illegal, but they’re most certainly uncomfortable and taboo – and the power dynamics between adult and young person presented within them adds a whole other layer of wrong for readers to unpack. The cycle of manipulation and grooming portrayed here was the author’s way of showing how abuse can beget abuse. And that idea – the idea of examining a cycle of abuse – is not in and of itself a bad thing. When portrayed through the lens of commentary on a terrible and very prevalent occurrence, this kind of examination could indeed be quite effective in sparking an important conversation among readers. But it almost takes over the book, in my opinion .

The story is told from a number of perspectives, with the timeline jumping between present and past as pieces of the backstory gradually begin fitting into place. It’s a narrative path well trodden by the modern-day crime writer – here it can serve to confuse and I defy you to reach the end without having to backtrack a little.

While All the Beautiful Lies never quite hits the heady heights of The Kind Worth Killing, it’s still a great read. You may well work out the killer ahead of time, but I’m guessing the clever final twist will come as a big surprise.

Fantastic read!

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

Review –

“The clinical term for what ails journalist Rachel Childs is “agoraphobia.” Even if the term didn’t appear twice in the novel, it’d be easy enough for the reader to identify—and identify with—her pain thanks to Lehane’s delicate, incisive rendering of her various symptoms. They include panic, rage, depression, and, most of all, self-loathing. (“That’s who I’ve become,” she thinks to herself. “A creature below contempt.”) The reasons behind Rachel’s breakdown are likewise cataloged in short, vivid strokes: a childhood spent mostly with her brittle, brilliant mother who refused to tell her anything at all about her father, leading to a yearslong search for that father culminating in desolation and heartbreak. The coup de grâce to Rebecca’s self-esteem comes when her meteoric rise to prominence as a Boston TV reporter literally crashes from her on-camera nervous collapse while covering the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Through all these jolts and traumas, one person is always around, whether close or from a distance: Brian Delacroix, a witty, handsome Canadian-born businessman whom she first meets as a private investigator, later through his occasional “keep-your-chin-up” e-mails, and then, after she’s all but locked herself away in her apartment, outside a South End bar. Brian gradually becomes the only one who can even begin to draw Rachel out of her deep blue funk, first as a confidant, then as a lover, and finally as her husband. Happily ever after? You know there’s no such thing in a Lehane novel if you’ve dived into such rueful, knotty narratives as Mystic River (2001), Shutter Island (2003), and World Gone By(2015). It spoils nothing to disclose that Brian isn’t quite who Rachel thinks he is. But as she discovers when she tentatively, gradually subdues her demons to seek the truth, Rachel isn’t quite who she thinks she is either.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read!

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Book Description:

Published: December 7, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

Review –

It’s interesting (and amazing) when an author explores writing something that is completely different from what we are used to seeing from them.  And it also helps that I love reading thrillers as well.  Keep in mind if you are here for the romance, although there is one in this book, it’s definitely darker and grittier and I don’t think it’s really intended to be “romantic”.

There’s a deep, dark secret that Verity Crawford has been hiding.  She’s been in a serious accident and her publisher hired author Lowen Ashleigh to finish writing the three books left in Verity’s hugely popular series.  But when Lowen moves into the Crawford home to go through series notes she discovers some sinister secrets about Verity and her family life.  And she can’t help but feel an undeniable attraction to Verity’s husband, Jeremy.

The great thing about this is that the whole book seemed pretty straight forward.  I mean, awful in some parts, but straight forward.  It had some creepy, nail biting moments but I didn’t feel the need to solve the mystery at any point.  I thought I had it figured out.  I should’ve known better and kept my mind engaged in gathering clues if there were any. I have to give the author credit for making me so wrapped up in the story that first off, I didn’t want to stop listening and second, I just experienced it as it came. The shocker will come at the very end of the story and yes, I didn’t see it coming, (love when that happens)  Also, I think that’s the morally grey point of the book.  Where you question the characters actions and think back on the what’s right and what’s wrong.  There is an HEA but it may feel like a questionable one for people that fall on one side of that moral spectrum than others.

Nevertheless, Verity was a thrilling and exciting ride.  It’s dark and horrific at times but I couldn’t not continue listening.  I really hope that Ms. Hoover writes more in this genre because I’m definitely here for that side of her.

Five HUGE stars!

Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake #3) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

She can’t ignore a cry for help. But in this remote hunting town, it’s open season.

Review –

Wolfhunter River is Rachel Caine’s third book in her Stillhouse Lake series (after Stillhouse Lake and Killman .

Gwen Proctor is an amazing character—flawed, brave, vulnerable, fierce, and utterly protective of her children. I found the first two books in this series absolutely spectacular, tautly plotted and full of action and suspense, and they provided a disturbing view into the heart of evil and how it can spread.

I found that this book took a little longer to build up steam, and once it did, there was so much going on and so many things were tangled together that the plot even got a little muddled. It felt like in trying to build on the intensity of the first two books, the author thought she had to triple the suspense. Fortunately, there is still a lot of character development, and we learn more about Sam’s life before he and Gwen met.

This book might be more of a standalone than the first two books were, but I’d still recommend you start reading the series from the beginning. Caine sure does love to keep you guessing about how the plot will unfold! I’m not sure if she intends to keep writing about Gwen, but I hope she does, because she’s definitely full of possibilities.

If you’re a fan of creepy, well-written, suspenseful thrillers, I’d encourage you to pick up this series, starting with Stillhouse Lake. You may find yourself wondering just how you’d react if faced with the same situations Gwen was, and whether you’d be a total badass like she is.

 

The Dark Water Bride by Marty Ross

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Late Victorian London. When the most respectable of Scottish businessmen is pulled, dead, from the Thames, his daughter is drawn into an investigation which reveals a whole world of secrets and corruption and leads all the way to the tragic truth behind the ghostly legend of The Dark Water Bride.

An epic drama combining the genres of the Victorian mystery thriller with the equally classic Victorian mode of the ghostly tale.

Review –

OMG! This a mesmerizing , gory, dark little tale and I was completely absorbed listening to it.

I love a bit of mystery, gothic horror, and bloodthirsty murder and The Dark Water Bride combines all three delightfully. The business man’s daughter is a great character, feisty, determined, headstrong and not your typical simpering Victorian woman. I loved her determination to know the truth regardless of the cost.

The story starts out with a business man found dead in the river Thames. His daughter is told it was a suicide but she couldn’t believe it so travels to London to find out what happened to her father. Some uncomfortable truths and a local legend are revealed as the plot unfolds.

The story is very creepy, exploring the underbelly of London and it’s a dark dirty underbelly at that. This isn’t something for someone who is sensitive to sex and violence, there is quite a lot of both in it. In fact, most of the criticism I’ve seen about Darkwater Bride is the amount of sex and violence. I find it strange that this is the primary complaint about a story that explores the seedy, dark sides of the world.

There is certainly plenty of violence and sex but there’s also a good amount of intrigue, fright and suspense. Even a bit of rommance! This may disturb you, may upset you and might frighten you. But isn’t that what good horror is all about?

Overall the performances were all very good and convincing. The legend of the Darkwater Bride is fully explained , so no worries you won’t be left hanging.

The true story of the ghostly bride was heartbreaking.

If you have an Audible subscription and love creepy stuff, download this one and start listening, you’ll love it. Consider signing up for a free trial, would be worth it just to listen to this one!

Five stars !!!!!

 

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master at brilliantly complicated plots and twists after twists.

Review –

Usually when a debut author writes a second book I don’t really expect it to be as good as the first, BUT, Alice Feeney has written a second book that, in my opinion, out shines the previous Sometimes I Lie.

Holy H*ll !!! Just finished I Know Who You Are and my head is spinning.

Aimee,(the unreliable narrator) an actress whose husband has disappeared after an argument. The police notice she’s not very upset about it. Is she being gaslighted? Does she drink too much? Is she a killer? Yes, to all three.

Aimee is a wounded and insecure soul, born Ciara to a poor family in Ireland. Her mother died in childbirth, and both Ciara and her alcoholic father blame her for killing her mother.

Five-year-old Ciara runs away and is kidnapped by a manipulative numbers-runner named Maggie, who renames her Aimee, after another child who died in unclear circumstances (unsolved mysteries abound in this book). Maggie proceeds to treat Ciara/Aimee with such depraved cruelty that she makes Cinderella’s stepmother look like Mother Teresa.

Two episodes, in particular, stand out: One involves a McDonald’s Happy Meal that will make the treat hard to choke down on your next trip to the drive-through, and another involves a pet hamster and a deep fryer. Need I say MORE?

Aimee survives life with Maggie and John, her predatory partner in crime, until a robbery attempt ends in a bloodbath. Fast forward twenty years, and Aimee is a rising actress, able to shape-shift her way through various roles – an opportunity for the author to weigh in on the familiar symbolism of the masks we wear each day.

The ending isn’t a just twist, it’s a triple axel and depending on how seriously you take things you will be appalled by the “yucky” or “eewww” factor. Myself, I read for my pleasure and enjoyment and I always enjoy a well written book, no matter the subject matter or ending.

Be aware that there may be triggers for some because included in the book child abuse, marital rape and incest.

I gave the book 4 3/4 stars because there were too many questions left unanswered and I won’t spoil the book by saying what they were.

 

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Book Description:

Published: April 7, 2009

Format: Audio/Audible

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much-loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairy tales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Review –

If I had to pick just one thing that Kate  Morton does extremely well with her writing it would be how she brings the settings featured throughout the story to life. One can feel the warm, thick air in Australia, hear the busy, bustling streets of London, and see the magic that surrounds Cornwall, England. I have never laid my eyes on any of these locations, but I could picture them all so vividly with the way that Morton breathes life into her words.

Overall, The Forgotten Garden is a magical novel; it was as delightful as it was suspenseful. I truly did not want to put this book down because the author is so careful to feed her readers little spoonfuls of information—enough so as to keep one partially satisfied but still craving more. I just thoroughly enjoyed watching the many beautifully executed components of this book unfold. This is a must-read specifically for those who are a fan of the historical fiction genre. 

I rated this book Five Stars and it shines brightly as one of my favorites of the year so far!

The Scarred Woman (Department Q #7) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 19, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.

In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved homicide investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young women are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.

Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors’ expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past—a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed. It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose’s childhood before it is too late.

Review –

“Whoever struck the blow that killed Rigmor Zimmermann and took 10,000 kroner from her handbag seemed to be copying the murder of substitute teacher Stephanie Gundersen more than 10 years ago, with one important difference: Gundersen’s killer didn’t go the extra mile in humiliation by pissing on her corpse. Carl Mørck, who heads Department Q, seizes the possible connection as avidly as a spaniel on a scent because solving another cold case would be the perfect way to keep Copenhagen’s tightfisted budgeters from shutting his unit down. Unfortunately, Carl’s boss, Lars Bjørn, has his own idea of the perfect way: allow meddlesome TV crime documentarian Olaf Borg-Pedersen unobstructed access to Department Q’s inner workings as they plod from one crime scene to the next. Meanwhile, social worker Anne-Line Svendsen, reprieved from the death sentence she feared her cancer diagnosis spelled, has decided to go ahead anyway with her plan to execute some of the prostitutes she counts among her most worthless clients: Michelle Hansen, Jazmine Jørgensen, Birna Sigurdardottir, Senta Berger, and Denise Zimmermann—some of whom turn out to be quite as homicidally inclined as she is, and one of whom will have a crucial connection to Carl’s cold case. The only thing needed to bring the whole mixture to a full boil is the mental breakdown of sorely tried Department Q staffer Rose Knudsen, whose suicide attempt ends up plunging her into the heart of this banquet of mostly female felonies.

Instead of focusing on a single high-concept case, Adler-Olsen lays out several florid plotlines and sets his crime-solvers the daunting task of gathering all the threads together. It’s such a varied smorgasbord that even readers who’d prefer to skip a given dish will find plenty to sate their appetites.” Kirkus Reviews

I normally love this series, but this one was too convoluted to hold my interest. It kept going back and forth from storyline to storyline, and even though eventually the reader (Me) could connect the dots, it was too laborious .

I’m not finding a #8 in this series so I don’t know if the author was too exhausted after completing  this one to even think of continuing the series. Fingers crossed that he’ll come back even stronger with new ideas and problems worthy of solving by Department Q!

 

 

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

Review –

Five stars!

Wow, I didn’t know what to expect of this short listen (only two hours and eighteen minutes long) but it was fantastic. I loved the premise and more so the character of Tony, the Dispatcher. I wish the author would have made a series of this book, but alas, it is not.

If you enjoy sci-fi with a mystery story line thrown in, this is the book for you.