Tonight You’re Dead (Sandhamn Murders #4) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: November 14, 2017

Format: Audio

Soon to be divorced, attorney Nora Linde is finding her way as a single mother, and even falling in love again, when she’s asked by her childhood friend Detective Thomas Andreasson to help in a disturbing investigation. Marcus Nielsen, a university student, has apparently committed suicide, but it’s what he’s left behind that’s so suspicious and damning: his research into the Coastal Rangers, an elite military group where, in 1976, a young cadet died under questionable circumstances, a sadistic sergeant went free, and a case went cold.

When two of Nielsen’s contacts are also found dead—and diaries of their tortuous training turn up missing—Thomas and Nora are certain that whatever happened three decades ago is unforgivable. And for someone who wants to keep those secrets buried—unforgettable. Now they must fight against time to expose a cover-up that hasn’t yet claimed its last victim.

Review –

I have found another foreign crime fiction series that I really like and again I’m reading the books out of order. The reason is that when I find one available I latch on to it and read or listen to it. I like to have the physical audio book and now they are hard to find so I have to rely on library apps like OverDrive and Libby and audio book apps like Audible.

Tonight You’re Dead is the fourth in the  Sandhamn Murders series of books – a place I love the sound of (multiple murders aside).  It sounds beautiful, set on the coast of Sweden and home to a mix of fascinating characters – not least of which (and central to all the books) is Nora, a single mom to two boys and best friend of Thomas, a local detective (and another central character in the books).

I can tell from the back story that Nora and Thomas have worked together on the solving of the crimes in the previous three books (even though she works for a bank). In this one Nora is hardly mentioned and Thomas works with a another police person, Margit.

The case itself was simple but cleverly conceived.  It starts with a young student found hanged, an apparent suicide.  Thomas is convinced by the young man’s mother to look into it further and, when he does, he finds a connection to another group of young men, Coastal Rangers who trained to be part of an elite fighting unit in the 1970s but are now also turning up dead, again looking like they have taken their own lives.

As Thomas and Margit try to find the connections, time seems to be running out for the men left alive.  It leads to a tense ending, one I didn’t see coming – which is always a plus.

I highly recommend this series.

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The Reunion by Samatha Hayes

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

They were all there the day your sister went missing…Who is lying? Who is next?

Then–In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom. Eleanor never came back.

Now–The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

Review –

Have you noticed that there seems to be an abundance of children going missing crime/psychological thrillers on the market at the moment, and wasn’t convinced that author would be able to put an original spin on a well used subject, but somehow she does.

The book begins with the disappearance of teenager Eleanor, while spending the day at the beach with her brother, sister and their friends. Fast forward twenty one years and her family are still no closer to knowing what happened to her all those years ago. Dad, Patrick is now suffering from Alzheimers, and daughter Claire decides that a reunion of friends and family could help her dad with his memory issues. As the group of friends are reunited they find themselves plunged into a further nightmare as shocking secrets are slowly revealed.

If I’m honest I thought the first half of the book was very slow, the time is spent introducing an array of characters and building on the mystery and suspense surrounding Eleanor’s disappearance. None of the characters were extremely likable, but that said it did not stop me enjoying this book. The author manages to ramp up the tension by creating characters that are almost impossible to trust.

The Reunion has some great twists and misleading clues to make this an intense and a heart pounding  read. If I had anything negative to say it would be that a few things were left unanswered by the time I reached the end, but never the less it still made for an intriguing read and I gave it five stars!

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 3, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

Review –

I absolutely loved this book!

Anyone who grew up watching horror movies in the 1980s knows that summer camp can be a dangerous place.

It certainly was for Emma Davis during her first stay at Camp Nightingale. The other three girls in her cabin disappeared one night, never to return. Fifteen years have passed, years in which Emma has revisited this ordeal again and again through her work as a painter. When she’s offered another opportunity to spend a summer at the camp, Emma barely hesitates. She’s ostensibly there to serve as an art instructor, but her real mission is to finally find out what happened to her friends.

Thrillers are, by their very nature, formulaic. The author met the demands of the genre while offering a fresh, anxiety-inducing story in Final Girls. The author is less successful here. Part of the problem is the pacing. It’s so slow that the reader has ample time to notice how contrived the novel’s setup is.

Emma is clearly unwell, so her decision to go back to the site of her trauma makes some sense, but it’s hard to believe that the camp’s owners would want her back, especially since she played a pivotal role in turning one of them into a suspect and nearly ruining his life. As a first-person narrator, Emma withholds a lot of information, which feels fake and frustrating; moreover, the revelations—when they come—are hardly worth the wait. And it’s hard to trust an author who gets so many details wrong. For example, Emma’s first summer at Camp Nightingale would have been around 2003 or so. It beggars belief that a 13-year-old millennial wouldn’t be amply prepared for her first period, but that’s what Sager wants readers to think. There’s a contemporary scene in which girls walk by in a cloud of baby powder, Noxzema, and strawberry-scented shampoo, imagery that is intensely evocative of the 1970s and ’80s—not so much 2018. The novel is shot through with such discordant moments, moments that lift us right out of the narrative and shatter the suspense.

But, with that being said, I loved the book and count Riley Sager as one of my new favorite writers.

Cath Me (Get. D.D. Warren #6) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: February 7, 2012

Format: Audio

Charlene Grant believes she is going to die. For the past few years, her childhood friends have been murdered one by one. Same day. Same time. Now she’s the last of her friends alive, and she’s counting down the final four days of her life until January 21.

Charlene doesn’t plan on going down without a fight. She has taken up boxing, shooting, and running. She also wants Boston’s top homicide detective, D. D. Warren, to handle the investigation.

But as D.D. delves deeper into the case, she starts to question the woman’s story. Instinct tells her that Charlene may not be in any danger at all. If that’s true, the woman must have a secret—one so terrifying that it alone could be the greatest threat of all.

Review –

Alternating between the third-person narration of D.D.’s investigation and Charlie’s feverish first-person narrative, and throwing in more subplots showing abused women fighting their abusers, the author brings the ingredients to a rolling boil until she’s finally cut Charlie off from her police defenders, disarmed her and backed her into a corner awaiting her killer.

Very suspenseful and “edge of your seat” reading or listening. Simply fantastic.

Five stars!!!

Shadow Over the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #2) by Joy Ellis

BookDescription:

Published: June 30, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

WHO CAN NIKKI TRUST WITH TWO BRUTAL KILLERS LOOSE ON THE FENS?

Someone terrible from DS Joseph Easter’s past is back . . .

DI Nikki Galena’s friend and neighbour meets a tragic end but there’s more to his death than meets the eye . . .

A man is found executed on a piece of wasteland in Greenborough town. The cold-blooded murder triggers terrible memories for DS Joseph Easter. Just when things seemed to be going well for DS Easter, he realises that the nightmare is coming back, threatening his career, his sanity, and maybe his life.

In a breath-taking conclusion even DI Galena begins to doubt him as he faces a race against time to save someone very close to him.

Set in the Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you’ve ever seen.

Review –

Joseph has decided to join the team and stay as DCI Nikki Galena’s sergeant and he is just getting over his injury from the first book. Now things are going horribly wrong for him as someone very bad from his past is back or is he? His competence is being questioned as nobody else has really seen the guy, but now people are being killed.

Nikki has come to trust Joseph and so she believes him when he says that it was Billy,(Joesph’s evil friend from the past) but that is not the only case they have her friend and neighbor Martin, looked to have committed suicide but she just can’t believe he would do that so she refuses to call it that and investigates.

Shadows Over the Fens was a very enjoyable and  interesting listen as things were not really looking good for Joseph, but yet you just know he can’t be doing anything bad. I thought I might know a bit how it was going to turn out and I was right on a few things but it still was a bit surprising. I am really enjoying getting to know DCI Nikki and DS Joseph! (still hoping something develops between these two)

 

 

 

 

Mercy by Debra Anastasia

Book Description:

Published: August 20, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

He taught me to kill. Murder is in my blood now. It runs through my veins and though I hide the monster I see in the mirror with ink, it doesn’t keep him from coming out.

My street name is Mercy, but I never show any. Except for her. I watch Becca, though she doesn’t know. She saved me a long time ago; the day my father killed my mother. Her bravery turned her into a target.

My father holds a grudge and knife with the same proficiency, and Becca is the focus of his hatred. And I’m the only monster who can save her.

Review –

If you were to go off the synopsis, you’d be thinking this was a particularly sinister, dark read – for us, it wasn’t. Yes, there were dark elements, especially in the last 20% of the book, however the story was essentially one of never ending love, acceptance, destiny, redemption and courage; interspersed with guffaw type humour, loads of emotion and some really sweet romance, all delivered with this authors fabulous ability for gripping and entertaining storytelling.

Mercy is the story of Fenix Churchkey and Rebecca Dixie Stiles. Two children who had a very brief interaction, yet it’s one that would stay with them and have a particularly lasting effect on the young Fenix (Nix). Becca and Nix were a destiny, a love story in the making – written in the stars if you like.

Becca stood up to Nix’s brute of a father when they were kids and that made her a target. Flash ahead fifteen years later and Nix is watching out for (really, stalking) Becca to make sure she’s safe. He never lets her see him. Nix always made a pact to never let Becca see him, to always protect her, thinking up ingenious ways to be a part of her life, to watch over her without actually being a part of it. Well, that was all about to change when Nix, at the coercion of his best friend Animal, seizes an opportunity for Becca to get to know the man beneath the menacing appearance, to know the man inside

The author didn’t rush the romance between Nix and Becca, instead treating us to a slow build, allowing us to get to know the characters before the feverishness of their feelings took hold, summoning our emotions through Nix’s past and his healing process. I loved this man(whole body skeleton tattoo and all)! Nix begs the question, what is normal and he shows us how we need to dig beneath the surface to find the jewel. Their love story was intense, exhilarating, sweet, honest and beautiful, if not a little chaotic and crazy.

The secondary characters were fabulous – in particular the relationship between Nix and his best mate Animal. This huge big brute of a man who spoke so sweetly and sometimes had the hilarious demeanour of a little old lady won us over. Animal soon became a crucial part of the story and holy cow  I cannot wait for his story and to learn who his love interest is, though I have some idea!

There is finally a HEA, but I’m not telling anything else other than to say that Becca may have gotten a tattoo, too.(Hmmm, let me see, I wonder what she choose?)

Great read.

Tyrant (King #2) by T.M. Frazier

Book Description:

Published: August 16, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

I. Remember. Everything.

Only now I wish I didn’t.

When the fog is sucked away from my mind like smoke through a vacuum, the truth that has been beyond my reach for months finally reveals itself.

But the relief I thought I would feel never comes, and I’m more afraid now than I was the morning I woke up handcuffed in King’s bed.

Because with the truth comes dark secrets I was never meant to know.

I will put the lives of those I love most at risk if I let on that my memory has returned, or if I seek help from the heavily tattooed felon who owns me body and soul.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough to resist the magnetic pull toward King that grows stronger every day.

He’s already saved me in more ways than one. Now it’s my turn to do whatever it takes to save him.

Even if that means marrying someone else…

Review –

Holy Cow! I didn’t think anything would top King, but I was seriously wrong. Tyrant was even better than the first book. T.M. Frazier has added so many twists and turns to Tyrant.

Tyrant picks up right where King left off. King has returned Pup AKA Ramie back to her family in exchange for his daughter, Max. Although he reasoning’s are just, for Pup it felt like a betrayal. Pup has no memory of her past she trusted and believed he loved her. Now she is back with “her family” and for her they are strangers, unknown and she feels out-of-place. Pup struggles to remember anything about her past, her home, her family and her finance Tanner. Although Pup has no memory of Sammy she knows for sure he is her son. When she looks at him she sees a piece of her in him and she feels deep in heart that he is her child. I felt for Pup she tries so hard to put the pieces of her vague life together while being a good mother for Sammy all constantly remembering King.

King is King, I love him even when I hated  his actions. I loved this character. Never once did King’s character change. He was still KING. He knows in time he would have gone after his Pup. He thought he was doing the right thing. There is danger from an incident that happened in the first book. One that is determined to make King pay. If we all know King, he never backs down. Come on he is the KING! King was going to go after Pup and remind her that she belongs to him and that he would be back. She is everything to him and he won’t let anyone keep him for her. We get to see a new side to King. A primal side in him, his alpha male ways are heightened even more since learning about Tanner. (Gag, Tanner)

Let me say things took a turn to the dark and crazy side after King gets to Pup. This was basically Pups story, in her trying to piece together her past. I was so involved when she had would remember something, that I was taking notes. MY heart broke for Pup because you can see her struggle to try to find where she fits in and it saddened me when she only needed King. As I mentioned King is still Badass so when he finally figures out what is going on, there is no stopping him. 

This book is super violent and the author leaves nothing to the imagination and there may be triggers for some readers.

Although this book ends King and Doe’s story it’s not an easy one to read or listen to. Be prepared.

Five stars.

 

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Book Description:

Published: February 2, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

What happens to us after we die? What happens before we are born? At once a riveting mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time will lead you to reevaluate everything you believe…

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious―mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Gorgeously written and fearlessly provocative, Sharon Guskin’s debut explores the lengths we will go for our children. It examines what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between.

Review –

The author  presents reincarnation against the backdrop of reality: a mother’s love and a mother’s grief. There is none of the fantasy world often found in novels based on reincarnation, so the premise seems more plausible—even to a skeptic.

What also separates The Forgetting Time from other novels based on a similar premise is that the author points out that according to case studies done by credible psychiatrists, a child troubled by the memories left over from another life begins to forget at around age six. This theme of forgetting underlies the plot. At some point one must let go of the past and live in the present.

The Forgetting Time is both a mystery and a philosophical novel, and lacks the flaws found in so many debut novels. There are no weak and unbelievable characters; the plot has no holes in its construction; and the portraits of love and grief offset one another in a balanced manner.

This book tells a sentimental story with a murder mystery at its core, and it’s interesting even if you don’t go for the premise.

 

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Book Description:

Published: June 12, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

Review –

Georgina was an upwardly mobile executive in a highly successful company when she is arrested for helping her teenage boyfriend dispose of the body of her best friend and fellow cheerleader, whom he had killed, fourteen years before.She made a plea deal and only got five years.

Prison is very hard for her and the author goes into detail about her experiences while incarcerated. She receives letters in blue envelopes over the years but after having read the first does not read the others. Of course, we are to think they are from the SweetBay Strangler, her ex-boyfriend, but are they really?

Once out, she goes to live with her father in her childhood home and try to start a new life but people in the neighborhood don’t want her there and vandalize her home and car with red spray paint, because they believe she helped to kill her friend. Her father is very supportive, as is Kaiser Brody, also a best friend from her high school years and now a police detective. He believes Geo, Georgina’s nickname, know where Calvin is and tries to get her to tell him every chance he gets. Fourteen years ago he had a crush on Geo and still loves her but believes it’s a lost cause.

The author  does not flinch from visceral descriptions of murder and rape,( a very important part of the story) it is a much deeper story about a high school girl who fell head over heels with a killer and how it destroyed her life.

Jar of Hearts is an unpredictable and riveting thriller that keeps the pages turning with characters who are stimulating and a storyline that keeps you totally on the edge of your seat.

Five stars!

 

 

 

In the Light of What We See by Sarah Painter

Book Description:

Published: April 1, 2016

Format: Audio

Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She’s not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever…

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.

Review –

I found myself feeling for Grace as representative of the young woman of her time, but had difficulty understanding  Mina as a contemporary woman. Her wise cracking didn’t make up for her refusal to own up to the realities of her life. The connection between Mina and Grace and their stories is weak and not integral to the other or their outcomes. The mystic elements are also minor and either explained away or easily resolved. In the Light of What We See was a  pleasant, fast read, but fell short of expectations.