The Good Daughter (Good Daughter #1) by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: August 8, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

Review –

Five Stars !!!!!!

What a roller coaster ride! Just when I thought I knew where this book was headed Karin Slaughter (one of my favorites) throws in a giant twist.

I had the audio version and listening was very painful in some parts and I won’t say which because it would give too much away.

The Good Daughter is the kind of exceptional psychological thriller that only comes around once every so often—a story as in-your-face shocking as it is tender and heartbreaking. Chapter by chapter, the author unceremoniously  unfolds the history of two sisters, and reveals the horrific past that has both tied them together and driven them apart.

This is a brilliant, bold crime novel that examines the unbreakable bond of family and the lengths two women will go to uncover the truth about the brutal secrets of their past.

It is  tough and dark  and  Slaughter doesn’t shy away from describing violence in graphic detail, yet each moment of violence is purposeful and intentional, driving character development and giving readers firsthand investment in finding justice for the victims of these horrific acts. 

It is character driven and readers who want a straight police procedural or a true legal thriller will be better off looking elsewhere—THE GOOD DAUGHTER is first and foremost a story of a family struggling to overcome its dark and secret-laden past. While this isn’t the kind of read I went into the book expecting, the story’s rich character development and emotional, often horrific flashbacks left me all the more invested in it.

This book is dark, but it’s dark for a purpose. 

I highly recommend it!

 

 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

Book Description:

Published: May 2, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Review –

Te story starts with a woman, Nel Abbott, who is found dead in a river in a spooky northern English town. It quickly emerges she is not the first person to meet a watery grave in Beckford. The mystery spirals out from this “did she fall or was she pushed” puzzle, and it is to Hawkins’s credit that she attempts to tell the story from multiple viewpoints, too many if you ask me.

The problem is that there are 11 of these characters. This is far too many and it seems the author battles to make these slightly troubled people distinct from one another. If reading the book you would have to keep looking for the name at the top of each page to see whose story you are in. If listening to the audio book version, which I did, it’s not as easy to keep all viewpoints separate and that’s my main complaint.

Paula Hawkins first book, The Girl on the Train, which sold over 15 million copies, had a certain kind of plausibility in its very focused suburban setting, but the whole “death stalks a strange northern-English town” idea feels incredibly hokey.

That being said, I loved it and with all its twists and turns, gave it five stars. It’s well worth reading or listening to just to see if you can manage all the points of view.

Timeless (Black Brothers Standalone Novella) by Brynley Bush

Book Description:

Published:January 26, 2016

Format: Free Digital Book

Marcus Dunn came into my life ten years ago and possessed me body and soul, introducing me to a world of dark and forbidden pleasures before disappearing without a word.
I’ve never forgiven him.
Or forgotten him.

Walking away from Ariana McKnight was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But running into her after all these years, handcuffed to a spanking bench, has me forgetting everything I promised myself ten years ago.
I still can’t have her.
But I can’t stay away.

One tough FBI agent who longs to give her power away—just not to him.
One former Navy SEAL who wants to take it, but can offer her nothing in return.
One snowbound weekend in the middle of nowhere with no choice but to resolve their unfinished business.

Review –

Ariana treats herself to a weekend getaway to explore her interest in BDSM. She never expects to run into Marcus Dunn. A love affair that she thought was just beginning was shattered  when he walked away ten years ago leaving her heart-broken.

Marcus has reasons why he left her behind and think one night with her will be sufficient, but one taste of giving her what she needs isn’t going to be enough.

The chemistry behind the two main characters seemed a bit stilted but I could have dealt with that had it not been for the convoluted storyline.  He’s an ex-Navy Seal and she is a FBI agent and he’s working on a case of insurance fraud and she helps him solve it (getting stabbed in the process). It was just too much for me.

I wish the author would have constructed a storyline out of her interest in the BDSM lifestyle, had her meet up with Marcus again and have them work out their problems and have a HEA and leave their jobs out of it.

I had high hopes for this book but was very disappointed .

 

 

The Hypnotist (Joona Linna #1) by Lars Kepler

Book Description:

Published: June 21, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there’s only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he’s suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes.

It’s the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

An international sensation, The Hypnotist is set to appear in thirty-seven countries, and it has landed at the top of bestseller lists wherever it’s been published—in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark. Now it’s America’s turn. Combining the addictive power of the Stieg Larsson trilogy with the storytelling drive of The Silence of the Lambs, this adrenaline-drenched thriller is spellbinding from its very first page.

Review –

The novel opens with a horrific crime: A father, mother and their 5-year-old daughter are butchered. The couple’s son, 15-year-old Josef, survives but has been stabbed hundreds of times and is unconscious. He may be able to identify the attacker and thus save other lives, so police summon a hypnotist in the hope that he can communicate with the boy despite his being in a coma.

Erik Maria Bark, the psychiatrist/hypnotist, is a man of many sorrows. He vowed 10 years earlier to give up hypnotism because of a tragedy that is not at first explained. He’s addicted to painkillers, his marriage is falling apart and his 14-year-old son has a blood disease that requires constant treatment. Even worse travails lie ahead once Bark breaks his vow and uses hypnosis to communicate with the survivor of the massacre.

In one of the first of the novel’s many surprises, Josef confesses under hypnosis to killing his family. Of course, the subconscious mind works in strange ways, and the confession may not be true. The boy then escapes from the hospital and may or may not be involved in the next horror, when Bark’s ailing son is kidnapped.

Bark teams up with a detective named Joona Linna to find both youths, one perhaps a mass murderer, the other possibly in the clutches of someone who hates his father. Suspects in the kidnapping include a group of violent criminals whom Bark had treated with hypnosis therapy and who were not always grateful for his efforts. 

The deftly plotted story barrels along in more than a hundred short, swift scenes; it moves about as fast as a 500-page novel can. In one scene, Bark’s wife and her father are about to enter the basement of a house where her son may be held by his kidnapper.  As the woman and her father descend into the darkness — with the reader shrieking “No, no, stop, you fools!” — the beam of their flashlight falls upon “the glass of a framed movie poster.” I take that poster to be homage to Thomas Harris’s landmark thriller, Silence of the Lambs,which as both book and movie was another memorable blending of evil and suspense.

I won’t tell you the ending but it’s worth the reading.

Great on the edge of your seat foreign crime drama. Loved it!

 

Box 21 (Grens and Sundkvist #2) by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

Book Description:

Published: April 1, 2010

Format: Audio

Three years ago, Lydia and Alena were two hopeful girls from Lithuania. Now they are sex slaves, lured to Sweden with the promise of better jobs and then trapped in a Stockholm brothel, forced to repay their “debt.” Suddenly they are given an unexpected chance at freedom, and with it the opportunity to take revenge on their enslavers and reclaim the lives and dignity they once had. What will happen now that the tables are turned and the victims fight back?
In this masterful thriller, the celebrated team of Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström delve into the seedy underbelly of Stockholm. There we meet Lydia and Alena as they embark on a desperate plan to expose their captor and demand justice; police officers Sundkvist and Grens, on the trail of both Lydia’s enslavers and Jochum Lang, a notorious mob enforcer; and Hilding Oldéus, a junkie on what might be his last—and most destructive—bender. At the Söder Hospital, their destinies begin to converge in unexpected and explosive ways.
Box 21 is a Scandinavian thriller of the highest order: a mind-blowing psychological drama written with powerful intensity. When it was published in Sweden, Solo called it “suspenseful, gripping, and intelligently written . . . Almost impossible to put down,” while SVT exclaimed: “Forget crime literature; this is, simply put, great literature!”
Review –
When a severely wounded woman is brought to a hospital in Stockholm, doctors are horrified to learn that her injuries are the result of a brutal whipping. She is Lydia, a victim of human-trafficking, a young girl from Lithuania sold by her boyfriend and now trapped in a Stockholm brothel, forced to repay her “debt” by serving twelve different men every day.  In the same hospital, police officer Sven Sundkvist and senior officer Ewert Grens are chasing a lead that may just expose a notorious mafia boss, a dangerous man Grens hates with a vengeance because of the connection to the death of his wife. Two stories of passionate reprisal twist together, ending in a dramatic climax,two bullet-riddled bodies and a room full of hostages in the hospital’s basement.  Ewert Grans discovers the truth about Lydia and his best friend, Bankt, who is also on the police force. He destroys evidence to save his widow from learning the horrible things he has done. Sven, finds out that his boss has covered up things and destroyed evidence to protect his friends reputation. But in the cold light of day, will Sven protect the senior officer he so admires, even from his own corruption? 
You’ll have to read the book to find out and there is also a HUGE twist at the very end that left my mouth wide open.
The only other book I have read/listened to in this series is Cell 8 which is number three. I loved it but wished I had read or listened to this one first because it would have given me a better insight into the characters of Grens and Sundkvist and their dynamic.
Fantastic book.
Five stars!

Redemption Road by John Hart

Book Description:

Published: May 3, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Imagine:

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free. But for how long?

And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, the unthinkable has just happened…

This is a town on the brink. This is a road with no mercy.

After five years, John Hart returns with Redemption Road, his most powerful story yet.

Review –

This book is set in a  small city in North Carolina. The protagonist is police detective Elizabeth Black, who has been put on suspension because she appears to have used excessive force — 18 bullets — in killing two men in the basement where they were raping and torturing an 18-year-old girl. “Hero Cop or Angel of Death?” a newspaper headline asks.

Adrian Wall, a fellow officer whom she once idolized but who was convicted of murdering a woman in a ritualized way,  finishes serving his time and arrives back in town, and the killer strikes again. Besides sexual chemistry, Liz and Adrian share a reluctance to tell the truth about the incidents that have brought them under suspicion, and their motives for silence are the same: protecting someone else.

Liz’s campaign to clear Adrian is hampered by her suspension and her sizable shoulder chip. She has alienated her father, a rigid-minded minister, most of her fellow officers, and the brutal warden of the prison in which Adrian was confined. On the other hand, she has lavished motherly affection on 14-year-old Gideon, the vengeance-seeking son of the woman whom Adrian was convicted of killing, and Channing, the girl whose rape occasioned all those gunshots. 

This story is so convoluted and gets more so deeper into the plot we go. There is buried treasure, we find out who the serial killer is and the warden and his henchmen get there just due. BUT…Beckett, Liz’s partner of four years is paralyzed from a gut shot given by the warden, and exited his back, Gideon is left behind because he also needs urgent medical care at the end and Liz, Adrian and Channing one on the run.  BUT… there is an hea but you’ll have to read or listen to this book yourself to find out what it is.

Fantastic book!

Five stars!!

The Devil’s Claim (Devil’s Kiss #2) by Gemma James

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2016

Format: Free Digital Book

It’s been a year since Kayla Sutton walked away from Gage Channing. Now he’s back, and so is Ian Kaplan, Kayla’s one-time lover from her college days. Gage’s jealousy is his worst enemy, and when he thinks Kayla has chosen Ian, he sets in motion a drastic plan to claim what’s his. Only Kayla never expects him to infiltrate her heart so effortlessly, and she never dreamed there would come a day when he wouldn’t want her.

Gage believes she’s committed the ultimate sin, but will she use his mistake to finally escape the cage of his obsession? Or will she do whatever it takes to make him see he can entrust his heart to her…just as she’s already lost the core of her being to him?

NOTE TO READERS: THE DEVIL’S CLAIM is a dark romance with a BDSM edge that does NOT conform to safe, sane, and consensual practices. Includes explicit content and subject matter that may offend some readers. Intended for VERY  mature audiences.

Review –

This was offered as a free digital book, so I have not read the first one, but I think I could fill in the blanks enough to see the whole story.

There were some moments when I wanted to kick the shit out of Gage, but then he would “act normal” and I’d like him again. He was so frustrating. Evidently he’s made some changes since the first book, The Devil’s Kiss, according to Kayla. He made changes but HE did not change. He knows what he wants and will not take NO for an answer. He will just do it. Taking away Kayla’s choices once again. Kayla wants that though, I feel. She wants someone who will make the choices for her. Her mind says no, but her wetness tells a very different story. Gage is over controlling, overbearing, over-sexed,over-abusive,  over all everything, but Kayla wants him anyway.

There is a HEA but I don’t intend to read the next book, The Devil’s Wife, to see what happens to the couple because I’m afraid their future isn’t going to be all smooth sailing.

This book is very dark but I hear the first one is much darker so READER, BEWARE.


 

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

Book Description:

Published: May 31, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

Review –

Before The Fall  starts off with a private plane being prepared to transport a TV executive, his wife and their two children; a couple who are friends of theirs; an artist the wife has befriended; the crew of the plane, and a private bodyguard employed by the TV executive. They are all flying from Martha’s Vineyard to New York. It is a summer night and other than some mild fog, conditions for flying are good. Yet sixteen minutes after takeoff the plane plunges into the sea.

The rest of the book concerns how and why the plane crashed. Various theories are possible and Hawley takes us back into the past to see how and why these suppositions could be right. He holds the reveal of what actually happened to the very end of the book. But until those final moments it is anybody’s guess.

Going back and forth to the past and relating detailed back stories on each character bogged things down but I still gave the book FIVE STARS because even through the bog I couldn’t help myself and kept on listening.

There are numerous theories as to what or who caused the plane to crash. For awhile, Scott, was himself a suspect. It is not until the end that we find out who is behind the crash and it was so very plausible that I am very glad that I haven’t flown in years and now I don’t ever plan to do so!

Five Stars *****

 

 

 

Lost Light (Harry Bosch #9) by Michael Connelly

Book Description:

Published: March 1, 2004

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The vision has haunted him for four years–a young woman lying crumpled in death, her hand outstretched in silent supplication. Harry Bosch was taken off the Angella Benton murder case when the production assistant’s death was linked with the violent theft of two million dollars from a movie set. Both files were never closed. Now retired from the L.A.P.D., Bosch is determined to find justice for Angella. Without a badge to open doors and strike fear into the guilty, he’s on his own. And even in the face of an opponent more powerful and ruthless than any he’s ever encountered, Bosch is not backing down.

Review –

I’ve read or listened to most of the Harry Bosch series but every once in a while I will come across one that’s I’ve missed. This was one and when I found it available on OverDrive I checked it out.

Writing in the first person for the first time, Connelly finally gets us inside Bosch’s head and it really gives us an insight to how his mind works. Great job on the author’s part.

Recalling the opening of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Bosch shows up at a rich movie executive’s home in his best suit. He has gone to ask about a woman who was murdered when Bosch was still on the police force. You see, when Bosch retired, he took his unsolved case files with him, and some of the untouched cases still haunt him.

The woman Bosch is asking about was killed at the movie exec’s studio and the case was eventually overlooked, when an armored truck delivering two million dollars as a movie prop was hijacked. But Bosch never forgets, and after asking around, he gets warnings from some of his old co-workers, namely Kiz Rider, who asks him to stay out of the case.

As Bosch begins to sift through the murder, the FBI, a paraplegic ex-cop, productions studios, his former wife, and Hollywood clubs become involved. When one of the marked dollar bills from the robbery turns up with a suspected terrorist, Bosch becomes entangled with the newly created Homeland Security division of the FBI. This is where Connelly begins to shine. He ratchets up the suspense as Bosch becomes more and more involved with the Feds, who are trying to keep him off the case. But in true private investigator tradition, Bosch only becomes more stubbornly determined to solve the case.

Particularly enjoyable are those scenes when we follow Harry as he tries to interview suspects and find clues, and the difficulty he has making the transition from an insider to an outsider. The interactions with characters, the paraplegic especially, have a very dark and moody feel.

The ending of the story is a surprise and a tear-jerker (at least for me), but works with Connelly’s theme of balancing the light and darkness of his mission, and the last third of the book is absolutely riveting.

I’m going to re-check my list to see if I have missed any other Harry Bosch gems and find them if I can.

 

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

The foundation of the story rests with the disappearance in 1935 of Emily, a six-year-old child, and the resulting destruction of a family unit when the child is not found. As the story opens, it is the end of the 20th century and Lucy, the last living member of the family, writes the story of the tragedy, set during the summer of 1935 at a remote area in northern Minnesota that is the gathering spot for summer and weekend vacations. Its residents arrive at the beginning of summer and leave with the onset of autumn. They are all known to one another, and their relationships ebb and flow. 

Knowing that she is dying, Lucy feels compelled to explain the mystery of Emily’s disappearance as it unfolded that summer. She has made arrangements to leave the home and property that she and her older sister, Lilith, have lived in until the last of their family has died out, to a grandniece, Justine, who is Lilith’s granddaughter. Her journal story is written in the first person and immerses us into that long-ago summer.

With each alternating chapter, we follow Justine as she migrates from San Diego to Williamsburg, Minnesota, with her two daughters. The move is fraught with anguish as Justine leaves her live-in boyfriend, packs the few belongings she and the girls have, and sets out to learn about her inheritance. Her story is told in the third person.

Young is skilled at creating tension and conflict both in the journal (Lucy) chapters and in the Justine chapters.

 Her characters are vivid and come to life as the story unfolds.

Justine’s mother, Maurie, is a hippy-style mother who disappears and then reappears every few years when her life falls apart and she needs financial support. When she learns that Justine has inherited the family summer home, she comes sniffing around searching for anything she can sell for profit. She is a woman older than she believes herself to be and her boisterous and flirtatious ways create pain and embarrassment for Justine.

Patrick, Justine’s boyfriend, is a manipulative man, set on controlling Justine’s life and that of her daughters. She left him with no indication where she was going, but she knew he would find her and come for her . . . and he does.

The characters in Lucy’s journal are equally complex in their relationships with one another. The two older daughters just emerging into their teens, Lilith and Lucy, are inseparable, while the younger child, Emily, is held close and pampered by their mother.

The parents are estranged: the father, a pharmacist in town, comes to the summer home on weekends with his religious bellowing; the mother expresses an overpowering attachment to Emily and a distance from her husband.  

Matthew and Abe Miller are the sons of the man who owns the lodge in the vacation area where tourists come and reside for short periods of time. The boys are mixed race, part white, part Indian, and while the lodge is accepted as a gathering point for the summer residents, the fathers watch the boys with a careful eye. These two characters travel back and forth between the journal, as young men, and Justine’s story as old men.

In Lucy’s journal, Young expresses the angst of young boys and girls as they are entering adulthood and the dances they do around one another with varying degrees of results. She is equally good at reflecting the anger of Justine’s two young daughters who have been ripped away from the small amount of stability they had in San Diego, as they are relocated to a cold, northern, unforgiving environment in Minnesota.

Both stories travel a parallel path of pain with the summer of 1935 heading toward a tragic end and the winter of the end of the 20th century heading on a collision course of battered relationships.

Young drops hints throughout Lucy’s chapters as to what really happened to Emily that summer and in two thrilling scenes packed with tension at the end, she pitches several situations only hinted at earlier, but activities that nonetheless prove vital to the final result. She cleverly draws these parallel stories together as Justine resolves issues and takes her place as the strong protagonist she is meant to be.

Five stars!  Fantastic read.