A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbyereturns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . .

Review –

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first 30-40% of the novel; it takes its time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I love. You get a lot of the set up from the synopsis, but initially we find our main narrator Paul caught in an unexpected exchange with co-worker Kenneth. Unfortunately, Paul has decided to follow Ken to inform him that he has a tail light out, things escalate, and Ken attempts to murder Paul. We are then thrust forward eight months after the incident, where Ken is in prison, Paul is spending time recovering with the help of his therapist, Anna, and his second wife, Charlotte, and things are tense. Paul thinks it will be cathartic to write about his experiences in hopes of working through his PTSD, so Charlotte surprises him with an old Underwood typewriter she found at a yard sale. The thing is, Paul starts hearing the typewriter in the middle of the night, and what unfolds is a tale of “Is he delusional or is someone out to get him?” in the most suspenseful format.

It’s like reading a Twilight (the television show) episode with a bit of Gaslight (the movie) thrown in and a bonus of several twists.

Great read.

 

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: 

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the author of It’s Always the Husband comes a riveting new suspense audiobook about privilege, power, and what happens when we let ambition take control.

For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.

In an audiobook full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots.

Review –

She Was the Quiet One does a great job of slowly luring you into the world of this boarding school. You know right away that a terrible murder has taken place, and you know the victim was one of the twins, but you don’t know which one yet. The story is told in alternating chapters, from the points of view of Rose, Bel, their co-dorm head Sarah Donovan, and police records of interviews after the fact. I have to say early on my loyalty to each sister swapped depending on who was narrating the chapter. It was so easy to feel for Bel in her chapters, and it was likewise easy to do so in Rose’s. Campbell is a masterful writer, and it shows in her ability to make you sympathize with the different characters.

The mystery becomes a little clearer with each chapter, and by the time the murder happens, you realize where it was going and who’s guilty. From there, it’s just a matter of waiting for the characters to put it together.

The only part I didn’t really like was, honestly, the epilogue. I felt like everything had been tidied up nice and neat before that, and then the epilogue left me with questions that I hadn’t had before. In a way, I kind of liked the angle it took, but in another way it felt sort of like a twist tossed in at the last minute. However, I will say that it’s made me curious enough I plan to go back and read the book again. No matter what, I highly recommend this book.

The Sisters by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Two sisters climbing the ranks of Dublin’s criminal justice system. A murder case that could change their lives forever. The Sisters is a gripping new thriller from one of the most exciting voices in crime fiction.

In this prequel to the international bestseller The Ruin, set 10 years prior, bright-eyed Carrie Ryan is at the very start of her career. When she has a hunch about an ongoing murder investigation, she knows it could be her only chance to prove herself and truly break into the “boy’s club” of Dublin’s police force.

Carrie uncovers this make-or-break moment in a case file her sister Aifric, a newly qualified barrister, leaves on their kitchen counter: Robert Collins has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after a fight in a local pub, and all signs point towards a guilty verdict. But both sisters quickly begin to find evidence that complicates the story. All the while, Carrie is very aware that she’s crossed the line – if the detective sergeant running the investigation finds out she’s been messing around with his case, her career will be over before it has begun.

Review –

I listened to the Audible (freebie) Original, The Sisters. narrated by Aoife McMahon. It’s a quick listen, only a little over three hours, and very satisfying.

It is a prequel to The Ruin which I read August 19 of this year and reviewed on this blog on September 21st.

Two sisters, who live together, are at the beginning of their careers in Dublin. One sister, Aifric is a new barrister who is assigned a murder case and has no support from her bosses. The other sister, Carrie is trying to make detective in a sexist environment. Both sisters are confronted with impossibilities in their careers. Aifric talks to her sister about her case, and Carrie becomes inquisitive at the questionable evidence.

It’s a character driven short story, with each sister taking a chapter. It’s amazing that one can be totally involved so quickly. The performance by McMahon is perfect. I highly recommend it!

Although it is a prequel to The Ruin, you do not have to read it first before delving into this one.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format:   Audio/OverDrive

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

Murder, mayhem, and chalk figures in a sleepy English village.

“In 1986, 12-year-old Eddie Adams enjoys spending time with his group of friends: Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and the lone girl in the group, Nicky. He’s largely insulated from his mother’s work as an abortion provider and its accompanying risks, and it’s her income that keeps the household afloat, since his father’s freelance writing jobs are hit and miss. When Eddie finds the decapitated and dismembered body of a local girl in the woods, it stirs up terrible secrets and forbidden passions.

In 2016, Eddie is a teacher who harbors a mild crush for his much younger boarder, Chloe, and isn’t eager to revisit the traumatic events of ’86. He still feels particularly bad about his part in the downfall of a teacher with albinism who was kind to him. When he’s contacted by Mickey Cooper, who claims he knows who really killed that girl, it opens old wounds, and a body count follows.

Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT. The dynamics among the kids are similar, complete with Nicky’s flaming red hair, and Eddie’s first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. The chalk markings the group works out to communicate tap into kids’ universal love for secret code and, of course, getting one over on their parents. Things takes a creepy turn when the symbols are twisted to fit someone’s not-so-innocent agenda.

A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.” Kirkus Review

The ending is creepily eerie and changed my mind about Eddie. (no spoilers -you’ll have to read or listen to the book to see what I mean)

Five stars.

Chosen to Die (To Die #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 20

Format: Audio/Audible

HE’LL CHOOSE THEM…
Detective Regan Pescoli has worked the “Star Crossed Killer” case for months, never imagining she’d be captured by the madman she’s been hunting. Regan knows exactly what he’s capable of – and avoiding the same fate will take every drop of her courage and cunning.

ABDUCT THEM…
Regan Pescoli is unlike any woman Nate Santana has met before. But now she’s missing, and Nate knows something is dangerously wrong. The only person who can help him find her is Detective Selena Alvarez, Regan’s partner. As Nate and Selena dig deeper into the Star-Crossed Killer case and the body count rises, the truth about Regan’s disappearance becomes chillingly clear.

AND KILL THEM…
In the desolate Montana woods, evil is lurking. And with time running out, the only way to save Regan will be to get inside a killer’s twisted mind and unravel a shocking message that is being revealed, one body at a time…

Review –

Chosen To Die is a thrilling mystery with the isolated setting adding to the suspense generated by the plot. The reason for the killer taking Regan also contributes to the puzzle: his previous victims had been trusting, relatively helpless women. Why choose Regan, a detective who would almost certainly fight back with everything she had? The only serious flaw in the book is with its length; Regan and Selena are compelling, well drawn characters that are interesting to follow. But there are other characters and side stories that add little to the plot and ultimately detract from the suspense of the detectives’ investigation. It would seem these could easily have been edited out, allowing for better continuity and tighter pacing, but that’s OMO.

I loved this book and will soon start the third in the series.

 

Left to Die (To Die #1) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2008

Format: Audio/Audible

Nothing’s More Terrifying. . .

One by one, the victims are carefully captured, toyed with, then subjected to a slow and agonizing death. Piece by piece, his exquisite plan takes shape. The police can’t yet see the beauty in his work–but soon, very soon, they will. . .

Than Being Left Alone. . .

In the lonely woods around Grizzly Point, Montana, four bodies have been discovered. Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli have been hoping for a career-making case, but this is a nightmare. Even with the FBI involved, Selena and Regan have nothing to go on but a killer’s cryptic notes, and the unsettling knowledge that there is much worse to come. . .

To Die. . .

When Jillian Rivers opens her eyes, she’s trapped in a mangled car. Then a stranger, claiming to be a trail guide named Zane McGregor, pries her free. Though she’s grateful, something about him sets Jillian on edge. And if she knew what lay out there in the woods of Montana, she’d be truly terrified. Because someone is waiting… watching… poised to strike and make Jillian the next victim…

Review –

This is my first read/listen from Lisa Jackson and I think I have have another crime fiction series to add to my list of favorites.

I love how the main characters Alvarez and Pescoli (police detectives in a small Montana town) have been developed and a personal storyline associated with each one. As a reader, I like to learn about the characters and what else is going on in their lives with the exception of the case at hand. Regan Pescoli  has teenagers she is trying to deal with, as well as an ex-husband, who is a jerk. The relationship between Regan and Selena is interesting as it develops because they are nothing alike. Regan is divorced, a comfort food eater, a smoker, and has a habit of falling for “bad boys”. Selena is still single at age thirty – three, is hiding a secret from her past, doesn’t date, is a  workaholic, and a health nut.

In this, the first book in the series, the author has created an amazingly creepy predator.Not only is he creepy, he is very smart. He just wants to be recognized for his handiwork and is very upset with there is a copy cat. The book does not detail in too much graphic detail the torture of the victims, but just enough to provide the information needed for the story.

Besides the story of the “Star Crossed Killer” there is a second sub-story dealing with Jillian and Zane. I loved the chemistry between these two and how far Zane would go to help Jillian to find out who was trying to kill her.

I loved the different viewpoints; from the story at the cabin, to the story at each drop spot, this book is very intriguing and gripping, but does end on a cliff-hanger, and that is why I’m starting the next book right away.

Great read for fans of crime fiction.

 

The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: July 3, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

Review –

Dervla McTiernan’s powerful debut  novel has the authentic feel of its Irish setting, which I loved.

In 1993, police detective Cormac Reilly is called to a house in Kilmore, County Mayo, where he finds fifteen-year-old Maude Blake and her five-year-old brother, Jack, alive, and  in an upstairs bedroom lies the body of their alcoholic mother, dead of a drug overdose. In 2013, Jack’s body turns up in a Galway river after an anonymous caller claims he saw Jack jump in. Jack’s girlfriend, Aisling Conroy, is sadly willing to accept the obvious conclusion that it was suicide. But Maude, newly back from Australia, is convinced it was murder. Based on new information, Cormac investigates the now twenty-year-old death of the mother, while Maude and Aisling try to figure out what actually happened to Jack, since the police seem unwilling to. Various other threads in the tightly woven plot lead to rape, child molestation, drug dealing, police corruption, and more murders. The author neatly ties them all together in the suspenseful conclusion. Dervla McTiernan,(I love her name) born in Ireland but now living in Australia, is a writer to watch. 

Five stars.

Crimson Lake (Crimson Lake #1) by Candice Fox

Book Description:

Published: March 6, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Crimson Lake, by Sydney-based, Ned Kelly Award-winning author Candice Fox, is a thrilling contemporary crime novel set in Queensland, Australia, perfect for readers of authors like James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Lisa Gardner, and Tana French.

How do you move on when the world won’t let you?

12:46: Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop
12:47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her
12:52: The girl is missing . . .

Six minutes in the wrong place at the wrong time—that’s all it took to ruin Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of a brutal abduction,Ted is now a free man—and public enemy number one. Maintaining his innocence, he flees north to keep a low profile amidst the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

There, Ted’s lawyer introduces him to eccentric private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself a convicted murderer. Not entirely convinced Amanda is a cold-blooded killer, Ted agrees to help with her investigation, a case full of deception and obsession, while secretly digging into her troubled past. The residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move… and the town offers no place to hide.

Review –

In Crimson Lake by Candice Fox, (an author wh is new to me)readers are introduced to Detective Ted Conkaffey. After a particularly tough and testing time in which Ted is accused of the abduction of a young girl, he is hiding away in the sweltering heat of Crimson Lake where he is hoping to keep out of the radar in order to start afresh.

He is adamant he didn’t do it. Convinced, even. But with everything and everyone standing against him, it seems the label of abductor just can’t be scrubbed off. Still, in his new surroundings, no one knows he is the man accused of the crime, and he’s seriously hoping that it remains that way.

Visited by his lawyer, Sean, one day, Ted is made aware of a woman in town, Amanda Pharrell, who Sean thinks will help Ted out in some way. At first, after imagining that what Sean had set him up for was something romantic, Ted realises that what Sean has actually done is sent him to Amanda in order to put his detective skills to good use unofficially.

The two team up to try and find out what happened to the author of a wildly popular book series which juxtaposed religion and young adult drama. It turns out the author had some secrets of his own, and there appears to be more than a few people who wished him harm.

As Amanda and Ted work their case, Ted isn’t entirely sure whether Amanda was guilty of the crime she was punished for, and he can’t stop himself from looking into it. Meanwhile, he continues to be taunted by those who believe he shouldn’t be free, and those who don’t like the idea of the two criminals joining forces—and some mean to do him, and perhaps Amanda, grave harm if they don’t heed their warnings.

Both characters were incredibly intriguing in this instance, both with a rocky past behind them that only strengthened their beliefs and motives even more. I adored getting to know both of them, thoroughly enjoying figuring them out as they approached a missing persons case that would put their acquired skills to the test. They were strong alone, but when standing together, Ted and Amanda were truly a force to be reckoned with.

This is one of those books that hooks you at page one and doesn’t let you go. It’s taut, tense, and it packs quite a one-two punch of action and suspense. Ted and Amanda are both fascinating characters—you really don’t quite know what to believe about either of them. Fox is a great storyteller, and she really makes you feel you’re right there in the croc-infested wetlands with her characters, hearing the sounds of nature and watching your surroundings.

I had never read anything Fox has written before, but I was really impressed, and I love the she added the geese into the story. (you’ll have to read the book to find out the part they play) I’m excited there are more books in the series, because I’m definitely hooked. There may be an unending supply of thrillers and mysteries out there these days, but Crimson Lake is one you should add to your list.

 

 

Slashes in the Snow (Baum Squad Novel #1) by M. Never

Book Description:

Published: March 3, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Ky
Three years ago my father walked away. Away from our MC club, all his responsibilities, and me. We haven’t spoken since the day he handed me the keys to the kingdom.

Shoved them down my throat was more like it.

I hate him, and the new family he’s playing house with. He left his entire life behind for a woman he barely knows. But I’m strong, resilient, and don’t need a damn soul to survive.
At least, that’s what I thought…until she walked into my bar.

Kira
Someone is watching me. I can feel it. I wake up in the middle of the night freaked out of my mind, paranoid a stranger is there. My skin prickles every time I leave my house, because I know someone is following me.
I’m afraid. Alone. And there’s only one person left to turn to.

The stepbrother I never met. The man my stepfather speaks so highly about, but never sees. He’s the president of a notorious motorcycle club, and exactly the kind of person I need to protect me.

Little did I know, Ky Parish, freakin’ hates my guts.

Review –

Slashes in the Snow is an enemies to lovers, stepbrother romance, romantic suspense (emphasis on romance) with dark elements and a motorcycle club throw in for good measure.  What more could a female reader ask for?

Fantastic read!

 

 

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

 

Book Description:

Published: July 30, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this game, even winning can be deadly…

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

Review –

It was supposed to be book club as usual: a group of suburban mothers gathering to talk over a glass of wine or two and then going home to bed. But when new neighbor Angelica Roux shows up at hostess Amy’s door, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose. The booze flows freely, and soon the women are engaged in a game: What is the worst thing you did today? This week? This month? In your life? There are many women in the gathering with secrets to protect, but none more than Amy, who, as a teenager, committed a terrible crime that almost destroyed her. Saved by her love for diving, and then by meeting her husband and stepdaughter, Amy has worked hard to build a normal, stable life; she even has a new baby.

Angelica has come to threaten all of this; she clearly knows about Amy’s past and will expose her to her loved ones if Amy doesn’t pay her. As Amy tries desperately to outscheme Angelica, she also realizes just how much she has to fight for—and what she might be willing to do to keep her family safe and her secrets buried.

This is a fantastic book and once you start reading or listening(as in my case), you can’t bear to stop.

There are so many twists and turns. Just when i thought I knew the motive for all of Roux’s actions, the author throws a curve ball that puts the story in a totally different direction. No spoilers, but you don’t get to the true crux of the plot until the end and what an ending it is!

Five stars!