Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad #3) by Tana French

Book Description:

Published: July 13, 2020

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin’s inner city and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and his girl, Rosie Daly, were all set to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives.

But on the winter night when they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn’t show. Frank took it for granted that she’d given him the brush-off–probably because of his alcoholic father, nutcase mother, and generally dysfunctional family. He never went home again.

Neither did Rosie. Everyone thought she had gone to England on her own and was over there living a shiny new life. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie’s suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank is going home whether he likes it or not.

Getting sucked in is a lot easier than getting out again. Frank finds himself straight back in the dark tangle of relationships he left behind. The cops working the case want him out of the way, in case loyalty to his family and community makes him a liability. Faithful Place wants him out because he’s a detective now, and the Place has never liked cops. Frank just wants to find out what happened to Rosie Daly-and he’s willing to do whatever it takes, to himself or anyone else, to get the job done.

Review –

“An Irish undercover cop delves into his working-class past.

When Frank Mackey left Faithful Place more than 20 years ago, he never imagined returning. Of course, he thought he’d be leaving with his childhood sweetheart Rosie Daly. When Rosie failed to show up at their meeting spot that fateful night, Frank was broken-hearted but decided to go it alone. He’s moved on and hasn’t looked back—until he receives an urgent call from his sister Jackie, demanding that he return to his childhood home. She’s got the one thing in the world that could make him come back: information about Rosie, whose suitcase has been found in a vacant house. This new intelligence throws mysterious shadows on Frank’s theories about Rosie’s fate. Suddenly, what was once buried history starts coming to light, and Frank isn’t quite prepared for the twists his life begins to take. Not only does everything seem to tie into his family of origin, but menacing fingers seem to be reaching out for his young daughter Holly. If only Frank’s position as an undercover cop would give him some insight into the case. Instead, Scorcher, the lead investigator, has an eye out for Frank’s interference and keeps him at an increasing distance as the investigation heats up.

Though French (The Likeness, 2009, etc.) plies readers with dark and stormy clichés, the charming narrative will leave readers begging for a sequel.” Kirkus Reviews

LOVE  this series and look forward to reading/listening to Broken Harbor, which was published two years after this one. If you like foreign crime fiction/drama, you should really try the Dublin Murder Squad series.

 

Gwendy’s Button Box (The Button Box #1)by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

Book Description:

Published: May 16, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars:3

The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told… until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

Journey back to Castle Rock again in this chilling new novella by Stephen King, bestselling author of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Richard Chizmar, award-winning author of A Long December. This book will be a Cemetery Dance Publications exclusive with no other editions currently planned anywhere in the world!

Review –

Gwendy Peterson is a slightly chubby twelve year-old girl nicknamed “Goodyear.” Yes, because of the blimp. She is set out to lose weight before she starts middle school, so she runs up a steep set of stairs every day that are known as the Suicide Stairs in the town of Castle Rock. During one of these runs up the killer steps, she meets a strangely charming man by the name of Richard Farris. Wearing a small black hat that will come to haunt Gwendy, Farris charms her into taking a button box from him. This box, her box, made of mahogany, 2 levers and 8 hard-to-push buttons will haunt her and help her throughout the next part of her life in this dark coming-of-age horror novella. Gwendy’s Button Box draws on old school horror, for me. Where you can’t see the monster under the bed and the things that we don’t know are scarier than the things we do. You are basically told in the first chapter what this box does, but there is still this huge mystery floating around it. What power does the box have? Why was it given to Gwendy? Who had it before her? Is Richard Farris always watching? Was the success in Gwendy’s life always meant to be? Or is the box influencing her life? Are regular people more evil than what’s inside the box? Like the classic scene from Se7en, what’s in the box? While we’re asking ourselves these dark questions, we’re watching Gwendy grow into a beautiful young woman. We watch her have fights with friends, become a track star, study for school, go on dates, deal with grief, and find love. However, the box never leaves her mind. The whole story is enjoyable and entertaining with a ton of nostalgia – drive-ins, your first car, school dances, first jobs and obviously the supernatural (we are talking about a King, here). Though Stephen King did co-author this book with Richard Chizmar, it doesn’t have as much horror as a typical King. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t some cool horror scenes. The horror is there, but it’s not shoved into every crevice of every page. It is well placed exactly where it is needed. This book feels like a coming-of-age horror for those that are coming of age. It is kind of like an introduction to Stephen King for younger teens before they tear into ‘It.’ The writing style is a little more simplistic and the horror is way toned down, but I would recommend it to anyone in any age range. I read it in one sitting and was eager for more. But the length was perfect, any more and it would have answered too much to have the intangible horror aspect that I loved so much. And any less would have just left me mad. I could describe this book as horror that left me smiling, but for me it feel flat and that’s why I gave it three stars. Maybe I needed more gore and mayhem.

 

 

Trouble at Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #2) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Review –

Picking up right after the events of the first book, The Boys of Brayshaw High,  Raven has put her pride and happiness on the line to protect her Boys, and is at the mercy of the Gravens, who are making their move to take the Brayshaws down. The Boys know that there is something deeper happening, something that Raven is keeping a secret, and don’t want to believe that she betrayed them. Raven’s name has been run through the dirt, but her Boys know better than to believe gossip. They will get her back, no matter the cost.

Their ties will continue to be tested as the head of the Brayshaw name, the boys’ father, pulls major strings from behind bars. But if its up to him, he won’t be in jail much longer, and his Boys will be fighting a war that doesn’t have Raven on the winning end.

In this book the heartwarming relationships between the Boys and Raven grow even stronger, through trials that have them second-guessing everything they thought they knew. They may have to be strong in order to survive the betrayals headed their way, but they will have to stand together to overcome the revelations that threaten to shatter their kingdom.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting after the first installment.  I knew that I was going to be pissed after that cliffhanger with the Gravens, and I was right. The first 15% of this book was so angsty, but I’m not going to lie: I had to shut down my listening device so I could decompress for a couple of hours. We really got to see Raven and the Boy’s relationship tested during this time, in a way we never seen before. We got to see how they truly feel when they are knocked down and hurt, when they think they were blindsided by one of their own. And they still wanted to love and trust each other, no matter what. 

I could probably gush about their relationships all day, and how I love the way they just mesh together so perfectly, despite their awful histories and inner darkness. But I have to move on, cause lets be real: the first 15% held NO FIGHT to how the rest of the book attacked them. I can’t rant too much, cause I’m awful for spoilers when I rant. But I’ll say this: rethink everything, trust no one, and fucking be ready to fight in book 3 because  by the end of this book our King and Queen are going to have to play one hell of a game to come out on top. But I know they can do it.

Other than the mind-blowing, secrets that were revealed, I loved this book for it’s honesty on the characters. We all know that no one in Brayshaw is perfect, and that the author  knows how to make diverse characters who are full of motive and angst and sass and grit. Part of why people love the books is because of the completely imperfect harsh reality our characters live in, much like our own, but they stand up and fight their problems head on with so much bad-assery. This world made our characters who they are, and this book dug even deeper into their pasts in ways I never imagined. There are so many triggers due to this, so much sadness and hate and anger, but we see our characters more vulnerable and even more deeply connected than in book 1 because of it.

There’s not much more I can say without going into a rant,  but for now, I’ll leave you with this. If you love dark romances, if you love high school contemporaries, if you need a love story with more than just happy endings, a book with so many levels of secrets and lies, where the characters are thrown into situations you wouldn’t wish on anybody, Brayshaw is for you. I honestly did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I wish I could go back and be surprised by this series all over again. Of course I can’t, but you can. 

As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one ten times more, even though it almost gave me a heart attack!

 

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

Review –

“A disgraced British actress named Claire Wright comes to the United States, sans green card, looking for work. Her agent gives her the bad news. “The days we took the huddled masses yearning to be free are long over.” She ends up working for a divorce lawyer, setting up stings to entrap unfaithful husbands by pretending to be a high-priced hooker. Then one of her prospective clients is found dead beneath a bloody sheet in a hotel room. Primary suspect: the woman’s husband, a Columbia University professor and the translator of Baudelaire’s book of S&M poetry, Les Fleurs du Mal. The police suspect he’s a serial killer, with previous Baudelaire-inspired murders under his belt, ha ha. They have Claire go undercover to lure this guy into a confession. It’s the role of her career, one she throws herself into so wholeheartedly she loses track of what is real and what is masquerade, ending up madly in love with her target. After many twists and pseudo-reveals, she ends up first in a mental institution and then with a starring role in My Heart Laid Bare, the suspected killer’s off-Broadway show based on a nasty incident in the life of Baudelaire. “Who is the real Claire Wright? The one sitting here with her precious green card and permit in front of her, exchanging pleasantries with the man who provided it? Or the one who fell for the darkness she sensed deep inside the only man she couldn’t seduce?” An unreliable-narrator setup works best when the character believes her own story or is lying intentionally to other characters in the book. When it mostly means that the narrator deliberately conceals key facts from the reader for no purpose other than to create confusion and suspense, it feels a little cheesy. The author confesses in an afterword that she wrote and published this book decades prior to last year’s bestseller, The Girl Before, but it didn’t do very well, so she’s trying again with a rewrite.

The best parts of this book were written in the middle of the 19th century by Charles Baudelaire.” Kirkus Review

Didn’t care for this book at all. It was too convoluted and I gave it three stars.