Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: June 9, 2020

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

Review –

Charlotte, the narrator of this well-paced novel set in Lake Crosby, N.C., from author, Kimberly Belle, was raised in poverty, but she has achieved her dream of a better life by marrying Paul Keller, the richest man in the Appalachian tourist town of Lake Crosby, N.C., despite the local gossip that Paul drowned his first wife four years earlier.

Then one day she’s disturbed to spot a nervous-looking Paul talking to a strange woman. The next day, Charlotte finds the woman’s body floating under their lakefront dock, just like Paul’s first wife. When shown the body, Paul tells the police he’s never seen the woman. He later takes off without telling anyone where he’s going. Frightened and confused, Charlotte turns to Paul’s two best friends for support, one the town crazy, the other the police chief’s son, both with dark secrets of their own. Belle weaves an intricate web of connections among the characters as the action moves toward the surprising ending. 

This story had intrigue and mystery from the start. I loved the instant suspense of the gossip-inducing relationship and then the first crime right off the top. While Charlotte’s character is not universally loved in their small town, I happened to like her. She handled herself very well with all the drama and her character was one that was inspiring on how she tried to be loyal to those around her and strong willed to get through everything.

While I did guess the killer about two thirds through the listen, how it all played out was very exciting and shocking with each turn. The author sure knows how to write a story that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I loved the main characters. I loved the little side characters who helped fill the gaps in this story and shape it into its most interesting parts.

If you love a good mystery, this is it. Thrills, suspense, mystery… Stranger in the Lake has it all.

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

The internationally bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish follows that success with an addictive novel filled with shocking twists about the aftermath of a brutal high-society murder.

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

Review –

This book is about murder, mental health, friendship, secrets, marriage, money, memory, and mother-daughter relationships. It’s well paced – not fast, not slow – and this pacing kept me engaged throughout the book.

Kate is a unreliable narrator just like Nellie/Vanessa in The Wife Between Us, and she gets worse as the story progresses. I wasn’t sure if she was imagining things or if she was the person wreaking all of the havoc. I would have liked more of a backstory on her, but this book had plenty of character development and I enjoyed the ride.

Liv Constantine’s last book drew me in right away and when I got comfortable with its direction, bombs were dropped and the plot turned unexpectedly. This time, I was on guard for bombs as I read this book. I was not disappointed; I loved the surprises, twists, and turns.

If compared to The Wife Between Us, I like this book so much more. It was creepier and had more mystery and suspense. It has a sinister feel and everyone seemed to have an ulterior motive; it was hard to figure out who to trust. This book is a psychological suspense and thriller wrapped in one, and I loved it.

 

The Dark Bones (Dark Lure #2) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: May 25, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.

When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.

To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.

And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

Review –

In The Dark Bones, Detective Rebecca North returns home to her small town because of her father’s suicide. She immediately decides that her father who was a retired cop would not have taken his own life, although everyone in town thinks otherwise. To make things more difficult, the man who broke her heart, Ash Haugen is at the center of the investigation in the worst way. Secrets from their past regarding the disappearance of two teens seem to have something to do with all of it. And here in present day, two other teens are also somehow involved. The more Rebecca digs, the harder it is for her to trust anyone. In addition, she and Ash still have feelings for each other. The town seems to be made up of complicated relationships at all levels. Plus, there are a couple of killers on the loose that no one suspects. Since it’s truly a mystery, that’s about all I can say. Nothing is what it seems.

I really enjoyed The Dark Bones and I never had a clue as to what would happen next. The whole book is just one huge puzzle that you have to play out to the very end. The pace was smooth and there is never a dull moment. I look forward to reading more books from this author.

 

Angry God (All Saints High #3) by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published: February 15, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars:5

From #1 Amazon Bestseller L.J. Shen comes a new, emotional standalone about first love, second chances, and overcoming breathtaking losses at a young age.

Vaughn Spencer.
They call him an angry god.
To me, he is nothing but a heartless prince.
His parents rule this town, its police, every citizen and boutique on Main Street.
All I own is a nice, juicy grudge against him for that time he almost killed me.
Between hooking up with a different girl every weekend, breaking hearts, noses and rules, Vaughn also finds the time to bully little ole’ me.
I fight back, tooth and nail, never expecting him to chase me across the ocean after we graduate high school.
But here he is, living with me in a dark, looming castle on the outskirts of London.

A fellow intern. A prodigal sculptor. A bloody genius.
They say this place is haunted, and it is.
Carlisle Castle hides two of our most awful secrets.
Vaughn thinks he can kill the ghosts of his past, but what he doesn’t know? It’s my heart he’s slaying.

Angry God is a stand-alone, DARK High School Romance. It deals with sensitive subjects some may find triggering.

Review-

I am a firm believer that this book needs to be gone into completely blind. Vaughn’s story is not an easy one he was always special, and this book proves why. I have never anticipated a story to the extent that I have this one and I was completely blown away by the flawless execution and delicacy with which the author handled his book. Interlacing his storyline with her uniquely LJ sense of humor that lightens up the darkest of situations and puts a smile on your face, brings this story to the next level for me. 

Leonora’s character was unlike any heroine that I’ve seen. She had this fire inside her that burned bright and fierce. Her flames and talent danced with Vaughn’s with such intricacy and emotion you could feel it burn from the pages and light your soul on fire. You think Vaughn is ice, but he is anything but, Vaughn is fire feeling everything and burning from the inside. These two couldn’t have been more perfect together and watching as they evolved into what they ultimately became was like watching two shooting stars collide and become one; singularly unique but together something more beautiful and charged with another level of intensity.

LJ Shen continues to grow and expand as an author, with every new story that she creates being better than the last. She has this unique way with words, drowning you in them as if they are poison soaking into your blood and becoming forever a part of you, ultimately seeping into what is your very essence. Every time I pick up one of her books, I’m immediately carried into that story utterly and completely. Nothing else matters but finishing that book and finding out what happens, that story becomes your nourishment until you are done. 

Like every single book in this series, Shen tackles major issues, topics, themes, and she did it with integrity and respect to the content. There are triggers in this book, for sure, but I am believer that literature (and romance is) should be a reflection of issues that we experience and plague the world, and sadly the issues in Angry God are rampant still today. Addressing these issues makes us more empathetic, more aware, more humane. Vaughn and Lenora’s story absolutely does that. The pain they suffer, the antagonism of a young romance as they stumble through their feelings, and the final HEA shows reader so many things – that light can bloom in the darkest of places, that love can shatter darkness and heal wounds, and that real family, blood or not, will love all your broken pieces and hold you together when you fall apart.

L.J. Shen started this journey with Vicious and it ends with his son, Vaughn, the 8th and final book (as of now) in the Todos Santos world. This series has brought us full circle. These characters and this world has taught me so much. I’ve grown, laughed, loved with this fictional people, and that is the power of a phenomenal romance.

Vaughn’s story tore me to shreds, each page was a slice to my very soul until I was left completely ruined by this book. Then slowly and with delicacy that only the author possesses she puts you back together mending you with parts of this story permanently imbedded. I could not have asked for a more perfect ending to my time here in Todos Santos, these character’s will forever be a part of me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I guess you can tell that I loved this book!!!!!

 

The Suspect (Kate Waters #3) by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

Review –

“When two girls traveling in Thailand turn up dead in a suspicious fire, journalist Kate Waters follows the story without disclosing a hidden agenda.

Kate’s son, a former golden boy, dropped out of school and traveled to Thailand two years prior, and he’s been in sporadic touch since. Coincidentally, it turns out that he was present at the same guesthouse on the night the girls died. Sidelined because of her conflict of interest, Kate continues to investigate, as does DI Bob Sparkes, a compassionate policeman distracted by the impending death of his wife. Which leads one to wonder: When did all thriller writers begin to fashion themselves as psychologists? There’s a dead giveaway to any possible plot twist—a character whose face or eyes is described as “blank.” In Barton’s  book, to be fair, it takes almost 300 pages to reach this moment, and up until that point, she creates quite a bit of narrative interest by giving voice to the victims in addition to the many people involved in the investigation—driven reporters, bereaved parents, and very human policemen. But once the killer is clearly outed, even though it takes another 100 pages for all the pieces to fall into place, the novel quickly loses steam. Even a final moral conundrum that should immediately freeze the blood of any parent seems overly constructed rather than shocking. By that point, it had become tiresome reading about most of the characters and their shifty relationships to the truth. “No one is to be believed ever,” seems to be a major takeaway. Oh, and P.S., don’t let your kids run wild in Thailand.

This has the potential to be a thoughtful thriller with an interesting setting, but Barton is too willing to cater to expectations—short chapters, familiar clues, and stereotypical villains.” Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews is spot on and I couldn’t have said it better. I did have a problem with the ending and I haven’t decided if I will continue with this series.

 

 

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: September 30, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

One woman will stop at nothing to discover the devastating truth about her family…

Chasing disasters around the globe keeps humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews away from her own ground zero. Now, after sixteen years in jail for the murder of her stepmother in small-town Tennessee, Gia’s father has come home to die of cancer. And she’s responsible for his care.

Resuming the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer means confronting the past she’s spent over a decade avoiding. But in the end, the truth about what really happened may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…

Review –

Have you ever thought that you would give anything to know the truth about a situation and then when you do find that truth, wish you hadn’t? That, for me sums up this debut novel by Kimberly Belle.

This book is a thought provoking dramatic undertaking that takes a decade old crime and uses it to dissect and examine the characters who all were affected by it.  While the mystery is a strong base the story is built on, I found the character dynamics far more prevalent. A trio of siblings, torn apart by their stepmother’s death and father’s conviction of the crime must come together and finally deal with the past and their own feelings towards their father and each other. The author combines a blend of humor,  sorrow, and compassion as she tells us a story of love, loss, jealousy, guilt, and forgiveness. Using the past and the present, Belle guides us down a long twisting road, letting us form our own opinions about what happened as we listen to the victims recollections of what happened and the accounts of all those left behind to question and wonder.

Fantastic read!

 

 

The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin

Book Description:

Published: May 19, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

The truth hurts…

Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret—one Erin has kept for over a decade—and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies.

Erin wants nothing to do with Roisin. She has a new life in London and no intention of going back home. Yet when her father is mysteriously and critically injured, Erin has no choice but to return and face Roisin—and her past. Erin knows if the secret of what she gave up got out, the consequences could be devastating.

When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out…?

Review –

This is the story of Erin, partly written in first person and told over a dual timeline. Sixteen year old Erin is in love, pregnant and being told what is best for her by adults. They all make sense but she doesn’t want to hear it.

Present day, ten years later, Erin is living in London working at a beauty salon when she receives a blast from the past phone call from her old school friend, Roisin, in Ireland. The call is disturbing and unsettling for Erin and within hours she receives another urgent call from her sister, Fiona, informing her that their father is in intensive care with a serious head injury. From here Erin is forced back to Ireland to be with her family and knows she will also have to face the dreaded Roisin who she knows she will bump into in the small village they live in.

Sue Fortin writes beautifully and competently with unease and tense moments at each chapter ending. Her characters are realistic and visual with enough description to make them authentic without becoming mundane or boring. There is just the right amount of teasing romance to add to the suspense but without distracting from the gripping storyline. The text is rich and written with depth and meaning, and several times I thought I’d guessed what was coming, sometimes I did guess correctly but it didn’t spoil the outcome at all because there was twist and revelation, one on top of another. I found the book totally compelling and couldn’t put it down.

I would highly recommend it for anyone who likes psychological suspense.

My first five-star book of the year!

The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedstrom #5) by Camilla Lackberg

Book Description:

Published: June 20, 2011

Format: Audio/Audible

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family’s past and finally uncover the reasons why. Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death.

Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? Reluctantly Erica must read her mother’s wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica’s past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be . . .

Review –

“Three months ago, Erica Falck asked a collector of Nazi memorabilia about a medal she found among her mother’s effects. Now he’s discovered dead from a blow to the head, and the question of who killed him is only the first of many mysteries.

Best-selling Swedish author Läckberg (The Stranger, 2013, etc.) returns with her fourth novel about the crime-solving team of Erica Falck and her husband, detective Patrik Hedström. Their adorable daughter, Maja, has just turned one, Erica’s ready to return to her work writing novels (though she won’t be going far—just to the upstairs study), and Patrik’s embarking on four months of paternity leave. But Erica can’t concentrate, because Patrik keeps interrupting her with parenting questions and her mother’s diaries tempt her like a siren’s call. Maybe the diaries will explain why her mother was so emotionally distant. They’re filled with stories about her friends back in the 1940s, including Erik, the historian recently found dead; Axel, who joined the resistance during World War II, running dangerous missions; Frans, who grew up to be a politically active neo-Nazi; and Britta, a foolish girl who adored Frans. When Patrik takes Maja out for a walk one afternoon, he stumbles upon his colleagues and joins them in examining the crime scene at Erik’s home. Patrik and Erica are pulled deeply into the developing investigation. Soon the line between good and evil blurs as they delve into the complicated history of Swedish involvement in the war. Meanwhile, Erica’s sister Anna tries to broker peace between her new husband and stepdaughter, and Patrik’s gruff boss, Mellberg, adopts a dog and takes up salsa dancing. Läckberg deftly layers the dark details of the crime upon the disturbing seeds of its origin.

Fans of Nordic noir will appreciate this taut, twisty mystery enriched with historical detail.” Kirkus Review

Love this series and looking forward to reading or listening to more installments next year.

The Last Thing She Ever Did by Gregg Olsen

Book Description:

Published: January 1, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The community along Oregon’s Deschutes River is one of successful careers and perfect families. For years, up-and-comers Liz and Owen have admired their good friends and neighbors, Carole and David. They appear to have it all–security, happiness, and a beautiful young son, Charlie.

Then Charlie vanishes without a trace, and all that seemed safe is shattered by a tragedy that is incomprehensible–except to Liz.

It took one fleeting moment for her to change the lives of everyone she loves–a heartrending accident that can’t be undone. Neither can the second-worst mistake of her life: concealing it. As two marriages crack and buckle in grief and fear, Liz retreats into her own dark place of guilt, escalating paranoia–and betrayals even she can’t imagine. Because there’s another good neighbor who has his own secrets, his own pain, and his own reasons for watching Liz’s every move.

And only he knows that the mystery of the missing boy on the Deschutes River is far from over.

Review –

This novel is crazy! I mean crazy in a good way.  

 I will warn you that there are some uncomfortable scenes in this book, so if you don’t like gritty suspense novels, you might want to pass on this one.  

Charlie, a young boy, is out of his mother’s sight for several minutes and vanishes.  A neighbour and close friend to his mother knows what happens but coming forward will ruin their lives.  Other than Charlie, all the characters were pretty much selfish jerks.  Yet, I couldn’t wait to see where the story would go ands mesmerised listening to the chapters go by.  There was a twist to the ending, I for once didn’t expect and while I am not sure if I liked the ending it was interesting.  This novel had be glued till the end and that’s what I love!

I highly  recommend this one to any suspense fans.

Worth Killing For (D I Fenchurch #2) by Ed James

Book Description:

Published: October 11, 2016

Format: Audio

On a busy London street, a young woman is attacked in broad daylight and left bleeding to death on the pavement. Among the eyewitnesses are DI Simon Fenchurch and his wife.

Fenchurch pursues the attacker through a warren of backstreets and eventually arrests a young hoodie with a cache of stolen phones – an ‘Apple picker’ on the make. The case should be closed but something feels off … Was this really just about a smartphone? Why did the victim look nervous before she was targeted? And why don’t the prints on the murder weapon match the young man in custody?

Before Fenchurch can probe further, his superiors remove him from the case, convinced he has let the real culprit run free. But Fenchurch is determined to get to the truth and, before long, uncovers a conspiracy that reaches high above the street gangs of London.

Review –

This book picks up a few months after the Hope That Kills, and Fenchurch’s life has changed in many ways- he is back with Abi, his formerly estranged wife, he has set aside his ongoing search for Chloe, his missing daughter, and all is great. Until. The moment that will define the weeks to come. He witnesses a young girl murdered right in from of him.

As both a witness/victim and officer, Fenchurch is given a lot more leeway in the investigation, that we would believe would be allowed in modern policing. His dedication and willingness to set aside his own assumptions, allow the case to progress until he is taken off the case. Once the case stalls, he knows he has to get back in the game and find the solution.

 This is another page turner from author, Ed James. Fenchurch and his team are very likable, and this is a mystery locked inside another one, inside another. As the layers peel away, James gives a surprise ending, that many readers may not see coming!

Don’t miss this one!