The Next Girl (Detective Gina Harte #1) by Carla Kovach

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

Review –

Four years ago, wife and mother Deborah Jenkins disappeared without a trace. The police did everything possible to find her but it was all to no avail. Her husband, mother, and two young children have all come to terms with her probable death, and although it hasn’t always been easy, each of them has begun to figure out what life will look like without Deborah there. And then, an abandoned infant is found outside a nearby library, an infant who’s DNA matches Deborah’s, and suddenly, the investigation into Deborah’s disappearance is active once more.

Detective Gina Harte remembers the Jenkins case well. She wasn’t the lead investigator back then, but she’s familiar with the investigation nonetheless, and now that Deborah’s case is in the forefront of everyone’s minds again, she’s determined to reunite the woman with her family, no matter what it takes. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. The original detectives did their job thoroughly, and in spite Gina’s efforts to find something they missed, nothing jumps out at her. But Gina knows that Deborah is out there somewhere, most likely the victim of unimaginable horrors. After all, how else could she have given birth to the baby girl who was left outside the library?

Gina would love to devote all her attention to the Jenkins case, but her personal life is pretty messy. Her adult daughter is in the process of planning a memorial celebration for her late father, a man who had once turned Gina’s very existence into a living nightmare. Gina doesn’t want to participate in the celebration, but neither does she want to ruin her daughter’s memories of her father, so she keeps the truth to herself, something which pushes the two women further apart. And, as if all that isn’t enough, Gina is sleeping with one of her direct superiors. Neither of them would go so far as to call what they have an actual relationship, but they’re both aware it’s very much against the rules, so they’ve been meeting in secret for the past several months.

The story is told from four different points of view. Most of our time is spent with Gina, but we also see things from the perspectives of Deborah, her husband Luke, and Deborah’s captor. For the most part, this narrative style works well, although spending a significant time in Deborah’s head took a little bit away from the mystery itself. The identity of her captor isn’t revealed until the end of the story, but his motivation for abducting Deborah is laid out pretty early on. Fortunately, there were still a number of things to be discovered about Deborah’s ordeal, and Gina’s race to uncover the truth definitely kept me listening.

If violence against women is a trigger for you, you’re might not want to pick up this book. Deborah suffers horribly at the hands of her abductor, and the author goes into quite a bit of detail about what has been done to her over the years of her captivity. Plus, Gina’s former husband was terribly abusive, and she is still dealing with flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse.

I thoroughly enjoyed with book and look forward to reading the next one.

 

Advertisements

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

Review –

When her best friend commits suicide after being dumped by a worthless man, Jane, a self-described sociopath, decides revenge will be slow and sweet.

In this suspenseful, creepy thriller, Jane travels to Minneapolis after her friend, Meg, commits suicide. Jane isn’t sure she herself has ever felt love, or any emotion other than hatred for her abusive family. But college roommate Meg gave Jane her best chance at seeing how normal people lived. When Meg became involved with Steven, though, she turned from a funny, bold woman into a submissive girl who accepted Steven’s cruel comments and control, until in her despair she killed herself. Now Jane has insinuated herself at Steven’s company. She pretends  to be just the sort of woman Steve wants—meek, mousy, and needy. It’s fascinating to hear Jane, who narrates the novel, comment on her plans and observations of others. The author does a fantastic job of creating in Jane a complex character, making her both scary and more than a little appealing. As the novel progresses, our view of Jane gradually shifts. Is Jane really a sociopath or the rare woman who doesn’t care what others think? And which of us wouldn’t at least dream of sweet revenge against those who cause such pain? Stone even provides the perfect ending, which can’t be commented on without ruining its perfection.

This beautifully balanced thriller will keep readers tense, surprised, pleased, and surprised again as a master manipulator unfolds her plan of revenge.

Fantastic  read !

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Book Description:

Published: January 2, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Review –

The title character, Anna Fox, is thirty-eight  and lives alone in a costly house in uptown Manhattan. We soon learn why she is so often peering out her window. She is agoraphobic and has not left home in nearly a year, but she delights in spying on her neighbors. Otherwise, Anna drinks a LOT of wine, mostly Merlot, and watches countless black-and-white movie classics — “Gaslight,” “Rebecca,” “Strangers on a Train” and “Spellbound” are among her favorites.

Anna’s husband has left her and taken their 8-year-old daughter with him. She talks to them by phone and vainly begs him to return. She’s a child psychologist and still advises a few patients by email, but mostly she is alone with her wine, her movies and her cat. She also has a tenant, a handsome carpenter who lives in her basement. His presence injects a bit of “will they or won’t they?” excitement into the story, but mostly she is content to spy on her neighbors.

Then, Ethan Russell, a boy of 16 who lives across the street, arrives bearing a gift from his mother. He is a good-looking, friendly lad: “He looks like a boy I once knew, once kissed — summer camp in Maine, a quarter century ago. I like him.” Anna meets Ethan’s parents, Paul and Jane, and Finn’s plot kicks in.

The Russells are a troubled family. Ethan hints that his father is violent toward his wife and son. Anna uses her binoculars to learn more, and one day sees what she believes is an act of violence. She calls the police, who investigate and find no problem. They think Anna’s wine consumption — two or three bottles a day — along with the many prescription drugs she consumes, have impaired her judgment. (Anna cherishes George Bernard Shaw’s quip that alcohol is the “anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”) She continues to spy on the Russells, and dark deeds soon unfold.

Although Finn’s plot must not be revealed, it’s fair to say that his characters are rarely who or what they first appear to be. And that his story ends with a series of mind-boggling surprises. The Woman in the Window is first-rate entertainment that is finally a moving portrait of a woman fighting to preserve her sanity

I  only gave it four stars because it was slow in places and almost drove me to start drinking Merlot!!!!

End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy #3) by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: June 7, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

Review –

After finding out that Holly Gibney, a character from the Bill Hodges Trilogy was in the Outsider, I remembered that I had not read/listened to the third and final book in the series. Upon completion of the Outsider I found End of Watch on Overdrive and quickly devoured it.

It starts up where book two ended (I love it when authors do that!).

“It’s always darkest before the dawn,” King cheerfully reminds us at the very outset of this work of mayhem and murder, closing a trilogy devoted to retired detective Bill Hodges and investigative partner Holly Gibney. Yes, it is, and “darker than a woodchuck’s asshole,” too, reminding us that we’re in King’s New England, where weird things are always happening. Bill—well, his real first name is Kermit—has a doozy of a case from the very start: those weird things leapfrog back to the first volume, to a time, seven years before the present, when the perp of the so-called Mercedes Massacre drifted off into comaland. Throughout the trilogy, King has both honored and toyed with the conventions of hard-boiled crime fiction, and it seemed as if he’d be staking out that genre as his own; now, though, he steers back into the realm of horror that for sure belongs to him, for the baddie, Brady Hartsfield, who had merely been an incest-committing mass murderer before, has now acquired psychic powers and is experimenting merrily with ways to convince the innocent to kill themselves—and perhaps worse. Having lost some mobility, Brady is deeply ticked off—and, as King writes, “Being in a situation like that, who wouldn’t want to kill a bunch of people?” Right, and it’s up to Kermit/Bill and Holly to stop “Z-Boy,” as he’s now calling himself, from further mischief, very much more easily said than done. Suffice it to say that heavy machinery—having been run over, King hates cars, and having grown up when he did, he doesn’t have much use for gizmo technology, either—figures into both the crime and its cure, and suffice it to say that both are exceedingly messy.” Kirkus Reviews

I loved this book and the series and highly recommend it!

The Outsider by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: May 22, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

Review –

Mr. King, the Master of Horror, has done it again!

Those who’ve read a good doppelgänger or evil twin novel, might think that they have The Outsider all figured out just a few chapters in. But also, whoever has read Stephen King knows that things usually aren’t that simple.

Let’s start from the beginning. Terry Maitland, a much-loved Little League coach and all-around perfect father, husband and neighbor is accused of committing a heinous and unspeakable crime. An eleven year old boy has been found murdered and violated in a local town park, and all evidence in form of fingerprints and eyewitnesses point to Maitland as the murderer.

But there’s one catch: Maitland was out-of-town that day and security cameras confirm his presence in a massively attended event outside of town. How could he be in two places at once? Has Maitland found a way to commit the perfect murder? Or could he be innocent and the real murderer still remains walking the streets?

As the truth of Maitland’s guilt or innocence becomes blurred by the impossible and the improbable, a charismatic and esteemed character from King’s Mr. Mercedes trilogy makes an important appearance, (applause, applause, applause)turning the case and all the characters in The Outsider in a whole different direction which is not totally or completely unexpected.

There most definitely exists a boogeyman in The Outsider, but King makes it difficult to unveil. By mixing a collection of frightening old wives’ tales and word-of-mouth legends from different cultures and civilizations, King has giving us the ultimate monster for these very frightening times. One that digs into subconscious fears and well-kept secrets, which makes everything much too real.

Fantastic read/listen!!!!!!

Fear Nothing ( Det. D.D. Warren #7) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Audio

My name is Dr. Adeline Glen. Due to a genetic condition, I can’t feel pain. I never have. I never will.

The last thing Boston Detective D. D. Warren remembers is walking the crime scene after dark. Then, a creaking floorboard, a low voice crooning in her ear. . . . She is later told she managed to discharge her weapon three times. All she knows is that she is seriously injured, unable to move her left arm, unable to return to work.

My sister is Shana Day, a notorious murderer who first killed at fourteen. Incarcerated for thirty years, she has now murdered more people while in prison than she did as a free woman.

Six weeks later, a second woman is discovered murdered in her own bed, her room containing the same calling cards from the first: a bottle of champagne and a single red rose. The only person who may have seen the killer: Detective D. D. Warren, who still can’t lift her child, load her gun, or recall a single detail from the night that may have cost her everything.

Our father was Harry Day, an infamous serial killer who buried young women beneath the floor of our home. He has been dead for forty years. Except the Rose Killer knows things about my father he shouldn’t. My sister claims she can help catch him. I think just because I can’t feel pain doesn’t mean my family can’t hurt me.

D.D. may not be back on the job, but she is back on the hunt. Because the Rose Killer isn’t just targeting lone women, he is targeting D.D. And D.D. knows there is only one way to take him down:  Fear nothing.

Review –

“Recovering from a nasty fall down a flight of stairs, Detective D.D. Warren, of Boston Homicide, tangles with a pair of sisters who put her pain in a whole new perspective.

Forty years ago, Harry Day, about to be arrested for killing eight prostitutes, got his wife to slit his wrists before the police closed in. He left behind two young daughters: Shana, a sociopath who followed so closely in her father’s footsteps that she was jailed for life when she killed a neighborhood boy at age 14, and Adeline, not quite a year old when her father died, who’s grown up cursed by an inability to feel physical pain. Naturally, Adeline went to medical school and became a psychiatrist specializing in pain management, and it’s in that capacity that D.D. consults her after an accident at a blood-soaked crime scene leaves her with an impressive set of injuries. Christine Ryan, the victim who’s been smothered and flayed by someone who left behind a bottle of champagne, a pair of fur-lined handcuffs and a long-stemmed rose, is followed distressingly quickly by a second victim, occupational therapist Regina Barnes. Even worse, the handiwork of the Rose Killer is gruesomely linked to the criminal careers of Harry Day, dead these 40 years, and his daughter Shana, who’s been in the Massachusetts Correctional Institute for over 25 years. Alternating as usual between third-person chapters following D.D.’s investigation and first-person chapters dramatizing Adeline’s point of view, Gardner (Touch & Go, 2013, etc.) paints an indelible portrait of two troubled sisters so closely bound together by blood that they agree: “Blood is love.”

If you think Gardner pulled out all the stops in D.D.’s previous cases (Catch Me, 2012, etc.), you ain’t seen nothing yet. Better fasten your seat belt for this roller-coaster ride through family hell.” Kirkus Review

Fantastic read!!!!

 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Book Description:

Published: May 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.

Review –

In the author’s fourth novel in as many years, Harriet “Hal” Westaway is barely making ends meet as a tarot reader on the Brighton Pier.

Her mother died in a hit-and-run several years before, and in her grief, Hal has drifted into a solitary and poverty-stricken life. Worse still, she’s under threat from a loan shark who’s come to collect the interest on an earlier debt. So when she receives a letter saying she’s been named in the will of, possibly, an unknown grandmother, she decides to travel to Cornwall, despite fearing that it’s probably all a mistake.

There she meets several possible uncles and a creepy old housekeeper right out of a Daphne du Maurier novel, all against the backdrop of a run-down mansion. As Hal desperately tries to keep up her charade of belonging to the family, she realizes that the malevolent atmosphere of Trepassen House has strong roots in the past, when a young girl came to live there, fell in love, and was imprisoned in her bedroom. Hal just has to figure out exactly who this girl was…without getting herself killed.

The author continues to refine her gift for the slow unspooling of unease and mystery, developing a consistent sense of threat that’s pervasive and gripping. She uses tarot readings to hint at the supernatural, but at its heart, this is a very human mystery. The isolation of Trepassen House, its parliament of magpies, and its severely creepy housekeeper cultivate a dull sense of horror. Ware’s novels continue to evoke comparison to Agatha Christie; they certainly have that classic flavor despite the contemporary settings.

I rated this book 4 1/2 stars because it was slow to get started but the second half was on fire and I highly recommend it for any mystery/horror enthusiast.

 

Then She Was Gone By Lisa Jewell

Book Description:

Published: April 18, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine-year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

Review –

“Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her fifteen year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned.

She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced.

Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She’s disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie.

As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious.

 The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes.” Kirkus Reviews

You will not believe the ending!!!

The book is dark and unsettling but so good.  Five stars!

Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible 

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

Review –

Five stars!

This book has an unreliable narrator in Finn McQuaid, and Ellen, Layla’s sister, seems like a shadow of a character, yet, the story is Hitchockian, creepy-all those tiny Russian nesting dolls, far fetched the ending, and the suspense and paranoia are OFF the charts. There are things you’ll think you have figured out but then BAM, your wrong. I will be surprised if you figure this one out!

I can’t say too much without giving  too much away, suffice it to say this book is a MUST READ for your Summer.

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Book Description:

Published: August 15, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Review –

Karen Krupp is left with a bad concussion after crashing her car into a pole while fleeing from an abandoned restaurant in a sketchy neighborhood in a town in upstate New York. She claims she has no memory of what happened, and her doctors acknowledge that this could happen, but add that she might regain her memory.

Police surmise that Karen may have something to do with a man found shot to death in the empty restaurant. Karen’s husband, Tom, is at a loss at what to believe. Karen’s accident, and the fact that she left that night without her purse or cellphone, are out of character for his normally calm, organized wife. Tom begins to wonder just how well he knows Karen. She never talks about her background and her family, and she appears to have only one friend, Brigid Cruikshank, who lives across the street. But Brigid is hardly the caring friend, spending most of her day in front of her living room window watching the comings and goings of the Krupps, consumed with jealousy over their life.

The author keeps the well-developed twists churning, with each a surprise notch in this ever-evolving plot, and she continues this skillful storytelling until the stunning twist at the end, which I’m sorry to say was very predictable about half way through the book.   Usually in a story such as this there is at least one likable character but it’s hard to connect with the cold Karen, the naive, almost vapid Tom or the creepy Brigid. That being said, I enjoyed it very much and look forward to the author’s next book.