Last Words (Mark Novak #1) by Michael Koryta

Book Description:

Published: August 18, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Still mourning the death of his wife, private investigator Mark Novak accepts a case that may be his undoing. On the same day his wife died, the body of a teenage girl was pulled from the extensive and perilous cave system beneath Southern Indiana. Now the man who rescued the girl, who was believed to be her killer, begs Novak to uncover what really happened.

Garrison is much like any place in America, proud and fortified against outsiders. For Mark to delve beneath the town’s surface, he must match wits with the man who knows the caverns better than anyone. A man who seemed to have lost his mind. A man who seems to know Mark Novak all too well.

Last Words is a pulse-pounding thriller of one man’s undoing; you just may not know which man.

Review –

PI Mark Novak has not done well since his wife, Lauren, was murdered on her way to an interview on behalf of the Florida firm that specializes in exonerating death-row inmates for which the couple worked. Two years later, Mark, who’s at risk of being fired by that firm, receives an unusual request. Ridley Barnes, an eccentric cave explorer, wants him to look into the decade-old murder of 17-year-old Sarah Martin, who disappeared inside Trapdoor Caverns in Garrison, Ind. Barnes was a prime suspect in that case, though he was never charged. The tragedy plunged the town into an economic depression after the cave’s owners sealed it, cutting off the tourist trade. In Garrison, Mark encounters people who refuse to talk—and violence. 

The author sensitively portrays regret and grief while plunging the reader into exciting, claustrophobic scenes deep inside the massive cave, and the best and most suspenseful parts of the book by far are the ones set underground, particularly the scene in which bad guys drug and strip Novak and deposit him inside the cave. Koryta evokes the pitch-dark, damp, bone-cold setting so well, it’s easy to share the claustrophobia and eerie visions the character experiences. 

The ending is not what I expected  but served the purpose.

 

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Fatal by John Lescroart

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Kate loves her life. At forty-four, she’s happily married to her kind husband, Ron, blessed with two wonderful children, and has a beautiful home in San Francisco. Everything changes, however, when she and Ron attend a dinner party and meet another couple, Peter and Jill. Kate and Peter only exchange a few pleasant words but that night, in bed with her husband, Kate is suddenly overcome with a burning desire for Peter.

What begins as an innocent crush soon develops into a dangerous obsession and Kate’s fixation on Peter results in one intense, passionate encounter between the two. Confident that her life can now go back to normal, Kate never considers that Peter may not be so willing to move on.

Not long after their affair, a masked man barges into the café Kate is sitting in with her best friend, firing an assault weapon indiscriminately into the crowd. This tragedy is the first in a series of horrifying events that will show Kate just how grave the consequences of one mistake can be.

 

Review-

“Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive”  Sir Walter Scott

This simple statement perfectly sums up the moral of this story, and what a story it is!

This was  my first reading of a John Lescroart book and I loved it.  I found the storyline to be very on point and the characters very credible. 

In today’s society of “instant gratification” the consequences of actions are rarely considered and that was the problem with Kate having a “one night stand” with Peter.

Along with her infidelity, there is a domestic terror attack, a murder and multiple suspects, and a friend who doesn’t know her best friend as well as she thought she did.

The author  serves up a brilliant whodunit mystery that had me holding my breath until the very end, which is perfect, by the way, if not a little frustrating.

Fantastic standalone read.

Five stars!!!!!

 

No One Left to Tell (Baltimore #2) by Karen Rose

Book Description:

Published: June 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A car crashes in front of rookie PI Paige Holden’s home. And suddenly, she finds one of her pro bono clients dying in her arms—from a gunshot wound. With her last breath, the woman whispers cryptic words into her ear and hands her a blood-smeared flash drive.

Five years ago, State’s Attorney Grayson Smith put a murderer behind bars. But when Paige Holden shares the flash drive with him, its contents cast doubts on the conviction—and lead him and Paige into a world of blackmail, dark secrets, and a decades-long string of murders. An investigation they’ll survive only by trusting each other—and the truth.

Review –

Bestselling author Karen Rose returns to Baltimore for this steamy follow-up to 2011’s You Belong to Me. Fledgling PI Paige Holden and Assistant State’s Attorney Grayson Smith start on opposite sides before becoming a formidable team delving into the deadly secrets behind a murder conviction. Holden hears the last words of a dying Elena Muñoz, who tells Holden cops were chasing her as she presses a flash drive into the PI’s hands. Elena’s husband, Ramon, a gardener, was framed for the murder of Crystal Jones during a party given by Rex McCloud at the estate of his grandfather, retired state senator James McCloud. Elena’s evidence and an attempt on Holden’s life prevented by Smith launch the pair on a mission for justice. Both Holden and Smith have carefully guarded secrets that keep their passions smoldering before bursting into flames. Rose’s deft combination of hot heroine and cool hero should please her many fans.
Lots of action and many unbelievable  near death attempts on Paige and Grayson but all in all it made for a great read.
 

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Book Description:

Published: March 22, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

Review –

I will not tell you what happens in this book because there are so many twists and turns and it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end and then you are left with your mouth agape.

No One Knows will have inevitable comparisons to Gone Girl, but this is a more realistic storyline. It will have readers guessing who can be believed and what are their ulterior motives.  Ellison messes with the character’s head as well as the readers with her many directional path changes.

I will say that I thought that Opryland in Nashville as  the scene of Josh’s disappearance was genius. It is huge and so very easy to get lost in. The author has said that it is a metaphor for this story because anyone who visits there can get turned around and see different things at different times.

I loved this book all the way through and got whiplash from all the twists and turns but loved every minute of it!

YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!

Five stars.

 

 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Book Description:

Published: July 25, 2017   

Format: Audio/OverDrive

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Review –

This is a book that will keep you guessing at every chapter.  You think you know what’s going on and in the next sentence you discover you were totally wrong.  I LOVE books this this because you never get bored and it “strains the brain” to figure out what comes next.

I have now read all three books by this author and she out does herself with every one.  Were Alfred Hitchcock still around, he surely would have snapped up the rights because it would be right up his alley. Hitch would have more of a challenge, though, making “The Lying Game” into something memorable. This story stays scrupulously within the lines: to the degree it satisfies, it does so because — like a Lifetime movie — its premise, setting and characters are so comfortably broken-in. There’s even a haunted house, a dark and stormy night, a baby in danger and climactic trials by flood and fire. But even if the story hints at being a cliché, you can’t help but be drawn in.

The plot ambles back and forth between the women’s youth and their anxious present, they are four old school friends bound together by a terrible secret. Fifteen years ago, Isa Wilde arrived at Salten House, a boarding school on the south coast. She and three other girls, Fatima, Kate and Thea, form an inseparable clique impervious to the world around them. They spend their weekends at Kate’s home, the Old Mill, a ramshackle building overlooking the nearby estuary, under the watchful eye of her father Ambrose (the school’s art teacher), and in the company of Kate’s sort-of half-brother Luc.

Most of the girls’ time, however, is spent playing the Lying Game, competing with each other to get away with increasingly outrageous untruths: to “outwit everyone else – ‘us’ against ‘them’”. Then one day something terrible happens, and henceforth they’re “lying not for fun, but to survive”.

What is the secret they are hiding, who else knows about it, who is blackmailing Kate, who killed the sheep and is the note Ambrose wrote really a suicide note? These are just a few of the questions in this fantastic read.

  Five stars!!!!

 

 

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Book Description:

Published: September 26, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

Review –

I don’t know if Mr. Coben plans to make Napoleon “Nap” Dumas into a series but I sure have my fingers crossed.

He’s a well-adjusted (well, sometimes) police detective whose twin brother, Leo, died when he was 18 years old along with his high school girlfriend, Diana. During most of the book he talks to Leo but by the end has decided that fifteen years is long enough to keep up this practice.

He finds out that members of a “conspiracy club”, of which he was not a member, are being murdered and sets out to find the killer and discover the reason behind the deaths. His brother was a member but Diana, Leo’s girlfriend, was not. Do the current murders have to do with the “club” or to a”secret” missile base not far from town.

Nap discovers many dark  secrets along the way to finding the killer of the club members AND his brother and it is a shocker.

Loved this book and highly recommend it.   Five stars!

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

Book Description:

Published: January 3, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

Review –

Five Stars !!!!!

This story pulled me in from the beginning and held me captive to the end.

I see IDENTITY as the theme running through the storyline.  Hattie wasn’t sure who see was so she became what people wanted, the seemingly loving girlfriend, the knowledgeable student, the obedient daughter, the best friend, to name a few, and she hides behinds all of these. Others in the story hid behind their identities to a point: the English teacher behind literature and the sheriff behind his badge but not to the point that Hattie does.

Hattie has an epiphany and realizes that she can not hide behind her “fake” selves and has to come to terms with her true self but it is too late.

She truly loves Peter and he loves her too but as a reader I knew their relationship was doomed  from the beginning so I was not surprised by the outcome, but there is a huge plot twist that I didn’t see coming. 

This is a captivating story and I loved it and I highly recommend it!

Camp Refuge (Camp Refuge #1) by Terri Blackstock

Book Description:

Published: April 7, 2002

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Thelma and Wayne Owens run a bed and breakfast in Cape Refuge, Georgia. They minister to the seamen on the nearby docks and prisoners just out of nearby jails, holding services in an old warehouse and taking many of the “down-and-outers” into their home. They have two daughters: the dutiful Morgan who is married to Jonathan, a fisherman, and helps them out at the B & B, and Blair, the still-single town librarian, who would be beautiful if it weren’t for the serious scar on the side of her face. After a heated, public argument with his in-laws, Jonathan discovers Thelma and Wayne murdered in the warehouse where they held their church services. Considered the prime suspect, Jonathan is arrested. Grief-stricken, Morgan and Blair launch their own investigation to help Matthew Cade, the town’s young police chief, find the real killer. Shady characters and a raft of suspects keep the plot twisting and the suspense building as we learn not only who murdered Thelma and Wayne, but also the secrets about their family’s past and the true reason for Blair’s disfigurement.

Review –

When I began this book, I was quite intrigued. After all, it is a Christian mystery. That is a genre I have seldom  read.

I found the author to be a fantastic writer who certainly knows how to develop believable characters and plots with intriguing twists and turns. I was drawn into the book from the very beginning–which is quite refreshing.

Though it was slow in parts and the outcome a bit predictable  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will read others when I can find them.

 

 

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Book Description:

Published: July 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct…

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

“A search for a missing girl resurrects traumatic memories for a woman already struggling with life.

Sunday Night—not her real name—lives in seclusion on an island off the South Carolina coast while contemplating the ruins of her life. Her early childhood was a nightmare. Taken in by policeman Perry “Beau” Beaumonde, rebellious Sunday earned a choice of jail or the armed forces. Her stint in the Marines led to a job with the Charleston PD, where the accidental shooting of an unarmed man has left her wounded and pensioned off. That’s when Beau suggests she take an investigative job for wealthy, well-connected Opaline Drucker, whose 15-year-old granddaughter, Stella, may have been kidnapped by a cult after she missed being killed in a Hebrew school bombing that claimed the lives of her mother and brother (though the family isn’t Jewish). Accepting the job, Sunday heads to Chicago, where Drucker’s connections get her first-class treatment and information from the cops handling the case. Paranoid Sunday sets up motion detectors in her room at the Ritz and moves from hotel to hotel while awaiting the results of her internet trolling. She hears from the bombers and manages to avoid one trap but gets ambushed at the Ritz, where she kills an attacker identified as one of the bombing suspects from an old security tape. Seeking help in staking out a female member of the gang, Sunday calls on her twin brother, Gus, and they chase the suspects from Chicago to California and back East. Reichs periodically interrupts this tale with the first-person narrative of a girl desperately trying to escape a cult. Is it Stella or Sunday? Are the bombers really trying to kill Jewish schoolchildren, or is their motive still deeper?

The authors’ newest heroine, the polar opposite of cerebral Temperance Brennan (Speaking in Bones, 2015, etc.), is fueled by a well-nigh uncontrollable rage in her thrilling, violent search for a missing girl so much like herself.”

The above was taken from Kirkus Review.

Although I enjoyed the book, I’m not sure if the character of Sunday Night will grow on me; but I really liked her twin brother Gus (August Night) and he, I could become invested in. I guess I’ll just wait and see what the author decides to do.

 

The Sentry (Elvis Cole #14, Joe Pike #3) by Robert Crais

Book Description:

Published: January 11, 2011

Format: Audio

Dru Rayne and her uncle fled to L.A. after Hurricane Katrina; but now, five years later, they face a different danger. When Joe Pike witnesses Dru’s uncle beaten by a protection gang, he offers his help, but neither of them want it — and neither do the federal agents mysteriously watching them.

As the level of violence escalates, and Pike himself becomes a target, he and Elvis Cole learn that Dru and her uncle are not who they seem — and that everything he thought he knew about them has been a lie. A vengeful and murderous force from their past is now catching up to them… and only Pike and Cole stand in the way.

Review –

As you know, Joe Pike is one of my favorite fictional character and I had high hopes for him with this book, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

In previous books Joe Pike hid behind sunglasses he never took off. He usually wore a  gray sweatshirt with the sleeves ripped off to show tattoos of red arrows (pointing forward, of course) on his biceps. He owned a gun shop and drove a Jeep he kept spotlessly clean and always had Cole’s back in a jam. The most emotion he showed was when the corner of his mouth twitched after Cole said something particularly funny.

He’s loyal to his friends, especially Cole, and his lonely side is coming out over the last few books. It’s making him behave oddly and get involved with people he’d never bother with in the past, like the seemingly innocent man and his niece whose sandwich shop gets attacked by Mexican gangbangers in Venice, Calif., at the start of “The Sentry.”

Pike makes quick work of the gangsters, of course, and sparks fly with Dru Rayne, the hot young niece from New Orleans. They go on a friendly little date and all sorts of trouble results. Dru Rayne and her uncle aren’t what they seem, the FBI and the Mexican mafia and a scary hit man sent by some South American drug lords are all in the mix, with Pike in the middle and Cole watching out for him for a change.

Even when Joe finds out Dru is real Rose and was playing him, he still insists on helping her out of the jam she’s in. Does he love her? No, I don’t think so, but could he have loved her? Yes, definitely  and that  would take Joe way outside his comfort zone.

I’ve rarely seen Joe Pike this vulnerable, this unsure of what the truth is. For Joe things are absolute, either black or white. It’s hard to read about him floundering a bit in the murky gray.

By the end of the book, which did not end well for “Dru” and “Wilson”, Joe is bouncing back. It will take time but he will rally. He always does!

Fantastic read.

Five stars!