A Twist of the Knife (Brigid Quinn #3) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, “the most original female character to anchor a crime series in years,” (The New York Times) is back—on a case staking family, friendship, and a man on death row.

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, now happily settled in Tucson, doesn’t go back to visit her family in Florida much. But her former partner Laura Coleman, whose life she has saved and who saved her life, is living there now. When Laura calls about a case that is not going well, Brigid doesn’t hesitate to get on a plane.

On leave from the Bureau, Laura has been volunteering for a legal group that is trying to prove the innocence of a man who is on death row for killing his family. Laura is firmly convinced that he didn’t do it, while Brigid isn’t so sure—but the date for his execution is coming up so quickly that she shares Laura’s fear that any evidence absolving him from the crime may come too late.

Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist Becky Masterman’s third Brigid Quinn novel is the masterful follow-up to Fear the Darkness and Rage Against the Dying.

Review –

“Even though her father is hovering near death, Brigid Quinn, put out to pasture in Tucson, can’t help responding to another request from her old FBI friend Laura Coleman (Rage Against the Dying, 2013) to help with a cold case that turns red-hot.

Near-bankrupt wine importer Marcus Creighton, whose only hope for repaying his debt to loan shark Manuel Gutierrez seems to have been his wife Kathleen’s insurance policy, was convicted back in 1999 of killing her. Only the missing remains of his three children prevented Florida State’s Attorney David Lancer of throwing even more charges at him. But Laura’s new boss, William Hench, an attorney specializing in appealing old convictions, is convinced that he’s innocent despite the damning testimony of Shayna Murry, the mistress who refused to give him an alibi, and his fingerprint on the plug of the hair dryer tossed into Kathleen’s bathtub to electrocute her. Though Brigid appreciates the convenience of spending time in Vero Beach as her father, stricken with pneumonia, fights for life in a nearby hospital, it’s clear that the members of Creighton’s ill-assorted defense team have their work cut out for them when a judge refuses to stay his impending execution. Some tiny cracks in the case are their only hope—the absence of any phone records that would show Creighton asking Shayna for the alibi she maintains he wanted and the hope that fingerprint expert Dr. Tracy Mack, recently indicted for the fraudulent handling of evidence, got his start much earlier—along with the superhuman determination of abused-child specialist Alison Samuels to find some trace of the Creighton children, who she’s convinced are still alive. Will that be enough to vindicate their father before his date with lethal injection?

Against all odds, the harrowing back story and repeated doses of present-tense violence make the investigation not so much shocking as deeply, heart-wrenchingly sad. It’ll be a long time before intrepid readers who enter Masterman’s latest labyrinth shake off its suffocating spell.” Kirkus Reviews

I love this series and can’t wait for the next one which comes out in June.

Five stars!!!!!!

The Silent Girls (The Silent Girls #1) by Eric Rickstad

Book Description:

Published: November 25, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

With the dead of a bitter Vermont winter closing in, evil is alive and well …

Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective’s badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an ’89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.

Soon Rath’s investigation brings him face-to-face with the darkest abominations of the human soul.

With the consequences of his violent and painful past plaguing him, and young women with secrets vanishing one by one, he discovers once again that even in the smallest towns on the map, evil lurks everywhere-and no one is safe.

Morally complex, seething with wickedness and mystery, and rich in gritty atmosphere and electrifying plot turns, The Silent Girls marks the return of critically acclaimed author Eric Rickstad. Readers of Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbø, and Greg Iles will love this book and find themselves breathless at the incendiary, ambitious, and unforgettable story.

Review –

It’s Halloween in 1985 and a woman opens her door to a trick or treater expecting to have an ordinary interaction and it’s anything but. I’ll just say there is bloodshed and the hair on the back of my neck was standing up, a truly chilling opening to a really gripping book.

Next it’s 2011 and you’re introduced to Frank Rath a former police officer turned private investigator living in Vermont. He was a really strong protagonist and was developed  extremely well, I totally felt like I had a solid sense of who he is and what motivates him by the end. The secondary characters were also well drawn, they were mostly detectives who were working alongside Rath and you can definitely tell that the author is laying the groundwork for a series.
It’s dark and gritty at times, a great companion to the stark setting in the lead up to a brutal Vermont winter. The plot was well constructed and kept me guessing and the subplot surrounding Rath’s personal life really piqued my interest. And that ending, talk about an explosive cliffhanger, I can’t wait for the sequel will comes out September 12th.

Five stars !!!!!!

Unintended Consequences (Innocent Prisoner Project #1) by Marti Green

Book Description:

Published: November 11, 2012

Format: Audio/Audible

How much would a father sacrifice for his child?

Nineteen years ago, Indiana police found the body of a young girl, burned beyond recognition and buried in the woods. They arrested George Calhoun for murdering his daughter, and his wife testified against him at the trial. The jury convicted him. Now his appeals have been exhausted, and his execution is just a few weeks away. George said he didn’t do it. That the body isn’t his little Angelina. But that’s all he’s ever said – no other defense, no other explanation.

Dani Trumball, an attorney for the Help Innocent Prisoners Project, wants to believe him. After all, there was no forensic evidence that the body in the woods was George’s daughter. But if the girl isn’t Angelina, then who is it? And what happened to the Calhouns’ missing daughter? For nineteen years, George Calhoun has stayed silent. But that’s about to change, and the story he tells Dani—if it’s true—changes everything.

Review –

The series is called the Innocent Prisoners Project.  That spells it out.  The main character, Dani Trumbull, is an attorney who works for Help Innocent Prisoners Project (HIPP).  Part of her responsibility has been to go through cases to decide which to accept.  The cases, death penalty convictions, where her office may be their last hope.

Enter George Calhoun, scheduled for execution in six weeks for killing his own daughter.  He has always claimed it was not his daughter, but would never tell what had happened to her.  After being imprisoned for 19 years, he hopes HIPP will take his appeal.  Convicted based on his wife’s confession that they had indeed killed their child, the investigation itself was lax, without even a blood test to confirm the body was the daughter.

Dani finally agrees to take on the case.

That begins a bizarre tale of appeal after appeal, leads that go no where, and difficulty finding the truth at every turn.  With little time left, they can’t afford to lose an hour, yet each potential clue seems to take them in a direction they hadn’t expected, taking more time than they have.

Then the threats begin to Dani’s team.  Why does someone want to stop them? Who would want to stop them?   Is it to see George executed or to hide the truth that could prove his innocence?

There are a ton of unexpected twists included, plenty of tension as you begin to feel the clock ticking down.  A few times the directions they went seemed unrealistic, with obvious things they should have done.  That  didn’t detract for the suspense.  Knowing there are more steps to take, more people to find, more places to be, while George sits in a cell awaiting death in a very few days.

The author was a lawyer, though practicing corporate law. Since she grew up reading, finally leaning toward legal thrillers such as Scott Turow, she wanted her character to be a strong woman attorney in the genre. 

I loved this book and look forward to reading more in this series.

Excellent read!

The Last Mile (Amos Decker #2) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: April 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution–for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier–when he’s granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.

Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars’s case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men’s families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.

The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars–guilty or not–a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now?

But when a member of Decker’s team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger–and more sinister–than just one convicted criminal’s life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed.

Review –

Decker is unlike any of Baldacci’s other characters, made unique by an extremely rare neurological condition called hyperthymesia–the result of a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit on the football field, which makes it impossible for Amos to forget anything.

While the idea of being able to vividly remember everything sounds awesome at first, in Decker’s case it’s also a curse.

Nearly twenty years after his NFL career ended, Decker, now a police detective, returned home to find his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law brutally murdered. Unable to forget even the smallest of details from that night, he’s haunted and tortured by the loss of his family every single day. Those events take place in Baldacci’s previous novel, Memory Man, which came out last year–but also play a role in this year’s The Last Mile.

Because of the similarities  in their lives, Amos convinces the FBI team to take on Marvin’s case and the investigation seems straightforward enough until one of the team members turns up missing as a result of their poking around. Soon things begin to unravel as Decker races to answer a series of questions, including who might want to help free Melvin Mars, and why. 

The action is fast and furious but it is so much more than a good action thriller. It sheds light on racism, a father-son relationship and capital punishment.

Both Mars and Decker are substantive, solid characters. Although their football dreams were shattered in their youth by their respective tragedies, they hold their heads high and forge ahead.

I loved it and can’t wait for the next installment, The Fix, due to be released April 18th and I hope in future books the author reunites Amos and Melvin. They became friends in this book and it would be a shame not to team them up again!