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 !!!!!!

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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!

Lie In Wait by Eric Rickstad

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Silent Girls comes another unforgettable thriller set in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, featuring Detective Sonja Test

Even in a quiet Vermont town, unspeakable acts of the past can destroy the peace of the present

In the remote, pastoral hamlet of Canaan, Vermont, a high-profile legal case shatters the town’s sense of peace and community. Anger simmers. Fear and prejudice awaken. Old friends turn on each other. Violence threatens.

So when a young teenage girl is savagely murdered while babysitting at the house of the lead attorney in the case, Detective Sonja Test believes the girl’s murder and the divisive case must be linked.

However, as the young detective digs deeper into her first murder case, she discovers sordid acts hidden for decades, and learns that behind the town’s idyllic façade of pristine snow lurks a capacity in some for great darkness and the betrayal of innocents. And Sonja Test, a mother of two, will do anything to protect the innocent.

Review –

Detective Sonja Test of the Canaan (Vermont) Police Department is working her first murder case involving a fifteen-year-old killed while babysitting a local attorney.

Jessica Cumber was killed in the home of Jon Merryfield, a lawyer who had built his career by taking on cases of underprivileged victims of violence. He was current representing a gay couple in a community divided by the issue of legalizing gay marriage in Vermont. The police arrest popular high school senior Brad Jenkins, whose father is a close friend of Jed King, leader of the gay hate group “Take Back Vermont”, for the murder. The question for the investigating officers is, Was Jessica Cumber a victim of random violence, or was her murder somehow connected to the Take Back Vermont organization? There is no evidence to suggest that Jessica knew Brad Jenkins as anything other than a schoolmate, and yet Sonja Test senses there’s more that she’s not seeing.

Lie In Wait is written largely as a police procedural, with a lot of character development on all sides of the murder investigation: the officers, the accused, the victim, and everyone else in their respective spheres of influence. Too, considerable time is spent on the investigation itself, questioning anyone who might have something to contribute, often not making much obvious progress but it only takes a random detail here or there to tie all the pieces together.

The author manages to create a real sense of place with the Vermont setting- the cold, snow and rural-ness really play in to the overall atmosphere. As well, the author manages to develop many strong, distinct characters- he writes in many POVs but each character is clearly their own. Most importantly, the actual mystery is solved in an unexpected way, with big secrets being exposed at the end.

Though often moving forward in fits and starts, this is an engrossing novel of suspense with a riveting storyline.

 

 

 

Second Life by S.J. Watson

Book Description:

Published: June 9, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The sensational new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Before I Go To Sleep …She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger. She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything. She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control. She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin. She’s living two lives. She might lose both …

Review –

From what I’ve heard others say about this book – you either hate it or love it. I loved it BUT it wasn’t love at first sight. The first third of the book is dreadfully S L O W, but then picks up momentum.

This story is complex, and it is highly, if not totally, character-driven. My absolute favorite type of book is a strong character-driven crime/suspense/thriller novel. And while I can see Julia turning off a lot of readers, as she certainly isn’t role model material, I felt I understood her and why she did the things she did. A lot of women will connect with her.She  has a good life, yet when her sister was murdered, she could not control her overwhelming need, no matter what, to bring closure to the case, which had become cold in the hands of the French police. This becomes more understandable when we learn she is a recovered/recovering alcoholic. We also find out other things that in context with what I just mentioned clearly demonstrate Julia has an addictive personality. Falling under the control of her addictions, she does things that most reasonable people would not do, given all there is to lose in the process.

There are several provocative themes running through Second Life. We are given an eye-opening look at the dangers of the cyberworld. Really quite frightening. Another prominent subject is whom can we trust implicitly? Our spouse? Our lover? Our best friend? Our siblings? Who? Anyone? No one? And again, we are shown how an addictive personality can take one down a road no one wants to go. It becomes clear that addiction trumps intelligence, addiction trumps judgment.

There are differing opinions on the ending of Second Life. Upon listening to the very end of the book I was dumbfounded. But after thinking about it, I do think Mr. Watson ended the tale the only way it could have ended and that’s all I’ll say about that.

READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!        FIVE STARS.

 

 

 

 

Box 21 (Grens and Sundkvist #2) by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

Book Description:

Published: April 1, 2010

Format: Audio

Three years ago, Lydia and Alena were two hopeful girls from Lithuania. Now they are sex slaves, lured to Sweden with the promise of better jobs and then trapped in a Stockholm brothel, forced to repay their “debt.” Suddenly they are given an unexpected chance at freedom, and with it the opportunity to take revenge on their enslavers and reclaim the lives and dignity they once had. What will happen now that the tables are turned and the victims fight back?
In this masterful thriller, the celebrated team of Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström delve into the seedy underbelly of Stockholm. There we meet Lydia and Alena as they embark on a desperate plan to expose their captor and demand justice; police officers Sundkvist and Grens, on the trail of both Lydia’s enslavers and Jochum Lang, a notorious mob enforcer; and Hilding Oldéus, a junkie on what might be his last—and most destructive—bender. At the Söder Hospital, their destinies begin to converge in unexpected and explosive ways.
Box 21 is a Scandinavian thriller of the highest order: a mind-blowing psychological drama written with powerful intensity. When it was published in Sweden, Solo called it “suspenseful, gripping, and intelligently written . . . Almost impossible to put down,” while SVT exclaimed: “Forget crime literature; this is, simply put, great literature!”
Review –
When a severely wounded woman is brought to a hospital in Stockholm, doctors are horrified to learn that her injuries are the result of a brutal whipping. She is Lydia, a victim of human-trafficking, a young girl from Lithuania sold by her boyfriend and now trapped in a Stockholm brothel, forced to repay her “debt” by serving twelve different men every day.  In the same hospital, police officer Sven Sundkvist and senior officer Ewert Grens are chasing a lead that may just expose a notorious mafia boss, a dangerous man Grens hates with a vengeance because of the connection to the death of his wife. Two stories of passionate reprisal twist together, ending in a dramatic climax,two bullet-riddled bodies and a room full of hostages in the hospital’s basement.  Ewert Grans discovers the truth about Lydia and his best friend, Bankt, who is also on the police force. He destroys evidence to save his widow from learning the horrible things he has done. Sven, finds out that his boss has covered up things and destroyed evidence to protect his friends reputation. But in the cold light of day, will Sven protect the senior officer he so admires, even from his own corruption? 
You’ll have to read the book to find out and there is also a HUGE twist at the very end that left my mouth wide open.
The only other book I have read/listened to in this series is Cell 8 which is number three. I loved it but wished I had read or listened to this one first because it would have given me a better insight into the characters of Grens and Sundkvist and their dynamic.
Fantastic book.
Five stars!

If I Run (If I Run #1) by Terri Blackstock

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

 

Casey knows the truth.

But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Review –

After finding best friend Brent Pace stabbed to death in his apartment, Casey Cox knows she will be the prime suspect and needs to make a decision quickly. Armed with thousands in cash that her father gave her for emergencies, she hops on a bus out of Shreveport, Louisiana, and becomes Grace Newland after purchasing the identity illegally.

Back in Shreveport, war-weary vet Dylan Roberts attends Brent’s funeral and is hired by a family friend in the police department to bring Casey home for questioning. As Dylan tries to determine Casey’s motive for murdering her friend, “Grace” is trying to establish a new life in Shady Grove, Georgia, thanks to Miss Lucy, an elderly woman she met on the bus. Sleuthing online from afar, Casey uncovers evidence that Brent had information pertaining to her father’s murder. Unsure who to trust as evidence begins to point to corrupt detectives, Casey digs into her family past to figure out what really happened to her father a decade before.

Dylan, just a few steps behind Casey, is skeptical of her involvement in Brent’s death. Will her questioning end up costing Casey her life, or will Dylan track her down in time to save them both? The author  is masterly in navigating the suspenseful fugitive plot, using the alternation of Casey’s and Dylan’s chapters to ratchet up the tension. Crisp dialogue and unexpected twists make this compulsive reading, and a final chapter cliffhanger leaves things poised for a sequel. 

I really enjoyed this story but the cliffhanger was a surprise because I didn’t know about the sequel. I plan on reading or listening to it as soon as I can find it.

Breakdown (Alex Delaware #31) by Jonathan Kellerman

Book Description:

Published: February 2, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Psychologist sleuth Alex Delaware is surprised to get the call when well-known TV actress Zelda Chase turns up half-naked, half-mad in the LA’s rural Westside. He has little connection to the starlet, save a psychiatric evaluation he performed on her adopted son several years ago, a child who has since vanished without a trace and whom Zelda refuses to talk about. When the actress turns up dead a few weeks later without a scratch on her, Delaware calls in police lieutenant Milo Sturgis to help him crack the case—or at least the wall of silence surrounding it. When the body of a second actress turns up with the same mysterious cause of death, Delaware and Sturgis start to wonder—is this a copycat case or a coincidence? When they uncover the death of another actress, a star from another era who vanished decades ago, never to be found, they realize they’re facing one of their most baffling, mind-bending cases yet.

Review –

Kellerman offers up a slightly different Alex Delaware in this outing, a slightly obsessed one  and the plot – thankfully – kept me guessing. I say  – thankfully – because the last few have been a bit predictable.

This storyline  is mostly an interesting one, although a tad convoluted . But the author also introduces a few threads, which all tie up in a fairly surprising way at the end; but I was kept guessing and keen to understand Zelda’s fate so was pulled into the unfolding story.

I’m hoping Kellerman keeps throwing a few curve balls at his lead characters as this was an improvement on its predecessor and a very  enjoyable read/listen.

Love Restored (Gallagher Brothers #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

Book Description:

Published: September 13, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the first of a Montgomery Ink spin-off series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan, a broken man uncovers the truth of what it means to take a second chance with the most unexpected woman…

Graham Gallagher has seen it all. And when tragedy struck, lost it all. He’s been the backbone of his brothers, the one they all rely on in their lives and business. And when it comes to falling in love and creating a life, he knows what it’s like to have it all and watch it crumble. He’s done with looking for another person to warm his bed, but apparently he didn’t learn his lesson because the new piercer at Montgomery Ink tempts him like no other.

Blake Brennen may have been born a trust fund baby, but she’s created a whole new life for herself in the world of ink, piercings, and freedom. Only the ties she’d thought she’d cut long ago aren’t as severed as she’d believed. When she finds Graham constantly in her path, she knows from first glance that he’s the wrong kind of guy for her. Except that Blake excels at making the wrong choice and Graham might be the ultimate temptation for the bad girl she’d thought long-buried.

Review –

I have read the Montgomery Ink series so I was acquainted with the characters that showed up during this, the first of the Gallagher Brothers  books.

Graham Gallagher and his brothers restore houses that are historical landmarks and other properties and he is a dark, brooding, grumpy man with a long beard, a piercing and ink.

Blake Brennen, who has been estranged from her parents since the birth of her daughter, Rowan, ten years ago, is the executor of her family’s estate so she is the contact person  and she and Graham butt heads from the start.They’re both such strong personalities that they are like magnets bouncing off of each other but you know with just one turn they will connect in such away pulling them apart will be a near impossibility. But Blake has a history that haunts her, a history that changed her world, a history that sent her on the run for years, but now she’s back home and forced to face that history while keeping herself and her secrets close to the heart.

Blake works at Montgomery Ink and pierces as well as tattoos so she comes into contact with the Gallagher brothers almost every day because, Jake Gallagher is engaged to Maya Montgomery.

To make a long story short, Graham and his wife (now ex),Candace, lost a child and their marriage didn’t survive. Blake, got pregnant and the father became a drug addict and died and his parents have always blamed her and said they would have the baby taken away from her, so she moves often and tries to keep Rowan a secret.

Blake, discovers that Chris’s parents have found out where she lives and are taking her to court for full custody.

The Gallagher and the Montgomery’s band together and help Blake keep her daughter. There is drama but it all works out.

For a contemporary romance, this one had minimal sex, but it was well written and the chemistry between Graham and Blake was hot.

A great Summer Time read.

 

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

The foundation of the story rests with the disappearance in 1935 of Emily, a six-year-old child, and the resulting destruction of a family unit when the child is not found. As the story opens, it is the end of the 20th century and Lucy, the last living member of the family, writes the story of the tragedy, set during the summer of 1935 at a remote area in northern Minnesota that is the gathering spot for summer and weekend vacations. Its residents arrive at the beginning of summer and leave with the onset of autumn. They are all known to one another, and their relationships ebb and flow. 

Knowing that she is dying, Lucy feels compelled to explain the mystery of Emily’s disappearance as it unfolded that summer. She has made arrangements to leave the home and property that she and her older sister, Lilith, have lived in until the last of their family has died out, to a grandniece, Justine, who is Lilith’s granddaughter. Her journal story is written in the first person and immerses us into that long-ago summer.

With each alternating chapter, we follow Justine as she migrates from San Diego to Williamsburg, Minnesota, with her two daughters. The move is fraught with anguish as Justine leaves her live-in boyfriend, packs the few belongings she and the girls have, and sets out to learn about her inheritance. Her story is told in the third person.

Young is skilled at creating tension and conflict both in the journal (Lucy) chapters and in the Justine chapters.

 Her characters are vivid and come to life as the story unfolds.

Justine’s mother, Maurie, is a hippy-style mother who disappears and then reappears every few years when her life falls apart and she needs financial support. When she learns that Justine has inherited the family summer home, she comes sniffing around searching for anything she can sell for profit. She is a woman older than she believes herself to be and her boisterous and flirtatious ways create pain and embarrassment for Justine.

Patrick, Justine’s boyfriend, is a manipulative man, set on controlling Justine’s life and that of her daughters. She left him with no indication where she was going, but she knew he would find her and come for her . . . and he does.

The characters in Lucy’s journal are equally complex in their relationships with one another. The two older daughters just emerging into their teens, Lilith and Lucy, are inseparable, while the younger child, Emily, is held close and pampered by their mother.

The parents are estranged: the father, a pharmacist in town, comes to the summer home on weekends with his religious bellowing; the mother expresses an overpowering attachment to Emily and a distance from her husband.  

Matthew and Abe Miller are the sons of the man who owns the lodge in the vacation area where tourists come and reside for short periods of time. The boys are mixed race, part white, part Indian, and while the lodge is accepted as a gathering point for the summer residents, the fathers watch the boys with a careful eye. These two characters travel back and forth between the journal, as young men, and Justine’s story as old men.

In Lucy’s journal, Young expresses the angst of young boys and girls as they are entering adulthood and the dances they do around one another with varying degrees of results. She is equally good at reflecting the anger of Justine’s two young daughters who have been ripped away from the small amount of stability they had in San Diego, as they are relocated to a cold, northern, unforgiving environment in Minnesota.

Both stories travel a parallel path of pain with the summer of 1935 heading toward a tragic end and the winter of the end of the 20th century heading on a collision course of battered relationships.

Young drops hints throughout Lucy’s chapters as to what really happened to Emily that summer and in two thrilling scenes packed with tension at the end, she pitches several situations only hinted at earlier, but activities that nonetheless prove vital to the final result. She cleverly draws these parallel stories together as Justine resolves issues and takes her place as the strong protagonist she is meant to be.

Five stars!  Fantastic read.

A Drink Before The War (Kenzie and Gennaro #1) by Dennis LeHane

Book Description:

Published: September 15, 2003

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Kenzie and Gennaro are private investigators in the blue-collar neighborhoods and ghettos of South Boston-they know it as only natives can. Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential state documents.
Finding Jenna, however, is easy compared to staying alive once they’ve got her. The investigation escalates, implicating members of Jenna’s family and rival gang leaders while uncovering extortion, assassination, and child prostitution extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of government.

Review –

I was lucky enough to find the audio version of this, the first in the Kenzie and Gennaro series on OverDrive and it was fantastic.

A Drink Before The War is the story of Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, private investigators who have been hired by a politician to find some missing documents believed to have been stolen by a cleaning lady. Their job is to find the cleaning lady (who has gone missing), recover the documents and return them to the politician. Although it sounds like a pretty cut-and-dried case, things start getting complicated when the cleaning lady is located and she lets the PIs in on a secret that starts up one of the bloodiest gang wars that the Boston area has ever seen.

Before they know it, Patrick and Angie are right in the middle of the action, and both of the rival gangs want them dead. To complicate matters, Patrick is still trying to come to terms with the ghost of his abusive father, and Angie goes home every night to a husband who has a tendency to leave her with black eyes and bloody lips. Over the course of the novel, Patrick and Angie must find a way to defeat their personal demons while desperately searching for a way out of the death sentence they seem to be facing.

A Drink Before the War is a  well-paced thriller that not only features an excellent and thought-provoking plot, but also interesting and deep characters. It’s no wonder that Lehane has gone on to write more novels featuring Patrick and Angie. They are certainly two of the best protagonists featured in a current mystery series.

Loved it and will continue to read this series.