The Suspect (Kate Waters #3) by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

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

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

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

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

Review –

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.

Review –

“A year after her best friend’s supposed suicide, a young woman must clear her name when new evidence is uncovered.

The Lomans own much of Littleport, Maine, a fact that hasn’t changed much since their only daughter’s death a year ago. In the summer of 2017, on the night of the annual Plus-One party, aimed at summer people who’ve stayed a week longer than the traditional Labor Day end-of-season, golden girl Sadie Loman apparently threw herself off a cliff into the churning sea, but to those who knew her, especially her closest friend, Avery Greer, she seemed to have everything to live for.

Year-round Littleport resident Avery was adrift after her parents’ deaths when she was a teen, but when she met the mesmerizing Sadie, a summer person, her life took on new meaning. Sadie and Avery became so close, it was sometimes hard to tell where one ended and the other began. After Avery’s grandmother died, Avery was alone, and the ridiculously wealthy Lomans seemed to welcome her into the family, even giving her a job as property manager for their coastal rentals and a place to live in their guesthouse. But everything fell apart after Sadie died.

When Avery finds Sadie’s phone hidden in the rental cottage where last year’s Plus-One party was held, she turns it in to the police—after doing a bit of snooping. Additionally, someone’s been breaking into the rentals, and Sadie’s brooding older brother, Parker, is acting strangely. Sadie’s death is looking less and less like a suicide, and Avery is at the top of the suspect list. The Loman family’s lies are rising to the surface, but can Avery keep her head above water? The narrative, which flips between 2017 and 2018, grows increasingly tense as Avery, who is a surprisingly reliable narrator, gets closer to the truth, but while the author builds some creepy atmosphere in the lead-up, the final revelations are more sad than shocking. Most compelling are the class tensions between Littleport’s year-round residents and the seasonal, moneyed tourists as well as the elusive nature of memory and the intricacies of friendship.

An evocative and perfectly readable thriller, but genre fans will find few surprises within.” Kirkus Reviews

Even though KIRKUS REVIEWS found this novel wanting … I loved it and found it thoroughly enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: August 20, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter brings back Will Trent and Sara Linton in this superb and timely thriller full of devious twists, disturbing secrets, and shocking surprises you won’t see coming

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor.

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.

Review –

“Pediatrician/medical examiner Sara Linton’s path to marrying Will Trent, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, runs into apocalyptic obstacles only Slaughter could devise.

To begin with, Sara’s mother objects so strenuously to Will that she won’t even utter his name. But her opposition can’t compete with the carnage that erupts when Sara and Will (The Kept Woman, 2016, etc.), hearing the sounds of a bomb near Emory University, rush to the scene and encounter along the way the aftermath of a three-car collision. Stopping to help, they soon smell something amiss, but not soon enough to prevent them from being overpowered and separated by the supposed victims. Will is beaten to the ground; Sara is whisked off in a car whose occupants include Michelle Spivey, a scientist with the Centers for Disease Control who was abducted from under her young daughter’s nose a month ago. Arriving at the mountain encampment of the Invisible Patriot Army, a paramilitary cadre determined to make America white again, Sara is first forced to treat the wounds of the men who kidnapped her and then asked by IPA leader Dash to remain so that she can treat an outbreak of measles that’s swept through the children in the camp, including Dash’s daughter, whose mother is Gwen Novak, the daughter of Martin Novak, whose history of anti-government bank robberies has made him a high-value federal prisoner. As Will schemes to infiltrate the camp disguised as a new recruit, Sara is dismayed to find that no matter what she does, the children she’s tending keep getting sicker and sicker. Even the most ardent fans of Slaughter’s white-hot thrillers (Pieces of Her, 2018, etc.) will be shocked and horror-stricken by the outrage Dash has planned.

All the emotional intensity Slaughter’s readers expect, now focused on a diabolical domestic terrorist. Don’t say you weren’t warned.” Kirkus Reviews

Fantastic read from one of my favorite authors!

 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

Review –

“An angry ex-wife is stalking a young, innocent fiancee who is a carbon copy of her former self…or so it seems.

The use of a multiviewpoint, chronologically complex narrative to create suspense by purposely misleading the reader is a really, really popular device. Two words: Gone Girl. While we are not the fools we once were and now assume immediately that we are being played, the question is whether we still take pleasure in the twists and revelations that follow. Pekkanen (The Perfect Neighbors, 2016, etc.) and Hendricks’ debut collaboration falls into the first wife/second wife subgenre of this type of story (e.g., The Girl Before, The Last Mrs. Parrish). In all of these, an unbelievably handsome, wildly successful, secretive, rigid, orderly, and controlling husband—here it’s Richard, a 36-year-old hedge fund manager with “a runner’s wiry build and an easy smile that belied his intense navy-blue eyes”—marries the same type of woman more than once, sometimes more than twice. Of course, he’s not who he seems. Perhaps the female characters are not, either. Here, we meet Nellie, an adorable New York preschool teacher who is not quite sure she wants to give up the fun, shoestring, highly social lifestyle she shares with her roomie to move to a sterile suburb with Richard. But the wedding date—of course he hasn’t even told her the location, just “buy a new bikini”—draws ever closer. Something bad happened to Nellie in Florida a long time ago that has made her anxious and hypervigilant. Meanwhile, Vanessa, the spurned wife, lives with her artist Aunt Charlotte (a great character), is boozing heavily, and is about to lose her job at Saks. She’s stalking Nellie, determined to prevent the marriage at all costs. Since you know there’s got to be more to it than this, the fun is in trying to figure it out before they tell you. We didn’t! One of the subplots, the one about the bad thing in Florida, was as good or better than the main plot.” Kirkus Reviews

Excellent read!   4 1/2 stars

 

Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Gerber

Book Description:

Published: May 7, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Review –

“Picking up just after the end of Legendary (2018), Garber continues to build the world of Caraval with a final installment, this time focusing equally on both Dragna sisters’ perspectives.

After they released their long-missing mother from the Deck of Destiny, Scarlett and Donatella hoped to rebuild their relationship and gain a new sense of family. However, Legend also released the rest of the Fates, and, much to their dismay, the Fallen Star—essentially the ur-Fate—is only gaining in power. As the Fates begin to throw Valenda into chaos and disarray, the sisters must decide whom him to trust, whom to love, and how to set themselves free. Scar’s and Tella’s passionate will-they-or-won’t-they relationships with love interests are still (at times, inexplicably) compelling, taking up a good half of the plot and balancing out the large-scale power games with more domestic ones. Much like the previous two, this third book in the series is overwritten, with overly convenient worldbuilding that struggles nearly as much as the overwrought prose and convoluted plot. While those who aren’t Garber’s fans are unlikely to pick up this volume, new (or forgetful) readers will find the text repetitious enough to be able to follow along.” Kirkus Review

I was disappointed with this final book of the Caraval series. I loved the other two, but for me, this one fell flat. It’s true that the sisters had their hands full with fighting the Fates, keeping their romances alive and surviving to love another day, so I don’t know why I felt like there should have been more.

The thing I COULDN’T get enough of was the vivid imagery and the lush fantasy with which the author filled all three books in the series. Her descriptions are colorful and majestic.

 

 

 

 

Affliction (Knights Rebels #2) by River Savage

Book Description:

Published: November 29, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

Three little words are all it takes to rip his world apart. Lost in his own affliction, Sy has been living in a darkness that he doesn’t ever want to let go of.

Until she arrives and shines her light so bright that nothing else mattered.

She was only in it for the chase, for the thrill of capturing the unattainable.
But what happens when her world shatters around her, spiraling her into the darkness beside him?

Can his affliction be her resurrection?
Or will two lost souls living in the depths of deception let it destroy them?

Review –

Affliction is the second book in the Knights Rebels series, and is Holly and Sy’s story. I enjoyed seeing these two come together, and it doesn’t happen in the average way. Both of the characters suffer from a trauma, and you see how they help each other heal, despite the secrets they both keep from each other. I want to keep this review straight and to the point so I don’t give out too many spoilers, but what I enjoyed most from this story was seeing the emotional development. There is quite a bit of sensual interludes, and boy are they HOT!! So no worries on that score, but you also see that as the plot develops you see the character become more entrenched in the story, and we see Sy and Holly grow emotionally. This is a roller coaster of grief, pain, determination, and finding love exactly when you need it most. For those that haven’t tried this author or the first book, I would highly recommend you try out the first book, Incandescent because you get more background on the story and trust me you won’t regret it if you enjoy biker romances.

I did think the book was way too long and could have been cut back by at least a third.

Rage Against the Dying (Brigid Quinn #1) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: March 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In her hey-day, ex FBI agent Brigid Quinn not only worked serial killer cases but became their prize. Small and blond, from a distance she looked vulnerable and slight. . . the perfect bait to catch a killer. But as Quinn got older, she realised she needed to find a protegé, a younger field agent to take her place. So Quinn trains a twenty-two year old and lets her loose in the field. The plan works. Until the Route 66 killer not only takes the bait, but kills the bait too.

Years on, Quinn is trying to move past the fact that she has a young woman’s death on her conscience. She’s now the perfect Stepford Wife – until she gets a knock on her door. The girl’s body has finally been discovered. Quinn is pulled back into the case and the more she learns about the killer the more she comes to believe, despite the overwhelming forensic evidence to hand, that they have the wrong man.

Review –

This is my first reading/listen from this author and at first I was conflicted. The character of Brigid Quinn didn’t grab me but the more the story line evolved the more complex she became.  What you see is sometimes NOT what you get!

The authors debut sets a retired FBI agent who thinks she’s seen it all against a serial killer who provides new horrors she’s never seen.

Before shooting an unarmed suspect back in Georgia sent her into early retirement in Tucson, Brigid Quinn had earned a reputation as a brave sex-crimes undercover agent and a skilled investigator. Now that she’s living the good life with her husband, Carlos DiForenza, a priest turned professor, she thinks that’s all behind her, from the adrenaline rushes to the scandal. But she couldn’t be more wrong.

When long-haul trucker Floyd Lynch confesses to being the Route 66 killer who killed eight women over a dozen years—the eighth of them being Jessica Robertson, who’d been working as bait under Brigid’s supervision—Laura Coleman, a Tucson FBI agent who’s always admired Brigid, shares her suspicion that Lynch’s confession is bogus and asks Brigid to work the case with her.

There are only three complications: Brigid isn’t entitled to work any cases anymore; Coleman disappears shortly after getting eased off the case herself; and Brigid shortly has her hands full covering up her own killing of murderous rapist Gerald Peasil.

Readers who can accept the coincidence of two sex killers sharing the same zip code and Brigid’s unconvincing explanation of why she doesn’t just report Peasil’s death, which would manifestly be covered by a self-defense plea, are in for a ride as thrilling as they can find outside the pages of Jeffery Deaver (who’s regularly invoked here), in the company of a heroine whose clear-eyed disillusionment gives each wisecrack a trembling sense of mortality.

I could not believe all the “trouble” Brigid found herself in, most of which she caused herself, but it kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would go wrong next. 

This book in the first in the Brigid Quinn series and I’m looking forward to reading the others very soon.

Five stars !!!!!

The Ex-Wife by Jess Ryder

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

You’ve got everything she wants …

Newly married Natasha has the perfect house, a loving husband and a beautiful little girl called Emily. She’d have it all if it wasn’t for Jen, her husband’s ex-wife who just won’t leave them alone …

Then Natasha returns home one day to find her husband and Emily gone without trace. Desperate to get her daughter back, Natasha will do anything even if it means accepting an offer of help from Jen. But can she trust her? And do either of them really know the man they married?

If you loved The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl or The Couple Next Door then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.

Review –

The story begins with an intriguing prologue set in a hospital which doesn’t give anything away. The plot then unravels through alternating chapters narrated by Natasha and Anna. Natasha has a wonderful marriage and lives a life of luxury with her husband, Nick and daughter, Emily. The only issue with her picture-perfect marriage is Jen, Nick’s ex-wife, who seems to be in their lives a bit too much. Naturally, Natasha is not too pleased about this. Things take a nastier turn when Nick and Emily disappear. The second narration tells the story of a woman on the run. We don’t get to know much about Anna until later in the story. However, it was easy to feel the tension in her story. I kept wondering who was after her and why.

This story is very well narrated. It is captivating and full of surprises. The plot is masterfully developed and so were the characters. I had some clear favorites from the first page. However, my feelings about other characters kept changing with each new chapter. Not knowing what would happen next is what I enjoyed most in this story. I couldn’t predict any of the twists and I love the fact that the author just kept them coming.

With a fast pace, complex characters and well executed twists, (many that you won’t see coming)this ended up being quite an enjoyable, addictive read. A great read and a great psychological thriller!

Clipped Wings (Clipped Wings #1) by Helena Hunting

Book Description:

Published: March 4, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

An emotional love story that follows the touch-and-go relationship of Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.

As Hayden and Tenley navigate their newfound but slightly unstable relationship, they want to trust each other, but Hayden is hiding a dark and shameful past that he doesn’t ever want Tenley to find out about. And Tenley has secrets of her own that could make Hayden run away forever. When Tenley asks Hayden to put a beautifully elaborate tattoo across her back, the two form what they thought was an unshakeable bond. But when Tenley’s past shows up on her doorstep, will Hayden stand by her side…or run?

Review –

 This is a love story between two very damaged souls, who become co-dependant on each other .

When Tenley asks tattoo artist Hayden to ink an intricate design on her back, he is immediately intrigued by her and senses that she is hiding something from him. Something dark and tragic. He feels this immediate chemistry and connection with her. He senses the suffering and loneliness that they both share.

With all his ink and piercings, Hayden represents everything that Tenley has longed for. A wildness and freedom that she has never dared to take. She sees him as an escape from the pain she is suffering, but the emotional connection they begin to have together is more than she expected. A bond that goes beyond the physical. Both are hiding secrets, Tenley lost nine people, including her parents and fiancée in a plane crash and she blames herself, Hayden, found his parents shot to death in their bedroom and he blames himself. He also has a past full of drugs and sexual exploits with multiple women.

Neither are willing to share their past with the other and this leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. When Trey, Tenley’s fiancée’s brother, comes to her about an estate situation she packs up and goes back to Minnesota to put things right. She leaves without explaining anything to Hayden. This is where Book One ends,

Listening to this story was like witnessing a train wreck. I knew that their relationship was doomed because of the lack of communication. They thought having extremely good sex, often, would be enough to secure them as a couple .,

I have already started Book Two, Inked Armor, and can’t wait to finish it.

 

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.