Back of Beyond (A Highway Quartet #1) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: August 2, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Cody Hoyt, while a brilliant cop, is an alcoholic struggling with two months of sobriety when his mentor and AA sponsor Hank Winters is found burned to death in a remote mountain cabin. At first it looks like the suicide of a man who’s fallen off the wagon, but Cody knows Hank better than that. Sober for fourteen years, Hank took pride in his hard-won sobriety and never hesitated to drop whatever he was doing to talk Cody off a ledge. When Cody takes a closer look at the scene of his friend’s death, it becomes apparent that foul play is at hand. After years of bad behavior with his department, he’s in no position to be investigating a homicide, but this man was a friend and Cody’s determined to find his killer.

When clues found at the scene link the murderer to an outfitter leading tourists on a multi-day wilderness horseback trip into the remote corners of Yellowstone National Park–a pack trip that includes his son Justin–Cody is desperate to get on their trail and stop the killer before the group heads into the wild. Among the tourists is fourteen-year-old Gracie Sullivan, an awkward but intelligent loner who begins to suspect that someone in their party is dangerous.

In a fatal cat and mouse game, where it becomes apparent the murderer is somehow aware of Cody’s every move, Cody treks into the wilderness to stop a killer hell-bent on ruining the only thing in his life he cares about.

Review –

I believe this is my first read/listen by C.J. Box and found out the Edgar Award-winning author has built an impressive career with mysteries and thrillers set amongst the small towns, vast expanses, and rugged beauty of America’s rural and backcountry areas.

Along with his terrific series starring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, Box has penned some impressive standalones (Blue Heaven and Three Weeks to Say Goodbye). This novel brings back Cody Hoyt, the maverick, alcoholic cop first seen in that latter book. Hoyt is now living in the Montana mountains, struggling with the mess he’s made of his life; he’s two months sober, divorced, disliked and distrusted by many, and barely sees the son he loves. Things get worse when a body is found in a burned cabin in the woods, and Hoyt realises it’s his AA sponsor Hank Winters, the only man who’s kept him off the ledge recently. Despite initial evidence to the contrary, Hoyt can’t believe Winters fell off the wagon and was burned to death in an alcoholic stupor, accident or suicide.

Determined to find a killer others don’t even believe exists, Hoyt digs himself into an even deeper hole when he shoots and wounds the county coroner in a botched stakeout, and is suspended from duty. Badge or not badge, Hoyt can’t let go, and is driven to find justice for one of his only friends – and perhaps, in doing so, a small measure of salvation for himself.

When clues point Hoyt in the direction of an outfitter leading a multi-day horseback trek, a trip that includes Hoyt’s estranged son, he – and the novel – shifts focus to the remote ‘back of beyond’ that is the magnificent, rugged landscapes of Yellowstone National Park. On the hunt for a killer disguised amongst the motley crew of tourists. A killer that is far too close to the only thing that Hoyt really cares about in his downward-spiralling life.

The story lulls a bit for a brief period as it switches from Hoyts misadventures following Winters’ death to the pursuit through Yellowstone, as an intriguing cast of characters on the horse trek are introduced and we adjust to their layered interactions. But Box gives readers a terrific sense of Yellowstone, especially its mix of beauty and danger (with or without the added human element). Box’s wilderness isn’t just a pristine or spectacular backdrop, a natural curtain in front of which the action is played out – it’s layered and textured itself; Mother Nature in all its vim and volatility. It’s clear that Box has a real appreciation and understanding of the great outdoors, which comes through in the authentic evocation of the landscapes.

It’s a great read and I will definitely be reading more from this author.

 

 

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The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad #5) by Tana French

Book Description:

Published: September 2, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

Review –

Detective Stephen Moran, ambitious and working in the Cold Case unit and hoping to graduate to the Murder Squad, gets a surprise visit from Holly Mackey. Holly is the teenage daughter of a colleague ,Frank Mackey, and a boarder at St Kilda’s school, a very private  girls school. She has brought a message she’s spotted pinned up on the eponymous “secret place”, a noticeboard where the girls may relieve their feelings by anonymously posting their innermost secrets. A photograph of murder victim Chris Harper, 16-year-old heart-throb student from Colm’s, the neighbouring and equally exclusive boys’ school, is accompanied by the words “I know who killed him” – cut, in the manner of a ransom note, from a book.

Moran presents the evidence to Antoinette Conway, the detective who has been investigating the as-yet-unsolved year-old case, and he is permitted to accompany her to St Kilda’s to help with the resulting inquiry. Hard-bitten and abrasive, Conway isn’t popular with her colleagues, and both she and Moran have a lot to prove. Neither of the detectives, both of whom come from working-class backgrounds, are particularly comfortable in such a bastion of privilege, and the headteacher, Miss McKenna, already unhappy about the damage done to the school’s reputation when young Chris was found in the grounds with his head bashed in, is less than delighted to see them.

Taking place over a single day, with flashbacks to events in the preceding year counting down the time to the boy’s death, The Secret Place is told from the points of view of Moran (the present) and Holly and her three friends (the past). The characterization of the girls is particularly strong: all the manufactured attitude, intense loyalty, harsh judgment and vying for alpha status with a rival clique in the way that only adolescent girls can. Joanne Heffernan, a rival clique’s queen bee – dealing out casual humiliation even to her acolytes and claiming virtual, if not actual, droit du seigneur over any boy she fancies – is an absolute masterpiece of vulnerable cruelty. Here, as in Megan Abbott’s Dare Me and The Fever, the incessant and often vicious jockeying for position is described with such appalling accuracy as to leave this reviewer practically weeping with gratitude that she is no longer a teenager.

Beyond the murder mystery, which leaves the reader in suspense throughout, the novel explores the mysteries of friendship, loyalty and betrayal, not only among adolescents, but within the police force as well.

This was another great read in a great series.

 

 

 

The Thirst (Harry Hole #11) by Jo Nesbo

Book Description:

Published: May 9, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In Police—the last novel featuring Jo Nesbø’s hard-bitten, maverick Oslo detective—a killer wreaking revenge on the police had Harry Hole fighting for the safety of the people closest to him. Now, in The Thirst, the story continues as Harry is inextricably drawn back into the Oslo police force. A serial murderer has begun targeting Tinder daters—a murderer whose MO reignites Harry’s hunt for a nemesis of his past.

Review –

I love this series and the character of Harry Hole, especially. He is portrayed as a REAL human being, not a Super Cop.

Hole has retired from the murder detective business and is teaching in Oslo’s police academy when a series of grisly murders rocks Oslo. The killer appears to be a “vampirist,” someone who drinks the blood of his victims – presumably, it is thought, to get some kind of kinky sexual thrill.

The early chapters of the book deal with a lot of intramural infighting in the Oslo police department. From a plot perspective, this is necessary to get Harry back into the thick of the investigation as opposed to being merely a lecturer in the academy. Harry assembles a team made up of some characters from previous books as well as a few new additions. His detective instincts come back into full flower as the danger to him increases.

Clever and surprising twists keep the reader on edge, leading up to an exciting crescendo  in the final third of the book. As with previous books by this author, when the twists come, you realize they had been set up all along from the beginning, if only you had been able to recognize them. It’s the kind of plotting device that makes you feel like reading each book a second time!

The  murders are grizzly and creepy as the author describes the killer’s stalking and disposing of victims and his habit of using  pointed steel dentures. Nesbo knows how to do gore.

Harry is no longer sober by the end of the book and I can’t wait for the next book to see how Harry reclaims his life.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Book Description:

Published: July 18, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Review –

Sometimes the way we THINK we will behave when something happens is NOT the way we do behave when that same thing happens. Cass never thought she would be the sort of person to leave someone marooned in their hour of need – not least a lone female in a dark wood, late at night – but when she passes a stranded car on her way home she doesn’t stop, get out, and go to offer help. She hurries on home, forgets about it, and crawls into bed.

This is not the only breakdown of the story, though. The next morning, Cass awakes to the horrifying news that a woman has been found dead in a car in a wood. Not just a car and a wood, in fact, but that same car in that same wood. The one she ignored. She just can’t shake from her head the knowledge that she was there, and maybe she could have helped and maybe if she had, the woman wouldn’t be dead and she wouldn’t be slowly losing her mind thinking about it.

This is a brilliant psychological thriller about regrets and a past that cannot be changed. All the elements are carefully crafted, right down to Cass’s job as a teacher, meaning she has six long weeks to lounge around the house, going over and over the murder in her mind. It is hard not to empathize with Cass when things start to happen. First, there are the phone calls which haunt her during the day, silent callers who don’t utter a word but just breathe ominously down the phone. Then there’s the other stuff. As if the death wasn’t enough to worry her mind with, her mind itself is becoming the worry as she forgets appointments, cannot remember where she’s put things, can’t find her car in a parking garage, fails to remember invitations she has made, and just can’t remember proposals she agreed to, such as what to get someone for a birthday present on behalf of the whole gang. When her mental health starts to waver, Cass doesn’t know who or what she can trust, including herself.

The story moves swiftly and although there are jolts in your mind that something’s a little off, and although any regular thriller readers will pick on certain characters, convinced they must be involved in a butler-did-it kind of way, the unravelling is wild and absorbing, and the ending hugely satisfying much like in the author’s previous hit  Behind Closed Doors.

This one will keep you guessing from the first page to the last !

 

 

 

One Kick (Kick Lannigan #1) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: August 12, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

Review –

Chelsea Cain’s new book, One Kick, is the  start of another series that intermingles victimization and romance. But this one is capable of reaching a much broader audience because it is far less gruesome than the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series. True, it’s about pedophilia and child pornography. But the details are not described, except as vague memories that haunt the title character, Kick Lannigan.

When we first meet Kick, she’s only ten years old  and seems to be named Beth. She also seems to be living with her mother and father. But an F.B.I. raid quickly interrupts their quiet domesticity, and it is revealed that “Beth” is a kidnapping victim. Her real name was something else, but her captors have locked her in a basement room and forced her to star in porn films. When Kick (the toughest adult name she can give herself) is twenty-one, and the book’s main action unfolds, she’s told that “the Beth Movies are still the most downloaded child pornography on the Internet.”

Kick bears the burden of having followed the exact instructions of her fake father, Mel, when the F.B.I. raided the house. She went to the computer and nuked Mel’s database, which could have been vitally important to agents trying to crack down on child pornographers and kidnappers.

“All you had to do was nothing,” she is told by John Bishop, an alluringly tough, secretive, so-called former weapons dealer who turns up in Kick’s living room one day and becomes the series’s romantic male lead, partly because he has absolutely no romantic interest in Kick. He just commandeers her because he works for a very rich somebody who wants the kidnappers caught. And Kick has dedicated her life to the same cause.

Kick is a fighter, albeit a wounded one, so she’s drawn to the worst kinds of crises she can face. And her nearest and dearest are in constant jeopardy because of the kind of slime in which she’s chosen to reimmerse herself.

One of the book’s toughest scenes takes Kick to prison, where Mel lies mortally ill and perhaps ready for a confession about a ring of perverts much more savage than he is. Despite everything, he seems really to have loved this girl, and her reactions are no less complicated.

In Heartsick, Gretchen asked: “Do you know what’s more intimate than sex? Violence.” And that book went on to prove her point. One Kick has a similar way of mixing brutality and eroticism, though it is very, very careful not to exploit the pedophilia angle. But Kick becomes curious about Bishop’s effect on women: They flirt with him tirelessly, he pays little attention, and yet Kick finds them with him early in the morning.

The ending was a surprise for me and their was a cliffhanger at the VERY end, leaving room for a sequel,BUT, I looked ahead and found that the second book, Kick Back, was not published . Here’s why:

“Please Note: this novel has no planned publish date.

As per Chelsea’s blog: “Simon and Schuster published ONE KICK. Then, about the time I was supposed to turn in KICK BACK (and after S&S had posted the cover of KICK BACK and started taking pre-orders), my editor left S&S to go to Putnam. And I went with her. These things happen. S&S will not be publishing KICK BACK. Ever. I hope that Putnam will publish KICK BACK one day.”

Evidentially Putnam has decided NOT to published Kick Back or any other books in the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series because it has been YEARS so Ms. Cain has gone on to write YA Graphic Novels that have been published by Marvel but I am not a graphic novel fan.

It is really a shame too because this was a fantastic book and I gave it five stars !!!!!!

 

 

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. For whom she will soon be willing to risk almost anything.

But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants.

When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in motion that can end only one way.

Review –

Newlywed London lawyer Lily Macdonald’s best intentions land her in some of the worst predicaments in British author, Jane Corry’s U.S. debut, in which almost no one proves totally trustworthy.

For instance, Lily’s generous impulse to befriend nine-year-old neighbor Carla Cavoletti, a bullied Italian immigrant with whose vulnerability she identifies, will eventually change the course of the lives of Lily and her artist husband, Ed, unfortunately not for the better. In the same way, Lily’s drive to champion clients she views as underdogs, which stems in part from experiences with her autistic brother, blinds her to the fact that some are dangerously manipulative liars who actually belong behind bars. But well-meaning as Lily is, readers will discover she isn’t above hiding some rather unsavory secrets of her own. As twisty as little Carla’s glossy curls, which inspire Ed’s best work, this swiftly moving psychological thriller offers surprises right up to the finish.

Great read!

Worth Killing For (D I Fenchurch #2) by Ed James

Book Description:

Published: October 11, 2016

Format: Audio

On a busy London street, a young woman is attacked in broad daylight and left bleeding to death on the pavement. Among the eyewitnesses are DI Simon Fenchurch and his wife.

Fenchurch pursues the attacker through a warren of backstreets and eventually arrests a young hoodie with a cache of stolen phones – an ‘Apple picker’ on the make. The case should be closed but something feels off … Was this really just about a smartphone? Why did the victim look nervous before she was targeted? And why don’t the prints on the murder weapon match the young man in custody?

Before Fenchurch can probe further, his superiors remove him from the case, convinced he has let the real culprit run free. But Fenchurch is determined to get to the truth and, before long, uncovers a conspiracy that reaches high above the street gangs of London.

Review –

This book picks up a few months after the Hope That Kills, and Fenchurch’s life has changed in many ways- he is back with Abi, his formerly estranged wife, he has set aside his ongoing search for Chloe, his missing daughter, and all is great. Until. The moment that will define the weeks to come. He witnesses a young girl murdered right in from of him.

As both a witness/victim and officer, Fenchurch is given a lot more leeway in the investigation, that we would believe would be allowed in modern policing. His dedication and willingness to set aside his own assumptions, allow the case to progress until he is taken off the case. Once the case stalls, he knows he has to get back in the game and find the solution.

 This is another page turner from author, Ed James. Fenchurch and his team are very likable, and this is a mystery locked inside another one, inside another. As the layers peel away, James gives a surprise ending, that many readers may not see coming!

Don’t miss this one!

Dollars (Dollar #2) by Pepper Winters

Book Description:

Published: November 18, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

“I should never have asked for a night with you. This would never have happened if I’d had more willpower.”

A thief met a possession and did what he did best. Now, he has to live with the consequences. Including the girl he claimed.

Pimlico was stolen and sold all before her twenty-first birthday. Two years with a master who almost killed her is over. She has a new master now. A master who demands everything, expects everything, and requires ultimate access to her mind.

Elder broke countless rules when he took the girl who wasn’t his. She confuses and bewitches him, but his fascination won’t save her from his desires.

He wants to know her. She wants to forget. Together…they’re doomed.

Pimlico: Once upon a time, I was a mute captive who wished for death.
Now, I’m stowed away on a yacht.
Saved and taken, the thief who stole me demands my voice, my past, my everything.
I won’t give in.
But Elder refuses to take no for an answer.
He pushes and cajoles, slowly discovering who I am. Until I find out he plays the cello to escape his demons, all while his music conjures mine.
He’s rich, I’m bankrupt.
I’m mute by choice, he’s curious by nature.
So many reasons why we can never work.
But that doesn’t stop our connection, our passion.
Until one night, he ruins everything.

Review –

I loved the little tidbits of Elder’s past that were revealed in this installment of the series, Dollar. He remains in large part a mystery, but slowly pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. I look forward to knowing what brought him to where he is at today. He’s not all bad, but not good either, and the struggle between both is a constant internal war within him.

As for Pim, her strength through adversity is compelling. I can’t wait for the connection between her and Elder to be explored more fully. The way he has of reading her is so intriguing. But even as she escapes one prison, she is still a victim of her conditioning. Will she ever be able to act and be viewed as a normal young woman? only time will tell. Just when I think she may be giving in a little something happens to draw her back into herself.

Prepare yourself for another jaw-dropping ending. I want nothing more than for Pim to be whole again, and for these two to find their HEA together. Unfortunately, they both will have to face down their past before that can happen. I look forward to the next three books, and seeing where this roller coaster ride ends up.

Be warned that there are many triggers in this book.

 

Let Me Go(Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #6) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Archie Sheridan is about to receive a birthday present from the last person he ever wants to see again: Gretchen Lowell.

The investigation into Jack Reynolds’s drug enterprise is heating up and has Archie heading off to attend a masked Halloween party on Jack Reynolds’s island, where Susan is a reluctant guest. But the next morning one of the guests is found murdered, and Archie quickly realizes that nothing is what it seems. Only one thing is clear: Gretchen is back, and she’s been closer than anyone thinks. On Halloween Eve, with time running out, Archie will have to risk everything, and choose wisely whom to trust, if he and his loved ones are going to live through the night.

Review –

Say what you will about mobster Jack Reynolds: The man knows how to throw a pre-Halloween party. The food and drink are endless; the attendees include 500 masked guests; security has been outsourced to a team of military contractors.

Not only is Archie reluctantly in attendance, but the host, unaware that his son Leo is secretly working undercover for the DEA, virtually kidnaps Leo’s girlfriend, reporter Susan Ward, and has her driven to his private island for the party and coiffed and costumed by a helpful stripper when she arrives.

The morning after the festivities, Archie wakes up in the mud with a blond hair in his mouth, and an uninvited guest, coed Lisa Watson, is found slashed to death. Both disruptions strongly suggest the presence of Gretchen among the masked revelers, even though Archie assures Susan that “it’s been fourteen months since she killed recreationally.” And Gretchen remains offstage for most of this installment—allowing Archie free rein to celebrate his birthday in handcuffs as his downstairs neighbor Rachel entertains him with a lap dance—until Archie’s lover/nemesis/torturer turns up at the eleventh hour to end some lives, save others and complain, “Do I have to do everything myself?” The murder and its solution take a back seat to the continuing saga of Archie’s affair with the sociopath.

At the end of the book Gretchen is still on the loose and Archie and Susan are in the hospital, Susan from her wounds and injuries inflicted by Lisa Watson’s true killer  and Archie from a near fatal gun shot wound to the stomach from a security man. They have a tender moment and then end up in Archie’s bed because Susan can’t keep her eyes open. (They didn’t hook-up but this is better than nothing – I still have high hopes for them)

I can’t believe Chelsea Cain stopped writing “The Beauty Killer” series and started “The Kick Lannigan” series. I desperately need more Archie Sheridan!!!

Five stars!

 

Her Russian Returns (Brie’s Submission #15) by Red Phoenix

Book Description:

Published: August 27, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Rytsar Durov should be dead.

But in the BDSM world, loyalties run as deep as kinky passions.
Sir Thane Davis is determined to save his Russian brother, but must call on his friends at the Center to execute the plan.
Clinging to hope, Brie trusts she will see Rytsar again.

There is a promise he must keep…

Review –

Her Russian Returns is number fifteen  in the Brie’s Submission series, they cannot be read out-of-order or as a standalone. However, you can start the series with Teach Me.

Anton Rytsar is our main man in this book, and we follow his journey out of kidnapping, through the beginning of his healing and it set the scene for more action packed drama coming in book number sixteen, In Sir’s Arms, (which I am leaving for a while because the series ends there until the author writes another and I can not bear for this to be the end, even if for a short time)
Although the book did jump from past and present and it wasn’t clear at times where we were, it was a great read and I can’t wait to listen to the next one.