Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

Book Description:

Published: July 2, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

From the celebrated and bestselling author of The Banker’s Wife, worlds collide when an FBI agent investigates a string of grisly murders on Long Island that raises the impossible question: What happens when the primary suspect is your father?

FBI Agent Nell Flynn hasn’t been home in ten years. Nell and her father, Homicide Detective Martin Flynn, have never had much of a relationship. And Suffolk County will always be awash in memories of her mother, Marisol, who was brutally murdered when Nell was just seven.

When Martin Flynn dies in a motorcycle accident, Nell returns to the house she grew up in so that she can spread her father’s ashes and close his estate. At the behest of her father’s partner, Detective Lee Davis, Nell becomes involved in an investigation into the murders of two young women in Suffolk County. The further Nell digs, the more likely it seems to her that her father should be the prime suspect–and that his friends on the police force are covering his tracks. Plagued by doubts about her mother’s murder–and her own role in exonerating her father in that case–Nell can’t help but ask questions about who killed Ria Ruiz and Adriana Marques and why. But she may not like the answers she finds–not just about those she loves, but about herself.

Review –

“After scattering the ashes of her father, Martin, Nell Flynn heads to his South Fork home to sift through his possessions after a motorcycle crash took his life. Nell is on leave from her job in D.C. as a member of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit after she killed a member of the Russian Mafia in the line of duty and got a bullet to the shoulder for her trouble. Nell mourns her father but also looks forward to moving on and never looking back at a town that holds nothing but bad memories, including the brutal murder of her mother, Marisol, when she was only 7. But getting out of town soon isn’t in the cards for Nell. When her old friend Lee Davis, a newly minted homicide detective, asks for her help solving a series of gruesome murders, Nell is intrigued. A young girl, shot, dismembered, and wrapped in burlap, has been found buried in a local park, and she bears a striking resemblance to a young Latina found the previous summer. Nell soon learns that a mansion near the burial is the site of lavish parties attended by Washington elites, where possibly underage girls are provided for entertainment. Nell’s digging leads to young Latina escorts afraid to come forward for fear of deportation and the wrath of their pimp, who is working with some of the most powerful men in New York. When a local landscaper is arrested, Nell isn’t convinced he’s the killer, and disturbing secrets about the local police—even her father—are rising to the surface. Nell carries a palpable sadness and is still haunted by her mother’s murder and her complicated relationship with her father. She has a vulnerable, empathetic core that will pull readers in, and Alger has a feel for small-town dynamics. The tension becomes nearly unbearable as Nell realizes she truly can’t trust anyone. Readers can expect a few genuine surprises, and the light Alger shines on society’s most vulnerable members is an important one.” Kirkus Review

Loved this book and it’s perfect for a hot Summer afternoon .

 

Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: June 9, 2020

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

Review –

Charlotte, the narrator of this well-paced novel set in Lake Crosby, N.C., from author, Kimberly Belle, was raised in poverty, but she has achieved her dream of a better life by marrying Paul Keller, the richest man in the Appalachian tourist town of Lake Crosby, N.C., despite the local gossip that Paul drowned his first wife four years earlier.

Then one day she’s disturbed to spot a nervous-looking Paul talking to a strange woman. The next day, Charlotte finds the woman’s body floating under their lakefront dock, just like Paul’s first wife. When shown the body, Paul tells the police he’s never seen the woman. He later takes off without telling anyone where he’s going. Frightened and confused, Charlotte turns to Paul’s two best friends for support, one the town crazy, the other the police chief’s son, both with dark secrets of their own. Belle weaves an intricate web of connections among the characters as the action moves toward the surprising ending. 

This story had intrigue and mystery from the start. I loved the instant suspense of the gossip-inducing relationship and then the first crime right off the top. While Charlotte’s character is not universally loved in their small town, I happened to like her. She handled herself very well with all the drama and her character was one that was inspiring on how she tried to be loyal to those around her and strong willed to get through everything.

While I did guess the killer about two thirds through the listen, how it all played out was very exciting and shocking with each turn. The author sure knows how to write a story that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I loved the main characters. I loved the little side characters who helped fill the gaps in this story and shape it into its most interesting parts.

If you love a good mystery, this is it. Thrills, suspense, mystery… Stranger in the Lake has it all.

Walk the Wire (Amos Decker #6) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: April 21, 2020

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

Amos Decker — the FBI consultant with a perfect memory — returns to solve a gruesome murder in a booming North Dakota oil town in the newest thriller in David Baldacci’s #1 New York Times bestselling Memory Man series.

When Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are called to London, North Dakota, they instantly sense that the thriving fracking town is ripe for trouble. The promise of a second gold rush has attracted an onslaught of newcomers all hoping for a windfall, and the community is growing faster than houses can be built. The sudden boom has also brought a slew of problems with it, including drugs, property crimes, prostitution — and now murder.

Decker and Jamison are ordered to investigate the death of a young woman named Irene Cramer, whose body was expertly autopsied and then dumped in the open — which is only the beginning of the oddities surrounding the case. As Decker and Jamison dig into Irene’s life, they are shocked to discover that the woman who walked the streets by night as a prostitute was a teacher for a local religious sect by day — a sect operating on land once owned by a mysterious government facility that looms over the entire community.

London is a town replete with ruthless business owners, shady government officials, and religious outsiders, all determined to keep their secrets from coming out. When other murders occur, Decker will need all of his extraordinary memory and detective skills, and the assistance of a surprising ally, to root out a killer and the forces behind Cramer’s death. . . before the boom town explodes.

Review –

FBI consultant Amos Decker and his colleague, Alex Jamison, are summoned to the remote North Dakota Badlands when a hunter discovers the remains of a woman out on the Great Plains.

She appears to have had a post-mortem performed on her, reminiscent of those seen on TV cop shows – but this time, there was no slab, morgue or camera in sight. The reason why Irene Cramer’s murder merits an FBI investigation becomes rapidly clear when key questions surface about the woman’s mysterious past. As a teacher at a school managed by a local male-run sect, the Anabaptists, little is known about who she really was or where she came from.

Seeking information from the local community, Decker and Jamison observe the local town of London, North Dakota, which sits at the very heart of the fracking industry. Enriched with oil money, jealousy and a deep-set rivalry between its richest investors lie beneath a veneer of glitz and opulence.

But it is the nearby ‘eye in the sky’, the London Air Force Station, which may hold the answers. Acting as an early warning system, it can detect a nuclear threat to the US. Was Irene Cramer’s death connected in some way to the highly classified facility? When a mysterious government contact reaches out to assist their investigation, Decker realizes that this town holds secrets so explosive that their implications could destabilize the entire country .

I loved that Alex plays a key role here as well as Decker. She’s sometimes AWOL allowing Baldacci to bring in a few other regulars but this time the pair are partnered up the whole way. 

Readers of Baldacci’s other work will be happy to see a bit of a crossover here, featuring a character (or two) from another series. I won’t say more as it was a bit of a surprise, but well done and their presence doesn’t diminish the achievements of Decker and Alex.

There’s A LOT happening in this book. It’s a three-for-the-price of one kinda book. Or maybe more. And it’s unfortunate for some involved in nefarious dealings that they get tangled up in something bigger that might have otherwise seen them escape scott-free.

Decker and Alex are ostensibly there because a woman’s been killed. Kinda savagely but they’re not quite sure of the reasoning behind their involvement. Until they realise there’s a Department of Defence base nearby.

And then there’s the town of London which felt a bit like a character itself. It’s run by two families – the fathers arch-rivals of sorts, though reliant on each other for business. We meet the next generation of both families and there’s a clash between the old school vs new school way of doing things.

Baldacci’s inclusion of mining / fracking and its impacts on communities is also timely given it’s the subject of debate in many countries. (Along with the economic benefits to towns and its people vs environmental and long term impacts.)

In all honesty I could have done without one of the threads of this mystery. I can’t reveal too much but it overcomplicates things and (in many ways) felt redundant. Although having said that, I was able to follow what was happening; and it does give Baldacci the opportunity to mislead we readers—on several occasions—as we assume we’ve got it all solved.

There’s less reliance on Decker’s abilities here – though his impressive memory does come through when he needs it. I actually kinda like his superpower but it’s a reminder that he was (and is) a good investigator either way. 

I also continue to really like Alex, and we actually get a little more insight into both of their personal lives here.

We know about the murder of Decker’s wife and daughter that led him to crash and burn, but here we learn he’s cut off other family since and been reticent to re-establish contact. And I wasn’t sure I’d remembered (or knew) Alex had been married and there’s certainly a (back)story there!

I really enjoyed this book – the sixth in the series. It probably didn’t need to be as convoluted as it was, but Baldacci always manages to keep all of the balls in the air and doesn’t give us plot holes that cause us sleepless nights (or am I the only one who struggles if there’s a lack of closure?!).

Another excellent Amos Decker novel.

Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Book Description:

Published: January 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

Review –

Pretty Girls Dancing is Kylie Brant’s latest standalone  novel, and the first book of hers that I’ve tried.  It’s described as a dark thriller, although I disagree.

A series of kidnappings/murders is devastating a small town and the families involved. The world is believed to be done by a serial killer called the Ten Mile Killer (TMK for short). Okay, so a lot of this is probably pretty obvious from the description of the novel. The TMK villain kidnaps and tortures little girls. While the torture is necessarily graphic, it is still very much torture. Bodies are found during the course of the novel, as is (spoiler warning) a surviving victim. While they don’t use the word, it’s very clear that she has been sexually assaulted by her TMK captor. I know these themes can be upsetting to many, so just be aware of them going in.

 

The Summer Children (The Collector #3) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

This FBI agent has come to expect almost anything—just not this…

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning. He tells her a chilling tale: an angel killed his parents and then brought him here so Mercedes could keep him safe.

His parents weren’t just murdered. It was a slaughter—a rage kill like no one on the Crimes Against Children team had seen before. But they’re going to see it again. An avenging angel is meting out savage justice, and she’s far from through.

One by one, more children arrive at Mercedes’s door with the same horror story. Each one a traumatized survivor of an abusive home. Each one chafing at Mercedes’s own scars from the past. And each one taking its toll on her life and career.

Now, as the investigation draws her deeper into the dark, Mercedes is beginning to fear that if this case doesn’t destroy her, her memories might.

Review –

The Summer Children is the third book in the series The Collector by Dot Hutchison. Though I did read it as a standalone, because it has been over two years since I read the first two books in the series. There are characters that come and go in this book who have made their appearance in the previous installments. The Summer Children is a about an FBI team of which Mercedes Ramirez is a member. They are in Crimes Against Children section of the FBI. She has been there for ten years and has helped  and rescued more children than she can count.

The book begins with Mercedes and her girlfriend returning to Mercedes’ home where they come across a little boy waiting for Mercedes. The little boy, Ronnie, is covered in blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings. He claims to be deposited on her porch by the angel who killed his parents. A few days later, Mercedes and her teammate Eliza Sterling return to Mercedes’ place to see three kids on her porch. Sarah, Ashley and Sammy with faces streaked with blood and holding a teddy bear with gold wings  say the same thing as well. All the children were brought here by the angel who killed their parents and deposited here because Mercedes would keep them safe. These kids had to watch their parents be killed, and then they were told they’d be safe with Mercedes. Safe because they are all victims of abuse. Ronnie was abused by his father while Sarah by her stepfather. As more and more children from similar backgrounds turn up at Mercedes’ place, the local PD asks to partner with the FBI to solve the crime. And solve it they do.

There is a good plot in this book. While abuse is a thread running strong throughout the book, certain sections of the book have a much horrific version than the rest. Stomach turningly horrific. There is evil in this world and sometimes we choose to ignore it willfully. This is something that a few characters do with confidence in The Summer Children.  But the CAC team tries hard to stop further damage. So, if you are someone who can not read about bad things being done to children, then skip this book.

What I loved about this book was the team in which Mercedes works. A unit that works together in sync and a team that’s more family than friends. Office politics and other distractions do not hinder their investigations or stop them from pursuing criminals. Each of them, be it the head of the unit or the newest member, is involved in their job hoping to save one more child. A noble cause, for which they all have their own reasons to contribute to.

The book starts off a bit slow, but, never does it get boring. There is a nice pace that begins once the children start arriving. It is a book that has blood, sweat and tears and makes us question rules and regulations, between right and wrong.

Again, there is a lot of child abuse, be it physical, sexual or emotional in this book.  If you can handle it, then put on your TBR list.

Fantastic read!

 

A Thin Dark Line (Broussard and Fourcade #1,Doucet #4)) by Tami Hoag

Book Description:

Published:  April 1, 1998

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Terror stalks the streets of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana. A suspected murderer is free on a technicality, and the cop accused of planting evidence against him is ordered off the case. But Detective Nick Fourcade refuses to walk away. He’s stepped over the line before. This case threatens to push him over the edge.

He’s not the only one. Deputy Annie Broussard found the woman’s mutilated body. She still hears the phantom echoes of dying screams. She wants justice. But pursuing the investigation will mean forming an alliance with a man she doesn’t trust and making enemies of the men she works with. It will mean being drawn into the confidence of a killer. For Annie Broussard, finding justice will mean risking everything—including her life.

The search for the truth has begun—one that will lead down a twisted trail through the steamy bayous of Louisiana, and deep into the darkest reaches of the human heart.

Review –

This is a psychosexual thriller about tough Cajun loners looking for love in unlikely places.

Heroine Annie Broussard is a deputy with the sheriff’s office in Partout Parish in southern Louisiana. An orphan who’s working hard to make detective, she’s also devoted to getting rid of the sexual predators who victimize women. But just as her career seems to be looking up, Annie breaks an unwritten police law: She arrests a fellow officer, Nick Fourcade, when she finds him beating up a murder suspect. Annie should have let Fourcade kill him, say both her colleagues and the bayou parish citizens. After all, the suspect, Marcus Renard, had supposedly stalked Pam Bichon, a single mother. He’d driven stakes through her hands, raped her, killed her, eviscerated her, then left her wearing only a feathered Mardi Gras mask in a deserted cottage on Pony Bayou. Why not kill him? Switching his obsession from Pam to Annie, he maintains that he’s innocent and begs Annie to help him. Working with Fourcade, who’s suspended but still obsessed with the case, she seeks evidence to put the troubled Marcus legally behind bars. Meanwhile, someone’s raping Louisiana women, and Marcus is too injured to be the perp. Is it Annie’s lazy, mean-spirited colleague Stokes? Or Pam’s husband, involved with a New Orleans racketeer from Fourcade’s past? As Mardi Gras approaches, Annie, a cute kid who does fifty chin-ups a day and has an addiction to candy bars, wrestles with Fourcade’s dangerous sexualityfortunately a losing battle—and with the evil presence of deranged male predators who aren’t who they seem.

I read the second book first and it did not dampen my enjoyment of this one, but rather, gave me a better understanding go the characters. I don’t understand why this author has not written any more books in this series. Maybe she will surprise me one day.

 

 

 

 

The Dark Bones (Dark Lure #2) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: May 25, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.

When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.

To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.

And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

Review –

In The Dark Bones, Detective Rebecca North returns home to her small town because of her father’s suicide. She immediately decides that her father who was a retired cop would not have taken his own life, although everyone in town thinks otherwise. To make things more difficult, the man who broke her heart, Ash Haugen is at the center of the investigation in the worst way. Secrets from their past regarding the disappearance of two teens seem to have something to do with all of it. And here in present day, two other teens are also somehow involved. The more Rebecca digs, the harder it is for her to trust anyone. In addition, she and Ash still have feelings for each other. The town seems to be made up of complicated relationships at all levels. Plus, there are a couple of killers on the loose that no one suspects. Since it’s truly a mystery, that’s about all I can say. Nothing is what it seems.

I really enjoyed The Dark Bones and I never had a clue as to what would happen next. The whole book is just one huge puzzle that you have to play out to the very end. The pace was smooth and there is never a dull moment. I look forward to reading more books from this author.

 

A Dark Lure (Dark Lure#1) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2015

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.

Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?

As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.

Review –

First, be aware that there may be triggers so some. Included in the book are kidnapping,rape,torture of women,multilation, biting, etc.

Wow, what a ride! This was probably the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in the last few months.

Basically, it’s a story about survival: Olivia West, sole survivor of the “Watt Lake Killer” who died in prison, works anonymously on Broken Bar Ranch as its manager when a body is discovered. The victim’s remains have been put on display in the same way the dead killer used to do and weird things – coincidences? – begin to happen on Broken Bar Ranch.

A cop who worked on the side-lines of the original Watt Lake case – now dying from cancer – never believed the real killer had been apprehended and, thus, he’s out with his young daughter, Tori, to catch the right guy this time…

It’s hard to find fault with a book that’s as engaging and exciting as this one. Of course, it’s not high literature but it’s nearly perfect for what it is. Frequent switches of perspectives and places take place but I always knew exactly what was going on which is a big plus for me. The backstory of the Watt Lake killer is told by means of a book written by Tori’s late mother and makes for chilling interludes.

The world was natural, beautiful and rugged. The details were lush in description (the Canadian Northwest). Many of the characters and certainly the main characters were all grappling with their pasts, not always sure they wanted the future. Character growth and strength provide the base for a great story.

I loved the personal growth and how hard they fought for life. There were various twists of things, and a few I guessed.  What a pace of terrifying events with the weather to complicate matters. there was the ultimate battle for survival.

I highly recommend this heart-breaking, smart and uplifting tale!

 

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

Book Description:

Published: January 14,2020

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 3

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case. In short order, they establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who’s a bit too fond of drink and the host of raucous dinner parties with her artist friends. Esther also turns out to be a budding novelist—and when Julie turns up as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows both more urgent and more dangerous.

But Esther’s role in this twisted scenario is not quite as clear as it first seems. Is she the culprit—or just another victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the brutal puppet-master pulling the strings in this electrifying literary thriller.

Review –

“A vicious killer follows a writer’s murderous manuscript to the letter in Danish author Engberg’s U.S. debut.

It’s only been about a year since University of Copenhagen professor Esther de Laurenti retired, and she’s been writing a novel, something she’s always dreamed of. When Esther’s tenant, 21-year-old Julie Stender, is murdered, Esther is shocked.

Heading up the investigation is Copenhagen detectives Jeppe Kørner and his partner of eight years, Anette Werner, and it’s proving to be a doozy. The murder was particularly heinous: The killer stabbed Julie and carved strange designs into her face and, frustratingly, seems to have been very careful not to leave any physical evidence at the scene. Of course, as investigators start digging into Julie’s life, they discover some suitably shady secrets in her past, and it’s suggested that one of her boyfriends might have felt scorned enough to resort to murder. Perhaps it was her new boyfriend, who is supposedly a much older, sophisticated man. Too bad nobody knows who he is.

When Esther reveals that the details of the murder closely mirror her work in progress, it opens a whole new avenue of investigation, and when Esther attempts to draw the killer out, it puts her firmly in the crosshairs. Engberg’s background as a former dancer and choreographer gives a boost to her considerable flair for the dramatic (keep an eye out for a theatrically staged murder at the Royal Danish Theater) and highlights a strong focus on Copenhagen’s creative community; even Jeppe wanted to be a musician before he became a cop. His fairly recent divorce almost ruined him, and Anette’s upbeat and pragmatic style is no small annoyance to her moody partner, which is played for light comic effect (as is Jeppe’s reawakening libido), leavening the heavier subject matter. Overly familiar plot elements keep this from being a standout, and some twists require a significant suspension of disbelief, but Engberg’s fast-paced narrative is bolstered by an interesting and quirky cast as well as an intriguing setting.

A bit over-the-top but still a lot of fun.” Kirkus Reviews

It was okay but I don’t think I’ll read others in the series.

 

When You Disappeared by John Marrs

Book Description:

Published: July 13, 2017

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing – except him.

Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth – about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.

And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

Review –

The very description of this book intrigued me, what would I do in the position of the main character Catherine?  How does she go on?  What thoughts are running through her mind when she discovers her husband has gone and never returns?  Also, and why does Simon to do this?  So much about this book just screamed “READ ME”.

The book opens on the day that Simon walks out of his life and you see the impact this has on his friends and family, watching the ground beneath their feet crumble and their lives are inexplicably changed.  But we also experience the life that Simon goes on to lead in the twenty-five years he spends estranged from his family before returning “home”, and allowing Catherine to find out who he really is and his reasons for leaving like he did.

From the onset, my heart went out to Catherine.  How awful it must have been for her to try and hold things together for the sake of her children while wanting to curl up and stop living.  Her marriage had some issues, and life wasn’t always easy with small children around but she thought that things were stable, that life was ok ay and that she and Simon were okay.  Not knowing that all the while that Simon had an ulterior motive, that he was planning to walk out on them all and not look back and leave them to try and pick up the pieces and get on with life.  From that moment I didn’t like Simon, I couldn’t help but feel a hatred towards him, yes I admit, I hadn’t read all of his story yet to find out what was driving his decisions but part of me didn’t want to find out.Part of me wanted to stop there and then, but of course I listened on. It’s always a good sign if an author can evoke such strong emotions from their readers with the characterization in their books and I have to admit that John Marrs has done that with When You Disappeared, he seems to have found a formula in his writing that makes readers hate characters but at the same time feel that they aren’t 100% sure of their gut instinct, keeping them questioning whether there may be an underlying story that might just save a character…….

Narrated from alternating perspectives, readers experience the lives of both Simon and Catherine, seeing how their lives have progressed in the intervening twenty-five years, leading up to the moment that they meet again.  I did feel that it pulled at my attention somewhat, the jumping back and forth between the two main characters did feel a little disjointed but it did add to the overall suspense and intrigue so kept me on my toes.  The pace felt that it matched the plot well, not an adrenaline packed, fast paced read, but more a slow build to increase the tension levels and keep readers wondering what might happen.

Why did Simon leave ? How did Simon and Catherine change as individuals? Did they find love again?  Were they successful and happy or did grief and hatred turn their lives into something even they wouldn’t believe possible?  To find out, you will have to read the book. 

Fantastic Five Star Read!!!!!

This book was previously published as The Wronged Sons.