The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No. 23 has a secret. In this bedsit-riddled south London wreck, lorded over by a lecherous landlord, something waits to be discovered. Yet all six residents have something to hide.

Collette and Cher are on the run; Thomas is a reluctant loner; while a gorgeous Iranian asylum seeker and a ‘quiet man’ nobody sees try to stay hidden. And watching over them all is Vesta – or so she thinks. In the dead of night, a terrible accident pushes the neighbours into an uneasy alliance. But one of them is a killer, expertly hiding their pastime, all the while closing in on their next victim…

As a cloying heatwave suffocates the city, events build to an electrifying climax in this dark, original and irresistibly compelling thriller.

Review –

“Lisa, also known as Collette, is on the run after witnessing her shady boss, Tony, beat a man to death at the Nefertiti Men’s Club. Now her mother is dying in a nursing home and she wants to be nearby, so she rents a room in a boardinghouse that’s one step up from a homeless shelter. The shabby home, subdivided into apartments, is owned and managed by a grossly obese man who takes advantage of his down-and-out residents: Hossein, who’s seeking political asylum in England; Vesta, who’s lived in the basement apartment all her life; Cher, a 15-year-old who’s slipped the reins of social services; and two single men, Thomas and Gerard. While Collette uses the money she has left, about £100,000, to evade Tony and his henchmen, the residents are dealing with backed-up drains that smell awful. Unknown to the other residents, one of the men has been making a habit of killing young women, including Nikki, the former resident of Collette’s apartment, and what he does to them afterward is beyond horrible. Now the killer is looking for new blood; when something terrible happens to bring the boarders together, things only grow more dangerous. Marwood, a British journalist writing under a pseudonym, not only creates a cast of memorable characters, but also ratchets up the suspense, leaving readers to dread what might be around the next corner.” Kirkus Review

You can’t help but care what happens to Collette and the rest of the boarders while simultaneously waiting for the literary axe to fall.  Fantastic read that grabs you by the throat and never lets go!

 

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The Kept by James Scott

Book Description:

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, superb new talent James Scott makes his literary debut with The Kept—a propulsive novel reminiscent of the works of Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, in which a mother and her young son embark on a quest to avenge a terrible and violent tragedy that has shattered their secluded family.

In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.

A scorching portrait of a merciless world — of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence — The Kept introduces an old-beyond-his-years protagonist as indelible and heartbreaking as Mattie Ross of True Grit or Jimmy Blevins of All the Pretty Horses, as well as a shape-shifting mother as enigmatic and mysterious as a character drawn by Russell Banks or Marilynne Robinson.

Review –

I don’t know where to start with this one except to say that is the MOST DEPRESSING book I have ever read or listened to (I listened – which made it worse because the narrator made the characters come alive).

Elspeth is a midwife and stays away from home for months at a time and is returning to her homestead, which is a six-hour walk from the nearest town. Once there she finds her husband and four children all dead from gun shots. She is accidentally shot with a rifle by her twelve-year-old son, Caleb, who survived the massacre by hiding and being quiet.

Caleb does the best he can to doctor her wounds but she almost dies. When she is able to stand it he tells her of the three mens with red scarves around their necks who did the killings. She says they must go and hunt them down and kill them. 

Thus starts the saga.

Once arriving in the town they suspect the murders reside Elspeth dresses like a man and gets a job hauling ice and Caleb, who quickly tires of staying all day cooped up in a hotel room, gets a job as a janitor at the brothel.

The things these two endure is amazing and when facts come out about Caleb’s “brothers and sisters” he is not really shocked because by that time he had a suspicion.

Do they find the killers? You’ll have to read the book, but let me warn you it is depressing, especially the ending.

After listening to this, I had to find a “fluff” piece to read/listen because my mind was not ready for another serious tome.

 

The Black Book by James Patterson and David Ellis

Book Description:

Published: May 4, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

How can you prove your innocence when you can’t remember the crime?

Being a cop runs in Billy Harney’s family. The son of Chicago’s Chief of Detectives whose twin sister, Patty, also followed in their father’s footsteps, there’s nothing Billy won’t give up for the job, including his life.

After a brutal shooting, Billy is left for dead alongside his tempestuous former partner and an ambitious assistant district attorney out for blood, But somehow Billy survives. He remembers nothing about the events leading up to the shootout and is charged with double murder.

Desperate to clear his name, Billy retraces his steps to get to the bottom of what happened. When he discovers the existence of a little black book that everyone who’s anyone in Chicago will stop at nothing to get their hands on, Billy suspects it contains the truth that will either set him free… or confirm his worst fears.

Review –

I found this  book fascinating from the first chapter and the characters believable, the plot plausible and the action  fast paced. Even though I figured out who the “murderer” was early on, I didn’t see the fact that he had a partner. The storyline was a bit on the predictable side but the suspense  and the surprise twist made the read/listen very worthwhile. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys police drama.

 

Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Description:

Published: October 18, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Review –

This time I had to listen to the audio version but found it NOT to be the distraction that I thought it would be. 

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

There is a small moment in Gemina – involving a lost flower corsage, no less – that is a masterpiece of storytelling that is both a beautiful moment between two people about to fall in love as well as a brilliant foreshadow that eventually turns into an essential piece of a mind-blowing twist. In other words: this novel? It’s fantastic!

The follow-up to last year’s excellent Illuminae, Gemina has a similar formula to its predecessor: a high concept, an epistolary narrative, a book that requires the reader to engage with the pages in different ways, a Moment of Despair, incredible twists. And it all works again because these novels have that thing that will take the formula to the extra level: fantastic characters.

Featuring characters from different sides of the tracks and with super high stakes, it follows new characters to the series (whilst bringing back everybody who survived Illuminae) who are on board the jumpstation Heimdall (where the aforementioned survivors are about to arrive to) as it is invaded by the next stage of the (evil) BeiTech assault AND alien predators that want to eat everybody. If that wasn’t enough, it is well possible that the wormholes at the centre of the station – the very thing that keeps the space-time continuum together – is malfunctioning. HOW FUN. No, seriously, it is so much fun.

Hanna is a socialite, the station captain’s spoiled daughter. Nik is a member of an infamous crime family– which includes his cousin Ella. But no one is who they seem to be to start with: Hanna is a kick-ass, cool-as-f*ck fighter and strategist. Nik is the criminal with the heart-of-gold. Oh, these two are lovely and a great counterpoint to one another. When the station is invaded (and the body count starts to rise), they are thrown together along with Ella to become reluctant heroes, the only ones standing between life and doom. And so it goes – put together by documents, blueprints, chat and video transcripts and more, the story follows the trio, with every subsequent event turning things up by a notch.

Can’t wait to read the last (?) in the series, Obsidio.

The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello

Book Description:

Published: March 5, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.

Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants—to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life.

Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits—and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised—crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters—he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price.

The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed.

Review –

“A former Army epidemiologist contends with greedy locals and the harsh Alaskan terrain in order to prevent the recurrence of a deadly pandemic. . . . Masello weaves several disparate genres—medical thriller, historical novel, ghost story—into a coherent whole. A delicious sense of creeping dread permeates the first act, greatly enhanced by its setting in the stark but beautiful landscape of northwestern Alaska. . . . Tense, taut and impossible to put down.”—Kirkus Reviews 

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Fantastic book !  I definitely be reading more by this author.

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.

 

 

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!

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!

 

Kill You Twice (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #5) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: August 7, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Nothing makes Portland detective Archie Sheridan happier than knowing that Gretchen Lowell—the serial killer whose stunning beauty is belied by the gruesome murders she’s committed—is locked away in a psych ward. Archie can finally heal from the near-fatal physical and emotional wounds she’s inflicted on him and start moving on with his life.

To this end, Archie throws himself into the latest case to come across his desk: A cyclist has discovered a corpse in Mount Tabor Park on the eastern side of Portland. The man was gagged, skinned, and found hanging by his wrists from a tree. It’s the work of a killer bold and clever enough to torture his victim for hours on a sunny summer morning in a big public park and yet leave no trace.

And then Archie gets a message he can’t ignore—Gretchen claims to have inside knowledge about this grisly murder. Archie finally agrees to visit Gretchen, because he can’t risk losing his only lead in the case. At least, that’s what he tells himself . . . but the ties between Archie and Gretchen have always been stronger, deeper, and more complex than he’s willing to admit, even to himself. What game is she playing this time? And even more frightening, what long-hidden secrets from Gretchen’s past has been dredged up that someone would kill to protect?

Review –

Despite being locked away in the Oregon State Hospital, serial killer Gretchen Lowell still looms large in Detective Archie Sheridan’s life in this installment by bestselling author, Chelsea Cain, and is an utterly engrossing  thriller.  When Gretchen claims that the Portland police detective’s two latest murder victims—one found flayed in a local park and another burned to a crisp atop the iconic city sign—are the work of killer Ryan Motley, Archie knows better than to take Gretchen at her word, but he’s intrigued when she mentions having a child, a new twist.

Meanwhile, Susan Ward, ( I secretly wish that she and Archie will eventually hook up) now working as a freelance reporter, is following both the current murder case and the developing situation with Gretchen, going so far as to interview her at the state hospital, where Gretchen divulges tidbits of her early life, previously uncharted territory.

Although he swears that he’s not going to see his murderous ex-lover again, Archie’s lured back into contact with her when Gretchen’s interview with Susan Ward, the newspaper reporter whose life Archie saved, concludes its grueling description of Gretchen’s very first murder, the slaughter 16 years ago of James Beaton, with an urgent plea Susan passes on to Archie: “Children are going to die….You have to find the flash drive.” Could one of those children be Pearl Clinton, who’d been staying at the Life Works Center before she disappeared? How much of what Gretchen says can be trusted? Here’s a hint – ZERO!!!!!

This is one of my FAVORITE series and every one is better than the next. I just wish the author hadn’t stopped writing the series when she did. I’m listening to the final book in the series now and it was published in 2013, then she started a new series. The nerve of some authors, doesn’t she know I’m waiting with bated breath for more on Archie and the “Beauty Killer”?  I can’t stand it!!!!!