Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Book Description:

Published: March 5, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .

Review –

I absolutely love how Peter Swanson writes in your face psychopaths and mentally unstable people who may or may not be reliable. Truly, he’s brilliant at it.

I found the fact that he shined a bright light on these characters and put the crazy front and center so  refreshing. There’s no beating around the bush about who’s not playing with a full deck. And I was totally happy about that.  In fact, I hated when I had to take a break from listening to do something mundane.Then our of nowhere comes a  major plot twist that  left me reeling.Some may see it as a  pure gimmick, but I thought it was genius. 

This is a psychological thriller, but with just a  bit suspenseful. It’s a story of perversion, cruelty, and deceit. The author skillfully uses it all to keep readers off kilter and breathless to the very last page.  

I have loved every Peter Swanson novel I’ve listened to and I can’t wait for his next book. Mr. Swanson, write faster!!

Five stars.

 

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We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn #4) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: June 4, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn returns in Becky Masterman’s fourth stunning thriller

In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote’s masterpiece, IN COLD BLOOD. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo’s days as a prison chaplain–a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo’s old things–has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he’d like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he’ll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

Review –

This installment of the Brigid Quinn series is inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Masterman’s intriguing fourth Brigid Quinn thriller supposes that Dick Hickock and Perry Smith didn’t act alone when they killed the Clutter family in Kansas in 1959.

For Brigid’s upcoming wedding anniversary, her husband, Carlo DiForenza, has the perfect gift, a memento from his days as a prison chaplain—a sketch by Hickock. Retired FBI agent Brigid has been obsessed with the notion that Hickock and Smith were also guilty of murdering The Walker family of four in Florida a month after the Clutter slayings, a crime that was never solved. Brigid discovers a letter hidden behind the sketch that leads to a written confession by Hickock implicating a third person, Jerry Beaufort, who was fifteen at the time. Now nearly seventy, Jerry, who was recently released from prison after serving time for trafficking and drug possession,(on the three strikes program) decides to track down a detective and others involved in the Clutter case. Fearful that modern-day forensics could expose his role in the murders, he’s prepared to kill anyone who could implicate him. After his research reveals Carlo’s link to Hickock, Jerry sets out for Arizona to silence Carlo.But  he has no idea what’s in store for him, because Brigid was a killer once, too.

Not my favorite of the series but a great read, nonetheless.

 

Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake #3) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: April 23, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

She can’t ignore a cry for help. But in this remote hunting town, it’s open season.

Review –

Wolfhunter River is Rachel Caine’s third book in her Stillhouse Lake series (after Stillhouse Lake and Killman .

Gwen Proctor is an amazing character—flawed, brave, vulnerable, fierce, and utterly protective of her children. I found the first two books in this series absolutely spectacular, tautly plotted and full of action and suspense, and they provided a disturbing view into the heart of evil and how it can spread.

I found that this book took a little longer to build up steam, and once it did, there was so much going on and so many things were tangled together that the plot even got a little muddled. It felt like in trying to build on the intensity of the first two books, the author thought she had to triple the suspense. Fortunately, there is still a lot of character development, and we learn more about Sam’s life before he and Gwen met.

This book might be more of a standalone than the first two books were, but I’d still recommend you start reading the series from the beginning. Caine sure does love to keep you guessing about how the plot will unfold! I’m not sure if she intends to keep writing about Gwen, but I hope she does, because she’s definitely full of possibilities.

If you’re a fan of creepy, well-written, suspenseful thrillers, I’d encourage you to pick up this series, starting with Stillhouse Lake. You may find yourself wondering just how you’d react if faced with the same situations Gwen was, and whether you’d be a total badass like she is.

 

The Dark Water Bride by Marty Ross

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Late Victorian London. When the most respectable of Scottish businessmen is pulled, dead, from the Thames, his daughter is drawn into an investigation which reveals a whole world of secrets and corruption and leads all the way to the tragic truth behind the ghostly legend of The Dark Water Bride.

An epic drama combining the genres of the Victorian mystery thriller with the equally classic Victorian mode of the ghostly tale.

Review –

OMG! This a mesmerizing , gory, dark little tale and I was completely absorbed listening to it.

I love a bit of mystery, gothic horror, and bloodthirsty murder and The Dark Water Bride combines all three delightfully. The business man’s daughter is a great character, feisty, determined, headstrong and not your typical simpering Victorian woman. I loved her determination to know the truth regardless of the cost.

The story starts out with a business man found dead in the river Thames. His daughter is told it was a suicide but she couldn’t believe it so travels to London to find out what happened to her father. Some uncomfortable truths and a local legend are revealed as the plot unfolds.

The story is very creepy, exploring the underbelly of London and it’s a dark dirty underbelly at that. This isn’t something for someone who is sensitive to sex and violence, there is quite a lot of both in it. In fact, most of the criticism I’ve seen about Darkwater Bride is the amount of sex and violence. I find it strange that this is the primary complaint about a story that explores the seedy, dark sides of the world.

There is certainly plenty of violence and sex but there’s also a good amount of intrigue, fright and suspense. Even a bit of rommance! This may disturb you, may upset you and might frighten you. But isn’t that what good horror is all about?

Overall the performances were all very good and convincing. The legend of the Darkwater Bride is fully explained , so no worries you won’t be left hanging.

The true story of the ghostly bride was heartbreaking.

If you have an Audible subscription and love creepy stuff, download this one and start listening, you’ll love it. Consider signing up for a free trial, would be worth it just to listen to this one!

Five stars !!!!!

 

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Book Description:

Published: April 7, 2009

Format: Audio/Audible

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much-loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairy tales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Review –

If I had to pick just one thing that Kate  Morton does extremely well with her writing it would be how she brings the settings featured throughout the story to life. One can feel the warm, thick air in Australia, hear the busy, bustling streets of London, and see the magic that surrounds Cornwall, England. I have never laid my eyes on any of these locations, but I could picture them all so vividly with the way that Morton breathes life into her words.

Overall, The Forgotten Garden is a magical novel; it was as delightful as it was suspenseful. I truly did not want to put this book down because the author is so careful to feed her readers little spoonfuls of information—enough so as to keep one partially satisfied but still craving more. I just thoroughly enjoyed watching the many beautifully executed components of this book unfold. This is a must-read specifically for those who are a fan of the historical fiction genre. 

I rated this book Five Stars and it shines brightly as one of my favorites of the year so far!

The Scarred Woman (Department Q #7) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 19, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.

In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved homicide investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young women are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.

Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors’ expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past—a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed. It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose’s childhood before it is too late.

Review –

“Whoever struck the blow that killed Rigmor Zimmermann and took 10,000 kroner from her handbag seemed to be copying the murder of substitute teacher Stephanie Gundersen more than 10 years ago, with one important difference: Gundersen’s killer didn’t go the extra mile in humiliation by pissing on her corpse. Carl Mørck, who heads Department Q, seizes the possible connection as avidly as a spaniel on a scent because solving another cold case would be the perfect way to keep Copenhagen’s tightfisted budgeters from shutting his unit down. Unfortunately, Carl’s boss, Lars Bjørn, has his own idea of the perfect way: allow meddlesome TV crime documentarian Olaf Borg-Pedersen unobstructed access to Department Q’s inner workings as they plod from one crime scene to the next. Meanwhile, social worker Anne-Line Svendsen, reprieved from the death sentence she feared her cancer diagnosis spelled, has decided to go ahead anyway with her plan to execute some of the prostitutes she counts among her most worthless clients: Michelle Hansen, Jazmine Jørgensen, Birna Sigurdardottir, Senta Berger, and Denise Zimmermann—some of whom turn out to be quite as homicidally inclined as she is, and one of whom will have a crucial connection to Carl’s cold case. The only thing needed to bring the whole mixture to a full boil is the mental breakdown of sorely tried Department Q staffer Rose Knudsen, whose suicide attempt ends up plunging her into the heart of this banquet of mostly female felonies.

Instead of focusing on a single high-concept case, Adler-Olsen lays out several florid plotlines and sets his crime-solvers the daunting task of gathering all the threads together. It’s such a varied smorgasbord that even readers who’d prefer to skip a given dish will find plenty to sate their appetites.” Kirkus Reviews

I normally love this series, but this one was too convoluted to hold my interest. It kept going back and forth from storyline to storyline, and even though eventually the reader (Me) could connect the dots, it was too laborious .

I’m not finding a #8 in this series so I don’t know if the author was too exhausted after completing  this one to even think of continuing the series. Fingers crossed that he’ll come back even stronger with new ideas and problems worthy of solving by Department Q!

 

 

Thunderhead (Arc of the Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Review –

Holy cow, what just happened and when does the next book come out?

As the second installment in Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe series, Thunderhead takes us back to the post-mortal utopia, which is watched over by the benevolent, all-knowing artificial intelligence known as the Thunderhead and where death only comes by the flawed, bloody hand of the Scythedom. But since Rowan and Citra’s last appearance at the conclave, the Scythedom’s political arena has only grown more fractured and dangerous—especially since murdered scythes have started turning up across the country.

Citra, now ordained as junior Scythe Anastasia, continues to glean with respect and compassion. Meanwhile, Rowan has donned a black robe and has given himself the name Scythe Lucifer, living as a vigilante and slaying corrupt scythes. Yet no matter the approach, each character soon learns that there are things in their world far worse than death.

As the Thunderhead watches the scythes tear themselves, each other and perhaps the rest of the planet apart with their nearly unrestricted power, all it can do is find loopholes in the laws and hint at possible solutions. And as its omniscient frustration mounts, the Thunderhead threatens to crack wide open in retaliation.

“Shusterman’s writing in Thunderhead is never predictable, and his skillful control of the narrative is as strong as it was in his Printz Honor-winning Scythe. The addition of the normally placid Thunderhead’s frustrated journal entries interspersed between these chapters is as intriguing as the stories behind the Scythedom’s bloodstains.” a book page.com

The ending was so shocking but not unexpected because even though Thunderhead knew everything that was happening (almost) he could do nothing to stop it and that’s why he melted down and cut everyone off, except for one person and I won’t say who in case you haven’t read this five star follow-up to Scythe. The next book, called The Toll, comes out late this year or early 2020. It’s just mean of Mr. Shusterman to keep us waiting so long!!!!!!

Five stars!

A Twist of the Knife (Brigid Quinn #3) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, “the most original female character to anchor a crime series in years,” (The New York Times) is back—on a case staking family, friendship, and a man on death row.

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, now happily settled in Tucson, doesn’t go back to visit her family in Florida much. But her former partner Laura Coleman, whose life she has saved and who saved her life, is living there now. When Laura calls about a case that is not going well, Brigid doesn’t hesitate to get on a plane.

On leave from the Bureau, Laura has been volunteering for a legal group that is trying to prove the innocence of a man who is on death row for killing his family. Laura is firmly convinced that he didn’t do it, while Brigid isn’t so sure—but the date for his execution is coming up so quickly that she shares Laura’s fear that any evidence absolving him from the crime may come too late.

Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist Becky Masterman’s third Brigid Quinn novel is the masterful follow-up to Fear the Darkness and Rage Against the Dying.

Review –

“Even though her father is hovering near death, Brigid Quinn, put out to pasture in Tucson, can’t help responding to another request from her old FBI friend Laura Coleman (Rage Against the Dying, 2013) to help with a cold case that turns red-hot.

Near-bankrupt wine importer Marcus Creighton, whose only hope for repaying his debt to loan shark Manuel Gutierrez seems to have been his wife Kathleen’s insurance policy, was convicted back in 1999 of killing her. Only the missing remains of his three children prevented Florida State’s Attorney David Lancer of throwing even more charges at him. But Laura’s new boss, William Hench, an attorney specializing in appealing old convictions, is convinced that he’s innocent despite the damning testimony of Shayna Murry, the mistress who refused to give him an alibi, and his fingerprint on the plug of the hair dryer tossed into Kathleen’s bathtub to electrocute her. Though Brigid appreciates the convenience of spending time in Vero Beach as her father, stricken with pneumonia, fights for life in a nearby hospital, it’s clear that the members of Creighton’s ill-assorted defense team have their work cut out for them when a judge refuses to stay his impending execution. Some tiny cracks in the case are their only hope—the absence of any phone records that would show Creighton asking Shayna for the alibi she maintains he wanted and the hope that fingerprint expert Dr. Tracy Mack, recently indicted for the fraudulent handling of evidence, got his start much earlier—along with the superhuman determination of abused-child specialist Alison Samuels to find some trace of the Creighton children, who she’s convinced are still alive. Will that be enough to vindicate their father before his date with lethal injection?

Against all odds, the harrowing back story and repeated doses of present-tense violence make the investigation not so much shocking as deeply, heart-wrenchingly sad. It’ll be a long time before intrepid readers who enter Masterman’s latest labyrinth shake off its suffocating spell.” Kirkus Reviews

I love this series and can’t wait for the next one which comes out in June.

Five stars!!!!!!

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 Fallen (Amos Decker #4) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: April 17, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped.

Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.

Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.

Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time–when one mistake could cost him everything–Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…

Review –

While on what’s supposed to be a low-key vacation, Amos Decker accidentally finds all kinds of trouble in The Fallen, the latest novel in David Baldacci’s  Memory Man series.

Amos, star agent of an elite FBI task force, and his partner, Alex Jamison, head to Baronville, Pennsylvania to visit Alex’s sister, Amber, and her children. Decker struggles to connect with his partner’s family. Only little Zoe, the six-year-old with an old soul, gets him to open up a bit when Amos admits to himself while sipping a beer on the back deck that when it comes to catching killers, “it’s really the other thing I’m good at.”

Decker tries to relax, at least until he notices the neighbor’s lights flicking next door, followed by sparks shooting through the window. Upon investigating things, he finds the reason for the flying sparks — blood from a corpse has begun soaking into exposed electrical wires.

It turns out that the dead body is one of several recent homicides to hit Baronville over the past few weeks. With the local police unable to make any headway on the open cases, Decker and Alex call off their vacation, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

It doesn’t take long for the duo to realize that nothing about the small Pennsylvania town is quite what it seems — as Baronville has struggled since the local mill closed and an opioid addiction broke out among the town’s people.

After chasing several leads, an attempt is made on Decker’s life. But rather than scaring off the large FBI agent, Amos now knows he’s barking up the right tree. . . he just needs to stay alive long enough to reach the top and expose the real bad guys, and does he ever !!!!

I love the character of Amos Decker and I love this series!