Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Review –

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine is a chilling thriller about what happens to the family of a serial killer and their struggles as the rest of the world continue to judge them as responsible for the killer’s atrocities.

The novel,by Rachel Caine, explores the consequences of the age-old question: how could she not know? Gina Royal is the wife of a serial killer. He killed women in his “workshop,” which was a refinished garage that Gina supposedly never went into. Even though she went to trial and was found not guilty, the jury of the world at large doesn’t believe her. 

Now, after years on the run, Gina—now Gwen—is tired of running. Her kids are tired of running. She hopes that this new house on the shores of Stillhouse Lake will be the perfect new forever home. And all signs point that way: there are police officers nearby, Gwen has learned how to use firearms, and there’s an alarm system and a panic room. It may just be time to settle down. 

Then, they find the woman in the lake. She had  been brutally mutilated and dumped in the lake. The modus operandi is all too familiar to Gwen. Her ex-husband used to do the same thing. Gwen—who has moved from place to place, never letting her children or herself settle into any kind of steady routine—now has to make a choice: run again or stay and hold her ground. 

Every day, Gwen hits the computer and checks the “sicko” boards—people who have followed her husband’s case and her own trial, people who think she is as guilty as he is, people who think she and her children should be punished. 

By the time we, as readers, meet the sickos on the boards, we’ve already spent a lot of time with Gwen and the kids, Lanny and Connor. While the kids are remaining flexible, the strain of constant moves and the inability to put down any roots is showing. There’s trouble at school. There’s trouble at home. The kids are completely caught in the middle of this fiasco—the children could easily be categorized as two more victims of their cruel father. 

But the sicko boards don’t care. Knowing what we know as readers, it’s very hard to read what these strangers want to do to them.  

Despite all its darkness Rachel Caine’s Stillhouse Lake is a great summer read. The central topic is fascinating—haven’t we all wondered about serial killers who were married? Haven’t we all wondered about the spouse, what they knew, and whether they should be considered an additional victim? There’s a hint of romance, of all things. There are definitely scary, tense moments. The author  delves into all this and keeps the pace driving forward, perfect for the beach … maybe a little harrowing for the lake.

Loved this book.

Side Note:

IF the name Rachel Caine sounds familiar, it’s because she is also the author of several young adult books, One series being The Morganville Vampires series and I have read and loved all of those book.

The Morganville Vampires series

  1. Glass Houses (October 2006)
  2. The Dead Girls’ Dance (April 2007)
  3. Midnight Alley (October 2007)
  4. Feast of Fools (June 2008)
  5. Lord of Misrule (January 2009)
  6. Carpe Corpus (June 2009) 
  7. Fade Out (November 2009)
  8. Kiss of Death (April 27, 2010)
  9. Ghost Town (October 26, 2010)
  10. Bite Club (May 3, 2011)
  11. Last Breath (November 1, 2011)
  12. Black Dawn (May 1, 2012)
  13. Bitter Blood (November 6, 2012, Fall of Night (May 7, 2013)
  14. Daylighters (November 5, 2013)

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The Roses of May (The Collector #2) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published: May 23, 2017

Format: Audio

Four months after the explosion at the Garden, a place where young women known as the Butterflies were kept captive, FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez are still entrenched in the aftermath, helping survivors in the process of adjusting to life on the outside. With winter coming to an end, the Butterflies have longer, warmer days of healing ahead. But for the agents, the impending thaw means one gruesome thing: a chilling guarantee that somewhere in the country, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers.

Priya Sravasti’s sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mother move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. But when she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found—but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line?

Review –

This is the second in The Collector series and HAS to be read first. 

There are a few characters from the first book, The Butterfly Garden, but also has a whole new serial killer and new female lead.

The book opens and dives right into the story. Taking place a few months where the first novel left off but in an unconventional way.  The Butterflies are awaiting the trial of the Gardener and a few of the girls, unable to handle the trauma of the garden, have completed suicide.   The police officers from the original case are dealing with this and also find themselves being pulled back into a different investigation involving a serial killer who murders girls and adorns them with flowers.  When a sister (Priya) of one of the victims’ finds herself a target, the investigators must use their knowledge of the past and what they learned from the garden to find the perpetrator before he collects another victim.

The Butterfly Garden was the narrative style and told of the creepy events that took place in the garden; I found that this one read more like a police procedural. Instead of being character driven, this one focused more on the police investigation and the officer’s relationships to the victims.

It’s a quick and engaging read. I wanted to know what happened, and I was immediately invested in Priya, who’s both strong and vulnerable, in a way that’s reminiscent of Inara (whom I loved in The Butterfly Garden), but not so similar that it feels like Hutchinson is rehashing the same character again.

Although I loved The Roses of May for what it was, it was completely not what I was expecting. I will definitely read the final book in the series,The Summer Children, due out later this year, but I’m holding back on my expectations.

Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

They built a life on lies

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Review –

Another creeper of a book and I loved it FIVE STARS worth!

Sutton is gone but leaves a note saying NOT to try and  find her. She didn’t take ANYTHING with her. NOTHING!

Ethan doesn’t report her missing right away so naturally he’s the first person the police look at. They are both writers and at this point in their careers Sutton is the more prolific and successful. She’s not happy and hasn’t been for a long time. A particular mean book critic is trashing her online, Ethan tricked her into having a baby she didn’t want (he changed out her birth control pills for sugar  pills), her mother (not really her mother) is blackmailing her(we find out this much later),she thinks Ethan may have killed their baby, even though the medical examiner called it as SIDS, and there’s more.

Ethan on the other hand was unfaithful (one time) with Sutton’s best friend. He told her about the infidelity but not who he was with, he has writers block and is jealous of Sutton’s success, and when a body is found burned wearing Sutton’s rings, he is arrested for her murder.

Meanwhile, we learn Sutton has fled to Paris to start a new life, but she can’t get Ethan out of her mind, even when having sex with a man she meets in a cafe. the man seems a bit too friendly, but she throws caution to the wind. Lots of things happen and two American exchange students are killed and the knife is found in Sutton’s (now calling herself Justine) possession. She is arrested by the French police and just when it looked like there was no way out for either of them, a discovery was made as to the possible identity of the true culprit.

There is much much more to story but you need to read it for yourself.  It was a real edge of your seat page turner for me but I didn’t like the what happened at the very end. I thought it to be unnecessary, but still gave it FIVE STARS.

 

 

Nest by Terry Goodkind

Book Description:

Published: November 15, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Kate Bishop thought she was an ordinary woman living and working in Chicago. But when she unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a police investigation into a brutal murder, Kate makes a shocking discovery: she has the ability to identify killers just by looking into their eyes.

Trying to grasp the implications of this revelation, Kate is drawn deep into a world of terror. She is tracked down by Jack Raines, a mysterious author with shadowy connections to those who share her ability. He tells Kate that her unique vision also makes her a target, and only he can help her.

Now, hot on Jack and Kate’s heels are a force of super-predators, vicious and bloodthirsty killers who will stop at nothing until Kate is dead. But even as she fights for her life, Kate still isn’t sure if Jack is really her salvation, or another killer coming to slaughter her.

An explosive mix of action and suspense, Nest is a landmark new novel from worldwide bestselling author Terry Goodkind, and a complete reinvention of the contemporary thriller. Travel with Goodkind on a dangerous journey to the back alleys of the darknet, to the darkest corners of our minds, and to the very origins of what it is to be human.

Review –

Nest is a thriller novel, bordering on horror, set in Chicago. The book follows Kate Bishop after the murder of her brother, when she finds out she has a special ability to identify a killer by looking into their eyes. The story takes the reader on a journey through how she comes to terms with this ability, and with this, discovers the evil lurking everywhere around her, impossible to escape. She meets Jack Raines, and author specialising in helping people with Kate’s particular ability in identifying evil and helping the world understand evil in a way they never thought about it before. This book will keep you up at night, even hours after you have closed the book.

This is fast-paced book full of suspense, and on the edge of your seat thrills. It ends with a semi-cliffhanger so I hope the author, Terry Goodkind, has a plan to write a sequel. It wouldn’t have to be lengthy – just let Kate and Jack find their way back to each other. Please!!!

Five stars.

 

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Review –

Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter, then a college student, became the sole survivor of the Pine Cottage Murders, a massacre that claimed five of her friends.

Now a successful baking blogger, living with her public defender boyfriend,Jeff, in a beautiful Manhattan apartment, she likes to think she’s gotten past the trauma — she’s even conveniently forgotten most of that night’s events. Only her wine and Xanax dependency, some light kleptomania, and a complete unwillingness to talk about the murders say otherwise.

But her denial holds no sway with the press, which labels Quincy a “Final Girl” — one of three sole female survivors of headline-grabbing massacres who fascinate the public. When the first of the Final Girls is found dead in her bathtub, the second one shows up in New York, looking for Quincy. Sam is cagey about her history and quick to force intimacy with Quincy. She doesn’t buy the all-is-well front, and seems dead set on releasing Quincy’s demons, including her repressed memories of the murders.

And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

The author keeps the reader guessing as to the WHAT, WHY and WHO with a couple of gigantic twists that you  won’t see coming.  I loved it and gave it five stars!

 

The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published: June 1, 2016

Format: Audio

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

Review –

I can’t really say too much about this book without giving away the “stomach churning”(as used in the blurb) events that occurred in the Garden. It’s kidnapping/imprisonment and sexual abuse taken to a whole new level.

Maya was a strong individual with problems of her own when she came to the Garden and was looked upon by the other “butterflies” as a leader of sorts. As she is questioned by the police, after an explosion in the Garden, we find out just how strong she was.

Five stars!

It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: May 16, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.

How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Review –

What a roller coaster ride! My head is still spinning from all the twists and turns this book took to relate the journey of three girls who meet their Freshman year at college and became roommates and friends/enemies for the next 20 plus years.

One girl gets way with murder and one girl is later murdered and you don’t find out the killer until THE VERY END.

Loved it. Highly recommend it!

Five stars!!!

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

Book Description:

Published: September 21, 2017

Format: E-Book/OverDrive

A frozen body, a murdered biker, and a lawyer with nothing left to lose. In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman’s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death. A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe. Does the frozen woman hold the key?

Review –

I always LISTEN to foreign crime fiction because I prefer a narrator with the correct accent and pronunciation of words and cities involved to be correct rather than stumble over the vowels and consonants myself.

I was not so lucky with The Frozen Woman in that all I could find was an e-book and so I stumbled my way through it and it was not a pleasant journey.

The storyline was good but I thought the plot was a bit convoluted. I may try this author again IF I can one of his books on audio.

The Night Season (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #4) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: March 1, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

He captured the Beauty Killer, one of the most deranged serial killers in the country. Now, Portland police detective Archie Sheridan faces a different kind of killer – a brutal rain season that has flooded the Willamette River, claiming several lives. As water levels rise, so does the fear. Because some of the victims didn’t drown;they were murdered.

The first body contains a rare poison. Three others prove to be murders as well. And with each gruesome discovery the medical examiner uncovers, Archie begins to realize he has not escaped his nightmares, even with his deadliest enemy behind bars. The flood has washed up old skeletons from the past. And a ruthless new serial killer rules the night…

Review –

Archie is finally free, at least physically, of his former lover and crazed torturer, Gretchen Lowell, The Beauty Killer,who’s behind bars, Portland Detective Archie Sheridan vies with a slightly more mundane serial killer in Cain’s latest installment in the series.

This time the villain is a  largely unseen male menace. Accompanied by a nine-year-old boy who was stolen from his parents 18 months ago, this serial killer carries around small, blue-ringed octopuses in baggies,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus

subjects his victims to their poisonous bites and tosses the corpses in the river.

The killings begin after the discovery of a skeleton points back to the Vanport flood of 1948, which wiped out an entire public-housing project and claimed the lives of many residents who were tardily warned by authorities of the impending disaster. Sixty-two years later, with the overflowing Willamette River about to wreak havoc on Portland, two people close to the still-shaky Sheridan are touched by the octopus killer’s evil: Henry Sobol, a fellow cop, and Susan Ward, a hungry crime columnist with wild hair. 

The story is deftly handled, the suspense is plentiful and the author’s description of the gloomy atmosphere and Portland setting is superb. Gretchen fans will be pleased when she shows up at the end and with a glance tells us we haven’t seen the last of her.

Excellent read!!!

When Secrets Strike (House of Secrets #2) by Marta Perry

Book Description:

Published: October 27, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In Laurel Ridge, Pennsylvania, a community once united must suspect one of their own.

Amish quilter Sarah Bitler’s dreams no longer feature a husband and family. Instead, she searches for success in the quilt shop within Blackburn House, a place once tarnished with deadly secrets. She refuses to let the past influence her future…until an ominous fire forces them to collide.

Firefighter Aaron King was the first to touch Sarah’s heart—and the first to break it. Now a widower and father of two small girls, his return to Sarah’s life brings her buried feelings to the surface. As a string of horrific incidents tears apart their community, an arsonist’s wrath threatens to destroy them all. With Aaron as the only suspect, Sarah must follow her instincts to find the truth. But to protect an innocent man, she might risk her heart to Aaron again…and risk her life to an unknown killer.

Review –

Amish Sarah Bitler is a single businesswoman, partnering with Allison Standish (the  heroine in the previous book, Where Secrets Sleep) to run a quilt shop. The love of her life, Aaron King, married someone else and is now a widower with two daughters, and she assumes she’s lost any chance of gaining his affection. They’re brought closer together by a series of arsons that seem to be targeting local farms, which also puts Aaron’s life at risk, as he’s a volunteer firefighter. As the investigations continue, with subplots involving a shady real estate deal and an aging widow, the stakes rise. Perry weaves a deft tale, taking a solid traditional cozy mystery plot and melding it nicely with a largely chaste romance. The spatterings of Amish culture and German phrases (“that makes gut sense,” “was ist letz”) are either explained contextually or explicitly, and they serve the story well.  

Excellent series.