Cold Blooded (New Orleans #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published:  June 1, 2002

Format: Audio/Audible

His Vengeance Will Be Repeated. . .

A woman’s slashed, incinerated corpse is found in a seedy New Orleans apartment. Her killer is certain there were no witnesses, unaware that his every move was seen by a beautiful stranger–from her bed in a bayou cottage on the outskirts of town. . .

And Repeated. . .

Weeks later, another violent vision shatters Olivia Bechet’s sleep. Convinced a serial killer is stalking the city, Olivia turns to the authorities. But jaded detective Rick Bentz doesn’t believe her–even when a second body turns up, slain in exactly the same bizarre, ritualistic manner Olivia described. . .

And Repeated. . .

As New Orleans panics in the icy grip of a merciless killer, Olivia is frustrated by Bentz’s skepticism–and captivated by her attraction to him. But soon her dreams are invaded by images of another murder. One that has yet to be committed. This time, Olivia recognizes not only the victim’s face–but the murderer’s. And both are closer than she ever imagined. . .

Review –

Another serial killer is wreaking havoc in New Orleans, ( it seems to be the serial killer capital of the world) and it’s up to detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya, the protagonists from Jackson’s previous thriller, Hot Blooded, to catch him. This time around, the detectives are joined by Olivia Benchet, a reluctant psychic who hails from a highly dysfunctional family. Olivia’s visions of a priestly killer who tortures and sacrifices young females provide Bentz and Montoya with their best clues, but Olivia may be the next victim if Bentz doesn’t shrug off his cynicism concerning visions and romantic entanglements with the wild-haired psychic. Twice burned by his former wife, who had an affair with his half-brother, Bentz now lives for work and his rebellious, nineteen year-old daughter, Kristi. The hunt for the murderer escalates when Olivia realizes her visions are a two-way mirror, and the killer has Kristi and Olivia in his sights. Jackson’s sanctimonious serial killer, who refers to himself as The Chosen One, is predictable, but the dynamics between her protagonists, particularly between Bentz and Olivia, are a welcome counterpoint to the violent action. Although some readers may be repulsed by the killer’s sexually sadistic crimes, which are depicted in graphic detail, others will be intrigued by the authors portrayal of the abominations that result when faith and family are perverted. 

Five stars!!!!

 

Hot Blooded (New Orleans #1) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2001

Format: Audio/Audible

With “Hot Blooded”, Lisa Jackson follows firmly in the footsteps of fellow New York Times bestselling authors Iris Johansen and Tami Hoag. An acknowledged master at crafting tales of romantic suspense, Jackson now weaves even stronger threads of tension and intrigue into this pulse-pounding tale.A prostitute lies strangled in a seedy French Quarter hotel room. Miles away, in a rambling plantation house on the sultry shores of Lake Ponchartrain, popular late-night radio host Dr. Samanatha Leeds receives a threatening crank call. Soon, another hooker’s corpse turns up. Samantha’s ominous caller persists, along with a mysterious female claiming to be a woman from her past — a woman who’s been dead for years. With Detective Rick Bentz convinced that the serial killer prowling the shadowy streets of New Orleans is somebody close to Samantha, she doesn’t dare trust anyone. Especially Ty Wheeler, her seductive new neighbor who seems to know more about her than a stranger should.

Someone has discovered Samantha’s darkest secret. Somebody is convinced that lives must be sacrificed to pay for her sins. So far, the victims have been strangers. Prostitutes. But as a cunning, cold-blooded killer grows bolder, Samantha wonders in dread if she will be the next to die.

Review –

Lisa Jackson does a great job of spinning a mystery that keeps you guessing… enough characters to throw several red herrings into the mix and twists so that you can’t really guess the whole story… This one is about a psychologist that has a Radio show format to help people… that is until a psycho dredges up something from her past that she would have much preferred was left buried. And who is that handsome strnager that moved in up the road – is he connected or is he the one… only time will tell!

I’ve read several other books by this author but I am really glad I got into her New Orleans series… 1) I like reoccurring characters 2) I love a good mystery that I can’t easily predict 3) I like her style of writing – very fast reads 4) although they are deemed romantic mysteries, I like that they are light on the romance and heavy on the mystery… do people hook up, yeah sure… but the more interesting part is the mystery which says a lot.

Her characters are likeable… I am attached to Montoya and Bentz who are the lead detectives through the series. I am interested in what happens to them and what twists are thrown their way… Great book… hard to put down… 

Great read.

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Description:

Published: January 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Good Me, Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review –

“Land asks if we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers—or, in this case, mothers—in her assured, creepy debut.

Fifteen-year-old Annie has a new home in London—and a new name, Milly—now that she’s turned her mother in to the police. Psychologist Mike Newmont, his troubled wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe, have taken Milly in until her mother’s trial begins in 12 weeks. Only Mike and a few others know who Milly really is: the daughter of a nurse who murdered nine young children. Mike will be overseeing Milly’s therapy until the trial and is eager for her to fit into his family. However, Milly, who narrates the book, senses that something isn’t right between Saskia and Phoebe, and Phoebe, along with her friends, immediately starts a campaign of terror against the newcomer, whom she sees as an intruder in her family. Milly does find a friend in a younger girl, Morgan, who obviously has family problems of her own, but as the trial looms, Milly struggles to be the good person she longs to be even as the voice of her mother pushes her to give in to her darker urges. Can Milly find her own way, or is she a slave to her upbringing? Land, a mental health nurse, puts her knowledge to good use in her portrayal of Milly, who was raised by a sexually abusive monster who recruited her to play a role in her unspeakable crimes. A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow. Milly wages a war within herself that she may or may not win. Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast.

Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read with a surprise at the end !

 

 

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbyereturns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . .

Review –

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first 30-40% of the novel; it takes its time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I love. You get a lot of the set up from the synopsis, but initially we find our main narrator Paul caught in an unexpected exchange with co-worker Kenneth. Unfortunately, Paul has decided to follow Ken to inform him that he has a tail light out, things escalate, and Ken attempts to murder Paul. We are then thrust forward eight months after the incident, where Ken is in prison, Paul is spending time recovering with the help of his therapist, Anna, and his second wife, Charlotte, and things are tense. Paul thinks it will be cathartic to write about his experiences in hopes of working through his PTSD, so Charlotte surprises him with an old Underwood typewriter she found at a yard sale. The thing is, Paul starts hearing the typewriter in the middle of the night, and what unfolds is a tale of “Is he delusional or is someone out to get him?” in the most suspenseful format.

It’s like reading a Twilight (the television show) episode with a bit of Gaslight (the movie) thrown in and a bonus of several twists.

Great read.

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format:   Audio/OverDrive

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

Murder, mayhem, and chalk figures in a sleepy English village.

“In 1986, 12-year-old Eddie Adams enjoys spending time with his group of friends: Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and the lone girl in the group, Nicky. He’s largely insulated from his mother’s work as an abortion provider and its accompanying risks, and it’s her income that keeps the household afloat, since his father’s freelance writing jobs are hit and miss. When Eddie finds the decapitated and dismembered body of a local girl in the woods, it stirs up terrible secrets and forbidden passions.

In 2016, Eddie is a teacher who harbors a mild crush for his much younger boarder, Chloe, and isn’t eager to revisit the traumatic events of ’86. He still feels particularly bad about his part in the downfall of a teacher with albinism who was kind to him. When he’s contacted by Mickey Cooper, who claims he knows who really killed that girl, it opens old wounds, and a body count follows.

Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT. The dynamics among the kids are similar, complete with Nicky’s flaming red hair, and Eddie’s first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. The chalk markings the group works out to communicate tap into kids’ universal love for secret code and, of course, getting one over on their parents. Things takes a creepy turn when the symbols are twisted to fit someone’s not-so-innocent agenda.

A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.” Kirkus Review

The ending is creepily eerie and changed my mind about Eddie. (no spoilers -you’ll have to read or listen to the book to see what I mean)

Five stars.

Left to Die (To Die #1) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2008

Format: Audio/Audible

Nothing’s More Terrifying. . .

One by one, the victims are carefully captured, toyed with, then subjected to a slow and agonizing death. Piece by piece, his exquisite plan takes shape. The police can’t yet see the beauty in his work–but soon, very soon, they will. . .

Than Being Left Alone. . .

In the lonely woods around Grizzly Point, Montana, four bodies have been discovered. Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli have been hoping for a career-making case, but this is a nightmare. Even with the FBI involved, Selena and Regan have nothing to go on but a killer’s cryptic notes, and the unsettling knowledge that there is much worse to come. . .

To Die. . .

When Jillian Rivers opens her eyes, she’s trapped in a mangled car. Then a stranger, claiming to be a trail guide named Zane McGregor, pries her free. Though she’s grateful, something about him sets Jillian on edge. And if she knew what lay out there in the woods of Montana, she’d be truly terrified. Because someone is waiting… watching… poised to strike and make Jillian the next victim…

Review –

This is my first read/listen from Lisa Jackson and I think I have have another crime fiction series to add to my list of favorites.

I love how the main characters Alvarez and Pescoli (police detectives in a small Montana town) have been developed and a personal storyline associated with each one. As a reader, I like to learn about the characters and what else is going on in their lives with the exception of the case at hand. Regan Pescoli  has teenagers she is trying to deal with, as well as an ex-husband, who is a jerk. The relationship between Regan and Selena is interesting as it develops because they are nothing alike. Regan is divorced, a comfort food eater, a smoker, and has a habit of falling for “bad boys”. Selena is still single at age thirty – three, is hiding a secret from her past, doesn’t date, is a  workaholic, and a health nut.

In this, the first book in the series, the author has created an amazingly creepy predator.Not only is he creepy, he is very smart. He just wants to be recognized for his handiwork and is very upset with there is a copy cat. The book does not detail in too much graphic detail the torture of the victims, but just enough to provide the information needed for the story.

Besides the story of the “Star Crossed Killer” there is a second sub-story dealing with Jillian and Zane. I loved the chemistry between these two and how far Zane would go to help Jillian to find out who was trying to kill her.

I loved the different viewpoints; from the story at the cabin, to the story at each drop spot, this book is very intriguing and gripping, but does end on a cliff-hanger, and that is why I’m starting the next book right away.

Great read for fans of crime fiction.

 

Crimson Death (Anita Blake,Vampire Hunter #25) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book Description:

Published: October 11, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In her twenty-fifth adventure, vampire hunter and necromancer Anita Blake learns that evil is in the eye of the beholder…

Anita has never seen Damian, her vampire servant, in such a state. The rising sun doesn’t usher in the peaceful death that he desperately needs. Instead, he’s being bombarded with violent nightmares and blood sweats.

And now, with Damian at his most vulnerable, Anita needs him the most. The vampire who created him, who subjected him to centuries of torture, might be losing control, allowing rogue vampires to run wild and break one of their kind’s few strict taboos.

Some say love is a great motivator, but hatred gets the job done, too. And when Anita joins forces with her friend Edward to stop the carnage, Damian will be at their side, even if it means traveling back to the land where all his nightmares spring from…a place that couldn’t be less welcoming to a vampire, an assassin, and a necromancer.

Ireland.

Review –

After I read Serpentine (#26) I realized that I hadn’t read #25, Crimson Death, so I looked on OverDrive and it was available so I borrowed it and drove right in.  Having read Serpentine, I knew that some VERY bad things were going to happen.

In Crimson Death vampires aren’t supposed be living in Ireland, but it seems something strange is going on across the ocean with dead bodies turning up with tiny holes in their necks. Even worse, whatever is going on isn’t good for Anita’s vampire servant, Damian. He’s suffering badly with night terrors and sweating blood, leading Anita to suspect that his old master could be responsible. Determined to learn the truth, she teams up with Edward in Ireland to hunt down those causing trouble before any more bodies turn up.

Ever since book #10 of this series, Narcissus in Chains, which I may have re-read soon, I’ve been getting more and more annoyed by the relationships Anita has with her men. There are just too many for me to handle,(and keep track  of) and quite frankly, I think Ms. Hamilton is beginning to focus too much on Anita’s relationships and not nearly enough on the investigation side of things when it comes to her job in hunting rogue vampires and shape-shifters or raising zombies.

However, in saying that, every time I read one of Ms. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books, I find myself totally captivated by what Anita needs to do to ensure the safety of humans and those supernatural that are doing the right thing. With this book, readers are taken on quite the adventure with Anita heading to Ireland, and although it takes quite a few chapters for her to get there – since those that are already hunting the rogue vampires (besides Edward) seem reluctant to accept her help – I could not stop listening once she starts investigating.

The dialogue was intense due to the investigation; what happens to Anita and her triumvirate in Nathaniel and Damian; what is happening to Damian with his nightmares and blood sweats (which was a little spooky); what Anita needs to do to figure out who is breaking vampire rules and the ever burning questioning of whether her powers as a necromancer will work in Ireland. Moreover, I liked that Anita finally began to find peace with her triumvirate and worked hard to make it work because she needed Damian, if she was ever to survive what she faced.

I really liked the introduction of characters readers have never met until this book. The fae; the vampires and their animal to call that they were up against, and the people Edward was working with. Anita had to prove herself and faces some tough challenges from each of them. Can she work with Edward and the team he’s currently working with in Ireland? Will the Fae give her grief over her abilities or will they accept her help? The tough challenges Anita faces, especially towards the end of this book are hard, yet the way she overcomes them certainly proves she’s still one of the best vampire hunters.

Overall, this was a good (almost great) book with an ending that brought tears to my eyes because of what happens to one of Anita’s men and with her, yet she’s tough and proves it with how she uses her powers to take down her enemy. I would recommend Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton, if you enjoy strong heroines that hunt vampires but doesn’t have an easy time when it comes to relationships.

Loved it!

Serpentine (Anita Blake,Vampire Hunter #26) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book Description:

Published: August 7, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Vampire hunter Anita Blake has managed to overcome everything she faces. But this time there’s a monster that even she doesn’t know how to fight…

A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita’s fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it’s the first trip she gets to take with wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it’s not all fun and games and bachelor parties…

In this tropical paradise Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowout within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse–her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There’s a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that’s rendering those around her helpless in its thrall. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret–if she survives at all, that is…

Review –

Since the meaning of the word “serpentine” is “of or like a serpent or snake” I expected this twenty-sixth  installment of the Anita Blake,Vampire Hunter series to be about snakes, but I was very disappointed because the “snake cursed people” were more of a second thought.

A huge chunk of Serpentine is focused of the interpersonal dynamics of longtime relationships — between lovers, friends, colleagues, and enemies. If you prefer more action than character development, you might not enjoy this particular story as much.

In the first few books of this series, I always thought of Anita Blake as a paranormal female Sam Spade. Anita lives and works in a world that is more often gritty than full of hearts and rainbows, and she is a detective, warrior, and survivor all rolled into one. In Serpentine, Anita has a full plate. What ideally should be a fun vacation with loved ones for a destination wedding, turns into more work than playtime. The last few chapters of Serpentine are perhaps more of the action and adrenaline-rush that fans of this series are accustomed to, but overall it is very much worth reading.

Serpentine is a wild destination wedding-palooza — with snake people, a meddling bridesmaid from hell, and a sociopath or two. The last few chapters of racing to stop a killer are entertaining, but also relieve some of the tension from all the relationship drama. I look forward to reading Laurell K. Hamilton’s next book in this series.

Redemption Point (Crimson Lake #2) by Candice Fox

Book Description:

Published: January 29, 2018 (in Australia)

Format: Audio/Audible

When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rainforest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire’s devastated father.

Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out – and if Ted doesn’t help find the real abductor, he’ll be its first casualty.

Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It’s Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney’s first homicide investigation – complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to ‘assist’ on the case. Amanda’s conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioural traits, top-to-toe tatts – and a keen eye for killers . . .

For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly on the cards – but it may well cost them their lives . . .

Review –

Redemption Point is the second book set in the fictional far north Queensland community of Crimson Lake. And again Fox not only offers up some amazing characters, but also firmly plants readers in the humid dense rainforest and the murky crocodile-infested waters of my home-state’s isolated and often unwelcoming far north.

The first book in this series introduced us to Ted and Amanda. We learn of the accusations against Ted and his escape from Sydney. We also meet Amanda and though they pair up to solve a recent crime, Ted can’t but help dig into the past Amanda would prefer to stay buried. She doesn’t hide the fact she’s served 10 years in prison for murder, but the questions surrounding her crime interest Ted and it becomes one of two mysteries solved in that first outing.

That book ended just as Amanda uncovers new information about the rape of a thirteen year old – the crime of which Ted’s accused. And as this book opens we learn he’s done nothing with that information, and nothing to support an online community who believe in his innocence.

There are a couple of additional voices in this book. One we’ve met before, a former uniformed officer promoted to Crimson Lake, DI Pip Sweeney, who’s captivated by Amanda and her ways; and then there’s Kevin, whose diary extracts we read and whose role soon becomes clear.

Again the author offers two mysteries for the price of one as we delve into the charges against Ted, as well as the murders in Crimson Lake.

There are a few red herrings and local secrets thrown into the mix however and the author again does a great job of recreating the far north, nailing the idiosyncrasies of some of the small and unusual  communities you find there. So, although I wasn’t really drawn into that mystery, a sense of foreboding surrounding the investigation remained.

And then there’s Ted’s case which is the more interesting of the two and I guess we get into the psychology of the crime (of which he’s accused) a little more than the double-murder. And this time around we meet some of the players from his former life and wonder if he will (one day) return to it.

Ted’s again a bundle of surprises. In some ways it’s almost as if he’s given up on life; but then there’s a smidge of rebellion as he fights his way out of his fugue and self-imposed isolation.

As for Amanda – she seems even more outrageous (and endearing) in this outing. Having said that she’d be bloody hard work to be around.  She is tough as nails in this installment and takes beating after beating and keeps on ticking.

She and Ted have settled into a bit of a pattern now and their relationship is an interesting one.

In this book Ted’s story in done but I’m sure the author will show us (the readers) that Queensland is a hot bed of crime and corruption and I’m anxious to see where she takes the series.

Five stars!

 

 

 

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

Book Description:

Published: November 20, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?

From the mind of Wall Street Journal bestselling author Christopher Greyson comes a story with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey of light and dark, good and evil, to the edge of madness. The Girl Who Lived should come with a warning label: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. Not since Girl on the Train and Gone Girl has a psychological thriller kept readers so addicted—and guessing right until the last page.

Review –

“The sole survivor of a killer’s attack searches for the murderer she believes she can identify in Greyson’s (Jack of Hearts, 2017, etc.) psychological thriller.

Faith Winters is nearly 23 when her yearlong stay at Brookdale Mental Health Hospital mercifully ends. She’s been in and out of institutions for a decade since evading an assailant at a multiple-murder scene. Police have closed the case, surmising a murder-suicide. They theorize that Faith’s dad, Michael, killed three people—his lover; Faith’s bestie; and Faith’s older sister, Kim—before shooting himself. But Faith thinks the partially obscured man she saw attack Kim at the family cabin is the same individual she had spotted earlier and dubbed “Rat Face.” Her release from Brookdale requires she regularly see a therapist and attend AA meetings, and she soon frequents a support group for survivors. Downing multiple whiskey shots is a setback, and it’s also why others have trouble believing Faith when she says she’s seen Rat Face again. She made the same claim over a year ago, prompting a public outburst that ended with her most recent stay at Brookdale. Certain the cops won’t help her, Faith starts her own hunt for Rat Face. The threat of a killer’s presence becomes tangible when someone following Faith starts humming “Happy Birthday,” just like the murderer did.

Greyson’s dark, twisting mystery employs considerably less humor than his Detective Jack Stratton series. While Jack’s investigations often feel like adventures, Faith is perpetually tortured by internal forces (e.g., alcoholism) or unknown menaces. The novel, however, isn’t entirely bleak. Characters come with an array of fascinating subplots. Faith’s mom, Beverly, for example, is a therapist who, in order to overcome her own psychological turmoil, wrote a book about her daughter’s survival that brought Faith unwanted notoriety. Faith herself is a strong, confident protagonist. Even after someone terrifies her in the woods, she remains an amateur sleuth and makes a remarkable deduction. She’s also not above cynicism, like pointing out the irony of the group of survivors: everyone seems dreary instead of happily sharing survival stories and “high-fiving each other or something.” The narrative further strengthens Faith as a character with her recurring memories of Kim and the night in question. These images aptly showcase her determination in unmasking a murderer while struggling with her tenuous mental state. The mystery, too, is indelible. Though readers get an early indication as to Rat Face’s identity, there is plenty to unravel, including the possibility of someone else’s involvement in the murders. Nevertheless, it’s during the final act when the plot turns come fast and furious. It’s a convoluted but exhilarating ending with a few surprises and perhaps a red herring or two.

Sharp characters enmeshed in a mystery that, particularly in its final lap, is a gleefully dizzy ride.”Kirkus Review

A great Summer time read!