The Suspect (Kate Waters #3) by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: January 24, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

Review –

“When two girls traveling in Thailand turn up dead in a suspicious fire, journalist Kate Waters follows the story without disclosing a hidden agenda.

Kate’s son, a former golden boy, dropped out of school and traveled to Thailand two years prior, and he’s been in sporadic touch since. Coincidentally, it turns out that he was present at the same guesthouse on the night the girls died. Sidelined because of her conflict of interest, Kate continues to investigate, as does DI Bob Sparkes, a compassionate policeman distracted by the impending death of his wife. Which leads one to wonder: When did all thriller writers begin to fashion themselves as psychologists? There’s a dead giveaway to any possible plot twist—a character whose face or eyes is described as “blank.” In Barton’s  book, to be fair, it takes almost 300 pages to reach this moment, and up until that point, she creates quite a bit of narrative interest by giving voice to the victims in addition to the many people involved in the investigation—driven reporters, bereaved parents, and very human policemen. But once the killer is clearly outed, even though it takes another 100 pages for all the pieces to fall into place, the novel quickly loses steam. Even a final moral conundrum that should immediately freeze the blood of any parent seems overly constructed rather than shocking. By that point, it had become tiresome reading about most of the characters and their shifty relationships to the truth. “No one is to be believed ever,” seems to be a major takeaway. Oh, and P.S., don’t let your kids run wild in Thailand.

This has the potential to be a thoughtful thriller with an interesting setting, but Barton is too willing to cater to expectations—short chapters, familiar clues, and stereotypical villains.” Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews is spot on and I couldn’t have said it better. I did have a problem with the ending and I haven’t decided if I will continue with this series.

 

 

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.

Review –

“A year after her best friend’s supposed suicide, a young woman must clear her name when new evidence is uncovered.

The Lomans own much of Littleport, Maine, a fact that hasn’t changed much since their only daughter’s death a year ago. In the summer of 2017, on the night of the annual Plus-One party, aimed at summer people who’ve stayed a week longer than the traditional Labor Day end-of-season, golden girl Sadie Loman apparently threw herself off a cliff into the churning sea, but to those who knew her, especially her closest friend, Avery Greer, she seemed to have everything to live for.

Year-round Littleport resident Avery was adrift after her parents’ deaths when she was a teen, but when she met the mesmerizing Sadie, a summer person, her life took on new meaning. Sadie and Avery became so close, it was sometimes hard to tell where one ended and the other began. After Avery’s grandmother died, Avery was alone, and the ridiculously wealthy Lomans seemed to welcome her into the family, even giving her a job as property manager for their coastal rentals and a place to live in their guesthouse. But everything fell apart after Sadie died.

When Avery finds Sadie’s phone hidden in the rental cottage where last year’s Plus-One party was held, she turns it in to the police—after doing a bit of snooping. Additionally, someone’s been breaking into the rentals, and Sadie’s brooding older brother, Parker, is acting strangely. Sadie’s death is looking less and less like a suicide, and Avery is at the top of the suspect list. The Loman family’s lies are rising to the surface, but can Avery keep her head above water? The narrative, which flips between 2017 and 2018, grows increasingly tense as Avery, who is a surprisingly reliable narrator, gets closer to the truth, but while the author builds some creepy atmosphere in the lead-up, the final revelations are more sad than shocking. Most compelling are the class tensions between Littleport’s year-round residents and the seasonal, moneyed tourists as well as the elusive nature of memory and the intricacies of friendship.

An evocative and perfectly readable thriller, but genre fans will find few surprises within.” Kirkus Reviews

Even though KIRKUS REVIEWS found this novel wanting … I loved it and found it thoroughly enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

Three Days Missing by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

When a child goes missing, two mothers’ lives collide in a shocking way in this suspenseful novel from the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie .

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the call that comes in the middle of the night.

When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing—vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight field trip with his class. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground where he was last seen. But she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.

Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance will have earth-shattering consequences in Stef’s own life—and the paths of these two mothers are about to cross in ways no one could have anticipated.

Racing against the clock, their desperate search for answers begins—one where the greatest danger could lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.

Review –

Another great novel by Kimberly Belle. The author writes about everyday, average people thrust into terrifying situations in such a relatable, yet exciting manner that you can’t help getting sucked into her books within just a few pages.

This is told alternately from Kat’s point of view as she searches for her missing son Ethan and then Stef who is married to the mayor and who’s son Sammy was Ethan’s classmate. Kat’s fear and anguish was tangible, Belle’s writing was so fantastic that it became a living, breathing thing that consumed me almost as much as it consumed Kat herself. I kept thinking, this woman could be me, how horrifying to not know where your child is after you’ve trusted his teacher and school to keep him safe on a field trip, it was scary to put it mildly. Besides the well crafted characters you have this highly tense atmosphere coupled with some gut punching twists that left me reeling, I couldn’t ask for more.

The ending of The Marriage Lie is one of my all time favorites and this one was excellent as well, it was executed to perfection and left me completely satisfied and impressed. Missing children premises are nothing new but the author managed to put a fresh spin on the idea and managed to make me excited about a plot that’s been done before because she puts her unique stamp on it.

Loved it!

Deep Freeze (Northwest #1) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: October 29, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

HER BIGGEST FAN…
When she wakes up, she’s very cold. Colder than she’s ever been in her life. She can’t move or speak. And then she sees him. The one who took her. And before she dies, she wishes she could scream…

IS ABOUT TO BECOME …
Former movie star Jenna Hughes left Hollywood for an isolated farm in Oregon to get away from fame. But someone has followed her – an obsessed fan whose letters are personal and deeply disturbing.
And while Jenna’s already shaken up by what she’s seen on paper, she’d be terrified if she knew what Sheriff Shane Carter is investigating. It’s a shocking case that started with the discovery of a dead woman in the woods. Now two more women are missing, one of whom bears a striking resemblance to Jenna…

HER WORST NIGHTMARE …
As a winter storm bears down on the pacific northwest, a merciless killer’s grisly work has only just begun. And Jenna is Getting Closer to meeting her biggest fan.. one who wants nothing more than to see her dead..

Review –

The story was well thought-out and the characters well-developed. I could not guess the killer until the author revealed him to me!

The beginning was slow, but eventually started to pick up. I actually appreciated the slow start, though, because it gave me a chance to get to know the characters, relationships, and setting. Plus, it made the escalation at the end all that more terrifying.

The killer’s point of view was fantastic because it was both believable and disturbing. I kept wondering, “how can a person actually think like this?”

Jackson executed third person point of view in a way where it almost felt like first person. I enjoyed reading different character’s thoughts and digging through their mind so that I could better understand the characters.

There is a sex scene, which I don’t think I’ve seen in a Lisa Jackson book. While it wasn’t necessary to the plot, it was nicely done and added to the tension between the two leads.

You can not go wrong with a book by Lisa Jackson, so if you’ve never read anything by her, please give one a try. You will not be disappointed !

 

Starter House by Sonja Condit

Book Description:

Published: december 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home — a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost.

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She’s pregnant with her first child, and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there’s a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won’t leave Lacey alone, and soon she’s forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She’s going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years.

Review –

In Condit’s creepy debut, a young couple’s dream home turns out to be haunted.

The cottage at 571 Forrester Lane in the Southern town of Greeneburg is perfect for Lacey and Eric Miszlak. She’s pregnant and wants to be near the best schools; he wants a 20-minute commute to his uncle’s law firm. Lacey brushes aside the spooked reaction of their broker (who knows more than she’s telling) but discovers after they move in that the house harbors a ghost: Drew, a needy little boy who asks her to be his mother. Lacey, a former elementary school teacher, prides herself on being good with difficult children, but she quickly learns to fear Drew’s rages and his hostility toward her unborn child. “The thing in the house. It eats babies,” blurts out the broker’s daughter. The trouble started in 1972, when Andrew Halliday killed his wife, three of his four children and himself. Only Andrew Junior survived the massacre; he’s changed his name to Lex Hall and has retained Eric in a custody battle over his young daughter. Yes, it’s a lot of coincidences to swallow, and Drew’s ability to travel as far afield as Australia seems more convenient than likely even within the parameters of a ghost story, but Condit paints such a convincing portrait of the Miszlaks’ tension-riddled marriage and does such a good job of escalating the menace in Lacey’s encounters with Drew that readers won’t care much about probability. The novel has unusually strong characterizations as well, in particular the depiction of Lacey’s New Age–y mother, Ella, who proves to be stronger and more protective than her daughter could understand in childhood. Eric too, controlling and overcautious though he is, comes through with flying colors in the violent denouement at the top of the stairs that have seen so many previous deaths.

Good, scary fun, packed with emotional nuance.” Kirkus Reviews

Fantastic read!

 

 

 

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.

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: 

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the author of It’s Always the Husband comes a riveting new suspense audiobook about privilege, power, and what happens when we let ambition take control.

For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.

In an audiobook full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots.

Review –

She Was the Quiet One does a great job of slowly luring you into the world of this boarding school. You know right away that a terrible murder has taken place, and you know the victim was one of the twins, but you don’t know which one yet. The story is told in alternating chapters, from the points of view of Rose, Bel, their co-dorm head Sarah Donovan, and police records of interviews after the fact. I have to say early on my loyalty to each sister swapped depending on who was narrating the chapter. It was so easy to feel for Bel in her chapters, and it was likewise easy to do so in Rose’s. Campbell is a masterful writer, and it shows in her ability to make you sympathize with the different characters.

The mystery becomes a little clearer with each chapter, and by the time the murder happens, you realize where it was going and who’s guilty. From there, it’s just a matter of waiting for the characters to put it together.

The only part I didn’t really like was, honestly, the epilogue. I felt like everything had been tidied up nice and neat before that, and then the epilogue left me with questions that I hadn’t had before. In a way, I kind of liked the angle it took, but in another way it felt sort of like a twist tossed in at the last minute. However, I will say that it’s made me curious enough I plan to go back and read the book again. No matter what, I highly recommend this book.

The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A stunning story of secrets and scandal, identity and infidelity
 When Tabby Dewhurst arrives heartbroken and penniless on a picturesque, windswept island off the coast of France, her luck appears to change when she overhears a villager repeating aloud the access code to her front door. Hardly believing her own actions, Tabby waits for the woman to leave and then lets herself into the house. And so she enters the strange, hidden world of Emily Marr—or so her new friend introduces herself. Soon, however, Tabby forms suspicions about her new friend, suspicions that lead her back to England, and to revelations that will have explosive consequences for both of them.

Review –

Running from a broken relationship and low on cash, Tabby finds herself in a little village off the Coast of France. While wandering the streets wondering where she can sleep, she overhears an English woman repeating her access code to her apartment. As the woman appears to be heading off somewhere with a large bag, Tabby seizes the opportunity and lets herself in.

Meanwhile, the book splits into two stories, Tabby’s and the apartment owner’s, Emmie.
The two women become unexpected flatmates and unlikely friends. Emmie obviously has a story to tell but it is only through snooping and surfing the internet that Tabby can try to discover what is making her so reclusive and withdrawn.

The girl’s stories are set in both France and England and while there are some similarities in their lives, the reader starts to wonder if it’s a good thing that they met at all?

This is a wonderfully warm novel with a nice easy pace and enough bite to make you want to keep reading. The character of Emily Marr is well described and you genuinely feel like you may know her and why she chooses to disappear. The descriptions of her life before the disappearance are well thought out and give her some depth which I think is needed for the main storyline.

The character, Nina, is hateful. Angry, bitter and hell bent on revenge she doesn’t care who she mows down on the way. Her anger hops off the pages and becomes quite understandable as the story unfolds.

This is a great  read, full of surprises, wonderful writing and would be ideal for bookclub discussions. It also has Reading Group Questions at the end which is a nice bonus. The only fault I would have is the lack of description of the French island. I would have liked to get a bit more of the sense of the place, the smells, the sounds and the atmosphere. Other than that ,a great book with a surprising twist.

This mystery is sad yet intriguing, a definite page turner! This isn’t regular chick lit, it’s on a different level with the mystery angle.

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Book Description:

Published: October 9, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life: he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Review –

I was expecting so much more from this book but in the end it was a complete disappointment.

It takes so long to get to the main mystery, although I get the point of the lengthy build-up in order to understand Toby as a character – someone who has been handed everything in life without having to face the struggles others would have, and someone who cannot believe it when he meets his first misfortune – but that didn’t make it any more enjoyable to get through. It’s a good many chapters  before the main story even rears its head.

Unfortunately, too much time was wasted getting to this part. The story moved so slowly, I started getting a little fidgety. The plot became knotty and cumbersome, and the pace never picked up, tempting me to do the unthinkable- mark a Tana French novel down as a DNF, but I persevered.

There was not a lot of real action in this book and  listening to the characters  have pages and pages of  dialogue about something unrelated to the plot almost put me to sleep.

In the end, I plodded onward, but there was something seriously off about the book’s structure, and that ending was utterly depressing. Yes, one might have a different point of view on that, but I’m going with the glass half empty on this one. It just didn’t work for me. I gave it three stars but that was generous.

 

The Sisters by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Two sisters climbing the ranks of Dublin’s criminal justice system. A murder case that could change their lives forever. The Sisters is a gripping new thriller from one of the most exciting voices in crime fiction.

In this prequel to the international bestseller The Ruin, set 10 years prior, bright-eyed Carrie Ryan is at the very start of her career. When she has a hunch about an ongoing murder investigation, she knows it could be her only chance to prove herself and truly break into the “boy’s club” of Dublin’s police force.

Carrie uncovers this make-or-break moment in a case file her sister Aifric, a newly qualified barrister, leaves on their kitchen counter: Robert Collins has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after a fight in a local pub, and all signs point towards a guilty verdict. But both sisters quickly begin to find evidence that complicates the story. All the while, Carrie is very aware that she’s crossed the line – if the detective sergeant running the investigation finds out she’s been messing around with his case, her career will be over before it has begun.

Review –

I listened to the Audible (freebie) Original, The Sisters. narrated by Aoife McMahon. It’s a quick listen, only a little over three hours, and very satisfying.

It is a prequel to The Ruin which I read August 19 of this year and reviewed on this blog on September 21st.

Two sisters, who live together, are at the beginning of their careers in Dublin. One sister, Aifric is a new barrister who is assigned a murder case and has no support from her bosses. The other sister, Carrie is trying to make detective in a sexist environment. Both sisters are confronted with impossibilities in their careers. Aifric talks to her sister about her case, and Carrie becomes inquisitive at the questionable evidence.

It’s a character driven short story, with each sister taking a chapter. It’s amazing that one can be totally involved so quickly. The performance by McMahon is perfect. I highly recommend it!

Although it is a prequel to The Ruin, you do not have to read it first before delving into this one.