The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

Review –

Five stars!

Wow, I didn’t know what to expect of this short listen (only two hours and eighteen minutes long) but it was fantastic. I loved the premise and more so the character of Tony, the Dispatcher. I wish the author would have made a series of this book, but alas, it is not.

If you enjoy sci-fi with a mystery story line thrown in, this is the book for you.

 

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Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Description:

Published: May 30, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters–her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Review –

“After losing her hearing in a freak hit-and-run accident that also killed a woman, Amelia has struggled with alcoholism and unemployment and is finally striving to get her life together. She finds peace on the water, kayaking or paddleboarding with her service dog, Stitch, another survivor and misfit, until the day she discovers a body left in a shallow channel. Shocked not only by her discovery, but also by the realization that she used to be friends with the victim, Gwen, Amelia also worries that the publicity surrounding her 911 call might lead the killer right to her doorstep. In the meantime, she takes a job doing clerical work for a doctor friend of her estranged husband, himself a doctor, and she begins to wonder if Gwen may have been silenced because of a secret she discovered about something or someone in the medical community. Someone clearly has his or her eye on Amelia and is working to discredit her with both boss and husband, so she must be close to finding out the truth. Gudenkauf has created a memorable character in Amelia. Self-deprecating and sometimes angry, her candid voice is a breath of fresh air and an antidote to traditional thriller heroines. In addition, she is self-reliant and strong. The plot contains some clever twists, and the final showdown crackles with tension. It’s hard not to root for Amelia and Stitch; flawed as they are, they’re tough, engaging fighters.

Come for the mystery; stay for the taut suspense, the unique heroine—and of course, the ugly, loyal dog.” Kirkus Review

Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing loss the author gives us a special look into the life of a very unique character.

Great read!

 

 

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: March 23, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Review –

Buckle up and hang on because reading this is like being on an out of control roller coaster .

A pathological liar, a woman in a coma, a childhood diary, an imaginary friend, an evil sister—this is an unreliable-narrator novel with all the options.

Amber narrates most of the book and she starts out in a coma on Boxing Day(it take place in England) and we won’t truly find out what put her there until the end of the book. She can’t remember the accident at all and it’s a story so complicated that even after the truth is exposed, it will take a while to get it straight in your head.

As Amber lies in bed recalling the events of the week that led to her accident, several other narrative threads kick up in parallel. In the present, she’s visited in her hospital room by her husband, a novelist whose affections she has come to doubt. Also her sister, with whom she shares a dark secret, and a nasty ex-boyfriend whom she ran into in the street the week before.

He works as a night porter at the hospital, giving him unfortunate access to her paralyzed but not insensate body. Interwoven with these sections are portions of a diary, recounting unhappy events that happened twenty-five years earlier from a ten-year-old child’s point of view. The author has loaded her debut effort with possibilities for twists and reveals—possibly more than strictly necessary—and they hit like a hailstorm in the last third of the book. Blackmail, forgery, secret video cameras, rape, poisoning, arson, and failing to put on a seat belt all play a role.

The ending will leave you shaking your head and re-reading the passage over and over again!!!!!

Great read!

 

Blackwood by Celia Aaron

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

I dig. It’s what I do. I’ll literally use a shovel to answer a question. Some answers, though, have been buried too deep for too long. But I’ll find those, too. And I know where to dig—the Blackwood Estate on the edge of the Mississippi Delta. Garrett Blackwood is the only thing standing between me and the truth. A broken man—one with desires that dance in the darkest part of my soul—he’s either my savior or my enemy. I’ll dig until I find all his secrets. Then I’ll run so he never finds mine. The only problem? He likes it when I run.

Author’s Note: This is a standalone mystery/suspense romance with violence and explicit/intense sex. If you need a trigger warning, then this isn’t the book for you.

Review –

Elise Vale is working on her Ph.D in archaeology, focusing on Choctaw culture. She has the perfect site in mind for her next dig, Blackwood Estate, located in the Louisiana Delta Region. She hopes to find not only some Native American artifacts, but also to uncover a mystery. She has a hidden agenda and she’s willing to do anything to solve a mystery that’s been plaguing her.  Now, the only thing she has to do is to make sure the owner of the Estate allows her to survey the land.

Garrett Blackwood is the thirty-two years old reclusive owner of Blackwood Estate. A former history professor, Garrett has a nasty reputation. He doesn’t want anyone digging on his property and makes sure Elise knows that. But Elise doesn’t let Garrett deter her and she’s ready to do anything to find out THE TRUTH, even forging the documents she needs to get the funding.

As time passes, Elise realizes that digging for answers can be dangerous, but also that Garrett might be the biggest mystery on Blackwood Estate.

Mysterious, sexy and fascinating, Blackwood, was fantastically written in such an intriguing way. I couldn’t put it down for one minute, the mystery/suspense and also the multitude of twists and turns sucking me in from the start. The storytelling was really engaging, the story becoming more and more captivating with every single chapter. The author did a wonderful job blending the thriller/mystery aspect with the erotic. The story was hot and passionate with plenty of sexy times that I’m sure will leave you hot and bothered.

The two main characters were well portrayed, fascinating and I enjoyed reading about them. The chemistry between them was hot…to say the least from the beginning. I enjoyed how their relationship unfolded – gradually – their entertaining interactions and how sexy they were at times. The sex scenes between them were extremely hot, their connection being so palpable as the story unfolded.

Elise was a great heroine, smart, loyal and courageous, she was a strong character and I have to say that I loved her determination. Garrett was a very intriguing hero. While at first, he’s rude and grumpy, as the story unfolded and his relationship with Elise started to change, he became a total different man – kind, sweet, caring, but still gruff and so very manly. I liked these two together and how perfectly they completed each other. The romantic aspect was well done and the rough sex handled very well.

All in all, Blackwood, was a fantastic mystery/thriller I recommend if you are looking for a gripping read filled with steam, action and suspense.

 

The Second Opinion by Michael Palmer

Book Description:

Published: July 17, 2009

Format: Audio/Library Book

Dr. Thea Sperelakis, diagnosed as a teen with Asperger’s syndrome, has always been an outsider. She has a brilliant medical mind, and a remarkable recall of details, but her difficulty in dealing with hidden agendas and interpersonal conflicts have led her to leave the complex, money-driven dynamics of the hospital, and to embrace working with the poor, embattled  patients of Doctors Without Borders. Her father, Petros, is one of the most celebrated internal medicine specialists in the world, and the founder of the cutting-edge Sperelakis Center for Diagnostic Medicine at Boston’s sprawling, powerful Beaumont Clinic.

Thea’s rewarding life in Africa is turned upside-down when Petros is severely injured by a hit-and-run driver. He is in the Beaumont ICU, in a deep coma. No one thinks he will survive. Thea must return home. Two of Petros’ other children, both physicians, battle Thea and her eccentric brother, Dimitri, by demanding that treatment for their father be withheld.

As Thea uncovers the facts surroundingthe disaster, it seems more and more to be no accident. Petros, himself, is the only witness. Who would want him dead? The answers are trapped in his brain . . . until he looks at Thea and begins slowly to blink a terrifying message.

In The Second Opinion, Michael Palmer has created a cat-and-mouse game where one woman must confront a conspiracy of doctors to uncover an evil practice that touches every single person who ever has a medical test. With sympathetic characters and twists and betrayals that come from the most unlikely places, The Second Opinion will make you question…everything.

Review –

I love an intriguing medical mystery and this is a GOOD one. It’s all about medical fraud taking place in a big, fancy Boston hospital  and Dr. Petros Sperelakis  has found out and  was supposed to be killed by the hit and run driver but is now in a coma. When he comes out of the coma, his daughter, Dr. Thea Sperelakis, discovers that he has locked-in syndrome and is only able to communicate with his eyes. She finds out some interesting facts and gets into trouble but together with an hunky ex-cop turned security guard, who also becomes her love interest, solves the mystery and saves the day!

The Second Opinion is also interesting because It centers around a character with Asperger’s syndrome — a condition I knew next to nothing about. It is very interesting how the author uses his personal knowledge of the condition (one of his children has Asperger’s syndrome) to create a character you begin to understand on a different level than many others. It is not often a main character is different in this way, and it certainly adds an element of surprise to even ordinary conversations.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes  medical suspense thrillers and Tess Gerritson novels.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

Review –

Megan Miranda’s The Perfect Stranger is billed as being a sequel to her highly successful All the Missing Girls, although as far as I can tell, there are no common characters or plot threads, unless one counts the fact that one of the characters in The Perfect Stranger is a “missing girl”!  If you haven’t read the first one you will have no problem with this one, it’s a  standalone, and is a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing read that asks some interesting questions.  How well we can ever know another person?  How honest and accurate are our self-perceptions?  Just how far would you go for a friend who’d done a lot for you?

Megan Miranda does a terrific job in this book of creating and maintaining an atmosphere of menace and uncertainty.  She skillfully and slowly feeds the truth about Leah’s situation, hinting at what she’s running from and slowly fitting the pieces of the puzzle together – although it’s not until well into the story that we finally discover the nature of the terrifying events that set her on the path she’s now travelling.  And there’s also the fact that Leah is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, something the author plays with so cleverly that there are times the reader even questions the fact of Emmy’s existence, wondering if the police are right and she’s just a figment of Leah’s obviously active imagination.

On the negative side, however, there are times when there is perhaps just a little too much going on, there are a few plot-threads that are not suitably resolved, and a couple of large inconsistencies that really had me scratching my head – and not in a good way. The mystery is full of satisfying twists and turns, with a few suitably head-shaking moments of realization along the way, but the ending is somewhat of a let down.  Things end well for Leah and Kyle, but it’s all a little low-key, so while I was pleased that everything was nicely tied up, I’d expected something a little… well, MORE.

With all that said, however, I enjoyed The Perfect Stranger enough to recommend it to fans of adult angst filled  mysteries.  It caught my interest early and kept me listening to the end.

 

Silent Boy by Sarah A. Denzil

Book Description:

Published: January 22, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

n the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.


His body was never recovered. 
Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

Review –

Silent Child tells the story of a parent’s most fervent prayer answered after their worst nightmare, but with complications.  While Emma Price’s son Aiden is returned to her after ten years, he is far different from the energetic, little boy whose red jacket was fished out of the flood swollen river. His body tells the tale of imprisonment and sexual assault that he can’t bear to utter and so he remains deliberately silent.

By the time Emma received that phone call from the hospital, she’d finally come to terms with Aiden’s disappearance and supposed death.  No longer with his father, her high school boyfriend Rob, she is currently married to a man named Jake and is pregnant with his child.  Aiden’s reappearance back into her life initially evokes obvious joy, but when she realizes how broken her son is, her happiness quickly turns to horror, grief, and an eventual terror and uncertainty about what Aiden might do to his new baby sister.  Her husband and the ex-boyfriend who’s now back in her life only serve to complicate matters more.

Right off the bat, Jake (the husband) comes off as a complete asshole.  There’s a part in the beginning where he fat shames her.  Um, she’s your wife, and she’s pregnant with your fucking child, but it was when Emma mentioned how he had to “train” her that my suspicion meter really went up.

Jake is an excessively tidy person whereas Emma is much messier, but when she moved in with him, she learned that in Jake’s house everything has its place.  Rob (the ex) points this out a bit derisively, and there’s a point where Emma recalls how Jake moved her beloved childhood desk to the garage, replacing it with a newer one (that Emma in no way asked for or wanted), because it didn’t fit in with his perfect scheme.  Throwing a potentially unpredictable Aiden into the mix upsets everything, though Jake does try to be supportive for Emma’s sake.

The author does an excellent job of showing how uncaring the media can be when there’s a story to be had.  The well-being of those involved means nothing, and a perfectly valid outburst is ripe fodder to be used against you, as Emma learns to her regret.

This is one of her many hard lessons.  Some of us are lucky to have a sheltered youth, but then as adults, we have a better understanding of what the world is, but there’s often more than one awakening to this truth, and the lesson Emma learns about masks and the ones who wear them breaks down her trust and that shelter even more.

By the middle of the story, I had a suspect, and the narrative did nothing to discourage me, which I thought was fantastic.  It’s a red herring.  Ms. Denzil wants us to suspect this person. Then later another character seems just as guilty and could there be an accomplice ?
Although the story has a happy ending, it’s muted and not really celebrated. I loved the book and I think any one who appreciates a good psychological thriller will want to add this one the their list to be read.
Five stars!

Scandal in Fair Haven(Henrie O. #2) by Carolyn G. Hart

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 1994

Format: Audio/Audible

When Hart’s latest sleuth, 60-ish widow Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins, a.k.a. Henrie O, made her debut in Dead Man’s Island, readers everywhere were delighted. In this mystery, Henrie O returns in a classic, teasing puzzler.

Review –

“Just because Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins has retired from reporting the news doesn’t mean she’s retired from asking nosy questions; and when Craig Matthews stumbles into the Tennessee vacation cottage she was to share with his stricken aunt gasping that he didn’t kill his socialite wife, Patty Kay, she swiftly assumes the role of his aunt and takes up his cause. The deck is stacked against Craig — somebody went to a lot of trouble to lure him home to discover Patty Kay’s body — but Henrie O, alertly noticing that there are no footprints in the cheesecake (don’t ask), is sure that he’s innocent and turns instead to the town’s secrets, heralded by the incessant sniping of Fair Havenites. After pausing to note the obligatory adulteries — both Craig and Patty Kay were not only having active affairs but were worshiped from afar — Henrie O focuses on the links among Patty Kay’s death, the suicide of Walden School student Franci Hollis a day earlier, and the murder of a bookstore clerk who maybe remembered too much about the phone call that lured Craig back home. As before, serenely self-confident Henrie O proves a paragon of sturdy, old-fashioned detection. On the evidence here, Fair Haven must be the busiest, nastiest little hamlet in the galaxy.” Kirkus Review

 

Thought I’d start a new cozy mystery series, but while this one was okay, it didn’t pull me in enough to read the next one.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Book Description:

Published: March 20, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Review –

OMG!    Five Stars!

This is the best “edge of your seat” book that I have read or listened to in ages.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great murder mystery that involves the past colliding with the present.

In The Broken Girls, Simone St. James delivers two gothic mysteries for the price of one. The narrative bobs and weaves through time with two sets of characters.

In the contemporary mystery, Fiona searches for definitive proof that Deb’s murderer is in prison. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes everything has not been tied up into a pretty bow. Plenty of dangerous darkness lingers in the present.

Back in 1950, we meet four vastly different girls—haunted Sonia, abandoned CeCe, athletic Roberta, and beautiful Katie—who become closer than sisters through their experiences at Idlewild and their shared brokenness. Mary Hand is a real presence in their lives, but not nearly as terrifying as the traumas they’ve already overcome.

They love one another fiercely. But one of them won’t leave Idlewild Hall alive.

With this dual narrative, the author produces an excellent  mirage, interweaving historical fiction, thriller, gothic horror, and mystery into an incredibly satisfying and cohesive whole. Every character springs vividly from the page. In a predominantly female cast, St. James shuns stereotypes and creates complicated, flawed women who support one another at any cost.

The societal commentary is frequent and biting: how some lives are prioritized over others; corruption in police forces; psychological trauma going untreated, seen more as a weakness and failing than a genuine problem to be fixed; how society has constantly devalued and oppressed women.

Sisterhood is the beating, undying heart of The Broken Girls; without it, crimes go unpunished and the victims remain nameless.

And, of course, we can not leave out the ghost. Mary Hand takes a backseat to the primary plots—she’s more of a signal post, a ghostly emblem of Idlewild and the horrors the girls have already experienced. Yet her moments are perfectly eerie and unsettling, adding a supernatural, psychological flavor to the already bloody tragedies.

By the last page, St. James has gathered up every thread into a solid knot. The Broken Girls is an intense, emotional lament on loss and pain. 

This is my first read by this author, but it will not be my last !!!!!