Heartbreak Hotel (Alex Delaware #32) by Jonathan Kellerman

Book Description:

Published: February 14, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis investigate the death of Alex’s most mysterious patient to date in the sensational new thriller from the master of suspense, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman.

At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at the Aventura, a luxury hotel with a checkered history.

What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room.

When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.
Review –
“Heartbreak Hotel is the thirty-second Alex Delaware novel Jonathan Kellerman has written. He learned early in his career that child psychologist Delaware and his police investigator buddy Milo Sturgis make a winning team. Over the years there have been good Delaware stories and some that are not as good. Heartbreak Hotel is one of the best.

The novel starts with Alex being contacted by a woman named Thalia Mars. Since he is a child psychologist he rarely takes on adults as clients, and Thalia is very adult. She is ninety-nine years old with her one hundredth birthday coming in three weeks. Still there is something about her that piques Delaware’s interest so he agrees to meet with her. Nothing much happens in that meeting but the next day things get a lot more interesting. Delaware gets involved in a murder case that sends him and Milo reeling.

The circumstances of the murder and the body count that follows requires some step by step investigating by Milo, who takes Alex along for the ride and his expertise. It is a painfully slow process for them but due to the writing expertise of Kellerman, it is a fast trip for the reader. Each investigative fact the duo uncovers is another building block in the case against the murderer. Some of the evidence and background information is found by Milo, but a good amount is also found by Alex.

Kellerman is the kind of writer who wants to make sure the reader knows the scenery of the places where the plot develops. He describes what each character is wearing, what they look like, even how they move. Then for good measure he tells you about the furniture in the places where they live or work. He describes the architecture in specifics and doesn’t miss a detail when giving you the lay of the land.

Sometimes this attention to detail is a bit too much but Kellerman is so good at describing everything you have to give him a little leeway. In the end it all pays off because as you finish the pages you feel you have seen a movie in your head. Plus you have images of the characters that linger in your mind along with the plot.

In Heartbreak Hotel, Jonathan Kellerman has created another compelling murder mystery. You get the insider’s view from Milo Sturgis’ vantage point, and the outsider’s view from Delaware’s. It is one of the best novels Kellerman has written in a couple of years and it renews your faith in his enduring talent.” by Jackie K. Cooper (couldn’t have said it better myself)

I highly recommend this book.

 

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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.

The Hope That Kills (DI Fenchurch #1) by Ed James

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The body of a young woman is found on the streets of East London, in the shadow of the City’s gleaming towers. No ID on her, just hard-earned cash. But there is no doubting the ferocity of the attack.

DI Simon Fenchurch takes charge but, as his team tries to identify her and piece together her murder, they’re faced with cruel indifference at every turn—nobody cares about yet another dead prostitute. To Fenchurch, however, she could just as easily be Chloe, his daughter still missing after ten years, whose memory still haunts his days and nights, his burning obsession having killed his marriage.

When a second body is discovered, Fenchurch must peel back the grimy layers shrouding the London sex trade, confronting his own traumatic past while racing to undo a scheme larger, more complex and more evil than anything he could possibly have imagined.

Review –

This book introduces us to DI Simon Fenchurch and  we follow him around the streets of East London as he delves deeper into the criminal underworld to crack the case. In this first book we learn a bit about Fenchurch’s backstory, which I really like as you feel like you’re getting to know him and it makes sense why he (re)acts the way he does in certain situations. He is a very likeable guy, who is still troubled by the unsolved case of his missing daughter.

This story wasn’t as thrilling as some other police procedurals (eg. the DCI Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza) however, it does take you into the nitty gritty criminal underworld of East London; gripping in a raw, hard-hitting way.

I haven’t decided if I will read/listen to any other books in this series because the narrator of this one was not very good and narrators can make or break an audio book and the jury is still out on this one.

 

Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder #1) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: June 23, 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a serial killer strikes bucolic Painters Mill, Ohio, the killer’s signature -—Roman numerals ritualistically carved into each victim’s abdomen- —matches the MO of four unsolved murders from 16 years earlier. Police chief Kate Burkholder, who’s reluctant to dredge up the past, must keep secret that she knows why the old murders stopped. Not satisfied with the case’s progress, local politicos set up a multijurisdictional task force to assist, including a law-enforcement agent battling his own demons. The added scrutiny and the rising body count threaten to push the chief over the edge. Adept at creating characters with depth and nuance, Castillo smoothly integrates their backstories into a well-paced plot that illuminates the divide between the Amish and English worlds.

Review –

Since I enjoyed number eight, Among the Wicked, in this series – I decided to go back and start from the beginning and I’m so glad I did.

In this first book in the series we learn more background on Kate’s reason for leaving the Amish life and her estrangement from her siblings. We also meet her love interest-to-be, John Tomasetti for the first time and learn more of his back story. Both were tormented with a serious past yet they were drawn together during the hunt for the serial killer. 

We also learn the lengths to which people will go to cover up ugly things in their lives and the affect in has on all around them.

I enjoyed this book more than number eight so I will continue with the series.

A great read.

 

The Ice Princess (Patrik Hedstrom #1) by Camilla Lackberg

Book Description:

Published: June 15, 2010

Format: Audio/Audible

Returning to her hometown of Fjallbacka after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life.

Erica conceives a book about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their own shared past. While her interest grows into an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about a small town with a deeply disturbing past.

Review –

This is the second book from this author that I have listened to and I loved it. The first one was The Stonecutter, and I listened to it over a year ago and it was number three in the series. This was number one and we meet up with the main characters of Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck. He is a police detective and she is a writer and most of the action takes place in the small fishing village of Fjallbacka, Sweden.

Erica’s childhood friend, Alex, is found murdered in a bathtub with both wrists slit. Alex and her family moved away when she was around ten and she was never the same outgoing little girl. Soon after Alex’s murder, a  close friend of hers is found hanging in his home. Can these two murders connected?

There are many twists and turns in this foreign crime fiction  and we learn about the horrible things done to Alex as a child by someone who should have been a protector and why she and Anders were close.

The murderer is someone I never expected, which always makes a  book even better.

Right along with the murder investigation we see the chemistry between Patrik and Erica evolve into more. Although they knew each other in school, over twenty years ago, Erica had no idea the depth of feelings that brewed between them.

Great read and a great who-dun-it.  Looking forward to finding more in the series.

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The Pocket Wife by Susan H. Crawford

Book Description:

Published: March 17, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

An amazing talent makes her debut with this stylish psychological thriller—with the compelling intrigue of The Silent Wife and Turn of Mind and the white-knuckle pacing of Before I Go to Sleep—in which a woman suffering from bipolar disorder cannot remember if she murdered her friend during a breakdown.

Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out.

Is murder on her mind—or is it all in her head?

The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her… or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again? A story of marriage, murder and madness, The Pocket Wife explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge.

Review –

I don’t have any personal experience with bipolar disorder, so I can’t say whether or not Crawford does a fair job of presenting what a person who suffers from it is feeling. She does spend a lot of time exploring Dana’s mental illness, however. Dana reflects about her first manic episode, when she was in college. She felt invincible, forgoing sleep and food, convinced she had tuned in to some larger power. When her boyfriend found her perched on top of their building, convinced she could fly, she was admitted to Bellevue.

Dana is aware of her illness and knows that her judgement will be skewed. She can feel herself getting worse and knows she only has a short time before she needs to get help to regulate. But the mania also makes her feel sharper and smarter, and she’s desperate to find Celia’s killer–even if it’s her–before that evaporates.

Dana was the last person to see Celia alive, or so she thinks and what Celia told her and showed her made her mad enough to kill her, but did she?

The grainy picture Celia showed her from her phone was of Peter and his “tart”, who Dana thought  was his secretary, but pulled that out when she met her.  So, who was he now seeing?

Dana discovers that Peter had an affair with Celia, dumped her and now had another woman he was bedding. Did Peter kill her to keep her from telling Dana, not knowing she already had?

So many questions and Dana has no answers but she knows she is a prime suspect and she must prove her innocence before she has a mental break.

Sadly, the break comes first.

Adding balance, half the text is told from the point of view of Jack Moss, the detective assigned to Celia’s case. We get to view Dana’s world from an outsider looking in, and it kept the novel from feeling too dreamy or detached.

Detective Jack Moss’s second marriage has ended and he has a soft spot for Dana because he saw her twenty years ago when she was first admitted to Bellevue. He is a kind man, with a son from a first marriage who he doesn’t really know and now he is a new grandfather. I liked his character very much.

The killer was a surprise to me and I love that fact and I thought the ending was perfect.

If you like suspenseful thriller be sure and pick up this one or add it to your TBR list.

Five stars !

*I love the name of this book and you find out what exactly it means early on.(another reason to read it)

 


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My Sister’s Grave (Tracy Crosswhite #1) by Robert Dugoni

Book Description:

Published: November 1, 2014

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House — a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder — is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past — and open the door to deadly danger.

Review – 

Because of all the twists and turns in this book, I think I have whiplash!

If the main players in this story had just been honest –  there would have been NO story.

The daughter of a prominent man in a small community goes missing and presumed dead, although no body was found, and a convicted rapist who served his time and now back in town, is “framed” for the disappearance. All of those involved in the frame up take a vow of silence. The missing girl’s sister has never believed that the trail was all it could have been and when, after twenty years, her sister’s body is discovered, she vows to get the convicted man a new trial and have her sister’s case re-opened.Well, that opens a whole new can of worms and she finds out how dangerous it is to uncover some things.

I won’t give anything away, but you’ll be surprised who turns out to be the murderer.

Great read/listen.

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Mystery (Alex Delaware #26) by Jonathan Kellerman

Book Description:

Published: March 29, 2011

Few know the city of Los Angeles the way #1 bestselling author and acclaimed suspense master Jonathan Kellerman does. His thrilling novels of psychological drama and criminal detection make the capital of dreams a living, breathing character in all its glamour and infamy. That storied history of fame, seduction, scandal, and murder looms large in Mystery, as Alex Delaware finds himself drawn into a twisting, shadowy whodunit that’s pure L.A. noir—and vintage Kellerman.

The closing of their favorite romantic rendezvous, the Fauborg Hotel in Beverly Hills, is a sad occasion for longtime patrons Alex Delaware and Robin Castagna. And gathering one last time with their fellow faithful habitués for cocktails in the gracious old venue makes for a bittersweet evening. But even more poignant is a striking young woman—alone and enigmatic among the revelers—waiting in vain in elegant attire and dark glasses that do nothing to conceal her melancholy. Alex can’t help wondering what her story is, and whether she’s connected to the silent, black-suited bodyguard lingering outside the hotel.

Two days later, Alex has even more to contemplate when police detective Milo Sturgis comes seeking his psychologist comrade’s insights about a grisly homicide. To Alex’s shock, the brutalized victim is the same beautiful woman whose lonely hours sipping champagne at the Fauborg may have been her last.

But with a mutilated body and no DNA match, she remains as mysterious in death as she seemed in life. And even when a tipster’s sordid revelation finally cracks the case open, the dark secrets that spill out could make Alex and Milo’s best efforts to close this horrific crime not just impossible but fatal.

Review –
Next to Harry Bosch, a character created  by author Michael Connelly, Alex Delaware, is my favorite crime fiction character.

“The book’s title refers to one of the victim’s aliases. Unidentified for much of the book, she could be a princess or a porn star, or anything in between. An anonymous tip (another deus ex machina contribution to the novel) sends Alex and Lieutenant Milo Sturgis to a web service that sets up sugar daddies with young women (“sweeties”) looking for someone to take care of them. The trail leads to love nests, rehab centers, various houses, a car leasing agency, a clinic that tests for venereal diseases and a wealthy, dysfunctional family with a few skeletons in the closet, all providing more than a novel’s worth of potential suspects.

Though Milo shows up occasionally, usually in time for a huge meal, and there are the obligatory cameos by characters from Kellerman’s other series, much of the detecting in Mystery is done by Alex himself, and most of that using search engines. Milo’s impressive success rate for homicides grants him a certain amount of latitude, but his rank requires him to attend meetings that pull him away from the investigation. Alex has become his de facto partner, though his affiliation with the police is nebulous. That doesn’t stop him from stretching the truth, implying a much more formal arrangement. He uses this to pressure witnesses, suspects and even police department employees into violating confidences, while strictly maintaining his own. 

When his long-time companion Robin volunteers to go on a stake out with him, Alex tells her she’ll be bored. That doesn’t discourage her—and her presence actually helps him with his cover—but it’s clear that she cramps his style. He’s a lone wolf who willingly throws himself into dangerous situations without any consideration for how that might impact others. He could probably do with a little time on the couch having his own psyche and motives analyzed. Though Alex and Robin briefly process what happens between them after they get home, it feels like a missed opportunity to develop their relationship.” by Bev Vincent, Onyx Reviews

I had the audio book and loved every minute of it.

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The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole #10) by Robert Crais

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2006

Review –

 

Elvis Cole is back…

With his acclaimed bestsellers, Hostage (a New York TimesNotable Book) and Demolition Angel, Robert Crais drew raves for his unstoppable pacing, edgy characterizations, and cinematic prose. Now, in The Last Detective, Crais returns to his signature character, Los Angeles private investigator Elvis Cole, in a masterful page-turner that probes the meaning of family and the burdens of the past.

Los Angeles, 3:58 A.M.: Elvis Cole receives the phone call he’s been waiting for since childhood. Responding to a gunshot, the LAPD has found an injured man in an alleyway. He has told the officer on the scene that he is looking for his son, Elvis Cole. Minutes later, the man is dead.

Haunted throughout his life by a lack of knowledge about his father, Elvis turns to the one person who can help him navigate the minefield of his past – his longtime partner and confidant, Joe Pike. Together with hard-edged LAPD detective Carol Starkey (who is harboring her own growing feelings for Cole), they launch a feverish search for the dead man’s identity. Elvis, meanwhile, struggles between wanting to believe he’s found his father at last and allowing his suspicions to hold him back. With each long-buried clue they unearth, a frightening picture begins to emerge about who the dead man might have been – and the terrible secret he’s been guarding.

At the same time, Elvis has no way of knowing he has awakened a sleeping monster. The further he goes in his investigation, the closer he draws to a merciless killer who is violently connected to the unidentified man’s past. This psychopath believes Cole is hunting him, and he goes on the attack to find Elvis before Elvis can find him.

Review –

The Elvis Cole Series  is another one of my favorites because Cole is so down to earth and doesn’t let things get to him TOO much and his partner, Joe Pike, wears sunglasses most of the time, even at night and hardly says a word and is all muscle. Together they privately investigate and solve crimes and the books are fast paced and the characters well-defined.

If you’re looking for a new mystery/crime fiction series to start-I recommend giving Elvis Cole a try.

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Memory Man (Amos Decker #1) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published; April 21, 2015

Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.

His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.

But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Memory Man will stay with you long after the turn of the final page.

Review –

This is a fantastic book and had me hooked from the very beginning.

What if you couldn’t forget ANYTHING?  Sounds like an okay deal for all the good memories but what about the bad, sad and horrible memories, you don’t forget those either. They are with you 24/7. That’s what plagues Amos Decker and sometimes he handles it well and other times he doesn’t.

I will definitely read the next book in the Amos Decker Series whenever it comes out because even though he has let himself go, gained weight, is horribly out of shape, you can’t  help  but fall in love with his character and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for  him.

Excellent read!

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