The Vanishing Season (The Collector #4) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published: May 21, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

A recent abduction becomes an unexpected link to a decades-long spree of unspeakable crimes.

Eight-year-old Brooklyn Mercer has gone missing. And as accustomed as FBI agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison are to such harrowing cases, this one has struck a nerve. It marks the anniversary of the disappearance of Eddison’s own little sister. Disturbing, too, is the girl’s resemblance to Eliza—so uncanny they could be mother and daughter.

With Eddison’s unsettled past rising again with rage and pain, Eliza is determined to solve this case at any cost. But the closer she looks, the more reluctant she is to divulge to her increasingly shaken partner what she finds. Brooklyn isn’t the only girl of her exact description to go missing. She’s just the latest in a frightening pattern going back decades in cities throughout the entire country.

In a race against time, Eliza’s determined to bring Brooklyn home and somehow find the link to the cold case that has haunted Eddison—and the entire Crimes Against Children team—since its inception.

Review –

This is the fourth book in The Collector series by Dot Hutchison, which began with The Butterfly Garden.

The Vanishing Season starts when eight year old Brooklyn goes missing on her way home from school. The familiar FBI team (they appear in the other books as well) is put on the case, and soon it becomes clear that one of the agents is connected to the disappearance. Agent Eddison’s eight  year old sister went missing years ago and has yet to be found. Similarities between the cases start to unravel. 
The team starts piecing together the mystery of missing girls and disappearances of other girls with similar looks starts to unfold. In the meantime we are taken on a journey of backstories involving Eddison and other team members. It was a lot to keep track of but I didn’t think it took away  from the current case.
As always, the Butterfly girls and Priya make their appearances and visit the team to help support them through hard times. The author always makes them part of the background story line and this time they are there to tie all four  books together. 
This is really an emotional journey of the intertwining relationships of the FBI agents. If you are looking for shock value and unbelievable thrilling moments like in the previous books, you will not find it in this one. If you haven’t yet read the three previous books, don’t bother with this, as you will be so lost in a huge wave of keeping track of characters.
All in all, it was a fantastic ending to the  series. It was great to see where the characters I have come to love end up.
Not as much suspense and action in this installment but the emotional rescue and ending well made up for it!

A Dark Lure (Dark Lure#1) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: July 1, 2015

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.

Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?

As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.

Review –

First, be aware that there may be triggers so some. Included in the book are kidnapping,rape,torture of women,multilation, biting, etc.

Wow, what a ride! This was probably the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in the last few months.

Basically, it’s a story about survival: Olivia West, sole survivor of the “Watt Lake Killer” who died in prison, works anonymously on Broken Bar Ranch as its manager when a body is discovered. The victim’s remains have been put on display in the same way the dead killer used to do and weird things – coincidences? – begin to happen on Broken Bar Ranch.

A cop who worked on the side-lines of the original Watt Lake case – now dying from cancer – never believed the real killer had been apprehended and, thus, he’s out with his young daughter, Tori, to catch the right guy this time…

It’s hard to find fault with a book that’s as engaging and exciting as this one. Of course, it’s not high literature but it’s nearly perfect for what it is. Frequent switches of perspectives and places take place but I always knew exactly what was going on which is a big plus for me. The backstory of the Watt Lake killer is told by means of a book written by Tori’s late mother and makes for chilling interludes.

The world was natural, beautiful and rugged. The details were lush in description (the Canadian Northwest). Many of the characters and certainly the main characters were all grappling with their pasts, not always sure they wanted the future. Character growth and strength provide the base for a great story.

I loved the personal growth and how hard they fought for life. There were various twists of things, and a few I guessed.  What a pace of terrifying events with the weather to complicate matters. there was the ultimate battle for survival.

I highly recommend this heart-breaking, smart and uplifting tale!

 

Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

Book Description:

Published: September 13, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Abducted.
Terrorized.
Imprisoned.

At nineteen-years-old, college student Josie Stratton was kidnapped by a madman and held shackled for ten months in an abandoned warehouse before she finally escaped her hellish prison.

Eight years later, when the body of a young woman is found chained in the basement of a vacant house, Cincinnati Police Detective Zach Copeland is instantly reminded of the crime committed against Josie Stratton. Zach was just a rookie on the perimeter of that case, but he’s never forgotten the traumatized woman with the haunted eyes.

As more information emerges, the crimes take on an even more sinister similarity. But Josie’s attacker died by suicide. Does the city have a copycat on its hands? A killer who picked up where the original perpetrator left off? Or are they facing something far more insidious?

Josie has spent the last eight years attempting to get her life back on track, but now there’s a very real chance she could be the unknown suspect’s next target. As Zach vows to keep her safe, and Josie finds herself responding to him in a way she hasn’t responded to any man in almost a decade, the investigation takes on an even more complex edge of danger.

As past and present collide, Josie and Zach are thrust toward a shocking and chilling truth. A revelation that threatens not only Josie’s life, but everything she’s been fighting so desperately to reclaim.

Review –

This story is told in the past and present, from the third person (I know some people have trouble connecting to this POV, but I felt the author did a great job in building an emotional connection with the heroine).
In the past . . .
We learn of the horrific abduction and torture of a young college student, Josie Stratton.  This part of the book is haunting in its simplicity.  The author doesn’t delve into the specifics of Josie’s torture, but we know that she is chained to the wall, raped, and nearly starved to within an inch of her life (the assailant drew this part out, making it that much more disturbing).
Given that there is a present that features Josie, alternating with chapters from the past, we can assume that there is at least somewhat of a happy ending for her (she doesn’t die).  But her journey and what she loses along the way, cannot be forgotten.
In the present . . .
About that happy ending I just mentioned . . . forget it.  After another woman is found, this one dead, and the particular details are revealed about her condition, the police are concerned they have a copycat on their hands.  Even though the original kidnapper is dead, they understand that Josie may be at risk once again. And that’s what brings Detective Zach Copeland to Josie’s doorstep.
There is an immediate connection between Josie and Zach that runs deeper than a physical connection.  On Josie’s part, it is the first time she’s found comfort with a man since her abduction.  On Zach’s part, he sees a woman that has survived the worst circumstances and rather than fold under the weight of it all, is fighting to regain her life.  There is admiration for her strength.  Although he doesn’t regard her as weak, he knows he can’t take any risks as more bodies are discovered.
At some point, like the characters in this story, I began to question on whether the right person was identified as the kidnapper in the past.  I think I sorted that out before any big revelation was made, but I had no clue who the serial killer was in the present.  The author does a great job on slowly revealing connections between the victims and ultimately the killer.  I loved the big twist with the killer’s identification, and how the author wraps up the  story.  Very unexpected!
The author did a phenomenal job of building this thriller, with a heroine that you want to cheer for every step of the way.  Whether you are a fan of this author, or this genre, this one is worth checking out!

 

 

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

Review –

“A disgraced British actress named Claire Wright comes to the United States, sans green card, looking for work. Her agent gives her the bad news. “The days we took the huddled masses yearning to be free are long over.” She ends up working for a divorce lawyer, setting up stings to entrap unfaithful husbands by pretending to be a high-priced hooker. Then one of her prospective clients is found dead beneath a bloody sheet in a hotel room. Primary suspect: the woman’s husband, a Columbia University professor and the translator of Baudelaire’s book of S&M poetry, Les Fleurs du Mal. The police suspect he’s a serial killer, with previous Baudelaire-inspired murders under his belt, ha ha. They have Claire go undercover to lure this guy into a confession. It’s the role of her career, one she throws herself into so wholeheartedly she loses track of what is real and what is masquerade, ending up madly in love with her target. After many twists and pseudo-reveals, she ends up first in a mental institution and then with a starring role in My Heart Laid Bare, the suspected killer’s off-Broadway show based on a nasty incident in the life of Baudelaire. “Who is the real Claire Wright? The one sitting here with her precious green card and permit in front of her, exchanging pleasantries with the man who provided it? Or the one who fell for the darkness she sensed deep inside the only man she couldn’t seduce?” An unreliable-narrator setup works best when the character believes her own story or is lying intentionally to other characters in the book. When it mostly means that the narrator deliberately conceals key facts from the reader for no purpose other than to create confusion and suspense, it feels a little cheesy. The author confesses in an afterword that she wrote and published this book decades prior to last year’s bestseller, The Girl Before, but it didn’t do very well, so she’s trying again with a rewrite.

The best parts of this book were written in the middle of the 19th century by Charles Baudelaire.” Kirkus Review

Didn’t care for this book at all. It was too convoluted and I gave it three stars.

Born to Die (To Die #3) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2011

Format: Audio: Audio/Audible

Appearances. . .

A sad, strange coincidence. . .that’s Dr. Kacey Lambert’s initial response to the deaths of two women who bear an uncanny resemblance to herself. It’s not like there was any real connection between Kacey and the B-movie actress or the elementary school teacher. But Detective Selena Alvarez suspects otherwise.

Can Be. . .

One of the bodies contained traces of poison at the time of death. Selena and her partner, Detective Regan Pescoli, can find no motive for murder. But Kacey has started to notice ties between the dead women’s lives and her own–all close in age, born within miles of each other. And all have links to Trace O’Halleran, the man Kacey just started dating.

Deadly. . .

The deeper Kacey digs, the more reason she has to fear. More look-alikes are dying, and the killer is getting bolder and more brutal. And Kacey knows it’s only a matter of time before hers is the next name on a list of those who were born to die. . .

Review –

This is the third installment of Lisa Jackson’s series, To Die, and again features feature Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli,of  the two Grizzly Falls, Montana police department. This time they look into the suspicious fall of schoolteacher, Jocelyn Wallis, onto a rocky ledge. Jocelyn, who later dies in the hospital of her injuries, turns out to bear an uncanny resemblance to Hollywood actress Shelly Bonaventure, whose recent death from a pill overdose was officially ruled a suicide, though the police suspect foul play. When Kacey Lambert, a doctor who coincidentally resembles Jocelyn and Shelly, reports that her home has been bugged, Alvarez and Pescoli step up their investigation before Kacey becomes the next victim. Jackson skillfully interweaves the suspense surrounding the look-alike women with the romance that develops between Kacey and local rancher Trace O’Halleran.  There are skilled characterizations, in particular the strong female leads, and a well-crafted plot to make any lover of a good crime fiction/mystery take note.

Excellent read.

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.

Chosen to Die (To Die #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 20

Format: Audio/Audible

HE’LL CHOOSE THEM…
Detective Regan Pescoli has worked the “Star Crossed Killer” case for months, never imagining she’d be captured by the madman she’s been hunting. Regan knows exactly what he’s capable of – and avoiding the same fate will take every drop of her courage and cunning.

ABDUCT THEM…
Regan Pescoli is unlike any woman Nate Santana has met before. But now she’s missing, and Nate knows something is dangerously wrong. The only person who can help him find her is Detective Selena Alvarez, Regan’s partner. As Nate and Selena dig deeper into the Star-Crossed Killer case and the body count rises, the truth about Regan’s disappearance becomes chillingly clear.

AND KILL THEM…
In the desolate Montana woods, evil is lurking. And with time running out, the only way to save Regan will be to get inside a killer’s twisted mind and unravel a shocking message that is being revealed, one body at a time…

Review –

Chosen To Die is a thrilling mystery with the isolated setting adding to the suspense generated by the plot. The reason for the killer taking Regan also contributes to the puzzle: his previous victims had been trusting, relatively helpless women. Why choose Regan, a detective who would almost certainly fight back with everything she had? The only serious flaw in the book is with its length; Regan and Selena are compelling, well drawn characters that are interesting to follow. But there are other characters and side stories that add little to the plot and ultimately detract from the suspense of the detectives’ investigation. It would seem these could easily have been edited out, allowing for better continuity and tighter pacing, but that’s OMO.

I loved this book and will soon start the third in the series.

 

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.

 

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!