An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.

Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?

But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.

Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?

As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?

An electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

Review –

Struggling Manhattan makeup artist Jessica Farris impulsively decides to chase some quick cash by lying her way into an NYU psychiatrist’s study—of ethics and morality, no less—in this slickly twisty psychological thriller from bestselling authors Hendricks and Pekkanen.

 Still shaky after a disturbing #MeToo encounter with a top theatrical producer that dashed her dream of doing stage makeup, the twenty-eight-year-old laps up the supportive attention from impossibly chic and self-confident Dr. Lydia Shields, whose second-person narrative alternates with Jessica’s first person. So when the therapist starts to enlist her in increasingly dicey real-life role-playing assignments, including trying to pick up specific targets, such as a stranger in a hotel bar, Jess pushes aside her doubts and goes along—until she hears some information too alarming to ignore about the fate of Dr. Shields’s previous protégé. The page-turner’s second half whizzes along at a furious pace, exploiting the dual perspectives for maximum tension. Though some of the gasp-worthy final twists require substantial character flip-flops, and an eye roll or two, it’s a fantastic, suspense filled mystery that I HIGHLY recommend .

 

Redemption (Amos Decker #5) by David Baldacci

Book Description:

Published: April 16, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars; 4

Detective Amos Decker discovers that a mistake he made as a rookie detective may have led to deadly consequences in the latest Memory Man thriller in David Baldacci’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Amos Decker and his FBI partner Alex Jamison are visiting his hometown of Burlington, Ohio, when he’s approached by an unfamiliar man. But he instantly recognizes the man’s name: Meryl Hawkins. He’s the first person Decker ever arrested for murder back when he was a young detective. Though a dozen years in prison have left Hawkins unrecognizably aged and terminally ill, one thing hasn’t changed: He maintains he never committed the murders. Could it be possible that Decker made a mistake all those years ago? As he starts digging into the old case, Decker finds a startling connection to a new crime that he may be able to prevent, if only he can put the pieces together quickly enough…

Review –

By now, readers, of this powerful series, know his story. Years back, the Hulk-sized Amos Decker suffered a bone-crushing helmet-to-helmet hit during his first play in the NFL, rendering him unable to forget anything, ever. Not only is every memory seared permanently into his brain—a medical condition known as hyperthymesia—for good, but the way Decker’s brain sees and processes colors has also been altered (synesthesia). 

Abandoning the playing field for police work, Decker’s condition is both a gift and a curse. While he’s able to remember endless important details pertaining to various investigations, he can never forget the murders of his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law—the images of their dead bodies forever, painfully, preserved in his memory. Now, though, Decker is working cold cases with an elite FBI unit, a job that takes him all across the country in search of justice for those who deserve it most. This time, after narrowly escaping death in Pennsylvania following the events of last year’s The Fallen, Decker is back in his hometown of Burlington, Ohio. 

After swearing to never go back, Decker, accompanied by his partner, Alex Jamison,  makes his return to Burlington in order to visit the grave of his daughter, Molly, on what would have been her fourteenth birthday. While mourning his loss in the cemetery, a man approaches and introduces himself as Meryl Hawkins. The name does more than just ring a bell for Decker, causing the big guy’s jaw to drop ever so slightly. Years back, Decker put him away for murder—the first murder investigation of his career as a cop, in fact. 

Though sentenced to life in prison with no parole, it turns out that Hawkins was recently released after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. From day one, he’s professed his innocence, and he’s sticking to it in his final hour. Moreover, he wants Amos to help him prove it once and for all. As it turns out, Decker’s former partner, Mary Lancaster, thinks there might be something to his claim. After all, why would a man on his deathbed go to such lengths to have his name cleared if he was, in fact, really guilty? 

Still not sold on the idea that Hawkins might really be telling the truth, a skeptic Decker agrees to give the case another look—only to realize that the clear-cut investigation might be a little too clear-cut. Then comes another twist, when Meryl Hawkins is found dead with a bullet hole in his head. Figuring that the only reason to kill a dying man is to keep him quiet, Decker finally realizes he may have gotten it all wrong years ago and sets out to right his wrong, no matter the cost . . . even if it means digging up a dangerous old secret that someone’s willing to kill in order to keep it buried in the past. 

Even just a few years back, Amos Decker was arguably Baldacci’s third-best protagionist, behind Will Robie and John Puller. Now, after several really strong books, you could make the case that he’s the author’s top hero, a dramatic turnaround for a character whose origin book, The Memory Man, wasn’t all that well received, but I loved it. As always, Baldacci’s writing is smooth, and his commitment to fleshing out his cast of characters continues to pay off in this one. The story is solid, with a couple of strong twists, and while some readers might see the ending coming, Baldacci still provides a fun, entertaining journey getting there. 

Fantastic read!

 

 

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!

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: December 27, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

Even the perfect marriage has its dark side… 

Iris and Will’s marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane.

Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core.

Review – 

On the day after Iris and Will’s seventh wedding anniversary, they’re ready to start trying for a baby. But all is not as it seems.

From the outside, it looks like they have a perfect marriage. Friends and family admire their beautiful home, great jobs, and passionate commitment to each other. All this changes when Will dies on a plane flight he wasn’t supposed to be on.

Scheduled to be en route to Florida to make a presentation at a cybersecurity conference, his name is found on the passenger manifest of a plane bound for Seattle after it crashes in a field. Looking through his files to try to figure out what he was up to, Iris finds a new will and $2.5 million in life insurance policies Will had taken out only months earlier. At a memorial service for the crash victims, she meets Corban, who introduces himself as a friend of Will’s from the gym. According to Corban, Will was on his way to a job interview in Seattle, but the office he was interviewing with has never heard of him. Will doesn’t seem to be hiding a secret lover, but nothing Iris believed about her husband turns out to be true. Iris proves herself a relentless investigator in a case that takes her to Will’s hometown to solve the mystery of whom she married. High school classmates present a very different—and chilling—picture of Will. The suspense builds rapidly from there as Iris pulls back Will’s layers of deception and solves the mystery of what the circumstances of his death meant for their marriage.

Another  compelling adventure from Kimberly Belle!

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Book Description:

Published: November 5, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 4

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Review –

Some family secrets should never see the light of day. In Lisa Jewell’s thrilling, addictive new release, a surprise inheritance sends a young woman on a journey into her own personal history—and what she discovers might be deadly.

Libby Jones always dreamed of learning more about her origins. One day, not long after turning 25, Libby comes home to find an envelope waiting for her, its contents revealing the true identity of her birth parents… and the fact that she has inherited their vast mansion in a posh London neighborhood. Libby’s life suddenly seems to be changing for the better. But by claiming this inheritance, Libby is claiming a darker inheritance, too: a connection to an unsolved crime and an obscure, cult-like society, one which has been waiting, biding its time, until Libby makes herself known.

Meanwhile, in alternating narratives, we’re introduced to Libby’s sister, Lucy Lamb, who’s on the verge of homelessness with her two children in the south of France, and her brother, Henry Lamb, who’s attempting to recall the last few disturbing years with his parents during which they lost their wealth and were manipulated into letting friends move into their home. These friends included the controlling but charismatic David Thomsen, who moved his own wife and two children into the rooms upstairs. Henry also remembers his painful adolescent confusion as he became wildly infatuated with Phineas, David’s teenage son. Meanwhile, Libby connects with Miller Roe, the journalist who covered the story about her family, and the pair work together to find her brother and sister, determine what happened when she was an infant, and uncover who has recently been staying in the vacant house waiting for Libby to return. As the author moves back and forth from the past to the present, the narratives move swiftly toward convergence in her signature style, there are surprising twists, but this one was missing the page-turning magic that I loved in her previous novels. It is still a solid and entertaining read and still deserves a solid four stars.

 

 

 

Fatal Burn (Northwest #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: March, 2006

Format: Audio/Audible

Three years ago, Shannon Flannery was accused of murdering her wife-beater husband Ryan Carlyle, who was found burnt beyond recognition after a forest fire. At the time, many people believed that Ryan was the Stealth Torcher, a serial arsonist who lit many fires in the area, and suspected that Shannon had gotten back at her husband by beating fire with fire. The suspicions about Ryan’s ‘occupation’ seemed confirmed when the fires stopped following his death. However, although Shannon was acquitted for the murder, she still faced much public speculation over the case, especially from those who believed that she had gotten away with murder.
Now, believing that the worst is finally behind her, Shannon is attempting to get on with life. She has just bought a new property, where she hopes to expand her search-dog training facility.
But then strange things start to happen that make her question her safety, as well as the safety of those that she loves. Fragments of her past come back to haunt her, and mysterious fires begin to crop up, leading Shannon to suspect that somebody is out to get her. Then Travis Settler, an ex-Special Forces agent, arrives on the scene. His teenage daughter Dani has been kidnapped, and he believes that Shannon’s dark past has something to do with her abduction.
With the body count slowly rising, Shannon and Travis have to learn to trust one another, and uncover the dark secrets of the fire-loving serial killer before he seeks his ultimate revenge.

Review –

This novel takes readers into the often-unexplored world of arsonists, and the emotions that they feel when lighting or witnessing a fire. While many people, myself included, cannot fathom the reasons that some people may have for lighting fires that do nothing but cause destruction and chaos, this novel allows readers to view just how some people respond to flames, and makes readers aware of the power that many arsonists experience when dealing with this deadly element.
I am in no way suggesting that all arsonists are murderers, as many do not think of the consequences of their actions. I am simply saying that this novel is a good study of the way that firebugs may react to flame.

The author keeps readers guessing, as she continually introduces new plot twists and scenarios. Travis Settler’s relationship with Shannon adds a bit of romantic spark to the story, and Dani Settler’s determination to survive at the hands of her kidnapper is inspiring, especially considering her age.

This book will keep you guessing and the suspense will burn up the pages (excuse the pun) if reading and heat your ear if listening.

Five stars!

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Book Description:

Published: June 25, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

From the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie and Three Days Missing comes a riveting new novel of suspense about a woman who, in a fight for survival, must decide just how far she’ll go to escape the person she once loved

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.

Review –

A woman is on the run with cash, a burner phone, and plans that have taken ten months to build. But can she escape?

Beth Murphy, from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, has planned every detail of her departure meticulously; from her new name to her new appearance and car, she is leaving nothing to chance. But the person she is fleeing continues to be an overwhelming presence in her mind, and she expects to see him hiding in every shadow. He has trained her well through years of abuse, and she knows that he will find her—the only question is when.

Her jumpiness during the days and terror-soaked nights are hardly going unnoticed, and it becomes obvious to her new co-workers and rooming-house neighbors that she is not who she says she is. From her new life as a cleaner in Atlanta, Beth obsessively tracks the media coverage of a missing woman from Pine Bluff, Sabine Hardison, and the police’s search for her. Sabine is a successful realtor who disappeared one afternoon while her husband was away on business, but as the police dig deeper, it becomes clear that this was not a happy marriage. The author switches between three points of view as the story unfolds, giving insights into Beth and her efforts to re-create herself; Sabine’s husband, Jeffrey, who is picking up the pieces left behind by his wife’s disappearance while coming to terms with the aggressive publicity around his marriage’s shortcomings; and the detective, Marcus, who has been assigned to find out where Sabine has gone. Is Beth actually Sabine? Is she not? Are those continuity errors the whisper of red herrings or just the different ways multiple characters perceive the same events? An unexpected ending hinges on information missing from the story.

Everything is not quite as it seems and the ending will leave your mouth hanging open. Fantastic read/listen.

Five stars!

Buried Deep by Margot Hunt

Book Description:

Published: December 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

In this pulse-pounding short thriller, Maggie Cabot refuses to sit by idly as police re-open an investigation into the mysterious death of a woman her husband used to know.

After two decades in a near-perfect marriage, Maggie and James Cabot are enjoying their first year as empty-nesters in their charming Florida suburb, until two detectives arrive at their front door and change their lives forever.

The remains of a young woman have been found at a campsite in the Florida Keys. Hannah Nilsson, only 21 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen on a camping trip with a group of friends—including James, who dated Hannah long before he and Maggie ever met. Shocked and heartbroken, everyone on the trip said they assumed Hannah had wandered off toward shore, intoxicated from a long night of partying, and drowned. But the discovery of her body 25 years later, half a mile away from the campsite and buried six feet deep, makes it clear that her death was not accidental.

As the police dig back into the case, Maggie begins her own investigation, desperate to piece together the truth and clear her husband’s name once and for all.

Review –

Another Audible Original that I picked up for free in December.(another great reason to subscribe to Audible)

I’ve never read anything by Margot Hunt before, but this was a really well put together story. It was a great who-dun-it that keeps you guessing, but at the same time has its predictable moments.  I know the synopsis describes it as for fans of Big Little Lies and The Last Mrs. Parrish, but for some reason I couldn’t shake the similarity to the movie A Simple Favor.  It had similar pacing and a similar shock and awe value at the end.

Speaking of the end.  This book both ended how and different than I expected.  I won’t go into full details as to not spoil it, but it had a “hmmm, that makes sense” type of story arc ending. But it also had a “wait, is that really how this is ending?” vibe to it.  I can’t really explain it more without spoiling, but I think if you read it you’ll understand.

Overall, a REALLY  enjoyable  less than three hour listen that had wonderful narration by Therese Plummer. If you’re looking for a short listen with good suspense and a great ending, give this a try.

Five stars.

What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr

Book Description:

Published: September 17,2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In New York Times bestselling author Nevada Barr’s gripping standalone, a grandmother in her sixties emerges from a mental fog to find she’s trapped in her worst nightmare

Rose Dennis wakes up in a hospital gown, her brain in a fog, only to discover that she’s been committed to an Alzheimer’s Unit in a nursing home. With no memory of how she ended up in this position, Rose is sure that something is very wrong. When she overhears one of the administrators saying about her that she’s “not making it through the week,” Rose is convinced that if she’s to survive, she has to get out of the nursing home. She avoids taking her medication, putting on a show for the aides, then stages her escape.

The only problem is—how does she convince anyone that she’s not actually demented? Her relatives were the ones to commit her, all the legal papers were drawn up, the authorities are on the side of the nursing home, and even she isn’t sure she sounds completely sane. But any lingering doubt Rose herself might have had is erased when a would-be killer shows up in her house in the middle of the night. Now Rose knows that someone is determined to get rid of her.

With the help of her computer hacker/recluse sister Marion, thirteen-year old granddaughter Mel, and Mel’s friend Royal, Rose begins to gather her strength and fight back—to find out who is after her and take back control of her own life. But someone out there is still determined to kill Rose, and they’re holding all the cards.

Review –

The author takes a break from her bestselling series about National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon for a one-of-a-kind stand-alone that follows the adventures of a woman committed to a Memory Care Unit for dementia as she fights to claw back her life.

There’s a lot of stuff Rose Dennis doesn’t know. She doesn’t know when and how she got out of Longwood or when and how she arrived there in the first place. She’s surprised and pained when people remind her that although she grew up in New Orleans, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, with Harley, her husband of 15 years, and that he’s died. At one point she’s not even sure whether she’s sixty-eight years old or one-hundred and three. After a pair of orderlies hustle her back to Longwood, however, Rose resolves that it’s the medications she’s being fed that are sapping her powers of mind and will and vows to stop taking them and escape again, this time for keeps. Fortunately, her second attempt takes her to the home of Melanie Dennis, Harley’s levelheaded, resourceful thirteen year-old granddaughter, who’s more than ready to do whatever it takes to keep Gigi, as she calls Rose, two steps ahead of her pursuers. Unfortunately, one of those pursuers, a shadowy man armed with a knife, breaks into the old house where Rose is hiding out and tries to kill her. More adventures follow, some of them involving Rose’s hermit-like sister, Marion Bliss, who offers all the help a life spent online allows, some involving Karen Black, the hapless Longwood nurse Rose gets the better of on three separate occasions. It’s both a nuisance and a personal triumph when the media get hold of Rose’s story and label her “Gun Granny.”

The action is classic Barr.  A hit man pursuing Rose through a bedroom window and onto a rooftop ends up losing the tip of his finger. Yes, she will take a print from that digit to discover his identity. In short, Rose is every bit as feisty and fearless as Anna Pigeon. The ultimate villain is unexpected, and the larger scheme a chilling vision of how aging people can lose control over their lives. 
Though this is touted as a stand-alone, I wonder if the author will make Rose into a new series. Only time will tell. 
Great read!

 

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.