Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Before She Was Found
April 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Shy Cora, newcomer Violet and assertive Jordyn are friends—or possibly frenemies—in a rural Iowa middle school in Before She Was Found.

Cora and Violet are forced by their teacher to add “mean girl” Jordyn to their group researching urban legends for a class project. Jordyn suggests using Joseph Wither, a local murderer from the 1940s who has since gained urban legend status. When the girls have a sleepover, they decide to go to the deserted train yard to look for evidence that Joseph is real. The next morning, one girl is found severely wounded. One is in shock and covered with blood. The last denies she was even at the train station. All state they don’t recall what happened.

I enjoyed the different reactions of the parents and guardians of the girls. One hides what may or may not be evidence. Another gets angry at the other girls, the doctors and the police. There are many twists and turns as each girl begins to point their finger at another. The innovation of using case notes, police interview transcripts, personal journals and multiple point-of-views works to allow the reader to see everyone’s side. The final conclusion was intended to be a big surprise but I saw the foreshadowing and guessed the end. Before She Was Found is highly recommended for thriller fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to Park Row Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Someone Knows
April 13th, 2019 by diane92345

It literally pains me to write this negative review of Someone Knows by one of my top three authors, Lisa Scottoline.

Teenagers Sasha, Julian, David, and Allie find a gun buried in the ground. Nothing good can come of that. When another teenager is shot dead playing Russian roulette, guilt changes all their lives forever.

The author’s writing quality is spot-on as usual. However, the first half of the book is set twenty years before the present and reads like a young adult book. Sasha is an unrepentant Mean Girl—only her needs matter. Julian is in love with Sasha mostly from afar thanks to his “hobby” of peeping into windows. Allie is a conflicted chubby good girl broken by her sister’s recent death and mother’s emotional breakdown. David is being forced to be a star tennis player by his father regardless of his own desires. All are teenage stereotypes with little else distinguishing them.

I forced myself to read the first half in the hopes of a great twisty conclusion. I was disappointed unfortunately. The denouement’s big surprise is completely unbelievable. In my opinion, Someone Knows was a failure from start to finish. Please read any other book by this author rather than this one. You will be glad you did. I’m giving this mess 2 stars because the writing, grammar and spelling are first rate. But the plot…the plot.

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Foul Play on Words
April 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Foul Play on Words is a cozy mystery set at a writer’s conference with dogs and a possible kidnapping on the side.

Charlee, a mystery writer, is forced to run a writer’s conference when her best friend, Liv, tells her she has to look for her daughter Hanna, who has been kidnapped. The conference is rather a mess what with double booking the conference rooms with a dog agility show and the recent firing of the chef that was providing the food. In addition, all the experienced volunteers are home sick with food poisoning from tasting the chef’s food. Maybe it is a good thing he was fired!

As Charlee begins to whip the conference into shape, she gets pulled into Hanna’s disappearance. Charlee increasingly believes that Hanna has run off—rather than being kidnapped. At 21 years old, Hanna can basically do as she likes.

I’m not sure why but Foul Play on Words didn’t enchant me the way I expected. It had a writer’s conference, a dog show, funny lines and a cozy mystery plot. However, it never seemed to come together into a coherent plot. But just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that you will not so I’ll give it 3 stars.

Thanks to Midnight Ink and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Saving Meghan
April 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Why does fifteen-year-old Meghan seem so sick when doctors can find nothing wrong with her? Despite a disinterested husband and questioning doctors, Becky, Meghan’s mother, is intent on Saving Meghan.

Becky was raised by Cora, her mother, to be able to mimic disease symptoms to achieve Cora’s goal—getting government disability checks. When Meghan also starts to have undiagnosed symptoms, Carl becomes suspicious that Becky is falling back on old habits and causing Meghan’s illness. Eventually even Meghan’s doctors suspect the mental disease Munchausen by Proxy, where a mother gets attention by causing her child’s illness. Is Meghan really sick or is someone causing her symptoms?

While the book basically hits the reader over the head with Becky’s beauty and manipulation skill, the author is quietly manipulating the reader to believe everyone in turn is causing Meghan’s illness. In addition, none of the characters are sympathetic so if that bothers you, you will not enjoy this book. However, what bothered me the most was the overly dramatic turns in the plot especially the conclusion that was just thrown in at the end without much foreshadowing. The first half of the book was great but then it went downhill for me. Nevertheless, if you like family suspense with a big chunk of medical drama, you will probably enjoy Saving Meghan. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Last
April 9th, 2019 by diane92345

An isolated hotel in Switzerland after multiple nuclear bombs are detonated is the setting of The Last.

Jon, an American historian at the hotel for a conference is the book’s narrator. After the bombs drop, the Internet soon fails. Most of the hotel’s guests drive or walk to the city and its airport. By the tenth day, only five staff and fifteen guests remain in the hotel. They are waiting for help that never arrives.

When Jon and two of the staff find a body in the water tank on the roof of the hotel, Jon decides to find the murderer. As their food supplies dwindle and the weather turns colder, the survivors turn on one another. The group must decide how to administer justice and how to run their government.

I was so excited to read this book. The Shining and Agatha Christie in a Walking Dead setting? Yes, please! Those are some of my favorite books. Of course here comes the however, heavy sigh. However, The Last is much closer to The Road.

The Last is a slow-burning philosophical trip into the meaning of life and how a worldwide disaster would force or allow us to act. Would we still care about anything other than our own survival? Would we still have our humanity or would we devolve back into animals? Would we be more religious or fully convinced God had forsaken us?

II you are a thriller or mystery fan, look elsewhere. The mystery here is an afterthought at best. Even with its slow pacing, I felt compelled to read it in one day. I would recommend it only for literary fiction fans. I took one star off for the ending, which I don’t want to spoil, leaving it at 3 stars.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Scot & Soda
April 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Scot & Soda is a humorous fish-out-of-water tale and the second in the Last Ditch Mystery series.

Lexy Campbell is a Scottish therapist in rural Northern California. During a small Halloween party on her houseboat home, a body is found caught on the rope holding the party’s cold beers in the slough, or swamp, where the houseboat was parked. The shooting victim had a tam o’shanter stapled to his head so it was hard for Lexy not to take it personally. With the help of her odd friends at the nearby “Last Ditch” motel, Lexy can’t help but investigate especially when a ring seen on the body in the slough is missing after its retrieval.

The characterizations of the unique denizens of the hotel are varied and refreshingly different from the usual cozy mystery sidekicks. As a matter of fact, this wacky tale seems almost like a cross between a cozy and a Serge Storm novel. However, the mystery followed a convoluted course with a dearth of clues until right before the conclusion. The witty one-liners and unusual characters helped raise Scot & Soda to 3 stars despite the disappointing mystery.

Thanks to Midnight Ink and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Ghost Manuscript
April 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Old manuscripts! Ghostly monks! Treasure! Ghost Manuscript has something for every adventure fan!

Carys is a rare book authenticator. When the eccentric old man who owns the rare Dark Ages library she is authenticating asks her to follow the leads in a sixth century manuscript to find a king’s burial site, Carys can’t resist. However, there are evil forces that are also looking for the site and they are willing to kill to get there first.

Moving from Boston to Scotland and back, Ghost Manuscript is an exciting ride! Carys is a female Indiana Jones trying to find the elusive burial site. While looking, she finds a love interest and reconnects to someone from her past. I thought the first half of the book was great but it did start dragging a bit around the 70% mark. Still, it is an adventure-packed thrill ride of a book! It is perfect for fans of Clive Cussler’s books. 4 stars!

Thanks to Post Hill Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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April 1st, 2019 by diane92345

“Poker has its own moral universe. Lying is called bluffing. Deception is the norm.”—from the new humorous revenge thriller Bluff

Maud is convinced that her parent’s financial advisor, Burt, stole all their money. However, she cannot get anyone to believe her.

Broke, Maud plays online poker. Skilled at the game, she wins. When the online casinos are shuttered by the government, Maud turns to live games. Throughout it all, she continues to nurse her grudge with Burt.

One morning, she walks into the Four Seasons and shoots Burt. Luckily for Burt, he is able to shield himself with his lunch companion, and longtime friend, Sun. While Sun is in the ICU, his secrets begin to unravel leading to a domino effect on his entire social circle.

Structured like poker itself, Bluff manages to surprise at every turn. Plus it has many moves like tournament poker. Honestly, if you love thrillers where the motive is cunningly plotted revenge, you will love this tale as much as I do. 5 stars!

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Blood Oath
March 28th, 2019 by diane92345

Blood Oath has a plot ripped from both the #metoo and the mysterious UK poisonings headlines.

NYC head prosecutor Alexandra Cooper and her police detective boyfriend Mike are investigating Lucy’s claim of being sexual assaulted at fourteen. Lucy states while she was serving as witness, the prosecutor, Zach, took advantage of her naiveté. Concurrently to Lucy’s case, defense attorney and Alexandra’s friend, Francie, takes ill on the street.

This is the twentieth book in the series but the first I’ve read. It works well as a standalone read.

There are many twists and coincidences in the bumpy ride to the conclusion of Blood Oath. Though the plot dragged a bit in the middle, the slam-bam conclusion was well worth it. My one complaint was there was no courtroom drama but it still is highly recommended for fans of the series. 4 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Murder Lo Mein
March 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Murder Lo Mein is the latest Noodle Shop Mystery.

Lana Lee is the new manager at her family’s noodle house. At the annual Cleveland’s Best Noodle contest, her restaurant wins day one of four. Later that day at the karaoke after-party, one of the contest judges is murdered. Lana decides to investigate.

In the meantime, Lana’s detective boyfriend Adam isn’t around much. Is he really too busy with work or is his interest waning? New Community Director Freddie might take Lana’s mind off of Adam.

A plethora of characters are introduced in the first few chapters. I was worried about keeping them all straight. However, as each got their turn in the plot spotlight, their different personalities made them easy to distinguish.

A possibly more serious problem is that not only the victims but even the perps are named from the two earlier books in the series. While this book can be read as a standalone, there will be no surprises if you read the previous books later.

If you liked Crazy Rich Asians or Straight Off the Boat, you will enjoy this look at a crazy Taiwanese family. While the mystery was easy to solve, the characters, humor, and unique setting make Murder Lo Mein a good afternoon’s entertainment. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


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Never Tell
March 25th, 2019 by diane92345

Another awesome entry in the Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren series. Both D.D. and Flora Dane have a past connection to a new murder case in Never Tell.

Evie is happily married to Conrad and four months pregnant with their first child. Coming home after work, she finds Conrad shot dead in his study. Something on his laptop disturbs her so much that she calmly picks up the murder weapon and shoots the computer twelve times. The police find her holding the gun and arrest her for murder.

Evie was D.D.’s first murder case sixteen years earlier. Evie had shot her father. Her only comment, “It was an accident. An unfortunate accident.” Evie was not charged.

Flora Dane, now working as D.D.’s confidential informant, recognizes the victim, Conrad, from her days with her abductor, Jacob. What secrets are hiding behind Evie’s and Conrad’s seemingly normal facade?

Never Tell is another gripping thriller by Lisa Gardner. Told from the viewpoint of Evie, D.D., and Flora, Flora’s sections were the ones I was racing toward. Flora describes more of what happened to her during her abduction. In addition, Flora shows almost a human side in this book, which is nice to see.

While this book is a highly recommended thriller, I would suggest strongly to read Find Her, where Flora Dane’s story is initially told, before reading this one. It will increase your understanding of Flora’s story (plus it’s a great book on its own).  With that sole caveat, Never Tell is highly recommended to all thriller lovers. You won’t be disappointed! 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Trouble on the Books
March 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

Trouble on the Books is the first in a new cozy mystery series, A Castle Bookshop Mystery.

Shelby takes leave from her job to help her Aunt Edie with opening her new bookstore after Edie’s knee replacement surgery. The bookstore is in a real-life castle on Blye Island in upstate New York.  Only one day before opening day, Shelby finds the obnoxious castle curator, Loreena, dead in a grotto on the estate. When the castle’s caretaker, Matthew, is suspected, Edie asks Shelby to investigate. Shelby thinks that smugglers could be using the grotto to smuggle in contraband. During her investigation, she meets the good looking Coast Guard investigator Zack Griffin.

Trouble on the Books was a good, but not great, cozy mystery read. I loved the idea of a castle on an island but this wasn’t developed much in this book. I loved the gentle romantic interests of some of the characters. However, the mystery was too easy to solve plus the book was a slow slog. No one needs so much description of everyday tasks, like shelving books and pouring wine, when the time could be spent describing the setting or adding more potential suspects. There are also many loose ends left at the conclusion of the book. 3 stars.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Run Away
March 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Simon is trying to find his heroin-addicted daughter, Paige. When he finds her, she is high and busking for change in Central Park. When he tries to talk to her, she runs away. Her boyfriend Aaron steps in to prevent Simon from catching her leading Simon to punch him in the face. The story goes viral and Simon is arrested. Thus begins Run Away, the convoluted latest thriller by Harlan Coben.

There is a lot of plot in here. I don’t want to describe it because the surprising twists are the best part of this thriller. Take my word for it, if you like twisty thrillers, you will enjoy Run Away. I took away one star because I figured out the climatic twist chapters before it appeared. 4 stars!

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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A Beautiful Corpse
March 19th, 2019 by diane92345

The victim, a 24-year-old law student and part-time bartender, is A Beautiful Corpse in the second entry in the Harper McClain series.

Harper is a newspaper crime reporter working the night shift. She is covering a murder in the tourist area of Savannah when she thinks the victim looks familiar. Harper had just seen the victim, Naomi, a couple of hours earlier working in The Library Bar.

The police have three suspects:

  • Naomi’s boyfriend, who has a criminal record and no alibi
  • Her stalker, the District Attorney’s son, with a solid alibi
  • Naomi’s boss, who had a run in with another young female employee two years ago and has no alibi.

Harper is investigating for her newspaper but she also disagrees with the person the police suspect. As she investigates, she is also battling a stalker who may or may not want to help her with the case.

Even though this is the second book in this series, it can be read as a stand-alone. When you begin A Beautiful Corpse make sure you have enough time to finish it in one sitting.  I literally couldn’t put it down. I was reading it on my Kindle and I bought the audiobook so I could listen to it on my drive to and from work. That’s how addicting this book was. I loved the innovative point-of-view of an investigative reporter doing basically police procedures because the police don’t or won’t. Harper is a great character and I was extremely invested in her success both with the case, her job and her love life. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Perfect Alibi
March 16th, 2019 by diane92345

A college athlete is convicted of rape based on his DNA. However, he has the Perfect Alibi when a second victim is also linked to his DNA while he is in prison. With a new attorney, he is set for a new trial and let out on bail.

Robin Lockwood is the first victim’s civil lawyer. The victim is convinced that the rapist is stalking her. In a parallel case, Robin is defending a person accused of murder by pleading self-defense.

I always love a fast-paced, twisty legal thriller and the Perfect Alibi is no exception.  Be aware you have to pay attention to keep up with all the clues and plots within this intriguing book. If you like suspenseful legal thrillers, you will also enjoy this book. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Between the Lies
March 15th, 2019 by diane92345

A romantic suspense tale wrapped in a psychological thriller, Between the Lies takes the domestic thriller in a new direction.

Chloe awakens after being in a coma for over a month. She had a severe head injury after surviving a car accident. Amnesia prevents her from remembering the accident and everything before it.

After leaving the hospital, she moves in with her family. Her father, an award-winning psychiatrist, tries to help her recover her memories. However, all it does is give her nightmares about a young boy, a rainy night, and a car crash into trees. Her family is evasive when questioned about the boy. Chloe vows to discover what really happened that night.

The twists are frequent in Between the Lies. All are fairly foreshadowed allowing amateur detectives to solve the mystery before Chloe. This book is recommended for fans of Nora Roberts and Alice Feeney. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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