Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Alumni Association
February 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Alumni Association is a short novel that is more legal than thriller.

A closed military school is scheduled for demolition but the school’s alumni association is trying to register it as a protected historical building. However, the real reason for saving it is for the multiple uses of the tunnels hidden beneath the school. Beth, an attorney, is hired to represent the association.

There is a whole lot of plot in Alumni Association but it doesn’t hang together well.  The book seems choppy. Strangely, it seems both too long, with too many extraneous details, and too short to get to all the plot points in a more organic manner as some of the decisions didn’t seem believable. It also moves too slow to be a true thriller.  However, I did enjoy the lead character, Beth, so 3 stars.

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

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

A Time to Scatter Stones
February 13th, 2019 by diane92345

Matthew Scudder is back more than a decade since his last appearance in A Time to Scatter Stones.

The Scudder series began in the 1980s. Now decades later, Scudder has continued to age and is now well past retirement age. However, he is still tilting at windmills. In this novella, he is helping a former call girl escape an abusive client who can’t forget her former career.

Within A Time to Scatter Stones, Scudder’s advancing age is almost another character. There is an exploration of how former bad a$$es deal with the slowing down of their skills. Compared to earlier entries in the series, there is not much happening here.

I’m not sure I like the fact that Scudder’s aging reminds me of my own.  I read to escape realities like that. However, I admit it was also rather strange that Sue Grafton’s alphabet series left Kinsey and all her other characters stuck in the 1980s for almost 40 years. Obviously, I am never satisfied.

This novella is best for fans already familiar with the Scudder series. For those readers, 4 stars!

Thanks to Subterranean Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Rule of Law
February 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Dismas Hardy is back in the 18th series entry in Rule of Law.

Dismas’ longtime secretary, Phyllis, is acting strangely. Perhaps it has something Phyllis’ brother, Adam, who has just been released from prison. After disappearing for a few days, Phyllis returns to work only to be arrested as an accessory to murder. The victim is Hector, who is a known human trafficker and pimp. Concurrently, Wes has lost his bid for reelection to District Attorney. The new DA has a grudge against Dismas due to his vocal support of Wes.

There is a lot going on here. In addition to the two plots described above, there is the reforming of the original Dismas law firm plus the story ties up two previous novels’ loose ends. I wanted more about Phyllis and her legal issues. For a legal thriller, there are only minimal courtroom scenes. It reads more like a police procedural. This would be a four star read for readers that have read every book in the series. However, as a standalone, Rule of Law only rates 3 stars.

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

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Past Due for Murder
February 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Amy, the public library Director, and her friend, Sunny, are thrown into a missing person’s investigation in Past Due for Murder.

Lacey, a college student, is missing presumed lost in the woods outside of Taylorsford, Virginia. Does her mysterious trek into the mountains have anything to do with the fairy lights or the legendary hidden treasure? Mona, a local Professor and folklorist, is trying to determine the truth about the lights when she too disappears. Since the police suspect Amy’s boyfriend Richard, Amy steps in to clear his name.

Another great entry in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. Past Due for Murder can also be read as a standalone. The characters in this book are the stars. All have their own internal motivations and needs. Their actions make sense in the context of the plot. The mystery is just puzzling enough to keep the reader guessing until the end. This book is highly recommended for cozy readers. 4 stars!

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

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

Watcher in the Woods
February 11th, 2019 by diane92345

A small hidden Canadian town is thrown into turmoil by a Watcher in the Woods.

Rockton is a small village of 200 concealed in the Yukon wilderness. Originally a refuge for 1960s activists, it now hides people fearing for their life. Dalton was born in the Yukon and is now the town’s Sheriff. Casey is the only detective and also Dalton’s live-in girlfriend.

When a US Marshall comes to town looking for his man (or woman), the town is roiled by murder and suspicion. In a place where everyone has a secret past, how will Casey discover who the Marshall was chasing and why?

The innovative setting of a clandestine town is the best part of Watcher in the Woods. After reading this book, I discovered this is the fourth in the Rockton series. I will look for the others as I enjoyed the town’s brief backstory presented here. However, Casey and Dalton, along with most of the townspeople, don’t seem to be fully-fleshed out. The author frequently tells, rather than shows, the reader their motivations. This may be because this is the fourth book but it forces me to not recommend this book as a standalone. 3 stars.

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

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Stalker
February 9th, 2019 by diane92345

A Stalker is loose in Stockholm and Detective Joona Linna is hunting him before he can kill again.

A serial killer is sending YouTube links to the Swedish National Crime Unit showing peeping Tom video of women right before they are murdered. What connects the videos or woman? Who could the serial killer be? Detective Margot Silverman is put in charge of the case.  She recruits Detective Joona Linna who then recruits Maria Bark, a hypnotist, to assist. As the serial killer continues to kill, the killing method is linked to an old case that imprisoned a possibly innocent man.

There aren’t many clues to be found in this lengthy but enthralling thriller. However, it is fun just to follow the case work of the Swedish detectives. Even though this book clocks in at over 500 pages, it doesn’t seem that long as you are reading it. Stalker is highly recommended for readers looking for a dark intelligent Scandinavian noir. 4 stars!

Thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for a copy that I wished for in exchange for an honest review.

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Forget You Know Me
February 8th, 2019 by diane92345

After what appears to be an emergency occurs, why would a friend ask another to Forget You Know Me?

Liza and Molly are best friends since childhood. But when Liza moves to Chicago and Molly marries and has two children, they slowly drift apart. They finally get together through Facetime for a girl’s night. When Molly steps away to quiet her daughter, Liza sees a masked man come into Molly’s home. When she tries to warn Molly, the man abruptly closes Molly’s laptop. Liza calls the local police who find no hint of an intruder. But why is Molly acting so strangely?

Forget You Know Me is about the lies people tell themselves and each other. It is a slow simmer of a tale. While I enjoyed it, the book moved a bit too slow for me especially in the middle. However, if pacing isn’t a concern for you, the plot is well worth reading. 3 stars.

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

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Smiling Man
February 6th, 2019 by diane92345

The Smiling Man is a dark and compelling police procedural set during the night shift in a poor Manchester area.

Detective Aidan Waits has been stuck on the night shift by his superiors and partnered with Detective Inspector Sutty, who is not the most motivated of men. When a body is found in an abandoned hotel, with its teeth replaced, fingertips missing, and a smile on its face, only a patch helps determines who the victim is. Things just spiral further into disarray from there until the surprising conclusion.

Within the Smiling Man, the characters are so well written that they seem like real people. The gritty setting is perfect for a dark noir. There is graphic violence here but also dark humor to balance it out. Highly recommended to noir readers, this uses an innovative setting to tell a gripping tale. 4 stars!

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

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

Nowhere Child
February 1st, 2019 by diane92345

In the Nowhere Child, Sammy Went is two years old when she goes missing from her home in Manson, Kentucky.

Twenty-eight years later, Kimberly is living her life quietly in Australia. She is approached by James who says he believes she is his missing sister, Sammy. After seeing a DNA test confirming their relationship, Sammy returns to Manson to meet her mother, father and sister. However, everyone in Manson seems to be hiding something. And what is with the snake-handling church her mother now embraces?

After reading thousands of thrillers and mysteries, I’m usually good at guessing the conclusion. However, not in this case. The twists toward the end came fast and furious. If you want to read a compelling and suspenseful yarn, the Nowhere Child is highly recommended. 4 stars!

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

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

Great Thinking Machine
January 31st, 2019 by diane92345

Professor Van Dusen, also known as the Great Thinking Machine, unravels puzzles that would stump a lesser man.

The “Problem of Cell 13” is rather famous as an ingenious locked room mystery. The Professor is challenged by two colleagues to escape from a real prison cell within a week.

The other eleven stories in the Great Thinking Machine are rather a mixed bag. Perhaps more of interest to a historian or doctoral candidate than a modern mystery reader. However, the “Problem of Cell 13” is alone worth the price of the book to locked room mystery fans. 3 stars.

Thanks to Dover Publications and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Take-Out
January 30th, 2019 by diane92345

Loosely tied together by the theme of food, the sixteen stories contained in Take-Out vary from crime stories to humor.

While I enjoyed reading all the stories, my favorite was “The Gift of the Wiseguy”. It’s the story of a Mafioso’s son who writes a memoir. His father had ratted out his colleagues and entered witness protection twenty years earlier leaving his family behind. This story has crime, twists and pathos. The characters are well-defined with clear motivations. Due to its length, not a word is wasted. Many of the other stories are also great reads.

Take-out is highly recommended to thriller readers. 4 stars!

Thanks to Polis Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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

The Burglar
January 29th, 2019 by diane92345

The Burglar is Elle, a young woman who steals from society homes in Los Angeles by blending into their lifestyle.

All is well for Elle until she finds three dead bodies in a house she is robbing and then releases that a camera is recording not just them but her too. To avoid being the killer’s next victim, Elle is forced to figure out who the killer is while also staying on the run.

The first half of the book detailing Elle’s lifestyle and career was great. However, the end dragged for me. I never really connected with Elle. I loved the Butcher’s Boy and The Bombmaker by the same author.  I would recommend that you start with those books rather than The Burglar. 3 stars.

Thanks to Mysterious Press for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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

Eye of the Beholder
January 28th, 2019 by diane92345

A mysterious private investigator known only as the Eye falls for a woman he is hired to follow in the Eye of the Beholder.

Unfortunately, the woman is a serial killer. The Eye ignores this single flaw and even helps the woman by hiding a few bodies deeper so she won’t get caught.

Written in 1990 by an American living in France, this is a strange little book.  There is no character development or even motives. There also is no plot other than what I mentioned above. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Eye of the Beholder. 1 star.

Thanks to Dover Publications for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers

Tear It Down
January 24th, 2019 by diane92345

Tear It Down is a rip-roaring adventure into the underbelly of Memphis with Peter Ash’s haunted military veteran taking down drug dealers with the help of his friends and girlfriend, June.

Peter gets antsy when he stays at home too much so June sends him to her friend, Wanda, in Tennessee whose house has been vandalized. While there, he gets involved with drug gangs, bandits and hidden treasure.

I can’t believe I have never heard of this series before and this is book four. Even though I received a copy from Edelweis+, I couldn’t stop reading it to drive to work so I bought the audiobook! The audiobook narrator uses his skills with accents to great effect, which makes it easy to tell the characters apart (even in heavy traffic). It made my hour long commute fly by.

Tear It Down is fantastic with both a great plot and great characters. This series is highly recommended for Jack Reacher fans as Peter is even more of a loose cannon. 5 stars!

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

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

Perfect Liar
January 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

Everyone has secrets in the Perfect Liar.

Susannah has finally reached the good life with her second husband, Max, and her son, Freddy. Then a note is tacked to her door, “I know who you are”. Susannah assumes the note is meant for her. However, Max also has secrets to hide.

The Perfect Liar is a compelling read. However, I thought some of the plot was left dangling at the end. The two twists were fun. I would recommend this book to thriller readers looking to lose some sleep the night they start reading it. 3 stars.

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

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

Her One Mistake
January 20th, 2019 by diane92345

Her One Mistake was leaving her daughter with her best friend, Charlotte.

Harriet and Brian have one four-year-old daughter named Alice. As Harriet is a stay-at-home mom, Alice has never been away from Harriet’s side. However, Harriet’s family is struggling to make ends meet. Harriet decides to take a bookkeeping class one Saturday when her husband is fishing. She asks her best, and only, friend Charlotte to watch Alice for the day. Charlotte is planning to take her three kids to the church fair anyway so she is happy to oblige and take Alice too. However, an unthinkable thing happens at the fair and Alice disappears.

The action and twists don’t stop in Her One Mistake. It is an interesting blend of two types of thrillers but saying which two would spoil one of the excellent surprises in the book. 4 stars!

Thanks to Gallery Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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