Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Death in the Covenant
August 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Seamlessly blending the history of Mormonism with a present day police procedural, Death in the Covenant is a fascinating look inside a secret world.

Heber Bentsen is a beloved pillar of the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon) church. As a counselor to the church president, he is investigating a hidden church agenda. A loss of young men in the church has led to 1.5 young women for each young man. Could the perfect solution be reinstating polygamy?

When Heber is killed in an auto accident, foul play is not suspected. However, the autopsy reveals he was killed by a rock to the head and no rock was found at the scene. His longtime family friend, and former LDS member, Abbie Taylor, investigates the crime.

As someone who watches every special on plural wives, both modern and historical, I loved Death in the Covenant. I learned many details about the Latter Day Saints’ beliefs. But it was the mystery itself which will force me to read earlier episodes in this series. It is a twisty ride into an unfamiliar culture. Just when you think you have it figured out, pow, the plot shifts abruptly in another direction.

Overall, this is an excellent police procedural tackling a subject I’ve never seen in a mystery before. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong. I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars!

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

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August 16th, 2019 by diane92345

What a great hook for a thriller! A serial killer is one of the Thirteen people on a jury and a former con man is working for the defense team.

Luke is a killer. Today, he is killing a lookalike so he can become a juror on a high profile murder case. Famous movie star Bobby is accused of murdering his movie star wife and her security guard while they were together in bed mostly unclothed. Bobby is a great actor but he is also the only person seen entering the home on the security camera footage. He also appears to have waited three hours to call 911. How will former con man Eddie help powerhouse defense attorney Rudy Carp prove Bobby’s innocent? How does a one-dollar bill folded into a butterfly found in the security guard’s mouth fit in?

Talk about perfect timing. I read this while waiting to be selected for a jury on a murder trial. (I was kicked off by the defense on the second day of voir dire.) It did make me think more about my fellow jurors than I usually do.

The next best thing to being a juror in real life is reading this book. Thirteen makes you the fourteenth member of the jury and the fourth member of the defense team. The plot is engrossing and compels you to read late into the night.

I highly recommend this book for both thriller readers and mystery solvers. Even though the who is known from the beginning, the why is the intriguing mystery to solve here. 4.5 stars!

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

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

Trust Me When I Lie
August 16th, 2019 by diane92345

Trust Me When I Lie shines a harsh spotlight on true crime television series like Netflix’ Making of a Murderer while also containing a twisty mystery.

Jack Quick is the creator of a true crime television series in Australia. The series digs into the kidnapping and strangling death of Eliza. By the finale, it has proven to the public that Curtis, the man convicted of the crime four years earlier, deserves a new trial. When Curtis is subsequently found innocent and freed, Jack wonders whether he helped a guilty man.

While there is a mystery to solve, Trust Me When I Lie is mainly a screed against the media retrying criminal cases in the press. The book shows that the media often has differing goals from the law. Entertainment, and subsequently high ratings, are the reason why true crime tales selectively present the facts. My issue with that belief is that prosecutors and defense attorneys do the exact same thing. Because I didn’t buy the whole premise of this book, I didn’t enjoy it much. Even the twisty ending seemed forced. 3 stars.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Twisted at the Root
August 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Gideon is brutally murdered in his own home in Twisted at the Root.

The only person at home at the time is Gideon’s husband, Rashad. Rashad insists in his innocence but is found guilty at trial. When additional evidence is found four years later, Rashad is retried. He asks for his original attorney, Ray, to defend him again. After accepting, Ray hires his PI daughter, Jane, to find the real killer.

Twisted at the Root disappointed me. I didn’t find the characters engaging. The pacing seemed slow. It might be because this is the first I’ve read in this ongoing series. If so, I wouldn’t recommend this book as a good entry point. However, if you are already a series fan you will probably enjoy this one too. 3 stars.

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

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And Then They Were Doomed
August 15th, 2019 by diane92345

And Then They Were Doomed is a fun little pastiche of Agatha Christie tales.

Zoe has a recently deceased mother who was ostracized by her entire family after giving birth without a husband in sight. Zoe is also a little person and a writer of author biographies. Since she is currently working on a book about Agatha Christie, she is not surprised to be invited to speak at a webinar series about her. She is surprised when she arrives there to a remote lodge stranded by a storm in the remote Michigan woods. No one is who they claim to be. The two people running the conference are named after Christie characters. There is a statue featuring children on the dining room table that slowly loses children as people disappear. What is really happening here and how can Zoe escape with the bridge flooded and the telephones not working?

And Then They Were Doomed is a fun ride through Christie lore. Both book plots and the author’s real-life are called out in the plot. Zoe is a great character. I’m hoping to see more of her in subsequent tales. However, the unbelievable ending just ruined the book for me. Plus while frequently calling out Christie’s “overwriting” as a bad thing, this book is guilty of it too. Even with those flaws, the book is worth the read. 4 stars!

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

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Terns of Endearment
August 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Terns of Endearment brings the whole Meg Langslow crew aboard a cruise ship to Bermuda where both murder and secrets abound!

When called upon to be a wildlife lecturer, Meg’s grandfather Dr. Blake brings the whole family along on the questionably run Pastime cruise line. The ship’s crew is disorganized and unfriendly. The ship itself is falling apart. When Meg meets a group of authors, she learns they suspect another writer, Desiree, of plagiarism and causing a friend’s suicide. When Desiree disappears, presumed drowned, Meg and her family investigate. But there is more than one mystery aboard this cruise.

I can’t believe we are up to the 25th Meg Langslow mystery. Having read them all, I feel like part of the Langslow family now. My favorite character continues to be Meg’s curmudgeonly grandfather so it is nice to see him away from the house and spreading his large quantity of wildlife knowledge. While reading previous books in the series will increase your enjoyment, you can easily begin right here.

An enjoyable day or two joining the Langslow extended family on a cruise is a pleasant way to spend your time. It would be a perfect beach read. 4 stars!

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

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The Perfect Lie
August 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Former mean girl Claire appears to have it all. Married to her high school sweetheart. Two mostly perfect sons. Law partnership with her best friend Julia. But revenge is a dish best served cold when someone she wronged in high school with The Perfect Lie returns twenty years later to upset her perfect life.

Good psychological thriller about how one mistake can impact you and your loved ones a lifetime later. It is fun to see Claire try to upright the cascading dominos of her life in this revenge thriller. If you like thrillers pitting two strong leads against one another where it is not clear who to root for, you will enjoy The Perfect Lie. 4 stars!

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

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Third Mrs Durst
August 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Literally (get it, nudge, nudge) the best beginning paragraph for a thriller is in the Third Mrs. Durst.

“Some people just need killing. And maybe I’m one of them.”

But the problem with such a great hook on the first page is that it may give away too much of the plot. If you read the rest of paragraph, you really don’t need to read the thriller. The plot is right there out in the open. Now, it might have been okay if it was a reverse thriller like Memento or DOA, where the reader knows some of the answers upfront but not the why. However, this book wasn’t that clever.

Unfortunately, the characters were totally unlikeable too. Overall, the Third Mrs. Durst was not my cup of blood. The violence against women, the graphic rape scenes, the emotional abuse and even the wham bam thank you ma’am LGBT scene didn’t feel organic. They felt like staged scenes between Barbie dolls and one incredibly evil Ken. None of those things are triggers for me. At least they weren’t before this book. 2 stars.

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

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What You Did
August 9th, 2019 by diane92345

At an informal college reunion, Karen staggers in from the patio. She claims she was raped by Ali’s husband Mike, who denies it. Ali tries to determine the truth in What You Did.

Ali and her husband Mike, Karen and her son Jake, Jodi and her husband Callum, and Bill are celebrating the 25th anniversary of starting college at Ali and Mike’s house. Their children—Cassie and Benji—are in the house as well.

There are some sticking points for me about What You Did. First, hitting us over the head with the irony of Ali working for a battered women’s shelter seemed a bit obvious. Second, the lack of redeeming characteristics for all the characters. I felt no empathy for any of them. But mostly the obvious bad guy. If you have read any previous thrillers, you don’t need to read this one. 2 stars.

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Wolf Wants In
August 8th, 2019 by diane92345

We are alongside the narrators, Sadie who is investigating her brother’s death and Henley who just wants to escape the small rural Kansas town hit hard by the opioid crisis, in the Wolf Wants In.

Shane, Sadie’s brother, dies from a heart attack under mysterious circumstances. No autopsy is done possibly because Shane’s wife Crystle can barely afford to keep her body and soul together. The local police are preoccupied with a child’s skull found nearby.

Henley has no dad and an occasionally drugged-out mom. She is also dating the town’s rich boy, Jason Sullivan, as well as being Crystle’s cousin. She knows what her life holds if she stays in Blackwater so she plans to leave.

The Wolf Wants In is a great character study of a town victimized by opioids, the residents’ own bad behavior, and the two women mired in it. It is a slow quiet burn of a read—not really a thriller. However, I still liked it until the too quickly tied-in-a-bow conclusion. However, if you like literary fiction, you will enjoy the complexity of the characters and the excellent prose of this tale. 4 stars!

Thanks to Spiegel & Grau and NetGalley for a wished for copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

City of Windows
August 7th, 2019 by diane92345

Watch out Lincoln Rhyme and Amos Decker, there is a new crime-fighter in town! In a City of Windows, how do you determine where a sniper shot from? Ask Lucas Page, a damaged but extraordinarily gifted crime solver in New York City.

When university professor Lucas Page is called on to assist his old employer, the FBI, with finding a sniper, he hesitates to comply. His career there was over years ago when he lost a leg, an arm, and an eye in the line of duty. However, when they say that the victim was his former partner, Lucas agrees. He uses his genius-level math skills to hunt down the sniper. Unfortunately, before he can find him, the killer strikes again. When the sniper threatens his family, Lucas must act quick and decisively to save them from death.

I just loved this (hold on why I pick up my Thesaurus) praiseworthy, spine-tingling thriller. It is everything you want (and need) in a thriller. Compelling plot, surprising twists, well thought-out characters, and an excellent ending are all here. Seriously, you can’t go wrong selecting this book. It’s great! 5 stars!

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

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

Lost You
August 7th, 2019 by diane92345

Lost You is a thriller about the dangers of using surrogacy as a way to have a child.

Libby can’t have a child. Her husband, Mason, is fine with adopting. However, after four years on a waiting list, the couple start looking for a surrogate. Using an expensive surrogacy matching service, a surrogate named Anna is found. Anna is a young waitress desperate for a new start in life. The $75,000 for having Mason’s baby plus living expenses seems like a chance of a lifetime. Then, all three of their lives spiral downward.

The beginning of Lost You is fast-paced. It opens a door into the shady world of paid surrogacy. Unfortunately, the book then slows down the pace to a crawl. It feels like it takes nine months in real time to get to the birth. Once there, it picks up again. But it was a case of too little, too late for me. By that point, I disliked all the characters and figured they deserved whatever horrible end the author had in store for them.

If you have an interest in either side of surrogacy, then you might like this book. It just wasn’t for me. 3 stars.

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

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Perfect Wife
August 5th, 2019 by diane92345

Abbie is beautiful, creative, and smart. But is she the Perfect Wife?

Tim is the intelligent and driven founder of a tech firm designing robots that include state-of-the-art artificial intelligence. First, the robots are used for phone call centers. The next step is shopbots to replace salespeople in high-end clothing stores. Tim is also socially awkward. It surprises his staff when he starts romancing the free-spirited artist-in-residence Abbie. Could Abbie fit into his work-obsessed life?

Wow, just wow. The Perfect Wife is the perfect merging of science fiction, science fact, and thriller. The best thing is not to learn anything about the plot before reading this excellent thriller. However, I can guarantee you will enjoy it so much it will be as difficult to stop reading as it is to stop breathing. Don’t start reading it a half-hour before work begins unless you plan to call in sick. It is that good!

Again, I can’t recommend this tale highly enough. I also enjoyed the expert use of tenses to delineate timeline and foreshadow the extremely clever ending. 5 stars!

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

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

August 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Eve is a freelance professional forensic sculptor. Jill, an investigative journalist, asks her to provide closure for parents of an attack on an African schoolhouse that killed 27 children. Though Eve suggests others and feels slightly manipulated, she agrees to go to the Congo. After she arrives, Eve discovers that the job is just a Smokescreen for Jill’s real motive in inviting her to the work site.

This is the 25th Eve Duncan mystery series that began in 1998 with The Face of Deception. I read the first book but I haven’t read any others in the series until this one. I didn’t have any problem catching up with Eve’s life so this novel can be read as a standalone. Smokescreen has a thrilling plot with lots of heart-breaking details about the mercenary tribes treatment of women and children in Africa. Some of those details are graphic and there is a rape scene. If those are triggers for you, you should avoid this book. Otherwise, it is an interesting look into another world that hopefully none of us will have to face in real life. 4 stars!

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

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The Russian
August 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

If you like James Bond, you will love The Russian.

Rob Tacoma, ex-SEAL and former CIA operative, is called back to the CIA for a highly confidential and dangerous mission. The Russian mafia has killed Florida Governor Blake and New York senior Senator O’Flaherty within two minutes of each other. President Dellenbaugh is angry. He convenes a Senate panel that allows him to use the CIA on US soil and give the operative, Rob, a full pardon in advance. Basically, it’s a license to kill.

If you like action and don’t mind some graphic gore, you will love The Russian. The descriptions of the weapons, cars and planes are very detailed making you feel part of the action. However, the characters were not well developed. While Rob had some of his motivations explained, most of the other characters did not. They were only briefly described physically as a beautiful brown haired woman with great legs or an ugly and buff Ukrainian man. Great action with minimal characterizations equals 3 stars from me.

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

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An Unsettled Grave
August 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Monica was stopped by a policeman on a lonely country road late one night. Then she was raped by the policeman. Carrie, the sole female county detective, is dispatched to handle the case. When she ruffles the local police force by asking for “voluntary” DNA swabs, Carrie is reassigned to a new case by her politically motivated Chief in An Unsettled Grave.

Old bones of a child are dug up by a hunting dog in the rural Liston-Patterson, Pennsylvania. Hope was twelve years old in 1981 when she went missing. As the only child that age unaccounted for in the small town, the bones are likely hers. When Carrie finds evidence of the crime overlooked at the time in old case files, she decides to solve the crime. The town’s police chief just wants to provide closure for the parents—not reopen old wounds. Carrie also learns of the deaths of both of the town’s police chiefs within a day of Hope’s disappearance. Is it a coincidence? Carrie thinks not and so also investigates those deaths, labeled at the time as a suicide and a shooting by a motorcycle gang.

An Unsettled Grave is unsettling but it is also an exceptional police procedural. It flashes back to 1981 to show the reader what happened while alternating with how Carrie is using evidence to prove it today almost forty years later. You can tell it was written by a former police officer. Carrie is frustrated by politics and apathy making her job more difficult.

The story has larger themes too. Post-Traumatic Stress from the Vietnam War is almost another character in the novel. It impacts two major characters from 1981 resulting in divergent methods to handle it back in the “real world”. Bullying is described in both the present and 1981.

While the story ties into the previous book in the series, this book can easily be read as a standalone. If you love police procedurals, you must read An Unsettled Grave. It is not only my favorite police procedural this year but of all time! It is a gritty and authentic take on police work and a great mystery to boot. 5 stars!

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

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