Category: Mystery & Thrillers

And Then You Were Gone
March 15th, 2019 by diane92345

And Then You Were Gone is an innovative psychological thriller that includes an inside look at mental illness.

Emily is a child psychologist. Paolo is an epidemiologist. They decide to take a weekend vacation on a rental boat. Paolo is an experienced boat captain and swimmer. Emily cannot swim. She takes anti-anxiety medicine for her fear of water. She is also bipolar.

Emily and Paolo anchor the boat in a remote part of the lake and drink a couple bottles of wine. The next morning Emily is hungover and Paolo is nowhere to be found. Soon, Emily is the number one suspect.

I love the flawed character of Emily. Her anxiety and bipolar diagnosis are innovative and elevate the plot. Her drunken blackout the night of the disappearance makes her an unreliable narrator.

And Then You Were Gone is highly recommended for fans of psychological thrillers looking for something different. It is a twisty ride! 4 stars.

15Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Death by Dog Show
March 14th, 2019 by diane92345

Death by Dog Show is a cozy mystery set in a dog show that, unfortunately, disappointed this reader.

Perri Morgan sells leather pet products and attends the Big E Dog Show with her friend Babette, who has a dog in the show, to further her business. The first night, Perri and her journalist boyfriend, Pruett, find a body.  Despite the local police telling her not to investigate, Perri can’t resist.

I found some serious issues with this book:

  • I love dog shows on television and have watched many over the years. Therefore, I know that Best in Show is the last event. The prior events are based on dog group (i.e.; sporting group) and then the winners of the groups go on to the Best in Show event.
  • The names of the characters are silly. Wing, Roar and Alf being the worst examples. These are people’s names—not dogs.
  • The character of Perri is not likeable at all. She is both arrogant and insecure plus she appears to be incredibly horny all the time despite having a boyfriend for the past year. Note that Death by Dog Show has more sexual content than most cozies so if you are not into that, I would recommend giving this a pass.
  • The worst part was that the murderer was obvious from the beginning but we still had to continue reading to confirm what we already knew. There are no surprise twists here.

I believe this is this author’s debut book but I wouldn’t read anything else by her. Overall, I would give Death by Dog Show 2 stars.

Thanks to Lyrical Underground and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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All the Wrong Places
March 14th, 2019 by diane92345

Four women look for love in All the Wrong Places and one ends up trapped by a serial killer.

Paige is having a bad few months. First, she loses her high-profile advertising job. Then she catches her cousin Heather, who has always copied her life choices, in bed with her boyfriend. To save money, Paige moves in with her seventy-year-old widowed mother, Joan. Paige’s best friend, Chloe, gets an anonymous tip and discovers her husband has recently set up profiles on several online dating sites.

All four woman decide to join Match Sticks to find new men. One is shown trapped by a serial killer in his apartment as the book opens. But which one?

All the Wrong Places balances a serial killer thriller plot with an excellent chick lit tale. It even has a bit of comic relief with hapless Heather. The mixture somehow works well making this a 4 star read!

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

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

String City
March 13th, 2019 by diane92345

String City is where the universe’s different strings come together. Oh, mythological creatures like Zeus, monsters like cyclops and golems, and all manner of strangeness live there too. A world full of infinite possibilities makes some strange bedfellows.

An unnamed private investigator is asked by the Titans to look into an explosion in their casino. He is a stringwalker, one who can move directly along the strings. However, the strings seem unsettled. Could it be the end times?

I wanted to love this as much as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, the explanation of string theory and how the world worked seemed overlong and overly complicated. However, if you are okay with extensive world building, you will like String City. The plot and character interactions are clever. 4 stars!

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

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

Something Read Something Dead
March 13th, 2019 by diane92345

Lighthouse? Check. Library? Check. Library cat? Check. Wedding? Check. Amateur sleuth? Check. Murder? Of course, check. There is a little bit of everything cozy in Something Read, Something Dead.

Lucy is the assistant librarian at the Lighthouse Library in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She is helping her cousin Josie plan her nuptials with the two other bridesmaids, Stephanie and Grace. While they may not agree on the wedding colors, they do agree on this mantra: “small, simple, and perfect in every way.”

The mantra only lasts until Josie’s cousin, Mirabelle, and her grandmother, Gloria, appear. As Josie is her only granddaughter, Gloria insists on a more formal, and expensive, celebration. During the bridal shower at the library, Mirabelle sickens. After an ambulance ride to the hospital, she dies. Believing Mirabelle was poisoned, the police investigate. As Josie is the number one suspect, Lucy vows to clear her cousin’s name.

Some cozy series just feel like you’re catching up with old friends. The Lighthouse Mystery series gives that feeling to me. Do I care I guessed the murderer early in the book? No, because that’s not the main reason I read this series. Lucy, Steph, Josie and Aunt Ellen are genuine characters that I like to visit. I was disappointed that there were no gluten-free recipes included but after reading the book, it is easy to understand why. Overall, Something Read, Something Dead is an excellent way to pass an afternoon. 4 stars!

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

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A Dangerous Collaboration
March 12th, 2019 by diane92345

A Dangerous Collaboration between Veronica and Stoker’s brother, the Viscount, result in a much more gothic entry in the series.

Veronica Speedwell is not your typical Victorian woman. She doesn’t believe in marriage but does believe in male companionship. Veronica has a career as a lepidopterist, or butterfly researcher. She has a flirtatious relationship with her work partner, Stoker.

In Victorian London, Veronica Speedwell is leaving her partner, Stoker, behind to search for exotic butterflies on Madeira, a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean. Lady Cordelia agreed to travel with Veronica as a vacation of sorts.

When they return, Stoker’s brother has a task for Veronica to complete. The Viscount Tiberius asks Veronica to go with him and retrieve a rare butterfly’s larvae on St. Maddern’s Isle. On the way to the island, the Viscount states that their host on the island, Malcolm, is religious and they must pose as an engaged couple.

Once they arrive, Malcolm’s true motive becomes apparent. He wants them to solve the mystery of his bride’s disappearance three years earlier. To do so, they call on Stoker for help.

I adore this series. In, I missed the usual banter between Veronica and Stoker. I wasn’t feeling the Viscount’s flirtation. What happened to the bro code? I did enjoy the atmosphere on the island especially the gothic castle and its poison garden. All fans of the series must read A Dangerous Collaboration as it advances the overarching story plus it is great fun. 5 stars!

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

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House on Fire
March 12th, 2019 by diane92345

In House on Fire, Leigh and Pete are returning home early from their fifth wedding anniversary trip when they get a call from Leigh’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Chrissy. She is calling from the police station, where her stepbrother, Pete’s eighteen-year-old son Kip, is in custody.

Kip was planning on spending the weekend with friends beginning with a party celebrating Kip’s acceptance into Duke University. After drinking and smoking a bit, Kip is surprised by Chrissy’s appearance at the gathering. She bicycled there after learning that their parents are returning home early in just a few minutes. Kip hadn’t pre-approved his weekend plans or borrowing his dad’s truck to get to the party so he desperately needed to get home before his parents.

Kip puts her bicycle in Kip’s dad’s truck and they drive home together. During the drive, they swerve off the road into a ditch and a tree while trying to avoid hitting a dog.

When the police arrive, they arrest Kip for driving under the influence. When Chrissy later dies, the charge of manslaughter is added. Kip changes his story and states that Chrissy was driving the night of the accident.

House on Fire was fantastic until the wave of amazing coincidences at the conclusion. Describing them would be a major spoiler. However, I can’t rate this book higher than 3 stars.

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

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Beautiful Bad
March 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Beautiful Bad tells the story of Maddie and Ian’s relationship that ended in murder.

The story starts with a bang: a female calls 911, a child screams in the background and the call is abruptly cut off.  When police arrive, they find a large bloodstain on the open concept kitchen’s floor. From that scene, we are shown the story of Maddie and Ian’s relationship from the beginning through the day of the killing and forward.

Within Beautiful Bad, the day of the killing sections were fantastic. Unfortunately, you had to slog through a lot of details to get to them. While the end is twisty, it probably won’t be much of a surprise to experienced thriller readers. 3 stars.

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

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Drawn and Buttered
March 8th, 2019 by diane92345

The third Lobster Shack mystery, Drawn and Buttered, is another great cozy mystery. It’s Halloween in Mystic Bay Connecticut. A giant Lobzilla goes missing! Houses are broken into but nothing is taken! A witch is afoot! Someone is murdered (of course)!

Allie is out of her ankle cast but cannot yet resume her ballerina life. She continues to help her Aunt Gully at her business, the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, and solve murders in her spare time. This murder is no exception.

Though published in February, Drawn and Buttered is sure to get you in the mood for Halloween.  The setting, plots and sub-plots all revolve around a Halloween theme. The plot moves swiftly and the characters seem like family now. Plus who doesn’t enjoy picturing a three-foot long lobster in their heads! This book is highly recommended for all cozy fans. However, if you plan on reading the entire series, you should read them in order to avoid spoilers to earlier books. 4 stars!

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

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Devil Aspect
March 6th, 2019 by diane92345

With insane killers imprisoned in a castle fortress rumored to house the Devil himself and a brutal serial killer terrorizing nearby Prague, the Devil Aspect has plenty of plot and a whole lot of creepy, gothic atmosphere.

It is 1935 in a rural village outside Prague. A new psychotherapist arrives at a mysterious castle, an insane asylum that houses the six most dangerous killers in Czechoslovakia. The therapist, Victor, has a theory that all evil comes from the Devil Aspect in each of us. Once under control, the desire to kill will be conquered. However, when talking to the inmates each states that someone who looked like the Devil did their crimes. Victor believes that their subconscious is attempting to deal with their guilt by disassociating themselves from their crimes.

In a parallel story set in Prague, a serial killer is menacing the populace. Kapitan Lukas thinks he has found the killer through forensic evidence but his suspect insists that another person, who looks just like the Devil, committed the murders.

The book has several sub-plots. Nazis are beginning to make themselves felt in newly formed Czechoslovakia. Victor’s love interest, Judita, a Jew who is deeply worried about the mood in her adopted country. The villagers are convinced that the castle covers a warren of tunnels that lead to the gates of Hell.

There is a lot going on in the Devil Aspect. Despite that, it is a compelling and quick moving read. It is highly recommended to horror fans looking for a more psychological slant. 4 stars!

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

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Silent Patient
March 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Silent Patient is a spellbinding whipsaw of a thrill ride where you won’t see the end coming!

Alicia kills her husband who she appeared to be head-over-heels in love with. She is arrested, tried, found guilty and taken to a mental health facility. Throughout the ordeal, Alicia refuses to discuss her motive or to talk at all for six years.

Her therapist, Theo, tries to break through Alicia’s silence. His story is told within the Silent Patient. Alicia’s diary entries are also provided. I enjoyed Alicia’s viewpoint the best. However, the shocking ending is the best part of this tale. This psychological thriller is highly recommended for domestic thriller fans. 5 stars!

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

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

Chocolate Cream Pie Murder
March 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

How many books in this series am I going to read hoping they return to the interesting plots and non-stilted dialogue of the first few? It appears at least one more called the Chocolate Cream Pie Murder.

Hannah is once again being harassed by the annoying Ross. Usually I would describe the murder that Hannah must solve around now. However, this time it occurs so late in the book that it would be a major spoiler.

Without a murder, nothing much happens in the first 2/3 of the book. There is a chapter on the weather, cats chasing each other, and of course cooking dinner. There are more recipes here than usual too—and not just desserts.

I found the Chocolate Cream Pie Murder to be pedestrian and worse, boring, compared to other books in the series. I can’t recommend it except to hardcore fans, which is a shame. 2 stars.

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

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Judgment
March 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

Married Superior Court Judge Juliana fails to use good Judgment and has an one-night stand at an out-of-town conference.

Juliana decides to never repeat her mistake and returns to her courtroom. Unfortunately, she then sees the man sit down as a member of the defense counsel. The man blackmails her to rule in favor of the defense. He threatens to tell her family of their tryst if she doesn’t throw the case. The case, regarding a hostile workplace environment, is high profile so Juliana uses her connections to fight back.

The feeling of dread and the fast pacing really works in Judgment. However, some of the plot strains belief. Russian mobsters, really? Juliana begins as a lower level judge who obviously doesn’t think through some of her actions. She ends up as someone who really should be in a superhero movie.

I have never read this author’s work before and I can’t see myself reading it again. It is as if he took all the trendy tropes (Russian mafia, #metoo movement, advanced military technology, non-subtle digs at President Trump) and developed a plot around them with a strong female heroine (also trendy) without thinking whether any of it could realistically happen. Judgment didn’t work for me so I’m giving it 2 stars.

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

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After She's Gone
March 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

After She’s Gone was named Best Swedish Crime Novel for good reason—realistic characterizations, a compelling mystery, and a haunting setting.

Swedish Police Detective Malin is called back to her rural hometown to investigate the murder of a five-year-old girl. Ironically, Malin found the girl’s skeleton eight years earlier when only a teenager.

Malin is part of a five-person homicide team. Two of its members disappear. When one, Hanne, crawls out of the freezing forest without coat or shoes, she can remember nothing of what happened. She was last seen with her boyfriend Peter, who is also on the team. However, Peter is still missing. Only cross-dressing teen, Jake, has seen Hanne emerge from the forest. He also picked up a book she dropped on the road. But he is afraid his secret will come out if he goes to the police.

After She’s Gone alternates between Malin and Jake’s viewpoints. Hanne’s diary also sheds a light on her thoughts before her disappearance. I enjoyed the many twists and turns. The reveal at the end totally blindsided me. The book is highly recommended to dark thriller fans. 4 stars!

My only question is, “How are Scandinavian countries consistently rated happiest when their environment, and their fiction, is so cold and dark?”

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

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Death at the Wychbourne Follies
March 1st, 2019 by diane92345

A historical mystery set in 1926, but written in 2018, describes a Death at the Wychbourne Follies.

Lady Gertrude Ansley was an actress before landing her Marquess husband and retiring. Wishing to relive her youthful adventures she invites her fellow actors to her country house, Wychbourne Court. She hopes to put on the Wychbourne Follies at the local pub with her former friends.

Things turn uncomfortable when the topic turns to Mary Ann Darling whose disappearance allowed Gertrude her star turn in the play, The Flower Shop Girl. After hinting at having incriminating evidence about Mary Ann’s disappearance, one guest is found bludgeoned to death.

Death at the Wychbourne Follies is a fine Agatha Christie’sque mystery that includes the usual rounding up of all the suspects by the Inspector at the denouement. Chef Nell is an unusual amateur assistant to Chief Inspector Melbray. Nell acts as a younger Miss Marple with her observant eye and knowledge of human nature.

If you like golden age mysteries, you will enjoy this book. The mystery is challenging because everyone seems to have secrets they are protecting. Even though this is the second in the Chef Nell series, I had no problems reading it as a standalone. 4 stars!

Thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Wedding Guest
March 1st, 2019 by diane92345

In the Wedding Guest, Alex Delaware and Milo are back in the 34th police procedural in their series.

A scantily clad woman is found garroted and posed on a toilet during a wedding reception. The venue is a seedy former strip club, which fits in with the reception’s theme of Saints and Sinners.

LAPD Lieutenant Milo calls his friend and LAPD consulting psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware to assist with interviewing the wedding party, guests and staff. The victim has no id and none of the wedding party or event staff recognize her. The bride seems more upset about ruining her special day that assisting the detectives. Assorted other weird family members from both sides of the wedding aisle are introduced. Could any of them have killed the victim? Or was she a former employee of the defunct strip club? Milo and Alex investigate.

As always, it is always pleasant to spend a few hours with Alex and Milo, along with their family and friends. My sole complaint was I missed the usual stories of Alex’s clinical patients. While not one of the best in the series, the Wedding Guest is still an enjoyable mystery well worth the reader’s time. 3 stars.

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

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