Category: Mystery & Thrillers

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.

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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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Summoned to Thirteenth Grave
January 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Charley Davidson, the Grim Reaper, and her husband, Reyes, former demon and son of Satan, have one more hellish situation to fix in Summoned to Thirteenth Grave.

Charley is finally released from her purgatory from the last book. While she was gone, a new hell dimension has opened in Albuquerque. A flu from within is turning people homocidal and eventually suicidal. And the hell dimension is getting larger. To say more will spoil the surprises.

I hate when book series end. However, this is a great conclusion to a great series. The “army” is all here: Uncle Bob, Cookie, Quentin, Donovan, Osh plus plenty more. The story is an action-packed corker of a finale.

If you have read this series before, even just one book, you have to read Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. I’m sure there will be a spin-off so we may see Charley and Reyes again. 5 stars!

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

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Nw Iberia Blues
January 18th, 2019 by diane92345

New Iberia Blues is another great southern police procedural from James Lee Burke.

The crucifixion death of a woman leads Detective Dave Robicheaux to a Hollywood director in town to make a movie. What follows is a slam-bam thriller.

While New Iberia Blues is not the best book in the series, the author is such a skilled writer that it is still better than many books out there. This is book 22 but surprisingly can be read as a standalone though I recommend reading a least a couple of the older books to get some background on Dave. This book rates 4 stars!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Rock Stars at Home
January 17th, 2019 by diane92345

With brief descriptions of their lifestyles, Rock Stars at Home offers an inside look at lives that can only be dreamed of by regular folks.

Starting with Frank Sinatra’s famous Palm Springs home all the way to Noel Gallagher from Oasis, this book has a chapter for fans of all ages. It also goes outside the rock genre with Ike & Tina Turner, Johnny Cash and Michael Jackson. Some of the stories are familiar like Neverland Ranch—others not like Blondie’s start in the 1970s Bowery slum. There are separate features on the rock lifestyle like chartered jets and rock hotels.

Overall, Rock Stars at Home is a good choice for rock (especially in the 70s and 80s) fans. I would have enjoyed more pictures. 3 stars.

Thanks to Apollo Publishers and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Belting Inheritance
January 15th, 2019 by diane92345

The author won the Edgar Award for best crime novel four years before the Belting Inheritance was published in 1965.

An orphan is brought to stay at Belting at twelve. There is the formidable Lady Wainwright, and her two adult sons, Stephen and Miles along with Stephen’s wife, Clarissa. Lady Wainwright is haunted by the wartime deaths of her two older (and favorite) sons, Hugh and David.

Flash forward six years to the orphan returning home from school before his scholarship in the fall. There is a man claiming to be David returned from a Russian gulag. As Lady Wainwright is contemplates changing her will, both Miles and Stephen try to prove the interloper a fraud to preserve their inheritance.

I enjoyed the many twists and turns of the plot in this slow moving tale. However, there is absolutely no way to guess the denouement because crucial information is kept from the reader until the slam bang ending.

While not for armchair detectives, the Belting Inheritance is a good post-Golden age British mystery. 3 stars.

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Murder Likes it Hot
January 14th, 2019 by diane92345

Pleasurable cozy read set in the world of yoga, infertility, and homeless teens. Murder Likes It Hot is a good choice for a late night book reading session.

Kate owns her own business, Serenity Yoga. She and her newlywed husband Michael, who owns a pet store, are having infertility issues. They need money for ivf so Kate takes a part-time job at the teen center teaching yoga once a week to troubled, mostly homeless, teens. While there, she meets Rainbow, a young runaway, who comes to Kate’s house for help. Kate only allows her to stay if she gives her the gun that her stepfather alleged she stole from him. When she hears Michael insist on calling the police, she flees taking her gun. The next day, Kate looks for Rainbow at the teen center but instead finds the police investigating a staff member’s death from a gunshot wound in the chest. When a gun looking suspiciously like Rainbow’s is found behind the center’s dumpster, the police suspect Rainbow for the murder. Kate feels obligated to clear Rainbow’s name by solving the crime.

Murder Likes It Hot is an enjoyable evening cozy read. The characters all have clear motivations. Most seem like they would be good friends in real life. This is the sixth book in the Downward Dog Mystery series. However, this entry can be read as a stand-alone. I reviewed the previous book, Pre-meditated Murder, and rated it 3.5 stars. I liked it slightly better than this entry as this one doesn’t have the humor of the previous entry. Still it is recommended and rated 3 stars.

Thanks to Midnight Ink for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Coming Storm
January 10th, 2019 by diane92345

In the near future, the Coming Storm is not just the latest superstorm to hit the East Coast but also a reaction to the federal government’s over-the-top response to immigrants.

In 2023, the United States is fighting a war at home. Poor, mostly immigrant neighborhoods in New York City have been made into cages enforced with barbed wire fences and armed sentry towers run by the federal paramilitary group, FSU.

In the meantime, larger and larger storms have hit the city flooding it up to second stories and crushing iconic areas like the Coney Island boardwalk.

Concurrently, the government is running a secret project called Palindrome to modify soldiers’ DNA to make them supersoldiers. Using CRISPR, a real method discovered last year that can do exactly what is described in this book.

Jenna was a scientist on the project until she refused to use her technology to experiment on humans. The FSU knows there are traitors within the project and arrest all the scientists that worked on it for questioning. When Jenna escapes, the chase is on to find her.

The Coming Storm is non-stop action. There is very little down time for talking about plot. The plot itself is definitely “ripped from the headlines” containing an expansion of our current immigrant paranoia, global warming, and DNA manipulation using real science. However, I found the action rather exhausting. Pro-Trump readers will not like the obvious negative references to his wall policies that are constantly being beaten into the reader’s head. This plot would make a great action movie like First Blood, Transformers and even Alien vs Predator. If you like those type of movies, you will adore this book. From me, however, it gets 3 stars.

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

 

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Anonymous Girl
January 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Jessica is an Anonymous Girl in a New York City. She works hard as a freelance makeup artist, while waiting for her big break into Broadway plays. She has had a bad experience with her last off-off-Broadway theater makeup position but hopes to move past it soon.

Working as a freelance makeup artist doesn’t pay much over what the clients tip her as her agency takes most of the fee. Jessica is perennially broke. When Jessica hears a client talking about a psychological experiment that pays $500 for a two-hour session, she sneaks into the session using her client’s name. How hard could a series of questions on ethics be? However, the questions seem to get very specific and very personal quickly. As Jessica opens up more and more, the therapist behind the survey, Dr. Shields, offers Jessica additional money to participate in studies in the real world. Her first is to seduce a married man in a hotel bar. As Jessica is increasing sucked into Dr. Shields’ web, she struggles to free herself.

The first two thirds of an Anonymous Girl had me reading at a breakneck speed just to see what would happen to poor Jessica. Then the plot made a few turns that just didn’t seem believable. Plus there were absolutely no redeeming characteristics in some of the characters. Toward the end, I even stopped sympathizing for Jessica. This book is great until it isn’t. However, I still give it 3 stars. I just wish the ending was better.

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

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Au Pair
January 10th, 2019 by diane92345

In Au Pair, twins Seraphine and Danny are born and the same day their mother throws herself off a cliff saying they took my baby. The twins have an older sibling, Danny, who was also a twin. His brother, Theo, fell off the cliff two years earlier.

Year later, their father is killed in a tragic accident. While going through his papers, Seraphine finds a photograph dated with her birthdate of both their parents, Edwin, but only one of the twins. When she asks Edwin if he remembers which twin is pictured, he doesn’t know but that his au pair, Laura, took the picture.

Seraphine decides to find Laura. However, when she eventually finds her, she won’t talk.

The Au Pair is a suspenseful thriller with a laid back southern gothic vibe. The reader is compelled to keep reading to find out what really happened on the day of Seraphine and Danny’s birth.

The style of alternating chapters of Seraphine’s current search for answers and Laura’s experiences in the month leading up to the births is a great way to ratchet up the tension. The conclusion is excellent too. Overall, the Au Pair is recommended for all thriller and romantic suspense fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to Berkley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Invisible
January 9th, 2019 by diane92345

First, there was Superman to help mankind. Then, Batman arrived to fight crime. Now, it’s The Janitor because everyone knows they’re Invisible but have access to everything. The Janitor, playing soon at your local multiplex starring Ben Affleck.

Paul decides not to reenlist as an Army Special Forces Military Intelligence Officer (aka spy) because he wants to return home to reconcile with his father. However, when he arrives his father is dead.

The police arrested his father’s business partner for fraud and manslaughter. However, crucial physical evidence is lost in the courthouse forcing a mistrial. The partner vanishes two days later. The detective on the case not so subtly tells Paul that if the evidence is found, the case will be retried.

Paul uses his spy craft to acquire a job as a janitor in the courthouse so he can find the evidence files. While working there, he hears various tales of woe and becomes a vigilante. He calls himself, The Janitor.

Okay, it sounds pretty campy. You can almost see the big red Pow! and Zonk! in your mind as you are reading Invisible. It begins completely differently with Paul’s last job for the Army. I would have preferred more of that story. However, the janitor story was entertaining. It seemed very cinematic. You do root for Paul though his side trips to fix everyone’s problem before resolving his own are distracting.

The author, Andrew Grant, is the younger brother of Lee Child. He has written two series, both are trilogies, so I expect to see a couple more books in The Janitor series too.

If you like superhero movies and thrillers, this novel will be perfect for you. If you like thrillers, Invisible is recommended as a breakneck read with a likeable lead. 4 stars!

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

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She Lies in Wait
January 9th, 2019 by diane92345

A young girl’s body is found 30 years after her disappearance in She Lies in Wait.

Benners, Connor, Brett, JoJo, Coralie, Topaz and her younger sister Aurora go camping. One evening of drinking, drugs and sex later, Aurora is missing. Despite an intense searching effort, she remains an open cold case.

When Aurora’s body is found 30 years later buried on the very campsite where she disappeared, the police reopen the case. The friends all maintain that they saw nothing unusual the night Aurora disappeared but could they be covering for one another?

It is hard to imagine She Lies in Wait was written by a debut author. The rollercoaster plot had me guessing everyone but the victim was either the murderer or complicit in the crime. The police managing the case were equally clueless. Watching the police group wade through piles of data seemed much more realistic than in most police procedurals.

She Lies in Wait is an excellent British police procedural. It recommended to anyone who enjoys playing armchair detective. 4 stars!

Thanks to Random House for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Footsteps in the Dark
January 7th, 2019 by diane92345

Priest holes, mysterious ghosts, secret passages and skeletons figure prominently in Footsteps in the Dark.

Siblings Peter, Celia and Margaret inherit the Priory, a large ancient country estate, from their Uncle. They, along with Celia’s husband Charles, decide to move in.

Footsteps in the Dark was originally published in 1932. It was the first thriller by an author who was most famous for her historical romances. I think that was my issue with the book. It was a fun read. However, it seemed as if the author was trying to use every overused thriller cliché. The local police are incompetent bumblers. The recently inherited country estate is haunted. Some of the “surprises” during the conclusion were obvious from almost the beginning of the book.

Overall, Footsteps in the Dark is more a curiosity than a good thriller. It is only recommended for fans of British Golden Age mysteries who are trying to read everything still in print from that era. All others should steer clear. 2 stars.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Guy Who Died Twice
January 7th, 2019 by diane92345

A man walks into a police station insisting he has been murdered. With a record of mental issues, he is sent home. Less than nine hours later, he is stabbed to death in the Guy Who Died Twice.

Detective D.D. Warren and her partner investigate the man’s murder. Arriving home that evening, D.D. walks her husband Alex, a police crime scene analyst, through the crime. Together, they solve the mystery.

There are plenty of suspects, means and motives here. The Guy Who Died Twice is a fun chance to play armchair detective with only an hour or so time invested. This is an easy way to see if the D.D. Warren series is for you as it can be read as a standalone and clocks in at less than 90 pages. 4 stars!

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

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The Boy
January 6th, 2019 by diane92345

With a masterful plot, unique characters and a pitch-perfect rural setting, there is nothing in The Boy that I didn’t love.

A woman awakens to a ghastly sound coming from 7-year-old son’s room. Racing to his room, she finds him stabbed multiple time and the killer next turns the knife on her. Fearing for her safety, she runs bloody and wounded to her neighbors for help.

Annie and Nick, married detectives in rural Partout Parish Louisiana, are assigned the case. If only they could stop the new grandstanding Sheriff, Kelvin Dutrow, from trying to “modernize” the detectives’ methods. When a second child disappears, panic runs high as the detectives race to see if the two cases are connected.

The plotting is done with such precision that the reader sees none of the machinery and can sit back and enjoy the twist-filled ride. The rural Louisiana setting seems like a character all by itself and the characters in The Boy are one of its greatest charms. There is hot-headed Cajun Nick’s frequent switches into French patois. There is level-headed Annie who tries to reel her husband in.

You rarely find a book with both good characters and fine plotting. I loved The Boy. 5 stars!

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

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Watching You
December 25th, 2018 by diane92345

Newlywed Joey has a deep attraction for her married neighbor Tom in upscale Melville Heights, Bristol, England in a new family thriller, Watching You.

Everyone is watching everyone in the small neighborhood. Jenna thinks Tom, who is headmaster at her school, has an inappropriate relationship with her best friend, Bess. Jenna’s mum, Frankie, thinks Tom is the leader of a gang who moves her stuff to unsettle her. She has taken to photographing Tom’s house and family at night. Freddie is Tom’s son. He uses binoculars with a camera inside to study the entire village. Nikola is Tom’s wife and Freddie’s mother. Why has she suddenly taken to her bed? She asks Alfie, Joey’s husband, to paint her rented house’s interior. Alfie and Joey live two doors down with Joey’s brother and his pregnant wife Rebecca.

There are many characters in this thriller but it was easy to keep them straight due to their strong characterizations. The plot is extremely convoluted with some wild twists and turns. I originally tried to solve Watching You like a mystery. Eventually, I gave up and just rode the waves to the end. It was a fun ride and I read the book in one exhilarating rush.

Watching You is highly recommended for thriller readers looking for a twisty read. 4.5 stars!

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

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