Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Some Choose Darkness
May 28th, 2019 by diane92345

Thirty years apart, two women with obsessive-compulsive disorder track a serial killer in Some Choose Darkness.

In 1979, Angela is newly married to Thomas in suburban Chicago. She also has a photographic memory and ocd. When frightened by a stranger in the alley behind her house, she begins to suspect he is the notorious serial killer, the Thief. The Thief gets off by alternately choking his victims and himself in an elaborate rope and pulley contraption. He has been blamed for five deaths. Angela sees a pattern among the deaths.

In 2019, Rory works as a freelance forensic reconstructionist for the Chicago police. She also has ocd. The 2017 cold case she is working on has the same cause of death as those done by the Thief. But he is in prison. Is it a copycat twenty-eight years later?

The Thief tells his story from a prison cell. Finally granted parole in 2019, he is looking forward to giving payback to the woman who emprisoned him.

What a fantastic thrill ride! Some Choose Darkness has a complicated plot that pulls the reader first one way and then the other like a twisty rollercoaster. Any readers looking to play armchair detective, beware! There are several false trails within the storyline. However, despite being totally fooled myself, I highly recommend this thriller. 4.5 stars!

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

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

Mahoney's Camaro
May 28th, 2019 by diane92345

Mahoney’s Camaro was a great auction deal. Only a grand for a cherry 1967 that had only been in the river for a few hours. As with every good deal, this one had a few strings. First, Heather had been handcuffed to the steering wheel and drowned after being shoved into the drink. Now, she was haunting the car. Second, the murderer was desperate to get the car back to destroy any evidence linking him to Heather’s murder.

It’s 1985 in Canada. Mahoney works for a scuzzy towing firm but his passion is cars. After losing his mechanic job under the shadow of theft, he can’t find reputable work. He is forced to work in an ethically questionable tow yard driving a tow truck during the midnight shift. Despite his bosses entreaties, he doesn’t deal drugs, pimp woman, or steal cars.

Mahoney looks into Heather’s death just to get her out of his ride. What he finds is the 1980s drug of choice, Crack, and a widespread criminal enterprise.

As a car fan, the descriptions of cherry rides and engine parts was a fun throwback to my youth of car clubs and cruise nights. I’m not sure everyone will be as entranced by pages of description of how to move the shell of one car onto another. The mystery was told from both the criminals and the detective Mahoney’s point of view—like Columbo the killer is known from the beginning—so this is not a good choice for armchair detectives. But if you like muscle cars, this is the perfect crime thriller. For everyone else, 3 stars.

Thanks to the author, ECW Press, and LibraryThing for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Game of Bones
May 21st, 2019 by diane92345

The private investigative team of Sarah Booth and Tinkie are investigating a murder by exsanguination during an archaeological dig in Game of Bones.

Two competing archaeology professors set up an excavation on a Native American burial mound. To stop the work, a local Native American attorney files an injunction. When one professor is killed ritualistically, the other becomes the number one suspect though the attorney is also under suspicion. Professor Haynes hires Sarah Booth and Tinkie to clear his name. Despite warnings from a ghost and a psychic, Sarah Booth is determined to solve the case.

Game of Bones is one of the best books in this excellent cozy mystery series. There is just enough paranormal activity to keep it interesting without overwhelming the dynamics between the living characters. The mystery was full of convincing red herrings making this tale a good choice for armchair detectives. 4.5 stars!

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

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Tears of the Trufflepig
May 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Tears of the Trufflepig is a surrealistic deep dive into where our current cultural road may lead. Tense US/Mexico border relations, genetically modified food, and a further divide between the haves and the have nots are all here.

In the future, worldwide food shortages have decimated the world’s population. Scientists have found a method of generating synthetic food. Drugs are legal in the US so Mexican cartels sell filtered animals to the rich. Filtered animals are genetically modified reincarnations of extinct species. Estaban Bellacosa works as an expeditor for a cartel. Paco is an investigative reporter looking into the filtering trade. When they meet during a dinner of filtered animals, the cartel’s troubles begin.

Tears of the Trufflepig is a hallucinogenic, but believable, trip to a troubled future. The tale reminds me of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where a certain suspension of belief is required to enjoy the plot. For readers that are looking for something different and are okay with a non-linear plot, this is a good choice. There is one caveat. There are many phrases in Spanish within the text that might be confusing for non-Spanish speakers. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Farrar, Strauss & Giroux and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Never Game
May 18th, 2019 by diane92345

In the Never Game, Colter Shaw finds people for a living. Not for honor. Not for glory. For the reward money.

Taught rules for hunting by his survivalist father from a young age, Colter uses his skills to find missing people.

When Sophie doesn’t return home, her father is convinced that she wouldn’t leave without her beloved poodle. The local police are not convinced and assume the nineteen year old is just a runaway rather than a victim. Desperate, the father advertises a $10,000 reward for information leading to her return. Enter Colter.

Never Game begins a new series for Mr. Deaver. The twisty thrill ride of a plot keeps the reader engaged. The premise of a modern day bounty hunter is unique. Colter is a intriguing hero. His own history was the best mystery in this book so I’m looking forward to the next entry in the series.

This book is highly recommended to fans of CJ Box’ Joe Pickett and Dean Koontz’ Jane Hawk series. All three heroes are willing to work occasionally on the shady side of the law in pursuit of a greater good. Plus all three of the series provide a pulse-pounding ride. 4.5 stars!

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

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No Saving Throw
May 17th, 2019 by diane92345

No Saving Throw is a cozy mystery set in the nerdy world of Dungeons & Dragons. If the D&D term “No Saving Throw” is unfamiliar, it means you can’t roll the dice to prevent or mitigate the awful thing that just occurred. Also, it means this book may not be a good choice for you.

Autumn is the owner of a gaming store especially role-playing ones like Dungeons & Dragons. When a gamer dies, Autumn decides to protect her gaming friends, and her store’s reputation, by finding the murderer herself.

No Saving Throw’s setting in high school makes the book seem very young adult. Descriptions of scenes are scant and similar to Adventure games like you enter a dark room. For old school nerds like me, it was fun to spot the old television, movie and game Easter eggs. The mystery was easy to solve—but not Scooby Doo level easy. I wanted to understand the core group’s motivations, which were only here almost as an afterthought. Since this is only book one of a planned series, I hope that issue will be addressed in the next book. If you are into gaming or just can’t stomach another knitting or bookstore cozy, this book will be a pleasant read. 3 stars!

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

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Night Window
May 15th, 2019 by diane92345

It’s time for Jane Hawk to finally get some payback for her husband’s death and so much more in Night Window.

The Techno-Arcadians have chased former FBI Agent Jane Hawk through four books already. Jane is trying to bring to light a massive conspiracy of billionaires. The Arcadians inserted a nanobot into Jane’s husband’s brain. When activated, he was forced to kill himself. In previous books, the nanobots were used to create both assassins and sex slaves.

Protecting her young son Travis is Jane’s highest priority as well proving her husband’s innocence. However, Jane’s ultimate goal is to expose the Arcadian’s evil plan to the public. This time she has some help from a former colleague, computer hacker Vikram.

I have been lucky enough to acquire the entire Jane Hawk series as Advanced Reader Copies. While Night Window can be read as a standalone, it is rather like reading the last chapter in a book. You would be cheating yourself out of a suspenseful ride. The conclusion is definitely worth the wait.

The author’s writing style is not for everyone. Mr. Koontz has never met an adjective he didn’t like. While effective in horror, it feels rather out of place in a thriller. It does rather slow down the pace. However, the use of such detailed imagery intensifies the atmosphere and allows a closer connection with the series’ characters. The plot, over the entire series, is engaging enough to compel the reader through each book.

Overall, an excellent conclusion to an outstanding series. 5 stars! Now, please Mr. Koontz, write another excellent paranormal thriller like Watchers.

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

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

Night Before
May 14th, 2019 by diane92345

The less you know about the plot, the better the surprises will be in The Night Before.

Rosie forces her sister, Laura, to go on a date arranged on a dating website. When Laura doesn’t return that night or the next morning, Rosie investigates what happened.

The Night Before is a compulsively readable thriller where nothing, and no one, is what they appear. The twists, especially at the end, were intense. It is highly recommended for suspense fans. 4 stars!

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

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Bone Parish Vol 1
May 6th, 2019 by diane92345

There is a new drug in town in the horror/crime graphic novel, Bone Parish Vol 1. Just don’t ask what they make it out of…

Ash is a new hallucinogen that allows user to experience someone else’s life. It is incredibly popular but also so strong it kills some inexperienced users. The creator and her family can’t keep up with demand—no matter how many gravediggers they hire. Ash is composed of the burned remnants of dead bodies. The more interesting the life story, the better the high. When the family’s profit becomes the talk of the drug underworld, other gangs try to take over the family’s business.

The mixing of necromancy, New Orleans’ gothic atmosphere, and a noir crime family is almost as intoxicating as the drug, Ash. Bone Parish Vol 1 is concerned more with introducing the character’s stories and is rather short on plot in the middle section.  However, the beautiful and atmospheric artwork makes the trip stimulating. The conclusion also promises more excitement in the next volume. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to BOOM! Studios and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Nothing to Hide
May 5th, 2019 by diane92345

FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid is working with County Investigator Jerry Walker on a serial killer case in Nothing to Hide. Unfortunately, Jerry has a distrust of FBI psychological profiles due to an earlier case.

The victims seem to have nothing in common besides being male, under 40 and married. The murder method is identical. Each victim stops while driving home at night, is tased, beaten including crushed hands, and finally shot in the head. The entire crime takes less than five minutes.

Concurrently, Lucy’s stepson, Jesse, is sucked into a situation while trying to help a friend. To resolve this issue, Lucy and her husband Sean must improve their communication and parenting skills.

I love police procedurals. I enjoyed the interactions between skeptical Jerry and thinker Lucy while they were investigating the serial killer case. However, my interest was not held by the family drama portion of the book. This issue was probably caused by my lack of reading any earlier entry in this now fifteen book series.

For series readers, Nothing to Hide probably will rate 4.5 stars. For others, who like me are jumping in here, this book rates 3.5 stars. It is definitely worth reading for the twisty mystery of the killer’s identity and motive. The writing style is fluid. The characters are well-written. Overall, the book rates 4 stars.

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

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Silent Footsteps
May 4th, 2019 by diane92345

In Silent Footsteps, Constable Hazel Best is deeply disappointed when her CID interview doesn’t result in her promotion. While working a case, Hazel begins receiving anonymous gifts of flowers, wine and candy on her doorstep. Is it an admirer or a stalker?

Trucker Watts was only out of prison three weeks when he was found bludgeoned to death behind a dumpster. His best friend, Rat, is convinced that a rival gang, the Canal Crew, is responsible. Rat and Trucker’s gang, the Maulers, agree.

Silent Footsteps is a great mix of excellent characterizations and a puzzling but fair mystery. Armchair detectives may be able to determine who the murderer is before Hazel, as I did. However, the characters make reading the rest of the book a pleasant journey. This book is highly recommended for police procedural and mystery fans. 4 stars!

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

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The Invited
May 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

The Invited is a ghost story of multigenerational family drama rather the mystery I expected.

Helen and Nate decide to quit their teaching jobs and move to rural Vermont. They buy a large parcel of land and begin building their house. The land includes a bog where a suspected witch, Hattie, was hanged ninety-one years earlier. Hattie had told her twelve year old daughter, Jane, to hide in their house’s root cellar until she came back, which now she would never do.

Fourteen year old Olive lives next to Nate and Helen. Ostracized by the town, she wants the new neighbors to go back to the city. Olive is also haunted by her mother’s disappearance one year earlier.

The Invited has many plot threads that are conveniently, maybe too conveniently, wrapped up by the end of the book. While there are mysteries here, the book is really a ghost story that includes many characters that have precognition. If you are in the mood for an atmospheric ghost story, this book is a good choice. However, the mystery’s solution is easily guessed. 3 stars.

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

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

Little Darlings
April 30th, 2019 by diane92345

Little Darlings is an unusual mix of dark fairy tale and thriller. It is a enthralling ride down a rabbit hole where anything is possible.

In olden days, people believed that witches took newborn babies. Sometimes they exchanged them for demons who looked exactly the same as the newborns, but behaved differently. The witches particularly liked twins.

Lauren has twin boys that only she can tell apart. While still recovering from the birth, Lauren gets a visit from an old woman. The crone wants to trade for one of the newborn. If Lauren doesn’t agree, she threatens to take them both. When Lauren calls the police, they don’t believe her. Only one Sergeant, who has her own issues with babies, believes her enough to investigate. When Lauren sees the witch hiding across the street from her house, but no one else sees her, even Lauren begins to question her sanity.

Little Darlings is an atmospheric read. Multiple times I changed my mind from believing to disbelieving Lauren and vice versa. If you want a bit of paranormal horror mixed into your thriller, this book is a great choice. 4 stars!

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

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Antiques Ravin
April 29th, 2019 by diane92345

Antiques Ravin’ is a humorous cozy mystery with unique characters.

Meet Brandy and her mother, Vivian. Vivian was elected County Sheriff in the preceding series entry when everyone else running was disqualified. Vivian has a revoked driver’s license for driving while not under the influence—of her bipolar medicine—so Brandy is her unpaid chauffeur.

Sheriff Vivian is called to the nearby town of Antiqua to investigate a series of burglaries. The surprising part is that nothing was stolen from the five antique stores. Was the burglar looking for the Poe prize? Part of an annual hunt for one valuable item tagged for a ridiculously low amount among all the town’s antique stores. The hunt begins tomorrow during the town’s Edgar Allen Poe Days celebration. When someone is murdered in the style of a famous Poe story, the story moves forward quickly.

Antiques Ravin’ is the thirteenth book in this series but my first. It is fine read as a standalone. I like the humor and the eccentric characters. However, my favorite part was that this book seems violent enough to almost be a thriller. Most cozy mysteries avoid violence but I think a bit is a welcome change. If you agree, this series will be a great addition to your cozy collection. 4 stars!

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

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Mother-in-law
April 24th, 2019 by diane92345

The Mother-in-law is a fine domestic thriller that also touches on some hot button social topics.

Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana, is not her favorite person though she adores her father-in-law, Tom. Diana is not demonstrative, even toward her two children, Ollie and Nettie. She is more concerned with her work with poor immigrants. When Diana dies, Lucy, and much of the family, is clearly the focus of the police’s inquiries.

The Mother-in-law was a good domestic thriller. However, I guessed the killer before I was 10% into the book. I sped through the rest of it to see if I was right and was irrational upset when I was. The killer seemed obvious to me but you may want a mystery that is easy to solve while on a vacation or relaxing before bed so 3 stars.

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

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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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