Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Measure of Darkness
August 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

Five people are killed after a house party gets lethal in Measure of Darkness.

A confrontation between neighbors kills three including one of the combatants. A six-year-old is hit in his bed from crossfire. In the ensuing uproar, another party guest is run down in the street by a panicked young girl. But what of the girl found hidden in a shed strangled?

Coroner investigator, Clay Edison, is trying to determine the former name of the car victim to find her next of kin. Born a male and living on the street as female, the trans community shuts down Clay’s search for her parents. In the meantime, Clay hunts for the strangulation victim’s identity and the reason for her death.

Isaiah is targeted as the shooter when he goes to the hospital for a gunshot wound.  He, one of the dead and their childhood friends Tuan can be seen on the many YouTube videos showing the confrontation.  Tuan has fled. In the video, returning Tuan’s fire is Dane who is also in the wind.

Clay and Amy have their parents over for Christmas dinner. Luke, Clay’s just out of prison brother announces his engagement to surprise guest Andrea.

This is second book in the Clay Edison series after Crime Scene (review here). The books do not have to be read in order. The conclusion is twisty and satisfying. Giving a coroner investigator’s viewpoint within a traditional police procedural, Measure of Darkness is highly recommended to mystery fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Ballantine, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Against the Claw
July 31st, 2018 by diane92345

The second Lobster Shack mystery, after Curses, Boiled Again (reviewed here), is as good as the first!  Against the Claw starts with Allie pulling lobster traps with Bertha. The last trap also pulls up a dead girl.

With Aunt Gully’s Lobster Shack expected to host a huge number of customers on the Fourth of July, a catering opportunity that is too good to pass up appears. Catering the famous modeling agent Stellene’s annual party would be excellent publicity. When Allie and her sister Lorel get the opportunity to stay on Stellene’s massive yacht with only superstar singer Eden and her guitarist boyfriend on board, it seems like the perfect day. But when Lorel’s recently ex-boyfriend Patrick is found dead in the morning in a raft tied to the yacht, the party abruptly ends.

I love the characters in the Lobster Shack books. They feel like old friends who are stuck in bad circumstances whose wits will ultimately win out over evil. The mystery was good—not to easy or too difficult to figure out. You definitely do not need to read the first book in the series, Curses, Boiled Again, to enjoy this one. Even better, Against the Claw has no spoilers to the first book so they can be read out of order. Highly recommended to cozy mystery fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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

A Double Life
July 30th, 2018 by diane92345

Claire desperately wants to find her missing father to discover his reasons for living A Double Life.

Claire was only eight when her father bludgened her live-in babysitter Emma to death and attempted to do the same to her mother. After her mother escaped the house, her father disappeared. When she is told he may have been found, Claire reminisciences about her mother and father’s romance and life before the crime. Claire’s father is the first British Lord accused of murder in the 20th century. He and her mother were separated and planning to divorce before the incident. Could her mother have set up the crime to keep her father’s wealth?

A Double Life begins slowly with a very long flashback about how Claire’s parents relationship began. If I hadn’t been reading this book to review it, I probably would have stopped reading as it was boring and seemingly pointless. The book does have an eventful conclusion. However, the overall melancholy feel and depressingly dark inevitability was just not for me. A Double Life is recommended to those readers of literary fiction who enjoy escaping into someone else’s, so much worse, life. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Viking Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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

Midnight Snacks are Murder
July 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Midnight Snacks are Murder is a good humorous cozy with a wonderful setting and characters. The addition of gluten-free recipes makes this series unique.

Poppy is opening a bed and breakfast with her Aunt Ginny. Her contractor, Smitty, is incompetent. Worse, her investor and former mother-in-law, Georgina, has come to help if helping means firing the maid, cancelling guest bookings and undermining Poppy’s design decisions. Things are looking up with Poppy’s love life after her husband’s death nine months earlier. There’s Tim, her high school sweetheart, and the sexy barista, Gia. Gia is buying Poppy’s gluten-free goodies for his coffee shop. But his Italian momma spends all her time trying to break up their romance. When neighborhood thefts of food and worthless items lead to murder, Poppy is intent on solving the crime and freeing the accused murderer, Aunt Ginny.

Being gluten-free, I love the inclusion of seven gluten-free recipes for Paleo Espresso Brownies, Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins, Paleo Chocolate-Orange Muffins, Paleo Banana-Walnut Muffins, Honey Maple Pecan Shortbread (with notes to convert to pie crust or Pecan Pie Bars), and Butterscotch-Oatmeal Bars. The romantic triangle is great and similar to the one in the Stephanie Plum books basically hot vs. nice. The madcap antics of Poppy and her friends and family are amusing. The mystery is more challenging than most cozy series. All in all, 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Gentleman's Murder
July 28th, 2018 by diane92345

A Gentleman’s Murder just made me a believer in reincarnation. In this case of Agatha Christie in this perfectly imagined locked room mystery set in 1924.

Eric Peterkin is a member of the prestigious Britannia Club, open to male war veterans only. When a wager ends in murder, Eric, an editor of mysteries, is first to find the body stabbed in the neck in the club’s vault. The list of suspects is long:

-Board members Norris, Aldershott, Bradshaw, Saxon and Wolfe

-“Old Faithful” Cully who works at the club’s front desk

-Detective Inspector Horotio Parker, sent to investigate the crime but also named on a medical file stolen from the dead man’s box in the club’s vault

When the Inspector steals evidence from the victim’s room, Eric decides to investigate the crime along with his occultist sidekick, Avery. Eric’s investigation leads to the victim’s wartime service in a English hospital and a missing Chinese nurse working as a maid within the hospital. It also reveals the not so hidden racism of the time for Eric’s mixed heritage from his Chinese mother.

Of course I wasn’t alive in 1924 but the setting in A Gentleman’s Murder seems pitch perfect compared to the many books I’ve read that were written back then. The mystery itself is just convoluted enough to make finding the killer a challenge but not impossible for fellow armchair detectives. It’s great fun for fans of British golden age mysteries. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Inkshares, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

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

Ghosted
July 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Ghosted, the word, is when a hookup quietly ignores your texts, calls, emails and other online communications. Ghosted, the book, is a wonderful twisty love story.

Sarah and Eddie, both in their late 30s, spend a romantic week together after meeting unexpectedly. As Eddie is leaving for a holiday in Spain, both vow to meet up again after his return. However, Sarah hears nothing. Her increasingly frantic texts, calls, Facebook messages and emails go unanswered. Her best friends tell her to move on. But Sarah is convinced something tragic has happened to Eddie and just can’t let go.

Ghosted is a delightful summer beach read for mystery lovers. The story of the romance evolving, told in flashbacks, is just as entrancing as the mystery of Eddie’s disappearance. Also, Smelly has to be the best, and probably the most accurate, name for a dog either in fiction or in real life. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Pamela Dorman Books, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

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

Space Between
July 25th, 2018 by diane92345

Space Between is a good choice for fans of Gone Girl.

Sarah and Ben have been married 15 years when Ben mysteriously disappears. Ben leaves behind a shiny new Glock, an erased security system and a million dollar transfer into Sarah’s bank account. Ben was scheduled to testify the following week in his lawsuit against his partners in his upscale LA eatery. Could they have abducted Ben? Or could Sarah, who admittedly has problems in her marriage, be angling for the huge insurance and inheritance payoff if Ben is found dead?

Space Between in a good, not great, mystery. There have been so many similar plotlines since Gone Girl was released, it is possible I’m just burned out on the family dynamic thriller. I spent much of my reading time wondering if Sarah had ever read or watched a thriller or police procedural before. Some of her actions are bizarre and stupid. Picking up a gun without worrying about getting your fingerprints on it? Not using your alarm or even locking your doors after your husband disappears? Lying to the police? Concealing and tampering with evidence that could be used to find your husband? It is just unbelievable that a Caltech PhD and famous astrophysicist could be this stupid. Someone less jaded than I might like Space Between so 3 stars.

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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

Believe Me
July 23rd, 2018 by diane92345

All actors must embody their character. Sarah, especially, is willing to do anything for her craft. Her wish is that her audience “Believe Me”.

Sarah attends a method acting school in New York City. She had blown her chance at fame at home in London. Lack of resources and no green card forces her down some mean streets. First, she works with a private detective to entrap married men on video for $400 a date. Then the police invite her to role play as a victim to someone they suspect of being a sadist serial killer. Sarah agrees for the chance of getting her green card. That’s where the fun begins in Believe Me, the latest book by the author of the Girl Before.

This book is an invigorating and compelling ride through Dante’s Inferno. I intended to read just a chapter or two before dinner. When I next glanced up from the book, it was two hours later and I was already a third into the book. The plot holds the reader by the throat and won’t let up. The abrupt twists and turns are fair—though I only saw the clues in retrospect.

Believe Me is definitely only for adults who thought Fifty Shades of Gray was too tame. There is some serious BDSM action in here. However, if you want to read about a world that you would never have the nerve to join, read this book. It has a great plot and setting that you won’t soon forget. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Disappearing
July 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

What is causing The Disappearing of blond girls in Waddell Florida is the question in this Southern neo-gothic dripping with moss and memories of the pre-Civil War lifestyle.

After her husband leaves, Lane returns to her hometown in Florida with her two daughters, Annalee and Talley, to live with her parents in the infamous Fielding Mansion with the famous hanging tree out front. Her father, Neil, is becoming forgetful, which may be a blessing after he is blamed for physically abusing hundreds at the now closed boy’s school behind their house.

The town has never felt welcoming to Lane after her abduction by one of the boys from the school at age 13. Now more girls are disappearing. First, her mother’s friend Susannah and then her daughter Annalee.

Mentally slow Daryl strikes up a friendship with Talley while looking for his brother, Wayne. Wayne disappeared 12 years ago while a school resident.

The Disappearing is all about atmosphere and Southern history. It is more a family drama about how the sins of the father visit the children than a thriller or a mystery. The pacing is slow like literary fiction. Not much action happens until the last third of the book. By then, I was just worn down and wanted it to end. While I didn’t like it much and give it 3 stars, your experience may differ.

Thanks to the publisher, Dutton Books, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

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Nevermind of Brian Hildebrand
July 21st, 2018 by diane92345

The Nevermind of Brian Hildebrand, along with the rest of him, is run down by his own car. He is in a coma and cannot move. But he can think.

One day a 12-year-old girl, Millie, appears in his head. She is from Sedona, Arizona. She disappears as quickly as she arrived. Brian next sees a window washer who portends some connection between Brian and Millie. Brian can see illness in the people around him but has no way to warn them, of course. When a lobotomized fellow patient can hear his thoughts, Brian decides to use him to communicate to the outside world. Unfortunately, the other patient dies first of the illness Brian diagnosed.

Told entirely in the first person voice of a man in a persistent vegetative state, the Nevermind of Brian Hildebrand is completely original. If you read as much as I do (about a book a day), it is easy to get jaded and feel that there are no more original plots. How many different lies can husbands tell in romantic suspense? How many ways are there to resolve a locked room mystery? Have all the best plots already been written? This book is a powerful antidote for that feeling. Stunningly original but built on the real feelings of all with loved ones in comas (i.e., maybe they can use their blinks to send yes or no answers to questions, can they hear what we are saying). It’s a great read. However, it would have been even better with some editing of Brian’s seemingly random stream of consciousness ramblings. Still for plot alone, 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Crowsnest Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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

Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius
July 19th, 2018 by diane92345

Multiple Eisner award winner Shannon Wheeler is not afraid to skewer everyone’s sacred goats from Trump to confederate flags in Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius.

Do Latin pigs speak Pig Latin? Would statues of bestiality be less controversial than confederate generals? How do angels describe their halos to get them back from Heaven’s Lost and Found Department?

Definitely not for children, Memoirs of a Very Stable Genius is consistently and irreverently funny. Some are one-page political cartoons. Others are multi-page short stories—some fiction and some seemingly true personal experiences of the author. About a third of the book is in color.

The book is dedicated to men with small packages and the author’s father. If that seems weird, this may not be the comic for you. It is funny and a good short read. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Image Comics, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

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Baby Teeth
July 18th, 2018 by diane92345

Baby Teeth is a good Bad Seed thriller.

Hanna doesn’t speak but has an abundance of thoughts. Hanna loves her Daddy but hates her Mommy. Hanna is evil. Hanna is four.

Hanna has some mental health issues but feels if she can get rid of her Mommy, she would have Daddy all to herself. However, Mommy appears to have some mental health issues of her own.

The reader has to suspend their disbelief that a four-year-old could think this “rationally” and plan complex schemes to punish people. In the original Bad Seed, the child was nine, which seems more reasonable. However, once past that hurdle, the reader is in for a crazy fun ride.

Baby Teeth is highly recommended for those wanting to read a character-based thriller with an unusual protagonist. It is an intense journey into a demented and unusual worldview. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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

Maze Master
July 17th, 2018 by diane92345

Da Vinci Code + World War Z + Jurassic Park divided by the Bible = Maze Master.

The LucentB virus is 100% deadly and is moving outward from France. Anna enlists the help of Christian professor, Martin, to find “Marham-i-Isa, the legendary healing ointment created by Jesus to heal the sick and raise the dead”—perhaps the only hope for humanity. While searching the Middle East for the ointment, Anna is also looking for her former mentor, the famed geneticist Hakari. In a parallel plot, Hakari is being driven mad by visions of shapes and his belief that he is the second coming of Christ. Wars break out as the virus spreads and nations look desperately for a cure. On battlefields, huge “angels of light” are spotted. Have the end times prophesied by the Bible arrived? Or is it something inherited in our Denisovan pre-historic genes that started the virus and the rest is pure human folly?

I loved the Da Vinci Code back in the day but I adore this book even more! It has the genre mashup that I like so much. It’s apocalyptic and scientific. With its factual underpinnings, it could actually happen. The setting and characterization are well done. It moves at a lightning pace. Overall, it is highly recommended for thriller readers. Open-minded fans of horror, science fiction and Christian fiction might also enjoy it. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advanced copy.

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

Plaster Sinners
July 14th, 2018 by diane92345

Plaster Sinners is another fun Flaxborough romp!

Detective Sergeant Love is coshed on the head while inspecting a plaster cottage bas-relief. Later, the item is sold for an astonishingly high 370 pounds. Suspecting something shady, Inspector Purbright investigates.

This is the eleventh book in the series of twelve. The characters are well-defined and the plots just keep getting better. The humor is more apparent in this series entry. It is a good choice for readers looking for a village cozy mystery that moves at a rather slow pace. The characters are the star here. 4 stars!

Plaster Sinners is set in rural England in the 1970s. If you’re not British, I would recommend reading this on an eReader to make it easy to look up unusual words.

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Guess Who
July 13th, 2018 by diane92345

Guess Who is a mash-up of Saw and The Game, where nothing is what it appears.

Sheppard, a famous true crime television detective, wakes up handcuffed to the bed in a hotel room. He remembers nothing of how he arrived there. With him are five strangers: Mandy, Alan, Ryan, Constance and a nameless teenage girl wearing headphones. Worse, there is a dead body in the bathroom.

A mysterious horse-masked man appears on the television. He gives Sheppard three hours to determine which of the room’s occupants is the murderer. If he fails, the hotel will be destroyed.

As Sheppard investigates he realizes the game master knows more about him than is publicly known. Due to his drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, Sheppard struggles to solve the crime.

Guess Who reads like a movie script. It alternates between the present and the immediate past. The plot including the many twists and the ultimate reveal is good. However, the point of view changes abruptly toward the end from third person limited (Sheppard) to third person omniscient. Sometimes it was difficult to determine whose underlying motives were being revealed necessitating rereading. This threw me out of the story right before the climax. Also, some of the characters motivations were too over-the-top and unbelievable. For these reasons, 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Hanover Square Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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

Death of a Clone
July 13th, 2018 by diane92345

Life is Hell after the Death of a Clone in this intriguing sci-fi mystery.

In the near future, Leila is a clone working on an asteroid mining metals no longer found on Earth. Lily, Leila’s sister clone is murdered. Leila vows to solve the crime using investigative techniques learned from Miss Marple.

The merging of space opera, human dynamics and a traditional amateur sleuth was done seamlessly. The frequent Christie references were fun. The murderer was readily apparent but another mystery was a complete surprise. 4 stars!

Thanks to Abaddon and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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