Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Girl on the Porch
August 31st, 2019 by diane92345

Where and who did the Girl on the Porch flee from and where is she now?

Angie and Frank Urban were awoken by their doorbell frantically ringing at 3:30 a.m. By the time Frank opened the door, their porch was empty. The next day, their neighbors Sarah and Kenny checked their security camera. They saw a scantily clad girl on their porch frantically ringing their broken doorbell. The police are called and the video goes viral. As time wears on, all the neighbors begin to suspect one of their own.

I loved Gwendy’s Button Box and was looking forward to reading the Girl on the Porch. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the simplistic characters and whatever is the opposite of a compelling plot. It also had no dynamic tension. It was missing the creepy horror atmosphere of the previous story I had read by the author. Just a missed opportunity. It should have been longer so we could hear the characters’ histories. Or it should have been shorter to punch up the tension. At this length, it’s a miss for me. 2.5 stars.

Thanks to Subterranean Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Wonton Terror
August 30th, 2019 by diane92345

There is Wonton Terror when the Wonton on Wheels food truck explodes at the first Asian Night Market in Cleveland.

Lana Lee is now managing her parent’s restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House. While promoting the restaurant at Market night, her parent’s old friend, Ronnie, is killed in the explosion. When the police decide it was caused by a bomb, Lana decides to investigate to ease her anxiety. But there are so many suspects…

It’s always fun to return to the world of Lana Lee. Her family life intervenes once again in her amateur detective work. In Wonton Terror, Lana’s Aunt Grace is coming to visit her sister, Lana’s mother. The two sisters get along just as badly as Lana and her own sister, Anna May, do.

This particular cozy mystery was a bit too easy to solve. But the book was still fun to read due to the engaging characters and a light comedic feel. If you want a pleasant cozy read with an underlying humorous take on sibling rivalry, this is a good choice. 3.5 stars!

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

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Truth Behind the Lie
August 29th, 2019 by diane92345

The suspenseful Swedish thriller, The Truth Behind the Lie, tells the story of shady former journalist Kouplan’s search for missing child Julia.

Kouplan, an Iranian illegal resident in Stockholm, places this ad on Swedish Craig’s List.

“Private detective. If the police can’t help, call me!”

The only response is from Permilla, who has lost her young daughter Julia at a local shopping mall four days ago. Kouplan takes the case as soon as Permilla pays his advance of 1 hour’s pay, an astonishingly high 400 Swedish crowns.

Kouplan looks at the estranged father, Patrick, but he seems blameless. The more he looks into the case, the more he is suspicious of Permilla’s story.

The Truth Behind the Lie is a great thriller. While I miss the usual dark noir feel of Nordic thrillers, the thoroughly surprising ending made up for the lack of atmosphere. I highly recommend this book to people who want a completely different type of thriller. It doesn’t feel Nordic. It doesn’t feel American. The pacing is completely different than most books that I read. Still an excellent read and worth 4 stars!

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

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Whisper Man
August 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Frank Carter, the Whisper Man, has been in prison twenty years for kidnapping and murdering five young boys in rural Featherbank. His m.o. was whispering through each child’s window before luring them to their death. And now the whispering has begun again…

Did Frank have an accomplice all those years ago? What happened to the last child’s body? Is the nightmare reoccurring?

The less you know going into the Whisper Man, the more terrifying and disturbing it will be. The atmospheric plot seems like a cross between a hazy dream barely remembered and a horror movie. If you enjoy horror movies, I think you will like this thriller. 4 stars!

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

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

The Murder List
August 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Jack is a defense attorney in Boston. As an experienced litigator, he is on The Murder List. The list is a list of attorneys from which the state picks the person to defend accused murderers.

Rachel is married to Jack. She is also a third-year law student scheduled to intern with Jack’s arch-nemesis, Assistant District Attorney, Martha Gardiner. Rachel’s first day begins with a murder case. The victim, Tassie, is found dead under her kitchen table with no obvious wounds.

In alternating chapters, Rachel’s previous career working for Senator Rafferty is described in flashback. Unfortunately, I wasn’t captivated by the flashbacks and skimmed most of them to get back to the “meat” of the story. Until the surprising twist in the story, which forced me to go back and read them more carefully.

The Murder List is crafted carefully to fool the reader and fool me it did. And I love that! All the clues were hidden in plain sight. Only my assumptions prevented me from seeing them. Because of the excellent twist—hiding just slightly under my radar, the originality of the plot, and the clear tying up of all the loose ends in the final chapters, I give this book 4.5 stars! It is highly recommended for all thriller readers.

Thank you to Forge Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Warehouse
August 26th, 2019 by diane92345

A thinly, really thinly, veiled stab at Amazon is located in The Warehouse.

The Black Friday Massacres drive people to shop increasingly online. The Cloud (ahem, Amazon) picks up the slack and becomes the world’s biggest employer. It opens modern factory towns, called MotherClouds, worldwide where workers use their money to pay for rent and food.

In the distribution centers, drones make deliveries easy. However, automated watches and shelves make the pickers’ jobs untenable and injuries common. Enter industrial spy, Zinnia, who is trying to determine if the Cloud is faking its “fully green” environmental policy to grab valuable government incentives.

I have a nephew and a niece who used to work as pickers at Amazon. They had talked about the inability to reach the bathrooms during breaks and the hectic work schedule required to avoid getting fired (though both eventually were let go). In addition, my job went on a tour of the Amazon warehouse in town. I’m part of the County’s Purchasing Department but it appears anyone can request a tour. I have seen all of the moving shelves (currently just on wheels—not automated bugs like in the book but I’m sure someone is testing the bugs at some other Amazon warehouse). I have seen the frantic pace of the pickers and boxers.

Maybe it is because I knew too much about Amazon, but I didn’t like The Warehouse. There wasn’t much new to me and I think the author could have pushed it to a more absurd level. This book felt like it was projecting only about a year into the real Amazon’s future. I had some high hopes but this was a miss for me. However, I am still giving it 3 stars because the writing was good and the characters seemed genuine.

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

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American Magic
August 26th, 2019 by diane92345

What if magic is real? But kept hidden by a group as mysterious, and rich, as the Illuminati? When one member turns rogue, the lid is off American Magic.

Okay, I admit it, the plot sounds lame—except when you are actually reading it. The author manages to do a Dan Brown on a seemingly absurd plot like The DaVinci Code and makes it believable. Once you are over that hurdle, the same one the main character surmounts, American Magic is an exhilarating thriller. If you don’t mind some magic, I highly recommend reading this DaVinci Code-like thriller. I can already envision which actors will play Ben and Mack on the big screen. 4 stars!

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

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Stolen Things
August 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

What is the worst thing that 911 operator Laurie can hear on the job? Her sixteen-year-old daughter calling in saying “Mama? Help me.” Welcome to the adrenaline-fueled ride of Stolen Things. And you are only in chapter two.

The twists never let up in Stolen Things. It is an exhilarating and compelling race to the finish. Don’t start this book in the morning before work unless you are willing to hide out in the bathroom to finish it before the end of the day. It is that good. It is recommended for anyone who enjoys thrillers especially set within a family. 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Old Bones
August 21st, 2019 by diane92345

Parallel stories of the work of a new FBI Agent and the search for the Lost Camp of the Donner Party drive the engaging thriller, Old Bones.

Probationary FBI Agent Corrie Swanson is looking into a grave robbery and a recent death as her first real case. She believes there is a connection between the grave robbing and the recent deaths and missing status of the victim’s other family members. Is there a vendetta against the Parkins family? At the same time, Nora and Clive are running an archaeological expedition searching for the Lost Camp of the Donner Party.

I really enjoyed Old Bones. Corrie is a spin-off from these authors’ Pendergast series. It is hard not to compare this book to those excellent ones. Honestly, I don’t think that is fair. This book is captivating and gripping on its own merits. If you like female-led thrillers or have an interest in archaeology, you are in for a treat. 4 stars!

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

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Chase Darkness With Me
August 20th, 2019 by diane92345

“People read and watch and listen to true crime because it restores order from chaos.” Telling the real stories of searching for, and sometimes finding, murderers that eluded the police, Chase Darkness with Me is true crime at its best.

A crime reporter decides to use targeted Facebook ads and crowdsourcing to solve cold cases. Through hard work, he finds some killers along with his crime-solving partner, Michelle. When Michelle dies, he finishes her book about finding the Golden State Killer. He starts a podcast. He looks for more killers.

The completely new method of using crowdsourcing to solve crime is detailed here. The last chapter is a handbook on how to do what he has done—chase criminals. If you are a murderino or a true crime buff, Chase Darkness with Me is going to be your favorite book of 2019. For casual thriller or mystery readers, the stories showing how the author catches criminals are surprising and fascinating. 4.5 stars!

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

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Doll Factory
August 19th, 2019 by diane92345

A Doll Factory is the location of this fascinating look at Victorian life through the eyes of both a budding feminist and a serial killer.

Iris is an aspiring artist painting doll faces at Mrs. Salter’s Doll Emporium in 1850s London. Mrs. Salter is a harsh taskmistress especially when in the throes of her legal drug addiction. Iris is by all accounts beautiful except for a skewed collarbone which never set correctly when broken during her youth.

Iris has a brief encounter with Silas, a taxidermist fascinated with “curiosities” such as Iris’. Silas becomes obsessed with Iris and vows to have her.

The Doll Factory has something for everyone. It is a romance, a mystery, and historical fiction. The best part is it is a story of a nascent feminist working against society’s beliefs of a woman’s place. I enjoyed this take on a Victorian serial killer thriller. I think you will too if you like historical fiction. 4 stars!

Thanks to Emily Bestler Books, Atria, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Hidden Things
August 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Suspenseful heist thriller where Hidden Things don’t stay hidden forever.

When fourteen-year-old Carly is attacked in her house, the police post video from her home’s security system hoping someone will recognize her attacker. While it only takes 44 views to find her assailant, the video has now spread far and wide on the internet generating millions of views. While happy that Carly’s attacker is behind bars, her stepfather is in trouble in two areas. First, his family didn’t know the security cameras were in the house. Worse, the attack video shows a small fragment of a famous stolen multi-million dollar painting on the wall.

Engrossing look into high-end art theft and its aftermath. Hidden Things keeps its reader at a high level of suspense while propelling them forward to the excellent conclusion. This book is recommended to anyone looking for a thrilling ride through the illegal art trade. 4 stars!

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

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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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Thirteen
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.

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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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