Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Buried
July 16th, 2019 by diane92345

FBI Agent Sayer Altair is leading a headline-grabbing serial killer case in Buried.

Max Cho is hiking with his FBI human remains detection dog, Kona, when she frantically signals a dead body is nearby. While investigating, Max falls into a cave littered with old bones.

The FBI is facing a Congressional hearing after a serial killer is found among their staff. FBI Assistant Director Janice Holt is testifying as are many of her staff. She calls on Agent, and neuroscientist, Altair from medical leave to head the cave of bones’ investigation with Max, Dana the forensic scientist, Ezra the computer specialist, and Piper a park ranger as her entire team.

When two recently dead bodies are found, with a link to another missing woman, the case goes from cold to red-hot. What is the connection between the old bones and the new bodies? Can Altair and her team find the missing woman in time?

I enjoyed the complexity of the plot. There are multiple threads entangled here—some from Caged, the previous book in the series, and some new. Only some get completely resolved by the conclusion foreshadowing another book in this series.

I didn’t read the other book in this series and had no problem following the character’s histories and the plot. Buried is an outstanding mix of Scarpetta and Hannibal Lector. I also learned a bunch about psychopaths. You can take the test online that Altair gives her research subjects, if you wish. Overall, a great read for thriller and especially serial killer fans. 4 stars!

16Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Unsolved Mysteries of World War II
July 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Unsolved Mysteries of World War II include missing treasures, murders, and bombs.

What group was responsible for the bombing at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York? How did Glenn Miller die? What happened to all the missing treasure of those victimized during World War II? Was the aircraft of Leslie Howard, “Ashley, oh Ashley” from Gone with the Wind, shot out of the sky because of his agent’s resemblance to Winston Churchill?

This book has many intriguing questions, some conspiracy theories, some contemporary responses but no definitive answers. This absence of answers is frustrating. I believe with some more research in fewer topics, the author could have suggested his own solution to these mysteries rather than letting them hang there in the air. Because of the lack of conclusions, I have to give Unsolved Mysteries of World War II only 3 stars. It is effective only if you are willing to spend additional time researching so you can draw your own conclusions.

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

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Bad Axe County
July 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Heidi is a former Dairy Beauty Queen and the Bad Axe County, Wisconsin interim Sheriff. Her County has a heroin problem and hosts frequent stag parties in the backwoods. Heidi is trying to break up the old boy network of corruption within the Sheriff’s department. In addition, she attempts solving the murder of her parents fifteen years ago.

I wanted Bad Axe County to grab me by the throat and compel me to read quickly to its end. However, I didn’t even feel the novel’s hand tentatively reaching out to me. I just used 33 words to say what can be said in two: It’s boring. Nothing happens in the first 20% but getting the players together. Endless backstories make the plot move s-l-o-w-l-y. I also didn’t like the black and white characterizations. Calling drug addicts zombies when you are their sheriff seems excessively judgmental.

I can’t recommend this slow-moving thriller. While I loved Heidi’s personality especially her spunk, I don’t believe the pacing was correct for a thriller. 2 stars.

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

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Truth or Die
July 14th, 2019 by diane92345

In Truth or Die, Detective Sergeant Imogen and her partner (and friend with benefits), DS Adrian are investigating a professor’s death. The philosophy professor’s head was bashed in with a glass paperweight. Their sleuthing uncovers an awful truth playing out at the university.

Both Imogen and Adrian are getting over recent relationships when this tale begins. While there is a mystery and some police procedures described, this seemed more an excuse to show Imogen and Adrian’s relationship moving forward rather than the other way round. There were also a lot of character names to juggle. I found myself frequently backtracking to determine who the character was that was speaking. I believe my problem was that I was trying to read this as a standalone. It would be much easier if I had the previous four books experience with many of the characters.

If you have read the previous books in this series and don’t mind some romance, frequent gore, and occasional twists in your police procedurals, you will already know whether you will enjoy Truth or Die or not. However, if you haven’t read the other books (at least the last one, The Promise), I think you will be as confused as I was while reading this one. I can only give my own review of course, so 3 stars for this character-driven thriller.

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

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

Dead Girl in 2A
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Jake is slowly losing his memories. Is it mental illness or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?

On a plane trip to Denver, he meets the Dead Girl in 2A and she seems familiar. The girl, Clara, says the same about Jake. It won’t matter much longer because Clara is going to Colorado to kill herself.

After losing Clara in the airport, Jake desperately tries to discover his connection to her. What he discovers is mind-blowing!

The Dead Girl in 2A is a thriller but its subject is sci-fi horror. A rogue medical experiment gone awry is a great topic for a thriller that hasn’t been used since Robin Cook’s books in the 1980s. The characters seem real and it is easy to empathize with them. This would make a great Netflix series along the lines of Stranger Things. Most thriller readers will enjoy it. However, if you have suicidal thoughts, you should avoid it as it glorifies suicide a bit. 4 stars!

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

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

Stories You Tell
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Roxane is a complex, underworked private investigator trying to save her brother from a murder charge in the Stories You Tell.

When her brother Andrew calls Roxane in the middle of the night, she comes running. Andrew is worried about former co-worker and one-time (or maybe two time) lover, Addison. Addison arrived at his house earlier bloody and incoherent. She then ran off before he could get the whole story. Work has been slow for PI Roxane so she agrees to check on the girl.

Roxane discovers Addison really is missing and she worked at the nightclub across the street from Andrew’s home. When Addison’s father reports her missing, Andrew is the police’s number one suspect. Roxane decides she must solve the crime to prevent Andrew from being indicted for murder.

Stories You Tell is a character-driven police procedural where the winter setting in Ohio almost feels like a character too. Roxane’s relationships are the heart of the book with lover Catherine, ex-lover Tom who was also her dead policeman father’s partner, and her brother Andrew. There are many mysteries to solve within this book but the clues are carefully hidden making it a fun tale for armchair detectives.

Overall, the book received 4 stars from me. I’m looking forward to reading the earlier,  and subsequent, books in this series.

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

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

Sign of the Cross
July 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Sign of the Cross is a tense religious actioner that is perfect for fans of the DaVinci Code.

Cal Donovan, a Harvard professor of religion and archaeology, is called by the Pope to investigate an Italian priest’s stigmata. The stigmata is bleeding at the points where the nails entered Jesus to crucify him. Another group is also looking for the priest hoping to make a horrible weapon that promises to start the apocalypse.

It is hard not to compare Sign of the Cross to the Dan Brown books. The hero, Cal, has the same job. The reason for the task is religious. However, the DaVinci Code’s quest is both more complex and more interesting. But I’ve already read the DaVinci Code multiple times and I wasn’t very thrilled with the later books from Dan Brown. To be fair, this is a good book. The hero, the priest, the Nazis and neo-Nazis villains are mostly believable. The prose and pacing are fine. I would totally read another book by this author. However, this one was a bit too derivative for me. 3 stars!

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

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

Best Lies
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

“The Best Lies are at least half true, she said, like it’s just a matter of mixing paint, two different colors swirling together until no one can tell where the truth ends and the lie begins, a new color emerging.”

Remy is seventeen and has issues. Her family is constantly fighting with divorce looking increasingly likely. Worse, her best friend Elise, always a prankster, has shot and killed Remy’s boyfriend, Jack. Elise claims it was an accident, but was it?

Best Lies is a good young adult thriller about families, friendships, and love. It has the usual young adult over-the-top’ness. Despite the DRAMA of living at seventeen depicted here, Remy, Elise, and Jack always seemed like real with real motives behind their actions. The only negative was the excessive smoking done by the two girls, which may send the wrong message to teen readers. Still a solid 3 star read!

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

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

Storm Rising
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

There is a Storm Rising in the Middle East that may indicate the End Times have arrived.

Iskra, aka Viorica, is a trained assassin tasked with retrieving an ancient text called the Book of Wars in Israel. So is ex-SEAL Leif and his team provided by the US government. Both need to work together to seize it from Rutger Hermanns, a ruthless German businessman and part-time archaeologist, who has snatched it from Israeli scientists.

The Book of Wars has some lethal secrets best kept away from foreign powers. The book is mentioned in the Bible as being prophetic by sharing information about future wars.

Storm Rising is a typical military thriller. It has an American team of misfits from various nations and religions. There is the usual romance, mysterious back stories, and good-natured joshing of fellow team members. The initial opposition is by a lone assassin, who must get the book to save her life after one too many screw-ups in the past. However, it soon becomes apparent that Leif may have to team with Iskra to prevent the German villain from using the book for his nefarious plan.

Storm Rising is about the fight between Christians and Muslims leading into Armageddon. Muslims are clearly the enemy. Jews aren’t even mentioned. Therefore, this book is recommended only for secular and Christian readers.

The plot was good but there is not much originality here. The characters are the best part. You definitely want the heroes to win. Plus the combat scenes were intense and set the reader right in the middle of the fight. Unfortunately, there are an overwhelming number of characters plus a cliffhanger ending, which I detest. It still earns 3.5 stars! It will be even higher if you are a fan of military or action thrillers.

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

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

Alpha and Omega
July 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Alpha and Omega is the most thought-provoking thriller I’ve read this year.

A dirty bomb carried by a suicide bomber destroys the Tel Aviv bus station in Israel. An American talk show personality is on site and gets the aftermath on tape. Israelis are understandably upset. They decide to flout the long standing agreement with the Muslims by beginning an archeological dig under the Temple Mount. What they find will stun the world. What happens later will affirm God’s power over mankind. But which religion is the “correct” one?

Alpha and Omega is an awesome book. It ties Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious theory together with Middle Eastern politics and history. Readers are guaranteed to learn something new by reading this book. However, it can also be read strictly as a thriller. Will the Muslims or Jewish people win the battle over the Temple Mount? There are two love stories here too.

I can’t recommend Alpha and Omega highly enough. I loved it! Even if you are staunchly religious, this book will treat your views with respect. I liked it much better than the Left Behind series. 5 stars!

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

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

We Went to the Woods
July 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Five millennials try to live off the grid with horrible results in We Went to the Woods.

Mack has a secret that caused her to be unemployed and shunned by the world. When she meets Louisa at a high society fundraising party as a bartender, she meets Louisa’s friends, Chloe, Beau, and Jack. She also buys into Louisa’s plan for the group to move to upstate New York and live off the land. Unfortunately, the romantic picture by Thoreau doesn’t work as they expected. Sexual tensions and rivalries, lack of farming/survival skills, and headstrong roommates cause the drama here.

I enjoyed the build-up to the group’s arrival at the Homestead. However, I really couldn’t get past three things. First, I didn’t like or care what happened to any of the characters. Second, you knew from the beginning something “horrible” was going to happen because of heavy foreshadowing rather than building up suspense to naturally lead the reader to that knowledge. Finally, it seemed full of stereotypical rich spoiled millennials. Couldn’t they have put one person who wasn’t such a dick in the story? Someone to root for? I didn’t see anyone like that throughout this novel. If it bothers me, a baby boomer, I could see it being perceived even more negatively by real millennials.

While I didn’t enjoy We Went to the Woods as a thriller because it didn’t have the correct pacing, it may be acceptable to some readers as literary fiction. The discussions of the history of communes and living off the land was interesting. However, I think it is a difficult read if you need to like or identify with a novel’s characters. Overall, a 3 star read for me.

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

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

Toxic Toffee
July 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

Bailey, Aiden, and the rest of the village of Harvest Ohio return in Toxic Toffee, the fourth in the Amish Candy Shop cozy mystery series.

It’s a week before Easter when the village’s self-appointed marketer, Margot, convinces chocolatier Bailey to make a six foot toffee bunny for the town square. Margot had also arranged for Stephen Raber to bring several rabbits to form a petting zoo. Stephen has a pet bunny named Puff that he treats like a child. When Stephen drops dead on the square, most assume it was his weak heart. However, the coroner determines he was poisoned by a piece of toffee that contained Lily of the Valley. When Stephen’s son Eli asks for Bailey to investigate, he also drops off Puff. How can she refuse either request?

It always seems like I’m catching up with old friends when I’m reading a book in this series. In Toxic Toffee, Bailey reaches even deeper into Amish culture by attending a quilting circle, talking to a matchmaker, and discovering how people who leave the faith survive in the modern world.

The mystery was great. The murderer’s identity was a complete surprise to me. Overall, another great book in an excellent series. 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: , , ,

Paranoid
June 28th, 2019 by diane92345

Rachel has PTSD after a teenage game of tag turns deadly for her half-brother, Luke. Twenty years and a divorce later, she feels people are following her and that objects are being moved in her house by intruders. Is it real or is she just being Paranoid?

Luke’s death was ruled an accident but many in the town, including Rachel, believe Rachel pulled the trigger. Was she found not at fault because of manipulation of the evidence by her detective father? Who is terrorizing her now and why?

Rachel is annoying so I’m glad she isn’t my mother or sister. However, I loved the multiple twists at the end of this unpredictable read. Paranoid is an excellent thriller with a multitude of both suspects and crimes. It is highly recommended for all thriller readers but especially for those who try to solve the crime before the final resolution. 4 stars!

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

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Black Jersey
June 26th, 2019 by diane92345

You are racing on a bicycle in the Tour de France. It’s your first race as a professional earning 50 euros a week (or almost $57 American). Not enough to support this expensive sport but enough to enter the race. If you win the yellow jersey (first place) in even one of the twenty-one stages of the race, you will get some sweet endorsement deals. Unfortunately, you are a domestique destined to help others win but never win yourself. When a series of mishaps befall some of the top racers, the French police ask you to help with their inquiries from within. You agree. What you find will rock your world…

I don’t follow professional cycling and have only occasionally watched it during the Olympics. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Black Jersey. In addition to determining the saboteur, it was exciting to feel a part of the races riding first person as Frenchman Marc, the domestique of American Steve both with team Fonar. The author effortlessly weaves the racing into the mystery and the mystery into the racing. The road and the mystery are extremely twisty. The suspects are many. The conclusion was unexpected even though all the clues were in place.

Black Jersey is highly recommended for thriller readers. 5 stars!

26Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Left Fur Dead
June 25th, 2019 by diane92345

The author of Left Fur Dead had me at “telepathic rabbit”.

Jules runs a rabbit rescue on her farm in rural New Hampshire with a yarn store on the premises. Walking with Jules one snowy morning, her pet rabbit, Bun, finds a dead body. The body is Arty, the local mime. Later, a break-in at Jule’s farm brings a warning that the rabbits must be released as Arty wanted. What is the connection between Arty’s death and the perpetrator? Jules and Bun investigate to find out.

I was grateful to read a cozy mystery that wasn’t about needlework, cats, or dogs for a change. A telepathic rabbit at a rabbit rescue seemed like a fun idea. Unfortunately, Left Fur Dead also dumps the traditional light romance and the placing of clues to follow to identify the murderer. I missed the romance. The only person that Jules seems attracted to is the married sheriff and her bunny. Seriously…really? By the end, I was hoping she would hook up with the female vet. Now that would be innovative! For me the biggest problem is that there is literally no way to determine the murderer’s identity (or at least I never saw it) before his reveal at the end of the book. As an armchair detective, I expect the author to play fair and this one appeared not to. I realize J.M. Miller has written many other cozy series so I may try one of those before investing any more time in this one—though I will miss Bun. 2 stars.

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

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

First Mistake
June 21st, 2019 by diane92345

Why wait for Reese Witherspoon’s stamp of approval? If you don’t snap up this jaw-dropping domestic thriller immediately, that would be your First Mistake.

Alice had the perfect marriage with Tom and their daughter, Sophie. They were starting an interior design company together. Then he died.

Now, Alice is married to Nathan. The company she owns is doing great. Nathan’s help with the finances is vital allowing Alice to focus solely on the designs.

Alice and Beth’s daughters attend the same school. Beth and Alice become best friends. Ten years earlier, Beth’s lover left her and their daughter for another woman so the two women bond over their shared losses of their daughters’ biological fathers.

As with the author’s first thriller, The Other Woman, First Mistake starts out slow. But once the dominoes of Alice’s life start falling, the surprises don’t stop until the startling conclusion. If you like domestic thrillers where nothing is as it seems, you must read this book. It has great characters and the best plot twists I’ve seen for a while. 4.5 stars!

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

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