2019 Book 256: BLIND SPOT by Brenda Novak

Blind Spot, The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #4, by Brenda Novak 
ISBN: 9781250076595 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781466888036 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250243515 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07NCW9T13 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 27, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks


New York Times bestseller Brenda Novak’s Evelyn Talbot series returns, with a heavily pregnant Evelyn being held hostage.



With Jasper Moore, the privileged boy who attacked her when she was only sixteen, finally caught and in prison, Dr. Evelyn Talbot, founder and head psychiatrist at Hanover House (a prison/research facility for psychopaths in remote Alaska), believes she can finally quit looking over her shoulder. She’s safe, happier than she’s ever been and expecting her first child. She’s also planning to marry Amarok, her Alaska State Trooper love interest and the town’s only police presence. But before the wedding can take place, a psychopath from the much more recent past comes out of nowhere and kidnaps her in broad daylight. Instead of planning her wedding, Evelyn finds herself doing everything she can to survive, save her baby and devise some way to escape while Amarok races the clock to find her – before it’s too late.



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Dr. Evelyn Talbot has worked long and hard to establish Hanover House, a one-of-a-kind prison and mental health research facility. Initially, the inhabitants of Hilltop, Alaska were opposed to bringing a bunch of psychopaths to their town and it didn’t matter that they would be locked up in a secure facility. But the facility was built despite the N-I-M-B-Y attitude, and despite a rocky start and several area murders, the facility and the workers became accepted, especially Evelyn Talbot after she began a relationship with Alaskan Trooper Benjamin “Amarok” Murphy. Amarok is well-loved and respected in Hilltop and that love and respect gradually transferred over to Evelyn. Now that they’re engaged and expecting their first child, the residents of Hilltop are just as anxious about the nuptials and expectant delivery as the waiting couple/parents-to-be. Then Evelyn disappears. Amarok finds that she’s been abducted from their doorstep. His first suspicion is that Evelyn’s old nemesis, Jasper Moore, must have escaped from Hanover House but he’s still safely behind bars. He then checks on the one other person he presumes might have a motive to kidnap Evelyn, but this person suffered a massive brain trauma and other physical injuries is still hospitalized in the lower 48. Evelyn’s pregnancy is high risk given her age and the injuries she sustained from her teenage dealings with Jasper. Amarok has no clues on who took Evelyn or where she might be? How can he find her in time? Will he be able to find her in time?

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Hanover House a few years ago, so of course I had to reread it along with Her Darkest Nightmare, Hello Again, and Face Off before I read Blind Spot to refamiliarize myself with Evelyn, Amarok, and Hanover House. I found Blind Spot to be a fast-paced and engaging read but also slightly different from the previous books in this series. Although there is murder, intrigue, and even mayhem, this book didn’t seem as dark as the others. Both Amarok and Evelyn remain hopeful and optimistic throughout this ordeal, primarily because of Evelyn’s pregnancy but also because of their love, faith, and trust in one another. Having said that, we are also exposed to a side of Amarok we’ve never seen before. This is an emotionally distraught Amarok and one living on the edge, giving up sleep, and willing to do whatever he can to find his loved ones. Blind Spot is an interesting romantic-suspense read because the romance is one-step removed. Throughout most of the story, Evelyn and Amarok don’t see one another and can’t talk to one another, but their love sustains each other. When others have given up hope about finding Evelyn, Amarok keeps going, and  Evelyn knows throughout all of her trials and indignities that Amarok will find her no matter what. If you’ve read the previous books in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Blind Spot to read. For those of you that enjoy suspense thrillers with a touch of romance, then I encourage you to start with Hanover House and read through to Blind Spot. I sincerely hope this isn’t the end of the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles because I want to know what happens next (trust me, that will make sense after you read Blind Spot). For now, I guess I’ll just set these books aside and simply reread them in a few months.


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2019 Book 225: NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson 
ISBN: 9780062855312 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062855336 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062855336 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07DTC3MTW (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 30, 2019 
Publisher: William Morrow


In this game, even winning can be deadly…


Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love-filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.




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Amy Whey is a happily married woman with a teenage stepdaughter and infant son. She loves her family and her life. It has taken Amy a long time to get to a point in her life where she feels happy with who and where she is in life. Amy was involved in a car accident as a teenager that took the life of a neighbor that she babysat for and destroyed a family. Her mother never forgave her for being the reason their family had to uproot their Florida roots and relocate to Massachusetts during her beloved older brother’s senior year of high school. Amy never forgave herself for not standing up for her best friend, Tig, immediately after the accident. It took years for Amy to forgive herself and get her life on an even keel and now she’s back in Florida and quite happy until Angelica Roux shows up and seems intent on destroying the calm and sisterhood in the neighborhood as well as Amy’s liberty. Blackmail isn’t pretty, but can Amy pay Roux the money she’s demanding and be assured that will be the end of it? The bigger question seems to be just who has more to lose and can you ever be free from your past? Who has more to protect and gain? How far is too far when it comes to protecting your freedom, your family, and your friends?

I think I’ve probably read everything that Joshilyn Jackson has written and I definitely have my favorites (The Almost Sisters ranks at the top at the moment although I may have a new favorite). Never Have I Ever is a bit different from most of the books written by Ms. Jackson as this is her first suspense thriller and let me tell you she’s not playing around with this one. This story has plenty of twists and turns in it that kept me guessing until the very end, especially when it came to Roux (no, I’m not going to reveal the secrets — read the book to find out for yourself!). Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, you guessed it, plot twist. I loved the fact that I couldn’t quite figure out where the story was going on. I knew Roux was a bad girl, but there were a few times when I felt sympathy for her (that didn’t last long). I really liked Amy, her husband Davis, her stepdaughter Madison aka Maddy or Mads, Amy’s friend Charlotte or Char, and Tighler “Tig” Simms, and baby Oliver. I loved the introduction of Amy’s backstory in bits and pieces because it felt as if I was putting together a puzzle along with the contemporary storylines. I enjoyed the friendship between Amy and Char, as well as the interactions between Amy and her family. There’s a lot going on in this story, but it all works and works quite well. There are surprises throughout the story as well as a surprise ending (again, no I’m not telling you what the surprise is, read the book!) and I don’t think it could have ended any other way. I’m hardpressed to find anything about this story that I didn’t like especially the themes of family, friendship, expiation for past mistakes, forgiveness, and guilt. If you’ve ever read anything by Ms. Jackson in the past, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Never Have I Ever to read. If you’re into suspense-thrillers and haven’t read anything by this author, then I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Never Have I Ever to read. I’ll be putting my copy of Never Have I Ever on the shelf for a few weeks before I re-read it (yes, it was just that good!). Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+ and a free print review copy from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers’ Program. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2019 Book 68: BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
ISBN: 9780062838155 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062838179 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062838186 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07BK1HP2L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publication Date: March 5, 2019


Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

 

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder. . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .






Henrietta “Hen” Mazur is an artist. She’s also bipolar and has a history of obsessions going back to college. In college, she just “knew” her dorm mate had attempted to kill her roommate by giving her the flu. She then “knew” the dorm mate was out to kill her simply because she knew the truth. That whole situation ended with Hen being hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar, a restraining order being placed against her, her withdrawal from that college and transferring to a different college. After her marriage to Lloyd and whilst living in Cambridge, MA, Hen became obsessed with the death of an area resident. Now that they have moved to a suburb outside of Boston, Hen is convinced her next door neighbor is the murderer. She attempts to convince the Cambridge detectives of what she knows, but that doesn’t go very well. She then decides to keep an eye on her neighbor, witnesses him stalking then murdering a local man, and subsequently identifies her neighbor as the killer to the police. Hen is suspicious of Matthew, who in turn is suspicious of her suspicions. Will anyone ever take her reports seriously given her past behaviors or will her neighbor literally be able to get away with murder?

I’ve read several books by Peter Swanson in the past and found them all to be well-written, twisted, and filled with surprises throughout and Before She Knew Him is an excellent example of his work. There are a lot of nuances to this book including the fact that a person with a known mental health problem isn’t often taken seriously by law enforcement despite the fact that they may be able to provide crucial evidence. Hen’s situation is an excellent example of this predicament and seems to exemplify the old adage that just because a person is paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone after them. Hen knows what she knows and no one believes her or so she thinks initially. She quickly comes to realize that Matthew definitely knows what is going on and is willing to use her past against her. When Matthew and Mira get a restraining order against Hen, it seems as if the story might have nowhere to go but then several twists and surprises arise. No, I’m not going to reveal what they are…read the book! Mr. Swanson fills Before She Knew Him with psychological suspense and enough plot twists and turns to give the reader motion sickness (trust me, this is a good thing). It was impossible to determine what was going to happen next and I love that in a story. I empathized with Hen and even Mira and felt Matthew deserved whatever might happen to him. I wish I could say more about Lloyd, Hen’s husband, but let’s just say that even he isn’t as nice a guy as he initially appears. I’m wholeheartedly recommending Before She Knew Him to all of you lovers of the mystery-suspense genre as well as those of you looking for something a little different to read. Come on, read outside of your comfort zone this year by grabbing a copy of Before She Knew Him to read. You may be surprised by just how much you like it. 



Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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2018 Book 313: PIECES OF HER by Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
ISBN: 9780062430274 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062430298 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781504780025 (audiobook)
ASIN: B074DTKCR3 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 21, 2018 


The #1 internationally bestselling author returns with a new novel in the vein of her New York Times bestsellers Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter—a story even more electrifying, provocative, and suspenseful than anything she’s written before.

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?

Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . .  



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Andrea Cooper put her life on hold, okay it wasn’t much of a life when she received a phone call from her mother stating she had breast cancer. She returned to Georgia and helped out because that’s what you do. Now, she’s working at the 911-call center and living in the apartment above her mother’s garage. It isn’t much of a life, but Andrea’s making do. All of that changes in the blink of an eye when a teenage boy enters a restaurant one day intent on seeking revenge against his former girlfriend and her mother along with anyone else that gets in his way. The person that stops him isn’t Andrea, but Andrea’s mother Laura and she stops him by brutally murdering him in an effort to protect Andrea from being shot. Now Laura wants Andrea to not only leave her apartment but to leave Georgia and run. Why? Andrea isn’t sure, but what she does know is that her mother is hiding something big and Andrea is determined to find out what it is before it’s too late for them both.

Let me just say that I’ve read almost everything that Ms. Karin Slaughter has written and she’s one of my favorite authors. Needless to say when I was offered the opportunity to read her newest work, Pieces of Her I screamed YES! and am I glad I did. Pieces of Her is a taut suspense thriller that weaves Laura’s backstory from thirty years ago with Laura and Andrea’s present story. Ms. Slaughter provides just enough twists and turns that you’re not quite sure where the story is going and when you get there you’re pleasantly surprised to see where you are. Pieces of Her blends elements of domestic terrorism (no, I can’t tell you more…read the book), international intrigue, and suspense with family angst and drama. I thoroughly enjoyed the action, drama, characters, and settings. I found myself trying to figure out what would happen next as I was reading and, thankfully, I was wrong each time (I love when that happens; I personally don’t want to read a story that is that predictable). This story is much more than Andrea’s quest to find out who her mother is, it is a quest for the truth and a search for identity. Andrea is searching for who she is as well as who her mother is and where she came from. For those of you that have read anything by Ms. Slaughter in the past, I probably don’t need to tell you to grab a copy of Pieces of Her, but I will anyway. If you have never read anything by Ms. Slaughter, here’s your chance – go and get a copy of Pieces of Her to read, I only hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I’m quite serious people, Pieces of Her is a must read book!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the



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Book 186: RUIN FALLS Review



Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman
ISBN: 9780345549075 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345549082 (ebook)
ASIN: B00G8EKYTY  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Ballantine Books


Liz Daniels has every reason to be happy about setting off on a rare family vacation, leaving behind her remote home in the Adirondack Mountains for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have met their paternal grandparents only a handful of times. But Liz’s husband, Paul, has decided that, despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood. On their way to the farm, the family stops at a hotel for the night. In the morning, when Liz goes to check on her sleeping children, all her anxiety comes roaring back: Ally and Reed are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice-cold terror as the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of the kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, and detectives are called in. Frantic worry and helplessness threaten to overtake Liz’s mind—but in a sudden, gut-wrenching instant she realizes that it was no stranger who slipped into the hotel room that night. Someone she trusted completely has betrayed her. Though she knows that Ally and Reid are safe, Liz will stop at nothing to find them and get them back. From her guarded in-laws’ unwelcoming farmhouse to the deep woods of her own hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares.


Liz and Paul Daniels seem to have it all: a beautiful family a wonderful marriage, and similar life goals. They have a large beautiful home in the country, Paul has a job he loves teaching at a local college, and Liz has a small, thriving boutique business growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They both feel that they need to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint, drive a hybrid vehicle, and want to do their very best to ensure their children aren’t physically polluted by GMO foods, preservatives, etc. All seems well when the Daniels’ family sets off to visit Paul’s parents in western New York. After a day’s drive, fraught with reckless drivers, Paul agrees to allow the family to spend the night at a hotel on the road. Disaster strikes as Liz wakes up the next morning to find that her children are gone. Just when the horror of the children being abducted sinks in, Paul disappears. What could make her loving husband abduct their children? Where could they possibly have gone? 

Ruin Falls spotlights one of a parent’s worst nightmares, their children being abducted. Liz knows that the police aren’t taking her seriously and since she hasn’t found any clues at Paul’s parents’ farm she heads back home. Tired, anxious, and stressed to the max, Liz embarks on a quest to find the truth. Her search overlaps with other tales of spousal abuse, overbearing parents, and sheer madness. The more Liz learns, the more questions she finds need to be answered, but can she uncover all of the answers before her children are gone forever?

I found Ruin Falls to be a fast-paced read. Each family’s story provides vital clues into what is happening. I don’t think of Ruin Falls as a mystery so much as a suspense thriller. Liz endures quite a bit in her search for her children and it is this endurance and the inherent obstacles that add to the overall build of tension within the story. Ms. Milchman has created another mesmerizing tale of family dysfunction with very realistic, multidimensional characters that will grab you from the very beginning. If you enjoy suspense thrillers with a family element, then Ruin Falls is the perfect book for you. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Milchman in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 36: STRIKING BACK Review

Striking Back by Mark Nykanen
ISBN: 9781611940169
Publication date: February 2, 2012
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books

These men like to hurt women. Now it’s payback time for an unknown murderer who’s slaughtering the abusers in ways that mirror the ugly violence they forced upon the women in their lives. Maybe the men deserve it. But as the death count grows-and media interest explodes-innocent people could get caught in the killer’s revenge.
Los Angeles therapist Gwyn Sanders keeps her ugly family history to herself. More than twenty years ago, when she was still a teen, her violent stepfather died a grisly, mysterious death. Gwyn knows all the secrets but she’s not talking about the past-she’s too busy trying to change the future by breaking the cycle of domestic violence. The men she counsels aren’t saints, but maybe she can change the mindset that makes their lives-and the lives of the people closest to them-so miserable.
But when someone starts killing her controversial clients, Gwyn becomes LAPD’s primary suspect. After all, there’s the unsolved mystery of her stepfather’s bizarre death. Maybe Gwyn has a hidden desire for justice that’s far from therapeutic.
Dr. Howard “Hark” Harken says he believes her. The forensic psychiatriest is an expert on serial killers, but a questionable death lingers in his own past-of a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Gwyn.


Being a counselor/therapist for men who abuse their partners or children is difficult. The difficulty increases when the therapist is a woman, especially one with a history of abuse. Gwyn Sanders has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to live with an abusive male . . . her stepfather. Now that members of her therapy group are being targeted, the police are targeting Gwyn and reinvestigating her stepfather’s death. Unfortunately for Gwyn, several of her therapy subjects feel that she may be the “cause” of their fellow member’s death and the group members become even more violent, verbally at first, as more members die horrible deaths. Fortunately, the police soon realize that Gwyn is not the killer nor is she instigating the murders. But the questions remain who is killing off these abusive men and why?

Mr. Nykanen has provided a captivating thriller in Striking Back. The characters are all too realistic with their quirks and flaws. Although the acts of these abusers are despicable and hated, it is easy to feel a small amount of sympathy for them as they suffer through the abuse of the killer. The burgeoning relationship between Gwyn and Hark provides a softer side against the ever-increasing violence against the members of the therapy group. The story is filled with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing “whodunit” to the very end. Striking Back isn’t filled with blood, guts and gore although there is a certain amount of violence; it is quite simply an extremely well-crafted suspense thriller.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Book 31: TWICE Review

Twice by Lisa Unger
ISBN: 9780307953179
Publication date: February 7, 2012 (first published in 2004) 
Publisher: Random House

Acclaimed artist Julian Ross has just been found standing over her husband’s bloody corpse in their New York City apartment. Julian claims that she slept peacefully beside him while he was violently stabbed in their bed. But police are skeptical, especially since Julian’s first husband was killed and mutilated in exactly the same way. Julian turns to the tough-as-nails crime writer Lydia Strong, who plunges into the case with her signature grit and the help of her partner, P.I. Jeffrey Mark.       

Meanwhile, Lydia learns that Jed McIntyre, the serial killer who murdered her mother, is on the loose in New York. McIntyre is out for Lydia’s blood, and his presence forces her to confront the evils of her past while solving her toughest murder case yet. 


Lydia is being cautious now that she knows Jed McIntyre is in New York. Jeffrey Mark, her fiancé and business partner isn’t taking any chances, especially since they just learned she’s pregnant, and has hired a bodyguard, Dax Chicago, to shadow her at all times. Lydia is slowly getting used to idea of impending motherhood, and has doubts about her abilities to be a good mother. She has a serial killer after her, a wedding to consider, a baby on the way and now a high-profile murder case to investigate . . . what more could a woman want?

Lydia and Jeffrey are hired by Julian’s mother, Eleanor, to prove Julian’s innocence in her husband’s murder. With her second husband murdered in bed beside her, Julian suffers an emotional breakdown and is hospitalized. Detective Halford McKirdy knows that second murder done in the exact same manner with only Julian as a “witness” or “innocent bystander” is a bit much to swallow. Julian was found not guilty in the murder case of her first husband, and now the stakes have been raised.

As Lydia and Jeffrey launch their investigation, they find that there are numerous loose strings to the information provided by Eleanor. She conveniently forgets to inform them that her husband was killed in a manner very similar to both of Julian’s husbands. She also neglected to tell them that Julian has a twin brother that escaped from an upstate mental facility and is presumed dead or that she also had a twin brother. Lydia gravitates toward Julian’s artwork to help uncover clues in their investigation. Meanwhile Dax and Jeffrey head underground in a search for Jed McKinley.

Twice, the third in the Lydia Strong series, provides great suspense and thrills as Lydia and Jeffrey basically search for two serial killers. The search takes them to a small town upstate and a shadow city underground. The investigations aren’t neat and bloodless, but as the body count grows their determination also grows. The tension and suspense gradually build until the very end. This is one page turner you don’t want to miss if you like a bit of psychological suspense thrown in with your thrills and chills.
   
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 282: DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD Review

Lauren Lawton is a woman on the edge. Her eldest daughter has been missing for four years, presumed abducted and dead. Her husband died in an automobile accident two years ago. She clings to life for the sake of her younger daughter Leah and strives to obtain justice for her missing daughter Leslie in Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag.

Life isn’t always fair and the justice system isn’t always just. Lauren knows this better than others because the man she knows is responsible for her daughter’s disappearance has never been arrested or tried for his crime, Roland Ballencoa. To make matters worse he had actually been able to get a restraining order placed against her. All Lauren wants is to know what happened to her daughter and receive justice. If the system won’t give it to her then she may need to get it for herself.

Leah’s life has been hell for the past four years since her older sister Leslie disappeared. Leah isn’t allowed to be home alone or even go anywhere alone. The only thing good to come out of their recent move to a new town is she is allowed to work at a horse farm a few days a week. This work brings a new friend into her life, Wendy. Finally she has someone that understands the trauma her family has experienced and doesn’t consider her a freak because of it. But Leah knows that she isn’t dealing with the situation in a good way, and maybe she is a freak after all.

Detective Mendez feels sympathy for Ms. Lawton. He knows that there may be little the system can actually do against the suspect in her daughter’s case simply because there is no evidence. His sympathy is the impetus needed for him to delve a little deeper into Leslie’s disappearance. The more he digs, the more he understands Lauren’s feelings. Will he be able to find evidence to provide the abduction before things get out of hand?

Down the Darkest Road is a glimpse into the minds of a family torn apart by tragedy. Lauren is so focused on getting vengeance, if not justice, for her missing daughter Leslie that she neglects the needs of her remaining child, Leah. Leah has a lot of hostility against her missing sister and against her deceased father. Unfortunately she doesn’t really have an outlet for these feelings and can’t disclose them to her mother. Ms. Hoag even provides glimpses into the motivation and mind of the prime suspect, Roland Ballencoa. Much of the action centers on a cat-and-mouse like game between Lauren and Ballencoa, and even Ballencoa and law enforcement. This back and forth builds the tension and kept me on edge during most of the book.  Down the Darkest Road was a quick read but it is by no means an easy read due to the psychological tension and underlying darkness associated with child abduction and sexual predators. This may not be a book for everyone but if you want to read a good suspense/psychological thriller, this may well be the book for you.

Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag will be available on 12/27/2011.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





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Book 281: THE BURNING EDGE Review

Lisa Palmer, a widow and single mother, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. She thought she was just stopping at a rest area to take a small break and grab a few items before heading back to her children. Unfortunately her stop on that particular day would put her front and center in an armored truck robbery gone awry. Witnessing this crime puts her on The Burning Edge, a new suspense thriller by Rick Mofina.

Lisa hated having to put the family’s lakeside cabin up for sale. It had been in her husband’s family for more than 60 years and had been a welcome vacation refuge for their family. It should have been a simple four hour drive back to the city after signing the sales papers, but nothing that day was simple. Lisa became a witness to a daring and senselessly violent armored truck robbery at a highway rest area. One of the robbers killed the armed FBI agent in front of her and would have killed her as well.

Frank Morrow has just been given a death sentence. He is an FBI agent and was just informed that he has a particularly aggressive form of cancer that will most likely kill him within 12-18 months. Frank isn’t given much time to think about his choices in this matter before being pulled into an investigation that has ended with four dead, including one FBI agent. The highly organized crime becomes his sole focus for the next few days as he tries to track down the robbers turned killers. 

Jack Gannon is a reporter for a national wire service. His investigation into the armed robbery leads to information that even the FBI doesn’t have and certainly doesn’t want revealed. Jack’s investigation leads him to a story that involves overseas ghost ops and rogue agencies. His investigation also leads him to Lisa and her story.

The Burning Edge is a fast-paced suspense thriller. The investigations by the FBI and Jack Gannon provide insight into the behind the scenes action of dual investigators: criminal and journalistic. Mr. Mofina also provides a glimpse into the motivations of the robbers by including a storyline that includes one of the robbers. All of the major characters are constantly on edge for one reason or another. Jack must deal with the constant threat of his story being one-upped by the competition. Frank is trying to find cop-killers as well as deal with the stress of his recent diagnosis. Lisa has to deal with the new stress of being a witness to a vicious crime and worry that she may continue to be a target for the killers. Ivan Felk, a robber and admitted killer, deals with stress of trying to complete his agenda before a deadline or more people will die, including his brother and several co-workers. All of the characters are well-rounded and realistic, including the bad guys. The Burning Edge combines action, suspense and subtle personal drama to provide a story that kept me engrossed to the very end. 

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”








Book 260: MEASURE OF DARKNESS Review

Take one missing, possibly abducted child, one deceased research physicist, one missing Chinese national, one top secret, government-sponsored research project, and one secret possibly black ops force and find the common denominator. All are key components in Measure of Darkness by Chris Jordan.

Measure of Darkness is a suspense thriller centering on the missing, possibly abducted child of the now-deceased research physicist. Dr. Joseph Keener hired renowned child finder Randall Shane to locate his missing son, Joey. The only problem is Shane is wanted for the murder of Dr. Keener. Shane turns to a local private firm to assist him in the search for the missing child. It looks like a routine case until some unknown black ops type force enters the firm’s Back Bay headquarters and abducts Shane.  The head of this firm is Naomi Nantz, a skillful investigator and coordinator. Ms. Nantz is assisted by Alice Crane – the secretary, Mrs. Beasley – the chef (cook is too plebeian a term for her gastronomic delights), Teddy Boyle – resident computer guy, and Jack Delancey – chief investigator and former FBI agent. 

As the team attempts to prove that Shane is innocent and find Joey, they reveal layer after layer of intrigue. Dr. Keener’s co-workers and students apparently were not aware that he had a child. There is no record of the child and it appears that his mother is a Chinese national that is also missing. Not a problem, except that Dr. Keener’s research company was working on a top-secret, government-sponsored research project. Is it possible that Dr. Keener was killed by a foreign government? Was Joey kidnaped to help keep Dr. Keener in line? Just when the team thinks they have a grasp on the situation more dead bodies appear. If dead bodies aren’t bad enough, there are apparent ties to a federal case from Jack’s past. There are too many things occurring for these to be coincidental.

Measure of Darkness provides a great premise as a suspense thriller. There are numerous twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader involved, but parts of the plot seem mired in the secretive black ops/government conspiracy theme. Although this theme may seem farfetched, it works. Naomi Nantz seems to be a combination of Hercule Poirot sans the mustache and accent and Columbo sans the wrinkled trench coat. Although she isn’t a field-agent per se, she does quite well at being able to step back and see the big picture. The narrative is told from the point of view of Alice, and I think that this helps to keep the story grounded as Alice isn’t wealthy or a genius but simply a hard-working, intelligent young woman that has survived hardships. If you’re in the market for a fast-paced suspense thriller that is also a quick read, then Measure of Darkness may be just the book for you.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”