Tag: murder mystery

Book Review: The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell

the family upstairs
Image belongs to Atria Books.

Title:  The Family Upstairs
AuthorLisa Jewell
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Libby Jones turned 25, she received the letter she’d been waiting on her whole life, the letter telling her who she really was and who her parents were. She wasn’t expecting to find out she is the sole inheritor of an abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames worth millions of dollars. She wasn’t expecting the story of how she was found, either.

Twenty-five years ago, neighbors called the cops to report a crying baby. The officers found Libby—called Serenity then—a happy, healthy 10-month old, in her crib. In the kitchen they found three dead bodies starting to decay and a hasty note. There was no trace of the other two adults, or the four kids rumored to live there. Nor was there any trace of whoever had been caring for the baby.

Libby has been waiting her whole life find out who she is—but she’s not the only one who’s been waiting. And asking questions about the past just might draw more than answers out of the dark.

This was a creepy tale of family suspense—not to mention dark manipulation and the growth of a cult. Weird family. Weird kids. Weird situation. But I was completely intrigued with the tale and finished it in one sitting.

Lisa Jewell is a New York Times-bestselling author. The Family Upstairs is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Spell of Murder, by Kennedy Kerr

a spell of murder
Image belongsto Bookouture.

Title:  A Spell of Murder
Author:   Kennedy Kerr
Genre:  Mystery, fantasy
Rating:  4.0

Love’s Curiosities Inc. is a small shop full of odds and ends and curiosities that most people overlook. Temerity Love and her sister Tilda grew up there and now own it. Things have changed a bit since their parents owned the shop but magic still happens there. Tilda is a witch and Temerity is renowned for her ability to touch objects and see where they came from.

When a local schoolteacher is murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, an antique hand mirror is found nearby, and the local investigator asks for Temerity’s help finding the murder. Too bad his new protegee, grumpy out-of-towner Angus isn’t so open-minded. As Temerity starts asking questions, she’s determined to find out who killed the schoolteacher—with or without the help of the townspeople.

I really enjoyed this cozy mystery mixed with magic! The characters are unique and quirky, and the town was vibrantly alive, filled with a sense of history and stories lurking around every corner. The writing is solid, and I just sort of settled into this novel and enjoyed it.

Kennedy Kerr is an author with a love of all things Scottish. A Spell of Murder, the first book in the Lost Maidens Loch Mysteries, is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Bookouture via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Lies We Tell, by Debra Webb

the lies we tell
Image belongs to Harlequin/Mira.

Title:  The Lies We Tell
Author:    Debra Webb
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

A serial killer is after her. Dr. Rowan Dupont knows this. And she’s ready for the waiting to be over. But first, she wants answers. She was just a child when her mother took her own life, and now she realizes she didn’t know her mother at all. How well did the killer know her mother? And what secrets was her mother hiding?

When a bizarre double murder leads to even more horrible discoveries, Rowan works with her lifelong friend Billy, now chief of police, to uncover the truth. But Rowan’s childhood home—a Victorian funeral home—has seen more dark secrets than Rowan can imagine. And her desire for answers only leads to more questions.

I have not read the first book in this series, but that didn’t significantly detract from reading this one. I had no problem catching up with the backstory and settling myself into this story. Rowan is struggling with the horrors from her past—and there are a lot of them—as well as waiting for the serial killer she’s known for years to come after her. She knows he’s watching, but she can’t just not seek to find answers to her questions. This a is a solid suspense read, with just a hint of romance.

Debra Webb is an award-winning, bestselling author. The Lies We Tell is her newest novel, the second in The Undertaker’s Daughter series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Mira via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Pretty Guilty Women, by Gina LaManna

pretty guilty women
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  Pretty Guilty Women
Author:    Gina LaManna
Genre:  Mystery, thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

At the exclusive spa where the Banks wedding is about to take place, the luxurious surroundings promise a peaceful, posh vacation where old friends can catch up and relaxation is key. Until a man ends up dead—and four different women claim they murdered him.

Kate is used to excess and luxury—but not to being dumped at the front desk by her wealthy boyfriend. She’s used to being envied, but she is the one feeling jealous on this trip as she meets up with her college roommates and sees the lives they have.

Ginger has just about had it with the chaos of family life. Her kids won’t listen, her husband is oblivious, and everyone depends on mom to hold things together. Ginger just wishes she were a bit more carefree—like her college days before her best friend betrayed her.

Emily just wants the pain to stop. She’ll eventually drown it in a bottle, like always, but seeing her old friends dredges up secrets she’d prefer to keep hidden.

Lulu’s used to love being easy-come, easy-go, but she really loves her fifth husband. Now he’s hiding something, and she’s determined to find out the truth—or else.

This book was well-written and engrossing from the first page. All these women are fascinating, and I was drawn into their stories immediately. I love how the story is told in bits and pieces from each of their viewpoints, while drawing out the mystery of what really happened. Entirely binge-worthy, this is a book that will keep you hooked as you race to find out what really happened.

Gina LaManna lives near the beach. Pretty Guilty Women is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: What Happened that Night, by Deanna Cameron

what happened that night
Image belongs to Wattpad Books.

Title:  What Happened that Night
Author:    Deanna Cameron
Genre:  YA
Rating: 
4 out of 5

Clara Porterfield had a crush on Griffin Tomlin as long as she could remember, but he was always just the boy across the street, never anything else. Until that night:  the night that he showed her who he really was and made her realize that people are not always what they seem.

Four months ago, Griffin was found dead and Clara’s sister, Emily, was arrested for his murder. Emily isn’t saying a word, but she wants Clara to. Clara doesn’t know what to think. Did Emily murder Griffin for what he did to Clara—or is there even more to this story than Clara can imagine? Finding out the truth might set her free from her guilt, but what else will it drag into the light?

What Happened that Night was not what I expected. At all. I liked Clara. She’s been through some horrific things, but she’s struggling to be strong and find out the truth—even if the truth will change the way she sees the world forever. I wasn’t a fan of her dad, but her mom and the other supporting characters were great, especially Anniston, who lives in pink and wants to be a journalist.

What Happened that Night is the new book by Deanna Cameron.

(Galley courtesy of Wattpad Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Stranger Inside, by Lisa Unger

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Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title:  The Stranger Inside
Author:  Lisa Unger
Genre:   Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

When Rain Winter was 12, she barely escaped the clutches of a murderous madman with her life. Her two best friends, Hank and Tessa, were not so lucky. Hank was forever scarred by his experiences that day, and Tessa never came home. When the killer was released, Rain lived in fear—until someone killed him.

Now Rain is a stay-at-home mom who does her best not to think about those dark days, although she misses her time as an investigative journalist. Then another man who got away with murder ends up dead, and Rain starts to wonder if there’s any connection between this case—and the one from her own past.

The Stranger Inside had quite the twist I never saw coming. Rain is a nuanced character, both longing for her journalist days and yearning to give herself completely to motherhood. I found Hank fascinating—and likable—despite his issues, and I enjoyed the twining of past and present to show the reader the rest of the story.

Lisa Unger is a bestselling author. The Stranger Inside is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Seekers, by Heather Graham

The Seekers
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   The Seekers
Author:   Heather Graham
Genre:   Mystery, suspense, paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Kerri Wolfe writes meticulously researched books about crimes of the past, but she’s been invited to join The Seekers, a team of paranormal investigators, as they investigate a supposedly haunted old inn. In the 1920s, the inn was the site of brutal ax murders—and that investigation uncovered even more ghastly crimes.

Kerri wants to find out the truth about the old murders. She’s not there for ghosts. But when the team discovers a horrifying—and recent—murder scene in the basement of the inn, she finds herself involved in a murder investigation in the present. What she really wants is an explanation for the apparition she keeps seeing.

Joe Dunhill knows how she feels. As the newest member of the Krewe of Hunters, he’s still adjusting to being able to see and talk to the dead. The small town where the inn is located is full of old rumors, legends, and superstition, and he’s not sure how to find the murderer without knowing the truth of the past.

I rarely read anything creepy or scary—because I’m a chicken—and the beginning of The Seekers is a bit of both…but I made it through. The setting was fascinating, although I’ve no plans to stay in a haunted inn anytime soon (or ever).  Lots of threads tangled together here, past and present, and this was an engrossing, thrilling read.

Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. The Seekers is her newest novel, #28 in the Krewe of Hunters series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Long Way Down , by Randall Silvis

a long way down
Image belongs to Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press.

Title:  A Long Way Down
Author:  Randall Silvis
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Ryan DeMarco didn’t want to come home. But when his estranged wife tries to commit suicide, he’s the one they call. So he finds himself back where he grew up, a place he’s been trying to forget ever since he left. And an old classmate is now sheriff and needs help solving a murder case that might have ties to their high school days.

Ryan and Jayme, his new girlfriend, agree to help with the case, but neither of them has any idea where the case will lead. With the past haunting Ryan’s every step, and the future haunting Jayme’s, neither of them will survive the case unscathed.

It’s not necessary to have read the first two books in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery series to enjoy this book. I had read the first one, but not the second, and I had no problems keeping up. This is a solid read, and I didn’t figure out who the killer was ahead of time, but the characters and their problems are the real focus here, not the mystery.

Randall Silvis is an award-winning author. A Long Way Down is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Under My Skin, by Lisa Unger

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Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title:   Under My Skin
Author:   Lisa Unger
Genre:   suspense, thriller, murder mystery
Rating:   4 out of 5

A year ago, Poppy’s husband, Jack, was murdered while on his morning run in Manhattan. The police have no leads. It seems to be a case of random crime. Poppy is slowly putting her life back together with the help of her best friend, Layla, her therapist, and the pills she takes to sleep.

But Poppy isn’t doing as well as she seems. She’s losing time—again. The first time it happened was after Jack’s funeral, when she disappeared for days and turned up wearing a red dress she doesn’t remember owning. Now she keeps losing track of time. place, people…everything in her life is a swirling maelstrom of confusion.

Poppy believes Jack’s murder wasn’t random, and she intends to find out the truth. When she spots a mysterious man following her, her already-tenuous grip on reality starts to fade, and soon she no longer has any idea what’s real and what’s not.

I don’t think I’ve ever read any of Lisa Unger’s books before. I spent a large portion of this book being just as confused as Poppy was, but completely engrossed in the story. The author weaves together Poppy’s present—distorted and hazy at best—with real memories and her what-might-have-been imaginings until the reader has no more idea than Poppy what is real and what is not. An intriguing read!

Lisa Unger is a New York Times-bestselling and award-winning author. Under My Skin is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,by Stuart Turton

7 deaths
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:   The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author:   Stuart Turton
Genre:   Mystery, murder mystery
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

When he wakes up in the forest, he has no idea where he is, how he got there, or what he’s doing there. He doesn’t even know who he is. Minutes later, he sees a woman murdered, and her killer hands him a compass and a cryptic direction. How desperate do you have to be to listen to a murderer? About that desperate. But soon he has a name:  Aiden Bishop.

The Hardcastles are hosting a house party to mark the anniversary of their son’s death. All the guests are there, but no one has seen the hosts, only their remaining son and daughter. Aiden discovers that nothing is as it seems—and no one.

When he wakes up the second day in the body of a different guest, he realizes he must re-live the same day over and over until he solves the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, who kills herself at the ball that night. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He doesn’t know who to trust. He only knows that someone is trying to stop him from solving the crime—and that person will kill all his bodies to stop him.

This book has one of the most unique premises I’ve ever read. The opening chapter has Aiden with no idea what is going on—and I felt like that the rest of the book. The writing is solid, and the author does a great job of contrasting Aiden’s personality with his host’s. I was intrigued from the very beginning, and I never did figure out what was going on!

Stuart Turton lives in London with his wife. The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review.)