Tag: suspense

Book Review and Blog Tour: No One Saw, by Beverly Long

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NoOneSawCover
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   No One Saw
Author:   Beverly Long
Genre:   Suspense
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Ten Days Gone, and this one was right up there with it for suspense, keeping me guessing, and having me racing through it to figure out who had taken Emma. There’s a lot of red herrings and false trails that kept the detectives—and me—guessing.

I love reading series and getting to see how characters grow and change throughout, and although this is only the second book of the series, there has already been change and events to keep up with. The writing here never pulled me out of the story at all—a sure sign this is a winner!

Beverly Long wrote her first book when she was in the fourth grade. No One Saw is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Dark August, by Katie Tallo

dark august
Image belongs to HarperCollins.

Title:   Dark August
Author:   Katie Tallo
Genre: Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

Augusta (Gus) Monet is living an aimless existence with her grifter boyfriend when she learns that her great grandmother—her last living relative—has just died. Ditching her boyfriend, Gus returns to the home she left as a young girl. Her inheritance turns out to be a dilapidated house and an old dog named Levi. While combing through her great grandmother’s possessions, Gus stumbles across an old trunk filled with long-lost childhood belongings. But that’s not all the trunk contains. She also discovers cold case files that belonged to her mother, a disgraced police detective who died in a car accident when Gus was eight. Gus remembers her mother obsessing over these very same documents and photographs, especially a Polaroid of a young ballerina.

When Gus spots a front-page news story about the unearthing of a body linked to one of the cold case files from her childhood trunk, she can’t resist following her mother’s clues. As she digs deeper, determined to finish her mother’s investigation, her search leads her to a deserted ghost town, which was left abandoned when the residents fled after a horrific fire. As Gus’ obsession with the case grows, she inadvertently stirs up the evils of the past, putting her life in danger. But Gus is undeterred and is committed to uncovering long-buried secrets, including the secrets surrounding a missing geology student, the young ballerina in the Polaroid, a prominent family’s devastating legacy, and a toxic blast that blew an entire town off the map.

But is Gus ready to learn the truths that culminated on one terrible August night, more than a decade earlier, when lives were taken, and secrets were presumed buried forever…?

I’m not sure how I feel about this novel. For me, Gus was kind of an unlikable character at times. Actually, I didn’t really like any of the characters, and that made the novel hard to read. Excellent writing and the setting was vivid—and creepy. I loved how Gus picked up her mother’s legacy and I enjoyed all the convoluted connections between the past and the present, but the overall feel of the novel unsettled me. Which is maybe the point in a thriller?

Katie Tallo was born in Toronto. Dark August is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Girls Weekend, by Jody Gehrman

the girls weekend
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:   The Girls Weekend
Author: Jody Gehrman
Genre:  Suspense/thriller
Rating:   4.0 out of 5

Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

I feel like this is the sort of situation I would get myself into: it starts with an invitation I really have no desire to accept—but I do because I get guilt-tripped into it—I’m miserable at the event because I really don’t even like these people, and, just my luck, someone winds up dead. And we’re all suspects. Yep. Just my luck.

I was just as much in the dark as the characters were about what had actually happened. Except…I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have cleaned up the crime scene or not told the cops we thought we’d all been drugged. So that bit was a touch hard to believe. Other than that, I really had no idea who did it, as everyone had a motive for wanting Sadie dead—she was that unlikable.

Jody Gehrman is a professor of English and Communications. The Girls Weekend is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Sister Dear, by Hannah Mary McKinnon

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sister dear
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Sister Dear
AuthorHannah Mary McKinnon
Genre:  Suspense
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

This wasn’t a good choice for me to read. Despite the excellent writing, I did not like any of the characters. Eleanor was creepy and obsessive and kind of crazy. Her family was awful. She makes horrible choices and doesn’t care about anyone but herself. Self-destructive is her life story, along with feeling sorry for herself. This didn’t end like I expected, which was nice, but it didn’t make up for my dislike of the characters.

Hannah Mary McKinnor was born in the U.K. and now lives in Canada. Sister Dear is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: This is How I Lied, by Heather Gudenkauf

this is how i lied
Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title:  This is How I Lied
AuthorHeather Gudenkauf
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is dreading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.

Maggie has her work cut out for her. Everyone close to Eve is a suspect. There’s Nola, Eve’s little sister who’s always been a little… off; Nick, Eve’s ex-boyfriend with a vicious temper; a Schwinn riding drifter who blew in and out of Grotto; even Maggie’s husband Sean, who may have known more about Eve’s last day than he’s letting on. As Maggie continues to investigate, the case comes closer and closer to home, forcing her to confront her own demons before she can find justice for Eve. 

I didn’t really feel a connection with any of these characters. Not even pregnant and struggling Maggie. Especially not Nora, who was vicious and crazy. And, it seems, everyone in the book was a liar, so there’s that. Unreliable narrator, anyone?

I actually didn’t figure out what had happened 25 years ago—how is 1995 twenty years ago!—and the action and tensions kept increasing, making this quick to read, but my dislike of the characters killed a lot of my enjoyment of the read.

Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. This is how I Lied is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Copycat Killer, by Laura Scott

copycat killer
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:  Copycat Killer
AuthorLaura Scott
Genre:  Romantic suspense, Christian
Rating:  3.0 out of 5

Murder strikes close to home for a new K-9 unit in Brooklyn. When a double homicide is strikingly familiar to a twenty-year-old cold case, Detective Nate Slater is rattled by the parallels. With a child as the only witness, he and his K-9 partner must protect little Lucy and her aunt, Willow Emery. Nate’s rough past means he always keeps an emotional distance…but in this case getting closer is the only way they’ll all survive.

I enjoy romantic suspense novels, and I love faith-based stories, so combining the two should have been a home run. However, I felt like everything in this novel was too rushed, almost like we were just skimming the tip of the actual story, but not truly experiencing the details.

The double homicide in question—while probably the story arc of the entire series—isn’t the focus of this book. The romance was practically insta-love. The faith aspect of the story was a secondary detail at best, almost an afterthought even for the characters. And, while I’m not an expert in police procedures, several things felt completely unbelievable to be realistic. This felt more like a bare bones outline to me than a fully fleshed out story.

Laura Scott is honored to write for the Love Inspired Suspense line, where a reader can find a heartwarming journey of faith amid the thrilling danger. She lives with her husband of twenty-five years and has two children, a daughter and a son, who are both in college. She works as a critical-care nurse during the day at a large level-one trauma center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and spends her spare time writing romance.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Darkness We Hide, by Debra Webb

the darkness we hid
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  The Darkness We Hide
AuthorDebra Webb
Genre:  Suspense, thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

For months, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face. It followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

Despite settling into a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending it once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of Rowan and the secrets she’s discovered about her life—and her family. In this novel, some of those secrets are finally revealed giving faithful readers a resolution. Rowan’s sometimes-blind loyalty drives her to take risks, but it’s for the right reasons, making her motivations understandable.

As always, I was drawn into the story from the very first page, and the action kept me reading straight through the entire novel, eager to find out how thing would play out. This book did not disappoint!

Debra Webb is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama.

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

Book Review: Ten Days Gone, by Beverly Long

ten days gone
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Ten Days Gone
AuthorBeverly Long
Genre:  Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan have their fourth dead body in forty days:  four women, each killed ten days apart, with no sign of a struggle, and nothing connecting them. The clock is already ticking down to the next victim’s death, and they have nothing to go on. When a hail-Mary interview leads them to a list with all the victims’ names on it—exactly 10 spaces apart—they know they’ve found the connection. But they still don’t have any idea who the killer is.

Trying to track down the next name on the list—Tess Lyons—is almost as difficult as finding the killer. Still recovering from tragedy, she’s withdrawn from everyone and everything to nurse her wounds in silence. But when the detectives track her down, she agrees to help them find the killer—even if it puts her own life at stake.

Ten Days Gone is the start of a new series for Beverly Long. I don’t think I’ve read any of her work before, but I enjoyed this suspense tale. The dynamics between the two detectives were entertaining and realistic, without falling into clichés or tropes. Tess was the most enjoyable character, though. Wounded and recovering from something horrifying and unexpected, she’s shut out the entire world to nurse her grief and bitterness, but the connections she makes open the door to getting her life back.

Beverly Long grew up in Illinois and co-authored her first book in the fourth grade. Ten Days Gone is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Whiteout, by Adriana Anders

Whiteout
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Title:  Whiteout
AuthorAdriana Anders
Genre:  Romantic suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Angel Smith has been in Antarctica long enough. She came there to get over a tragedy  in her past and found a group of people that helped her get ready to live again. Now, on the day she’s going to return to civilization, the remote research station is attacked, and people are murdered—leaving her with only irritating glaciologist Ford Cooper.

Ford Cooper just tried to avoid Angel—and everyone else at the research station—but after the attack, he knows it’s up to him and Angel to get themselves to safety—and  keep their attackers from getting their hands on the virus. But the odds—and the elements—are against them, and  he’s not sure even he and Angel’s newfound bond is strong enough to survive.

Whiteout is a solid suspense read—and, frankly, made me cold (not a fan of cold weather)! The setting comes to eerie, frigid life, and I was never quite sure what would happen next. Just enough suspense to keep me turning the pages to find out what happens—and I’m interested in reading the next book in the series, too!

Adriana Anders is an award-winning author. Whiteout is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Prized Girl, by Amy K. Green

the prized girl
Image belongs to Penguin/Dutton.

Title:  The Prized Girl
Author:  Amy K. Green
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Virginia lives on sarcasm and depression, with a side helping of torture in the form of weekly dinners with her distant father, overly controlling and needy stepmother, and her annoying younger half-sister, Jenny.

But when pageant queen Jenny is found murdered, Virginia decides the cut-and-dried answer of who killed her—the cops say it’s the most obvious suspect, an obsessive fan—might not be the truth, and decides to investigate herself. So Virginia starts asking questions. And the answers she finds lead her both back to her own path and down a path that is far more twisted than she imagined.

I finished reading this just to find out who killed Jenny. But…I didn’t like any of these characters. Virginia has issues-with-a-capital-I, and these issues get in the way of life for her, much less seeing the truth of any situation involving a figure from her past. Her Dad is a jerk, and his secret doesn’t make his treatment of his family okay. Her stepmother was horrible. Even the scenes from Jenny’s viewpoint didn’t make me like her. Did I figure out who the killer was? No. Did I have any liking for any of these characters, also no. The writing was solid, but the characters made me dislike the whole story.

Amy K. Green lives in California. The Prized Girl is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Penguin/Dutton in exchange for an honest review.)