Tag: suspense

Book Review and Blog Tour: You Will Remember Me, by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleYou Will Remember Me
AuthorHannah Mary McKinnon
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Forget the truth.

Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

I feel like it’s usually kind of pointless to read a mystery or thriller where you already know who the culprit is. That being said, I never had much doubt who, exactly, was the bad guy in this story. With the multiple POVs in this story, there wasn’t much hidden about that—and sometimes the author was pretty heavy-handed about it as well.

I also feel like an author makes certain promises to the reader with the setup of a novel, and, frankly, I felt like the author broke those promises with the ending. That may just be me, but I doubt I’ll ever read anything from this author again.

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK and lives in Canada. You Will Remember Me is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Dead Sprint, by Caroline Fardig

Image belongs to the author.

TitleDead Sprint
AuthorCaroline Fardig
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Criminalist Ellie Matthews has turned over a new leaf. For the first time in her life, she’s working on herself and putting the past behind her with the encouragement of the new man she’s seeing, FBI Agent Vic Manetti.

Her first attempt at competitive running is cut short when a woman is found dead along the trail. At first, the case seems to be open and shut. But when a gruesome photo of the victim goes viral, tagged with a chilling caption threatening more violence, Ellie must delve into the mind of a deranged killer to get to the truth.

Though Ellie’s relationship with Detective Nick Baxter has been strained to its breaking point, the two find themselves teaming up once again in a race to bring down the killer before he takes another life.

I really like this series, and I was excited to read this third installment. Ellie is an interesting, flawed character, and it was good to see her working on herself and trying to overcome her issues (those chocolate binges were so relatable).

I’m not the biggest fan of Vic. I think he’s arrogant and condescending, if basically a nice guy, and my opinion didn’t change any with this read. I always enjoy a thriller when I don’t figure out the culprit halfway through the book, and I never did figure this one out, making it even more enjoyable. The banter with Nick, as always, was my favorite part.

Caroline Fardig is a bestselling author. Dead Sprint is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: When the Stars Go Dark, by Paula McLain

Image belongs to Ballantine Books.

TitleWhen the Stars Go Dark
AuthorPaula McLain
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

This was a good mystery/thriller. I did not figure out who the bad guy was—until just a few minutes before Anna did. The foreshadowing was there, but it was so well done I didn’t pick up on it. I enjoyed the scenes from Anna’s past, in the woods with Hap the most. She’s a complex character with a lot of darkness in her life, but she struggles to help other women overcome their own darkness. This is well-worth reading.

Paul McLain is a bestselling author. When the Stars Go Dark is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Bitterroot Lake, by Alicia Beckman

Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

TitleBitterroot Lake
AuthorAlicia Beckman
Genre:  Suspense/thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah’s guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she’s a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she’s greeted by an old friend–and by news of a murder that’s clearly tied to that tragic day she’ll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

This was a decent read, but I wasn’t surprised at the resolution. The author tried to throw out some red herrings, but I was never in much doubt. A lot of bitterness in these people’s lives—amidst a lot of money. It was a solid read, but I was never on the edge of my seat. Lovely descriptions of the lodge and the landscape. Made me want to visit!

Alicia Beckman lives in Montana. Bitterroot Lake is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Jigsaw Man, by Nadine Matheson

Image belongs to Harlequin/Hanover Square Press.

TitleThe Jigsaw Man
AuthorNadine Matheson
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

On the day she returns to active duty with the Serial Crimes Unit, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is called to a crime scene. Dismembered body parts from two victims have been found by the river.

The modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer, who has spent the past two years behind bars. When he learns that someone is co-opting his grisly signature—the arrangement of victims’ limbs in puzzle-piece shapes—he decides to take matters into his own hands.

As the body count rises, DI Anjelica Henley is faced with an unspeakable new threat. Can she apprehend the copycat killer before Olivier finds a way to get to him first? Or will she herself become the next victim?

Nadine Matheson lives in London. The Jigsaw Man is her debut novel.

I enjoyed this novel, although the first half felt very slow to me. Olivier is creepy beyond words, and the crime scene descriptions were a little much for me, but entirely believable. I liked Anjelica, and would definitely read more about her. The reader is solidly in her head and emotions throughout the novel, bringing every detail to life.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Hanover Square Press exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Every Last Fear, by Alex Finlay

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books.

TitleEvery Last Fear
AuthorAlex Finlay
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.

When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.

I enjoyed this read! Solid writing and not too heavy-handed with the trail of clues. I liked Matt and the Misfit Toys a lot. They gave this a fun edge, despite the intrigue and danger. I did figure out whodunit, but it wasn’t because the foreshadowing was too much or anything, just a lucky guess. There’s a lot going on in this novel, but it was a good and engrossing read.

Alex Finlay lives in Washington, D.D. Every Last Fear is Alex’s debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Last to See Her, by Courtney Evan Tate

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title: The Last to See Her
Author: Courtney Evan Tate
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

A woman disappears into the dark city night…

Gen is on the verge of a divorce from her cheating husband. When her sister, Meg, has a convention to attend in the Big Apple, she invites Gen along to celebrate her newly found freedom. But the perfect sisters’ getaway quickly goes awry when a tipsy Gen defiantly throws her wedding ring off the hotel room’s balcony. Then, wanting some fresh air, she decides to take a late-evening walk alone and vanishes without a trace.

The investigation that follows uncovers secrets—and betrayals—between sisters and spouses that will twist the truth in on itself until nothing is clear.

What really happened to Gen and who, besides Meg, was the last to see her?

This had potential. But I didn’t really care for any of the characters—except the detective—so that definitely detracted. I’m not a fan of unreliable narrators, and I felt like both Gen and Meg were unreliable. Even when I finished the book, I didn’t have a clear picture of what happened, especially in the sisters’ individual marriages. Good writing and details, but the characters made this not a good fit for me.

Courtney Evan Tate lives in Florida. The Last to See Her is her newest novel.

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

Blog Tour and Book Review: Confessions on the 7:45, by Lisa Unger

Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title: Confessions on the 7:45
Author:  Lisa Unger  
Genre:  Suspense
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Be careful to whom you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Lisa Unger is a great writer, and this was very well-written and tightly plotted. But…I didn’t like the characters. Any of them. At all. Which obviously detracted from the read for me. I’d give it four stars based on the writing, but three stars because I disliked the characters so much. These people are horrible. Really.

“Martha” lives her life lying and using people and she doesn’t care who she hurts. Same with the nanny and Pop. Selena’s husband is awful to her. And Selena herself, well, she cares about her kids, but that’s about it. Apart from that, she’s selfish and unfeeling, and that made this a hard, slow read for me.

Lisa Unger is a bestselling author. Confessions on the 7:45 is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Don’t Look for Me, by Wendy Walker

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: Don’t Look for Me
Author: Wendy Walker
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life.

She doesn’t want to be found.

Or at least, that’s the story.

The car abandoned miles from home.

The note found at a nearby hotel.

The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.

They called it a “walk away.”

It happens all the time.

Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.

But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?

This was not what I was expecting at all, and a little odd and creepy…in a good way, I suppose. Molly has been through the worst thing she can imagine, and her family has fallen apart ever since that fateful day. Some days she wants to walk away, but she’d never actually go through with it…or would she?

There are many layers in this novel, many twists and turns and false trails, but the reader always gets the sense that something else is going on. The author does an excellent job building the suspense and keeping the identity of the person involved hidden—and there’s a bit twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. This is not a small town I’d like to visit.

Wendy Walker is a bestselling author. Don’t Look for Me is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: No Woods So Dark as These, by Randall Silvis

no woods so dark as these
Image belongs to Poisoned Pen Press.

Title: No Woods So Dark as These
Author: Randall Silvis
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5 

Former Sergeant Ryan DeMarco’s life has been spent in defiance–he’s defied death, loneliness, and betrayal all while fighting the worst parts of humanity. He’s earned a break, and following the devastation of their last case, DeMarco and his girlfriend Jayme want nothing more than to live quietly in each other’s company. To forget the horrors they’ve experienced and work on making each other whole again.

But dreams of a peaceful life together are shattered when two bodies are discovered in a smoldering car in the woods, and another is found brutally mutilated nearby. Much as he’d like to leave the case to his former colleagues, dark forces are at play and DeMarco cannot escape the vortex of lies, betrayal, and desperation. He and Jayme are dragged back into the fray, where they must confront the shady dealings of a close-knit rural community.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in this series, and I enjoyed this one as well, although there was quite a bit more introspection from the characters than in the previous novels—which seems a bit odd for a thriller. Facing mortality after the events of the previous novel, maybe?

Silvis’s writing is sharp and solid as always, but this book seemed to be more about DeMarco’s mental struggles than the actual case. Jayme is also struggling, but Ryan is the focus here, which I enjoyed.

Randall Silvis is an award-winning author. No Woods So Dark as These is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Poisoned Penn Press in exchange for an honest review.)