Tag: thriller

Book Review: The Drowning Sea, by Sarah Stewart Taylor

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleThe Drowning Sea    
Author:  Sarah Stewart Taylor
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

For the first time in her adult life, former Long Island homicide detective Maggie D’arcy is unemployed. No cases to focus on, no leads to investigate, just a whole summer on a remote West Cork peninsula with her teenage daughter Lilly and her boyfriend, Conor and his son. The plan is to prepare Lilly for a move to Ireland. But their calm vacation takes a dangerous turn when human remains wash up below the steep cliffs of Ross Head.

When construction worker Lukas Adamik disappeared months ago, everyone assumed he had gone home to Poland. Now that his body has been found, the guards, including Maggie’s friends Roly Byrne and Katya Grzeskiewicz, seem to think he threw himself from the cliffs. But as Maggie gets to know the residents of the nearby village and learns about the history of the peninsula and its abandoned Anglo Irish manor house, once home to a famous Irish painter who died under mysterious circumstances, she starts to think there’s something else going on. Something deadly. And when Lilly starts dating one of the dead man’s friends, Maggie grows worried about her daughter being so close to another investigation and about what the investigation will uncover.

Old secrets, hidden relationships, crime, and village politics are woven throughout this small seaside community, and as the summer progresses, Maggie is pulled deeper into the web of lies, further from those she loves, and closer to the truth.

I’ve really enjoyed the other books in this series, and I loved this one, too. I enjoyed the small-town, Irish setting so much! It felt very vivid and realistic to me, and I enjoyed Maggie’s forays into the town and making friends there. I even shared her worry over Lilly and what she was up to! I didn’t figure out who the killer was before the reveal, either, which almost never happens. I highly recommend this series, and this was an excellent read!

Sarah Stewart Taylor lives in Vermont. The Drowning Sea is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:   The Wrong Victim, by Allison Brennan

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:    The Wrong Victim
AuthorAllison Brennan  
Genre:    Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

A bomb explodes on a sunset charter cruise out of Friday Harbor at the height of tourist season and kills everyone on board. Now this fishing and boating community is in shock and asking who would commit such a heinous crime—the largest act of mass murder in the history of the San Juan Islands.

Forensic profilers know there are two types of domestic terrorists: those who use violence to instill fear for political purposes but stop at murder because it detracts from the cause, and those who crave attention and are willing to maim and murder for their own agenda.

Accused of putting profits before people after leaking fuel that caused a massive fish kill, the West End Charter company may itself have been the target. But as special agent Matt Costa, detective Kara Quinn and the rest of the FBI team begin their investigation, they discover that plenty of people might have wanted someone dead on that yacht. Now they must track down who is responsible and stop them before they strike again.

I really enjoyed reading these characters again. I like Kara, although she’s a touch too brash and in-your-face for me. I loved the small town setting and even the supporting characters were well-done and vibrant. There’s a lot going on here, but the author handles it all so skillfully, I never got confused at all.

Allison Brennan is a bestselling author. The Wrong Victim is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:   The Echo Man, by Sam Holland

Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title: The Echo Man
AuthorSam Holland
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Detectives Cara Elliott and Noah Deakin are on the case of a series of seemingly unconnected murders, each different in method, but each shocking and brutal. As the body count increases, they can’t ignore the details that echo famous cases of the past—Manson, Kemper, Dahmer, and more. As Elliott and Deakin get closer to unmasking the killer, the murders are moving closer to home.

 Meanwhile, Jessica Ambrose is on the run. She’s been implicated as the arsonist who killed her neglectful husband and injured her young daughter. With the help of disgraced and suspended detective Nate Griffin, Jess discovers a shocking link between her case and that of the ultimate copycat killer working on his horrifying masterpiece.

In the name of transparency, I’ll tell you I almost put this down at 10%. I didn’t find Jessica very likable at all to start with, and that trait in an MC is an almost guaranteed DNF for me. But I’m glad I persevered. Jessica improved a lot, and it was fascinating trying to figure out who the killer was. This is a very bloody and dark novel, so if you have a weak stomach, you might want to pass, but it ended up being pretty riveting as things progressed.

Sam Holland loves the dark and macabre. The Echo Man is his debut novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Crimson Summer, by Heather Graham

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title: Crimson Summer
Author:    Heather Graham
Genre:    Thriller
Rating:  4 out 5

They’re not going down without a fight.

 When FDLE special agent Amy Larson discovers a small horse figurine amid the bloody aftermath of a gang massacre in the Everglades, she recognizes it immediately. The toy is the calling card of the apocalypse cult that Amy and her partner, FBI special agent Hunter Forrest, have been investigating, and it can only mean one thing: this wasn’t an isolated skirmish—it was the beginning of a war.

 As tensions between rival gangs rise, so does the body count, and Amy and Hunter’s investigation leads them to a violent, far-right extremist group who are in no hurry to quell the civil unrest. With a deadly puppet master working to silence their every lead, it’s a race against the clock to figure out who’s been pulling the strings and put a stop to the escalating cartel turf war before the Everglades run red.

I’ve really enjoyed the Larson & Forrest books so far. Just creepy enough to keep my attention without being gory enough to gross me out. The characters—both the two main characters and the supporting characters—are solid and interesting, and I love how they work out exactly what’s going on with the crimes. I’d definitely recommend this!

Heather Graham is a bestselling author. Crimson Summer is her newest novel.

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

 

Book Review:  Hideout, by Louisa Luna

Image belongs to Doubleday.

Title Hideout
Author:   Louisa Luna
Genre:   Mystery/thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Alice Vega has made a career of finding the missing and vulnerable against a ticking clock, but she’s never had a case like Zeb Williams, missing for over thirty years. It was 1984, and the big Cal-Stanford football game was tied with seconds left on the clock. Zeb Williams grabbed the ball and ran the wrong way, through the marching band, off the field and out of the stadium. He disappeared into legend, replete with Elvis-like sightings and a cult following. 

Zeb’s cold trail leads Vega to southern Oregon, where she discovers an anxious community living under siege by a local hate group called the Liberty Boys. As Vega starts digging into the past, the mystery around Zeb’s disappearance grows deeper, and the reach of the Liberty Boys grows more disturbing. Everyone has something to hide, and no one can cut to the truth like Alice Vega. But this time, her partner Max Caplan has his own problems at home, and the trouble Vega finds might be too much for her to handle.

  I enjoyed this read. I liked that there were actually two mysteries here; what happened to Zeb and what the Liberty Boys were up to. Strong writing and vivid characterization hooked me in, but let’s be honest: Alice Vega is not the easiest character to relate to. She’s very prickly, standoffish, and analytical, which makes her come across as cold, but I like the effect Caplan has on her. This is a bit of a dark read, but it’s an engrossing one.

Louisa Luna lives in Brooklyn. Hideout is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  My Darling Husband, by Kimberly Belle

Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:   My Darling Husband
Author:   Kimberly Belle
Genre:   Mystery/thriller
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

Everyone is about to know what her husband isn’t telling her…

 Jade and Cam Lasky are by all accounts a happily married couple with two adorable kids, a spacious home and a rapidly growing restaurant business. But their world is tipped upside down when Jade is confronted by a masked home invader. As Cam scrambles to gather the ransom money, Jade starts to wonder if they’re as financially secure as their lifestyle suggests, and what other secrets her husband is keeping from her.

 Cam may be a good father, a celebrity chef and a darling husband, but there’s another side he’s kept hidden from Jade that has put their family in danger. Unbeknownst to Cam and Jade, the home invader has been watching them and is about to turn their family secrets into a public scandal.

This was a solid thriller read. Cam’s secret life and everything he’d been hiding from Jade made me not care for him, but he tried to move mountains to save his family. The interview with him spaced throughout the story didn’t do much to make me like him, either. I did like Jade and the kids, though, so I was interested to see how that played out. The ending didn’t surprise me, but who ended up really standing up to the kidnapper did.

Kimberly Belle splits her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. My Darling Husband is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Night She Went Missing, by Kristen Bird

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   The Night She Went Missing
Author Kristen Bird
Genre:   mystery/thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Emily, a popular but bookish prep school senior, goes missing after a night out with friends. She was last seen leaving a party with Alex, a football player with a dubious reputation. But no one is talking.

 Now three mothers, Catherine, Leslie and Morgan, friends turned frenemies, have their lives turned upside down as they are forced to look to their own children—and each other’s—for answers to questions they don’t want to ask.

 Each mother is sure she knows who is responsible, but they all have their own secrets to keep and reputations to protect. And the lies they tell themselves and each other may just have the potential to be lethal.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The second half…got a little bit far-fetched, but I was invested in the characters at that point, so I continued reading. I thought the close-knit, wealthy community if Galveston was portrayed well. I liked the younger characters the best. The adults were a bit too much for me. This is a solid debut novel, and I’d read more from this author.

Kristen Bird lives in Texas. The Night She Went Missing is her debut novel.

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

Book Review:  The Last House on the Street, by Diane Chamberlain

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Last House on the Street
Author:   Diane Chamberlain
Genre:   Mystery/thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key?

This book….almost broke me. When I finished reading it, I felt like I’d been stabbed in the heart. It’s told in multiple timelines:  the present with Kayla and fifty years ago, with Ellie. I enjoyed both, but Ellie’s story was by far my favorite.

Reading about Ellie’s struggles during the civil rights movement and the things she experienced was hard but compelling. I loved how it was all tied in to what Kayla was facing at her new house, and I was unprepared for the real story that came out at last. I highly recommend this read! It’s a mystery/thriller wrapped with historical fiction, and I was unable to put it down.

Diane Chamberlain is a bestselling author. The Last House on the Street is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:  The Sorority Murder, by Allison Brennan

Image belongs to Harlequin Trade Publishing.

Title:   The Sorority Murder
Author:   Allison Brennan
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  4.0 out of 5.0

Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.

 Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.

 New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life, a much darker picture than Lucas imagined—and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast—before the killer silences him forever.

I enjoyed this read. I wouldn’t say the killer’s identity was well-hidden, but I still enjoyed finding out all the details of Candace’s murder—and the other things it’s connected to. I liked Regan’s point-of-view more than I did Lucas’s, and I’d enjoy reading more things about her. This was a solid read!

Allison Brennan is a bestselling author. The Sorority Murder is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Reckless Girls, by Rachel Hawkins

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Reckless Girls
Author:   Rachel Hawkins
Genre:   Mystery/thriller
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

 When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

 Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

 But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

 When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

So, yeah, when every character is a crappy person, it’s a huge turnoff for me. I wasn’t sure about Lux until about 2/3 of the way through the book, so I kept reading, but…I wish I hadn’t. Brittany and Amma were nice on the surface, and so were Jake and Eliza, but you could tell something was off. And who in their right mind would stay in the literal middle of nowhere with no way to contact a soul, with people they don’t know? That’s leaving out the skeevy guy who showed up—and he just served to reveal everyone’s true colors.

Rachel Hawkins is a bestselling author. Reckless Girls is her newest novel.

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