Tag: thriller

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: Broken, by John Rector

Image belongs to Thomas & Mercer.

Title: Broken
Author:  John Rector   
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Welcome to Beaumont Cove, a slowly decaying tourist town at the edge of the world, and the place where Maggie James’s worst fears for her estranged twin sister, Lilly, have come true.

Lilly is dead, and Maggie has arrived to identify her body.

Lilly’s husband, Mike, is in custody for her murder. With his long history of abuse, no one in town is surprised at the inevitable end to their stormy marriage, least of all Maggie. All she wants is to clean up her sister’s affairs, see Mike punished, and get out of Beaumont Cove.

With the help of the local sheriff, a retired private investigator, and a strange but friendly carnival psychic, Maggie begins to uncover the truth about what really happened to her sister. But the truth comes at a price, and soon Maggie finds herself walking a dark path toward the same deadly trap that killed Lilly.

The more Maggie discovers about her sister’s final days, the more she realizes that nothing is as it appears in this strange boardwalk town.

This novel is technically sound:  solid writing, unique characters, an interesting setting. But there was nothing unexpected here. I found it basically predictable—yes, even the carnival psychic—with just a tiny bit of creepy due to the setting (empty tourist town).

Maggie was not a likable character to me at all. Hateful, judgmental, and a liar, to boot. (Yes, I know what Mike was a horrible person to her sister, but still, what she did to him was Wrong.) I ended up feeling little to no sympathy for her, and that made the whole book just “meh.”

John Rector lives in Nebraska. Broken is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas & Mercer 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.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

someone's listening blog tour

lies lies lies
Image belongs to harlequin/MIRA.

Title: Lies, Lies, Lies
Author: Adele Parks
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  2 out of 5 

Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear.

Now, Simon has turned to the bottle to deal with his revelation and Daisy is trying to keep both of their secrets from spilling outside of their home. But Daisy’s silence and Simon’s habit begin to build until they set off a catastrophic chain of events that will destroy life as they know it.

It’s a small wonder I actually finished reading this. The characters—to me—were so unlikable as to be almost intolerable. Simon was awful—completely selfish and self-absorbed throughout almost the entire novel, and hateful to boot. Daisy…I’ve never seen someone so passive. Her internal dialogue is full of anger and impulses, but she sits around and lets horrible people do horrible things to her like she’s incapable of doing anything for herself. With all the mystery surrounding Millie’s parentage, the truth was even more horrifying—and disgusting—than I imagined.

Excellent writing and description just could not save this novel from my dislike of and distaste for these characters.

Adele Parks lives in Surrey. Lies, Lies, Lies is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Someone’s Listening, by Seraphina Nova Glass

someone's listening blog tour

Someone's Listening cover_smp
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House

Title:   Someone’s Listening
Author:  Seraphina Nova Glass
Genre:   Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

Dr. Faith Finley has everything she’s ever wanted: she’s a renowned psychologist, a radio personality—host of the wildly popular “Someone’s Listening with Dr. Faith Finley”—and a soon-to-be bestselling author. She’s young, beautiful, and married to the perfect man, Liam.

Of course Liam was at Faith’s book launch with her. But after her car crashes on the way home and she’s pulled from the wreckage, nobody can confirm that Liam was with her at the party. The police claim she was alone in car, and they don’t believe her when she says otherwise. Perhaps that’s understandable, given the horrible thing Faith was accused of doing a few weeks ago.

And then the notes start arriving—the ones literally ripped from the pages of Faith’s own self-help book on leaving an abusive relationship. Ones like “Secure your new home. Consider new window and door locks, an alarm system, and steel doors…”

Where is Liam? Is his disappearance connected to the scandal that ruined Faith’s life? Who is sending the notes? Faith’s very life will depend on finding the answers.

This one took me a while to get into. I almost stopped reading about 15% in because I didn’t like Faith very much. It ended up improving, but I still didn’t care for Faith. I felt like she was either just letting life happen to her, or she was making colossally stupid decisions that even she knew were a bad idea at the time. Neither of those things make me like a character, and if I don’t like a character, what’s the point in reading?

I think the mystery was well-done, with a nice red herring thrown in at the end. I didn’t figure out who did it, possibly because I was distracted by all my other guesses. In the end, this was a solid read, but yeah, still didn’t like Faith.

Seraphina Nova Glass is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Playwright-In-Residence at the University of Texas, Arlington where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. Someone’s Listening is her debut novel.

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

 

Book Review: The Vacation, by T.M. Logan

the vacation
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleThe Vacation
AuthorT.M. Logan
Genre:    Suspense, thriller
Rating:    4 out of 5

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday – a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France.

But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs – to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends.

One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realizes too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . .

Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

The author did an excellent job of keeping me guessing and of keeping my interest…which is really saying something, considering I didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally, that’s reason enough for me to stop reading, but not this time.

I cannot imagine being Kate and finding out one of her three best friends was having an affair with her husband…right before a family vacation with all of them. No wonder the characters drank all the time. This is a solid thriller/suspense novel, and is sure to keep the reader guessing.

T.M. Logan is a bestselling author. The Vacation is his newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Safe Place, by Anna Downes

the safe place
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:    The Safe Place
Author:    Anna Downes
Genre:    Thriller
Rating:    3 out of 5

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

It’s very difficult for me to read books when I don’t like any of the characters. And…I didn’t like any of these. Emily is selfish and naïve to point of being stupid, and I just can’t deal with that. Her loss of her job and her apartment was due to her own incompetence and willful denial of reality, so I didn’t feel sorry for her at all. Then she started crushing on her married boss, was absolutely awful to her mother, and I lost any remaining shred of liking I had for her.

Also:  these people are crazy. Not a fan of the characters, so not a fan of the book, although the writing was solid.

Anna Downes was born and raised in the UK but now lives in Australia. The Safe Place is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Cut to the Bone, by Ellison Cooper

cut to the bone
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Cut to the Bone
Author:   Ellison Cooper
Genre:   Thriller
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

After grieving the death of her fiancé and almost losing her job, Agent Sayer Altair is finally starting to rebuild her life. Her research into the minds of psychopaths is breaking new ground and her strange little family is thriving. But Sayer’s newfound happiness is threatened when she is called in to investigate a girl’s body left inside a circle of animal figurines below a cryptic message written in blood. When they discover that the dead girl is one of twenty-four missing high school students, Sayer quickly realizes that nothing in this case is what it seems.

As the investigation draws her in to a tangled web of fake identities and false leads, the trail soon begins to point directly to her own life. Now, Sayer must confront her painful past to uncover her connection to the deranged killer if she hopes to save the missing teens and protect everything that she loves.

I haven’t read either of the previous books in this series—yet!—but that didn’t really prove to be a problem. I was drawn into the action on the very first page, and it kept me riveted until the very end.

Sayer was an interesting character to me. She almost comes across as unemotional in her single-minded focus on the case—although I can see why, considering what I learned about her past. I fully intend to go back and read the fist two books in the series, as I enjoyed this one so much.

Ellison Cooper is a dual Irish/American citizen. Cut to the Bone is her newest novel.

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

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

No One Saw Banner

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.)