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Thriller/Suspense

Her Final Breath (Tracy Crosswhite #2) by Robert Dugoni

Her Final Breath (Tracy Crosswhite, #2)5 Stars

Published September 15th 2015 by Thomas & Mercer

Tracy is a homicide detective in North Seattle. Tracy is still dealing with the emotions from the trauma of her sister’s murder which we learn about in the first book in this series. She is a no nonsense detective, but not damaged like some other police detectives in other series I have read. She has a boyfriend, Dan O’Leary who is a lawyer and is well-liked by the other officers she works with. Unfortunately for her, her captain, Johnny Nolasco does not feel the same way. He will only be happy when she is no longer an officer with the Seattle P.D.

In this story a serial killer leaves his victims hog-tied in cheap motels where they strangle themselves. He’s given the nickname of “The Cowboy”. Tracy and her team are assigned to the task force to track and to capture this psychopathic murderer. Of course, they are not given enough officers or money and someone is leaking information to the press. The Cowboy leaves no clues behind and is meticulous in exiting his crime scenes. Tracy begins to see similarities to a case closed 9 years earlier by Nolasco and his partner. Along the way, someone is leaving ominous messages to Tracy as well. Will they catch this killer? Will Tracy become a victim? Will Nolasco be successful in drumming her off the force?

Tracy’s abilities are honed by practice. The cases in the book take their toll on her. She is tough, determined, seems to have a sixth sense, and normally works well with her team. Her workload is heavy and the crimes she deals with are awful. The killer is a monster. He is slick, smart, almost invisible, friendly and a very sick individual. Dugoni does an amazing job of creating this psychopath. The rest of the characters in the story all play an important role in getting to the bottom of this string of murders. It starts out slowly, letting the suspense build and build until the ending explodes. Once you get into the story, it is hard to put down.

I can’t recommend this series enough. I have been thrilled with both stories in this series and am ready to go with the next one. If you enjoy thrillers and suspense along with a crime to solve, then pick up this book, you will not be disappointed.

Continue reading “Her Final Breath (Tracy Crosswhite #2) by Robert Dugoni”

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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Jar of Hearts5 Stars

Published June 12th 2018 by Minotaur Books

This story begins with Calvin James (The Sweetbay Strangler) on trial for the murder of four women, including Angela Wong, Georgina Shaw’s best friend in school. Georgina (Geo) is a witness who has made a plea bargain, and after she’s finished giving her testimony, she will be sent to Hazelwood (Hellwood) to serve a five-year sentence. What part did Geo play in Angela’s death fourteen years earlier? If she had told the police what she knew then, would three other women be alive today? As Geo went on with her life, she always lived with the guilt and fear that someone would find out what happened to Angela.

This book is written in an engaging, addictive manner and I was immediately pulled into the complicated friendship between Georgina, Angela, and Kaiser. When Calvin enters the story, all their lives are changed forever. The story is told predominately by Geo with parts by Kaiser (Kai). There are two time frames in the story, the past dealing with the relationships of the friends and the details of the actual death of Angela and the aftermath. I found myself quickly turning the pages as the story unfolded with the clues and information sprinkled throughout the book. Life in prison is described realistically and is a bit unnerving, but it was essential to the story. It showed us what Geo was really about and how she was able to deal with those five years of her life. It was interesting that the story was broken into five main parts entitled denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, the five stages of grief. This story was well written and if you are looking for a thriller that is a bit creepy, this is the one to pick up. Well done Jennifer Hillier. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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Tracker: A Fox Walker Novel by Indy Quillen

Tracker: A Fox Walker Novel5 Stars

Published September 28th 2016 by Indy Quillen

I requested this book from the author as it seemed like something I would enjoy. I was fortunate to receive this book from her and I really enjoyed it. This was a thriller/suspense that was a little different from others I have read.

In this story we meet Fox Walker. He is a Native American who has helps the police tracking in the large forested and mountainous region. He normally tracks people lost, but in this case, he is looking for any sign that there is a person who is responsible for crimes, hiding out. It is an unusual request to track to make sure there is NO ONE there. It is a region of some dense forest that has always been part of the Shoshone sacred grounds, but for a number of years has been privately owned. Locals have always been sort of spooked by that area and avoided it if they could, but lately there have been reports of seeing someone walking around in there… perhaps it is connected with a recent murder that has had no leads? What is surprising is that Fox finds a woman living in a cave. She has no memory of anything prior to six months when she woke up in a clearing and made her way to the cave. She has a lot of knowledge of living in the wild and uses many Shoshone words. The police capture her and take her to town to see if she has any ties to the murder.

There is a second case being investigated further afield where the FBI is looking for a serial killer, “The Art Critic”. This murderer has been killing women every three months carving a complex pattern onto the torso of the victim. They are sure there is one victim that has not yet been found. The authorities are at a loss because they still have no leads. What they do know is that his victims of choice are blond, female and work in some way connected with art. When a reporter tricks the young woman found in the cave, so that he can take pictures of the scars on her torso, the FBI thinks they have found their missing victim.

There is a lot suspense and twists in the story. The suspense comes with the serial killer. Will he come after Nataya to finish the job? Will the FBI finally catch “The Art Critic”? I liked the characters, and thought it was a well written book. The relationship between Nataya and Fox added another dimension to the story. Through thoughts that Fox has when he realizes that he is developing feelings toward Nataya, we learn more about his past as well as his remembering things his grandfather taught him while doing his tracking. I look forward to reading more from this author, and reading more stories featuring Fox Walker.

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The Retreat by Mark Edwards

The Retreat4 Stars

Published May 10th 2018 by Thomas & Mercer

This is definitely a suspenseful story that has some supernatural/horror overtones. I have read other books by Mark Edwards so was really looking forward to this one. I enjoyed it, but was a bit hesitant in the middle, which is why I gave it 4 stars.

Julia owns a home that she turned into a Writer’s Retreat. She is trying to come to terms with the fact that two years earlier her husband drowned and her daughter went missing. The consensus is, that her daughter is dead, but because they have never found a body, she refuses to believe it. Lucas is a novelist, whose last horror story was a best seller. He is trying to write a second novel, but appears to be blocked. As he gets to know Julia better, he wants to give her closure, so he hires a private detective to investigate and find proof one way or the other. As both Zara and Lucas start asking questions, they find out about a superstition from years earlier about the Red Widow. Every 35 years she either takes a child or one is left in the woods for her. In 1980, a young orphan disappeared from the Children’s Home, a victim of the Red Widow? Was Lily a victim as well?

The story involves Lucas getting caught up in the superstitions and stories that tend to be part of the history of small villages. He uncovers secrets that are hidden under the stories and rumors. When Lucas and the other writers at the retreat start hearing voices, sounds and sensing someone in their room, the angst ramps up. At one point, Julia tells everyone they need to leave. Most of the characters are supporting cast to Lucas and Julia. We get to know these two through their discussions with one another and their thoughts that we are privy too. The villagers tend to be very secretive and several other people die under suspicious circumstances after talking to either Lucas or Zara. As the past and the present come together, the conclusion arrives which quickly unravels all the secrets and innuendo. This was a very satisfying read that was not what I was expecting, but still a great read. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen

The Girl I Used to Be4.5 Stars

My Review: This is the first book I have read by Mary Torjussen, but after reading some good reviews, I wanted to give it a try. What happens when you lie to your spouse about how you spend your evening away? Can a marriage survive when one spouse is resentful? Do you ever know who you can completely trust? The Girl I Used to Be is a psychological thriller that is almost completely told from Gemma’s point of view, however, there are some chapters told from another point of view as the story goes on. There are some flashbacks to past events that have shaped the situation happening in the present, as well as making Gemma the person she is. The story is very easy to follow and everything flows smoothly.

When Gemma Brogan gave birth to her son she and her husband agreed that he would be the one to stay at home and care for their child while she got her real estate business up and running.It is now four years later and Gemma is becoming resentful. Joe does not even pretend to look for work and with her being the only breadwinner, she puts in long hours. She is beginning to feel like an outsider in her family, especially when Rory wants daddy to do everything for him. When an out of town training event takes Gemma away she tells him she is looking forward to a quiet and restful evening with dinner in her room. When she calls home to talk to her son, she is upset because he is already in bed. Frustrated and hearing the happy sounds from the bar terrace below, she heads out of her room and runs into a client who invites her to dinner. The night led to a lot of talking and quite a few drinks which left Gemma kicking herself the next morning. Not only is she hungover, but she does not remember what happened after she got to her room. When she begins to receive messages, pictures and video, she realizes that something happened that she does not remember. Will the police be able to help her? Who is sending these things to her? What will happen to her marriage if Joe finds out?

As I read this story, I thought I had it figured out, then boom, something happened to change my mind. There were several twists and I could just see Gemma falling apart and not knowing where to turn. This story kept me guessing almost to the end. I felt for Gemma, she was a good person who did not seem to deserve what had happened to her in the past or the present. I really liked the ending. It tied up all the loose ends and was very satisfactory. The writing flowed smoothly, was descriptive and had me emotionally involved in this story. As the story progressed, it was hard to put it down. I will definitely look for more books by Mary Torjussen. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Edelweiss.

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The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother5 Stars

My Review: I wanted to read this book based on the wonderful reviews I read on several blogs and goodreads. I later found out is has already been picked up to be made into a movie. Well, I can say that I was not disappointed.

A group of new mothers who originally met online, decide to meet in person at the local park. They are friends during the pregnancy and continue on after their babies are born. There are about six women and one “token” male, a stay at home dad. When one of the women suggests they have a night out, a drink and some adult only company, they decide to go for it. Winnie, a single mother, accepts the recommendation of another mom in the group, and hires her nanny to watch her son, Midas. The evening progresses normally, until they get a frantic call from Alma, the nanny. Midas is missing. The rest of the story is made up of the police investigation or non-investigation if you believe the other mother’s complaints. The media gets a hold of this story and it becomes a sensationalized situation. The women’s pasts are put on trial as well as how new mothers could be out drinking and partying when their babies are home or with babysitters. They do not care if they ruin the lives and reputations of these women. There are some concerns about post-partum depression, child development and whether or not Winnie had her own child kidnapped or worse, killed.

The narration of the story is broken with each character having different chapters. Sometimes I was not sure who was narrating until partway through the chapter. “Today’s Advice” began each chapter which was a piece of advice or information about the stages of emotional, social, or physical development. One of them was about taking advice with a grain of salt, which I thought was kind of funny. All the advice seemed helpful but it can also make a new mother crazy at times, wondering if their baby is developing at the right pace. Each of the characters wants to be “ The Perfect Mother”.

The story was gripping. It had me flipping through the pages quickly. There were twists that surprised me, some I had expected. Overall I this was a very satisfying domestic suspense novel with excellent characters and a great storyline. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys suspense novels.

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All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

All the Beautiful Lies3.5 Stars

My Review: All the Beautiful Lies is a suspenseful read, but take it at face value. If you try to analyze the characters and the story, it may cause you to enjoy it less. I am glad I read this before reading all the reviews because I might not have read it after. I enjoyed the story and read it quite quickly to find out what would happen next. There were a lot of twists in the story, some that were quite surprising.

When Harry Ackerson gets a phone call from his step-mother, Alice, telling him his father had died, he heads to Maine to help with the funeral and the book store. What he finds out when he gets there, changes the way he thinks about his father. At first it was thought to be a suicide, but later it is determined that it was murder. Even though beautiful, cold Alice appears to be grieving for Bill, Harry thinks there’s something not quite right about her. The narrative is told in two time periods referred to as then and now. We find out about Alice’s past and how she ended up as a real estate agent married to Bill Ackerson. In then, the narrator is Harry and we find out about his father and what he is going through.

My main issue with All the Beautiful Lies is that it felt a bit hollow. We find out about the past of the characters, but they still feel like shells to me. Even though the character development was not what I would have liked, I still enjoyed the book. I liked the idea of the book store and how books were so important in both Harry’s and his father’s life. It was nice to see that Harry used plots of mysteries he remembered that helped him to figure out what was really going on in the story. I will also say that the ending was not what I expected but it was karma. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Edelweiss.

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The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani

My Review: You will learn how the story ends on the first page of the novel. It opens with a brief graphic scene of violence depicting the death of two young children at the hands of their nanny. This almost had me closing the book, but I continued to see what happened next. I was uncomfortable reading most of this book, there was just a funny feeling in my stomach as I learned more about Louise, “The Perfect Nanny”. The story is told in the third person from different view points. As I read, I learned how Louise went from the perfect nanny to a murderess. We go from the ending right to when she is originally hired by Myriam and Paul to look after their two children. As the story unfolds we find out about previous jobs she had, her marriage and her daughter. All of these play a part in her descending to madness.

The scary part to me is how the loving parents unknowingly invited a madwoman into their home. They were so lucky to have found “The Perfect Nanny”. When Myriam began to suspect there was something wrong with Louise, it was too late. The characters could be anyone, anywhere. A mother who wants to return to work, then works crazy hours. A father who works a lot but does not feel guilty because they have a wonderful Nanny taking care of the children at home. That is another thing that makes it terrifying, it could happen anywhere to anyone. A short book that I read quickly and recommend to suspense and family drama lovers.

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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window3 Stars

My Review: For me, this was a case of a book not living up to all the hype. I waited patiently for my turn to come up at the library and I read this book in two days, but I kept waiting for something big to happen. It finally did, in the last 100 pages or so. I am probably in the minority here, but it was not a 4 star for me.

Anna Fox lives alone in her four story brownstone, with Daniel, a tenant in her basement. Her husband and daughter, are elsewhere, though she talks to them daily. Something happened 10 months earlier and she is now agorophobic (afraid to leave the house). Her life consists of wathcing old black & white movies, chat groups on the web, internet chess and ordering food (including merlot in bulk) that can be delivered. Her other past time, is spying on her neighbours. It is while peering through one of these windows, that she believes she witnessed a murder. Stumbling out of her house after calling 911, she ends up in the hospital and nobody believes her regarding what she saw.

I found it really hard to like any of the characters. I felt pity for Anna, but the Russells are very unlikable. The suspense is waiting to see who will believe her, and who was the murderer and victim. One just keeps turning the pages, but the story just bogged down for me. The question of whether or not she was hallucinating was brought up, but if that was the case, then the story would have died. It was sad that she had no friends, no one to call to talk to except her physical therapist and psychologist. The ending comes fast and furious. I had figured out the story by that time, but it was well done. This one is a slow burner, but a bit too slow for me. Too bad I read all those great reviews before reading this one.

Continue reading “The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn”

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