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More March 2015 edition book reviews by Suspense Magazine

     Posted on Fri ,08/05/2015 by Administrator

THE WINTER FOUNDLINGS

By Kate Rhodes

This eerie psychological thriller has shades of “The Silence of the Lambs” as an institutionalized child killer has apparently inspired another killer and a new string of murders has begun; all girls, and all found wearing old fashioned white dresses, just like the ones foundlings wore years ago and which are on display at a local museum.

Alice has been assigned to study and interview Louis Kinsella in hopes of determining who the current killer is. But, at every stage she is stymied by bureaucracy, a manipulative true crime author, and her own demons.

The story flips back and forth between the perspectives of a young victim and Alice. Alice’s personality is hard to figure sometimes. She internalizes a lot, has trouble with deeper emotions, and at times left me feeling cold. On the other hand, she is capable of real sadness, fear, anger, and is also suffering from unrequited love.

Creepy asylums, serial killers, and odd characters abound in the cold winter backdrop. The killer is a mystery all the way to the bitter end and the atmosphere is thick with tension and an ever-increasing feeling of foreboding. I do enjoy these types of stories, the good old-fashioned bump in the dark thriller! 3.5 stars

Reviewed by Julie Whiteley ■

 

KNOT GUILTY

By Betty Hechtman

Believe it or not, there is a huge competition between the people who are into knitting and the folks who like to crochet. And in this new cozy by Betty Hechtman, the knitters versus the crocheters are preparing to attend the annual Southern California Knit Style Show, and Molly Pink, who is employed at Shedd & Royal Books as its community relation’s person, is in the middle of the knit/crochet controversy as to deciding which hobby is the most popular.

The event is under the direction of K.D. Kirby, a knitting magazine publisher and owner of a popular yarn store. K.D. is a knitting maven who is a real snob when it comes to having anything to do with those ‘low-down’ crocheting people. She runs her business with an iron fist even though she has many capable people working for her. Now, it seems that the ‘Tarzana Hookers’ (gotta love that name), who are a crocheting group, are bound and determined to introduce knitters to the crocheting arts, and that’s where the problems begin.

First of all, on the day of the show there are some mix-ups with the assigned placements. A knitter who has always been seated up front is now sent to the rear, with her place being taken by Shedd & Royal. There is also a little fuss between K.D.’s partner and her daughter who clash about publicity.

Now…the mystery ensues. Soon the high-falootin maven, K.D., is found dead in the hotel and Molly’s ex, Homicide Detective Barry Greenburg, is investigating. He has let the show’s organizers keep the event open to the public while he works. However, not only must the culprit be caught, but the final smackdown between the worlds of ‘crochet’ and ‘knit’ must be waged once and for all.

An excellent, fun story with interesting characters, the author also offers up recipes to the readers along with some sly crocheting hints.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MURDER, SHE WROTE: CLOSE-UP ON MURDER

By Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

“Close-Up on Murder” is the latest book in the Murder, She Wrote series by authors Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. The series is based off the very successful TV show that ran for twelve seasons and won numerous awards. Jessica Fletcher is a very successful author of mystery books, and she is put in situations where she must use her wit and investigative skills to solve a murder.

In “Close-Up on Murder,” one of Jessica’s older books is being adapted into a major motion picture, which is based on a murder that took place in Cabot Cove. When Hollywood invades the small town in Maine to start filming, Sheriff Metzger begins losing his patience with all the chaos. Then the leading actress is found shot, with a piece of film wrapped around her neck. In typical who-dun-it fashion, Jessica has several suspects, all with a motive to kill and all with the opportunity to commit the crime. However this time Jessica is being stalked by someone. Could this be the killer keeping tabs on her, or someone else with an entirely different agenda? Jessica is put in the crosshairs and better solve the crime soon or she could become a victim herself.

Fans of Murder, She Wrote will feel right at home with the favorites from the show being involved in the story. Dr. Seth Hazlitt, of course, uses his medical expertise to help Jessica. Eve Simpson, the local real-estate mogul and Lorraine, the beauty shop owner, have some very funny scenes. You will find yourself hearing the voices of the actors from the show as you are reading.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

 

NIGHT IS THE HUNTER

By Steven Gore

This is the third tale starring former SFPD detective Harlan Donnally—a man who’s no longer carrying a badge but still holds that belief of what’s right and what’s wrong, strength he will definitely need in order to see this one through.

Waiting on Death Row is Israel Dominguez, a man who has spent the last twenty years waiting for his turn to die after being convicted of murdering a gang rival. The judge who presided over the trial and handed down his death sentence is Judge Ray McMullin, who just happens to be a friend of Harlan Donnally. Time is running out for Israel, and McMullin finds himself admitting to Harlan that after all these years he’s having serious doubts that Israel was guilty of the crime he’s about to die for.

It seems that the passing of time and the old “gang wars” that went on back then, have not uncovered any new data regarding the killing, nor cleared up any of what happened in the past. Judge McMullin is so torn over the sentence he issued that he can’t seem to let sleeping dogs lie, so he asks Harlan to go on a fishing expedition of sorts and see what he can find.

A side story of pure emotion comes along with this suspense, as both Donnally’s father, a Hollywood producer, as well as the judge, begin to show signs of dementia. And as the older men deal with that fate, Donnally finds himself sinking in his own emotional turmoil.

A tale that is many tales in one, there are times that the action will yank you into the story, but will also keep you there with heart-wrenching character emotion. A long ago crime must be solved; a dead man must die only if guilty, and Harlan must watch the ones he cares for fight a disease that he can’t stop. This is an incredible story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

PROJECT 731

By Jeremy Robinson

I should know by now that if I pick up a Robinson book at night, I won’t be getting much sleep. Between turning the pages and thinking about the possible what ifs, sleep will be lost.

Robinson amps up the adrenaline. The Kaiju thriller is a sequel of the amalgam of “Island 731,” “Project Nemesis,” and “Project Maigo,” three of Robinson’s earlier books. In “Project 731,” we are reintroduced to the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center—Paranormal (FC-P), the agency that did battle with the creature Nemesis—think Godzilla with a conscience and on steroids. We are also reintroduced to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and its black-ops team: Genetic Offense Directive (GOD). DARPA is the agency that ran and funded Island 731, and who was ultimately responsible for the creation of Nemesis.

FC-P gets word of a chimera, known as Tsuchi—which is sort of a giant tarantula with a protective shell, much like a turtle—which is ravaging the west coast of the U.S. What they don’t know when they go on the hunt for Tsuchi is that GOD is the agency responsible for its existence.

What begins as a story about man-made monsters that were created as weapons and the hunt to destroy them, ends up as a reflection of Man himself. We find in Nemesis many of Man’s faults and some of his greatest assets. We see a reflection of family, vengeance against those who would try to hurt our family, and finally we see that even in Man’s creations, the good tends to come from within whereas the evil tends to be induced by Man himself.

If you are a fan of traditional suspense-thrillers, step out of your comfort zone and read “Project 731.” You will be glad you did. If you are a reader of graphic comics and Kaiju-type thrillers (think Godzilla), “Project 731” is a must.

Robinson just keeps getting better with every new adventure and monster he creates!

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

CANE AND ABE

By James Grippando

Author James Grippando has earned a new fan—me. When I care more about finding out what happens next than I do about getting a good night’s sleep, I know I’m in for a long night of suspense-filled reading. “Cane and Abe,” which held my attention from beginning to end, was my first Grippando novel, but it won’t be my last.

The author pulled me into the South Florida world of slavery, Big Sugar, a serial killer, and the senior trial counsel at the Office of the State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, Abe Beckham, who handles the capital murder cases. Abe’s late wife’s father is a painful reminder of Big Sugar’s shameful past and the slavery that ended in 1941.

Abe is assigned to a joint task force hunting a violent serial killer targeting beautiful white females who sleep with black men. He hacks them with a cane-cutting machete and leaves their mutilated bodies in the fields owned by Big Sugar. The case takes a surprising turn when a black female attorney for a sugar company is found murdered the same way as the white victims.

A past romantic fling with the murder victim plus a jealous wife complicate Abe’s life and cause him to be pulled from the task force. When Abe’s wife goes missing, FBI Agent Victoria Santos focuses her attention on Abe like a pit bull on the scent of raw meat. Abe worries that while law enforcement personnel are wasting time investigating him, the serial killer might make his wife the next victim. Circumstantial evidence against Abe builds as he rushes to catch the real killer before it’s too late.

Grippando weaves an intricate tapestry of truth mixed with lies, adultery, jealousy, betrayals, and murders. Just when I thought the story had come to an end and everything was resolved, the final two sentences left me reeling. “Cane and Abe” is a novel that must be read.

Reviewed by S.L. Menear, author of “Deadstick Dawn” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

COLD BETRAYAL

By J.A. Jance

Get ready for another incredible Ali Reynolds book. This is a gem by a winning author who deals with two separate but alike subjects affecting the world in this day and age: the abuse of the elderly and domestic abuse.

To begin, Ali’s friend, Sister Anselm, a nun who carries a taser gun, is on her way to the hospital to be at the side of a pregnant young woman who has sustained severe injuries after being hit by a car on a deserted road in Arizona. She’d been on the run from a group called ‘The Family;’ a cult who does not appreciate their people trying to leave. Sister Anselm likens this so-called accident to a long ago case involving a Jane Doe that the nun still can’t get out of her mind.

Ali is trying to help this new Jane Doe, while also being called out to assist with a more personal situation. The grandmother of Ali’s new daughter-in-law is on the brink of being judged incompetent and sent to a home. Along with help from Ali’s husband who runs a technical team of law and government agencies, the two cases are simultaneously being checked into.

The compound of ‘The Family’ is knee-deep in child abuse, and the case of the older woman who someone no longer wants around is difficult to say the least, seeing as how Betsy, the grandmother in question, is in danger. She’s received threats in the mail and a break-in at her home; not to mention, someone has hacked into her bank account.

As Ali and Sister Anselm join forces to prove that the hit and run accident is connected to a former case from years back, while helping the grandmother with her dire problems, the two battle a plot with many branches, trying their best to help people—which is what they are certainly best at. Yet another terrific book by Jance that fans and readers will absolutely cheer about.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD

By David Morrell

Master thriller writer, David Morrell, is back with his latest book “Inspector of the Dead.” In this amazing sequel to “Murder as a Fine Art,” Morrell takes the reader back to 1850’s London where a killer has plans in place to assassinate Queen Victoria. Main character Thomas De Quincey finds himself stuck in the middle with his daughter, Emily, and two Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker.

Morrell weaves a true web of lies, secrets, and cunning schemes that gives readers the sense that they are actually living and breathing the air of historical England, as they walk through the streets viewing the mystery that’s taking place. Morrell yet again shows that his character creation is second to none, and the pace will have readers losing sleep by telling themselves, “Just one more chapter.”

With over two dozen novels from Morrell, “Inspector of the Dead” and “Murder as a Fine Art” are two titles that could be considered his finest work.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

Book reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine March 2015 Edition

     Posted on Fri ,08/05/2015 by Administrator

ASSAULT AND PEPPER

By Leslie Budewitz

New cozy mystery series seem to be coming out of the woodwork for 2015, and this is yet another going by the name of The Spice Shop mysteries, that will have readers truly enjoying this new expansion of the genre.

Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop, has come up against some trying times in her not too distant past. Pepper has left her marriage and lost a job that she loved due to a corporate crash, and is now the owner of this spice and tea shop located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. She has a yen for preparing creations of spice and tea combinations that bring the customers in for a cup of her refreshing tea one right after the other; not to mention, visits from other shopkeepers and a group of regulars that frequent the Market.

Somehow, you knew the peace couldn’t last… A panhandler by the name of Doc, turns up on her store’s doorstep holding a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, leading to the unveiling of a crime where the police arrest one of Pepper’s employees, Tory Finch, for murder. Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but is not giving any clue as to why she feels that way. Pepper is sure that Tory is innocent and decides to investigate, but with that choice comes her own name being added to the killer’s ‘to do’ list.

Now a little something for the gourmet, as there is a new amateur detective in the area named Pepper with a recipe box filled with spices and other scrumptious foods. Set in Seattle, this is the perfect read for a few hours of pure enjoyment, because along with a first rate story comes ‘Recipes and Spice Notes’ that the Spice Shop recommends. As you enjoy the read, look forward to creating dipping sauces, Frittata’s, and other mouth-watering dishes in your very own kitchen.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE STRANGER

By Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben’s latest thriller, “The Stranger,” starts off with a simple sentence, “You didn’t have to stay with her.” That’s what Adam Price was told by the middle-aged man wearing a baseball hat. Adam had no idea that from that single statement the life that he had grown to love would be burnt down to the ground. Forced to confront his wife, Corrine, Adam was now caught in something much bigger and much more dangerous than even he could ever imagine. After his wife suddenly disappears sending only a text message, Adam searches for answers.

Coben puts the reader on an emotional rollercoaster from the first page. He begins to peel back the layers of the story, so when the reader thinks they have it figured out; Coben pulls back the curtain to reveal yet another twist. Very few authors have the ability to deliver powerful characters with a plot that forces the reader to keep turning the pages until the end, as Coben keeps the suspense at such a high pace the reader not only wants to keep reading, they have to.

“The Stranger” could already be placed on the short list of the best books of 2015.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

 

A FIRST DATE WITH DEATH

By Diana Orgain

Georgia Thornton is a former member of the police department who is now starting a job in the industry of Reality TV.

Coming from the ‘protecting and serving’ realm, Georgia is now the not-so-proud star of a show called “Love or Money,” in which she is trying to locate her dream man from a group of men who are looking for either, of course, love or money. It seems that her former fiancé, Paul Sanders, also a policeman, left Georgia at the altar which leaves her to think that she has nothing to lose, except maybe her self-respect. Gearing up to have ten first dates with these guys so she can make up her mind which one will be the winner, Georgia pretty much figures, “What can possibly go wrong?”

Well…her first date is to go bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. And when her date takes the dive, the cord is messed up and he ends up being lost in a tragic fall that ends her date in a massively horrible way. The first victim is replaced by Paul Sanders…surprise, surprise, but he is definitely not looking for a career in TV. He arrives because he suspects the accident was no accident, and is working undercover to find out who, exactly, is trying to upset the show and take peoples’ lives in the process.

Not long after Paul’s appearance another bachelor is killed, and the show’s bosses don’t want to cancel the program because it’s beginning to earn far better ratings. After all, bloodshed seems to pull viewers in. The bachelors, oddly, are willing to stay, but Georgia only agrees to go on in order to put her ex-police talents to work to help find out who’s unhappy with the cast.

A fantastically fun read; first in a brand new series that not only offers humor and suspense, but also makes sure to not solve the puzzle until the last pages.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

PUZZLED INDEMNITY

By Parnell Hall

Cora Felton, the chief protagonist in Parnell Hall’s hilarious Puzzle Lady mystery series, is the sweetest, most soft-spoken, honest, ladylike character I’ve ever read.

That is a complete lie.

Cora Felton, beloved by thousands of adoring fans as The Puzzle Lady, is a total fraud. She couldn’t construct, much less solve, a crossword puzzle to save her life. She also smokes like a chimney (look out, in this book she’s trying to quit), lies like a rug, and swears like a trooper. And, in case you think I’m in danger of running out of clichés, she drinks like a fish, too. She’s also a sometime detective with a very active love life. In other words, a true role model for the over-fifty crowd.

In “Puzzled Indemnity,” number fifteen in Hall’s series, Cora is bored. Her love affair with a NYC detective has fizzled, and the only case the local police ask her to investigate is a liquor store robbery. So when attorney Becky Baldwin asks Cora to check out whether her client, Brittney Wells, is about to be killed by her philandering husband to collect on a million-dollar double-indemnity insurance policy, Cora jumps at the chance.

In a blink of an eye, Cora tracks the husband to a NYC love nest. Then a car explodes in front of the local police station, and it looks like the victim inside is the husband. Brittney is in big trouble when it turns out that the insurance policy was on her husband’s life, not hers.

“Puzzled Indemnity” is a delight. I can’t wait for Cora’s next adventure!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

BLOOD INFERNAL

By James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

As readers open the final installment of The Order of the Sanguines series, the well-known heroes are not at their best. As usual, this team of authors are on the move, taking the heroes from Italy to Egypt to the Czech Republic, on to France and Nepal—offering up an itinerary that will make any reader’s head spin.

In this highly anticipated finale, the Devil is ready to break free and get out of Hell, due to a Sanguines’ betrayer who actually believed what Lucifer told him. Unfortunately, evil is about to take over good in the world and things are looking bad for the good (or any good that happens to be left).

The Sanguinists are monsters that have converted to the Blood of Christ, and archaeologist, Dr. Erin Granger, is hot on their trail. Granger is still trying to crack the code of the prophecy held within the Blood Gospel, the sacred book written in the blood of Christ. Helping her is Sergeant Jordan Stone, Warrior of God; and Father Rhun Korza, a Sanguinist Priest. The odd trio must come up against Legion, a new enemy that can change identities at will.

The trio go on the hunt and visit all the aforementioned places until they come face-to-face with the Devil himself. The lead up has been long and bloody, and this final showdown between good and evil will call forth the big bosses at war (Lucifer and the Knights of Christ) to see who will finally come out on top.

From the first book on, this has been an extremely well-written tale, offering intellectual ingenuity that these bestselling authors are known for. The recipe for this series has been a cast of vampires, demons, supernatural creatures never before seen, and a betrayal that will make the blood run cold. If you have not read the first two, get them now in order to really succumb to this incredible adventure.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

BY BOOK OR BY CROOK

By Eva Gates

Lucy wants out of her job at the Harvard Library and is looking for a new place at a very historical library located at the Bodie Island Lighthouse on Bodie Island. Here, on the outer banks of North Carolina, is where she spent all of her summers as a child with her Aunt Ellen, Uncle Amos, and their daughter, Josie. Lucy has decided she wants to escape Boston. Let’s just say that she and the Harvard Library are in a relationship that has not been going well. So Aunt Ellen lands her the job at the Lighthouse Library, which includes the extra-added benefit of an apartment located on an upper floor of the lighthouse.

This wasn’t an easy job to get. In fact, when the Board Chairman spoke to the librarian named Bertie about spending library money to hire Lucy, the woman had been strongly against it. But Lucy soon arrives and a private party commences given by the library for staff, board members, and local dignitaries in order to view a new collection they have on loan for three months. The collection is being talked about everywhere. It should be, considering it’s a complete set of Jane Austen’s first editions.

But before the party is over the Board Chairman has been killed and Bertie becomes suspect number one. Lucy does her best to help Bertie clear her name while checking out everyone who even knew the dead man but, unfortunately, there were many, and Lucy soon discovers that they all had a motive for murder. And as the Austen collection begins to ‘disappear’ book by book, Lucy faces not only a killer but also an extremely intelligent thief.

This great book is the first in a series. The setting is lovely, seeing as how the Bodie Island Lighthouse is not only a real historic landmark but is also still a working lighthouse. Therefore, the plot, characters, and locale make for an extremely creative story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT

By Hallie Ephron

In 1985, a young woman named Deirdre Unger gets a call from her father to come help him get his house ready to sell. A screenwriter, he and Deirdre’s mother had a career in Hollywood, with movies being made from their collaboration of words and characters. They were never the ‘top dogs,’ but they were certainly ‘pups’ that other stars loved. Unfortunately for Deirdre, when she arrives at her father’s home she finds him dead in the pool; a victim of an extremely odd murder.

Deirdre and her brother, who is a nice guy but definitely the money-grubbing type, must face detectives in order to clear themselves and figure out what the heck happened. Their mom, who divorced Dad a while ago, is one of those free spirits living on a retreat, and is eliminated as a suspect almost immediately. As Deirdre goes through her father’s belongings, secrets that include a yellow dress stained with blood and sexy photos of young women are discovered.

One of the photos is of Deirdre’s old friend, Joelen Nichol, who is the realtor her father had hired to sell the house. She is also a girl who long ago confessed to killing her own movie star mother’s boyfriend. This is the exact same night that Deirdre was hurt in an accident and has to walk with a cane. As the story unfolds and clues are uncovered from the 1963 murder, Deirdre must face a slew of issues as she tries to figure out who her friends really are, and what enemy may be out there lurking, just waiting to shut her up for good.

The Hollywood lifestyle—from the glitz and glam to the grit and deceit—are all wrapped up in a perfect package by this award-winning author. And taking a drive through Old Hollywood, fearing and admiring that coveted 90210 area code, will be something readers will not forget.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

More Book reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine

     Posted on Thu ,26/03/2015 by Administrator

THE BLACK STILETTO: ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS

By Raymond Benson

In this final segment of The Black Stiletto series, we learn, along with her son and granddaughter, of the exploits of Judy Cooper, alias The Black Stiletto, thought of as the ultimate crime fighter.

Judy, now bed-ridden in a nursing home with dementia, had kept very thorough diaries describing her dealings with organized crime. She detailed how she worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement until a party, impersonating her, committed several high-priority crimes, stealing diamonds and killing a mobster’s daughter, which caused her to run not just from the mob but from the very same police officers she had been assisting.

Pregnant, and with the law hot on her heels, Judy finally confesses her real identity to a friend, only to have him and his brother killed as she runs from Los Angeles, CA to her hometown of Odessa, TX where she still has family, only to endanger their lives too.

We learn all the sordid details from the pages of her 1962 diary, as does her granddaughter, Gina, who also heads off to Odessa seeking answers that old age and disease can no longer provide. The relatives of her grandmother’s former nemesis discover who Gina is and kidnap her in order to secure their own answers to the one question they all want to know. Where is the missing diamond that Judy allegedly stole thirty years ago?

Along with pulsating drama, high intrigue and suspense, I was taken with how well Benson captures the female voice and the historical period in which this was written. Definitely worth putting the five book series on your bookcase.

Reviewed by Mark P. Sadler, author of “Blood on His Hands,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine 

 

MONDAY’S LIE

By Jamie Mason

Dee Aldrich’s mom was a former covert operations asset working for the government. But when Mom goes to her reward, Dee decides to be more like the woman, using some of her mother’s old memory tricks to run her own life—even the trick of when it’s okay to lie. A few years after Mom’s death, Dee is still trying to understand things about her, as well as Dee’s brother, Simon, who is younger than she is, yet seems to remember a whole lot more about the deceased.

Showing a bit of rebellion way back when, Dee actually married the first man she knew when starting college. Patrick Aldrich was a nice fellow though a little dull, which was just fine with Dee since her quirky mother had brought enough drama to her upbringing. But now she sees signs of something amiss. She thinks that her marriage is coming apart and her husband wants her gone from his life.

As she begins to reflect on her marriage, she finds out that her mother has left her and her brother a great deal of money, and now a husband that wanted to leave is suddenly showing signs of hanging in there in order to claim some of the loot. As Dee investigates her suspicions, her urge to want a ‘normal’ life and be the opposite of her mother, fades away.

A puzzle at times, a laugh-fest at others, readers will have to pay attention to this quick-moving story. Dee and her husband each have their own agenda, and her brother is even more interesting as the chapters go on. When the truth is necessary, it should be given; but learning the art of lies in order to bring out the truth that has been hidden so well by others, makes this a very attention-grabbing story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

DAY OF ATONEMENT

By Yolonda Tonette Sanders

Yolonda Tonette Sanders has a talent for writing in the everyday language of her characters as they go about their daily lives; cooking dinner, putting their kids to bed, and eventually dealing with the disappearance of a young girl thirty years in the past.

Troy Evans, now a police detective in Ohio, wants to create a normal family life with his wife Natalie, son Nate, known as “l’il man,” and the twins who will be born in a few months. Troy grew up with an abusive father, who is now back in his life, or at least in his mother’s life. When Troy returns to Houston to visit his family, and to help his friend Elvyn solve his sister’s murder, he finds that dealing with his own past is as crucial to his life as finding Elana’s murderer.

Author Sanders brings her characters alive with Natalie’s very twenty-first century use of technology, playing Candy Crush while she hides out in the bedroom at Troy’s parents’ house while waiting for him to return from investigating, and FaceTiming with her friends on her iPad. The family tension rises higher when Troy’s mother’s superstitions make her family want to either laugh or scream.

In “Day of Atonement,” the very real search for a kidnapper and killer is juxtaposed against Troy Evans’ searching for healing of his past, and his ability to forgive himself and others who have hurt him. As different scenarios of what might have happened to Elana all those years ago emerge, it is clear that the guilt lies close to home. The conclusion of the novel brings not only an answer to the disappearance of an eight-year-old girl, but a chance for Troy to find peace with his family and friends, and also within himself.

Reviewed by Kathleen Heady, author of “Hotel Saint Clare”  ■

 

FRY ANOTHER DAY

By J.J. Cook

A new exciting cozy, this is the second in a series that not only offers up a tantalizing tale, but also provides a full list of scrumptious foods.

Main character, Zoe Chase, is the gal who calls herself a Southern Food Truck Chef. Although the creator of some serious southern sweetness, Zoe also finds herself doing a little sleuthing on the side. This time around, Zoe is headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she will enter a nationally televised food truck race. As usual, all of Zoe’s friends are in attendance; including, her very handsome boyfriend, Miguel, and her feline friend, Crème Brulee. Zoe is up for this, as the contest will feature challenges across the Southeast, with the grand prize being $50,000. And with a purse that large, this is one competition that’s bound to be intense.

As Zoe and company zero in on the first challenge, another food trucker from Zoe’s hometown is discovered dead as a doornail. The actual mode of death looks like something akin to a horrible, tragic accident; Reggie Johnson, the victim, is found underneath a very large refrigerator. But, as time passes, the police begin to wonder if his death was really an accident at all; especially considering how high this grand prize is set.

Even with the issue, the race is allowed to move on. Unfortunately, the body count begins to escalate right along with the miles driven. Miguel goes to number one on the suspect list, and Zoe soon realizes that—contest be darned—her number one job is to catch the killer before her lawyer boyfriend needs his own lawyer to keep him off Death Row.

This is a really fun read, unveiling a marvelous new cooking style. And, lo and behold, on a back page there awaits a secret for all happy readers who want to know exactly how to make a deep-fried biscuit bowl!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

BEHIND GOD’S BACK

By Harri Nykänen

With the second in a mystery series featuring Ariel Kafka, a police inspector from Finland, this author has made sure to put a great amount of suspense and intrigue into a very small package.

Kafka is a Jewish man and a lieutenant in the Helsinki Violent Crimes Unit who is now investigating the murder of a Jewish businessman, Samuel Jacobson. The victim’s widow has told the police that her husband had recently had some dealings on a major loan that went through Kafka & Oxbaum, a law firm owned by Kafka’s brother, Eli. Kafka already knows that his brother had negotiated client loans with an Estonian Company, Baltic Invest, owned by a front man for Amos Jakov—a man who has dealings with the Russian Mafia.

Being Jewish and being from a close family, Ariel finds the investigation a bit difficult to handle as he tries to keep his private life balanced while following the case. Ariel is dealing with international intrigue and a great amount of corruption which is hard for a man who is very dedicated to the badge of a policeman. He is so dedicated to his job, in fact, that he is willing to put his life on the line for it.

As the investigation heats up, he finds some very interesting things in the mix. For instance: Neo-Nazi violence, and some pretty shady loans that lead him to some extremely odd culprits. Just when he feels as if he has a grasp on things, another killing occurs and the Security Police come in on the case. Soon it is unveiled that the Mossad from Israel also have their fingers in the proverbial pie, and Ariel has to deal with yet another, even bigger intelligence organization.

Difficult to read, as most translations are, but this plot is one that the diehard mystery fan will find to be a good story worth reading.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion 

 

ANGEL KILLER

By Andrew Mayne

This new book is the first in a series that will feature FBI Agent Jessica Blackwood. A former magician, as was her father and grandfather before her, as well as an uncle, Jessica has a bit of an odd background for an agent. As Jessica became famous as a magician, she was the one who decided to change her life and begin another by joining law enforcement.

Jessica is called into a meeting with Dr. Jeffrey Ailes, a consultant for the FBI, to have a talk regarding her former occupation. There is a new case, and Dr. Ailes thinks that Jessica is just the right person to help due to her expertise in the field of magic. You see, a very talented ‘hacker’ named Warlock, has broken into the FBI database and left a message for agents to go to a cemetery in Michigan. There, they come upon a dead body that appears to be the very same corpse of a girl who was murdered two years earlier. In fact, the way the stage is set, the new body actually looks as if she is rising from the grave. A hacker has created his own magic trick for the FBI to find. And to top it off, all the forensic evidence seems to prove that the new girl rising…is the same dead girl.

As the FBI and the police ponder this crime, Jessica utilizes her past as a magician to look into the case and find out if the grave was merely a ‘trick’ cooked up by Warlock, which is just what a master magician should be able to do. This is surely not going to be an easy crime to figure out, considering the cemetery body is not the only surprise that Warlock will present to the public. Soon, all Jessica can do is work fast to figure out exactly what his trick is before she becomes his next victim.

Mayne has created an unbelievably unforgettable book! 5 Stars!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

SAINT ODD

By Dean Koontz

“Young man, you have made many friends in your short life…” This line could not be more apropos for Odd Thomas. And with this incredible series wrap-up, one of the greatest authors of our time has allowed readers one more frightening/illuminating journey alongside this tremendous character.

We go back to where it all began: Pico Mundo. Being followed by a cult, Odd races across the desert in order to get back home before their evil group takes more lives. Heading to the Green Moon Mall, Odd looks back on the day when his beloved Stormy was taken away from him; lost in gunfire that opened up a can of both proverbial and psychic worms. To a safe house he goes, where a married couple that are beyond sweet, have the ability to shoot and shoot well. Wolves are teeming the streets; a load of C4 is stolen; and, the cops are keeping watch over the dam that sits above town—the perfect spot for an explosion that could destroy everyone.

As with all great tales, a carnival is in Pico Mundo, and the oddities include; a midget dressed like a bear, an old Gypsy who once made a promise, a Fun House graced with an ogre, and a face painting booth that can hide truth from suspecting eyes. Everything comes to life as Odd Thomas goes to battle, building to an exciting conclusion no reader will have guessed. Odd has lived with one purpose in mind, but to earn his reward, he proves that the scariest part of the world is when the mask of evil and the mask of good look exactly the same.

Odd Thomas’s creator has given him a brilliant ending to a stunning ride. It will be thrilling to watch what Koontz thinks up next. But, for now, I bid good-bye to an odd and very cool friend. You will be extremely missed.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine 

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine

     Posted on Thu ,26/03/2015 by Administrator

CRASH & BURN

By Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner never disappoints. When it comes to the psychological thriller, she is most definitely among ‘the best of the best.’

Sgt. Foster and Tessa Leoni return to work the case of Nicole Frank; a woman who has barely survived a terrible accident. Listening to the story and collecting the facts, Foster and Leoni hear all about the car flying, the free-fall commencing, and the auto plowing into the ground front-end first. It’s an actual miracle that Nicole is alive, seeing as how there is no earthly chance that she could have survived the crash, pulled her broken body up a steep embankment in the dark of night, in the rain…to find help. However, she has done just that. But as she is put into an ambulance, she screams out that “Vero” is missing. Authorities get in gear, bringing in the search dogs to find the missing child.

Upon waking, Nicole has no memory of the accident, the rescuers, or her husband, who is called to the hospital bringing with him new information that confuses the investigators even more. According to Nicole’s husband, Thomas, she has suffered more than a few knocks on the head, and there is no child by the name of Vero. In fact, they have no children at all. Foster, the lead officer, and P.I. Leoni, give up the search for an invisible child, and allow the search team to go home.

But things are just not sitting right for them; fact and fiction begin to overlap. There seems to be an answer for everything they ask, from the brain injuries that Nicole received to her odd behavior to dreams she’s having that actually convince Nicole that she’s someone else. Foster and Leoni throw themselves headfirst into the case and check out the woman’s past; a past that doesn’t exist.

This book is an absolute treasure. Gardner, once again, has woven an incredible mystery that fans will remember for a long time to come.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

AFTER THE FALL

By Patricia Gussin

This book is the fourth and, sadly, the end of the Laura Nelson series that has been so incredible to read. This is the tale that shows Laura in a far different setting than when readers were first introduced to the woman who had a tragic accident that ended her surgical career. Laura was devastated when her future was erased so quickly, yet she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and took a position as the V.P. of Research at a huge pharmaceutical company where she’s currently working to finalize the approval of the company’s latest drug.

But as Laura works to get this new drug on the market, Jake Harter, an employee of the FDA, is working just as diligently to get the drug turned down. Seems Jake has become obsessed with a lovely Iraqi scientist, Adawia Abdul, who discovered the drug. When the approval comes through, she’ll collect a huge bonus and move straight back to Iraq. There she will replace her very ill father who’s the lead scientist in Saddam Hussein’s bio-weapons program.

Let’s just say that Saddam’s men are working to get Dr. Abdul back to Iraq immediately. And with Harter trying to stall the drug and Laura bent on stopping him, this is one fight to the finish where the losers could very well end up dead. Laura’s own predecessor at the pharmaceutical company, as well as Harter’s wife, are already pushing up daisies, which means these two are very high on the hit list.

This fascinating series has the reader chomping at the bit for yet another piece of the puzzle every single time one of the books comes to an end. The writing, the characters, the plot—everything is so well done. Patricia Gussin will continue to gift fans with another amazing tale very soon. But Laura Nelson, her relentless determination, and heroine status will be missed.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  

 

MURDER AT MIDNIGHT

By C.S. Challinor

C.S. Challinor is the author of the detective series, Rex Graves. Her latest book “Murder at Midnight” is the sixth book in the series. “Murder at Midnight” takes place on New Year’s Eve at Gleneagle Lodge, at a party hosted by Rex and his fiancée, Helen d’Arcy. When a couple, Ken and Catriona Fraser, are found murdered, Rex doesn’t have a lack of suspects. In true who-dun-it form, C.S. is able to weave a tale in which everyone attending had means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime. Rex is put to the test in order to solve a crime that happened right under his nose and at a party he hosted.

“Murder at Midnight” will delight all cozy and Agatha Christie fans. C.S. creates devilishly complex characters keeping the reader on edge until the final page. Readers will think they have the mystery all figured out, but C.S. doesn’t make it that easy. Fans will soon see that C.S., while using a retro mystery style, puts a modern twist on the crimes and characters giving a fresh new look into the who-dun-it recipe. “Murder at Midnight” could easily be considered C.S.’s best work to date and Rex Graves most challenging crime to solve, if he even can.

Reviewed by John Raab  ■

 

DIE AGAIN

By Tess Gerritsen

The familiar and much beloved Rizzoli and Isles are back, and Gerritsen once again does not disappoint her fans who wait to see what this duo will get into next.

This time around, the well-known homicide detective, along with the medical examiner, are in their Boston home and called to a crime scene that looks a great deal like it should be placed in Yellowstone. In other words, with the claw marks found on the body, a wolf fighting a bear would be more apropos for what they see. In addition, the victim bearing the wounds is a big-game hunter by the name of Leon Gott. A taxidermist as well, it looks a great deal like the big game turned on him. But a canine can’t be blamed…

Isles, the M.E., finds herself particularly concerned, believing that this killer is experienced. This is not the first murder by these evil hands, and she believes it will definitely not be the last. This scene ends up to be a perfect match to a slew of homicides that remain unsolved, and have taken place across the country in wilderness locales. Isles is also well aware of a tale from Africa—where a group of tourists ended up having a cold, heartless murderer in their midst.

As Rizzoli and Isles realize that this same murderer may just be the one who has entered their beloved Boston, the team go into overdrive. The plan is to use the ‘one who got away’ in order to bring the killer to justice, but the would-be victim who once survived this madness may not want to play along.

Not a surprise that this pair became a TV show, Rizzoli and Isles have a way of drawing a reader in so they can be a part of their unique and thrilling cases. Gerritsen knows her characters, her fans, and how to write an incredible suspense.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine 

 

COOKIE’S CASE

By Andy Siegel

The author of this suspenseful, witty character named Tug Wyler, who is making his second appearance in print, is a man who really knows his subject inside and out, producing another tale that’s a real gem.

Tug Wyler is an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice. Cookie is a dancer who works at Jingles Dance Bonanza Club and is a very popular entertainer. When Tug meets Cookie she’s just come back to work at the club after a long absence; she was hurt when she slipped on a banana peel during her dancing act (no, not kidding) and she is about to settle her lawsuit for much less money than Tug thinks she should get.

As an exotic dancer, the accident left Cookie with injuries that negatively affect her work, and Tug observes her dancing as she struggles to move while wearing a neck brace. She even tries not to kick too high in order to not reinjure herself in the process. Cookie is most definitely in need of a good lawyer, so Tug takes her case to get her a far better settlement.

Now, Tug is a good lawyer and he believes that Cookie is the unsuspecting victim of a surgeon who has made massive mistakes while working on Cookie’s spine. As Tug searches for justice for Cookie, including getting her medical bills paid and a fair amount of money so she can give up her current career, Tug finds the case to be far more difficult than he originally thought. Some very sinister forces are at work in this situation that will cause trouble for Tug, Cookie, and anyone else who seems to get in their way.

A very good read that builds up to the ultimate verdict in Cookie’s case. This author has an incredibly dry sense of humor and delivers perfectly timed wit to the suspenseful prose.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  

 

DEATH RUNS ADRIFT

By Karen MacInerney

Natalie Barnes, the owner of the Gray Whale Inn located on Cranberry Island in Maine, is looking forward to her marriage and to running her business. What she doesn’t expect is heading out to pick blueberries for her dessert menu one day and discovering a skiff on the water with a dead body in it.

Natalie, being a little on the nosy side, takes a piece of paper out of the dead man’s hand; a note that allows her to see two clues outside the house the man lived in that the police don’t know about. Nosiness is a gift for Natalie; when she wants to know the answer to a question she butts right into the conversations going on, even when talking to the police, a suspect, or anyone else she wants to. In other words, Natalie may be a small business owner, but the spark of the sleuth definitely resides in her soul. Perhaps that’s even the way interrogations go in Maine.

Natalie’s mother-in-law-to-be is staying and helping at the Inn, and there are two guests joining them at this time. One is a mystery novelist, and another is a woman intent on searching for her family history on the island. All this togetherness is quickly outdone by the murder of the young man in the skiff. And as things progress, the police and Natalie find out that there are drugs being taken out of a place called Smuggler’s Cove, and that the murder victim was connected to all the sales, taking the easy money that the drugs provided.

Natalie is hysterical and this book is an absolute gem. The wedding of the main characters and the food that no one will be able to stop talking about, is a pleasure to read. And if the Grey Whale really did decorate the coast of Maine, this would be one great vacation spot for lovers of the cozy mystery to visit and enjoy.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  

 

AT THE DROP OF A HAT

By Jenn McKinlay

Scarlett Parker and her cousin, Vivian Tremont, partners in a fashionable London hat shop, Mim’s Whims, are excited when bride-to-be Ariana Jackson visits the shop carrying her mother’s bridal hat. The hat was created by the cousins’ grandmother, the original Mim, many years ago. Ariana wants to wear the hat on her wedding day, and hires Vivian and Scarlett to restore the hat to its former glory.

Scarlett, who handles the business side of the hat shop, drops by Ariana’s office to confirm the restoration design before the work begins, and discovers Ariana standing over the body of her dead boss. Ariana, naturally hysterical, insists to Scarlett that she knows nothing about his untimely—and very messy—demise. But the police investigation contradicts that. It seems that the lovely Ariana and her boss, a lawyer for the rich and famous, were recently involved in a very intimate relationship, and there are photos to prove it. Photos that Ariana is desperate to suppress. The road to the altar for this bride is bumpier than most, leading not to a church, but to a jail cell on a murder charge.

Scarlett and Vivian believe in Ariana’s innocence, despite the overwhelming evidence against her. And, despite warnings from the police, decide to investigate and nail the real killer before Ariana is wearing prison garb permanently.

“At the Drop of a Hat” is the third in Jenn McKinlay’s Hat Shop series. It’s a cozy mystery at its best.

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine  ■

 

BREAKING CREED

By Alex Kava

This book is a different series involving Ryder Creed—an old friend from Kava’s Maggie O’Dell books.

A U.S. Marine, Ryder is now a trainer of search and rescue dogs and still teaming up with Maggie. Ryder and his dogs, as you might expect, have made national headlines after working together to unveil and solve some pretty harsh crimes. For example, Ryder and his canines were the catalyst for intercepting drug shipments smuggled through Atlanta’s major airport, and because of their diligence are now coming to the attention of some not so nice folks.

When Ryder and his company of dogs are called to conduct a search on a commercial fishing boat, they discover a secret compartment that does not hold drugs. Instead, they uncover human cargo being shipped into the United States by a Columbian drug cartel. Ryder has quite an issue on his hands, and even chooses to aid one of the cartel’s drug carriers in her escape—a fourteen-year-old girl that reminds him of the disappearance of his younger sister.

In the meantime, Maggie O’Dell, FBI Agent, is looking into a series of murders where the victims were tortured, killed, and thrown into the Potomac River. Maggie is fairly certain that she knows where her investigation is going, but her higher-ups in the FBI are dragging their feet. When she discovers a list of potential victims with Ryder’s name on it, she shoots into overdrive. Unfortunately, the cartel has already sent someone to destroy Creed and everyone close to him. But when it comes to Ryder, he and his dogs may just have something special in mind to surprise the Columbians.

Both storylines are terrifically written and the reader will hang on every word. Not only is the suspense first-rate, but the relationship of Ryder with his dogs as they depend on each other for protection will send folks straight to their local shelter to get one of their very own.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 9)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

PARENTS WHO KILL THEIR CHILDREN

By RJ Parker

I really enjoyed this read. Although I’ve read about all of the cases profiled, the way RJ lays them out makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s beyond me how a parent could perform such a heinous act on their own flesh and blood.

The book opens with a definition of filicide and the possible causes then segues into the first of ten cases highlighted in the book. What strikes me, and I’m sure all readers will notice, is that statistically speaking, more often than not, the child’s mother is the one who commits the murder; in fact, only two instances of father’s committing filicide are included in the book.

Although the highly publicized crimes of Darlie Routier and Andrea Yates are beyond comprehension, the particularly gruesome crime committed by Susan Eubanks is the one that haunts me. Eubanks systematically shot each of her four children point blank in the head, starting with her fifteen-year-old son Brandon, then her other three sons aged seven, six, and four, while the others watched in horror waiting for their turns. I can’t begin to imagine what was going through the boys’ minds. Her daughter and nephew both survived that attack and will no doubt spend the rest of their lives scarred by the experience.

Throughout the book, RJ interjects his thoughts and opinions on society’s view, about mother’s pointing out that society on a whole considers mothers to be the primary caregiver and nurturer. Each of the cases are briefly touched upon and in my opinion, it would have been a more compelling read if the cases were explored a little further, perhaps introducing aspects of the case not previously published. It also would have been nice to have a few current cases included.

All in all, “Parents Who Kill Their Children” is a great read for aficionados of true crime. If you are, take the time to look up one of RJ’s fourteen other true crime books.

Reviewed by Jodi Ann Chapters (ChaptersandChats.com) ■

 

THE CITY

By Dean Koontz

Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk, is the character’s name, and it flows as beautifully off the tongue as this incredible story does inside the mind. It’s a tale that hits the soul and proves that if you own passion for life and the particular place you are living in, that place will return your passion tenfold by providing you with all the color, vibrancy, and people you need to make your life an amazing one.

Jonah’s telling his story into a recorder for his friend Malcolm; an oral history, if you will, that brings to light everything from mystery to music that sparked his boyhood talent and imagination.

It’s 1967, and Jonah has moved into grandpa’s house with his mom. Creativity runs in this family: grandpa is a piano man, and mom was a singer. Grandpa has a piano in the home and keeps music alive by playing for fun every day. Mom, however, no longer sings. Something happened in her youth that changed the course of her future, and made her far more cynical than she originally was. She works hard, pressing morals and values into her son, teaching him to never be half-a-man.

Jonah grows and explores his abilities and talents, yet the city is difficult, especially when danger crosses his path. This artistic soul must fight malice, anger, and envy, at times, in order to follow his mother’s direction and become the good man she wants him to be.

Koontz is a name generally linked to the genres of horror or fantasy. His supernatural capabilities are beloved by fans when it comes to the Odd Thomas series. But with this tale, it’s almost like the reader is spending a moment in the sun. Even when the dark clouds come around, hearing Jonah’s tale is like a dream, where nothing bad will happen as long as ‘the city’ is on his side.

This is one that will never be forgotten. Bravo!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, Author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

THE PERFECT COED

By Judy Alter

Starting with one of the best opening paragraphs in recent memory, “The Perfect Coed” by Judy Alter takes off, and doesn’t let up through the course of the book.

The central character in this academic cozy is Susan Hogan, professor of English Lit, and expert on western writer Zane Grey, at a small liberal arts college in the Texas hinterlands. She leads the normal life of an unmarried, professional woman warily approaching middle age, except for a penchant for landing in middle of trouble. Fortunately for Susan, she also has a talent for solving mysteries.

Neither of those traits is endearing to Jake Philips, the tall and handsome Chief of the Campus Police, though he feels her other charms make up for them, barely. Susan and Jack have been a couple just long enough to start to wonder where things are going.

Susan hasn’t much time to dwell on relationships when a pretty coed is murdered, and Susan is strangely implicated, though she hasn’t a clue why. That she needs to find out, and find out fast, is made frighteningly clear when she is attacked while zipping home on her scooter late at night.

Aunt Jenny, Susan’s closest relative, arrives for a stay and brings her vinegar wit and salty tongue with her. With her help, Susan sets out to uncover the killer. Suspects abound, menace is everywhere, yet through it all, Susan must pay attention to what passes for real life: classes, papers, and jealous and conniving professorial colleagues.

Not one to duck a challenge, Susan takes it all on, risking life and limb chasing the killer, driving poor Jack crazy with worry, and through it all, letting readers know there’s a new detective in town, and her name is Susan Hogan, Professor of English Lit.

Reviewed by Andrew MacRae, author of “Murder Miscalculated” ■

 

THE STONE BOY

By Sophie Loubiere

Madame Preau has spent several years living in a convalescent home, and is now beyond happy that she is able to return to her home located just outside of Paris. But as with all time spent away, when she arrives back, she notes that there have been many changes made to the neighborhood. Where there used to be a lovely garden next door, there is now a brand new house. It is not the sight of the house that’s disturbing, it is the slightly uncomfortable fact that she can literally look directly into the neighbors’ windows, if she so wishes.

The new neighbors have two children who play in the yard most of the time when they are not in school. But there is another young boy that looks ill, and he spends his time tossing stones at Madame Preau’s window in order to get her attention. But what begins as only a slightly odd situation becomes a serious issue when the family in the house looks at her strangely and tells Madame Preau that no other boy exists in the household, and that she’s hallucinating.

To make up for her increasing feeling of loneliness, Madame spies on the two children at play, continuing to state that there are three, not two, even though the parents continue to deny that this ‘stone-throwing’ boy exists. Madame Preau offers piano lessons to the daughter in order to grill her for more information. She will stop at nothing to prove she’s not the requisite ‘crazy old lady,’ and even calls children’s services, and asks at the school where she used to teach—both of which cannot find any record of another child.

Madame Preau is a perfect protagonist; not willing to give up without a fight, she becomes determined to save this supposedly non-existent boy from harm. And the readers will be more than surprised when the question of ‘real’ or ‘figment of the imagination’ is solved.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE PERFECT STRANGER

By Wendy Corsi Staub

Another awesome Staub story that goes above and beyond the suspense/creepy factor!

Readers begin by meeting Meredith Heywood, a breast cancer survivor. A nice lady who keeps her strength and courage; she’s created a blog that will, hopefully, give other women a place to go where they can feel better and relate to someone who has gone through the same pain.

Some of these ladies become very fast friends, even though they’ve never met each other face-to-face. These new buddies are Landry Wells, Elena, Kay, and Jaycee. They, with the help of the internet, have become very close. At this time in their lives, discovering people who have been afflicted with the same medical condition and have lived to talk about it is a great consolation.

Sadly, Meredith is murdered! The murder scene, according to authorities, looks staged, and the police are not able to figure out if this was a random killing or a far more personal one. A bit later, the online group finally meet when they attend Meredith’s funeral. And when they come together, they want nothing more than to solve the crime that the police don’t seem to have any leads on or know where they should go next.

Landry suspects that Meredith’s death was not a random act and the killer might be hiding behind a screen name. She also thinks this someone might have hacked into their conversations, and either had something to prove, or vengeance to unleash.

Although the calamity and trauma that can come from the online world is not a new topic, this plot is extremely interesting because of the intelligence and sheer grit of the characters involved. With a motive and a killer that is unveiled over time, this fantastic wordsmith makes sure the story never stops for even a second, and that the creepiness factor never goes away. It’s not a surprise when Staub writes a truly unforgettable thriller, and her fans will definitely not be disappointed with this one!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE BELLINGHAM BLOODBATH

By Gregory Harris

This is a terrific story featuring Detective Colin Pendragon, and his partner, Ethan Pruitt. Set in jolly old England, readers are presented with two very different cases in this Victorian mystery that will keep them on their toes until the very end.

Captain Trevor Bellingham is a member of the Queen’s Life Guard. In a tragic occurrence, he and his wife are killed in their home. The authorities watching out for the Guard would like nothing more than for Pendragon and Pruitt to solve the crime as fast as possible. Or…perhaps there is a cover-up in the works that will keep the truth away from public eyes.

When Colin and Ethan return home, there is a lady waiting for them. Lady Nesbitt-Normand is absolutely beside herself because her prize-winning dog has been kidnapped. Lady Priscilla Elizabeth Windsor Hanover Nesbitt-Normand, is the name of the poor pedigree canine, and even though the detectives have a murder case on their hands, they still agree to do all they can to find the missing pup. Colin is absolutely sure he can solve the Guard’s case in three days and, if he can’t, he’ll simply turn the reins over to other authorities. But in the middle of trying to fulfill his promise, he is literally stopped in his tracks at every turn by Scotland Yard, and Inspector Varcoe. The duo must delve deeper in order to solve the Guard’s homicide, and as they uncover secrets, the pressure mounts to find a very real killer who’s on the loose.

Both storylines come together in perfect symmetry, making for an incredibly pleasing mystery. Colin and Ethan have the ‘spark’ of Holmes and Watson, but Sherlock wasn’t quite the charmer (unless we’re speaking of the movies with Robert Downey, Jr., of course). The author nails it yet again!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE SKIN COLLECTOR

By Jeffrey Deaver

This is the latest book by number one NY Times bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver. While this book is not a sequel to “The Bone Collector,” it does bring the reader back to a time when Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Donaghy first met and were chasing a killer who makes his killings very personal against Lincoln.

Deaver does a masterful job taking the reader on an emotional ride and how this new killer is stirring up old memories of Richard Thompson (The Bone Collector). “The Skin Collector,” who is killing his victims by tattooing them with a lethal poison, leaves clues within the art work; Lincoln is trying to come to terms with his own demons and being haunted by a killer called “The Watchmaker” (“The Cold Moon”), who just died in prison.

It is not an easy thing for an author that has had so much success to continue to raise the bar with their writing, but “The Skin Collector” is Deaver’s best book to date. Fans won’t be able to put the book down once they pick it up. If Deaver’s goal was to deprive readers of sleep, he did that and so much more.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

 

THE WEDDING SOUP MURDER

By Rosie Genova

Mystery writer Victoria Rienzi is in the soup. Literally. Victoria comes back to her Jersey shore roots to write a new book and learn the ins and outs of Casa Lido, her family’s restaurant business. Her nonna (that’s grandmother for all you non-Italians) rules the restaurant with a cast-iron hand, right down to dictating that exactly five tiny handmade meatballs go into each serving of the restaurant’s famous wedding soup.

When the restaurant is hired to provide the soup for a huge wedding at a swishy local beach club, it means Victoria must make 1,000 meatballs and also serve the soup at the wedding. The father of the bride, Dr. Chickie, is a close family friend and local orthodontist, who was responsible for straightening many local kids’ teeth—including Victoria’s—so Victoria wants everything to go perfectly. The wedding itself comes off without a hitch, despite dueling head chefs and a tense encounter between Dr. Chickie and the beach club president.

When the body of the club president is found on the beach below a high seawall, and Dr. Chickie is the prime suspect, Victoria’s family begs her to help him. After all, she writes mysteries, so she should be able to solve this one and clear Chickie, right? With the help of her sister-in-law Sofia, and the reluctant help of her nonna, Victoria discovers some old secrets that just may put her in the soup for good.

“The Wedding Soup Murder” is the second in Rosie Genova’s delightful Italian Kitchen Mystery series. I love the characters and the atmosphere, and the plot has more twists in it than a bowl of rotini. Yummy fun!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

SAVAGE

By Jeremy Robinson & Sean Ellis

“Savage” starts off with simple questions. What really happened when Stanley found Livingstone? What was Livingstone doing during all the time that he was ‘lost’?

In this latest Chess Team adventure, the team is back, but I would be hard pressed to say they are organized. King, fresh off his 3,000 year adventure, isn’t sure how to relate to his friends and teammates. He is distant and aloof. The others are not sure what to make of their leader who traveled and lived thousands of years B.C. in the mere blink of an eye. All personal issues are placed on the back burner when they get a call asking for their help in rescuing the kidnapped president of the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. They are needed to rescue the president and help stabilize the region. King agrees and his team follows.

What follows in “Savage” is much more than a political thriller. Robinson and Ellis have combined technology, archeology, and even a little microbiology with the question they ask better than any other authors today: what if? What if the team gets split up in three parts and has no idea where the other members are? What if science got it all wrong and ‘ancients’ still inhabit the earth? And what if Livingston’s discoveries would have altered science and political balance in the eyes of the world?

“Savage” will take you deep into and under the Congo, and even deeper into your mind and imagination. It has an ending that will leave you gasping for air, and the only thing you may have left to breathe is carbon dioxide. “Savage” takes the Chess Team to new heights and will leave you thinking: what if?

Reviewed by JM LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

CHILDREN OF REVOLUTION

By Peter Robinson

Inspector Banks is back! And the slew of fans, as well as the lover of the English mystery, will be thrilled with this author’s latest.

To begin, a former college lecturer by the name of Gavin Miller, is discovered on a path underneath a railroad bridge in the English countryside. Right off the bat, it is difficult to find a motive for the crime, but they immediately rule out robbery seeing as that the man still holds £5,000 in his pocket, undisturbed.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, is heading up the investigation; an investigation that leads into a very snooty world where he and his team end up questioning some very rich and powerful folks, who are definitely not happy about his intrusion into their society. As the case remains up in the air, trying to find out exactly how the victim died—still unsure whether murder is actually the cause—the policemen must dig deeper and deeper into the dead man’s life, as well as his associates. The oddest part to Banks is the fact that a man like the victim—a man who had been disgraced at his job—would be the owner of a pile of money.

Told to back off because he and the police are pressured by the rich and famous, Banks stays himself and refuses to go anywhere until the crime is solved. His cohorts, detectives’ Cabbot and Winsome, are all very bright, with just the right amount of attitude to plough forward and get the answers with Banks despite any roadblocks that may appear.

Moving along quite quickly, this author is once again impressive with his storytelling, and the plot is a whole lot of fun. Banks is very likeable, along with his fellow detectives, and readers are always hoping he hangs around for a good, long time to come.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 8)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

THE PERFECT STRANGER

By Wendy Corsi Staub

Another awesome Staub story that goes above and beyond the suspense/creepy factor!

Readers begin by meeting Meredith Heywood, a breast cancer survivor. A nice lady who keeps her strength and courage; she’s created a blog that will, hopefully, give other women a place to go where they can feel better and relate to someone who has gone through the same pain.

Some of these ladies become very fast friends, even though they’ve never met each other face-to-face. These new buddies are Landry Wells, Elena, Kay, and Jaycee. They, with the help of the internet, have become very close. At this time in their lives, discovering people who have been afflicted with the same medical condition and have lived to talk about it is a great consolation.

Sadly, Meredith is murdered! The murder scene, according to authorities, looks staged, and the police are not able to figure out if this was a random killing or a far more personal one. A bit later, the online group finally meet when they attend Meredith’s funeral. And when they come together, they want nothing more than to solve the crime that the police don’t seem to have any leads on or know where they should go next.

Landry suspects that Meredith’s death was not a random act and the killer might be hiding behind a screen name. She also thinks this someone might have hacked into their conversations, and either had something to prove, or vengeance to unleash.

Although the calamity and trauma that can come from the online world is not a new topic, this plot is extremely interesting because of the intelligence and sheer grit of the characters involved. With a motive and a killer that is unveiled over time, this fantastic wordsmith makes sure the story never stops for even a second, and that the creepiness factor never goes away. It’s not a surprise when Staub writes a truly unforgettable thriller, and her fans will definitely not be disappointed with this one!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE SUM OF HIS WORTH

By Ron Argo

In today’s day and age, we don’t think about the prejudices of races. Yes, there are some who do not get along with others, but we don’t worry about segregation and the beatings and killings associated with breaking the rules.

“The Sum of his Worth” takes the reader on a journey when blacks and whites wouldn’t think about mixing in the south. Even though laws were trying to be changed to overcome these prejudices, there are those in the Deep South that refused to consider blacks anything but dispensable. Lynching was part of life for the white man in Alabama and Georgia.

Sonny Poe—a sixteen-year-old—meets Dr. Joe, and they are two white guys in the heart of the south. Sonny already has friends from the neighboring town Ash, who are black. He doesn’t see a problem with it, but does understand how being seen with blacks could affect him and his friends. But Sonny is rebellious and refuses to treat blacks any differently than the whites and Dr. Joe is trying to change the way people think. And some people in the Alabama town consider that to be traitorous and go after both Sonny and Dr. Joe with killing on their minds. They group together the KKK and try to murder Sonny, Dr. Joe, and any black person who thinks about trying to rise above their unfortunate status. Will Sonny and Dr. Joe both die trying to do what’s right?

Argo has woven a story that unfortunately, was a little too close to the truth to think of as fiction. This well-written novel will have you gasping and flinching at the corruption and vileness. A very poignant novel, written in the voice of those of the 60s. Well done, Argo.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

THE KILL SWITCH

By James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

It’s always an adrenaline rush to hear that Rollins has another book on the shelves. But with this, the start of a brand new series by Rollins and writing collaborator Blackwood, fans will not only experience a ‘rush’ they will be jumping for joy!

U.S. Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his partner—an extremely intelligent Belgian Shepherd named Kane—have just signed on with Sigma Force. This is a very ‘hush, hush’ unit working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Their job is to smuggle Abram Bukolov out of Russia. Bukolov is a pharmacological expert and he needs to flee his country because of a secret he owns: the key to a highly infectious life form called LUCA that can literally destroy plant life.

General Artur Khazin of the Russian Military Intelligence Department has hired mercenary, Felice Nilsson, to prevent Mr. Bukolov’s escape. This General is looking to utilize LUCA to create an extremely powerful biological weapon.

As the action races from Russia into South Africa, Tucker and Kane attempt to find the ‘kill switch’ for this particular plant that apparently grows somewhere near the region of Namibia—the only biological species that can shut LUCA down. As the partners work to retrieve the plant and get Bukolov to the U.S., someone is telling the Russians where they are by keeping an eye on every move the partners make.

As the clock ticks down (much like 24), Tucker and Kane do their best to achieve success, while working to discover who the mole is in their organization before the entire world ends up to be only a memory.

A truly exciting start to what should be an incredible series, Tucker Wayne is a perfect action hero and canine Kane, shines as the only one Tucker can trust. Rollins’s collaborator on this series, Blackwood, has worked with both Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, and has proven to be a military suspense master right along with the rest of them. Everyone will love it!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE WHITE MAGIC FIVE AND DIME

By Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco

From the unique title to the cool cover, this book has it all.

Alanis McLachlan is on her way to Arizona in order to claim an inheritance left to her by her mother—a woman she hasn’t seen or spoken to in twenty years. The prize, so to speak, that she now possesses is a small shop that Alanis never knew existed, where her mother ran a tarot card reading business.

Not knowing what to do with the shop, Alanis decides she will keep the place open temporarily while she attempts to figure out who is responsible for her mother’s demise; she knows something just doesn’t add up, and she won’t stop until she finds out what really happened, and why. Mom wasn’t a princess or an angel, so Alanis has her work cut out for her. Seems that Mom was a great con artist, and Alanis thinks she may just have tried to swindle the wrong person…and ended up paying for it.

With the help of an extremely good-looking cop, and her mom’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis bones up on her tarot skills, and runs the business by faking her way through readings to win the confidence of her mother’s clients. But as she begins, Alanis starts to believe that all the answers she’s looking for are in the cards.

The cop assures Alanis that her mom was killed by a burglar, but as Alanis moves forward, she finds other suspects, and asks the law to give her the names of three people who had filed complaints against her mom. Not only does she find these complaints are valid, but Alanis also discovers that some of the townspeople are running scams all their own.

This is a fun read and, (just a little tip), this author also penned “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls,” which will give readers an idea of how amazing and creative this tale is. A+ across the board!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE HARD WAY

By Cathi Stoler

The famous Strip is being lit up even more, as a new casino opens in Las Vegas. The new owner of this lavish hotel/casino called January, is Jimmy Scanlon, who is considered by most to be the best of the best. Jimmy is also a longtime friend of PI Helen McCorkendale, who is all set to attend the grand opening.

When the festivities come to an end, Helen returns to her home and business in New York and asks a friend of hers, Laurel Imperiole—an editor at ‘Women Now’—to run a contest in the magazine that would give the winner a weekend at January as the grand prize. The winner, Dawn Chapman, is a jewelry store employee from Cincinnati who actually refuses the trip at first, before being persuaded by Laurel to accept.

To say the least, Dawn is dazzled by the grandeur of the hotel. But during her visit, the annual meeting of the International Diamond Dealers is being hosted at the casino. Circumstances make Dawn uncomfortable with staying, but Jimmy pays a visit to her room and encourages her to go to the Saturday afternoon pool party, offering to send her home on his jet the following day. Sadly, Dawn should have gone with her first instinct, as she is found by the pool murdered with poison, which turns out to be a very odd combination that includes diamond dust in the mixture. It seems Dawn was not who she pretended to be, and Helen and Laurel begin doing all they can to clear their friend, Jimmy, off the suspect list by solving the odd crime before it’s too late.

The scenes in this book are colorful, taking place in Las Vegas and New York. Yet when the changes occur, the writer does it so easily that readers have no problem following the tale as they ‘view’ both locales leading up to a super-terrific ending. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE ORPHEUS DESCENT

By Tom Harper

If you like Indiana Jones movies, or the Tallent & Lowery series, you will love this! High action, ancient artifacts, full-on entertainment…this is a historical thrill ride you will never forget.

Beginning in Athens in the year 389 BC, readers meet up with one of the most beloved thinkers of all time, Plato, who is heading to Italy seeking to be initiated into the Orphic mysteries—the secrets to the Underworld that only the gods know about…until now.

In the present, archaeologist Lily Barnes, is working on a dig in Italy when she stumbles across a gold tablet. On it is engraved a message that holds secrets of the afterlife, including the directions, supposedly, to the pathway to Hell. Lily and two of her colleagues are quickly asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and the strange treasure is locked up in a safe. But when Lily’s husband, Jonah, joins her at the site, he finds that his beloved wife—and the tablet—have disappeared into thin air.

The history and mystery move forward like a bullet out of a gun. Involved are wicked Greek billionaires with fancy yachts, as well as a slew of strange messages and flashbacks that bring the secrets of a previous era back to life. The story of Lily brings her through the same waters that Plato once traveled, searching caves that were actually carved by ocean waves long ago. Will the pathway to Hell actually be discovered? Well…when following in the footsteps of Plato, you just never know.

The storylines are very clear, allowing the reader never to get confused or mixed up with character, plot, or time period. The research of ancient Greece is stunning and in-depth, and the marvelous characters, both present day and long ago, are enticing. Plato’s views were altered on this journey, and the fun and sometimes terrifying moments revealed will satisfy one and all. You will be salivating over this one, so enjoy!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE KEEPER

By Luke Delaney

The awesome cover alone will spark the imagination and cause the blood to run cold when it comes to this second killer novel featuring Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan.

To begin with, Thomas Keller is looking for a woman named Sam. This search is all about emotion; Thomas is in love with Sam and wants desperately to find her in order to keep her from harm. The only trouble is, he keeps finding women who look a whole lot like her; women who are also, as far as he’s concerned, pretending to be her. Well, as all serial killers know, this is a situation where Thomas is left no choice. He has to dispose of the ‘fakers’ so he can locate the ‘real’ Sam because he knows she needs to be saved.

Into this mental mix walks Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan. He seems to have a nifty sort of gift for delving into the brains of psychos, and this is yet another killer he is about to follow through a maze of death. When a lady by the name of Louise Russell comes up missing, Sean is determined to locate this latest crazy before the woman, like others before her, turns up dead. Closer and closer Sean gets with the help, or hindrance, of a criminal psychologist and team members from the police force who, most of the time, don’t know what they are talking about.

One of those true killer thrillers, Luke Delaney has offered up a creep fest that readers love to sink their teeth into. So intriguing, this is one quick read filled with everything from the hero to the dark and disturbing. In addition, readers may just look at people they’ve known for years in a different light, and make sure to bolt their doors before retiring for the evening. This type of crime fiction is beloved; the type that fans will not put down for fear they’ll miss something. A definite keeper!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

WHAT STRANGE CREATURES

By Emily Arsenault

This is the story of the Battle family. What you would call a very dysfunctional clan, the Battles dwell in Thompsonville, Massachusetts, living quiet, boring lives. However, when a cold-blooded murder happens too close to home, this dysfunctional family literally becomes their last name—battling to save one of their own from the cellblock.

It’s Theresa Battle who is having a difficult time. She’s been struggling to write a dissertation she may never finish, the way she’s going. Theresa has just offered to dog-sit for her brother’s girlfriend, Kim Graber, who is a local waitress. Theresa already has a houseful of pets, but doing this chore will not be a problem. Her daily routine includes her job, which is copywriting for a local candle making company. Not the most exciting existence, but Theresa has always stated that the Battles are used to disappointment. Especially when it comes to her brother Jeff. To Theresa, he is the absolute definition of a loser. But she must ask herself if the loser that annoys her so much could actually be a murderer.

When Kim Graber’s body is discovered, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that points straight to Jeff as being the killer, and he is thrown in jail and immediately charged. Although the Battles aren’t exactly buddies, they are blood. Using everything she can find to prove her brother’s innocence, Theresa listens to Kim’s coworkers and unravels a great many mysteries. As Theresa moves forward, her gut instinct seems to be correct. Blaming her brother was too quick an answer, and as Theresa digs, she unearths the fact that Kim was trying to discredit a local ‘big wig’ that she shared a history with, as well as many other suspects with some seriously dark secrets.

This book is filled with humor, which is somewhat unusual in a mystery/thriller, but a great thing to behold. The dialogue is very smartly written, and the plot is one you will stick to until the very end.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 7)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

NOWHERE TO TURN

By Lynette Eason

Opening with the featured character, Danielle Harding, readers watch as this strong woman makes a plan to take her son and run away from her bully of a husband in order to find safety. The escape will be extremely difficult, as her spouse makes sure to keep tabs on Danielle at all times.

Just when she’s about to flee, her husband sends his brother, Stuart, over to the house to pick something up from the safe…a safe that Danielle has already emptied out for her journey. Just missing a battle, Danielle drives away to pick up her deaf son. Danielle has an angel on her side, considering she manages to evade both her spouse and his brother. But irony strikes when, on the same day she runs, her husband is found murdered. Now, she immediately turns from an abused woman running for her very life, to a person who may be a cold-blooded murderer in many peoples’ eyes.

With hubby out of the picture, the level of danger grows even more intense for Danielle. Stuart is now her stalker, and will not rest until he destroys Danielle for taking the life of his brother. She must stay two steps ahead, but it seems no matter where she goes, Stuart or one of his cronies shows up.

Running out of choices, Danielle turns to Operation Refuge, a government program protecting the abused. Danielle is given a solemn promise by head man, Adam Buchanan, that he will keep her safe and stop Stuart’s gang from harming her. The odd part is, Danielle’s stalkers always seem to appear, leading her to believe that someone close to her is working for the enemy.

This author is definitely gifted at creating nail-biters that cause readers to sit on the edge of their chairs until the last page. The imagination, fast pace, creativity, plot, characters—she has them all. After this, race to the stores and look for her other titles as well. You will NOT be sorry!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE LAST TOWN

By Blake Crouch

The abbies are coming through the gates in droves and nothing can be done to stop them.

“The Last Town,” the third and final book in the Wayward Pines series, is a stunning ending to an electrifying series by author Blake Crouch.

Wayward Pines…the last bastion of civilization. Four-hundred citizens find out the secret to their existence and the horrible truth of their situation: their lives in the hands of a madman. Their small paradise is about to be transformed into a Hell-on-Earth, so perilous, they will probably all die horrible deaths at the hands of the abbies—undead, zombie-like creatures with great strength and speed—that are now streaming into their town and eating their way through the populous. Previously held at bay by high, strong electrical fences, the gates are now open by their creator’s hand, and death is everywhere. Their only hope may be in the form of Ethan Burke, the ex-Secret Service agent turned sheriff of Wayward Pines.

Powerfully told with break-neck pacing, this story is all action and speed, while still having an economically descriptive way that puts Crouch ahead of the pack. The characters are humanly flawed, but each has a story to tell, which adds to the realization and unimaginable horror. Crouch’s writing style is wickedly appealing and makes the entire book unique and difficult to put down.

This book gave me enough background to understand the intent of the author and story, while not weighing me down with too much previous detail, a credit to Crouch’s storytelling moxie. The ability to bring a reading front and center in a story like this, with only a brief hint at previous installments is a feat most authors don’t master easily, but Crouch is on the mark.

An outstanding completion to a most awesome series, “The Last Town” will put you right in the middle of the grizzly action and absolute terror…and who would want to be anywhere else?

Reviewed by DJ Weaver (WebbWeaver Reviews) co-author of “Collecting Innocents” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

THE GOOD KNOW NOTHING

By Ken Kuhlken

Tom Hickey definitely lived an interesting life before finally becoming an LAPD detective. His father, Charlie, left Tom and his sister, Florence, with a very abusive mother when they were only children before vanishing into thin air. The siblings ran, leaving that terrible life behind.

Now 1936, Tom’s current job has him dealing with a police chief who’s a little on the shady side. But life turns odd when Bud Gallagher appears in Tom’s world and shows him a manuscript that was written by his long-disappeared father. This document is supposed to unveil the reason why Charlie left. You see, there are issues with this manuscript, especially seeing how a book written and published by another man is identical to what Charlie wrote. This apparent theft is all Tom needs to start looking for his father, determined to locate Charlie no matter what the cost.

Surprises come from everywhere. Tom uncovers news that the presumed dead gunman, Harry Longabaugh, more commonly known as ‘The Sundance Kid,’ perhaps had a hand in the killing of his father. As the past is unearthed, Tom discovers there’s much more to this incredible story, with everything from killing to kidnapping to theft and forgery, to be solved.

As Tom and his sister get closer to the truth about their father’s eventual demise, they accept help from an evangelist. And as they continue to dig deeper into whether or not an author had stolen their father’s manuscript and called it his own, amazing historical characters arrive on the scene: from Betty Weaver, who was head of a gangster group that included John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd; to the rich and powerful publisher, William Randolph Hearst.

This is an amazing mystery set in the age of the Great Depression that takes readers on a thrill ride. It is also the first in this author’s California Century Novels that will spotlight the danger and color of the 1900s.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

LAST ORDERS: THE WAR THAT CAME EARLY

By Harry Turtledove

This highly-anticipated final chapter in the War That Came Early series is truly a grand finale!

The unforgettable transformation of history is complete.… Germany invades Czechoslovakia in 1938, rather than Poland in ‘39. England and France ally with Nazi Germany in order to do battle with Communist Russia, and history gets even more unique. By the year 1943, Britain and France are facing Germany across the western front; in the east, the Russians are pushing the Germans back. The United States is having a bit of a dust up with Japan, and after the Battle of Midway, American paratroopers are left stranded, forbidden to leave Japan because of their active biological warfare campaign.

In Munster, Germany, a church elder protests against Nazi treatment of ‘faulty’ folks (not Jewish), which spawns war-weary Germans to revolt against the Blackshirts. It seems that Hitler’s Plan A was to win quickly, striking hard and fast against France. There didn’t seem to be a Plan B, and countries remain locked in strange alliances. The Nazis are using Hungarian and Romanian troops; and England, after all the doubts surrounding the mysterious death of Churchill, is fighting back in Europe and in the North Atlantic.

Jewish people are fighting on both sides, some in secret as they don German uniforms. There are new war tools coming to the forefront of military inventions, and Japan is planning an attack on Hawaii using biological bombs to drop on the island paradise. Then…Hitler declares war on America, which may be too late considering the Fatherland is breaking into pieces.

This crazy, non-conventional, alternate look at this time period is absolutely riveting. It’s a new ‘what if?’ leading readers to wonder how things could have been if Hitler had left Poland alone and the Japanese had focused on others, and not solely on America. Debates are more than interesting, and the details regarding military strategy are amazing to behold. Turtledove has produced a great ending to a great ride!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MURDER IN THE MYSTERY SUITE

By Ellery Adams

Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Virginia is a unique community catering to book lovers of all genre—Storyton Village. At its heart is Storyton Hall, a five-star resort which provides a quiet place for book lovers who want to get away from it all and—what else?—read to their hearts’ content.

Storyton Hall has been in the Steward family for hundreds of years. In fact, the original building was brought to the U.S. back in the 1800s from England. The current manager is widowed Jane Steward, with the assistance of her Uncle Aloysius and Aunt Octavia. The Hall is facing a financial crisis, so Jane decides to host a Murder and Mayhem Week to provide mystery fans the opportunity to come together for some role-playing and fantasy crime-solving. And charge them a hefty price for the privilege.

The week gets off to a promising start, and Jane has devised an ingenious schedule of events to keep the guests intrigued, including a scavenger hunt. The prize for the hunt is a valuable mystery book. When the winner is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the book he won is missing, Jane realizes she’s dealing with more than she’d bargained for—one of her guests could be an actual murderer.

“Murder in the Mystery Suite” is a promising first entry in the new Book Retreat mystery series by New York Times best-selling author Ellery Adams. Adams knows how to weave a cozy tale with layers of surprises and a wonderful cast of likeable characters that will have her readers begging for more, and as soon as possible!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Class Reunions Can Be Murder” ■

 

TOP SECRET

By W.E.B. Griffin with William E. Butterworth IV

A thrilling new series entitled Clandestine Operations has begun, opening doors into special ops, investigating the path to the Cold War, and unveiling clandestine connections between Argentina and Germany during WWII.

In this, the first in the series, the year is 1945. The Nazi’s order the assassination of the President of Argentina, Jorge Frade. In addition, the bloody murder of two Nazi officers occur during a ‘top secret’ night beach landing that’s part of Operation Phoenix.

It seems this ‘mission gone wrong’ was a plan to free an Argentine crew from a Nazi ship, and the murder of the officers is wrapped around an extortion campaign—taking money from Jews in the Fatherland and arranging for their safe passage to Argentina in return while keeping the Reich in the dark.

Cletus Frade, the young son of the former Argentine President, has returned to his homeland to take over his late father’s estate. Cletus is an OSS agent; an organization of wartime spymasters that will eventually become the CIA after the war is over. Cletus meets Major Hans-Peter von Wachstein, a Nazi pilot working at the German Embassy, and they form a friendship: Hans-Peter relays embassy secrets to Cletus, while Cletus helps move Hans-Peter’s money and family to Argentina. Hans-Peter and his father strongly believe that the war is wrong and Germany has already lost.

As a result of this shady dealing, the evil Himmler starts an investigation to locate the embassy spy. And although Cletus protects Hans-Peter as best he can, they both must wait and watch as Juan Peron, a noted pro-Nazi, gains power in the country.

This incredible mix of intrigue, diplomacy and, of course, a bit of romance, is fantastic. The reader will note the horror of the war, along with the massive role intelligence agents played in the eventual victory.

In other words, when this story from a literary team that ignites suspense lovers everywhere comes to a close, readers will be panting for the next novel.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian & Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE LONG SHADOW

By Liz Marklund

In the newest book of Liza Marklund’s Annika Bengtzon series translated from Swedish, the intrepid investigative reporter is drawn to a case on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

As the story starts, Annika is still dealing with fallout from events in earlier books. Her husband has left her for another woman and they’re sharing custody of their children. Annika is using an apartment provided by one of her sources, since her own place was destroyed in an assassination attempt. Because of a police cover-up, the insurance company believes she’s responsible for the fire and refuses to pay for her loss. On top of everything else, a reshuffle of leadership at her paper has left her working for an inexperienced editor.

He assigns her to cover the deaths of a retired Swedish hockey star and his family during a robbery on the Costa del Sol. The thieves used gas to incapacitate the family—a common tactic there—but this time, the type of gas was lethal, killing the star, his wife, his mother-in-law, and their two children. When she gets to the scene, Annika finds that the star’s teenaged daughter by a previous marriage was in the house prior to the attack, but has now disappeared. When the Spanish police find two robbers dead in a truck filled with loot from the house, they close the case, but Annika wonders about evidence indicating a third person at the scene.

As she continues to investigate, she finds the crime involves people from earlier cases on which she’s reported—cases that put her in physical danger. It leads her to dig into the drug trade in an area that has been nicknamed “Costa del Cocaine.” But the key to the case lies on a farm fifty years in the past, where three girls—the Troll, the Princess, and the Angel—plotted to find their place in the sun.

Those who’ve read Marklund before will find “The Long Shadow” especially satisfying as it wraps up threads woven through her previous books.

Reviewed by David Ingram ■

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 6)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

HOW TO FALL

By Jane Casey

A thriller should start off fast and ‘cool,’ and that is exactly what this author has managed to provide.

On page one, Freya, a young local girl, is running through the woods and heading for a cliff that hovers over the sea in the small town of Port Sentinel. This is not exactly an area to run through under the cover of darkness, and sure enough, poor Freya falls off the cliff onto the rocks below.

Sometime later, Freya’s aunt Molly, and Molly’s daughter, Jess, come to visit their relatives for the first time in many years. Jess is a bit freaked out at first, wondering why everyone she meets stares at her as if she were a ghost. Turns out, Jess is a carbon copy of the young Freya who people believed committed suicide.

Trying to find out how her cousin spent her last days on earth, Jess is working in a secondhand store when she comes upon a locket in one of the donations that’s traced back to Freya. Taking the locket to the law, Jess is amazed when she’s immediately dismissed. Now, the tale of suicide doesn’t quite add up to Jess, and she finds herself on the hunt to discover what actually happened to her cousin that night, and makes enemies in the town both young and old because of her investigation. As Jess keeps up her constant questions, she not only stirs up reactions in the town but also within the confines of her family, and soon figures out that she may be getting herself in a dire situation where she could end up following in the brutal footsteps of Freya.

Highly suspenseful, this is definitely a one-day read. The start is so intriguing that all readers will have to know the truth about why Freya raced to death that night. For any age reader, this tale is a true mystery ‘gem’!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

NO STONE UNTURNED

By James W. Ziskin

Elle Stone is fighting her way through life. That’s how it is for an independent young woman in 1960. You fight with your dead, uber-professorial father, still. You fight off, most of the time, clumsy advances from men. And in Elle’s case, above all you fight to keep the job you love, working as an investigative reporter-photographer.

Written in the same cozy-noir style as his debut novel, “Styx and Stone,” Ziskin’s writing displays a remarkable command of words, building them into a complex and convincing set and cast of characters.

The body of a local high school queen is found in a shallow grave. Elle picks up the report on her police scanner and off she goes on another case, notebook and camera in hand, and a screw-you attitude toward any man who underestimates her.

Elle lives and works in New Holland, a large town in upstate New York, a town whose roots date back to the days of manufacturing mill-towns, of which it was one. As with any such town, there are gentry, including those whose ancestors founded the town, and everyone else, some so new to this country they do not speak English yet. And, as in any town, regardless of rank or pedigree, there are those who will do evil.

Facing the perpetual presumption by others that crime reporting is no occupation for a woman, Elle works all the harder. She beats her rival reporters to crime scenes and she uncovers evidence more skillfully than do the police.

Brick by brick, Elle Stone is constructing her career by demonstrating her skill and her determination, and occasionally, she earns the grudging respect of the men with whom she tangles. For they learn that she is willing to take risks, even dangerous ones, to add another brick to her wall.

Reviewed by Andrew MacRae, author of “Murder Miscalculated” for Suspense Magazine

Mr. MERCEDES

By Stephen King

The title may bring about a flashback of a car that once took the reading world by storm—and even though this novel comes from the same amazing mind who created that ‘killing machine’ decades ago—this deadly auto has nothing to do with the supernatural.

On a drizzly, cold morning, people gather in front of an auditorium waiting for a Job Fair, when out of the fog comes a Mercedes, plowing through the crowd. People die tragically, and the beast in the mask seen behind the steering wheel is never caught.

Brady Hartfield is the ‘token’ retired detective who doesn’t know what to do now that his ‘cop life’ is over. His only action seems to be sitting and watching TV while he contemplates committing suicide. However, Brady gets another chance to feel alive when a letter arrives from ‘Mr. Mercedes’—one of three killers that Brady was never able to catch.

Pulled into the world of a young, computer-savvy man who knows how to hide in plain sight, Brady gets a much needed shot of adrenaline from his ‘written’ bait. In an attempt to end the retired detective for good, the killer makes huge mistakes—angering Brady and allowing him to come back with a vengeance. Unearthing the past, Brady throws himself into the unsolved case. Hired by the sister of Mr. Mercedes’s most disturbed victim, Brady and his small crew go after the killer, hoping to bring him down before he gets the chance to make a bigger name for himself.

Although most fans expect (and wish) for that supernatural/horrific nugget in all of King’s works, this mystery involves very real people. No ghosts, firestarters, or ‘domes’ are offered up, but the references to 24 certainly fit as time ticks away for a desperate cop to stop a screwed-up killer. Perhaps longtime readers will miss that shiny, self-healing Christine, but even if you do, this is most definitely a roller-coaster you’ll want to ride.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, Author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

INSIDE MAN

By Jeff Abbott

Sam Capra is a former CIA operative who is now the proud owner of a bar in Coconut Grove, Florida. One evening when Sam is enjoying life, he’s visited by another former operative, Steve Robles. Steve is someone Sam used to know, but it doesn’t take long before this old acquaintance upsets his calm way of life. Steve is murdered outside of Sam’s business, and Sam soon learns about a client his friend was working for named Cordelia.

Sam decides to avenge Steve’s murder, and in order to begin, he needs to locate the mysterious client and learn why she was in need of Steve’s protection. Turns out, it’s not that easy; Cordelia just happens to be a member of the crime family she wants to be protected from. The situation forces Sam to go back into CIA mode. Getting a new identification, he becomes Sam Chevalier and heads to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Seems that Steve was working for the woman there, and Sam must now pose as Cordelia’s boyfriend to become the ‘inside man’ at the Varela family compound.

Upon arrival, Sam is met by one of Cordelia’s brothers—the basic hit man—and Rey Varela, Cordelia’s father and head of the family. Sam is invited to attend dinner. There, he begins a path to dealing with a frightening dad whose more than a tiny bit on the crazy side, as well as brothers who fight over what they will get once senility takes their father completely, and an extremely miserable half-sister. To solve this case, avenge his friend’s name, and get out of there alive, Sam must use everything he’s ever learned in his past.

Chases, fights, family dilemmas, and characters that are so engaging and unusual that the reader will not soon forget them, this author has laid it all out on the table for a truly wild ride.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

HARBOR ISLAND

By Carla Neggers

This is the latest book featuring Sharpe and Donovan that will thrill readers, as the author brings them on a fast and furious journey from Boston to Ireland to the rocky coast of Maine.

Emma Sharpe is the granddaughter of world famous art detective, Wendell Sharpe. She is also a key member of a small Boston-based FBI team that works on putting art thieves behind bars. Emma and her grandfather have been on the trail of one such criminal who has literally become a ‘serial’ art thief. The first known robbery took place in Ireland, when an ancient Celtic cross vanished. And in a move that adds insult to injury, the Sharpe team receives replicas of the cross that are sent out after each new theft is done. These crosses are a constant reminder to them of their failure to catch a thief.

Emma receives a message that takes her to a small island in Boston Harbor where she finds the dead body of a woman. The victim is holding a small stone inscribed with a cross that is an exact copy of the ones she has gotten from the mystery thief, who has just added murder to his list of accomplishments. Emma’s fiancé, Colin Donovan, is also an FBI Agent, and is more than upset when she heads off to the island all alone. His plan is to wait for the thief to make a mistake, but Emma has a mind of her own.

Together, they have their hands full with this ruthless killer who, by far, is the cleverest and most dangerous they’ve been up against in a good, long time. As they begin work and the danger to their survival grows, they have to deal with not only a crazy person but also the problems that come about when their personal lives cross lines with their professional ones.

The relationships of these characters are extremely well drawn out, yet the author never lets the action wane. A definite keeper!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE STONE WIFE

By Peter Lovesey

Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond is back, embroiled in a mystery that offers a wealth of wit, and a true puzzle linked to a historical literary genius.

Diamond is more than a bit confused by his latest crime scene. An auction house in Bath was holding a sale of a few bits and pieces of basic junk. But on this particular day, a very strange slab of rock that just happens to have a picture etched/carved into its surface, takes the stage. The carving is apparently Chaucer’s Wife of Bath.

The auctioneer doesn’t assume this will be a big moneymaker, so it startles him and the crowd when a professor starts bidding voraciously, as if the stone is a true prize. In competition with an American museum bidding over the phone, the professor works hard to win. Unfortunately, just when the stone is his, three masked men appear in the auction house with guns and attempt to wheel it out the door. The professor stands up to stop the robbery, but gets a bullet for his efforts instead.

Diamond and team are assigned the odd case, and the clues are sketchy at best. No one in the auction house seems to have even noticed the one man who was inside just waiting to don his mask and call in his other two associates. And there seems to be no plausible reason why anyone in their right mind would kill over a chunk of stone. Even Diamond begins to hate the so-called treasure, because when it’s placed in his office, things begin to go wrong for the detective, causing him to believe that Chaucer has somehow jinxed him from the grave.

Interesting facts send Diamond to Chaucer’s historical house in Somerset, and his colleague deep undercover into a world of people who just may take her out before Diamond can solve the case.

As always, this character and his team are sharp, funny, and grab the reader’s attention from beginning to end!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MEAN STREAK

By Sandra Brown

This amazing author is again delivering a tale of intrigue, adultery, and murder.

Dr. Emory Charbonneau is a well-known pediatrician who is also a marathon runner of note; she loves it so much she spends time planning marathon events. Emory is in the process of training for an upcoming marathon in a mountainous region of North Carolina. Her husband, Jeff, usually accompanies her to the races, but when they end up having a major argument, he chooses to make other plans and spends time with his mistress while Emory heads to the hills. However, as she is practicing for the run, Emory is brutally attacked and left for dead. Avoiding the Grim Reaper, she wakes up to find herself in a cabin in the North Carolina woods being tended to by a very handsome man who refuses to tell her his name. He does inform her, however, that he found her unconscious on a trail and brought her back to his cabin to recover.

Back in civilization, Jeff is starting to wonder where Emory is because he never received a call and she hasn’t come home. When he finally gets around to reporting her missing, the police are more than a little skeptical regarding his actions, believing Jeff may have done away with Emory to move on to greener pastures.

In the mountains, there is a storm brewing; the land is covered with snow and ice blocking the trail, leaving Emory up on the mountain for an indeterminable number of days. The man with her just happens to have the FBI on his trail, and while Emory slowly discovers what is going on and finds herself falling for the stranger, her husband is literally in his own hell under the watchful eye of detectives who are working overtime to prove his story is bogus.

As readers go back and forth from Emory to Jeff, the plotlines get better and better. So well-written and so entertaining, this is one thriller that can’t be missed!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

SHOOT THE WOMAN FIRST

By Wallace Stroby

Crissa Stone is a professional thief. A recent job has brought good tidings to Crissa and her team; in fact, they have done very well, recently getting away with a million dollars. The owner of that wealth is more than a little unhappy, of course. The money taken made up the proceeds that came from selling drugs owned by Detroit drug lord, Marquis Jackson. The job, Crissa thinks, is a triumph…but she and her team soon find out that the triumph has ended in a mess of trouble.

Drug lord Jackson is a little too confident; he takes hardly any precautions to keep his drug money safe, or even secret, from his fellow crooks. For example, Cordell King, an underling of Jackson, shares information about the cash with Crissa, as well as with Larry Black, a colleague of hers, and Cordell’s cousin, Charlie Glass. Crissa and her buddies don’t have a whole lot of time to plan the robbery, yet it goes off without a hitch. But the celebration time is short, as Crissa must go on the run with a lot more money than she thought she would have in hand.

Heading for Florida to deliver half of the cash to someone else, more trouble ensues as trust becomes an issue. The women in this scenario don’t get along well, and Crissa is more than wary of a man named Roy Mapes, a meth addict who is deep in debt.

Back in Detroit, Jackson is definitely not taking the theft of his money lying down. Hiring Frank Burke, an ex-cop, he makes it Burke’s job to track down the cash before some of the other mobsters can get hold of it. The only thing is, this ex-cop has a plan all his own and will do anything to make his wishes come true.

Crissa is an extremely powerful and intelligent heroine and in this, the third book starring the avid thief. Readers receive a masterful plot they won’t soon forget!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE SHIELD

By Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore

Sholes and Moore have followed up “The Blade” with an even greater, nail-biting thriller with “The Shield.”

Retired OSI agent Maxine Decker’s tranquility is abruptly interrupted by the loud thumping of a helicopter’s propeller. Ushered to Beowulf, the “blackest” of facilities deep inside the wall of the Grand Canyon, Maxine discovers the truth behind the Roswell Incident. She is told that the most secret of alien artifacts have been stolen and that she is needed to recover them. They hold the knowledge of science that is thousands of years more advanced than our world is capable of…the science of displacement…the ability to move an object from one place to another in the blink of an eye. During her Beowulf orientation, the facility is attacked. She is led through a secret tunnel by the head of the facility who is mortally wounded during their escape. His final passing words…“Don’t trust anyone!”

With no one to trust and with a group of Russians trying to kill her, she calls the only person she can trust for help, her ex-husband, OSI agent Kenny Gates.

“The Shield” will take Decker and Gates from the Grand Canyon to Russia, and finally to the Sudan as they try to unravel the truth and stop world destruction. Marked as U.S. traitors, they have no one to turn to except “Tennyson,” the code name for the president, and even his trust is suspect.

Sholes and Moore have written a gripping, adrenaline rush that combines science, conspiracy, and the realities of nuclear war. “The Shield” will grab you and have you screaming at the characters as you become engulfed in this terrifying ride. Sholes and Moore will leave you rethinking what you know about Roswell and Area 51 and leave you longing for the next Decker and Gates adventure.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 5)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

STRONG DARKNESS

By Jon Land

Every lover of the thriller will agree there are books and then there are BOOKS—adrenaline-pumping tales that grip and hold the attention from first to last page. This creation is one of those!

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is back, with her stiff spine, high spirit, and smart mouth completely intact. As the keeper of the peace at a funeral, Caitlin tries to halt a Reverend, and his bigoted group of followers from the Beacon of Light Church, from protesting. A young boy is dead—a hero in Afghanistan—who has come home in a box, and all Reverend Tripp and his moronic minions can do is chant against gays in the military. Caitlin tries to reason with the group, treating them like people with hearts. When that doesn’t work, she commandeers a John Deere and literally pushes the protesters into a trench.

After being chastised by her boss, Caitlin receives horrific news from her love, Cort Wesley Masters. Apparently Cort’s son is in the hospital in a coma, put there by an unknown assailant. And a girl is missing who a vicious man is desperate to find—a man who may turn into the worst enemy Caitlin has ever come up against.

At the hospital in Rhode Island, Cort and Caitlin meet up with the detective in charge; a man who has already dealt with Caitlin once before, when her actions in his community left four dead from a situation, Caitlin claimed, was self-defense. The detective threatens that history will be dug up if Caitlin doesn’t leave his city, but the power this Ranger has won’t be stopped…and the investigation is one long thrill ride.

Land offers a thrilling package that includes the worst sort of enemies, the best allies, and links to a period when the frontier was run by a drunken judge and protected by a Ranger who attempted to save lives. This is a BOOK, so read it ASAP!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

MIDNIGHT CROSSING

By Charlaine Harris

 

Midnight, Texas is just a dot on the map. Charlaine Harris has made it a place I would love to see, maybe even move to. She has again created a town where the people are friendly, the food is good, and not everything is as it seems.

The small town waits anxiously for the arrival of Manfred Bernardo. Having only one stoplight at the crossroads of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway, the traffic it sees, usually about three cars, stays long enough for a gas fill up or food. Manfred is greeted by a helping hand, Bobo, the owner of Midnight Pawn, and his landlord. Others soon introduce themselves. As he meets the locals, Manfred realizes he somehow belongs here. Being psychic, he should have seen that coming, it’s his job after all.

The lazy happy pace of the town is fractured. At their first annual Picnic Day up at Cold Rock, they discover the decomposing body of Bobo’s missing girlfriend Audrey. Everyone thought she just left Bobo. Now it seems she was murdered and Bobo is the prime suspect. The town is determined to prove Bobo’s innocence.

Manfred finds out his neighbors and friends are more than your average townies. Fiji is really a witch. Bobo has a dark family past that comes right up to his front door. He learns why Lemuel only works nights. The Reverend (the Rev) seldom speaks, but when he does, everyone listens. As Manfred and friends try to protect Bobo from his past, they find themselves confronted by a surprising terror right in their own beloved town. The climactic end rattles even the town psychic.

If you ever find yourself at the “Midnight Crossroad,” you might want to stop. Look around, grab a bite to eat, or check out the unique shops. Then again, you might just run the only stop light in town. Either way, Midnight, Texas is no longer just an obscure place on the map.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY

By Kevin O’Brien

When it comes to a nail-biter, this is it. O’Brien literally presents the definition of ‘crazy’ and readers will be thrilled.

To begin, a fire envelops a home, and tragically a whole family is wiped out. Then, a man accused of being an embezzler also goes to his grave, but not before killing his entire family. Although these seem to be random acts of malice, clues soon appear that show a definitive link: the first wife has died and the husband in each scenario gets married again quickly, almost before the insurance policy pays out. In addition, each holds a secret from the past that will follow them to their graves.

Main character, Stephanie, is a pilot whose family members have expired due to one problem or another, yet she questions the fact that her sister has, as far as the law is concerned, committed suicide. In her heart, she finds this conclusion impossible, and when she hears about another similar murder/suicide that occurred in another part of the country, she immediately contacts the surviving son, Ryan, and partners up with him to find the truth.

The victims pile up. A couple of young men are arrested for these crimes, but Stephanie does not believe that they committed the murders. Found guilty of only robbery and not murder, Stephanie hires a private investigator to unearth any information he can about her brother-in-law’s new wife who no one in the family has met. As the tale unfolds, Stephanie and Ryan make a pact to not stop until they figure out who the real killer is. The past becomes the present, as family secrets come to life and answer the question of who, exactly, wants their victims to ‘say they’re sorry’ before heading straight to hell.

If you want darkness, if you crave chills, this is the tale for you!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

VISIONS

By Kelley Armstrong

For many readers, a new Armstrong novel is like a Christmas gift arriving early. This is no exception.

The Cainsville series began with a book titled “Omens,” and brought together a slightly crooked lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, with the daughter of serial killers. Eden was this girl’s name, yet she’s Olivia Taylor-Jones now because of her adopted family, leaving the stigma of being the child of nasty murderers behind. Oddly enough, with Gabriel, she did end up clearing her real parents’ names of two killings. Not the rest, just yet, but she’s determined to figure out this ever-growing mystery.

In this second tale, Olivia seems happy in Cainsville. The older folk of the town take care of her and watch out for her best interests, so she always feels loved. She works at the local diner, but Gabriel wants her to become his assistant fulltime. Secrets are slowly uncovered by the duo. The kind folk of the town turn into elders; although not the squeaky clean elders that deserve a ton of respect. In fact, these particular people have a mission of their own, and are trying to keep her away from the lawyer…but why?

A handsome man named Ricky comes along and steals Olivia’s interest. The town seems truly happy about this new relationship, but Olivia is up in arms. She needs Gabriel, especially since the day she found a dead woman, dressed just like her, in the front seat of her car. She and Gabriel are soon facing real crimes that are mixing with preternatural visions that may just send Olivia to an asylum.

As it has been with all Armstrong’s series, readers have been given a location that’s dark and mysterious, with two extremely strong characters to hold onto as they walk through a frightening maze to get to the truth. This second step along the Cainsville route is so amazing that it will drive people crazy just waiting for ‘Christmas’ to come around again.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, Author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

DEEP SHELTER

By Oliver Harris

Detective Nick Belsey is back in his second mystery that is extremely entertaining. This time around, the wise guy detective is leading the reader below the streets of London, down into the depths where shelters were once planned to be built so that people could travel back and forth. Of course, the shelters were never built…or were they?

As the suspenseful plot begins, Belsey is on the tail of a stolen car going down Hampstead High Street at top speed; yet in the blink of an eye, the speeder seems to disappear into thin air. This is where the awesome riddle begins.

Walking through the slightly eerie tunnels, Belsey does his best to find the criminal he seeks. When nothing comes up, however, Belsey books, remembering that he has a date for the evening that cannot be missed. Combining the two, as any good detective would do, Belsey takes his lady friend into the tunnels, which she finds a lot of fun. However…when she disappears in the blink of an eye, Belsey is beyond angry, and a whole lot confused. He knows if he reports the incident, he will be the number one suspect. So, making the difficult choice, Belsey heads deeper into the tunnels to find out what the heck is going on. Determined to discover more about this maze that time forgot, Belsey is surprised when humans hoarding Cold War secrets are in residence there, and he has to play a cat-and-mouse game that Belsey must win in order to make sure he and his girl survive.

This is a real nail-biter and a great ride for readers, as they spend time with a very cool main character. Although Belsey is not exactly the type of guy you would bring home to ‘Mom,’ his bad habits, wit, and charm, make him a fabulous detective and a whole lot of fun!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

AN UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE

By Charles Todd

Bess Crawford, the courageous and kind World War I nurse on the battlefield, returns in this sixth incredible mystery.

On leave, Bess is enjoying her time at home when she is asked to accompany a wounded soldier confined to a wheelchair to Buckingham Palace. This proud man is being awarded a medal for his incredible gallantry and courage by the King. The visit and ceremony go off without a hitch, and Bess is ready to pick the soldier up in the morning so he can be sent back to his quarters. However, when she arrives to get him, he has vanished. The Army as well as the Nursing Services holds Bess accountable for losing the war hero, and she’s ordered to stay home until their inquiry into the matter is finished.

The following day, word comes from the police that the soldier has been spotted…and he has been accused of killing a man in cold blood. Determined to get answers, Bess travels to the town where he was last seen only to discover that the sneaky ‘hero’ has gone AWOL yet again, and the police have no leads.

Paid a visit by Scotland Yard, Bess is accused of irresponsibility, seeing as how none of this would have happened had she not left her patient on his own. Of course, being that the soldier disappeared in the middle of the night, and because she’s a female and could not stay in his room, Bess actually did nothing wrong. But the eyes of the law see women as basically second-class citizens, so Bess must enlist the aid of her good friend Simon to help her solve the mystery of the vanishing soldier and restore her reputation.

Any reader who loves the wartime era, with the vivid atmosphere and the true events of history that changed the course of the world, will love this story. Three novels in one—mystery, historical, and psychological—this author has provided suspense readers with everything they could possibly want.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE NIGHT SEARCHERS

By Marcia Muller

How time does fly! This is book number thirty-one in the Sharon McCone Mystery series, with a plot so imaginative that readers will have no choice but to sit down and settle in for an exciting read they will not forget.

A young couple asks Sharon for help. The wife in this scenario, Camilla, seems to be suffering from either delusions or illusions. She tells the private detective that she has seen some really eerie things lately, including a group of people she calls devil worshippers who are sacrificing humans. Her husband, Jay, listens to this tale as he rolls his eyes. He basically looks like a man who wants to be anywhere else; he is worried that Sharon sees his wife as a woman in desperate need of a mental hospital, not a PI.

When all is said and done, however, Sharon agrees to investigate the story even if it does seem more than a bit odd. In addition, Sharon smells something ‘fishy’ when it turns out that a few of the people tied to the woman’s story are also embedded in a case being investigated by her own husband’s company. Hy is a hostage negotiator and when they team up, Sharon and Hy uncover a group of folks calling themselves ‘The Night Searchers’—people who have been prowling around the streets playing a weird kind of ‘game.’ Add in the fact that Hy’s company has also been called in on a supposed kidnapping of the director of a political group, and the plot just keeps getting juicier.

The wife no longer looks crazy, as the kidnapping erupts into something so much more and Sharon ends up being blamed, forcing her to go undercover to direct the investigation.

The action never slows down, as the two investigators and their employees find themselves dead center in the middle of a truly bizarre group of folks that the reader will never forget. This is a definite keeper!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS

By Margaret Maron

It’s great to be back in Colleton County, North Carolina, with the Knott family.

Miss Rachel, in no pain and expected to pass over soon, is visited by flocks of family members, eager to see her one last time. She’s resting quietly, until she perks up and starts talking a blue streak. Some of what she says is unintelligible, unless you know what she’s referring to. Finally, exhausted, she stops talking and the family goes to get some supper while the aide freshens up the sheets.

Very soon after that, Aunt Rachel is dead, but not of natural causes. Someone smothered her with a pillow.

It’s up to The Honorable Deborah Knott to sort through her tangled family and the other assorted people who were at Rachel’s bedside when she was rattling on about old scandals, to see which one of them felt compelling to stop Rachel from talking. She talks with all of them, dredging up more than one old secret. She and her husband, Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant, look into Rachel’s minister, her neighboring doctor, and others. She eventually finds out about the Designated Daughters, women who care for the elderly, sometimes even when they aren’t family members. Rachel’s daughter was one of these. Deborah knows it’s one of Rachel’s final words that brought about her death, but which one?

Great puzzler with the usual crowded cast of family members. Don’t worry, a family tree is provided.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of “Death in the Time of Ice” ■

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September Issue part 4)

     Posted on Sun ,16/11/2014 by Administrator

DECEMBER PARK

By Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi captures the essence of being a teenager so vividly. I felt as though I was one of the gang. Riding my bike, smoking cigarettes, and just hanging out was a way of life. “December Park” stirred up memories of a time when I thought that I was invincible, until the innocence of youth was shattered.

Harting Farms is a quiet community, going about its everyday life. Then the Piper came and children went missing. Angelo “Angie” Mazzone, Peter Galloway, Scott Steeple, and Michael Sugarland are a band of friends. More like brothers, they stick together. When they see the body of the dead girl, possibly the latest of the Piper’s victims, it brings the danger closer to home. Curfews are set, people are scared, and Angie’s father, a police detective, is at a loss.

When Adrian Gardiner moves in, it is Angie who accepts him into the gang first. His stature is the bullying size. He carries a backpack with the Incredible Hulk blazed on it. His mother bares a scary scar around her neck. But somehow, he fits in. The guys take him to their private place in Satan’s Forest. This is where they think, smoke pot, and contemplate all the important things in a boy’s life.

When Adrian tells the guys he has found a locket that he believes belongs to the dead girl, they decide to solve the mystery of the Piper on their own. In the meantime, life goes on. School, fights, and teenage pains, pushes the Piper to the back of everyone’s mind except Adrian. He becomes obsessed. When he goes missing, the guys must grow up quick, stow their fears, and save their friend, before the Piper can take him away, forever.

The surprising climactic ending will have the reader wondering what the Piper of their childhood was and can it still reach out and steal them away.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

BLOODEYE

By Craig Saunders

Craig Saunders has done a masterful job in creating a thrilling psychological horror novel.

Keane Reid has been running for seven years, ever since his wife, Teresa, was brutally murdered, but he still couldn’t outrun his wife’s voice. It spoke to him often, and he listened.

Keane was a crime scene photographer, now he’s a plumber. He’s called out to the King’s Arms pub. One of the toilets in the restroom was smashed and flooded the area. This isn’t a job he can fix. Just shut off the mains and let the pub’s insurance figure it out, so he thinks until he turns around and sees her nailed to the door. He doesn’t freak, he just stares. Her body is a grizzly display of violence. Then he sees it: a third eye carved into her forehead. Just like what was done to his wife, except this time, the eye opens and says his name. So he runs.

He thinks back about how he brought death home and the whole gruesome period. He remembers finding a missing photograph he took at a crime scene seven years ago, in his house, in his bed, next to his wife. Had the killer followed him?

Keane comes to terms that the maniac who killed his wife is back, but he must also come to terms with her death. If he can just stay in the darkness, he can defeat him. He knows this madman lurks in the shadows.

The thought-provoking ending will catch you like a flash bulb in your eyes and leave you unable to see straight for a while. The descent into one’s psyche is a hard pill to swallow. What you find may be more terrifying than you expect. They say everyone has skeletons in their closet. The part they leave out is that those skeletons have shadows. If the shadow of your skeleton ever decides to step out on its own, you may have to start running.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

BURIED

By Kate Watterson

Detective Ellie MacIntosh is facing two extremely different cases this time around, and the suspense factor is off the charts!

A young man attempts to get out of a rain storm while out on the lake where he’s been fishing. While pulling the boat ashore, he just happens to fall into a shallow grave located on Ellie’s grandfather’s land. Strangeness erupts as her grandfather calls her instead of the local law to investigate. But not only is this out of Ellie’s jurisdiction, she is also put off by her grandfather’s attitude and thinks that he may just know far more than he’s letting on—including the identity of the victim. The second case is much closer to home for Ellie: a killer who just happens to be spending his time shooting cops in Milwaukee.

The two cases fill Ellie’s workload quite quickly, as she goes back and forth between a present-day menace and a body that was left on Grandpa’s farm several years ago. Working with a new partner doesn’t help as she investigates the first policeman’s death, and tries to figure out why the man’s wife and son were spared. The original thought is that this is an organized crime hit, but when the second cop is shot down in daylight as he was about to give a speeding ticket to a driver—the ‘serial cop killer’ theory rises to the top of their radar.

Ellie and new partner, Lt. Grasso, are asked to go on an undercover hunt to see if there is anyone on the force who cannot be trusted, as more and more interest is placed on the fact that due to various circumstances, a cop could just be the one killing his/her fellow brothers.

This is definitely a page-turner that readers will want to finish in one sitting. And although the characters are not new, these books are most definitely standalones that are packed with surprises for the thriller fan!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MURDER ON THE MEDITERRANEAN

By Alexander Campion

Lovers of this terrific French mystery series will be thrilled with this new tale featuring Paris Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier, a young woman on the fast track to success in her field of police business.

Trying to get away from her overwhelming workload, Capucine goes on a well-deserved vacation in the form of a Mediterranean cruise. However, as anyone knows by now, the beautiful sunset is not all that is waiting on the horizon for Capucine—a murder is once again going to end up directly in her path. But before the hubbub begins, the cruise is the most relaxing vacation that Capucine has enjoyed in some time. Others accompanying her are Capucine’s husband Alexandre, her cousin Jacques, and her boss, Ines, along with Ines’s husband. Everyone is enjoying life!

But in the middle of the cruise, Nathalie, the cook aboard the yacht, is lost to the sea, either by accident or, more likely, by the hand of a murderer. It’s thought that a sudden storm is the culprit, until a bullet hole found in Nathalie’s jacket alters the minds of everyone. Apparently, Nathalie was fond of some of the men, particularly Serge who’s a member of the crew. She was not so fond of the women on board, however, but the feeling was most definitely mutual. When a bullet is discovered that matches the gun Capucine is carrying, the one who stands for justice suddenly finds the tables turned as she becomes the number one suspect in the vicious crime.

Capucine and Alexandre head to a friend’s estate instead of returning to Paris as they investigate the death. Capucine knows that if she’s arrested for murder, her life as she knows and loves it will be over in a flash. Searching among the idle, rich, and famous, Capucine must find a way to save herself.

A great mystery with glorious settings and a cast that is so diverse and talented, Agatha Christie would be proud!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE WINTER GUEST

By Pan Jenoff

One of the most imaginative writers once again delivers the harshest history in the most soft-spoken manner, bringing to life an unforgettable tale of romance and suspense.

For the Nowak twins, living in a very small community in rural Poland, WWII went from being a bit of gossip in the marketplace to absolute fear, watching their own citizens ripped from their homes in the middle of the night never to be seen again. Helena and Ruth Nowak are in charge of their siblings. With their father deceased and their mother living in a hospital with hardly any chance of survival, the girls work hard to make sure that the youngest siblings are taken care of.

One day a week Helena travels over the rugged mountain pass to visit their mother, and on one such visit hears the moaning of a wounded soldier hidden in the forest. Trying to keep his presence silent so the enemy will not discover him, Helena gets the man into an abandoned chapel and tends to his wounds. His name is Sam, and he’s an American paratrooper who escaped his plane before it crashed—a plane that carried important information that could help the resistance beat back the Germans.

Although a romance commences, Helena’s frightening choice to help Sam by finding the people living in the darkness who’re readying to take on Hitler, places her in terrifying places, with twists and turns that show the Reich in their most monstrous form. As the story progresses, Helena and Ruth must face their own issues of survival; locating passports to flee the country before it’s too late.

The author who stunned the world with “The Kommandant’s Girl” continues book after book to create in-depth characters with courage, bravery, and humanity. The plot is magnificent, and the ending is one that will not be forgotten for its power. A definite keeper!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

HAUNTED

By Kay Hooper

There is one person who writes paranormal from a place so far above everyone else in the genre: Kay Hooper. Her Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series is incredible, and Kay ups her game—if that’s possible—with “Haunted.”

There is an aura that surrounds not only the characters and agents of SCU but also this book. Kay brings some familiar faces from the unit back together to solve some serial killings along the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas and Georgia. At the same time, a unit is dispatched to Sociable, a small mountain town in Georgia. The county sheriff, Trinity Nichols, calls Bishop for help after discovering the body of a murdered friend. A death that seems “off.”

In Sociable, we meet a close group of friends known as The Group. Almost all of them were born and raised in Sociable, and decided to either stay or move back. Their lives, hopes, and dreams are intertwined in Sociable. When members of The Group start dying by odd circumstances, Bishop’s team starts to put the pieces of a frightening puzzle together.

We get to tag along with the members of SCU as they use their intelligence and psychic abilities to try and unravel and capture the dark forces at play in Sociable and the Blue Ridge Mountains. In “Haunted,” three relationships in particular stand out: the relationship between SCU Agents Hollis and DeMarco, between Trinity and her dog, Braden, and one between the psychic abilities that the agents and the villains are adept at. This last relationship will shock and astound when you, along with the SCU, discover who or what is killing these people.

If you are a lover of paranormal suspense, “Haunted” and Kay Hooper are your Holy Grail. If you have shied away from it in the past thinking it is too ‘out there,’ this is the perfect time to dive in. Kay Hooper has raised the bar with “Haunted” to a height unreachable by authors with ‘normal’ abilities.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

MURDER 101

By Faye Kellerman

Always fun to read, Faye Kellerman has written yet another page-turner featuring Decker and Lazarus, a ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ for the ages.

For many years, Peter Decker has been a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, and has witnessed more horrific acts than he can count. He and his wife, Rina, are now leaving the California sun and moving to upstate New York so they can be closer to their children, grandchildren, and a foster son.

Peter has taken a job working for the Greenbury Police Department that’s definitely not as exciting and nowhere near as dangerous as the LAPD. Rina is enchanted with the area and has fit right into their new town, although Peter is not too keen on his new partner, Tyler McAdams. Tyler is a trust fund baby, a Harvard graduate who makes sure everyone knows it, and has a bad attitude. The frosting on the cake is when Tyler starts calling this seasoned detective, ‘Old Man,’ which doesn’t make Peter too happy. However, when things change and the two detectives are finally called to a real crime, Peter is raring to go; he knows police procedure backwards and forwards, and Tyler definitely does not.

First, there has been a break-in at a local cemetery and two Tiffany panels have been replaced by forgeries. Then comes a murder at a local college where a coed is brutally killed and Peter feels as if he’s right back at home. He and Tyler head down the ivy-covered hallways, and on their way, they find secrets, unearth cold cases, and run into people who kill others…just for the fun of it. Peter’s job is no longer boring, and Tyler is soon grateful to be studying at the feet of a real policeman, changing his attitude completely. As Peter enlists his wife’s expert help, the group finds themselves attempting to stop a bloody rampage by an emotionless killer.

Another great Kellerman read with a full spectrum of action and surprises!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion