The Coast to Coast Murders by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If I could say only one thing about The Coast to Coast Murders I would say WOW! That’s it…. Wait, okay, there’s more. I haven’t read James Patterson in over a decade but I would read absolutely anything that J.D. Barker wrote – shopping lists even – and it’s Barker’s twisty mind that shines through in The Coast to Coast Murders. WOW!

There are two siblings, Michael and Megan, whose adopted parents were a bit avant-guarde in their parenting. Michael is now a cross county truck driver who discovers his girl friend’s dead body in his house upon arriving home. He calls his sister because he truly believes she is the only one who can help. These are two very bizarre siblings…. and then we meet Mitchell. WOW! Everything about these characters and the games they play had my head spinning! The story, the characters, the plot all were so terrific that I read the book in one sitting and now I want MORE! I always want more of Barker’s story telling, though, so this is nothing new.

If you are a crime fiction fan then you will like The Coast to Coast Murders. If you are a Barker fan like me, then this is “must read.”

Thanks to #Netgalley and @jdbarker for my copy of this edge of your seat thriller!

Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker

A woman has gone missing and her daughter is desperate to find her. The police have called the disappearance a “walk away,” citing that her mother left a note telling her family not to look for her. Her daughter, however, will not “walk away” from what she knows and believes to be true – someone took her mother.

Today is publication day for Wendy Walker’s newest book, Don’t Look for Me, a story that crime fiction lovers definitely will not want to miss! The writing for this suspenseful tale is taught, full of twists and perhaps some gaslighting as well. Told from two different perspectives – the mother and daughter – we see the grit and determination that both of these women bring forward in order to save the mother’s life. It is impossible to write about the plot without giving too much away, but suffice it to say that Don’t Look for Me will captivate you from the first page to the last. It is a gripping, well written, character driven story had me enthralled throughout. I highly recommend it.

The Watcher by Jennifer Pashley

The Watcher by Jennifer Pashley is the first in a new crime fiction series featuring Kateri Fisher. Fisher has just moved to a new police force in a small, rural town in upstate New York. She has a past that she wishes to forget but is reminded of daily through the physical scars that she wears. Assigned to desk duty for months, her first “real” case involves the murder of the town’s outcast, Pearl Jenkins. The prime suspect is Pearl’s son, Shannon, who has become entangled with two men, both of whom are mysterious in their own right. From the beginning to the end, Pashley weaves a tale that is never quite what we expect as Fisher attempts to thread together the scattered pieces of the Jenkins’ family’s life.

Pashley is a gifted writer who captivates and enthralls her readers with her effluent prose. While The Watcher is one heck of a good crime story, the core of the book is about the characters who brilliantly are brought to life. I have not read a crime fiction tale this good in such a long time that The Watcher soars to the top of my favorites this year.

Little Threats by Emily Schultz

In the summer of 1993, twin sisters Kennedy and Carter Wynn are embracing the grunge era and testing every limit in their privileged Richmond suburb. But Kennedy’s teenage rebellion goes too far when, after a night of partying in the woods, her best friend, Haley, is murdered, and Kennedy is sent away for her murder…

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I read the opening pages of Little Threats during the “lock down” of the virus in April thinking that I would pick it up again later in the summer. Nooooooo, from the very first lines of this book I was hooked! The story is so intriguing – twins, a third girl added to the duo who wants to be one of them so badly, bad boys, sex and drugs and seriously messed up parental units! There was no way I could put down this book!

Carter and Kennedy, twins, were teenagers rebelling against their parents’ wealth and control. In the summer of ’93, they were testing the limits by running free and wild, shoplifting items they clearly didn’t need and hanging with a crowd that introduced them to drugs and an element of society that was far different from their own. On July 4th, after a bad acid trip, Hayley – the friend – is found dead in the woods between the wealthy/poor neighborhoods. Kennedy has no memory of the night but circumstantial evidence points to her – along with a desire to “stick it to the rich kid.” Now, fifteen years later, she is out of prison and along with old memories comes someone seeking revenge and and another who wants the truth.

The story is told from multiple points of view, including writing assignments that were given to Kennedy while in prison. The overlapping, often contradictory perspectives allow the reader to understand how confusing the summer really was for all involved and how incredibly out of control the situation became. As these same stories begin to converge with one another, the red herrings disappear and the shocking truth is revealed. Although I suspected who the murderer might have been, there were so many “what about them” or “could it have been…” thoughts along the way that I still was utterly shocked by the very satisfying conclusion to this riveting and well told story. While I missed Emily Schultz’ debut book, you can bet it is on my shelf now and I highly recommend Little Threats to you for your reading list this autumn!

Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw

I am fascinated by volcanoes and have even traveled around the US to view them. When I was offered Fire and Vengeance to read and review, knowing it revolved around a volcano, I jumped at the chance. I was so glad that I did. Not only did I read a great book, I discovered a new author and series to love as well.

Hurricane Ida has pounded the islands of Hawaii and has flooded the Hualapai Mountain’s volcanic crater, causing a build up of steam not unlike a pressure cooker. As the steam vents into the atmosphere, one of the vents opens under an elementary school, coating the students and staff in sulfuric chemicals and white-hot temperatures. Hilo Chief Detective Koa Kane is helicoptered to the scene where he finds mass casualties including multiple children. He vows to find the cause and the persons responsible for this tragedy.

There are several sub-plots intertwined with the primary story line of the school’s tragedy including Kane’s criminal brother who is dying in a jail cell. As Kane attempts to get his brother released for medical care, Kane finds himself caught between administering justice and helping his brother.

McCaw is an excellent writer, interspersing Hawaiian dialect throughout the book which lends to its atmospheric authenticity. He also walks that fine line between writing a taut thriller while adding enough personal details to make the book more interesting. I found Fire and Vengeance to be a great addition to the Crime Fiction genre and, if you enjoy series, this is a good one to follow. You can read Fire and Vengeance as a stand alone – I did – but I’ve since gone backward and picked up others in the series. All three have been terrific. Fire and Vengeance is available now.

Snow Creek by Gregg Olsen

There are few authors who I will read regardless of what they write: fiction, non-fiction, series, stand-alone. Gregg Olsen is one of those authors. Imagine my surprise when I was reading the second book in the Megan Carpenter series and realized that I never had formally reviewed the first book. AAAggghhh. Let me say that it is difficult to go wrong with one of Olsen’s books and Snow Creek is no exception.

Snow Creek is the first in the Detective Megan Carpenter series. Carpenter has left behind a dark, murky past to start a new career in Snow Creek Washington. Her first case is a missing persons case that appears a likely accident until Carpenter gets a closer look. In addition to solving the murder case, there is a sub-plot regarding a series of tapes from Carpenter’s childhood. It adds a dimension to the story line that I found intriguing. Between the suspense of the murder and the psychological sub-plot, Olsen has, again, provided us with a solid, well written crime story. Both Snow Creek and Water’s Edge are available now at Amazon and local booksellers.

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Midwife of Hope River is going on my list of Top Reads for 2020. Stuck in a reading stand-still and searching for something of substance, I came across the Hope River series on a “feminist” website and a must read book for women. From the first page to the last I became immersed in the turn of the century hardships of “Patience,” a woman fleeing from her past, making her way as a mid-wife – a calling she never personally had for herself but one she fell into by chance – as she grows into a true Appalachian woman.

Rarely has a character resonated with me as much as Patience did in this book. I adored her, her strength, her convictions, her humor. She was everything I want to be as a woman. I also learned a great deal though Harman’s writing. Fact checking everything, I found that the reader will learn about the horrors of coal mining, the Union Wars, the desperation of the era between the world wars leading up to the “great depression.” These were horrific times for people all around the world and Harman brings them into our reality making what we are experiencing in 2020 seem quite trivial in comparison. I needed that comparison. There are additional characters in Hope River including a love interest of Patience and her companion, a young African American girl who has come to live with her after being “dismissed” from a wealthy white family’s home after the market crash. We are witness to the egregious rise of the Klan in the area and the horrors that they can reign down upon innocent people with their violence and hate. In all, it is a marvelous book, perfectly written in tone and emotion, one which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Deadly Waters by Dot Hutchison

If I could write a book, this is the one I would write!

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Deadly Waters is an anthem to the “Me Too” movement. It is for all of the women who have ever had to clean themselves up in a bathroom, dried their tears with their friends in a stall, been told they should not have been somewhere, should have worn something different, looked different, just been pleased someone noticed them. This is for women who have been groped in the workplace, who were threatened with lesser grades if they didn’t comply with professors, who batted eyelashes at their bosses to keep their jobs. This is for those who testified against Supreme Court nominees only to see that POS sitting on the highest court of the land. It is for women every where, even those too brainwashed by a male dominated culture to know it is for them.

Eight college women living in a suite at a Florida university know about all of these things. They go to bars where they are touched, groped, have to walk in pairs, watch their drinks so they don’t get tanked and still end up attacked in the parking lot. It is about someone’s revenge against the worst of the aggressors – because this world knows you cannot deal with them all – by feeding them to the alligators who are in the swamps near the campus.  The author grapples with the emotions that all of the women are going through – shock, joy, relief, horror, more joy, the “what-ifs” and we, as a reader, take that journey with them.

Admittedly, even as devout feminist, my first reaction was “why do these girls keep going to these bars!?”  Wait, back that up. WHY don’t these men stop harassing women at bars, drugging their drinks!? You see, I’m originally from the south and I know a thing or two about southern universities and specifically I know about Florida and Arizona universities because they are diving schools. They are the worst. The things written in this book are accurate. It IS this bad. I’m not at all appalled that a woman began doing something about it herself because we have all sat by over the past decade and seen what is done to the men who are accused – NOTHING. EVER. And yet, other readers and reviewers have the audacity to say that the book is about hate? You bet it is! I am enraged at what our society has become. That readers can review books about male serial killers until the cows come home and love them but because this one is about a female, about women who actually are happy that men finally have to meet justice for the horrors that they perpetrate on women,  then female reviewers have their delicate sensibilities in an uproar. Shame on you! How many of us have been in the same situation? How man of us – even on places like Facebook and Goodreads – have to block the trollers who will not leave us alone just because we have tits!? And you think this book is about hate!? No – the world men have created is about hate and it is called misogyny!

I loved the book. I think it should required reading for women just so their minds are opened because, apparently, far too many have been brainwashed by society for far too long. I also love the fact that, because I did not receive this book from a publisher I am able to write an honest review my true opinions and not some watered down version of what I really think. It’s refreshing to be able to do that for a change.

 

Happy Pub Day to #TheVacation by T.M. Logan

It’s publication day for one of my favorite suspense/thrillers of the summer: The Vacation!

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Four best friends have planned a dream vacation in a semi-secluded beach house. Their families are joining them for a week of fun, food and relaxation. However, these four gals are bringing a LOT of baggage with them including suspicions, old rivalries and jealousy and that does not even touch the problems their families have packed away. There are so many secrets, so many lies, so much drama so that when one of them is found dead it isn’t even a surprise. The surprise is who it is and who did it – and why!!

I love Logan’s writing, the way he brings each and every character to life through vivid descriptions. The atmospheric prose puts you, the reader, onto the beach, on the edge of the cliff with each of the characters themselves. It’s marvelous. But what I love most is his ability to keep you guessing and in the dark until the very end of the book. You may think you know who but the why is always a surprise – or vice-versa. The Vacation is a perfect summer read and a fabulous suspenseful book. I highly recommend it!

Thanks to #Netgalley, the author and #Stmartinspress for my copy of #TheVacation

Mums and Mayhem by Amanda Flower

Gardening and floral design are passions of mine so when I stumbled across Mums and Mayhem and realized that it was book that included both and was set in Scotland, I knew I had found myself a really good cozy read. I was absolutely right!

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A famous fiddler has been kilt. A magic garden’s left to wilt. Does Fiona Knox’s father hold the guilt? Will florist Fiona’s blood be spilt?

Fiona Knox, owner of the Climbing Rose Flower Shop is an American who moved to Scotland to care for her inheritance, a secret garden that is passed down to each generation of caretakers. Unsure why she has been chosen, Fiona has made Scotland her home to find answers, care for the garden and solve a mystery or two. In this edition, a world famous fiddle player has returned to his hometown for a homecoming concert only to be brutally murdered. Fiona’s parents also arrive from America and, surprisingly, Fiona discovers that her parents, her deceased godfather and the dead fiddler were once great friends. The more Fiona digs into the murder, the more questions she has about her own past and identity. What she discovers will leave her and the reader shocked.

I absolutely adore this cozy mystery. The villagers are all so cranky and wonderful and Scottish and marvelous and Fiona is a great protagonist.The garden itself is magical but to the point where you will gag on cloying fantasy and paranormal. It’s mystical properties are “just right.” There’s a hint of romance, a well written plot and good character development set in a dear little town. What more could you ask for in a cozy mystery?

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Mums and Mayhem is the third in A Magic Garden Mystery series but I read it as a stand alone without any problems. It did, however, make me want to read the first two books: Flowers and Foul Play and Death and Daisies which I readily found at my local library. I heartily recommend all three of these delightful books to you today.

@Netgalley @CrookedLaneBooks