Trust No One by Debra Webb

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I’m already a fan of Debra Webb, love her Undertaker’s Daughter series, so I was excited to get an early look at her newest series involving detectives Devlin and Falco. Set in Birmingham, AL, Trust No One revolves around a multiple murder case with connections to the city’s powerful elite as well as having deep reaching tentacles into the past. Devlin and Falco are an interesting partnership, one straight-laced and the other just emerging from years undercover, but their personalities play well off of each other, strengths to weaknesses, and you know that they will make for good reading in the future. There was just enough familiar introduction and past revelations so that we, the readers, could better know why the detectives reacted as they did in certain situations. Yes, this was and will be a good detective series, one a I highly recommend and look forward to reading more of in the future.

The Darkness We Hide: The Undertaker’s Daughter, Book 3 by Debra Webb

Debra Webb has become one of my “go-to” authors when I want to read a good crime fiction novel. Several of her series, and she has several, fall into my top favorites. The Darkness We Hide is the third installment of the Undertaker’s Series and was a marvelous conclusion to a story arc that has been building throughout the previous two books.

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Dr. Rowan Dupont is the “undertaker” for Winchester, TN like her father before her and his father before and so on. She lives in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion that also serves as the funeral parlor. To say that her life is and always has been unusual is an understatement, and not just because of her eclectic career choice. Rowan’s mother hung herself from the chandelier of the mansion, her twin sister was murdered and unusual murders have surrounded her family all of her life. Friends and allies have betrayed her leaving her with more questions than answers and with secrets piling on top of one another until it appears that the final murder just could be Rowan’s.

The characters, as with all of Webb’s series, are very well written. We know them intimately by this point and can feel their anxiety, fear and anger seeping through the pages. Although I thought I had this one all figured out after the second installment, I was completely off base – good thing I read this one! It was a great crime fiction read and a satisfying end to the story – or is it? Who knows with Debra Webb!! I want to note, again, that this is the third book and it really is necessary that you read the first two in the series before reading this one. You will be lost, confused and frustrated if you don’t. Otherwise, I highly recommend The Darkness We Hide.

The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane

The body of an elderly woman is found in a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. Are the two murders connected and, if so, how are they related to the asylum that is slated to be torn down?

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The Bone Jar is the debut crime fiction novel by S W Kane featuring Detective Lew Kirby who, thankfully, is just a normal detective. He isn’t a drunk, he isn’t cheating on multiple women, no drugs, isn’t on the take. I swear, I haven’t read a crime fiction novel that didn’t feature a messed up detective for so long that I, literally, kept waiting for the shoe to drop. It never did. It was refreshing and quite wonderful. The Bone Jar is a really good, well written, atmospheric detective story like they should be but rarely are any longer. It features an asylum that is written so vividly that it becomes a character in and of itself. There are marvelous secondary characters who could tip over into the nuisance variety, but never do. They actually are helpful, quirky and wonderful. I would love to see them back in future books. The ending left the reader on a bit of an edge but, for me, that was a fun twist at the end. I’m very much looking forward to the next installment in this new series.

Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and Netgalley for my copy of #TheBoneJar

Broken Genius by Drew Murray

It takes a genius to write a book this well written and researched and Drew Murray reached the mark!

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I love (!!) both tech thrillers and crime fiction. Put them together and you have Broken Genius, the debut book by author Drew Murray. This is a thriller that kept me up all night long reading from cover to cover and that is no exaggeration.

Will Parker was a twenty something tech genius set on a meteoric course for becoming one of the most successful tech gurus in the world – and the richest. Just as he is flying to Japan to ink the deal that will launch his new “invention,” his program is inexplicably hacked and a young girl is murdered while millions watch in real time. Parker is finished. He sells his shares in his now failing company and hides in the shadows in shame. The FBI recruits him for his computer skills and thus our adventure begins.  Set at a Comic-Con in Indiana (my home state, how could I not love this book? We have Gen-Con, for the record, not Comic Con) Will has been assigned a murder case to solve while searching for a missing supercomputer chip. Through his impressive technical skills and intellect, Will will attempt to out-maneuver the best of the best from all over the world.

Broken Genius is definitely a “must-read” for techies but it is a well written crime fiction novel as well. There is terrific character development, great dialogue in addition to fast paced action. I highly recommend Broken Genius and can NOT wait for Murray’s next book to hit the shelves!!

You Can Go Home Now by Michael Elias

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You Can Go Home Again is unlike any book I’ve read. It is crime fiction meets The Boondock Saints from a female protagonist perspective and what a great character she is! I was conflicted about the vigilante justice but, on the other hand, I found myself saying “YES!” a few times as well. The fact is that once I started reading this book, I couldn’t stop. The narrative never allows you to take a breath, come up for air or pause until the very last page. I loved it! I want more!!

The Familiar Dark #AmyEngel @aengelwrites

Everyone is a suspect.

Everyone has something to hide.

And someone will answer for her daughter’s murder.

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It has been a while since I’ve written about Southern Noir and I’ve missed it especially after reading the perfect book for this collection, The Familiar Dark.

Eve Taggert was raised on the wrong side of the tracks – far, far away from those tracks, in a trailer with a drug using/selling mother. Things didn’t get a lot worse than Eve’s home life. Her family had the reputation of being the worst of the very worst. Now, as adults, Eve has moved into town and has a daughter whom she adores. Her brother is a respectable cop. Eve lives entirely for her daughter, Junie, and is completely devastated when Junie and her best friend is found murdered in the park. In any other town in America, Junie’s death would be considered reprehensible but in this dirty backwoods Ozark town, it’s just another day in America. That is why Eve has vowed to find the killer herself, even if it means reverting to her mother’s brand of vigilante justice.

Let me just write a few WOWs here! WOW! Oh WOW! Seriously WOW!! Because I am stubborn, I didn’t read the first book by Engel, The Roanoke Girls, which was all the buzz a few years ago. That’s because I’m really stupid!! Amy Engel is a southern author to be reckoned with whose flair for noir puts Nordic authors to shame! From the opening lines, which perfectly capture the last horrifying dying moments of the two girls, to the volatile and satisfying ending, there is not one moment of The Familiar Dark that is not brilliantly written. Every.Single.Word. The characters are raw, gritty, dirty, corrupt and corruptible. Even the richest in this town are grimy and you know it, you feel it. Those of us who ever have lived in the Ozarks know towns exactly like this one. We’ve known people like Eve and her family and Engel skillfully brings the town and these people off of the pages and into our reality with a flourish of her pen-stroke.

I’m not going to elaborate on the plot, I’m simply going to say that if you have not read The Familiar Dark yet, I have no idea what you are waiting for. Go. Get it right now and start reading it today and, if you haven’t read The Roanoke Girls, then make sure you get that one as well, because of course I had to go back and read that one too!

The Familiar Dark gets all the stars all the way up to the highest Ozark Mountaintop! WOW!

#MurderousMonday: Glass Dolls D.E.White

I almost hate to use the phrase “Murderous” during this horrific crisis we all are experiencing, but for those of us who adore thrillers we love what we love and crime fiction, for me, is at the top of the list. Welcome to Murderous Monday here at Macsbooks.

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It’s always exciting to discover new authors, those whose works we’ve never read before, and this week I did exactly that. D.E. White has been writing books for quite a while but took a turn in style and genres with their latest book, Glass Dolls. From the very first page until the shocking conclusion, I was hooked!

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Detective Dove Milson is no stranger to horror. Four years ago her niece was abducted and believed to be killed by the infamous Glass Doll Killer. Dove was held captive and gravely injured in the pursuit. Now she has transferred to a new unit, the Major Crimes Team, where her first case appears to be a copycat of the glass doll murders. As crimes begin mounting, they all point toward Dove and her family. Dove knows that she has to solve the crimes before her family all lies dead or goes missing.

When I read the synopsis for the book my first thought was this was going to be so “over the top.” I mean, seriously, her first case is a replica of the one that she just left behind? Her family is the target of every single crime that crops up? But nooooo, I was wrong. White’s deft and creative writing skills anchor the story line solidly in reality and the plot itself is absolutely believable. The characters are very real; their thoughts throughout the book often mirrored my own. The plot twist is touted as being “shocking” and it absolutely is but, as you know, I despise twists that are ridiculous. This one was not. There were signs throughout the book that hinted at this twist if the reader pays attention – which apparently I did not!! I definitely was surprised by this one. Bottom line – this is a terrific piece of crime fiction and a great thriller as well.

Thanks to the author, #Netgalley and #JoffeBooks for my copy of this exciting read!

 

Recent Reads and Rapid Reviews: Watch Over Me/ The Prized Girl/How Quickly She Disappears

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For various reasons, I’ve struggled with writing reviews for these three books. I enjoyed reading each of them but I felt as though I was saying the same thing over and over again. Rather than be redundant, I decided to go with shorter reviews for them. That doesn’t negate the fact that I truly did like all three and I hope you will as well.

THE PRIZED GIRL by Amy K Green

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Told from two distinct points of view, The Prized Girl is a slow burning mystery revolving around a murdered former beauty queen, Jenny, and her older sister’s quest for finding the truth. When Jenny is murdered, the police quickly arrest a developmentally challenged man who was obsessed with Jenny. Virginia, the sister, thinks there is more to the murder and begins seeking answers. The story is told in such a way that Jenny is reliving the events leading up to her death  while Virginia is dealing with past demons, lies and suspicions that not all of what she thought of as the truth was actually true.

This is a debut for the author, Amy K Green, and I think she did an incredible job with her story telling. The writing was suspenseful, fluid and the characters were very realistic and believable. My only concern was that I felt as though I had “been there, done that” with the story line itself. In a genre that is saturated, it is difficult to be unique and, while this was a very good, interesting read, it offered nothing new to the genre. If you like crime fiction, I think you would like The Prized Girl. Just don’t set your expectations too high.

How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

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Set in the early 1940s in a sparsely populated area of Alaska, How Quickly She Disappears is an atmospheric, suspenseful tale that is dark, gritty and psychologically taut.

Twenty years ago, Elizabeth’s sister disappeared. It changed Elizabeth’s life irreparably. Not a day passes when she doesn’t think about Jacqueline and wonder if she is still alive and, if so, where she might be. Living in a remote area of Alaska, Elizabeth struggles with her loveless marriage and extremely brilliant daughter who she loves more than life itself and who reminds her of Jacqueline. When I strange man suddenly appears in their village, Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when the man murders her friend and then, when in custody, proclaims that he knows where Jacqueline is. However, in return for the information, Elizabeth must do three things for this killer. How far is she willing to go to find answers?

Ironically enough, my family actually has had someone vanish into thin air. While she was no one’s favorite person, except her daughter’s, her disappearance left an unusual hole in the lives of all those who knew her. From that perspective I completely understood what Elizabeth have been feeling when this monster told her he had information about her sister. However, the plausibility of the remainder of the plot was filled with too many holes and inconsistencies.

How Quickly She Disappears was, at once, one of the best atmospheric books I’ve read in a long time and also one of the most unbelievable. This is where I have struggled with reviewing the book. I both loved it and disliked it. I wanted more than it was offering, while I also relished the beauty of the prose. I think this is a book that readers will either love or hate. Into which category will you fall?

Watch Over Me by Jane Renshaw

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Watch Over Me was a complete surprise. I was expecting a simple crime story and what I got instead was a dark, twisty, psychological thriller. Yes, I know, it says psychological thriller right there on the cover but we know that what we readers think of a “thriller” is not always what publisher’s consider “thrilling.” Let me tell you, Watch Over me was suspenseful, edgy, creepy and, yes, thrilling!

A child, Beckie, is being torn between families. One is educated and wealthy and desperately searching for a child they can love and call their own. The other is, well, there aren’t a lot of kind descriptors for this family. They are poverty stricken, unhealthy, morally bankrupt and Beckie’s mother is in jail for murder. It doesn’t sound like the ideal situation, does it? The government didn’t think so and they removed Beckie from the squalor and “gave” her to Flora, a mother with so much love to give. However, Beckie’s family loved her. Her grandmother, a foul-mouthed obese woman, really did love Beckie. So, when is it okay to take a child from one family and give it to another. That is the question at the heart of this book as Beckie’s biological family goes to amazing lengths to get Beckie back. Their actions had me wondering if they were truly as ignorant as they appeared.

BUT – and that is a huge but right there – BUT, the ending and the twist is what will leave you sitting in your seat with your mouth hanging open. I generally do not like twists at the end and only appreciate them when they are amazing. Let me tell you, IT IS. I highly recommend Watch Over Me which grip you tight from start to the startling conclusion.

(My thanks to Netgalley and Edelweiss for my copies of these three interesting reads)

 

#MurderousMondays – The Look-Alike and When You See Me

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I’m doing my best at “beating the backlist” which includes some amazing crime fiction that earlier got erased from saved files. Just because I failed to review them in time does not make them less than stellar suspense thrillers. I hope you’ve either read them or will be enticed to do so after today.

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Erica Spindler has become of my favorite suspense authors. While she began her writing career in the romance genre, she has quickly made a name for herself with her crime fiction series and her stand-alones, which are the ones I love most. Now she is back with The Look-Alike, a can’t put down thriller that will have the reader doubting their own sanity. Let me also state, up front, that I admire any author or publisher who remembers to put a hyphen in the wordd look-alike!

Sienna Scott, our primary character, has led a bizarre and rather sad life living with a mother who a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. She literally lives a life in constant fear and paranoia. Sienna’s father has done everything he can to protect Sienna from her mother including shipping Sienna off to London to keep her from “shattering” after Sienna discovers a fellow college student dead on campus. However, now Sienna is back home, with her mother, where she begins wondering if, in fact, she was the target of the killing so many years ago. The victim could have been Sienna’s exact “look-alike.”

Spindler weaves a tale of suspense that will leave you doubting your own sanity as much as Sienna and her mother doubt theirs. The Look-Alike is filled with twists and turns that will keep you reading until the end – but, never once do the surprises appear staged for shock value, Rather, they are the perfect course for a case like to take. Who is telling the truth? Who is really behind the murder and how much paranoia is real and how much is being exacerbated to make Sienna and her mother off balance. Fabulously written, this is a thriller that I highly recommend to all who enjoy crime fiction, thrillers and suspense.

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I have come to adore Lisa Gardner’s writing and the characters from her various series. Now, in When You See Me, Gardner has brought together the most-loved characters of two of series together: DD Warren, Kimberly Quincy and Flora Dane. Detective series just don’t get much better than this!

Earlier in the series we were introduced to Flora Dane who spent over a year as a captive of a deranged killer. Now bones have been discovered in a remote area of Appalachia that suggest the killings are associated with Flora’s kidnapper. FBI agent Quincy, Det Warren and Flora go to the site in hopes of finally putting to rest Dan’s abductor once and for all. What they find is a crime far larger than they bargained for.

When You See Me is an extremely well written, tense thriller. We’ve come to know these characters through other reads and feel a connection to them, their quirks and their flaws so much so that it is very easy to become fully engrossed in the danger that is lurking in the dark, rural mountains. As mentioned, this is part of a series – two actually – and I do not recommend reading it as a stand-alone. I started the series in the middle with the introduction of Flora Dane and have since gone backward to catch up and to read the Profiler series which includes Agent Quincy. When You See Her feels more like a conclusion to a story-line that should be followed, rather than a place to begin. I know that many of you already follow Gardner, as do I, and if you haven’t read this one yet, it is a must read for her fans. For others, at least go back to Find Her and start the series there. You will be glad you did.

 

Scorched Grounds by Debbie Herbert

At least one Saturday a month I like to feature southern literature. I may not be a southern gal any longer, but writers from that region have a gift that is quite different from most other authors. Their writing is grittier, darker, have sly wit and so much charm. Southern Literature is definitely in my soul.

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Scorched Grounds is the second book by Debbie Herbert in the Normal, Alabama series. For those wondering, yes there is a Normal Alabama. It’s an…. unusual place and one I don’t care to drive through again. The series is set in the same location but with totally different characters so join us as we get to know the people from Normal.

Della Stallings’ father went to prison for murdering her mother and brother. Della was the sole survivor of this tragedy, one that has left her with a debilitating phobia. She has worked her entire life to cope with this phobia, including working only the night shift. But now, her father is being released from prison on a technicality and murders begin happening almost immediately. Della has no idea if it is her father who is killing people or, worse, he is being framed by someone else – someone very close to Della.

From the cover, alone, you can tell that this story is very dark. The characters are not very likable. The places are dreary and, some, in ruins. Despite that, you get the sense that Della is trying desperately to rise above this, not to be pulled down by the horror that is her life. There is, however, someone who is determined not to allow that to happen. From Della’s father, to her very bizarre psychologist, to her gosh-awful aunt and uncle, there are so many suspects, a myriad of twists and turns and chilling acts of terror to ensure you are captivated from start to finish.

Herbert does an amazing job at creating an atmospheric thriller that is a perfect example of southern noir. I loved it and hope you will too!

Thank you to #Thomas&Mercer and #Netgalley for this intriguing thriller