The Woman in the Park @teresasorkin @tullanh

A married woman meets a handsome stranger – In The Park. When the handsome stranger’s wife turns up dead, the only suspect is the married woman….

51J2TarrlXL._SY346_

The Woman in the Park is the exciting debut from the writing pair Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist. A woman, Sarah Rock, is determined that her husband is having an affair with his young associate. Sarah, who has been under care for depression in the past, has weekly or twice weekly sessions with her psychologist through which we, the reader, learn more about Sarah, her family, her loneliness after her children leave for boarding school and, quite frankly, this appeared to be more of sad tale about mid-life rather than a suspenseful mystery. When Sarah meets Laurence in the park, however, things begin to change. Her life, formerly heartbreaking, appears to be filled with new life and energy – until the police show up at her door. There has been a murder in the park, a woman, and Sarah is their primary suspect. As Sarah’s world unravels, we go on a desperate journey with her to discover the truth, if the truth is capable of being found.

The Woman in the Park is a very short, extremely taut, marvelously written story that had me enthralled from beginning to the end. I literally read it in one afternoon never stopping once! While we know that Sarah is an unreliable narrator, the last section of the book is so surprising, so amazing that I never suspected until the very end. I was speechless!! Yes, The Woman in the Park really is that good!

Have you watched or do you remember The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis when, at the very end, you sit there with your mouth hanging open and your head shaking in disbelief? That is exactly what I felt like at the end of The Woman in the Park. If you haven’t see that movie – you need to. If you haven’t read The Woman in the Park, you absolutely must! If this is their debut, I cannot wait to see all of the great books that will come from this writing pair!

Thank you #Edelweiss, the authors and @BeaufortBooks for my copy of this amazing book!

The Whisper Man #PublicationDay #AlexNorth

There is nothing that I love more than a true psychological thriller, one that gets into your head and won’t let go. That is exactly what I found in The Whisper Man by Alex North. 41nYBGAZjpL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Let me first say that the cover art is one of my all time favorites. I had to read this book just for the cover alone and it definitely is representative of the horror within.

Tom and his son Jake have suffered the loss of their wife and mother. As a result, Jake – a very sensitive child – is having nightmares about the house in which she died. The pair move to a new village and into a home that others call “the scary house” but Jake insists is his very favorite. Tom decides the house has character, not terror, within its walls. He was wrong. In their small, sleepy village there once was a child killer, currently behind bars, Now another person is abducting children. Will Jake be the next victim of The Whisper Man?

This very easily could have been a run-of-the-mill child abduction book but it is so much more than that. The character development was superb throughout, even with minor characters who only appear infrequently such as Jake’s teacher. These characters draw you into their lives so that you become part of the story itself. And what a story it is! This is a very scary, creepy book. It is on the scale of Stephen King’s earlier works and reminded me why I originally read horror/thrillers. It turns out to be more psychological than horror but, wow, you do not know that until the very last chapter of the book. And yes, I am being deliberately evasive about the story line because part of the joy of reading this book was going into it blind and not knowing the real from the psychological terror. I want that for you as well.

This is a must-read book for anyone who loves horror, thrillers, psychological suspense or simply a really well told story! It is in my Top Ten favorites for this year and I highly recommend it.

It is publication day for The Whisper Man so run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookseller and get it today.  Thank you to #Netgalley, #CeledonBooks and @writer_north for my copy of this terrific book!

Two for Thursday? The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchinson

I know, I know… it’s supposed to be Two for Tuesday but since I’m so behind I have to keep going with these reviews and I definitely didn’t want to forget this one by one of my favorite authors: the final installment in the Collector Series by Dot Hutchison.

cover161607-medium

We were first introduced to this series with The Butterfly Garden, a book that horrified and traumatized many readers several years ago. It continued with The Roses of May and last years bestseller, The Summer Children. (You can read my review of that book HERE) Each book has built on the development of the team members who originally found girls in the Butterfly Garden and their work within a special unit of the FBI. Now a child has been abducted, their specialty, but the case is eerily similar to kidnapping of Eddison’s sister years earlier. As the team members deal with their own haunting demons from past cases, they also must search through clues to see how and why this case may be linked to the cold cases from old before it is too late to save the missing child.

Let me state up front that absolutely is not a “stand alone” book. I read The Summer Children last year and only slightly fell through the cracks a few times. After that, I promptly went back and read the first two books in the series. All of these books are top notch, horrifyingly marvelous thrillers. This one, however, is the end of the story. For those of us invested in these characters it is a book that ties up all of the loose ends, answers questions from the past and allows us and the author to move on to new topics. It is a must -read for followers of Hutchison’s work, but I don’t recommend starting here. I do, however, recommend reading every single one of the books in the series. They are absolutely fantastic! Hutchison is a masterful storyteller whose tales you will not want to miss.

Blood Relations @JonathanMoore

Lee Crowe is a dis-barred lawyer, now a PI who has a reputation of getting the job done – regardless. Even he doesn’t realize what that will mean when he finds a body of a beautiful woman, dead, on the roof of a Rolls Royce in the middle of the ghetto. Wait, can we still use the word ghetto? Well, you know…. Being the type of guy that Lee is, he snaps some great photos of the woman and sells them to the highest bidding magazine. That sets him a course that will take him from coast to coast with a trail of dead bodies in his wake.40796146

Blood Relations started off like any other PI/Crime/Detective story: dead bodies, downtrodden former somebody barely getting by in their new life with a beautiful ex-spouse who haunts them. But this isn’t just any ‘ole story; this is a Jonathan Moore story. If you know anything at all about this author then you know that there will twists, turns and a pile of noir throughout and I absolutely was not wrong or disappointed with this one. While the theme of the story, and the atmosphere remains constant – that of a gumshoe looking for a killer – soon we are on the trail of an errant FBI agent and a scientist who is so cutting edge that his work is either insane or genius or both. This is Mary Shelley meets Michael Crichton with some Mickey Spillane thrown in for good measure. How could it be anything other than amazing?

Obviously, I highly recommend Blood Relations and, if you haven’t already Moore’s other books, I absolutely loved The Dark Room. Check him out and let me know what you think.

Murder Theory (The Naturalist #3) @AndrewMayne – Publication Day

I have a confession. I may be a book nerd, but I’m a science geek at heart and this geekiness of mine manifests itself in the strangest of ways. Since I never was allowed to truly follow my scientific love due to parental influences as a child, I did weird stuff instead: became a Trekkie, followed volcano trails throughout the US, collected fossils and rocks, studied astronomy for the fun of it and look for the scientific principles by any and absolutely everything. I know, I know…. you’re wondering what this has to do a book review, aren’t you? Andrew Mayne is one of my very favorite authors. He is a former illusionist. Can one be a “former” illusionist? I don’t think so. Being an illusionist is more than being a “magician.” It’s understanding the psychology and science behind the slight of hand, the trick of the eye. It’s becoming the master of one’s own body. It’s absolutely amazing! Today, Mayne is an author who incorporates these same scientific and “slight of hand” principles into his books. And I love them!

38314066

What a long intro, right? In Murder Theory, Computational biologist and serial-killer hunter Dr. Theo Cray is back after slaying dragons and killing monsters in the previous two novels. Well, okay, no dragons and the monsters were serial killers. Now there is something strange lurking in the dig around the last murder site, something that is making seemingly normal people kill and kill violently. While the local cops and even the FBI are quick to write this off as a one time psychotic break, Cray begins to see a pattern of behavior that could be viral based and, if it is, could spell potential problems if it falls into the wrong hands aka WMD used by any government or military. As Cray searches for the causes, the how and why of the virus and how it could be spread, he begins to trip ever so lightly over the line of good and evil and, at times, appears a little closer to the monster he once was chasing. Has the virus affected him or is this just part of his mad genius working overtime?

Mayne is an excellent story-teller. His writing style and quick chapters propel the story along at a rapid fire pace making this a thrilling ride to the finish. There are times when the story could get bogged down in the scientific jargon, and there is a lot of that, but Mayne makes the science so interesting that it lends to the excitement of the tale rather than detracts from it. It creates substance rather than has the reader skimming over the dry parts because, quite simply, there are no dry parts. I have no idea if any of the science is real but it certainly sounds authentic to me and I love it! And let me tell you – I’m a sucker for last lines that make me go “WHAT!?!?” and the last line of the book had me doing exactly that!!! I would read this book all over again just to get to that last line! You know me well enough by now that when I write that, it’s a killer ending! And in this case it may very well be just that!

Murder Theory could be read as a stand alone. There is enough back story that a new reader could pick up and carry on without reading the first two installments. I do, however, highly recommend the first books as well as his Jessica Blackstone series. They are well worth reading and highly enjoyable!

Murder Theory is available today at your local book seller or library. Many thanks to #Netgalley, #AndrewMayne and #Thomas&Mercer for my copy of this great thriller!

The American #NadiaDalbuono

The American is a complex, intricate tale of international espionage and intrigue that weaves through Italy, the US and the walls of the Vatican. It is the follow-up to Nadia  Dalbuono’s stunning debut, The Few, featuring her flawed protagonist, Leone Scamarcio, who is back in The American. 

theamerican

Detective Scamarcio is called to the scene of an apparent suicide, one who appears to be an American businessman. But Scamarcio is suspicious when he discovers plaster in the man’s pockets. The set-up is reminiscent of a decades old murder of “God’s Banker,” the Vatican’s treasurer. When a Cardinal with links to the church’s bank is killed and the US government sends in “agents” to threaten Scamarcio, he knows he is onto to something big – and something dangerous. He’s right. As the investigation continues, there are links to every dirty war, conspiracy, “hit” job throughout the past few decades and Scamarcio becomes the target of mobs, governments and the church who all have something to hide and do whatever is necessary to keep their secrets hidden.

The American is an expertly written, fabulously researched and an intensely laid out thriller. There have been times when I’ve read international authors where I became a bit “lost in translation,” but that never was the case with The American. It is a fast paced, edge-of-your-seat story that will hold your attention throughout. If ever a series should be put on the screen, it is this one! The intrigue and suspense is palpable throughout.

I did read The Few, the first book in this series, and I like how Scamarcio is evolving as a character. There are times when a flawed protagonist gets worse or their bad behavior becomes piggish, that is not the case with Scamarcio. He is handled very deftly. Because this is the second in the series, I would strongly suggest that you begin with The Few. While this could be read as a stand alone, I wouldn’t recommend it. I do, however, absolutely recommend both books to anyone who likes thrillers, suspense, international intrigue or well written fiction!

Thank you #Netgalley, and #ScribeUS for my copy of this terrific thriller

 

You Belong to Me #MarkTilbury

There is dark and then there is Noir DARK. You Belong to Me is on the darker shade of that Noir scale. It was so gritty that I had to take breaks, sit the book down and come up for air. Yep, it’s that good!

42904091

Let me tell you first – THERE ARE NO SPOILERS HERE! Unfortunately, I read a review for this book that, quite literally, gave away the twist at the end. And what a great twist it is, too. Or, it would have been if I had not had it spoiled for me!! WHY do people do that!? Reviews do not include spoilers people!! The ending of this book is worth the reading of the entire book! I love great twists at the end. I love them!

Briefly, this is the story of four teenage boys who already are living on the wrong side of the tracks. They don’t have the best that life has to offer, particularly Danny, but they are making it okay. Until one fateful day when they decide to seek revenge against Danny’s brother for a lifetime of abuse that he has waged against all of them but especially upon Danny. What happens to these boys, what they discover about the brother and about themselves, will alter their lives to an extent that the four of them barely eek out an existence into adulthood.

Now it is several years later and events have aligned to bring these men back together again. A girl is missing, these men have seen this before. Can they find her before it’s too late? What happens to them now will shock you to your core. Did I mention dark and twisty!? Tibury’s writing will have you gripping the book and tearing through the pages to the end. The characters are sad and heartbreaking, some of them I didn’t even like, but they were real and very dimensional. I cared about them and I came to care about their fate! The storyline could have been have placed in midwestern America as well as Ireland or any place in Europe. It’s universal in its bleakness. It is a well told tale. If you like noir, psychological thrillers then this is absolutely the book for you!

Thank you to #Netgalley, #BloodhoundBooks and #MarkTilbury for my advanced copy of this – did I mention dark – thrilling book!

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton, bestselling author of The Child and The Widow, is back with her newest thrilling suspense novel, The Suspect.

9781101990513_28643

Reporter Kate Waters is back in this third offering of Barton’s, along with DI Bob Sparkes. For Kate getting the story, being first on the scene and first to press is key to her success so when she hears about two British girls who have gone missing in Thailand, she manages to find a way into the confidences of the girls’ families. The girls, teens on their “gap year” abroad, were supposed to follow an itinerary but it soon becomes apparent that the girls are not where they were meant to be and are no longer phoning home. As Kate calls on resources in Thailand, she learns that the bodies of two young girls have been discovered in a “flop house.” Their deaths have been ruled accidental. But Kate and the families want answers – they want to know what happened to the girls. Or do they? The answers to the questions will have far reaching implications that fall closer to home than any parent could possibly imagine.

The Suspect is every parent’s worst nightmare – a missing child, the subsequent death of a child, and mountains of international bureaucratic red tape that stymies all questions. I truly empathized with these parents, perhaps because I have grown children who travel abroad nearly as often as they stay at home in the states and they have done so since they were teens. There is such a fine line between trusting your kids and knowing when to be wary of what they are telling you. So, for me, these parents and their reactions were very believable. I also have been a small-time reporter in my much younger days so Kate is someone with whom I also identify. In the end, the entire story – while focusing on the girls’ travels and exploits – ultimately is about the parents, their lifestyles, decisions and, in the end, what they will do to protect their children and their families.

This is, of course, the third book in what appears to be a series but, maybe I’m just dense, I didn’t read it as part of a set. Yes, Kate has been in the previous books but until The Suspect she was not a focal character. She and Sparkes are recurring characters, and I hope they continue to be, but certainly this book could be read as a stand-alone. It should be noted, I suppose, that there is a lot of graphic sex, drug use and descriptions of dead bodies. I’ve grown somewhat callous to this type of thing in suspense/thrillers but I’m noting it just the same. I adore Barton’s writing style and have loved each of her books. She has become an author whose book I know I will relish and I hope that you will enjoy this, her latest book. I couldn’t wait to read it and, now, I cannot wait to read her next one.

Much appreciation to #Edelweiss, @BerkleyPub and #FionaBarton for my copy of #TheSuspect

The Stranger Diaries @EllyGriffiths

Elly Griffiths has woven together a tale of gothic suspense, psychological terror and marvelous detective work and thrown in a full measure of classical literature, all of which create a beautiful tapestry called The Stranger Diaries. Whew.

9781328577856_3272a

If you think that opening line was a lot to absorb, just wait until you read the book. I’m still trying to untangle my mind from the who’s and who’s nots and what’s real and what’s not! For someone who had an imaginary playmate until she was 10 years old and still has a crush on Harry Bosch, whom I’ve been told is not a real person, trying to decipher a book within a book within a book written by fictional character written by an author with a nom de plume was a lot to comprehend. But, hand on heart, this book – The Stranger Diaries – was worth every single moment spent reading it. It is fantastic!

The book opens with a line from “The Stranger,” a gothic short story written by RM Hammond, whom our main character, Clare, is studying in hopes of writing a book about his life and works.

“If you’ll permit me,” said the Stranger, “I’d like to tell you a story.”

Clare is an English teacher at a school that is nestled in the old home where Hammond once lived. Her fellow teacher and best friend, Ella, is found stabbed to death with a note lying next to her body which reads, “Hell is Empty,” also a line from Hammond’s book. As The Stranger Diaries continues, the body count rises as does the spooky, creepy factor of the entire tale. Folded within the story itself is the re-telling of The Stranger and the more we as readers learn, the more similarity there is between current events and the haunting, gothic tale of the past. <shivers>

The Stranger Diaries reads, at once, both as a ghost story and a gothic suspense. The writing is marvelous, intelligent and might possibly have you scrambling to look up classical literature references along the way. (Note: Hammond is a fictional writer, much to my dismay.) I loved all of the characters, except the ex-husband and even he was the perfect ex. In all, this is a terrific mystery, ghost story, gothic tale that crosses multiple genres and can enjoyed by many. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #HoughtonMiflinHarcout and #EllyGriffiths for my copy of The Stranger Diaries. 

 

Fairwood #EliYance

Fairwood is a modern day Bonnie and Clyde with a darkness so dark it gives noir a new meaning.

41N-SFJ8+VL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

If Wayward Pines and Lost had a lovechild, it would be Fairwood, a twisted tale of suspense. Dexter and Pandora are on the run from the law. They are bandits, bank robbers who, at one time were notoriously celebrated for their feats, but now have made a fatal mistake and need they to hide to stay alive. They discover the town called Fairwood, a small, rural community with little – okay, no – technology and it appears to be the perfect place to hide. However, what they have run to may be far more terrifying than what they have run from. This storyline alternates with that of a very burned out cop who is somewhat on their tail. Eventually his narrative intertwines with theirs in a shocking way that you must read to find out what happens!

Fairwood is a masterfully told story that is unlike any I have read before. Yes, I read Wayward Pines and I have read some similar books but none took me to the psychological places that Fairwood did or surprised me the way Eli Yance managed to do. Yance is a gifted storyteller who teeters between genres much like Stephen King did in his beginning: horror, paranormal, thriller, suspense – where the reader questioned themselves and reality but couldn’t put down the book – and you will not be able to put down Fairwood either. If you like any of these genres then you truly will enjoy Fairwood!

Thank you to #Edelweiss and #EliYance for my advance copy of the reprint of #Fairwood.