The Good Detective

I should tell you that once I picked up The Good Detective that it was so gripping and thrilling that I could not put it down until I finished it. I should tell you, but I can’t. The fact is that I started this book twice, two months apart, and each time I read the first chapter, got so incensed that I put the book down and didn’t finish it. But there was something about the blurb that kept pulling at me, reeling me back in; something that kept saying “read it, c’mon, you know you want to.” So, on the third try I vowed to get past the second chapter regardless of how angry I became. You know what happened, right? I didn’t put the book down until I completely finished the book! I stayed up all night long and finished reading it. I cannot believe how stupid I was to think I wouldn’t absolutely love this book – because I absolutely LOVED this book!!

51Bg7iOP81L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_amazonThe Good Detective is P.T. Marsh, a “rising star” in a southern Georgia police department, at least he was until his wife and young son drowned in an accident that either was or might not have been a horrible accident. For over a year, P.T. has been a semi-functioning drunk. While in a bar, more like a strip club, he promises a dancer that he will have a talk with her abusive boyfriend. His “talk” actually means that PT beats the crap out of the guy after which he goes home to drink the remainder of his night away. Imagine his surprise when PT is called out the next morning to a murder scene and it is the boyfriend who is murder victim. This is the part that made me so angry. I have no tolerance for police brutality even when the person on the receiving end is a Neo-Nazi scumbag. However, all of this takes place on just a few pages at the very beginning of the book and the remainder of the book is incredibly fascinating! Read on…..

The death of the scumbag leads PT and his partner to the lynching site of a young African American boy. As they begin to search for the boy’s killer – since the best witness and/or suspect is now dead thanks to possibly PT- they begin to uncover something very sinister in their small rural, Georgia town, something that has been happening for centuries and it is dark and conspiratorial, and dangerous and of the very worst sort of nightmare that you can possibly imagine. I wouldn’t even attempt to perceive such atrocities except that I lived in the south and my father was from rural Georgia so I know that this horror does exist and that is what made this book so terrible and fascinating all at the same time. It was like watching a train derailing. I didn’t want to know, didn’t want to see the travesty that was unfolding but I couldn’t stop either.

McMahon has created characters on both sides of the fence that are perfectly conceptualized. They are not pretty, they are not good, they have flaws and some are so awful you won’t want them in your room, not even on your pages. I’m not sure you can create characters like this unless you have encountered them at some point in your lifetime. There were times that this read like something out of the 1930s or 40s, but then I remembered that there are parts of the rural south that still are very much like this. Who am kidding? There are places like this all over the US, not just the south. That’s what is so disturbing. This is happening everywhere, not just in small towns or in a particular region. In the end, there was a small amount of justice and a bit of redemption for PT as well. I can only hope that we will find this type of redemption for America soon. The quote below summed up the ending of book as well as my feelings for my history with the southern US:

There’s no place I’d rather travel than in the South…Even with our history, when I’m at Publix buying groceries, I see interracial couples. Lots of us. So as much as we struggle here with race, in some ways our struggle is closer to the surface and I hold out hope that this means it’s easier to fix. 

I know this was a bit of a rambling review. This was a very emotional book for me. The one thing I can say is that I highly recommend it and hope that you will read it, even it takes you a time or two to get started.

I owe much appreciation to #Edelweiss, @PutnamBooks, #JohnMcMahon and @PenguinPublishingGroup for my advanced copy of #TheGoodDetective

Only Daughter @SarahDenzil

Kat has been repeatedly told that she is a sociopath and incapable of love. She, however, knows beyond a doubt that she loves her only daughter with a passion, regardless of whether that love is natural or has been learned. When she told that her daughter, Grace, is dead Kat refuses to believe the news. When she is told that Grace committed suicide, Kat vows to find her killer!

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amazonWOW! Only Daughter is one heck of a roller coaster ride. From beginning to end, I had absolutely no clue who to suspect or how this book would end and that made for one very thrilling read!

Kat has a very dark history: an abusive mother, a very traumatic event that changed her teenage years and ultimately her life, an “accidental” pregnancy in order to snag a wealthy husband. You name it, and Kat has experienced it. The one constant in her life, the one person for whom she would move heaven and earth, is her daughter. Kat even sees a therapist in order to “obtain human emotions” so that she can be a better mother to Grace. So when she learns of Grace’s death, she knows in her mother’s heart that Grace did not commit suicide. However, the more Kat learns about Grace, the more she wishes she had learned nothing at all. Was Grace the child she knew and loved or the monster that her friends are making her appear to be.

Only Daughter is the story of every mother’s nightmare and as readers we live that nightmare through Kat – every emotion, every pain and each and every discovery she makes until the very climactic conclusion. This is a gripping, suspenseful tale full of intriguing twists that will grab you and not let go even after you have finished the book! The writing is tight, the characters are very well developed, from the snotty teens to obnoxious wealthy parents, every character is well drawn. I absolutely loved it and if you like thrillers, I think you will too!

Thank you to #Netgalley, @Bookouture and #SarahADenzil for my advance copy of #Only Daughter which will be available on March 13, 2019.

Call Me Evie by JP Pomare

Call Me Evie is a very dark, very twisted psychological suspense novel. It is darker and twistier than most that I have read in the last year – and that says a lot.

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Kate, aka Evie, is a 17 year old girl whose is being raised by widowed father who is a retired rugby star. Her life is very structured, her father fairly strict – except when he isn’t strict at all. Slowly Kate’s life begins to spiral out of control as she begins dating Thom, her best friend seemingly turns against her and she turns to alcohol as a means of coping. After a sex tape appears, her life crashes all around her and ultimately there is a murder – or an accident – that send Kate on the run.

I found every single page of Call Me Evie disturbing. Every.Single.Page. There were times that I quite nearly put it down and didn’t finish it but I will admit that the book is compelling and I absolutely had to know who “Jim” was. The person I suspected was correct but there is absolutely no way for anyone to imagine how this book will end. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. I’ve been reading psychological suspense since I was 12 years old and this one has left me flabbergasted, not necessarily in a good way. You know how at the end of the movie Sixth Sense when you discover the “twist” you have this “aha” moment and it flashes back to all of the red clues and you said, “aaaahhhhh.” It made sense at that point. There was no “aaaahhhh” moment for me with Call Me Evie. There was one side, there was another side, there was an alternate side and I still don’t know what was what.

There appears to be a saturation point with authors right now who are trying to outwit, out shock, out “aha” the reader and these gimmicks simply are not working for me. I enjoy reading for what I will learn, for clever plots, for interesting characters, for realistic individuals – not for the shock value. When I look back on this story and its plot, not one page of it is plausible. Not one. This makes incredibly sad. I LOVE Putnam & Sons’ books. They are a publishing house that I almost always can count on for a really good read. Sadly, this fell far short of the mark. Also, one last note. I suspect that this should be noted as a Young Adult read. It is about a group of 17 year old kids and it was far better suited to younger readers.

I was furnished my copy of #CallMeEvie by #Edelweiss.

The Missing Years #LexieElliott

MY FATHER IS….

Missing…  Ailsa Calder’s father is missing and has been for several years. Rumor floating among the little village where he lived is that he ran off with jewels that he stole from his employer. Perhaps he ran away to start a new life or fell to his death into the sea or was murdered and hidden and the jewels stolen. Ailsa has come up with many theories throughout her lifetime but now she has to find out the truth. Her mother is dead and she has inherited one half of a manse. The other half is owned by her missing father. She cannot do anything with it until she either finds her father or proves he is dead.

52681134_642264552856741_4538588784605790208_nI really enjoyed reading Lexie Elliott’s first novel, The French Girl, last year but I will tell you now that The Missing Years eclipses her first and has landed its way onto my favorite’s list! The Missing Years crosses genres from suspense, mystery, a touch of romance to a fair amount of magical realism and she marries these together seamlessly. It has an essence of a ghost story while keeping the reader firmly planted in the here and now and much of what one suspects as supernatural turns out to be ominously too close to reality for comfort.

While both The French Girl and The Missing Years comprise a large ensemble cast of characters, with this one Elliott does a better job of fleshing out her characters so that they are more manageable to distinguish from one another and also easier to relate to, feel compassion for and, ultimately invest in their story. As someone with roots in Scotland, I found the history that was included particularly intriguing and learned more about my own past than I was expecting. Trust me, the history is subtle, never boring for a moment.

The Missing Years is an eclectic, atmospheric and suspenseful tale that I highly recommend. While some readers have questioned the addition of magical realism in this book, I found that it was absolutely marvelous and hope this is a continued direction for Elliott’s future work.

I am very grateful to Elisha @berkleypub and #elliott_lexie for my advanced copy #TheMissingYears.

The Promise #TeresaDriscoll

Happy Publication Day to Teresa Driscoll and #ThePromise

Three girls held a deep, dark secret. Three girls made a promise they vowed to keep forever. Now something and someone is threatening that promise. Will the truth come out or will these women do anything possible to keep their secret hidden forever?

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I am a huge Teresa Driscoll fan and have previously rated her books very highly. The Promise is a slow burning psychological suspense novel – not a thriller – but a book filled with plenty of atmospheric drama. The book begins when the three women are at a private girls school. While we don’t actually learn what the secret is, I suspect that most of us can guess. It’s a terrible thing that happens and traumatizing, too, for each of the girls. However, the secret more than the event becomes the catalyst for problems down the road as is generally the case with secrets, right?

Without giving any of the plot away, I will say that I enjoyed The Promise but not nearly as much as I have liked Driscoll’s precious work. While it’s well written, I had a difficult time actually connecting with any of the three women. Perhaps it’s because I’m too bluntly honest for my own good and keeping a secret for a lifetime isn’t something I can conceive of doing. Just deal it already! Despite misgivings, however, I found myself engrossed in their story and I did read it in one very quick sitting. I suspect that if, like me, you are a Driscoll fan then you will like this selection. If you enjoy slow-burning psychological reads then this will be good one for you as well. If, however, you like thrillers, then this one is not for you. It is very much a solid three-star rating from me.

Thank you to #Netgalley and #ThomasMercer for my advanced copy of #ThePromise

 

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!

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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!

Northern Lights by Raymond Strom

There is something magical and a bit thrilling reading the debut novel of an author as brilliant as Raymond Strom, one you know is going to be a rising voice in today’s gritty, contemporary domestic-noir fiction. Northern Lights is a challenging book to read but one that rewards its reader in the end with the satisfaction of knowing characters who are surviving in a world that is meant to cripple or kill them.

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The bleakness of that cover underlies the dark ambiance found throughout Northern Lights. Shane is an androgynous youth in search of the mother who abandoned him years before. His father has died and his uncle has thrown him out of their family home. Before he begins university, Shane takes the summer to go to the last known place his mother lived: Holm, Minnesota. The first person he runs into sums up Shane’s entire existence with the question, “are you a boy or a girl?” It’s a question Shane often asks himself – not necessarily about his physical self but who he is psycho-sexually. As he wanders through town searching for his mother, he discovers those who hate him, accept him, wish to kill him, wish to love him and all parts in between. He cobbles together a group of “misfit” friends who live on the fringe of this small town; who exist in the shades of grey and have you questioning if there are real values of black and white. Although set in the time-frame of the early 90s, the novel has the feel of today’s setting with so much division, so much hate and far too much vilifying based on sexual identity and the color of one’s skin.

I read Northern Lights in one sitting. The narrative was tight and flowed in a such a manner that once I began, I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading until I finished. It was difficult – there is nothing lite or pretty about this book. Small town, rural life in middle America is not what it’s cracked up to be, but then I’m not sure life in America anywhere is any more. People are struggling. Our youth, with few exceptions, are struggling and “at risk,” and no one seems to be noticing or caring. It is easier to get immersed in reality television than it is to get involved in reality. That is the ultimate take-away from Northern Lights: look at these kids, see them, understand them. Look at the people in this town. They are all of us. While I know that this book will not be for everyone, of course, I do wish it was required reading for high school students everywhere; for those who need to read books with characters who are like themselves and for those who need to read books to understand the bullies that they have become.

I am grateful to #Netgalley, #RaymondStrom, and @SimonSchuster for allowing me to read and review Northern Lights.

NOTE: I’m also pleased as punch to be participating in two challenges. One is the Netgalley/Edelweiss 2019 challenge and the other is Pop Sugar’s 2019 Reading Challenge. Northern Lights meets the “Debut Author” prompt for that challenge.

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.

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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

Little Darlings @MK_Golding

I believe in fairy tales
Hey diddle diddle
the cat and the filddle
and I believe in you….

39893197There are times when you read the synopsis for a book and you just know, just know, that it is going to be one of the best books you’ve read, knock your socks off, surprise you and stay with you long after the last page has ended. Little Darlings was exactly that book for me. It sounded like an adult noir fairy tale meets a Stephen King novel gone awry and I was right – it is all of that and so much more!

Lauren is has just given birth to twin boys whom she adores. It wasn’t an easy birth and she truly is terrified of raising the boys, having feelings of inadequacy and an inexplicable fear of “losing” the twins. These feelings are compounded when she sees what appears to be an old “crone” in her hospital room/ward who threatens to take away her boys and replace them with changelings. Lauren traps herself in the washroom and calls the police but before they arrive, the attendant on duty puts her back in bed and convinces everyone that it is just post-natal depression. Oh yes, the wonderful catch-all for everything that occurs after delivery. Once home, Laurens fears increase and soon she is unable to leave the house, has stopped bathing, does nothing except breastfeed the twins. Her husband, a narcissist useless boy-child, is no help at all and is, apparently having an affair or is he? Perhaps it’s all in everyone’s imagination. It becomes increasingly impossible to tell what is real or not, fantasy or fiction, fairy tale or reality. When the boys go missing for a short time, then found, Lauren is convinced the returned boys are the “changelings” and not her actual twins. Everyone, except the female cop who is investigating, thinks Lauren has gone mad and eventually she is placed in a sanatorium. Was that the goal that her husband had all along or is she really mad – or, maybe, the boys really are changelings.

Yes, Little Darlings is terrifying. It plays on every single, solitary fear that every mother ever has had: inadequacy, failure to care for their baby, post-natal depression, the “system” not believing you when you need them to, cheating spouses… you name it and this book covers it and amplifies it to the point that while I was reading I was doubting my own sanity! Yikes!

The things is, I love the old, really dark, horrifying fairy tales of the old world. They served a purpose and had meaning and were meant to educate people about the dark things lurking – in the forest, in the water, in the dark, wherever the danger was hiding. What was the danger that this Irish folk tale was warning Lauren of and was it valid? Hmmm…. you’ll have to pick up a copy of Little Darlings to see for yourself and, trust me, you will be so very glad that you did.

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night
Beware the darkness….
(George Harrison)

Thank you so incredibly much to Melanie Golding and @CrookedLaneBks for my copy of this new favorite book. I had the pleasure of reading it with #TheTravelingSisters book club but, you know me, I’m the red-headed step child who is always a day late and dollar short posting my reviews. Thank you!

 

 

 

An Anonymous Girl

I don’t know about you, but I have the day after Christmas holiday hangover of not wanting to do much of anything except sitting around and drink coffee and read. By itself, that’s a bad idea; however, I’ve read a dozen books all of which now need reviews written for them. Would anyone like to volunteer for me, please? No? Oh, okay then…. On the first day after Christmas I wrote about An Anonymous Girl…..

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanan, authors of the best-selling hit book “The Wife Between Us,” are back and the hype their book is receiving is well deserved!

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In a world where morality is an ever changing gauge, a fluid point on which no two people agree, making ones way through relationships – familial, friendship, romantic liaisons – can be tricky at best. So, when Jessica, a make up consultant in need of money, overhears a client talking about a morality study at the local university that pays a handsome fee in return, she maneuvers her way into the study, a move that will alter her life forever.

This is a smart, expertly written psychological thriller that weaves a web of deceit so intricate that you will caught into it before you realize the first strand has been laid down for you. The characters are deftly written, I disliked them and loved them at varying times and all at once – is that is even possible – until the very last line of the book.

While I wasn’t a fan of The Wife Between Us, I found An Anonymous Girl to be extremely entertaining, very thrilling, a marvelous cat and mouse game and the ending was sheer perfection. The only reason I didn’t give it a full five stars is because there were scenarios that were just too over the top that they were unbelievable. That doesn’t always bother me, after all this is fiction, but it didn’t always work in this work. The book was, however, an excellent read and I highly recommend it!