The Secret Child #CarolineMitchell

Caroline Mitchell burst onto the detective/suspense scene with her debut thriller, Truth and Lies. Now she is back with the second installment in this gripping series with The Secret Child. While I am nearly always leery of second books, this one is just as good as the first and had me glued to its pages from the very first page!
40678553amazonDI Amy Winter is still reeling from the shocking revelations that she uncovered in the first book, Truth and Lies, all of which are explained fully in this one but I won’t reveal them here. With no time to fully process what is now her explosive, in-the-headlines life, she is thrust into a kidnapping/murder/arson case when four-year-old Ellen is snatched from her bed and the home is set on fire and her mother, subsequently is murdered. The kidnapper claims to be Luka Volkov, a child prodigy of Ellen’s father who came from Russia to participate in a special study for children just like Luka. The problem is that Luka is supposed to be dead, the victim of a tragic fire many years before. When a second child is taken, DI Winter is forced to call upon all of her resources in order to solve this very sordid, convoluted case which will bring more personal harm to herself  with possible repercussions for her entire team.

If you follow my blog, you know how much I love police/detective stories. They are, by far, my favorite genre even above thrillers/suspense. For Mitchell to keep me intrigued, surprised, even gasping out loud at certain points, is a testament to her exceptional writing abilities. There is, quite literally, so much going on with the story. Every single character, every member on Winter’s team, is an important player. Each person who worked at the “school” where Luka lived, every victim and their family, everyone who comes in contact with Winter becomes a fully developed character. In most books, that’s a downfall as too much information has to be processed. Mitchell, however, seamlessly weaves each of these characters together, blends their stories into one just as you might do so in your own life. There is no gap, no hole, just a steady flow in the narrative with one surprise and twist and terrifying turn after another. It is utterly brilliant.

The Secret Child can, absolutely, be read as a stand-alone. There is enough back story so that you never will wonder what is happening or who is who. However, both of Mitchell’s books are outstanding works and I highly encourage you to read Truth and Lies as well as The Secret Child. I will now be waiting anxiously for Mitchell’s next incredible book in this series!

The Secret Child is available via Kindle now or in paperback on April 18th. My gratitude to #Netgalley, #AmazonUK, @AmazonPub and @Caroline_writes for my copy of #TheSecretChild

 

 

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Nothing to Lose @VictoriaSelman

Blood for Blood was my Amazon First Reads selection for January and I absolutely loved (!) the book and the character, Ziba Mackenzie, a former special ops agent now freelance profiler working for the MET in London. When I found out there was a second book in the series, I was thrilled! Nothing to Lose is the continuation of Ziba’s story and she is back, despite her personal loss and her close encounter with a serial killer in Blood for Blood. 

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When Ziba gets a call in the middle of the night regarding the second murder eerily similar to one a few weeks before, she isn’t thrilled to be called back to work and there are those at the MET who aren’t there with open arms to welcome her either. Ziba has just discovered a hard drive with information pertaining to her murdered husband’s last case and much of that information points directly back to dirty cops somewhere within the MET. However, when Ziba arrives on at the scene of the murder she realizes that the murder victims bear an uncanny resemblance to her. If anyone should profile this case, it is Ziba. With divided attention, Ziba throws herself into both cases but her split attentiveness could lead to danger.

Ziba Mackenzie is a character full of flaws. She brassy, rash, drinks too much, is moody, abrasive and impulsive. These are her good qualities, actually. They are what make her an excellent profiler and an interesting person for a thriller. You know from the beginning that she will end up in trouble; there’s simply no way for her to avoid it. You also know that if you needed someone working on your case, you’d want someone like Ziba.  Victoria Selma does a fantastic job bringing this character to life. I can envision exactly what Ziba would look like, how she sounds, even to the point that I want to tell her to cut out the slang already when it gets to be too “over the top.” When you, as a reader, can feel the character’s persona then you know the writer has done their job. In addition, the plot is ripped from today’s headlines. It’s gripping, suspenseful and not so horrific – although it is quite awful – that I would think it’s unbelievable. Selma even goes to the point of explaining a fugue state involving one of the victims and a nuance of that state of which most people are unaware. It’s attention to detail like this that puts Nothing to Lose in category of top-notch thriller. If you like action as well as old fashion detective work, you will love Nothing to Lose. And yes, you can read this as a stand alone, there is plenty of back story included, but I highly encourage you to read both books.

Thank you to #Thomas&Mercer, #VictoriaSelman and #Netgalley for my advanced reader copy of #NothingtoLose

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.

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.

In The Dark @CaraHunter

“She opens her eyes to darkness as close as a blindfold”

Cara Hunter is back with her second, equally enthralling, psychological thriller In The Dark. It is rare for a second book to be just as good as, if not better than, the first but Hunter has succeeded with this twisty, very unexpected dark tale.

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When a young woman and child are found in a basement and an old man suffering from dementia is found in a stupor upstairs, my first thoughts went to ROOM. I honestly thought this was going to be another version of “kidnapped girl, has child in captivity” story. WOW – I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. In fact, despite the fact that I managed to discern bits and pieces of the story as I read along, there was no way – none at all – to have guessed the premise or ending of this book. The final page of this story, well, WOW, just WOW. In the past few months there have been a few books that have startled me with the endings, not just the ending but the very final page of the book, and this definitely one of those!

Of course, the lovable, yet extremely flawed DI Adam Fawley is back and I have to admit that I love this guy. I’m not sure what it is about this character but I really do enjoy reading about him and I’m even coming around to liking his wife, more so in this book than the last. The characters in this book, as the last, are very well created, they are incredibly believable. Boy, are they are ever believable! In The Dark, while a psychological thriller, still is a police procedural at heart and each piece of the puzzle is slowing and surprisingly revealed at just the perfect moment. The build up is slow but that is what makes the ending so fantastic! Have I said WOW? I think I have, but perhaps not enough. I really liked that ending! I think you will too!

If you haven’t read the first book, Close to Home, that’s okay. This works as a stand alone but it helps to have the back story on the Fawley’s. This promises to be a great series and if you like series, I absolutely recommend that you read both of these terrific books. In the meantime, pick up In The Dark. It’s available now in paperback and ebook. You’ll be glad that you did! Just don’t read in it In The Dark!

NOTE: The third in the series, No Way Out is due to be published in 2019 as well. I cannot wait!

Thanks to #Edelweiss, @PenguinPublishing and #CaraHunter for my copy of this terrific thriller.

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!

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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. 

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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