#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.

 

Three Shorts for Thursday: Snakes and Ladders/ Dark Pattern/ These Little Lies

Recent and Rapid

It’s time for some quick and short reviews from my “backlist” or TBR list. It is obvious that I read far quicker than I write!

SNAKES AND LADDERS by #VictoriaSelman

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I absolutely love and adore this series by Victoria Selman. Snakes and Ladders is the third book revolving around Ziba MacKenzie, former special ops now a profiler for the Met. She’s also known as the Serial Killer Hunter because finding serial killers is what she does best – primarily because she is fearless.  One such killer is now terrorizing London, cutting off body  parts and leaving a rose in their place. It appears to be a copy-cat killing or perhaps someone killing on behalf of the original murderer, Dr. Vernon Sange. It is necessary to talk with Sange to see if he is, in fact, conducting these killings from afar, but the only person he will talk with is Ziba. As the murders continue, the horrifying reality sets in that the killer is stalking Ziba as hard as she is stalking them.

Every book that Selman has written has been dark, gritty and frighteningly realistic. They are, in fact, everything one could ask for in a crime fiction thriller. Selman’s writing is on point, tough and, at times, quite harsh. That is what makes these books so fascinating. Nothing at all is “sugar-coated.” Her characters, not just Ziba who is one tough cookie, are very well written and developed. Once I’ve finished with one of Selman’s books, I feel as though I’m missing friends. Not that there is anything friendly about Ziba. She has her guard up due to past emotional trauma and that guard protects her from a lot – especially in this book!  While this is the third installment in the series, and I do highly recommend reading them all in order, Snakes and Ladders can be easily read as a stand-alone. The background on the characters is thoroughly laid out for readers who are just joining in the game. ALL the stars and more for Snakes and Ladders.

Genres – Noir Crime Fiction

DARK PATTERN by Andrew Mayne

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Every single book that I have read by Andrew Mayne has completely blown my mind! His series, both, are fascinating, sharp, in a word: brilliant. I can feel my brain expanding with the scientific, technological and mathematical information he includes in each of his books. He’s amazing.

Dark Pattern is the fourth in The Naturalist series featuring Dr. Theo Cray, a mathematician who is, literally, a genius. Using his expertise in maths and computer technology, he is able to see patterns in crimes committed that others cannot see. This time he is more vulnerable as a parasite may – or may not – be eating away at his brain. Even in the end, we are not sure what will become of Dr. Theo Cray. Dark Pattern is exciting, inventive and exceptional and, while I encourage you to read the books in order, I cannot recommend ALL of his books highly enough. This techno thriller will leave your reeling!

Genres: Techno Thriller, Crime Fiction

THESE LITTLE LIES by Gretta Mulrooney

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DETECTIVE INSPECTOR SIV DRUMMOND IS LOOKING FOR A FRESH START. WHAT SHE GETS IS TWO DEAD BODIES.

Gretta Mulrooney is well known for her brilliant police procedurals and you all know how much I love those! Now she is back with a brand new series featuring a tough, smart female Detective Inspector, Siv Drummond, a character you will thoroughly enjoy!

There are two dead bodies lying next to each other, one with a photograph of a young girl placed on top. The bodies appear to be totally unrelated to one another but their proximity would suggest otherwise. As DI Drumond begins to investigate she finds more questions than answers and dark secrets that no one in this small town want revealed. These Little Lies is action packed and so well written that I didn’t put it down from start to finish. Then, I hated that I was finished because I loved Siv! This is one series where I will be stalking the author to see when the next book is going to hit the shelves. If you are new to Mulrooney’s writing, These Little Lies is a great place to begin. I adore new series, especially when they are this well written.

GENRES: Crime Fiction, Police Procedurals

Three great books, three thrilling reads. Have you read these? What are your thoughts about them?

 

The Patient #SteenaHolmes

Since February is Heart Month featuring heart health awareness, my husband decided to have a heart attack so that we could fully embrace the month’s theme. Okay, so he didn’t plan on the attack… (insert eye roll) but we still are dealing with the repercussions of this and his upcoming quadruple by-pass surgery in two weeks. REMEMBER – you have one heart so take care of it! An interesting note, however, is that his issue is 100% hereditary so know your family’s medical history. It could save your life! Since we’re dealing with all things medical, I thought now would be a good time to re-post a “lost” review of The Patient by Steena Holmes.

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A therapist must face her own worst fear—one of her patients is a serial killer.

A series of horrific murders are occurring in Danielle Rycroft’s small town. As a psychologist, she comes to believe that one the killer is one of her patients – but which one?

Rarely do I describe a book as a “roller-coaster ride,” but that is the perfect term for Steena Holmes newest book, The Patient. As Rycroft meets with each of her patients she comes to realize the horror that one of them has to be guilty of the brutal crimes in her town. Each time she meets with one of them, the suspicion shifts from one patient to another until finally you feel as though you and Rycroft are a free-fall into madness. This fast paced, taut thriller will have you hanging on for dear life until the very final page!

Homes has proven through multiple books and awards, that she is a very talented and gifted writer and readers of The Patient will understand why she is considered one of the best writers of today. My only drawback – and it is indeed a very small one – is that I knew early on what was happening and going to happen. Perhaps I’ve read too much crime fiction. This did not stop my over all enjoyment because the who and what is not nearly as important as the Why. If you love crime fiction and suspense then The Patient is definitely a must-read.

Thank you to #netgalley and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this terrific thriller.

 

The Third to Die @Allison_Brennan

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Detective Kara Quinn is visiting her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, after being placed on administrative leave by the LAPD, when she comes upon the mutilated body of a young nurse during an early morning jog. The manner of death is clearly ritualistic; she calls it in. Meanwhile back in DC, special agent in charge Mattias Costa is meticulously staffing his newly-minted Mobile Response Team. One of his first recruits is the brilliant FBI forensic psychologist Catherine Jones. When word reaches Matt that the Washington state murder appears to be the work of the Triple Killer–it will be the first case for the MRT. They have a chance to stop him before he claims another victim strikes, but only if they can figure out who he is and where is is hiding.

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That Ending!! It may not have been a cliffhanger but it definitely left me wanting more, now…. immediately. How soon can she write the next in this series!?!

Brennan is well known for her psychological thrillers so when I was offered an ARC for her newest book I jumped at the opportunity. The Third to Die is the first book in a new series by Brennan revolving around the FBI’s Mobile Response Team. This newly formed segment of the FBI consists of highly specialized agents who are top in their field, whether it is forensics, crime scene specialists or investigators. They are mobilized primarily in rural areas where the local force most likely is lacking in either experience or equipment. This is their first case in the field and it is a nightmare. A serial killer has re-emerged after years of silence. His method is killing someone on March 3rd, 6th or 9th. This story is made more interesting by the addition of a SFPD officer who is on “vacation” in the area and ends up helping the FBI solve their case. This detective, Kara Quinn, is one of the most interesting characters I’ve run across in a thriller in a long while. The chemistry between her and FBI agent Matias Costa is electric – and fun! The story is engaging, interesting and, yes, thrilling! So much so that I’m reading past written books by Brennan and cannot wait for her next in this series!

On sale Februrary 4th, this is crime fiction at its best and should be bookmarked on your to-read list. If you haven’t read the other books in Brennan’s series, they are really great as well.

Allison Brennan - photo credit Brittan Dodd

About the Author:

Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. She was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers, has had multiple nominations and two Daphne du Maurier Awards, and is a five-time RITA finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. Allison believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five kids. Allison and her family live in Arizona. Visit her at allisonbrennan.com You can find her, additionally, at the following social media sites:

FACEBOOK and TWITTER : @Allison_Brennan  INSTAGRAM  – @abwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/52527.Allison_Brennan

You can find the book at your favorite bookseller on 2/4: AMAZON  BN 

APPLE BOOKS

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Mystery for my copy of The Third To Die. @HarlequinBooks

My Favorite Books of this Decade…

I’ve loved reading all of the blogs that have listed the “best books of the decade.” Everyone is so different and unique and the included books say as much about the person as they do about the decade of reading and publishing. I’ve decided to go with my favorites that were actually published from 2010 to the present. I also debated the number I would include finally ended up at plus/minus THIRTY. Choosing a favorite book is much like choosing a favorite child, it cannot be done. These, from various genres, resonated with me for one reason or another. I’ve included links to Amazon for each if you’d like to read one or two of them. Also, because there are so many, I’m dividing them up into two posts. LOL. My attention span is small this time of year and I assume that’s the same for most of you as well.

2010-2019 Favorite Published Works:

1. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding. This was a somewhat controversial book with many readers either loving or hating it. I, however, cannot stop thinking about this little bit of horror. A tale of a woman who truly believes her newborn has been taken and switched with another baby, a changeling. She has proof but it all can be explained away with logical reasoning – or can it. When she ultimately tries to drown “the changeling,” she is institutionalized. It’s a profound story either full of horror and paranormal activity OR one of the best books I’ve read about postnatal depression.

2. Night Film by Marisha Pessel. Wow! Before Night Film I read very light reading such as women’s lit, mild crime-fi like Kathy Reichs. This book was my first foray into the darkness, the noir that lies in the world of fiction. After this there was no turning back. I was a noir reader forever.

3. The Good Detective  by John McMahon (see my review HERE)

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The Good Detective was a book I expected to NOT like. Instead, it has become the high bar against which all other Crime-Fi books that I read are judged. An extremely flawed detective, a great sidekick who is a strong woman of color, exposing the horrors of the southern US and crimes based on true stories. Put all of those together in an amazingly well written thriller and you have a winner.

4. The Fourth Monkey by J D Barker  – I was going to include a link to my review and realized it was published before I had my blog. Geesh, time really does pass quickly. To say that I loved The Fourth Monkey is a huge understatement. I told everyone I know about this book, bought it for friends and family and still think about it all of the time. Yes, there was a lot of gruesome material. No, I didn’t care for the sequels nearly as much as this one but this one was at the top of its game and one of the very best pieces of crime fiction I’ve ever read.

5. I read a lot more historical fiction over the past years, more than I have since my university days in fact. There are some terrific books in this genre and the authors go above and beyond when it comes to research, research and more research. I tend to fact check a lot of books as I read and I’m always stunned by how much I learn from historical fiction. To that end, I have a few favorites from this decade beginning with House of Gold by Natasha Solomons (MY REVIEW) This is a sweeping saga that follows the story an Austrian heiress leading up to and during WWII. She is an Austrian who marries an Englishman and ultimately has to choose between her new family and her old. Generally I don’t read books set during WWII because they are very one sided. History is told from the winner’s perspective but House of Gold includes minor story lines from all of the Gold family which is scattered throughout the various countries involved in the war from England to Germany to Austria and across Europe. Most importantly, not since books about the Vietnam War have I read such realistic, horrific descriptions of the war itself. There were places where brother literally was fighting against brother to the death. This is a book that I will not forget for a long time, if ever.

6. Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris. Oh My. This was one highly emotional read based on a photograph that the author discovered of children with a “for sale” on them. You know already that it’s going to be heart-wrenching. Set in the Great Depression, a reporter/photographer snaps a photo of these children and then sets out to find out who they were and what led to the circumstances of their being sold. I read the author’s notes on the selling of children and then did my own background research and was so dismayed to discover that this was not a unique occurrence. Single women, particularly, who could not afford to take care of their children often sold them to families who wanted work hands. These were kids, not teens or young adults, but kids. It’s a horrible time in our history and a story that I encourage you all to read so that, perhaps, we can learn from our past sins.

7. Coptown by Karin Slaughter, a stand alone historical fiction novel. Karin Slaughter is one of “must read” authors. I love both of the series that she wrote and is writing but, a huge but, of everything she has written Coptown is the book that has stayed with me, made me really think about our racial divide, especially in the south and, most importantly, how far women’s rights have come just since the 70s. Although I came of age in the 70s, it never occurred to me the rights that I take for granted like having a checking account in my own name. This book, while fiction, is one of the best portrayals of women, especially women of color, in an era that seems like it was only yesterday. In reviews I often write the sentence, “yeah, but have you read Coptown….” because it was one of those books that set the standard for historical fiction.

8. Fast Falls the Night by Julia Keller – This is the book I talk about the most to anyone who will listen. While I adore Julia Keller and her characters, part of the reason that I feel like they are “family,” is because of this book. Set in a period of 24 hours – exactly – this is the story of a struggling town in West Virginia that broke the record for most the overdose deaths of the opioid crisis we are facing today. Based on true facts, in this story we watched as characters we have come to know either die or watch their loved ones die in a harsh, realistic look at just how pervasive this epidemic truly is in the US. Doctors, politicians, addicts, politicians, church family, ALL are affected. We often live in a sheltered world assuming that this epidemic does not affect us. Fast Falls the Night changes this town forever and we get a glimpse of how it would affect each and everyone of us should it happen in our own towns – if it hasn’t already happened in yours.

9/10. Because I’m a historian, I like to read the occasional historical biography. Over this decade there two that really stood out for me: Hoover and Grant. Grant by Ron Chernow was an eye-opening read about one of the most misunderstood and chronically lied about men in US History. Cast as a loser, a drunk, a bad general, this biography sets the story straight. The research is impeccable and tells the story of a recovered alcoholic, a devout man who hated war, hated fighting and yet, along with Gen. Sherman, conducted a military campaign that is still taught at West Point. Generals world wide have come to the US to study the genius of these two men. The civil war is over and it’s time to recognize the brilliance of the men who bravely fought to keep the US Union together as one.

Likewise, Hoover has been blamed for “the Great Depression,” as if one man could be responsible for worldwide famine, poverty and circumstances beyond anyone’s control. The entire world was in a depression, one NOT caused by Herbert Hoover. More importantly, the work Hoover did after the war is phenomenal. The airlifts from Poland where the survivors literally were starving in the streets are a result of Herbert Hoover’s work. He was an amazing man who should be admired and not vilified. Herbert Hoover by Glen Jeansonne a must-read for anyone who enjoys American history.

In the FANTASY category, or perhaps they are more paranormal and magical realism, I honestly never know. For me, fiction is just fiction.

11. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – okay, seriously, I loved this book from start to finish but it really didn’t occur to me until nearly the end that this was fantasy and not reality. I think that should tell you something about me and my love of the fictional world. This is a beautiful book, a fairy tale of sorts, about survival, the magic all around us and of believing in the impossible. It is, by far, my favorite book by Gaiman

12. Where the Forest Meets the Sky by Glendy Vanderlah – This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The story of a child who wanders into the lives of two people who need this child the most. They are broken, faced with debilitating illnesses and this child, who claims to be from another planet, brings these adults back to life, figuratively, as they care for him and try to unravel the child’s story. A stunningly written book that I’m so glad found its way into my world.

13.The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor – simply put, it is based on a true story, one that will have you believing in fairies by the end of the book. If you haven’t read The Cottingly Secret, which is part paranormal, part historical fiction, then I truly encourage you to do so. The magic is real. 51wvP7ALclL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Thirteen is my lucky number so I will stop here for this post. Stay tuned for PART 2 tomorrow…. In the meantime, tell me which ones you’ve read. Were any of these on your favorites list for the decade? What was your favorite book this decade OR this year? Can you name just one?

 

 

Good Girls Lie #JTEllison @Mira #BookBlogTour

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I’m thrilled to be part of the Harlequin Blog Tour: Mystery/Thriller 2020.  The selection of books was top-notch. Some of my favorite books for the coming year are on this list! Up first is Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

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Goode girls don’t lie…

The Goode School is considered the Ivy League prep school known as the Silent Ivy. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

Look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

It’s been a while since I’ve read one of Ellison’s book and I forgot how much I like her writing as well as her ability to build suspense. There is a reason why she is such a successful writer in the genre. Good Girls Lie is a tautly written tale of girls, rich elitist girls, sequestered away at a remote boarding school. When new “Ash” is admitted, she appears to be the perfect “Goode Girl.” She is tall, tanned, has perfect hair and the smile of an innocent but she also has a lifetime full of secrets. Her smile is practiced and her motives are impure but is it she who drove a fellow student to commit suicide or are there more secrets to reveal. The answers to these questions are what make this heart-pounding thriller so good!

Good Girls Lie is set to be published December 30 and should be on every suspense lovers 2020 TBR.  You can find the book at the following book sellers:

AMAZON/ BARNESNOBLE/ BAM

JT Ellison Author Photo credit Krista Lee Photography - vertical

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

You can connect with Ellison at the following:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

Many thanks to Harlequin and Mira for coordinating this Blog Tour. Stay tuned for more of my reviews of the books being published this spring. You can with J.T. Ellison if you live near any of the following cities.

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You Are Not Alone #MurderousMondays

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An Anonymous Girl by these authors is one of my books that I’ve recently read so when I saw You are Not Alone, I jumped on it quickly and read it from start to finish even more quickly! You are Not Alone is a slow burning suspense filled thriller that kept me enthralled from the very first chapter to the last.

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Shay, our main character, witnesses a brutal suicide at the subway station. She tried to stop the young woman from jumping in front of the train but was unsuccessful. The only thing left of the crushed young woman is a necklace which Shay absentmindedly puts into her pocket. That necklace will lead Shay into a world of women that is, at best, inexplicable. Have they become her salvation and pathway to a new and beautiful world OR will these women lead her to jump in front of the subway herself? Written with such artful nuance, the reader will remain unsure until the very end.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It doesn’t publish until 2020, but it is one to add to your TBR list now. It’s a fascinating read that you will not want to miss.

#netgalley  #Edelweiss  #YouAreNotAlone  #@greerkh @SarahPekkanen