Let me Lie by #ClareMackintosh

 

The police ruled her parents death a suicide but on the anniversary of their death Anna receives an ominous, anonymous note suggesting otherwise. Is it just a hoax, or is it a clue to what really happened to Anna’s parents?

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Clare Mackintosh is so well known in the Crime/Suspense genre that you know you’re going to get a terrific read. Let Me Lie is no exception, perhaps even better than her previous publications which I loved. Her writing strength is that she creates every day people that we can relate to but who find themselves in situations that are mind-blowing even to the characters themselves. In this case, we have Anna who, still grieving from the loss of both parents the year before, has fallin in love with her therapist and has a new child. She already is stretched to a breaking point dealing with these issues when a note arrives on her doorstep:

SUICIDE – Think Again

Anna knows she should leave the past alone but how can she after this note. She elicits the help of a retired cop who, by the way, is far more interesting than most secondary characters, and together they begin to unravel what really happened. Or do they? The story is murky, the characters extremely well drawn and the suspense is palpable. Mackintosh is well known for her twisty plots and surprise endings but this story exceeds all others. I don’t enjoy a surprise ending that is written just to surprise you but when the surprise is something that you should have anticipated, an eneding that shocks you but you should have seen coming, then I get really excited – and this ending really was quite shocking. It is worth reading the entire book just to get to the final pages. And, I have to say, that once I began reading Let Me Lie, I did not stop once. It was an all night read for me… and a very blurry following day! The suspense will pull you in and keep you hooked long after you have finished reading.

Five suspenseful and satisfying stars for Let Me Lie!

 

 

The Last Time I Lied

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On this middle of the year Monday, the true “mayhem” in the Midwest is the weather! Record-breaking heat and humidity is everywhere here. Luckily for me that means staying indoors and reading – no gardening or yardwork in this weather! Always a plus, right?

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The Last Time I Lied is the second Sager thriller that has had me on the edge of my seat, turning pages through the night unable to stop reading. It is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish! While the first, Final Girls, was a bit campy and reminded me a bit of a 1980s horror movie – which I still loved – The Last Time I Lied is far meatier, the plot deeper and the characters much more defined.

In this tale, we find Emma Davis, another lone survivor of a tragedy in which the three other girls in her summer camp cabin disappeared without a trace.

Fifteen years later, Emma is haunted by their disappearance and the lies that she told that summer – half truths, omissions and actual falsehoods. Now Emma is being invited back to the re-opening of the camp, this time as a teacher and counselor. In order to put the past to rest, she agrees to go to the camp, but the secrets that are buried there do not want to be put to rest – not until the truth is told.

Sager is a master thrill writer whose words come to vivid life off of the page. There are times when it appears as though the dialogue will veer onto the cheesy side, but with one stroke of a pen, it stays on track and the reader is, once again, heading into the unknown and unforeseeable. I admit that rarely am I fooled by a suspense novel, but the ending of The Last Time I Lied left me flabbergasted. It was not a ridiculous twist just for the sake of a twist, but it was something that I had not seen coming – and should have! That made the ending even better!

I can safely recommend this one to all who love suspense, thrillers or a fun summer read. I know that Sager’s books, definitely, will be on my “go-to” reading list in the future.  Watch for The Last Time I Lied in bookstores and in your library on July 3, 2018.

Fab Fiction Friday

Although it is very late in the day, it still is Fab Fiction Friday and I have a fabulous book for you today: The Summer Children by Dot Hutchison.

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The Summer Children is the third in The Collector’s Series by Hutchison, the most popular, of course, being the first one: The Butterfly Garden. This is one of those rare books for me that crossed genres of horror, thriller, police procedural and simply great fiction primarily due to the incredible writing skills of Hutchison. Admittedly, I have not read either of the two other books in the series so I have nothing against which to compare this book as others have done and are doing. This book, alone, is stellar – excellent mystery, fabulous character development and unspeakable scenes of horror as each poor child is brought to agent Mercedes Ramirez’ porch.

Having not read the previous books in the series let me add that if you have read the other books, this is a must read. It continues the saga of the garden girls as well as the agents involved in their rescue. The ending of this book had me in tears and, as I’ve said, I don’t know the butterfly girls’ story. However, the ending is perfection. If you haven’t read the first two books, have no worries, there is enough detail within that you never once will feel lost or confused. There were details that made me want to read more but never did I feel that I needed to know more in order to understand the context of the story.

There are few writers that can pull off a well written, intense thriller and it is very obvious that Hutchison is one of those writers. I cannot begin to recommend this book highly enough to you.

Thank you #Netgalley, Dot Hutchison and Thomas Mercer Publishing for allowing me to read this copy for free.

 

Not That I Could Tell

untitledFive women gathered around the fire-pit, happily sipping their wine while their baby monitors crackled in a circle. By morning there only would be FOUR. 

Not That I Could Tell is the sophomore novel by Jessica Strawser, a captivating tale of suburbia, the secrets that are hidden behind neighbors’ closed doors and the question we all ask ourselves – how well do we really know our neighbors?

Clare hosts the party for the women in the neighborhood to christen her new patio. They are simply thrilled to have a night away from the kids, a chance to gossip among themselves and to share secrets with one another that, normally, they would tell no one. However, one of the women – Kristin – has a dark secret that she has shared with no one. They never suspect the things she has kept hidden – no one would believe her if she told them. When the women awaken, Kristin and her children are gone without a trace. Did she leave willingly or did something more sinister happen to her? Suspicion falls on her husband, a doctor, but some – like new neighbor Izzy – want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Is he innocent as Izzy believes or is she walking into danger as the other women fear?

There are those who have compared this book to Sally Hepworth’s, The Neighbor Next Door; however, while both books draw on the idea of suburban housewives, Strawser does a better job of keeping her characters believable. These women, all of them, are women that I feel as though I know or have known. Strawser is a Midwestern writer and the story is set in a small town in Ohio, so the characters and the community seem quite familiar to me as a reader from the Midwest. That said, the book does have some flaws, the largest is that it is too long – or rather, it could have done with some editing. There were conversations that these characters had with themselves – in their own heads – that were repetitious. After a while I found myself skipping over some of them because I wanted to scream, “I get it!” This wasn’t enough to detract from my overall satisfaction with the book, but it does keep me from rating the book higher. I had this same issue with Strawser’s first novel, I Almost Missed You, so hopefully by her third book someone will get the message.

For a second book it’s amazing, most fall far short of the first. For a domestic thriller, it is top notch. As a mystery, it is a slow burner, so if you like fast paced thrillers this is not for you. However, I highly recommend it and am very pleased to say that we, in the Midwest, have another good writer to add to our shelves.

 

Never Goodbye

I worked at a florist for over 20 years when I was younger. Every Thursday new flowers would arrive for the weddings that were scheduled for the weekend. That meant that all of the flowers in the fridge had to be used in arrangements. Sometimes we got over creative in our mixtures. We called this Toss Up Thursday because you just never knew what you were going to get! The same idea applies to Macsbooks on Thursday. (did you like that segue?) There are times that books just don’t fit into nice, tidy category – like today’s selection – and often I have too many of one genre and need to clear out those reviews. Thursdays will be a smorgasbord day for those books. Which brings us to the book for today…

Never Goodbye is a genre bending tale of suspense that will capture your attention with the character development in the beginning and then take you on a legal thrilling ride at the end. The story is told from dual points of view: Ella/Cassidy (I know that seems confusing but it isn’t) and Dana, both prosecutors, who are grappling with the murder of their mentor/friend Lauren. Ultimately, Dana is arrested for the murder and Ella is tasked with prosecuting the case. However, prior to this point in the story, Mitzner does a superb job of creating characters in which you become well invested. Having never read any of his previous novels, I didn’t realize that he wrote legal thrillers and I assumed this was going to be a book about these women, a narrative tale, not a legal one. It was a surprise when the book went off in that direction. In addition, Ella’s boyfriend is the lead cop investigating the murder so this is a bit like the television show, Law and Order, with the characters and investigation up front and the courtroom drama in the end. It works and it works very well. What works even better is the ending! Do not be prepared for a neat and tidy wrap because there is not one. Like many things in life and most court cases in the real world, there is no resolute ending in this case. The book is not a cliff-hanger but there is no nice, pat finale in the case either. This actually made me enjoy the book more, not less.

Never Goodbye is a sequel to Mituntitledzner’s very popular novel, Dead Certain. I didn’t realize this when I was offered the book for review. There are references to the first book and the characters, of course, are the same but this could be a stand-alone if you choose. It certainly didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story for me and I doubt it will for you either. I definitely will read the first one now and will pick up more books by this author.  If you like crime fiction, legal thrillers or books with really good character development then this is a book for you!

Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book for review.