#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

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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.

 

Alone in the Wild @KelleyArmstrong #PublicationDay

Rockton – secluded, secretive and always full of surprises. A tiny town in the Yukon where the most desperate people go to hide. Now the Yukon forest has another hidden surprise for Casey Duncan: a baby.

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Alone in the Wild is the fifth in the Rockton series by author Kelley Armstrong. Centering around the town of Rockton, a secret fortress hidden in the vast Yukon forest, it is a place for those who need or can afford extreme hiding. Some of its residents are victims, some are those who have committed the crime but all of the Rockton residents are colorful, interesting nd not always law abiding. Casey Duncan and her life partner, the hard-assed sheriff, do their best to keep everyone safe – from one another, “the settlers” who have chosen to live outside of Rockton and from the “hostiles,” those who have de-evolved while living in the wild.

When Casey discovers the baby under the coat of a dead “hostile” woman, she begins to search for the murderer and the baby’s parents. Moral questions arise about the capability of the parents, whoever they may be, of caring for a baby through the Yukon winter. Casey’s search takes her directly into the “hostile” camps, to the trailers of those who sell and trade with the “hostiles” and the “settlers” and the “settler” camps themselves. Those who have followed this series finally get a full picture of the life these outcast groups live, how they interact with one another and a deeper look into some of the Rockton residents themselves.

As an avid follower of Kelley Armstrong and the town of Rockton, I found Alone in the Wild to be one of the best written books in this series. Questions that we have had from the beginning are answered and the people, themselves, became fuller and more fleshed out. While it has been suggested that Alone in the Wild could be read as a stand-alone, I heartily disagree. Each book in this series picks up where the previous book left off and, if you are not familiar with the characters, the town and the back-story, you will be more confused than necessary than if you start at the beginning. The characters grow and change, as does the town of Rockton itself. I highly recommend Alone in the Wild for those who like improbable locations and quirky characters.

Thanks to #Edelweiss and @Minotaurbooks for my copy of Alone in the Wild.

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