Little Threats by Emily Schultz

In the summer of 1993, twin sisters Kennedy and Carter Wynn are embracing the grunge era and testing every limit in their privileged Richmond suburb. But Kennedy’s teenage rebellion goes too far when, after a night of partying in the woods, her best friend, Haley, is murdered, and Kennedy is sent away for her murder…

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I read the opening pages of Little Threats during the “lock down” of the virus in April thinking that I would pick it up again later in the summer. Nooooooo, from the very first lines of this book I was hooked! The story is so intriguing – twins, a third girl added to the duo who wants to be one of them so badly, bad boys, sex and drugs and seriously messed up parental units! There was no way I could put down this book!

Carter and Kennedy, twins, were teenagers rebelling against their parents’ wealth and control. In the summer of ’93, they were testing the limits by running free and wild, shoplifting items they clearly didn’t need and hanging with a crowd that introduced them to drugs and an element of society that was far different from their own. On July 4th, after a bad acid trip, Hayley – the friend – is found dead in the woods between the wealthy/poor neighborhoods. Kennedy has no memory of the night but circumstantial evidence points to her – along with a desire to “stick it to the rich kid.” Now, fifteen years later, she is out of prison and along with old memories comes someone seeking revenge and and another who wants the truth.

The story is told from multiple points of view, including writing assignments that were given to Kennedy while in prison. The overlapping, often contradictory perspectives allow the reader to understand how confusing the summer really was for all involved and how incredibly out of control the situation became. As these same stories begin to converge with one another, the red herrings disappear and the shocking truth is revealed. Although I suspected who the murderer might have been, there were so many “what about them” or “could it have been…” thoughts along the way that I still was utterly shocked by the very satisfying conclusion to this riveting and well told story. While I missed Emily Schultz’ debut book, you can bet it is on my shelf now and I highly recommend Little Threats to you for your reading list this autumn!

Fire and Vengeance by Robert McCaw

I am fascinated by volcanoes and have even traveled around the US to view them. When I was offered Fire and Vengeance to read and review, knowing it revolved around a volcano, I jumped at the chance. I was so glad that I did. Not only did I read a great book, I discovered a new author and series to love as well.

Hurricane Ida has pounded the islands of Hawaii and has flooded the Hualapai Mountain’s volcanic crater, causing a build up of steam not unlike a pressure cooker. As the steam vents into the atmosphere, one of the vents opens under an elementary school, coating the students and staff in sulfuric chemicals and white-hot temperatures. Hilo Chief Detective Koa Kane is helicoptered to the scene where he finds mass casualties including multiple children. He vows to find the cause and the persons responsible for this tragedy.

There are several sub-plots intertwined with the primary story line of the school’s tragedy including Kane’s criminal brother who is dying in a jail cell. As Kane attempts to get his brother released for medical care, Kane finds himself caught between administering justice and helping his brother.

McCaw is an excellent writer, interspersing Hawaiian dialect throughout the book which lends to its atmospheric authenticity. He also walks that fine line between writing a taut thriller while adding enough personal details to make the book more interesting. I found Fire and Vengeance to be a great addition to the Crime Fiction genre and, if you enjoy series, this is a good one to follow. You can read Fire and Vengeance as a stand alone – I did – but I’ve since gone backward and picked up others in the series. All three have been terrific. Fire and Vengeance is available now.

The Pact #LindaCastillo

I just started reading books by Linda Castillo and I’m absolutely loving the series. I never thought I would read books about an Amish community; the books my local library carries had turned me off of them forever I thought. But, I was asked to review a book by Castillo and loved it! Now I can’t read them quickly enough when they hit the shelves which is why I was thrilled to see this little novella pop up before her next book is released.{5B70EB37-D56F-49E8-BBAC-14210C5DD0BA}Img100

The Pact is a short mystery about two young boys who are lost/run away in the deep woods just as a snow storm in approaching. Burkholder is called out to the search and, as always, does her due diligence to solve the mystery/crime. This is actually a rather sweet story and I think that younger middle school aged children would enjoy it as well as fans of Castillo. It’s well written, especially since it is so short. Lots of action packed into those few pages. I definitely recommend it.

Trust No One by Debra Webb

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I’m already a fan of Debra Webb, love her Undertaker’s Daughter series, so I was excited to get an early look at her newest series involving detectives Devlin and Falco. Set in Birmingham, AL, Trust No One revolves around a multiple murder case with connections to the city’s powerful elite as well as having deep reaching tentacles into the past. Devlin and Falco are an interesting partnership, one straight-laced and the other just emerging from years undercover, but their personalities play well off of each other, strengths to weaknesses, and you know that they will make for good reading in the future. There was just enough familiar introduction and past revelations so that we, the readers, could better know why the detectives reacted as they did in certain situations. Yes, this was and will be a good detective series, one a I highly recommend and look forward to reading more of in the future.

The Darkness We Hide: The Undertaker’s Daughter, Book 3 by Debra Webb

Debra Webb has become one of my “go-to” authors when I want to read a good crime fiction novel. Several of her series, and she has several, fall into my top favorites. The Darkness We Hide is the third installment of the Undertaker’s Series and was a marvelous conclusion to a story arc that has been building throughout the previous two books.

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Dr. Rowan Dupont is the “undertaker” for Winchester, TN like her father before her and his father before and so on. She lives in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion that also serves as the funeral parlor. To say that her life is and always has been unusual is an understatement, and not just because of her eclectic career choice. Rowan’s mother hung herself from the chandelier of the mansion, her twin sister was murdered and unusual murders have surrounded her family all of her life. Friends and allies have betrayed her leaving her with more questions than answers and with secrets piling on top of one another until it appears that the final murder just could be Rowan’s.

The characters, as with all of Webb’s series, are very well written. We know them intimately by this point and can feel their anxiety, fear and anger seeping through the pages. Although I thought I had this one all figured out after the second installment, I was completely off base – good thing I read this one! It was a great crime fiction read and a satisfying end to the story – or is it? Who knows with Debra Webb!! I want to note, again, that this is the third book and it really is necessary that you read the first two in the series before reading this one. You will be lost, confused and frustrated if you don’t. Otherwise, I highly recommend The Darkness We Hide.

The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane

The body of an elderly woman is found in a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. Are the two murders connected and, if so, how are they related to the asylum that is slated to be torn down?

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The Bone Jar is the debut crime fiction novel by S W Kane featuring Detective Lew Kirby who, thankfully, is just a normal detective. He isn’t a drunk, he isn’t cheating on multiple women, no drugs, isn’t on the take. I swear, I haven’t read a crime fiction novel that didn’t feature a messed up detective for so long that I, literally, kept waiting for the shoe to drop. It never did. It was refreshing and quite wonderful. The Bone Jar is a really good, well written, atmospheric detective story like they should be but rarely are any longer. It features an asylum that is written so vividly that it becomes a character in and of itself. There are marvelous secondary characters who could tip over into the nuisance variety, but never do. They actually are helpful, quirky and wonderful. I would love to see them back in future books. The ending left the reader on a bit of an edge but, for me, that was a fun twist at the end. I’m very much looking forward to the next installment in this new series.

Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and Netgalley for my copy of #TheBoneJar

Broken Genius by Drew Murray

It takes a genius to write a book this well written and researched and Drew Murray reached the mark!

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I love (!!) both tech thrillers and crime fiction. Put them together and you have Broken Genius, the debut book by author Drew Murray. This is a thriller that kept me up all night long reading from cover to cover and that is no exaggeration.

Will Parker was a twenty something tech genius set on a meteoric course for becoming one of the most successful tech gurus in the world – and the richest. Just as he is flying to Japan to ink the deal that will launch his new “invention,” his program is inexplicably hacked and a young girl is murdered while millions watch in real time. Parker is finished. He sells his shares in his now failing company and hides in the shadows in shame. The FBI recruits him for his computer skills and thus our adventure begins.  Set at a Comic-Con in Indiana (my home state, how could I not love this book? We have Gen-Con, for the record, not Comic Con) Will has been assigned a murder case to solve while searching for a missing supercomputer chip. Through his impressive technical skills and intellect, Will will attempt to out-maneuver the best of the best from all over the world.

Broken Genius is definitely a “must-read” for techies but it is a well written crime fiction novel as well. There is terrific character development, great dialogue in addition to fast paced action. I highly recommend Broken Genius and can NOT wait for Murray’s next book to hit the shelves!!

#MurderousMonday: Glass Dolls D.E.White

I almost hate to use the phrase “Murderous” during this horrific crisis we all are experiencing, but for those of us who adore thrillers we love what we love and crime fiction, for me, is at the top of the list. Welcome to Murderous Monday here at Macsbooks.

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It’s always exciting to discover new authors, those whose works we’ve never read before, and this week I did exactly that. D.E. White has been writing books for quite a while but took a turn in style and genres with their latest book, Glass Dolls. From the very first page until the shocking conclusion, I was hooked!

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Detective Dove Milson is no stranger to horror. Four years ago her niece was abducted and believed to be killed by the infamous Glass Doll Killer. Dove was held captive and gravely injured in the pursuit. Now she has transferred to a new unit, the Major Crimes Team, where her first case appears to be a copycat of the glass doll murders. As crimes begin mounting, they all point toward Dove and her family. Dove knows that she has to solve the crimes before her family all lies dead or goes missing.

When I read the synopsis for the book my first thought was this was going to be so “over the top.” I mean, seriously, her first case is a replica of the one that she just left behind? Her family is the target of every single crime that crops up? But nooooo, I was wrong. White’s deft and creative writing skills anchor the story line solidly in reality and the plot itself is absolutely believable. The characters are very real; their thoughts throughout the book often mirrored my own. The plot twist is touted as being “shocking” and it absolutely is but, as you know, I despise twists that are ridiculous. This one was not. There were signs throughout the book that hinted at this twist if the reader pays attention – which apparently I did not!! I definitely was surprised by this one. Bottom line – this is a terrific piece of crime fiction and a great thriller as well.

Thanks to the author, #Netgalley and #JoffeBooks for my copy of this exciting read!

 

#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?