The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton, bestselling author of The Child and The Widow, is back with her newest thrilling suspense novel, The Suspect.

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Reporter Kate Waters is back in this third offering of Barton’s, along with DI Bob Sparkes. For Kate getting the story, being first on the scene and first to press is key to her success so when she hears about two British girls who have gone missing in Thailand, she manages to find a way into the confidences of the girls’ families. The girls, teens on their “gap year” abroad, were supposed to follow an itinerary but it soon becomes apparent that the girls are not where they were meant to be and are no longer phoning home. As Kate calls on resources in Thailand, she learns that the bodies of two young girls have been discovered in a “flop house.” Their deaths have been ruled accidental. But Kate and the families want answers – they want to know what happened to the girls. Or do they? The answers to the questions will have far reaching implications that fall closer to home than any parent could possibly imagine.

The Suspect is every parent’s worst nightmare – a missing child, the subsequent death of a child, and mountains of international bureaucratic red tape that stymies all questions. I truly empathized with these parents, perhaps because I have grown children who travel abroad nearly as often as they stay at home in the states and they have done so since they were teens. There is such a fine line between trusting your kids and knowing when to be wary of what they are telling you. So, for me, these parents and their reactions were very believable. I also have been a small-time reporter in my much younger days so Kate is someone with whom I also identify. In the end, the entire story – while focusing on the girls’ travels and exploits – ultimately is about the parents, their lifestyles, decisions and, in the end, what they will do to protect their children and their families.

This is, of course, the third book in what appears to be a series but, maybe I’m just dense, I didn’t read it as part of a set. Yes, Kate has been in the previous books but until The Suspect she was not a focal character. She and Sparkes are recurring characters, and I hope they continue to be, but certainly this book could be read as a stand-alone. It should be noted, I suppose, that there is a lot of graphic sex, drug use and descriptions of dead bodies. I’ve grown somewhat callous to this type of thing in suspense/thrillers but I’m noting it just the same. I adore Barton’s writing style and have loved each of her books. She has become an author whose book I know I will relish and I hope that you will enjoy this, her latest book. I couldn’t wait to read it and, now, I cannot wait to read her next one.

Much appreciation to #Edelweiss, @BerkleyPub and #FionaBarton for my copy of #TheSuspect

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Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong #NGEW2019

Casey Duncan is back in this fourth installment of the Rockton saga – a series involving the secluded town and its people in the frozen Yukon of Canada.

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Admittedly, Watcher in the Woods is part of my favorite series. It’s got a terrific cast of characters, all of whom are quite flawed or they wouldn’t be in the town of Rockton. Rockton, you see, is a secret, very secluded town for those who need to escape either because they are the worst in society or from the very worst in society. It makes for an eclectic and often frightening mix of personalities. In addition to the town’s people, you have a two group of renegades living (wandering/surviving) in the forest surrounding Rockton: those who are true survivalists who didn’t want to go back down south after their time in Rockton was finished and those who are simply too savage to live anywhere at all. They add an additional layer of worry and suspense to the story line.

Watcher in the Woods takes place approximately 2-3 weeks after the last book which means the characters are still reeling from a murder, a crazed woman whom they intimately trusted and a wounded man who is part of their patrol. They have been without a doctor in the town since the former doctor was killed and they desperately need to get medical help for their resident, Kenny. Secreting away in the night, Casey and the sheriff bring back help but they also bring back more than they bargain for as they are followed by a US Marshall looking for his bounty. He refuses to say who it is or why it is so important that he finds “his man” – or woman. When the Marshall is killed, it becomes imperative that Casey – the town’s only detective – discovers who the Marshall was after and why. More importantly, she has to find out how the Marshall was able to follow them and plug any leaks there might be regarding Rockton’s well kept secret location.

All of the Rockton tales are action packed and full of secrets, double backs and, yes, romance. That is what makes them so entertaining to read. This one, however, was a bit slow for me in the beginning and I suspect that it was because there was a great deal of minutia laid out for readers who might be joining here at book four rather than at the beginning. There was quite a bit of repetitiveness, who’s who, explanations about the town and how it works, which is fine if you are new to the series but by the fourth book in, it was a little tedious. Once that was past, the book was actually better than any of the previous stories. It was more complex, there was more action, an introduction of new characters, two of whom I suspect are going to be key in future books, and quite a few secrets revealed that led to some “aha” moments. All of this had me looking forward to the next book already and forgetting the tedium that had me skimming in the beginning.

If you haven’t read any of this series you should be able to read this one as a stand alone but I highly recommend that you begin at the start and work up to this one. There is a lot of back story and past history that will make it more interesting for you. Then you can join me in skimming over the mundane catch-up in this book but completely enjoying the majority of the rest. It IS a series that I highly recommend. It’s fun, entertaining, suspenseful and, generally, a quick read.

My thanks to #Netgalley, @StMartinsPress, @MinotaurBooks and Kelley Armstrong for my advanced copy of #WatcherintheWoods.

 

 

Fairwood #EliYance

Fairwood is a modern day Bonnie and Clyde with a darkness so dark it gives noir a new meaning.

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If Wayward Pines and Lost had a lovechild, it would be Fairwood, a twisted tale of suspense. Dexter and Pandora are on the run from the law. They are bandits, bank robbers who, at one time were notoriously celebrated for their feats, but now have made a fatal mistake and need they to hide to stay alive. They discover the town called Fairwood, a small, rural community with little – okay, no – technology and it appears to be the perfect place to hide. However, what they have run to may be far more terrifying than what they have run from. This storyline alternates with that of a very burned out cop who is somewhat on their tail. Eventually his narrative intertwines with theirs in a shocking way that you must read to find out what happens!

Fairwood is a masterfully told story that is unlike any I have read before. Yes, I read Wayward Pines and I have read some similar books but none took me to the psychological places that Fairwood did or surprised me the way Eli Yance managed to do. Yance is a gifted storyteller who teeters between genres much like Stephen King did in his beginning: horror, paranormal, thriller, suspense – where the reader questioned themselves and reality but couldn’t put down the book – and you will not be able to put down Fairwood either. If you like any of these genres then you truly will enjoy Fairwood!

Thank you to #Edelweiss and #EliYance for my advance copy of the reprint of #Fairwood.

The Burglar @ThomasPerry

In the crime fiction genre, few authors are as well known as Thomas Perry and few books are written as intelligently as those he has authored. Fans of his anti-hero thrillers are in for a treat with Perry’s newest, The Burglar.

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Elle is a unique burglar. She takes great care to blend into her surroundings, often appearing as a wealthy sorority girl just out for a run. She scopes out the houses meticulously, insuring that there will be no mistakes and no one home to create violence for anyone. Her newest mark should have been an easy one – she was sure no one was home and hadn’t been there for a few days. However, once inside she doesn’t find an empty home but rather three dead bodies. Covering her tracks, she thinks she has escaped a problem, instead someone now is stalking her! Unable to go to the police for help, Elle realizes that she has to solve the murders herself and catch the killer(s) before they catch and kill her.

The premise for The Burglar has been written in both books and movie scripts. What sets this one apart from all others is Elle – a woman, obviously – and the skillful, methodical writing of Perry that takes what could be a ho-hum mystery to the next level of edge-of-your-seat thriller. Yes, this is a game of cat and mouse, but Perry works in so many twists and little puzzles throughout the book so that the reader stays engaged from start to end. I also thoroughly enjoy books that feature an anti-hero rather than focusing on the same cop-detective-gumshoe theme. In all, The Burglar is one of the best suspense/crime/thrillers I’ve read in quite a long time. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy any of these genres.

The e-book will be available in January, 2019 or you can purchase the physical book now. Either way, I’m sure you enjoy this thrilling read.

Thank you to #Netgalley, #ThomasPerry and #GroveAtlanticMysteriousPress for my copy of this engaging read.

The Au Pair #emmarous @BerkleyPub

The Au Pair by Emma Rous is part gothic suspense with a full measure of domestic noir!

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It’s Murder and Mayhem Monday here at Macsbooks and, if I were asked to choose the perfect MMM book, it would The Au Pair! There is absolutely nothing that I love more than dark, domestic tales of suspense and murder. The Au Pair has it all.

Seraphine and Danny are twins who, along with their older brother, Edwin, have been raised in an old Victorian estate in Norfolk (UK.)  Their lives would appear charmed to the outside world, but there is a darkness within the family that pervades their existence. On the day that the twins were born, their mother threw herself off of a cliff. Now the siblings are attempting to cope with their father’s tragic, accidental death. While going through their father’s belongings, Seraphine discovers a photograph of their parents with one of the twins taken on the day they were born. Their mother looks blissfully happy. What possibly could have happened to make her kill herself and why is there only one twin? With stories of changelings, faeries and sprites haunting them all of their lives, Seraphine is determined to find answers. But will those answers be the ones she is hoping to find or will it lead to more heartbreak for this cursed family.

Told from two points of view, Seraphine’s and that of Laura, the au pair at the time of their birth, Rous weaves together a story of a wealthy family with mental instability, far too many secrets and characters who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden. The complex plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways and takes the reader on a journey from the present to the past and back again. Although I am one who does not like surprises in my noir novels, this ending will absolutely blow your mind! The resolution, however, is perfection!

For those who love domestic drama, suspense and fast paced fiction, this is definitely a book you will want to read! Mark it now, order early, it will be published January 8th.

Many thanks to @BerkleyPub and #EmmaRous for my copy of this amazing tale.

The Winner Maker #JeffBond

The Winner Maker is a uniquely blended, cross-genre tale of the good and bad of over-achieving and the price paid to become a “winner.”

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The book opens with a very dramatic scene with students gathered around their awe-inspiring honors English teacher atop the Chrysler Building in Chicago. As the high achieving students are preparing for their individual presentation, one student shocks the crowd by dangling below the glass floor by a giant magnet. However, the magnets do not hold and as the student plunges to his death, a white banner emerges proclaiming, “Live Big,” the teacher’s motto for his private group of “Winners.” Six months later, the book continues with the disappearance of this septuagenarian teacher and coach, Bob Fiske. Four of his former students, all “winners,” gather to help locate their beloved teacher. As they pursue clues to his disappearance, they must also confront secrets each holds dear, as well as the underlying tension from their own high school experience under the tutelage of Fiske. Eric, a program developer aka the “geek,” Lydia who has overcome her shyness to succeed and whose sister died on the night of their prom; Doug, the quarterback, all-star, who is now a hedge fund broker and his wife, Stephanie, perhaps the most loyal follower of Fiske who is now a successful marketing guru. Each must deal with the past in order to solve Fiske’s disappearance, but at what cost to each of them personally and professionally?

Admittedly, I quite nearly stopped reading this book after the first few chapters; not because it wasn’t well written but, rather, because I detested the characters intensely. I haven’t had such a visceral reaction to all of the main characters of a book in a really long time, however, these “winners” made me want to slap each of them! I persevered, though, and realized that the point of the first part of the book was to elicit exactly those emotions. They all were overachievers, a little too perfect, a lot too driven. I found no humanity in them whatsoever. As the book progressed, I gradually realized that for some of the characters, that perfection was a shell masquerading their insecurities, you know, just like in real life. 😉 Each had something they were hiding and how they individually dealt with their secrets and their past made the book far more than a generic thriller. Instead, the “thriller” aspect to the story took a bit of a backseat to the these character’s lives and emotional turmoil.

There were two things that kept me from giving this a perfect rating. First, while I found the characters to be beyond convincing, some of their actions were not. One had to suspend belief just a little to assume that a high school kid could get away with what Jesse did in the opening sequence. There are other examples, but that one was a little over-the-top. Secondly, I still – days later – am not entirely sure that I liked the ending. It was abrupt, extremely fitting, but a little too abrupt. Either it was the perfect ending or … well, I’m just not sure. You read it and tell me what you think!

Whether you like suspense, thrillers or a really good drama, The Winner Maker will hit all of those buttons and more. It is a fast paced read and parts of it will have you on the edge of your seat wanting more!

Today is publication day for The Winner Maker; you can find it at Amazon. Thank you to #Netgalley and #JeffBond for my copy.

 

 

 

The Burning Island @HesterYoung

The Burning Island is a fast paced, well written, slightly paranormal suspense novel that will knock your socks off!

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Charlotte “Charlie” Cates is a journalist who believes in facts. This is why she hasn’t fully accepted the “fact” that she is having vivid dreams and visions of children who need her help. After her latest adventure, saving a young boy who was near death in the Arizona desert, all Charlie wants to do is get away – from the dreams, the drama and the press who are hounding her every move. When she has the opportunity to travel to Hawai’i for work, she takes along her best friend, Rae, in the hope that she will relax and have some quiet time away. Of course that doesn’t happen. Of course. She’s writing a story about a volcanologist whose daughter happens to be missing. Haunting dreams begin appearing to Charlie as soon as she arrives on the Big Island.

Hester Young has created an eerie, atmospheric novel that grabs you on the first page and does not let you go until the very end. The story takes you from green sand beaches, to the crater of a volcano and into lush dense woods as we follow along with Charlie on her quest to locate the missing girl before it is too late. The suspense is palpitating, the horror quite real. Although there is a touch of paranormal in The Burning Island, it is so well written that I never once doubted the believability of the story. There are a few surprises but, again, it was how the story played out and not done for the shock factor.

The Burning Island is the third book in the Charlie Cates series, but it works very well as a stand alone. In fact, I didn’t know until I had finished that there were books before this one. I’m now the proud owner of those first two books. I love the character that Hester Young has created in Charlie and enjoyed her style of writing as well. I cannot wait to read Charlie’s story from the beginning!

Thank you to #Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam and Sons and #PenguinBooks for my copy of The Burning Island.