NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thicker than Water by Kerry Wilkinson

A married couple hires a teenage boy to babysit while they go out for date night. When they return, the sitter is missing -- but their little daughter is still asleep in her crib. The parents of the boy don't know where he could be. Then, his body is found across town in an apartment. There is a connection between the families, but it takes Jessica and her team awhile to figure it all out. Add a thread tying in the owner of a strip club and you have a parcel of an interesting investigation.

Set in Manchester, this 6th in the Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is every bit as compelling as the previous books. I do love the series and all of the characters. The writing is fabulous and the plot moves forward at a pace designed to keep the reader's attention until the satisfying conclusion (except for that bit of an unfair cliffhanger, Mr. Wilkinson!). I like the relationships between Jessica and her team as well as the setting and the police procedural details. I'll keep reading this series as long as he writes it -- so on immediately to #7.

By the way, this book has another title now -- THE MISSING DEAD.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Gone Missing by T.J. Brearton

"Despite Recent Crimes Assholes Have Committed, Women Are Still 99.9% Safe Going for a Run."

Not Katie Calumet. She's kidnapped while on a morning run and taken high up in the vast Adirondacks. State Police Investigator Justin Cross catches the case. Katie's husband, David, and her wealthy parents soon receive a ransom demand. With no response to the proof of life request, no idea who has taken her or where she may be held, the FBI is soon involved in the situation. Everyone is searching, but the area can be treacherous and the off trail forest is dense. The truth is, Katie could be anywhere up there -- or already dead.

This is a suspenseful and tense read that alternates between the point of view of Katie and Cross. She's very determined and resourceful -- and she has a secret that propels her to fight for survival. Cross is focused but is dealing with personal issues he can't take the time to examine or repair. The Adirondack mountains and parks are also so detailed and described, almost making that terrain another character in the book. The supporting police and secondary characters don't figure too much into the narrative, but the interactions between all do propel the plot forward.

Fast-paced and descriptive, this thriller kept me involved and turning the pages as the story evolved and came to a satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed it and will read more by this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the e-book ARC to read and review.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

Fast-paced suspense thriller set in present day Denville, Pennsylvania, USA.

Alice Vega is a bounty hunter who specializes in finding kidnapped and missing children. When two young sisters go missing from a strip mall parking lot, she's called in by the girls' aunt to find them. The local police department is understaffed and aren't interested in Alice's "help", so she tracks down a disgraced former detective turned private investigator (Max Caplan) to help her with the search.

Bailey is 8 and Kylie is 10, according to their mother Jamie Brandt, who was just inside a store for a few minutes before returning to the empty car where she'd left the girls. Witnesses report seeing the girls get into a car, but other details are sketchy or missing. It's up to Vega and Cap to figure out what happened. The narrative moves along quickly alternating between the points of view of Vega and Cap. The Feds are called in and the police also get involved as different veins of the investigation proceed and more is discovered -- could be that this nabbing is related to the cases of two other missing girls.

The characters are what makes this book so interesting. Lots of flaws and personality quirks, some great dialogue and a hint of backstory. Makes the reader want to get to know the parties better. Cap's daughter, Nell, was very three dimensional teen and seems to have a good head on her shoulders. Alice is self-contained and sensitive though she's as tough as nails while getting the job done. Cap is solid as both man, father and cop. Although there is a hint that Vega and Cap could deepen their relationship beyond their professional partnership, romance is not in bloom ...yet(I so appreciate that). I'm wondering if this is the first in a new series. I'll definitely look for a sequel!

I enjoyed this and look forward to reading other books by this author. Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Penguin Random House for this e-book ARC to read and review. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Darkness at the Edge of Town by Jennifer Harlow

"Most people aren't aware when a life-changing moment happens to them until time passes. The moments that form a person, defube him or her, when everything changes."

Ex FBI profiler, Iris Ballard, always knows her "moments" almost as soon as they happen. She is on the talk show circuit after her most recent case made her a household name when she gets a call from her mother -- Iris's twin brother, Billy, has left his girlfriend, taken all their money, and ran off to join a cult. There's not much that Iris hates more than going back home, but off she goes to see if she can at least talk to Billy and figure out what's going on.

Grey Mills holds few good memories for Iris, but she did have a mentor at the Sheriff's Department from way back when before she left the town and never looked back. She wants to spend as little time at home with her psycho mom as possible, so she gets started right away. What she finds at the New Morning Movement chills her to the bone. But Billy seems happy and Iris is stunned to learn that he's married a fellow member and is going to be a father. When the cult leader, Mathias Morning, finds out that Iris is onto him, she must rely on her former partner, Agent Luke Hudson. Well, he's much more than her work colleague.

No more spoilers but there is plenty of action and romance in this second book of the series. I'd call it more of a drama than a suspense thriller, but it was fast-paced and entertaining. Iris is an interesting character, there's good backstory within in case you haven't read the first book, but I'd urge you to read these in order so you can see the changes that Iris goes through after all that happens to her. She's quite the complicated woman and she is well aware that she's not an easy woman to love.

Thank you to NetGalley and Alibi for the e-book ARC to read and review. I'll definitely want to catch book #3 when it comes out.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman (#2)

Legal drama about domestic violence featuring one of the main characters from the previous book in this "Hidden Justice" series.

Emilie Wesley, an attorney and reporter, is the roommate of Hayden McCarthy and cousin of Hayden's boyfriend, Andrew. This book is Emilie's story. She's working at the Haven, a non-profit that serves women who want to escape difficult or abusive domestic situations. When one of her clients, Kaylene Adams, doesn't show up for a protective order hearing, Emilie is suprised. Kaylene seemed so determine to get out with her two daughters. As she is leaving court, a news alert reports mutliple shootings -- apparently Kaylene has shot one daughter dead, injured the other and killed herself. But that can't be right, can it?

The bulk of the rest of the story is about Kaylene's brother, Reid Billings, asking Emilie to help him get custody of the surviving daughter away from Kaylene's husband, Robert. The whole case moves very slowly -- probably because the main narrative is taken up with Emilie having a bit of a breakdown and a career crisis all while fearing she has a stalker. And if that's not enough to take away from the whole legal issues that are mentioned here and there, the rest of of the plot focuses on the romance between Emilie and Reid. So, to sum it up, the book is mostly angst with heavy dose of romance and a touch of legal proceedings. In addition, there is an extreme Christian theme -- which in an of itself is OK -- but every single character is always talking about it?? Hard to imagine that world and everyone on the same religious theme page all the time. Got to be too much, really. A little goes a long way. It seemed that this book was less about legal and more about romance and religion so it really wasn't much of a thriller nor was it suspenseful.

And the mystery of what happened in the Adams's house? Predictable and drug on forever with a rushed ending. I selected these two books in the series because I wanted to read legal thrillers, but I don't think I will read more for the reasons above. I was disappointed by this sequel.

I did, however, want to mention that I live in KC and have also spent hours in the Nelson-Atkins Museum staring at the original Monet painting the author describes. The wall-sized water lilies painting is amazing.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Nelson, Inc. for the e-book ARC to read and review.

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman (#1)

Absorbing and fast-paced legal thriller!

"My job is to help his mother discover what happened, peel back the layers of the government's bureaucracy and ensure this doesn't happen to another child."

This is the passionate advocacy of attorney Hayden MCarthy after being assigned a case to investigate the death of a young boy in a Texas juvenile detention center -- Miguel was killed there while trying to get into the USA illegally. His mother wants answers. His younger brother, Jorge, is scared and confused. Shadowy figures on the fringes are looking for something they believe that Miguel secreted out of Mexico -- drug cartel business. Hayden is trying her best to file a petition in the proper court but she isn't getting much support from her firm, Elliot & Johnson, nor is she getting the information she needs about what happened from Gerard Campbell, a partner, nor the mother. And she's trying to sue the US Government! 

The action and transpiring events are nonstop as Hayden confronts the obstacles. Meanwhile, her roommate, Emilie, a former law school friend, has introduced Hayden to her cousin, Andrew Wesley. Oh yes, there's a romance here (I admit not my favorite part of a good story) and lots of intrigue as Hayden investigates her case. I really enjoyed the legalese and the development of the case theme told only so well because the author is an attorney. The characters are very interesting and I can't wait to learn more about them. Just so you know, this is also heavy on Christian themes -- which I didn't realize when I requested it, but it was easy to separate that out from the main narrative if it should bother you. 

It is a complicated tale with some interesting twists and many side stories developing the characters and further issues central to the themes of immigration and integration. This is the first in a series and I'm lucky because I have the second already queued up and ready to go. Very intrigued and interested to see where it all leads.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Inc. for the e-book ARC to read and review. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

"Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Didn't."

What a great twisty suspense thriller by an author who's new to me. This is the second book I've read by Christopher Greyson and I want more!

Faith is 22 when she is finally released from the psychiatric center. She's been in and out over the years because of her inability to deal with her horrible past. She was the lone survivor -- 'The Girl Who Lived' -- when her father, older sister and friends were murdered in a cabin at the lake on the eve of her 13th birthday. The problem is, she has to return to Marshfield and her therapist mother to begin again. All she wants is to die, or forget -- but she can't because those who did it have never been caught. And she has seen one of them -- "Rat Face." The police don't believe her. They think she is still crazy as ever and an alcoholic with a suicidal bent. She trusts no one. In between working her assigned programs and running from herself and the memories, Faith is convinced that she is being hunted. Everyone she meets is suspect, because, after all, the killers must be close at hand. 

Though I confess I knew where this was going despite the excellent red herrings, I still enjoyed the narrative. Faith is one determined young woman and she manages to stay alive despite all that is stacked against her. The characters were interesting and the book moved along at a very rapid pace so it was easy to read quickly. A really satisfying psycholgical thriller.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the ebook ARC to read and review.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

And Then She Was Gone by Chistopher Greyson

Wow -- what great writing and obviously the start of a new, exciting series featuring our protagonist, Jack Stratton.

In this introduction, he's only 18, still in high school, and wanting to enter the US Army in order to pay for his future at the police academy.   Jack is a tightly strung young man with horrors in his past. He wants to do good -- to be a hero. When a young woman, Stacy Shaw, goes missing and is later found murdered, Jack gets involved because a kid from the neighborhood has been accused of the crime. Jack is adopted but spent part of his life with foster parents and this tie is very strong. He's still in contact with Aunt Haddie, and his best friend (and foster brother), Chandler. Jack is intent on investigating this crime and Chandler goes along with him. The pair have a great dynamic, and they have foster siblings who also become involved in Jack's pursuit of truth. He won't back down even though the police have warned him off. He talks to witnesses and presents a theory of the murder to the police.  

What I liked about this novel was the interaction between the characters, the dialog, the suggestion of a horrible past to overcome, and the sheer grit that Jack emanates as part of his personality. He's a great character and I only wish I could read the rest of this series, in order, to see how he evolves.   Yes, the case is solved and Jack's snooping in an ongoing investigation is vindicated -- but the ride is so well worth the read. I really enjoyed it! Hard to put the book down as I was eager to see how it all played out.

Thank you to NetGalley for the e-book ARC to read and review. I definitely will seek out more books by this author! I want to continue the series as well.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks

"I wonder now if my memory is playing tricks on me. If it is giving me the gift of an illusion. We all layer them over our rembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives,"

Assumptions. We all make them about ourselves, about others. We think we know the story of other peoples' lives -- their marriages, their children. We don't know a thing. Inside every home lies a story that sometimes cannot be told. A hidden truth, a secret, an embarassment, a shame. The reality is simple -- we know nothing and often we cannot believe what we are told as it goes against what we believe about others who actually live behind closed doors.

This book is great domestic drama. A scorned wife, Vanessa, telling a tale of her marriage to Richard and her feelings as she is about be replaced with a new wife, Emma. Her story is familiair -- a rich man tiring of his life looking for new love, his resultant affair and a hasty divorce. Vanessa seems a bit unstable, but is she telling the truth about her relationship with Richard? And will Emma listen?

Told in alternating points of view, this is a compelling story of marriage and betrayal. Lies and secrets can destroy any relationship but "there was Richard's truth. There was my truth. And there was the actual truth, which is always the most elusive to recognize." Great characters and a fast paced writing style made this a read in one sitting book for me. I really enjoyed it.

"I'm not afrraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book ARC to read and review.

The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz (#2)

"Oh what may man within him hide, though angel on the outward side."

This second book in the Jane Hawk series was amazing as was the first. I think I may die, or inject myself with nanobots, if I don't get to read #3 soon. The blend of thriller and science fiction is so highly addicting that I could barely put the book down and though I didn't want to finish knowing that I was going to have to wait for the final in the trilogy, I couldn't help myself.

You must read these in order, and his followup to THE SILENT CORNER is every bit as absorbing as the first. Nonstop action, interesting characters, and a plot that freezes your soul. In this outing, Jane continues her quest to find and destroy the man she thinks is funding the technology that is reducing ordinary humans into automatons. Her quest takes her across the country and tests every fiber of her being. Her allies are few, her enemies are legion, but somehow she survives and is committed to ending this annhilation of mankind's humanity. I loved the pace and the narrative though I have the same complaint about Koontz's verbosity, I didn't seem to mind it so much this time. This is a story that resonates with the times and all of the unrest and rebellion in the world. Is the science and the theme believable -- you bet. We don't even know what forces come into play to tap into the minds of innocents and turn them into sycophants.

The first book by this author that I ever read was WHISPER. It was Dean Koontz who turned me into the thriller reader I am today and for years I have waited for him to return to form and write another series that engaged me as much as those early works. I think I've read most of his books, but this one has stood out for me and returned me to the fold of fandom. I cannot wait for more of Jane Hawk and her exploits. I highly recommend this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Group - Ballentine for the e-book ARC to read and review. Please make him write faster.