NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Scarred for Life (Jessica Daniel #9) by Kerry Wilkinson

GOBSMACKED. That's my takeaway. No spoilers...

What is this 9th in the DI Jessica Daniel Series about? The blurb gives a decent overview as there are a lot of cases that Jessica and her team are juggling in this outing. I've read the previous ones, in order, so following along with the changes wasn't difficult as I'm familiar with the backstory. I'd urge anyone interested in this series to do the same as they don't work well as standalones.

Character development, especially of Jessica, is ongoing and, though she still can't sit still for a minute and is ridiculously headstrong, she's matured a bit since the beginning of her career. She works for the Manchester Metropolitan CID, based at Longsight, and her supervisor is DCI Jack Cole. Fortunately, she's not as messed up emotionally as a lot of other female protagonists in many of the books I read in this genre. That said, I'm not sure about her future.

Not sure that I will go on with the series though I've loved and enjoyed it to this point. It's too bad as I always looked forward to another JD episode. 

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh

"You do not go looking for kidnap and ransom. It comes looking for you."

Incredibly tense police procedural and complicated mystery involving a woman's disappearance and a man's murder -- that just may be connected.

Dr. Selena Cole vanishes from the playground near her house, just leaving behind her young daughters. When she reappears over 20 hours later, she can't remember anything of the missing hours. Or is she lying?

Defense solicitor Dominic Newell is found dead on the side of a mountain road. He was respected and well-liked. Who killed him and why?

Sister and brother Detective Constable Leah Mackay and Detective Sergeant Finn Hale of Endleby -- on the border of England and Wales -- work in the Criminal Investigation Department of a small police force there. Leah is on the Cole case and newly promoted Finn is working the Newell homicide. As the investigation proceeds, it appears that the cases are somehow related, but they have a long and circuitous road of leads and suspects to follow. In addition, it was fascinating to read about the murky world of kidnap and ransom crimes and the secrecy surrounding the efforts of those private security companies that seek to rescue the hostages.

I enjoyed the characters and the depth portrayed by the author as they come to life before the reader's eyes. Told in alternating points of view, mainly from Leah and Finn, the different aspects of the crimes become three dimensional. Great storytelling and prose with excellent detail and description. The narrative tackles a lot of complex issues that are very timely considering what is going on in the world today. Loved the ending.

 I really enjoyed this novel and will definitely look for more by this author. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the e-book ARC to read and review.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tell No Lies by Lisa Hartley

The life of DS Caelan Small: "Fooling people, using them, spending days, weeks and months living as someone she usually despised. It was a strange way of meting out justice, and she had to wonder, was she making any sort of difference?"

Fast-paced police drama centered on thugs and drugs. Set in London and the second in a series featuring this undercover detective, the action moves the narrative forward. It all starts with the discovery of two separate victims, both tortured to death and one a cop. Were they connected somehow? Sent back into the field following a previous case that ended in her having some injuries and causing the breakup of a long-term relationship, Caelan is intent on finding the perpetrators. Seems like a new drug lord is coming into territory recently vacated by the previous kingpin who is now in prison. Caelan has to reach into herself to find the mental and physical reserves she needs to tackle this investigation and stop this explosion of crime in Edmonton without blowing her cover. And all the while having to work with her former lover.

I enjoyed this very much but wish I had read the first one in the series prior to starting this second. Allusions were made to the previous case/book, and yeah, you could figure it out more or less, but I think I missed a few things though this could work as a standalone. I'll definitely be looking for the third book in this series to find out more about Cailan and what she will be involved in next. She's a loner by nature, and perhaps also because of what she must do for her job -- which is her life. She's tough and edgy and vulnerable. Smart with nerves of steel to do what she does. Encore, please!

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo Publishing Company for the e-book ARC to read and review.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

Twenty years ago, August 1996, 13-year-old Lenni Lucas disappears while walking to get ice cream.
Claire Lucas, now Rodway, older sister to Lenni, was 18 years old at the time. She and her friends were splashing about in the water of Trevellin Bay, a normal day at the beach. When Lenni did not return, the Lucas family, their friends, relatives and the police searched and did all the normal things that people do when a child goes missing. To no avail. The only signs were a dropped ice cream cone and a pair of shorts. Lenni was gone.

The family somehow puts itself back together over the next 20 years without the baby of the family. Patrick, the patriarch, is a well-loved husband and father to the Lucas kids as well as to their childhood friends. Shona, mom to all, handles everything -- especially now that Patrick has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Claire and her brother Jason get on with their lives, marry, have their own families -- but still have so many questions. "In the end, our suffering came from not having anyone to blame, from not knowing what happened."

Claire decides that it would be a good time to get some of the old crowd together to help her dad with his memory issues. She has two children (Marcus and Amy) and her best friend from back then, Maggie, has a 15-year-old daughter, Rain. Old flame Nick -- Claire often wonders what might have happened between them had Lenni not vanished. Sets it all up for lots of potential drama considering that Claire has a son about Rain's age. All the relationships are complicated. The big impetus, however, is that Shona wants to sell the old farm because she can't take care of it and her husband too. So, a last little reunion to celebrate and reminisce. Things don't quite go as planned.

Wow, there's a LOT going on in this book. Many different characters and narrations from different points of view. It's hard to imagine all this happening to a single group of people in a small little town, but all the big themes are there. Deceit, betrayal, heartbreak. Not a single character in the book has an easy time of things. It was almost too much, if you know what I mean. I won't say more to prevent spoilers, but despite all the red herrings that the author uses to obfuscate, some things were obvious quickly but one took a little longer to become clear. I am sorry to say that I really didn't like any of the characters in the book very much. Couldn't relate to them. But it was a good family drama story. I am not sure I would call this a "thriller" but more a mystery. I didn't find it suspenseful or heartpounding, etc., but definitely the word I'd use is DRAMA. I did have a hard time putting it down as I wanted to see what was going to happen to this poor messed up group of people next! The ending came a bit abruptly and a few dangling ends were left to my imagination.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for this e-book ARC to read and review. I think most people will be fascinated by the train wreck that is the Lucas family! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Next to Die by TJ Brearton

Is someone targeting case workers from the Department of Social Services?

Setting -- Lake Haven in the Adirondacks. A DSS worker is stabbed to death in her car outside the office after hours one night. Harriet Fogarty wasn't scheduled to be working that evening, so perhaps Bobbi Noelle, who was meant to be on duty but was home sick, was the intended victim? Things in the small town heat up pretty quickly as Detectives Mike Nelson from the New York State Police and Detective Lena Overton with the Lake Haven Police start to work the case.

But there is a lot more going on in Lake Haven. Suspects are identified and the investigation painstakingly plods along as more questions are raised than answers can be found. There are parallel plots and it is all quite complex. Red herrings abound, but most astute readers will figure out where this is going though it takes a long while to get there. There are so many characters that sometimes the names all became a jumble and they were all very superficially constructed. The main character of Bobbi narrates part of the story as it alternates between her and Detective Mike. There's also a romantic element for both of those two (not with each other) that really didn't add anything to the forward movement of the plot.

This works find as a standalone though I've read others in the series. I enjoyed it but it seemed like it took a lot of pages to get to the denouement and the final showdown when all was revealed. I'll definitely read more by this author.

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

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Art of Fear by Pamela Crane (#1 The Little Things That Kill)

"If you go poking around in shadows, you'll find darkness."

Ari was ten years old when she was held responsible for her little sister's death. Tina (Sophia) was sold into sex slavery by her parents when she was 6. These two young women meet at a suicide support group, bond, and start looking for answers to explain their miserable lives. Although complete amateurs at the investigation business, they somehow find out more than expected and track down the different parties as it seems that there is a connection between events that happened over fourteen years ago.

Despite the need to completely suspend my disbelief in the action and plot, and never mind that the characters were flat and stereotypical, I moved through this rapidly. I really didn't like any of the characters in the book and the coincidences were often just too extreme. Ari and Tina are supposed to be two tough chicks who'd survived really hard times (and yeah, I am sure the sex slavery was total horror and sometimes I can't even stand to think about it much less read about it), but I just couldn't buy into Ari's personality. The romance that blossomed with Tristan was...well, most know how I feel about romance in these thrillers...but how convenient that his job proves so HELPFUL to Ari right?
No spoilers, but the ending shows that Ari is moving forward into a new direction -- no longer a retail sales clerk after her stellar investigating techniques -- finding out stuff that defied all the efforts of previous law enforcement types.

Although this was OK, I don't know that I'd invest the time in another of this series. I didn't like the interaction between the characters, the dialogue or the need to be so incredulous at outcomes.

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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Fear Within by JS Law (LT Danielle Lewis #2)

"Good people do bad things, and bad people do good things...the world doesn't work in absolutes."

Gripping thriller set mainly near and on a Royal Naval base in Portsmouth. Lieutenant Danielle Lewis and partner, Master at Arms, John Granger, work for the Special Investigation Branch. In this second book the pair face a series of disasppearances and crimes that tie back to the TENACITY (a submarine) and their previous case. A very complicated plot with lots of characters, this moves along quite quickly with information and action.

After rescuing an abused wife in an abandoned shop, the duo is called to the ship, DEFIANCE, because a young female stores assistant had gone missing. Meanwhile, Dan (oh how I HATED everytime I saw that masculine name used for Danielle in the entire book -- but this was an ARC and I am hoping that someone talked some sense into the powers that be and got that changed) is also talking to a serial killer because body parts thought to belong to his victims have come to the attention of her bosses, AND she is also still secretly working on the former case involving a drug smuggling operation on the submarine. Busy lady!

There was a lot going on in this book and quite confusing to me because I was not familiar with the characters and had not read the first book in the series. In this case, I think that was a huge mistake and would urge anyone considering this title to go back and read #1 first. As far as the character of Danielle Lewis (and just again metnioning that she was called Dan throughout), I'm not sure I can say that she was believable or likeable. Let's say that some of the scenes stretched credulity and leave it at that. The reader really doesn't learn much about her personally and so she was not very three-dimensional nor were any of the other characters in the book. I did find the military connection to be quite interesting as I haven't read many books where the investigators are part of the Royal Navy.

So, despite my annoyances as described above, I did enjoy it and will probably go back and read the first book at some point. Would definitely want to read #3 because this one ends on a cliffhanger!

Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt and Company for the e-book ARC to read and review.