NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, August 26, 2016

Moral Defense by Marcia Clark (#2)

The second in the Samantha Brinkman series. She's a defense attorney -- and, for her, it's not about whether the client is innocent or guilty. She wants to make sure they walk.

As usual, snarky and sneaky DA Samantha Brinkman is up to her old tricks. She has her own peculiar brand of justice even as she does everything she can to get even the most heinous criminals acquitted or pled out. In this second book of the series, Sam is counsel for a 15-year-old girl, Cassie Sonnenberg, who is accused of committing the brutal murders of her foster family: brother, father and mother. As Cassie reveals the despicable activities that were going on in that home, Sam can't help but get personally involved as the revelations bring back terrible memories for her.

Meanwhile, Sam and her two associates are dealing with several other creepy clients and things are getting pretty dicey. Sam has to figure out how to keep the bad guys from coming after her because of some of things she "influenced" in questionable ways. Always on the edge of crossing over to the same side as her defendants, Sam is a very unusual defense attorney.

I enjoy this series though I worry that Sam's ways and means make her just as bad as those she defends. She definitely wants to win at any cost, though she does care about the truth no matter what she presents to the court.  Sam is a complex character and the writing is crisp and clear. There is a lot of action and it's easy to keep turning the pages because the reader just can't wait to see how all the cases turn out. Just when you think you have it all figured...surprise! You can tell this book is written by someone who does have an inside track - as does this author, a lawyer.

Looking forward to the next in the series. Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the e-book ARC to review. I also want to read her other books. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt

The first Afton Tangler suspense thriller -- a cold Minnesota night, a kidnapped baby...

The debut in a new series introduces Afton Tangler, a single mom of two girls, who works as a family liaison officer with the Minneapolis Police Department.  Afton is out ice climbing in the frigid Minnesota winter when she gets a call about a kidnapped 3 month old baby girl.  Little Elizabeth Ann Darden was taken from her crib at home while she was being watched by a sitter. The wealthy parents, Susan and Richard, are frantic as the local police, the FBI and other jurisdictions are called in on the case.

Afton becomes extremely involved in the actual investigation of the case, far beyond the scope of her liaison job. Although the reader knows who took the baby and has an idea of why, the crime investigators are without much to go on as they attempt to track down the abductor and rescue the baby. Yes, it's a bit farfetched -- the degree of civilian Afton's involvement partnering with a detective -- but it is a quick and entertaining read that has a lot of drama. The "bad guys" are nasty enough and Afton is clever and strong enough to provide a solid start to what will likely be a popular series.  I enjoyed the details about the Twin Cities geography and the winter weather features strongly in the story.

I was turned down when I requested an ARC but the synopsis interested me enough that I obtained it elsewhere on my own. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Don't Tell Anyone by Eleanor Gray

"When your child dies, hope and reason for living dies too."

Grace Neville's daughter, Tara, was stabbed to death in a seedy hotel and the man responsible is behind bars. It's over, time to move on -- except that convicted Jordan Dukes' father, Allan, appears at Grace's door claiming that his son -- Tara's boyfriend -- is not the one who murdered Tara. It appears that both Grace and Allan are "victims of their children's bad choices" and soon they are both caught up in trying to figure out who really killed Tara, and why.

This was a very convoluted mystery involving many red herrings as "Tara's dirty secret" is finally discovered and outed. There are many characters, some more believable and complicated than others, and the revelations were a bit of a let down and somewhat "out there" as the narrative winds down at the conclusion. Definitely a domestic drama more than a suspense thriller, it held my interest well enough and I think it would be hard for anyone to make a good guess about the whodunit.  Grace is, of course, completely undone by the death of her daughter and Grace's ex, Archie, who left her for another woman, is sorta creepy and doesn't follow along with Grace's conviction that the wrong man is in prison. The police are not portrayed very well.

In all, this was not pulse pounding but kept me guessing. It always comes back to the truth, we do not really know ANYONE - despite our firmly held idea that we should know our own children inside and out. I did like some of the quotes in the book well enough to cite another: "There are so many countless ways that Fate can snap its fingers...all those desperately sad yet banal and everyday packages of pain that life has in store for the unwary."

Thank you to NetGalley and Midnight Ink for this e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Beautiful Maids All in a Row by Jennifer Harlow

"Best wishes on a bright here and now."

Bam! I now have a new series to look forward to after finishing this suspenseful thriller featuring ex FBI agent and forensic psychologist, Iris Ballard. Though quite a hot mess after the death of her husband, Iris comes out of retirement to assist the FBI in its hunt for the Woodsman -- notorious murderer of several women. There are no witnesses, no clues, and no suspects. This is one scary psychopath who may have met his match in Iris. I'd call her relentless.

Grisly and tense, the narrative takes off like a rocket and that makes it hard to put this book down. I liked the dialogue, the writing and the characters -- I even forgive Ms Harlow the insertion of a stereotypical romance angle. Iris is an interesting contradiction as she leaves the vodka behind and puts herself back in the game. The bad guy was as menacing as expected and the scene where he comes after Iris was of course anticipated because that always happens in this genre!

I enjoyed this and can't wait for #2. Recommending to all who like a gory thriller with a strong female protagonist.

Thank you to NetGalley and Alibi Random House for the e-book ARC to review

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fatal by John Lescroart

How can one ever imagine the consequences that might result from a single bad decision? There's no way that Kate could have known what she would set in motion when she decided to sleep with Peter Ash. Just once. After all -- no one else knew but the two of them. Right?

Great characters and storytelling made this one that I could hardly put down. I loved that it was a standalone though I'm a fan of Lescroart's series as well. He has a great vocabulary and I really enjoyed the writing style. I was kept guessing by the twists; the narrative kept surprising me as events unfolded. And there were several interesting side stories as well! In short, a very entertaining read that I would recommend. I'm not sure I'd classify it as a mystery, a suspense thriller, or even a police procedural -- more domestic fiction with a crime angle.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

When you're already plagued with panic attacks and a bit of OCD always imagining that the worst will happen -- what happens when it actually does?

Kate Priddy agrees to switch apartments with a second cousin who has an apartment in Boston while he goes to her flat in London for 6 months. Little does she know that Corbin Dell has terrible secrets and that she will be drawn into the web of a psychopath who is out for a very twisted revenge.

I do love the suspense thrillers by this author and have read all he's written to date. This one won't disappoint. Interesting characters who take turns narrating, great description and detail, and a really good story make this book hard to put down.

Thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the e-book ARC to review.