Tag Archives: thriller

Where She Went by Kelly Simmons

Maggie feels something imminently dangerous coming to her daughter Emma, who just headed off on her first year of college. When police come to her door one evening, she knows her premonition has come to fruition. The widow of a police detective, Maggie conducts her own investigation into her daughter’s disappearance, with all new information obscuring who she believed her daughter to be. Simmons writes a good mystery, replete with complex family dynamics, secrets spilling out all over, and a storyline that builds until it bursts and everything makes sense. Fans of Liane Moriarty, Diane Chamberlain, and Kerry Anne King will appreciate Simmons’ writing style and storytelling brilliance. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy of the book by one of my favorite authors from the publisher Sourcebook Landmark through NetGalley.

Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce

The FBI visits Mrs. Ford, a middle-aged widow in a tony coastal neighborhood, to question her connection to a Chaldean gun-runner who happened to have her name and address on his person. Their story began with two young women—troubled Annie and her straight-laced friend Susan—working in a Detroit discotheque as cocktail waitresses in the late 70s. Naivete inadvertently placed them amidst the territory negotiations between the Chaldeans and the Italian brothers who owned the discotheque. Royce brilliantly juxtaposed their young lives upon the questionable atmosphere of the discotheque and the shady men who ran it and frequented it, the flashbacks graphically detailed and relevant to Mrs. Ford’s current incarnation as the widow of Jack Ford. I graciously received this intriguing thriller from the publisher Post Hill Press through NetGalley for an honest review.

The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda

Betsy’s sister, the good sister, her parents’ favorite, died last year, and her mother has spiraled down into a deep depression, refusing help and alienating Betsy and her father. They struggle along until a revelation rips into the family. Rouda carefully extracts truth from underneath appearances and flays expectations. Fans of Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain will appreciate this story and Rouda’s style. I was fortunate to receive a copy of this wonderful story from Graydon House through NetGalley.

29 Seconds by T. M. Logan

Sarah’s superior, a securely ensconced tenured professor who’s brought in great funding for the university, is a serial harasser offering her a (well-deserved) promotion in exchange for her “cooperation.” While picking up her child from school, she foils the kidnapping of a little girl, whose quietly powerful father then offers her a favor—choose a name and that person will cease to be a problem for her. Sarah struggles with the moral morass of resolving not only her own situation, but ending the reign of a decades-perpetrating, multi-victim offender against becoming someone she doesn’t want to be. A 29-second phone call changes the course of her life. Logan brilliantly portrays the frustrating inner battle of desire to set things right versus not wanting to stoop to the same level for resolution. I received this well-written story from the publisher twenty7 through NetGalley.

The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Following a rough week of traveling for work, Jemma’s handbag with all her important possessions including her passport, credit cards, laptop, and house keys is stolen at the airport. Even more disturbing, when she goes to report the incident, she realizes she can’t recall her own name. Home and her past no longer exist in her mind, but the only thing in her pocket is a train ticket “home.” Jemma is a source of mystery when she arrives at the sleepy Wiltshire village where she thought she lived and quickly becomes a cause of fear and curiosity amongst the locals when no one recognizes her. Is she a victim or a killer? Where did she come from? All at the same time as she is thinking: Who are these people? Who am I?

LAEL’S REVIEW:

A young woman takes a train home to an English village and finds her house inhabited by the current owners. She cannot remember who she is, relying on their kindness to help her determine what happened, her only memory of the mysterious Fleur. A murderer lived in the house over a decade ago; timing of the murderer’s release and the young woman’s resemblance cast suspicion on her, dividing the owners. The wife leaves town and the husband obsesses over the unknown woman, possibly a murderer. Deception and revenge collide with coincidence and subterfuge, moving toward tragedy, and taking the story to Berlin and a horrific crime. Monroe builds an intriguing world of characters with hidden agendas and convincing personas. Dear reader may not know with whom to empathize as the secrets spill. Layers of the story build with new insights through flashbacks and revelations. This is an excellent look into the psychology of a criminal act and the resulting vigilante justice. I received this provocative novel from Park Row Books through NetGalley.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J.S. Monroe studied English at Cambridge University, worked as a freelance journalist in London and was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4. He was also a foreign correspondent in Delhi for the Daily Telegraph and was on its staff in London as Weekend editor. He is the author of six other novels and lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their three children.

Vermin by William A. Graham

The prologue introduces low-level, low-brow politician Henry Lewis, who’s interrupted in his back alley business when his intended victim Davie is rescued. Allan Linton fell into the PI business after a newspaper takeover, and he pulled strong, silent street avenger Niddrie in as his “and Associates.” A mysterious man calling himself Carter hires them to find a woman in a photograph whose name is likely an alias. Then dear reader goes through a flashback on the rise and fall of Allan’s marriage to the daughter of a top dollar barrister, then back to the present where his daughter asks his help with the entitled son of her grandfather’s partner and he explains his love for the Hollies. He seeks help on the case from his best friend Michael, who just happens to be the main drug dealer in town, and dear reader goes through another flashback chapter on the origin of their friendship. There are aliases and backstories galore in this novel, with each flashback its own fascinating short story. If you like backstory woven into the fabric of a novel, this format might confound you. The unusual names and behaviors of the characters make this whodunwhat feel a bit out of time and place, like a cheeky noir film. I received a digital copy of this fantastic story from Black & White Publishing Ltd through NetGalley.

The East End by Jason Allen

ABOUT THE BOOK

A terrible tragedy unleashes a fateful chain of events for two families from starkly different worlds in a breathtaking new tale of suspense that doubles as a razor-sharp take on class conflict in today’s America.

In his remarkable debut, THE EAST END (Park Row Books; May 7, 2019; $26.99 U.S./$33.50 CAN.), novelist Jason Allen constructs a multi-layered story about the powerful and the powerless, about love and loss, and about self-destruction and the possibility of redemption. Set in the Hamptons over one explosive holiday weekend, this immersive must-read illuminates both sides of the socio-economic divide in a place where dreams of escape drive potentially catastrophic decisions. 

Unfolding from multiple perspectives, THE EAST END opens with the countdown to Memorial Day underway and recent high school graduate Corey Halpern in need of a fix.  A townie, he burns off his resentment of the affluent “invaders” who flock to the community in the summer months by breaking into their lavish mansions and pulling harmless pranks. Staring down a bleak future, he sees his hopes of going away to college vanishing. He can’t disappear, not when his troubled mother, Gina, is barely making ends meet, trying to get away from an abusive, deadbeat husband, and chasing pills with too much booze. Trapped in a downward spiral, she staggers towards rock bottom as Corey and his brother look on helplessly.

Before calling it a night, Corey makes one last stop at the sprawling lakeside estate where he and Gina work. There he intends to commit his first-ever robbery but nothing proceeds according to plan. Married billionaire CEO Leo Sheffield shows up to his ultra-exclusive Gin Lane property early, accompanied by his handsome, much-younger lover, Henry. In an instant, everything changes: Drunk, high, and all alone, Henry is the victim of a fatal poolside accident.  Unfortunately for a distraught Leo, Corey saw what happened—and so did someone else.

For this immensely privileged man who is not used to getting his hands dirty, his very existence now depends on containing the collateral damage. And time is running out. Leo’s overbearing wife and three grown children will be arriving soon, along with a house full of high-maintenance guests. Desperate to preserve his fortune and his freedom, Leo takes irrevocable steps that expose him to scandal and far worse. Over the next few tension-filled days, hidden entanglements, unexpected opportunities, and clashing loyalties propel Corey, Gina, and Leo to extremes—and ultimately, to shocking outcomes no one will anticipate.

Atmospheric, emotionally probing, and complexly unmissable, this kaleidoscopic narrative plunges its brilliantly realized characters into timely, all-too-relatable moral quandaries that defy easy answers and resound long after the final page.

LAEL’S REVIEW

Corey breaks into the houses of the wealthy who summer in the Hamptons, to play pranks on them as a way to vent his frustrations as a local serving these “invaders.” The night he chooses to enter the home of his mother’s employer Mr. Sheffield, he learns a scandalous secret and witnesses a tragedy, and then he falls in love. The weekend brings a multitude of challenges for the Sheffield family and Corey’s mom, who’s fighting a drug addiction and a violent ex, as well as Corey and his new love. Allen brilliantly portrays the blurred lines of integrity and honesty for the haves and have-nots in a scenario that flips dependency from one to the other and exposes everyone’s agenda. No character is truly endearing, nor is any character wholly evil, but all are complex, self-serving and compassionate in turn. Fans of “Somethings in the Water,” “Beautiful Bad,” or “Hunting Annabelle” will appreciate this story. It’s a peek at what we might do if we had the chance, and what happens when we involve ourselves in something that’s not our business. I received a digital copy of this fantastic story from Park Row Books through NetGalley.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Allen grew up in a working-class home in the Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners. He writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the author of the poetry collection A Meditation on Fire. He has an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches writing. THE EAST END is his first novel.

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Maddie fell hard for Ian, British security detail, when she taught English in Bulgaria and her BFF Joanna was a humanitarian working in Macedonia before and during their civil war. He’s hard to pin down, even after she marries him despite Joanna’s inexplicable hostility toward him. He insists on moving from NYC to her small, Kansas hometown, though he spends much of his time in the Eastern bloc, working in a security business he started with his brother after leaving his government position. The story unfolds in layers as it goes back and forth in time and around the globe to explain the horrible murder. Ward does an excellent job evoking sympathy for Maddie, who appears to be on the receiving end of Ian’s PTSD. This novel portrays young American idealists who get caught up in tragedy, differences in maturity levels of best friends, and how lack of self-awareness contributes to obfuscation, as a mismatched romance leads to its horrifying conclusion. I was fortunate to receive this brilliant story from the publisher Park Row Books through NetGalley.

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Liza witnesses, via Skype, a masked man entering her friend’s home while her friend is upstairs tending to a child. She drives all night to make sure she’s okay after her friend doesn’t answer the phone, but Molly, the friend, dismisses the idea that a man came into her house, and she break’s Liza’s heart. Returning home to a life-changing event sends Liza back to her hometown, where no investigation is proceeding for the mystery man. Strawser digs deep into the fears of a married couple in multitudes of trouble, the evolution of friendship, and a reluctant return to one’s roots. She brilliantly intertwines the consequences of the characters’ actions as they rush headlong into premature conclusions. This novel is a great look into love resurrected and the ability to access romantic love after a trauma. Strawser is a talented storyteller. I was fortunate to receive a copy of this wonderful book from the publisher Macmillan through NetGalley.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

PI Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott share a moment right after her vows to Matthew, coloring their detective partnership. A disturbed young man caroms into Strike’s office to exclaim about a child murder committed decades ago. Being hired by a politician to spy on a colleague distracts them, but the possibility weighs on Cormoran’s mind, as Robin goes undercover in Parliament. The non-case of the wild story becomes entangled within the political investigation and a dubious suicide. Meanwhile, Robin’s husband shows his true colors, but her desire to be independent only prolongs the sexual tension between partners.

Galbraith keeps a fast, at times frenetic, pace throughout the story, with the main characters exasperatingly and credibly human in their complexity. It’s fun to see inside the heads of the good guys when they have fleeting thoughts that are unrealistic / unreasonable, such as when Robin finds herself drawn in by the charm of their client’s tall, dark, and handsome “bad boy” son, a person of interest. Fourth in the Cormoran Strike series, it’s easily a standalone for the case story, but adds layers of nuance to the partnership. The inevitable transition in the nature of the relationship will change the dynamics and sadly may be the beginning of the end, unless Galbraith finds a way to pull it off. Let’s hope she…whoops, “he” can do so!

I received a copy of this latest release in the series from St. Martin’s Press for an honest review.