Review: Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…

Review

One of the things that caught my attention about this book was its cover. And after reading the synopsis I was really interested in reading this book. I started reading this book unaware that this was a book in a series, but luckily for me, this small detail did not prevent me from fully enjoying and understanding the plot.

The story starts with Dr. Diana Jagger a surgeon on trial for the murder of her husband Peter.  Only months after their marriage, Peter is killed in a suspicious car crash. Although Peter’s body is never found, Dr. Jagger becomes the first suspect and Jack Parlabane is hired to investigate the case.

Black Widow was one of those books with a slow start that all of the sudden had an unexpected twist that completely set things back in motion. This book really blew me away and kept me awake until late hours of the night in expectation for what was coming next. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that this is book seven of the Jack Parlabane series. This story certainly stands alone and will certainly keep you guessing until the surprising finale. Great read!

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published November 1, 2016.


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Review: The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe

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The new novel in this acclaimed series is brilliantly paced, addictively suspenseful—the author’s best yet. Hazel Micallef (played by Susan Sarandon in the recent film of the series’ debut, The Calling) has become one of crime writing’s most memorable detectives. The Night Bell moves between the past and the present in Port Dundas, Ontario, as two mysteries converge. A discovery of the bones of murdered children is made on land that was once a county foster home. Now it’s being developed as a brand new subdivision whose first residents are already railing against broken promises and corruption. But when three of these residents are murdered after the discovery of the children’s bones, frustration turns to terror.While trying to stem the panic and solve two crimes at once, Hazel Micallef finds her memory stirred back to the fall of 1959, when the disappearance of a girl from town was blamed on her adopted brother. Although he is long dead, she begins to see the present case as a chance to clear her brother’s name, something that drives Hazel beyond her own considerable limits and right into the sights of an angry killer.

It seems that lately I have been giving books in a series a try. I used to only read books in a series if they were the first book in the series or if I had read the previous books. Well, The Night Bell doesn’t fall in either one of my categories as it is book number four of the Hazel Micallef series, but I still gave it a try. This novel employs the narrative technique of past and present times. The book starts in 1957 when Hazel was a young girl and introduces the story of the unsolved crime of child, which Hazel’s brother may or not have been a part of. Wolfe does a good job at telling these two parts of the story, the past 50 years ago, and the present times in 2007 and skillfully merges these two parts of the story for the great finale. Overall, this is a great mystery book with wonderful twists and an intricate plot. Does it do a good job as a stand alone novel? I didn’t think so. By book 4 of a series, there were a lot of characters that jumped in the story and that I had no clue who they were. It would’ve worked better if the author had re-introduced some of the characters for the people (like me) unfamiliar with the previous books. My bet is if you read the other books in the series you are going to love this new installment.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

Wow! That’s the word that came out of my mouth after reading Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger. Lately, between grad school, two children, a dog, and a full-time job, long were the days I could finish books in one day, let alone in one sitting. When I picked up this book I had no idea how addicting, thrilling, and exciting this reading would be. I only have praise for Unger. From the very first pages, you are drawn into this intricate web that mixes psychological thriller, crime, and paranormal. I found this story to be very disturbing, but surprising. Every time I thought the story was going in one direction, bam! The author takes you on a completely different route.

Extremely refreshing, chilling, borderline horror (really!), page-turner, can’t-put-it-down sort of book. I highly recommend this book to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published June 7, 2016.

5 star

Review: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

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When the remains of a young child are discovered during a winter storm on a stretch of the bleak Lancashire coastline known as the Loney, a man named Smith is forced to confront the terrifying and mysterious events that occurred forty years earlier when he visited the place as a boy. At that time, his devoutly Catholic mother was determined to find healing for Hanny, his disabled older brother. And so the family, along with members of their parish, embarked on an Easter pilgrimage to an ancient shrine.   But not all of the locals were pleased to see visitors in the area. And when the two brothers found their lives entangling with a glamorous couple staying at a nearby house, they became involved in more troubling rites. Smith feels he is the only one to know the truth, and he must bear the burden of his knowledge, no matter what the cost.

Ok, so this is a novel I admit I had huge expectations from. Not only because I had heard all the praises about it, but also because this book won the 2015 Costa First Novel Award, a popular literary prize in the UK.  I can’t see how this happened. Don’t get me wrong, the novel is very well written. I really enjoyed the character of the pious mother and the gothic, eerie, creepy suspense that the author brought to the pages. However, the reason I can’t rate this book more than 3-stars is for the simple fact that some parts were extremely slow and repetitive, the ending was disappointing, and it just didn’t live up to the suspenseful atmosphere of the beginning of the book.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

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On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

The book starts with a small plane that falls in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with 11 people on board. Scott, a struggling middle-aged artist, and a four-year-old boy are the only survivors. The crux of the book is finding out the cause of the crash and events that led to the disaster.

I really enjoyed reading this book by Noah Hawley. The first couple of chapters are suspenseful and impossible to put down. There is a great message about the ridiculous power of media covering tragedies. It does slow down a bit as it alternates between the aftermath of the crash and the lives of the passengers before the accident (the fall), but overall a great summer read.

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley is one of those great suspenseful books that you can read in one sitting. A fast-paced, page-turner that keeps you guessing until the end. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on May 31, 2016.

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Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

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Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

I should start by saying that this is not the sort of novel I’d gravitate towards, but the cover of this book had a lot to do with my decision to give this book a try and I don’t regret it a bit.

“because a rumor is like smoke. It will spread, it will seep through closed doors and latched shutters, and in the end the whole town will smell of it.”

This is the story of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman in the small town of Schongau, Bavaria. When some children are found dead, a local midwife is accused of witchcraft and arrested for the murders. Jakob and a local doctor believing in the midwife’s innocence set out to figure out the mystery. I’m not sure why the title of the book is the Hangman’s Daughter. She plays a part in the book but certainly not enough for a title. In any case, this is a very interesting historical mystery. Pötzsch really did a good job researching his family history and that period. I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book and the descriptions of the town and the people were excellent. It really transported me to that time. 

As for the mystery itself, I feel like many will be able to figure it out half-way through the book. It is still an interesting reading even though some of the torture scenes were rather graphic. Good pick for fans of historical fiction/thriller.

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Review: Dead Secret by Richard Milton

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Tony is bewildered by the horrifying secrets he begins to unravel. Can human heads really be used to predict the future? Who would pay $7 million for the skull of the Russian President? Is British intelligence involved?

His search leads Tony to the wealthy and secretive Chadwick Foundation whose bizarre beliefs both repel and attract him. Are they merely wealthy, powerful people playing an elaborate game, or have they truly gained the power to see into the future? When Tony witnesses the Home Secretary die in an elaborate sex ritual at a Belgravia dinner party he knows he is in too deep to back out.

Dead Secret by Richard Milton is an excellent paranormal thriller about investigative journalist Tony Gabriel and the “science” of physiognomy. I have to say that I was a little skeptical when I read the synopsis of this book. I love paranormal novels and was eager to read this book, but I had my reservations because the storyline seemed a bit far-fetched. Well, I was wrong and this story did not disappoint! Milton is a talented writer and I loved the way he weaved this story.

Tony Gabriel as a character is believable and likable, and overall pretty well-written. As for the other characters in the book Eve was my least favorite, but unpredictable.The narrative goes back and forth between the present day with Tony researching a mysterious organization named The Chadwick Foundation, France in the 1700s, and World War II. Milton did a fantastic job in bringing all these pieces of the story together. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to fans of this genre.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Details:

Title:Dead Secret /Author:Richard Milton/Genre:Paranorma/Thriller/ ASIN:B00551YXZ2/Publisher:Good Books Online/Rating: 4-Stars/Read:July, 2015.

Review: Constant Fear By Daniel Palmer

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In Daniel Palmer’s electrifying, brilliantly plotted new thriller, a private school campus becomes a battleground as a desperate father takes on a terrifying enemy….

Jake Dent lives with his diabetic teenage son Andy in the town of Winston, MA. Andy is a computer geek and part of the Shire–a group of hacker kids who steal money from rich people’s bank accounts to give to charity. It’s all nice and fun until the kids hack a drug cartel’s bank account and steal millions of dollars. When the drug dealers stage a chemical spill at the school and take the children hostage; Jake an ex-baseball player turned Rambo, goes on a race against time to save his son and the rest of the kids.

I really enjoyed Daniel Palmer’s new thriller Constant Fear. I wouldn’t call it a page-turner, but it certainly kept me interested. The story is really well-written and the book has a great premise. The characters were well developed, but I found some of the chapters with descriptions of the guns and ammo to be a little too long and boring. Overall, I definitely recommend this thriller.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on May 26, 2015.

3 star

Book Details:

Title: Constant Fear/Author: Daniel Palmer/Pages: 416/Genre: Thriller/ ISBN: 9780758293466/Publisher: Kensington/Rating: 3-Stars/Read: May, 2015.

Review: Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay

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Title: Broken Promise: A Thriller

Author: Linwood Barclay

Pages: 488

Genre: Crime/Thriller

ISBN: 9780451472670

Publisher: NAL

Rating: 4-Stars

Read: May 2015

After his wife’s death and the collapse of his newspaper, David Harwood has no choice but to uproot his nine-year-old son and move back into his childhood home in Promise Falls, New York. David believes his life is in free fall, and he can’t find a way to stop his descent…

David Harwood is a widowed father who moves back to his hometown of Promise Falls, NY with his young son Ethan. Life is at its low for David, he loses his job at a local newspaper shortly after moving back and has to move in back with his parents. When David’s mother asks him to take some food to a nearby cousin, he finds out that his cousin Marla is raising a baby. The problem is that Marla does not have a child. David starts to snoop around to try to get to the bottom of the story, and hopefully find the actual mother of the baby. When he learns that the mother of the baby has been murdered, he starts his own investigations, leaning on his experience as a reporter, to find out what happened and what role–if any, his cousin played in the crime.

Linwood Barclay is indeed a master of suspense. Broken Promise was a delight to read. A real page turner. I love the way Barclay developed his characters! The plot was very well written, full of twists and unexpected events. A fantastic thriller! My only complaint was the fact that although the ending was really good, there were a few loose ends that were not explained. I’m hoping there will be a sequel. Overall, it is a great read for fans of this genre.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on July 28, 2015.

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Review: What You Left Behind by Samantha Hays

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Title: What You Left Behind

Author: Samantha Hayes

Pages: 309

Genre: Crime/Thriller

ISBN: 9780804136921

Publisher: Crown Publishers

Rating: 3-Stars

Read: May 2015

Two years after a terrifying spate of teenage suicides, the remote village of Radcote has just begun to heal. Then a young man is killed in a freak motorcycle accident and a suicide note is found among his belongings. When a second boy is found dead shortly thereafter, the nightmare of repeat suicides once again threatens the community.

This is the second installment of the Detective Inspector Lorraine Fischer’s series. I haven’t read the first book, but I was able to read this story as a standalone. The book begins with D.I. Lorraine Fischer’s visit to her sister Jo in the remote village of Radcote, where a series of apparent teenage suicides are happening. Lorraine soon learns that there is more to this vacation than it meets the eyes. She arrives in town with her daughter Stella to find her sister Jo having an extra-marital affair, and her nephew Freddie acting moody and withdrawn. When another teen suicide happens shortly after Lorraine’s arrival, the detective can’t help but start her investigation into what is happening in Radcote.

What You Left Behind is one of those books with a fantastic premise, but gets lost somehow half-way into the story. There were too many subplots and red herrings. The characters were a bit dull, the dialogue was boring and clunky, and although towards the end the novel perks back up leading to a surprising finale–overall this book didn’t do it for me.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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3 star