Category Archives: 4 1/2 Star Books

A Review of Trail of Echoes by Rachel Howzell Hall

Trail of Echoes: A Detective Elouise Norton Novel

Trail of Echoes by Rachel Howzell HallTrail of Echoes: the latest Elouise Norton mystery novel from critically acclaimed writer Rachel Howzell Hall.

On a rainy spring day in Los Angeles, homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton is called away from a rare lunch date to Bonner Park, where the body of thirteen-year-old Chanita Lords has been discovered. When Lou and her partner, Colin Taggert, take on the sad task of informing Chanita’s mother, Lou is surprised to find herself in the apartment building she grew up in.

Chanita was interested in photography and, much like Lou, a black girl destined to leave the housing projects behind. Her death fits a chilling pattern of exceptional African-American girls–dancers, artists, honors scholars-gone recently missing in the same school district, the one Lou attended not so long ago.

Lou is valiantly trying to make a go of life after her divorce and doing everything she can to avoid her long estranged father. She races to catch a serial killer, but he remains frustratingly out of her reach, sending cryptic cyphers and taunting clues that arrive too late to prevent the next death. This one is personal, and it’s only a matter of time before he comes after Lou herself.

Book Details

Series: Detective Elouise Norton (Book 3)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (May 31, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765381176
ISBN-13: 978-0765381170
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

About the Author

Rachel Howzell HallRACHEL HOWZELL HALL is the author of Trail of Echoes (Forge), the third novel in her new mystery series featuring LAPD Homicide Detective Elouise Norton. The first, Land of Shadows, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and was included on the Los Angeles Times’ “143 Books to Read This Summer” and the U.K Telegraph’s “Top Ten Crime Books for Summer.” Rachel was also a featured novelist on NPR’s acclaimed ‘Crime in the City’ series.

Her first novel, A Quiet Storm, was a featured selection of Borders’ Original Voices program, as well as an alternate selection of the Black Expressions book club. She is the marketing manager of individual giving at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Rachel lives with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles, the land of exceptional drought.

Excerpt from Trail of Echoes

Chapter 1

At twelve thirty on a rainy Wednesday after noon, I was breaking one of my cardinal rules as a homicide detective: Never eat lunch with civilians. But on that Wednesday in March, I sat at a Formica- topped table in Johnny’s Pastrami with no ordinary citizen.

Assistant District Attorney Sam Seward had eyes the color of mint leaves, hands that could palm Jupiter, and a mind agile enough to grasp the story arc of Game of Thrones.

I had a crush on Sam.

He liked me, too, even though I associated “bracelets” with “handcuffs” and smelled of gun oil more than lavender. And so when he had asked if I wanted to grab a pastrami with him, I had immediately chirped, “Sure. Why not?” I wanted to have Normal People Lunch with ketchup that squirted from bottles and conversations about March Madness instead of murders, bodies, and blood. More than that, I wanted to have Normal People Lunch with Sam.

And now he smiled at me like the secret goof he was. And I futzed with the belt of my cowl- necked sweater like the nervous virgin I hadn’t been in twenty years.

Outside, clouds the color of Tahitian black pearls and drizzle softened the crimson glare of car brake lights. Inside, the diner smelled of meat and onions, and George Harrison crooned from hidden speakers about the way she moves.

“Elouise Norton,” Sam said, shaking his head. “I cannot believe it.”

I nibbled a sliver of pastrami. “Why not? I do violence all day.”

“Which is why I can’t believe you’d watch a show on your downtime that’s all decapitations and grit for an hour and three minutes.”

I gasped. “You made me watch it.”

He smoothed his slate- blue tie. “ Couldn’t talk to you about the Darson case forever.”

Sam was prosecuting Max Crase, the man who had murdered high school cheerleader Monique Darson, her sister Macie, and my sister Victoria. Now recovering from a brain tumor, Max Crase had pled insanity. And well . . . “insane” was just one word I’d use to describe him.

“Nor do I want to talk about the Darson case now.” I smiled at Sam, then pointed at his face. “You have mustard . . .”

He squinted at me. “Get it off, then.”

My heart pounded— I loved challenges.

I waited a moment . . . then leaned forward.

He moved aside sandwich baskets and almost- full glasses of Diet Coke, then leaned forward but only a little. “Closer,” he demanded.

I waited . . . then obeyed.

His butterscotch- colored cheeks flushed.

With his face an inch away from mine, I parted my lips.

And the bell tower tolled: the ringtone for Lieutenant Zak Rodriguez.

Sam crooked his neck, going for the kiss.

But the bell tower tolled again— louder and crankier this time.

“Sounds official,” Sam whispered.

Going cold, I sank into my seat. “It’s my boss.” I reached for Sam’s hand as my other hand grabbed the phone from my purse.

“Where you at?” Lieutenant Rodriguez asked.

“Having pastrami and soda pop.”

“With Taggert?”

Sam kissed my hand before he let go.

“Nope.”

“Pepe and Luke?”

I pushed my bangs off my flushed forehead. “Nuh uh.”

Lieutenant Rodriguez sighed. “Please say you’re not with your ex.”

“ Don’t worry. I’m not.”

“Hate to break it up, but you’re on deck. Some joggers found a body up in Bonner Park.”

My ankle holster, stuffed now with my lunch gun, pinched my skin— death had a way of yanking you from Wonderland. “ Really? This early in the day?”

“And whoever left it there is one cold son of a bitch.”

“ Aren’t they all?”

“He put it in one of those large duffel bags, the kind soldiers carry. And he left it there on the trail. In this weather.”

Outside our window, the wind had picked up, making palm fronds frantic and street signs swing. Back in the calm mustiness of Johnny’s, someone had dropped a quarter into the tabletop jukebox and had pressed E6: Olivia Newton- John asking if I’ve ever been mellow.

“Yeah,” Lieutenant Rodriguez was saying, “and where he left it? Up on that trail? It ain’t the typical boneyard. Anyway, I’ll call Taggert and we’ll meet you over there. Maybe you shoulda had one of your salads today. Edamame and shit instead of all that meat.”

Martha Bonner Park. Hills, trees, valleys— a beautiful jewel in the city’s crown. I jogged, hiked, and fed ducks there whenever I wasn’t watching divers pull guns and bodies out of its murky- green fake lake.

“Gotta go?” Sam asked, eyes on his iPhone.

“Yep.”

“Same here. I’m helping to plan Congresswoman Fortier’s jazz funeral.”

“Saturday, right?”

He nodded. “A second line down Crenshaw. A horse, a brass band, all of it.”

I dug in my purse for the car keys. “How many permits did you all have to pull for a New Orleans homegoing in the middle of Los Angeles?”

He rubbed his face. “You have no idea. And I hear all of NOLA is coming to usher her into the great beyond.” He emerged from behind his hands with a smile. “But I’m glad we had a moment to ourselves.”

I blushed. “Me too.”

Even though this was our first date, nothing else needed to be said or explained. I gotta go. No apology, no weird hostility. He, too, had to keep LA from exploding.

Oh, how I liked Sam.

Hand in hand, we walked to the parking lot, stopping at the light- blue Crown Vic that would stink of mildew until August.

“So you owe me.” Towering over me, Sam rested his hands on my waist.

I tensed, aware of my bulky ballistics vest, hoping that he didn’t think that was all . . . me. “Owe you? For what?”

“For ending our lunch so soon.”

I shivered— not because of the forty- degree weather. “Bullshit. We were basically done.”

“I wanted pie.”

I straightened the collar of his black wool overcoat. “Fine. You’ll get your pie.”

Then, my freakin’ iPhone caw- cawed from my pocket: the ringtone for Colin Taggert, my partner of nine months.

Sam dropped his hands and backed away from me. “If your case is a dunker, come over to night and watch something other than a basketball game. You could bring pie.”

“Maybe.”

“You’ll call me?”

“Yes.”

And the eagle caw- cawed again: America was calling.

I plucked the phone from my pocket. “I’m on my way,” I told Colin, slipping behind the Ford’s steering wheel. In the rearview mirror, I watched Sam climb into his black Bimmer.

“The body in the—” Colin sneezed, then sneezed again. “The body in the park. Prepare yourself: it’s a girl.”

Just when you’re trying to be mellow.

Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Howzell Hall

A Review of The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger

by Lisa Lutz

I would love to be a member of a book club that read The Passenger because then I could talk to people who have already read it. Right now I feel like I really can’t say much about it, because I might accidentally give something away. Read the book description below for an idea of what the book is about. It doesn’t give anything away.

I really liked the way this book is written. Ms. Lutz keeps us in the dark, while slowly putting little spots of light that gives us hints about where we are, while never illuminating the whole picture. It is kind of like the story of the six blind men and the elephant. Each part of the novel leads you to think that you have it figured out, but you can’t see that it is an elephant. Once you know about the elephant, it changes everything.

The identity changing characters in The Passenger feel alive. You can connect with them. They draw you into things and change your perceptions. You change as you read this book. You may never look at life in the shadows the same. It seems like it could happen to anyone. I hope it doesn’t.

I give The Passenger 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you like reading any kind of fiction, you really should give this book a read. You are going to be amazed.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

the-passenger-lisa-lutzFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it . . . .

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret . . . can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

Book Details

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451686633
ISBN-13: 978-1451686630
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces

About the Author

Photo by Morgan Dox
Photo by Morgan Dox

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including the forthcoming thriller, The Passenger (Simon & Schuster, March 2016), How to Start a Fire, six novels in the Spellman books series, and Heads You Lose, co-authored with David Hayward. She is also the author of the children’s book, How to Negotiate Everything, illustrated by Jaime Temairik. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor’s degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. Lisa lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.

A Review of Gone Again by James Grippando

Gone Again (Jack Swyteck #12)

by James Grippando

Mr. Grippando completes the circle with Gone Again. Jack Swyteck is back where he started in the first book in the series, The Pardon. He is back at the Freedom Institute. He says that he isn’t joining the team, just renting an office, but he gets drawn back into a death row case, when the victim’s mother, Debra Burette, talks to him when everyone else is down at the Florida State Prison. She is convinced that the man who is scheduled to die for her daughter’s rape and murder shouldn’t be executed because she is sure that her daughter, Sashi, is alive.

This is just the beginning of a book that is full of twists and turns. Many of the people in this book have secrets, and just when you think that you have them figured out something else happens to change your mind. As the story progresses, layer after layer of lies are torn away, until you reach the truth, a truth that you never expected, and could not have anticipated.

I like the Jack Swyteck series. I read The Pardon a long time ago, and I’ve read another couple since then. I like the Freedom Institute members. I hope that Jack sticks around there. He is a good fit. You don’t need to read this series in order, since each of the books stand on their own; but once you read Gone Again, you probably will want to read some of the earlier books.

I give Gone Again 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up. If you like multilayered legal mysteries, I think you will really like Gone Again.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Gone Again by James GrippandoIn this electrifying and fast-paced tale of suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Cash Landing, Cane & Abe, and Black Horizon, Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck takes on his first death-row client since The Pardon in a case as twisty as it is shocking.

Sashi Burgette vanished three years ago on her way to school. The night after the teenager’s disappearance, ex-con Dylan Kyle was stopped for drunk driving. An article of Sashi’s clothing was found in his truck, and a police videotape of his drunken explanation under interrogation sealed his fate at trial. Now, just days from Kyle’s execution, Sashi’s mother visits Jack Swyteck, doing pro bono work at the Freedom Institute, and delivers shocking news: “Sashi called me.”

The police dismiss the call as a cruel hoax. The State Attorney refuses to consider the new evidence, insisting the case is closed. The governor has already signed the death warrant. An innocent man may be executed and time is running out—unless his lawyers can locate Sashi.

A man of principle who believes in justice, Jack jumps into the investigation. But the deeper he digs the more he discovers that nothing is what it appears to be. Not the victim. Not her alleged killer. And definitely not Sashi’s parents, whose grief ruptured their marriage, each openly blaming the other for what happened to their daughter.

As their gut-wrenching and hopelessly conflicting version of events unfolds in a Miami courtroom, it becomes clear there is something even more difficult to find than a long-missing girl . . .

The truth.

Book Details

Series: Jack Swyteck Novel
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper (March 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062368702
ISBN-13: 978-0062368706
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Monica Hopkins photography
Monica Hopkins photography

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels. He was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon), and now serves as counsel at Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP. He lives in South Florida with his wife, three children, two cats, and a golden retriever named Max who has no idea that he’s a dog.

A Review of Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Try Not to Breathe

by Holly Seddon

Try Not to Breathe is written with multiple Points of View. Each chapter starts with a name and a date. The chapter is from that person’s Point of View. The time jumps around for some of the characters, so you really do have to pay attention. I often gloss over those chapter headings, but quickly found out that I couldn’t with this book. This complex threaded type of story can be difficult, but Ms. Seddon handled it very well. Everything twists and turns around, but you can follow it. You get hints and start to have ideas. It all comes together at the end.

Since you are inside the head of all the people in this book, you get to know them pretty well. Everyone seems quite believable. Alex Dale wallows in alcohol. If she doesn’t stop drinking it will kill her. Amy Stevenson was attacked and nearly killed fifteen years ago. She has been in a persistent vegetative state since the attack. She has thoughts but can’t interact with the outside world. Her high school boyfriend, Jake Arlington, comes and sits with her often, and has for most of these fifteen years. But he is married, his wife is pregnant, and Amy is becoming a problem because her never told his wife, Fiona, about Amy. She thinks that he is having an affair and that he is hiding things from her.

Once Alex and Amy come together, Alex knows that Amy can be her way out. Alex is a journalist, and so she thinks that Amy’s story could help her climb out of the bottle. The police never found Amy’s attacker, but Alex knows that if she can find him, she will be able to write an important article. But to do this, she needs to control her drinking.

I liked the multi-layered way this story unfolded. Ms. Seddon must have had quite a complex outline for this book. She had to tell you enough in each chapter to keep the story moving forward, but also be careful of what was said, so that you never found out too much. You may have an idea of the attacker’s identity, but you aren’t really sure until the end. Quite well done.

I give Try Not to Breathe 4 1/2 Stars and a Big Thumbs Up. It kept me engaged and interested the whole way. I recommend this debut novel to anyone who likes a character driven mystery thriller, without blood and gore, but with plenty of suspense and tension.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Try Not to BreatheFor fans of Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, and Paula Hawkins comes Holly Seddon’s arresting fiction debut—an engrossing thriller full of page-turning twists and turns, richly imagined characters, and gripping psychological suspense. 

Some secrets never die. They’re just locked away.

Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found unconscious after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Amy Stevenson, who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.

Soon Alex’s routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter’s story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from her attempt to uncover the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she’s not just chasing a story—she’s seeking salvation.

Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.

Book Details

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 23, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101885866
ISBN-13: 978-1101885864
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

About the Author

Holly SeddonHolly Seddon was born and raised in the sleepy south-west of England and now lives slap bang in the centre of Amsterdam with her husband and four children. Throughout her 15-year career, Holly has been privileged to work in some of the UK’s most exciting newsrooms.

TRY NOT TO BREATHE is her first novel, published in the UK (Corvus/Atlantic), Australia and New Zealand (Allen & Unwin) and The Netherlands (Ambo Anthos) in January 2016. Soon after, it will be available in the US (Ballantine/Penguin Random House), Germany (Heyne), Russia (Sindbad), Swiat Ksiazk (Poland and, Crown (Taiwan) .

Holly is currently writing her next novel.

A Review of Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery)

by Caroline Fardig

4.5

I had a good time reading this first book in a new series by Ms. Fardig. She knows how to tell a good story. She got me interested in what was going on right from the start. I immediately liked her main character, Juliet Langley. She is fun and fierce. She says that she has to break out the Redheaded She-Devil when she needs to get tough.

Pete Bennet is her longtime best friend and owner of the Java Jive, the coffeehouse in Nashville. She met Pete 10 years ago when she was a freshman in college. She needed a job, so she applied at Java Jive. Pete was behind the counter. His dad was the owner. They connected right away, as friends, never anything more, even though the urges may have been there. They kept it on a safe level all these years. Pete gave her the moniker of “The Redheaded She-Devil” when she found out that her college boyfriend, Danny Wright, had cheated on her with her roommate. She taught him a lesson!

I liked everything about Death Before Decaf. The characters are fun but believable. The mystery kept me guessing right up until the final chapter. And who doesn’t love a book based in a coffeehouse. I’m a nut for anything coffee related, and that is what drew me to the Java Jive seriesbut the quality of the writing kept me interested. I’m going to keep my eye out for the next book in this series, Mug Shot, scheduled for April 2016.

I give Death Before Decaf 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! If you like fun, light, somewhat sexy mysteries that feel very today, then you will love this new series by Caroline Fardig.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the Publisher.

Book Description

Death Before Decaf by Caroline FardigPerfect for fans of Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davidson, Caroline Fardig’s captivating new mystery novel takes readers behind the counter of a seemingly run-of-the-mill coffeehouse . . . where murder is brewing.

After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancé robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved café down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.

The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.

Book Details

File Size: 2866 KB
Print Length: 289 pages
Publisher: Alibi (November 17, 2015)
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B00VOYNDKK
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Not Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled

About the Author

Caroline FardigCaroline Fardig is the author of Death Before Decaf and the Lizzie Hart series. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

A Review of Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Crimson Shore (Pendergast #15)

by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

4.5

This is pretty simple. If you like the Pendergast series, you will definitely like Crimson Shore. If you haven’t read any books in this series, this could be a decent starting point. This is the 15th book in the series, so you won’t know the whole back story, but you won’t feel lost.

For the people who are thinking about reading this series, let me tell you what it is like. Special Agent Pendergast is an FBI agent from New Orleans, but he is unlike any FBI agent you have ever run across. He is eccentric to say the least, but he has a fascinating strangeness about him. There is something about this series that reminds me of Sherlock Holmes. They both are very meticulous and see things that other detectives miss. Many of the Pendergast books seem to have an obvious mystical component to them, but usually there is some scientific solution that disproves the supernatural. But sometimes there seems to be a touch of the metaphysical still left at the end. If you think about some of the more famous Holmes stories, you will notice the similarity. (The Hound of the Baskervilles comes to mind.)

In Crimson Shore Pendergast works closely with his ward, Constance Greene. She plays a major role in the investigation, but she feels like Pendergast discounts her contribution. I always enjoy the books in which Constance plays a major role. She is a good foil to Pendergast’s meticulousness, and an interesting character in her own right.

One thing that you should realize before starting this book, is that there is a cliffhanger. The Pendergast series has had a couple of these trilogies. The Diogenes Trilogy and The Helen Trilogy were each three book mini-series’. I expect that is the start of another one. So if you shy away from trilogies, this might not be the best book to start with. But of course if you are a Pendergast fan, then it won’t matter to you, since you were planning on reading each book as it came out anyway.

As nearly always, I enjoyed this Pendergast book. There has been a couple of low points in the series, but this isn’t one of those. Even though there is a cliffhanger, the main story does have a conclusion. So all in all Crimson Shore is another great read. I give it 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you haven’t read Pendergast, what are you waiting for?

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston & Lincoln ChildA secret chamber.
A mysterious shipwreck.
A murder in the desolate salt marshes.

A seemingly straightforward private case turns out to be much more complicated-and sinister-than Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast ever could have anticipated.

Pendergast, together with his ward Constance Greene, travels to the quaint seaside village of Exmouth, Massachusetts, to investigate the theft of a priceless wine collection. But inside the wine cellar, they find something considerably more disturbing: a bricked-up niche that once held a crumbling skeleton.

Pendergast and Constance soon learn that Exmouth is a town with a very dark and troubled history, and this skeleton may be only the first hint of an ancient transgression, kept secret all these years. But they will discover that the sins of the past are still very much alive. Local legend holds that during the 1692 witch trials in Salem, the real witches escaped, fleeing north to Exmouth and settling deep in the surrounding salt marshes, where they continued to practice their wicked arts.

Then, a murdered corpse turns up in the marshes. The only clue is a series of mysterious carvings. Could these demonic symbols bear some relation to the ancient witches’ colony, long believed to be abandoned?

A terrible evil lurks beneath the surface of this sleepy seaside town-one with deep roots in Exmouth’s grim history. And it may be that Constance, with her own troubled past, is the only one who truly comprehends the awful danger that she, Pendergast, and the residents of Exmouth must face . . .

Book Details

Series: Agent Pendergast series
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (November 10, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455525928
ISBN-13: 978-1455525928
Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Authors

Douglas Preston & Lincoln ChildThe thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child “stand head and shoulders above their rivals” (Publishers Weekly). Preston and Child’s Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities were chosen by readers in a National Public Radio poll as being among the one hundred greatest thrillers ever written, and Relic was made into a number-one box office hit movie. They are coauthors of the famed Pendergast series and their recent novels include Fever DreamCold VengeanceTwo Graves, and Gideon’s Corpse. In addition to his novels, Preston writes about archaeology for the New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines. Lincoln Child is a former book editor who has published five novels of his own, including the huge bestseller Deep Storm.

Readers can sign up for The Pendergast File, a monthly “strangely entertaining note” from the authors, at their website, www.PrestonChild.com. The authors welcome visitors to their alarmingly active Facebook page, where they post regularly.

A Review of Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Playing with Fire

by Tess Gerritsen

4.5

This book really grabbed me. I could barely do anything else. I was reading an e-book, so I had it with me on my phone. I would sneak in a couple of pages every chance that I could. I’m glad that it was such a quick read, because now my life is back to normal.

Playing with Fire has so many twists that I can’t say much about it without spoiling some of the book. It has two main Points of View. The first POV is in the present. Violinist Julia Ansdell discovers an old , hand-written piece of music. She buys it, and attempts to play it. The story takes off from there. The second POV takes place in Venice, Italy, just before the start of World War 2. You meet Lorenzo Todesco, the composer of the piece of music and learn why it exists. The two POVs are different sections in the book, so you are always aware of what is going on.

This is a very exciting book. There is a magical, nearly fantasy feel to it at the beginning. If you aren’t a fan of books based on magic or cursed items, don’t worry it doesn’t go spiraling off in that direction. Everything stays pretty realistic. But there is just a little touch of the mystical, just the right amount. It’s just a little spooky, and that’s a good thing!

I give Playing with Fire 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! The only reason it doesn’t get 5 Stars, is because I was a little disappointed in one of the final twists. I can’t say more without it being a major spoiler, but when you read it, you will probably know what I meant. But don’t let that hold you back. This is a great book, and you really should read it. I loved the stories, and how they came together. The characters were realistic and likable, and there was a message behind it all. A must read!

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Playing with Fire by Tess GerritsenA gripping standalone thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series

In a shadowy antiques shop in Rome, violinist Julia Ansdell happens upon a curious piece of music—the Incendio waltz—and is immediately entranced by its unusual composition. Full of passion, torment, and chilling beauty, and seemingly unknown to the world, the waltz, its mournful minor key, its feverish arpeggios, appear to dance with a strange life of their own. Julia is determined to master the complex work and make its melody heard.

Back home in Boston, from the moment Julia’s bow moves across the strings, drawing the waltz’s fiery notes into the air, something strange is stirred—and Julia’s world comes under threat. The music has a terrifying and inexplicable effect on her young daughter, who seems violently transformed. Convinced that the hypnotic strains of Incendio are weaving a malevolent spell, Julia sets out to discover the man and the meaning behind the score.

Her quest beckons Julia to the ancient city of Venice, where she uncovers a dark, decades-old secret involving a dangerously powerful family that will stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.

Book Details

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101884347
ISBN-13: 978-1101884348
Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

About the Author

Photo: © Paul D’Innocenzo
Photo: © Paul D’Innocenzo

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), and Last To Die (August 2012.) Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.