Tag Archives: Mystery

A Review of Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time: A Charlotte McNally Novel

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time is the first book in the Charlotte McNally series. It was originally published in 2007, and won the Agatha Award for best first novel of 2007. The whole series is being reissued this year.

Charlotte McNally is an investigative reporter with a Boston TV station, as is the author, Hank Phillippi Ryan. Since Ms. Ryan knows the business, everything about Prime Time smacks of reality. A lot of authors follow that old adage, “Write what you know.” That usually works. Most of the time the author is able to tell a story that could really happen, but that doesn’t mean that they can write a story that is worth reading. Ms. Ryan is that exceptional writer that can grab the reader with engaging, realistic characters, and an exciting, authentic plot filled with unexpected twists.

You really believe in Charlie. She is a TV reporter trying to get that next big story that will guarantee that she has a job for another few months. You want her to figure out what is going on, and expose the powerbrokers before they can eliminate her.

I give Prime Time 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! I recommend it to anyone who likes their Mysteries blended together with a touch of romance and humor along with a heavy dose of reality.

I received a copy of this book from the author.

Book Description

Prime TimeSeasoned investigative reporter Charlotte McNally knows that in the cutthroat world of television journalism, every story could be your last. There’s always someone younger and prettier to take your place, always a story more sensational to drive ratings through the roof.

When Brad Foreman’s widow demands to know why Charlie never answered his email, Charlie is confused. She never received his message. What did Brad, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company, want to tell her? As she searches through her computer, she finds an innocent-looking email in her junk mail folder that may turn out to be the biggest story of her career.

Is the encoded email–and the ones that follow–linked to Brad’s “accidental” death? Charlie’s investigation leads her to Brad’s friend, professor Josh Gelston, who is charming and exceedingly helpful–perhaps suspiciously so.

Charlie must decide if she can trust Josh…before a multimillion-dollar fraud ring with murder in its arsenal makes her the next lead story.

Book Details

Series: Charlotte McNally (Book 1)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (February 9, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765384752
ISBN-13: 978-0765384751
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

About the Author

hank-ryan-crop-pressHank Phillippi Ryan is the bestselling author of eight award winning novels of suspense. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Her newest book, WHAT YOU SEE, is a Library Journal BEST of 2015, an ANTHONY and AGATHA Award nominee, and a Top Pick!, dubbed “exceptional suspense.” It received a starred review from Library Journal which says: “Readers will find themselves racing to the finish!”

Her 2014 book, TRUTH BE TOLD, won the AGATHA Award for best mystery, and is a Library Journal Best of 2014. It received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, which says, “Drop everything and binge read!”

THE WRONG GIRL has the extraordinary honor of winning the Agatha Award and the Daphne Award, and is a seven-week Boston Globe bestseller and Anthony Award nominee.

THE OTHER WOMAN won the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was listed as a Best Book of 2012 by the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee, Suspense Magazine, and The Boston Globe, won the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was the only novel nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus and Daphne awards for Best Novel of 2012.

Her first four mysteries, beginning with the Agatha Award-winning PRIME TIME, feature Charlotte McNally, a Boston television reporter. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were both Anthony and Agatha Award nominees for best novel of 2009 and 2010. They are now available in all new editions.

Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for victims and consumers. In addition to 33 EMMYs and 13 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine.

Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime.

Learn more about Hank at http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com.

A Review of Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel

by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton make a good writing team. I have enjoyed reading all of their collaborative series. Curious Minds is the beginning of what promises to be another fun one. I got the same vibe from this book as I had when I read some of the Lizzy and Diesel books. I’m not saying that the characters are much alike, just that I get the same feeling.

Emerson Knight doesn’t have any of the same mystical powers that Diesel has, but, then again, there might be a little something going on there, and Riley Moon is not anything like Lizzy. She is nearly the exact opposite of Lizzy. Riley is a fiery redhead from Texas and once she lets loose, you better not be in her way.

But Emerson and Riley work well together. They have some of that classic Evanovich heat going on between them too, but we have to wait until the next book to really see where that goes.

Curious Minds had me engaged. I had trouble putting it down. The characters were fun and the action was fast. What more can you ask for?

I give Curious Minds 4 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! I think that Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton have another winner.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the Publisher.

Curious MindsJanet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, teams up with Emmy-winning writer Phoef Sutton for a brand-new series of mysteries featuring Emerson Knight and Riley Moon, a dynamic duo with instant and undeniable chemistry.

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moonthought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

Book Details

Series: Knight and Moon (Book 1)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Bantam (August 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553392689
ISBN-13: 978-0553392685
Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Authors

Janet Evanovich 2Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg, the Knight and Moon series, and the Lizzy and Diesel series as well as twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, Troublemaker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author.

Phoef SuttonPhoef Sutton was born in Washington DC. He cut his eye teeth as a playwright, but first made a living as a writer in TV. He worked on the classic NBC series CHEERS for eight years, and went on to write movies (THE FAN, MRS. WINTERBOURNE) and also serve as consulting producer and writer for BOSTON LEGAL and TERRIERS. He lives in South Pasadena, CA and Vinalhaven ME with his wife and two daughters.

A Review of Former.ly by Dane Cobain

Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network

by Dane Cobain

Former.ly is a book about what happens behind the scenes at a new web startup. It is told in first person, from the point of view of Dan, who is hired as a developer at Former.ly. We see everything though his eyes. If he doesn’t see it, we don’t know about it until Dan hears about it.

It can be difficult to tell a story in first person, but Dane Cobain does a pretty good job of it. He lets us become immersed in the activities at Former.ly. But sometimes the action suffers, since we only see what Dan sees. Dan isn’t an action hero, he is a coder, but he is suspicious, and tries to find out what is really going on around him. He starts to wonder why people are starting to die around him, so he tries to find out, and that’s where the problems begin.

I enjoyed Former.ly. I think that Mr. Cobain has a big upside. He is an interesting guy. You should check out his website. http://danecobin.com. He writes stories, poetry, and music in addition to his longer works.

I give Former.ly 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up! If you want to give a young British writer a leg up, you should give Former.ly a shot.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the author.

Book Description

DC_formerly05-1024x757When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.

But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

Book Details

Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1533051593
ISBN-13: 978-1533051592
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces

About the Author

dane_cobainDane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, http://www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, will be released by Booktrope in the Summer of 2015.

A Review of Oliver Twisted by Cindy Brown

Oliver Twisted (An Ivy Meadows Mystery)

by Cindy Brown

Ivy Meadows is such a fun character. I love the person that she is. She is an actress and hopes to make it big some day, but she really likes helping out her Uncle Bob solve mysteries. In this book she and her Uncle are hired to find the thieves that are working the cruise line. They go undercover. Since Ivy is an actress, she uses her acting ability to sell the undercover role, of an actress. Her Uncle doesn’t do quite as well. He has difficulty staying in character, and out of trouble. They aren’t the only people on board that aren’t really who they say they are. And the bodies start to pile up.

Ms. Brown does a good job of portraying life on a cruise ship from the perspective of a member of the crew. She gives you a glimpse of the crew living quarters and their dining. Ivy is a working actress, so she has to be in character and mingling with the passengers. She gets to eat in the themed restaurants. She eats a lot of Dickens inspired food, including black pudding and other English delights. Since this is a Dickens cruise, the passengers also dress in costumes for some of the fancy balls. Ms. Brown makes sure that you will see many of your beloved characters. She also sprinkles in many fun little Dickens references.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

oliver twistedWhen Ivy Meadows lands a gig with the book-themed cruise line Get Lit!, she thinks she’s died and gone to Broadway. Not only has she snagged a starring role in a musical production of Oliver Twist, she’s making bank helping her PI uncle investigate a string of onboard thefts, all while sailing to Hawaii on the S.S. David Copperfield. But Ivy is cruising for disaster. Her acting contract somehow skipped the part about aerial dancing forty feet above the stage, her uncle Bob is seriously sidetracked by a suspicious blonde, and—oh yeah—there’s a corpse in her closet. Forget catching crooks. Ivy’s going to have a Dickens of a time just surviving.

Book Details

Series: An Ivy Meadows Mystery
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Henery Press (June 21, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1635110416
ISBN-13: 978-1635110418
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces

About the Author

Cindy-BrownCindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s lucky enough to have garnered several awards (including 3rd place in the 2013 international Words With Jam First Page Competition, judged by Sue Grafton!) and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop.

Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.

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Click this link to enter to Win a physical copy of Oliver Twisted!

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 Blood Flag by Steve Martini

Blood Flag (Paul Madriani #14)

by Steve Martini

Steve Martini departed a bit from his normal type of story when he wrote Blood Flag. Most of his stories concentrate on the court and law. He finds ways to prove that his client is innocent. In Blood Flag much of the plot centers around an international group of people who are intent on owning Hitler’s Blood Flag.

“The Blutfahne (pronounced [bluːtˈfaːnə]), or Blood Flag, is the Nazi German Swastika flag that was used in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany on 9 November 1923, during which it became soaked in the blood of one of the SA members who died. It subsequently became one of the most revered objects of the Nazi Party. It was used in ceremonies in which new flags for party organisations were consecrated by the Blood Flag when touched by it.” (From Wikipedia)

This flag was then prominently displayed throughout Hitler’s reign. It was thought to have been destroyed, but maybe not.

This is the fourteenth book in the series, but can be read as a standalone book. The characterization will come across as rather two-dimensional, but you won’t get lost. Even though Paul Madriani does have a client that is under suspicion of murder, much of the action is centered around the hunt for the killer of Paul’s assistant, Sofia, and search for the Blood Flag. There are some plot twists and unexpected events along with a few suspenseful sequences to keep you on your toes. I was completely surprised by the ending. Mr. Martini wrote one chapter so masterfully that I was totally fooled. I thought that one thing had happened, but it really was just the opposite. After rereading that chapter, I can see how I was deceived.

On the whole, this was an enjoyable book. I was engaged and interested in what was happening and I wanted to continue reading, even when I should have stopped. This book broke me out of my stupor. I hadn’t been able to get interested in most books recently. So I give a big thanks to Mr. Martini for that.

I give Blood Flag 4 Stars out of 5 and a Thumbs Up! I recommend it to anyone who likes their legal thrillers with a historic and international flavor.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Blood Flag by Steve MartiniDefending a client accused of killing her father, attorney Paul Madriani is drawn into a treacherous conspiracy dating to World War II in this enthralling installment in the New York Times bestselling series.

Paul Madriani and Harry Hinds have a new client: Emma Brauer, a woman accused in the “mercy killing” of her aged father, Robert Brauer. Insisting she’s innocent, Emma tells Paul about a package sent to her father shortly before he entered the hospital. Bequeathed to him by a member of his unit from World War II, the box contains a key and a slip of paper. Emma fears that this package is connected to her father’s death.

When Paul’s young assistant Sofia is murdered, Madriani is blindsided by the realization that Emma’s fears are well-grounded.

Digging into Robert’s military history, Madriani discovers that other members of the Army unit Robert served with have recently died—under similarly suspicious circumstances. When he finds that the box sent to Brauer relates to a mysterious talisman that went missing at the end of the war—a feared Nazi relic known as the “Blood Flag”—Madriani and Hinds realize they are in for the fight of their lives.

With Emma’s life on the line and their own safety in jeopardy, Madriani must uncover the truth before the evil of the Blood Flag is allowed to spin a new web.

Book Details

Series: Paul Madriani (Book 14)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (May 17, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062328964
ISBN-13: 978-0062328960
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces

About the Author

Photo by Brian Smale
Photo by Brian Smale

Steve Martini is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including The Enemy Inside, Trader of Secrets, The Rule of Nine, Guardian of Lies, Shadow of Power, Double Tap, and others featuring defense attorney Paul Madriani. Martini has practiced law in California in both state and federal courts and has served as an administrative law judge and supervising hearing officer. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

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 No Cure for Love by Peter Robinson

No Cure for Love: A Novel

by Peter Robinson

This book was first published in 1995, and is set during that time, so in many was this is sort of a period police procedural. The tech is 25 years old, but that’s OK. The detectives can’t check the traffic cams or try to find someone using their cellphone’s GPS chip, they have to use old-fashioned police work. California has changed a lot in 25 years too, but nothing feels too dated.

Most of us know Peter Robinson as the author of the Inspector Banks series, which are set in northern England, near Yorkshire. The southern California location of No Cure for Love is quite a change for Mr. Robinson, but he pulls it off quite well. It never feels artificial. He gets it right, but he does keep some of his Britishness in his writing. He tones down the gore, and keeps the characters more civilized. His main character, Sarah Broughton, is a British actress  and the lead detective, Arvo Hughes,  isn’t a California native. He grew up in the Detroit area and only had been in LA three years. The minor characters have an LA feel to them, but they really aren’t very developed.

Since this is a stalker type story, it has many things that you have seen before. There are a series of letters written by the stalker. Some of the chapters are the first person thoughts of the stalker. The stalker wants to impress Sarah, so he sets up a scene near her house. That sort of stuff. There are a few twists, but this isn’t a Jeffery Deaver book, by any means.

This was an easy book to read. I enjoyed it. I liked Sarah and Arvo. It could have been a decent start to a series, but was probably more of an experiment for Mr. Robinson. He was sticking his toe into the American book market. It probably didn’t sell well enough to warrant continuing. After all he had DCI Banks. He had published his seventh Banks book in 1994 and No Cure for Love was just a diversion.

I give No Cure for Love 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up. If you feel like a mild psychological thriller set in sunny LA, give it a try. This won’t give you nightmares.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

No Cure for LoveOriginally published in 1995, No Cure for Love is being reissued this year, with an introduction by Michael Connelly. This relentlessly suspenseful thriller from the New York Timesbestselling and Edgar award-winning author of the Inspector Banks novels marks the first time that Peter Robinson has set a novel in America.

Sarah Broughton has come a long way. She’s the star of a hit cop show on TV. She lives in a beautiful California beach house. And—most importantly—she’s put her dark past behind her… as well as her old name, Sally Bolton. No need for anyone to know about that.

When Sarah begins receiving letters mysteriously signed with the letter “M,” she thinks they’re from a harmless admirer… until her real name appears in the third letter. And then she finds that name inscribed in the sand near her home – next to a body.

The message is clear: Someone is watching Sarah’s every move. Someone so obsessed with her that he won’t stop at just one murder in order to prove his love.

Panicked, Sarah turns to Detective Arvo Hughes of the LAPD, a man who specializes in hunting down the most dangerous stalkers. But nothing in Hughes’ experience has prepared him for the mastermind he’s up against. For the killer, there’s no cure for love. And for Sarah and Hughes, there’s no way out.

Book Details

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062405101
ISBN-13: 978-0062405104
Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

About the Author

Photo © Pal Hansen
Photo © Pal Hansen

Peter Robinson is the bestselling author of the Inspector Banks series, two short-story collections, and three standalone novels, which combined have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. Among his many honors and prizes are the Edgar Award, the CWA (UK) Dagger in the Library Award, and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award.