Showing posts with label Suspense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suspense. Show all posts

October 15, 2022

Blood Test (Alex Delaware #2) by Jonathan Kellerman

Synopsis

It is a case unlike any psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware has ever encountered. Five-year-old Woody Swope is ill, but the real problem is his parents. They refuse to agree to the one treatment that could save this boy's life. Alex sets out to convince Mr. and Mrs. Swope--only to find that the parents have left the hospital and taken their son with them. Worse, the sleazy motel room where the Swopes were staying is empty--except for the ominous bloodstain. The Swopes and their son have vanished into the sordid shadows of the city. Now Alex and his friend, homocide detective Milo Sturgis, have no choice but to push the law to the breaking point. They've entered an amoral underworld where drugs, dreams, and sex are all for sale...where fantasies are fulfilled at any price--even at the cost of a young boy's life.


Book number two in the Alex Delaware series, and it was definitely another thriller.  

There were a lot of complicated and layered characters, but it was easy to keep there straight and interested to uncover different parts of them. And, once again, Alex had to do some traveling in his attempt to get answers to a case he was interested in. 

Yet, the whole book, there is the underlying worry for the kid - Woody - because he's suffering from cancer and needs to be found so he can get treatment. 

I think this was a quicker read than the first book was, but it still dealt with a lot of rough topics. That seems to be the theme in this series. There are a lot of sex crimes. That wasn't what I was expecting going in. 

Overall, I enjoyed the read. I look forward to #3. 

4/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: "I'd long thought that a surfeit of sensitivity could be a killing thing, too much insight malignant in its own right. The best survivors -- there are studies that show it -- are those blessed with an inordinate ability to deny. And keep on marching."

"To trust someone is to take the greatest risk of all. Without trust nothing ever happens."



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October 1, 2022

When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware #1) by Jonathan Kellerman

Synopsis

In the first Alex Delaware novel, Dr. Morton Handler practiced a strange brand of psychiatry. Among his specialties were fraud, extortion, and sexual manipulation. Handler paid for his sins when he was brutally murdered in his luxurious Pacific Palisades apartment. The police have no leads, but they do have one possible witness: seven-year-old Melody Quinn.

It's psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware's job to try to unlock the terrible secret buried in Melody's memory. But as the sinister shadows in the girl's mind begin to take shape, Alex discovers that the mystery touches a shocking incident in his own past.

This connection is only the beginning, a single link in a forty-year-old conspiracy. And behind it lies an unspeakable evil that Alex Delaware must expose before it claims another innocent victim: Melody Quinn.


I read my first Jonathan Kellerman book awhile ago now, and I've had When the Bough Breaks sitting in my TBR pile for nearly as long. After finding a good chunk of the series at various book sales, it was finally time for me to dig in and read my way through it!

The good news is that I enjoyed the book. It'd be rather unfortunate if I had quite a few books In the series and ended up hating the first one. As someone who, obviously, enjoys mysteries and thrillers but is also a psychology nerd, this series appears to be a wonderful blend of those two interests. For those unfamiliar with the Alex Delaware series - Alex was a child psychologist. After being retired for a few, he becomes a consultant to the police. 

All of this was great and intriguing. What I wasn't expecting was just how graphic and vulgar some of the language was - especially since this novel deals with sexual abuse of children - another thing I was not prepared for. I usually keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible. But, I feel like that needed to be mentioned. Because it was rough. 

There are also some things about the writing that make it obvious this series was started in the 80's. It's not specific to the 80's, per se, but some of the racial words and phrases used to describe people are now very out of date. I had to keep reminding myself that this was written decades  ago as I was reading it. I can only hope that as the series goes along, the vocabulary becomes more modern. 

Sidenote - as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I absolutely love that Milos is gay. That warmed my little heart. 

4/5 Stars. I've already started the 2nd book, and I look forward to seeing how the series progresses. 


Memorable Quote: “It was shaping up as a beautiful morning. The last thing I wanted to hear about was murder.”



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September 20, 2022

U is For Undertow (Kinsey Millhone #21) by Sue Grafton

Synopsis

It's April 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone's thirty-eighth birthday, and she's alone in her office catching up on paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he'd be carded if he tried to buy a beer, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout.

He tells her a story. More than two decades ago, a four-year-old girl disappeared, and a recent newspaper story about her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her secret burial and could identify the killers if he saw them again. He wants Kinsey's help in locating the grave and finding the men. It's way more than a long shot, but he's persistent and willing to pay cash up front. Reluctantly, Kinsey agrees to give him one day of her time.

It isn't long before she discovers Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he's the boy who cried wolf. Is his story true, or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?

Moving between the 1980s and the 1960s, and changing points of view as Kinsey pursues witnesses whose accounts often clash, Sue Grafton builds multiple subplots and memorable characters. Gradually we see how everything connects. And as always, at the heart of her fiction is Kinsey Millhone, a sharp-tongued, observant loner who never forgets that under the thin veneer of civility is often the roiling dark side of the soul.


U is For Undertow is another installment in the Kinsey Millhone series. But, if you weren't aware of that going in, I could see how it may fool you. Because it's a Kinsey Millhone novel . . . with a severe lack of Kinsey. 

This is due to the novel traveling back and forth in time between the 60's and the 80's and between points of view. You get the perspective of 4 different characters, including Kinsey. I had no idea how it was all going to come together in the end, because they all seemed like completely different stories. 

It was a strange book where a lot happened, and it was fairly long, but it didn't really go anywhere until the very end. I understand having to lay down the full background and what led up to Kinsey investigating the case of a missing child from about 20 years prior, but I just didn't care about most of it. 

I could have lived without McNally's perspective. Corso was interesting. Deboroah Unruh's was necessary to paint the story with how it played out. Had the novel just flipped back and forth between Kinsey and Jon Corso, I feel like it may have had some more life and would have been more interesting - much like for T is for Trespassing flipped between Kinsey and "Solana Rojas". And that book kept me on the edge of my seat, especially at the end. 

There were just too many peripheral characters in 'U' that I didn't care about. Some of the chapters became a chore. 

And again - there was a severe lack of Kinsey. 

3/5 stars



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September 13, 2022

The Wife by Alafair Burke

Synopsis

From New York Times bestselling author Alafair Burke, a stunning domestic thriller in the vein of Behind Closed Doors and The Woman in Cabin 10—in which a woman must make the impossible choice between defending her husband and saving herself.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.

This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?

 

The Wife is a fun, quick thriller. It's a great afternoon read or a book to work your way through over a weekend. It's not super long and it's not super dense. 

It's a classic story of murder being committed and the questions surrounding who is responsible. Is it the man whose life is spiraling out of control? The wife who wants to believe him? Is something more sinister going on?

It didn't take very long for this book to grip me and suck me into the journey. I became invested in the characters and in the storyline. I had to see how it all ended. 

If you want a mystery that's easy and quick to read, give this one a shot. 

4/5 stars


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The Coast-to-Coast Murders by James Patterson

Synopsis

A detective and an FBI agent join forces on what seems like an open-and-shut case—but a new rash of killings sends them on a pulse-pounding race against time in this intense thriller.

Michael and Megan Fitzgerald are siblings who share a terrifying past. Both adopted, and now grown—Michael is a long-haul truck driver, Megan a college student majoring in psychology—they trust each other before anyone else. They've had to. Their parents are public intellectuals, an Ivy League clinical psychologist and a renowned psychiatrist, and they brought up their adopted children in a rarefied, experimental environment. It sheltered them from the world's harsh realities, but it also forced secrets upon them, secrets they keep at all costs.

In Los Angeles, Detective Garrett Dobbs and FBI Agent Jessica Gimble have joined forces to work a murder that seems like a dead cinch. Their chief suspect is quickly identified and apprehended—but then there's another killing just like the one they've been investigating. And another. And not just in Los Angeles—the spree spreads across the country. The Fitzgerald family comes to the investigators' attention, but Dobbs and Gimble are at a loss—if one of the four is involved, which Fitzgerald might it be?

From coastal California to upstate New York, Dobbs and Gimble race against time and across state lines to stop an ingenious and deeply deranged killer—one whose dark and twisted appetites put them outside the range of logic or experience.


This book is largely responsible for breaking me out of my reading slump early in the year. (Note: yes, I read this early in the year. I'm getting caught up on writing reviews. It's been a crazy year!) 

After I absolutely devoured this book, I NEEDED to jump into another novel immediately because I had such a great time on this journey. Luckily for me, the next book I read was The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope and that was also an incredible read. So, suddenly I was out of my slump and enjoying reading again instead of not being able to focus. 

But it all started here. 

The Coast-to-Coast Murders is one of the best Patterson books I've read in a long time. It's a crazy journey that tells a story of how powerful the mind is and how insidious mental illness can be. Or how the mind can be warped into working against you. 

This book is full of action. It's full of mystery. It's full of suspense. And it had one of the most gruesome death scenes I've ever read. 

Plus, it truly had me shocked at the end when everything was wrapped up. I never saw the twist coming which was exhilarating to me. 

5/5 stars


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The Stories You Tell (Roxanne Weary #3) by Kristen Lepionka

Synopsis

A late-night phone call is never good news, especially when you’re Roxane Weary. This one is from her brother Andrew whose evening was interrupted by a visit from Addison, a hip young DJ he knows from the hotel bar where he works. She was drunk, bloody, and hysterical, but she wouldn’t say what was wrong. After using his phone, she left as quickly as she appeared, and Andrew is worried. That’s when he calls Roxane.

But another late-night call occurs as well: Addison’s father calls the police after getting a panicked voicemail from his daughter. The only thing he could understand is the address she gave in the message—Andrew’s. Before long, the police are asking Andrew all about why there’s blood in his apartment and what he did to Addison. Meanwhile, another cop is found dead on the opposite side of town, leading to a swirl of questions surrounding a dance club whose staff—which includes Addison—has suddenly gone AWOL.


When I started this book, I didn't realize it was part of a series. Not to mention - the third book in a series. Unfortunately, I haven't read the first two. So this was my first introduction to Roxanne as a protagonist. 

It was quite the interesting story to follow and there were twists and turns all over the place. I was never really sure where it was going to go. But I was invested, so I kept following it. 

Every attempt to get answers unlocked even more questions. And it ended up being more twisted than I imagined when I started it. But the end was sort of frustrating.

I'd be interested to read the first two books in the series one of these days. 

3/5 stars


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Fear No Evil (Alex Cross #29) by James Patterson

Synopsis

Alex Cross enters the final showdown with the relentless killer who has stalked him and his family for years.​

Dr. Alex Cross and Detective John Sampson venture into the rugged Montana wilderness—where they will be the prey. They’re not on the job, but on a personal mission. 

Until they’re attacked by two rival teams of assassins, controlled by the same mastermind who has stalked Alex and his family for years. 

Darkness falls. The river churns into rapids. Shots ring out through the forest. 

No backup. No way out. Fear no evil. 


Another installment in the Alex Cross series! Unfortunately, this one didn't really do it for me like most of the others have. 

The parts that were most interesting to me were when it flashed to Bree on her new job assignment in Paris. I love to see her character going down a different path from where she had been with DC Metro. 

Other than that, Alex and John were being hunted down by rival groups. But it didn't make much sense to me that they would be coming after them as hard as they were. And a lot of that storyline seemed to . . . out there and unrealistic to me. Even for a fiction novel. 

I was also angry that John's dream vacation got ruined. 

This was a book I just powered through because I care about the characters. It definitely wasn't a gem in the Alex Cross series. 

3/5 stars


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Deadly Cross (Alex Cross #28) by James Patterson

Synopsis

A scandalous double homicide in the nation's capital opens the psychological case files on . . . Detective Alex Cross.

Until Kay Willingham's shocking murder inside a luxury limousine, the Georgetown socialite, philanthropist, and ex-wife of the sitting vice-president led a public life. Yet few -- including her onetime psychologist -- had any inkling of Kay's troubled past in the Deep South.

Murdered alongside her is Randall Christopher, a respected educator whose political ambitions may have endangered both their lives. While John Sampson of DC Metro Police tracks Randall's final movements, Alex Cross and FBI Special Agent Ned Mahoney travel to Alabama to investigate Kay's early years.

They discover that although Kay had many enemies, all of them needed her alive. Alex is left without a viable suspect, and facing a desperate choice between breaking a trust and losing his way -- as a detective, and as the protector of his family.


A crime that reaches across so many different states with connections to many high-profile characters - including Alex Cross himself. 

Deadly Cross was one of those series installments that pulls you in right from the beginning and doesn't let go until you race through the pages. It featured a truly baffling crime that had so many potential suspects. And it kept me guessing until the very end. What a ride!

And we get a new level of character development for Bree Cross, which is always fun. If you enjoy the Alex Cross series, I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy this book. 

5/5 Stars



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T is For Trespass (Kinsey Millhone #20) by Sue Grafton

Synopsis

In what may be her most unsettling novel to date, Sue Grafton's T is for Trespass is also her most direct confrontation with the forces of evil. Beginning slowly with the day-to-day life of a private eye, Grafton suddenly shifts from the voice of Kinsey Millhone to that of Solana Rojas, introducing readers to a chilling sociopath. Rojas is not her birth name. It is an identity she cunningly stole, an identity that gives her access to private caregiving jobs. The true horror of the novel builds with excruciating tension as the reader foresees the awfulness that lies ahead. The suspense lies in whether Millhone will realize what is happening in time to intervene. Though set in the late eighties, T is for Trespass could not be more topical: identity theft; elder abuse; betrayal of trust; the breakdown in the institutions charged with caring for the weak and the dependent. It reveals a terrifying but all-too-real rip in the social fabric. Once again, Grafton opens up new territory with startling results.


Kinsey Millhone is back again! I wasn't the biggest fan of the installment prior to this one. But, T is For Trespass was definitely a wild journey that kept me turning the page! It was great to be pulled into this one after it was so hard for me to get through S. 

T is for Trespass alternated voices between Kinsey and a newcomer to the neighborhood, Solana Rojas. The book being written this way gave us, as the reader, a different insight into knowing what was happening before and while Kinsey was figuring it all out. It was an interesting way to get into the story, but it also made the whole book SO frustrating. 

I was rooting for Kinsey to figure everything out sooner rather than later. But once the ball finally got rolling, it was an intense ride. The ending of the book had me on the edge of my seat and I was actually sweating as my heart was pounding as I raced to the end. 

I don't know about you, but I always love when a book can pull me in so much that it can get me worked up like that while reading. 'T' was definitely a great rebound  from 'S', in my opinion. I had to jump right in to reading 'U' when I finished it!

5/5 Stars


Memorable Quotes: 

"In reality, the place had stimulated my hopes for an early and sudden death."

"At the end of every day, I was exhausted from having to maintain such a tight grip on myself. Fear, like any other strong emotion, is difficult to hide. Much of my energy was devoted to denying it was there." 

"I don't want to think about predators. I know they exist, but I prefer to focus on the best in human nature: compassion, generosity, a willingness to come to the aid of those in need. The sentiment may seem absurd, given our daily ration of news stories detailing thievery, assault, rape, murder, and other treacheries. To the cynics among us, I must sound like an idiot, but I do hold to the good, working wherever possible to separate the wicked from that which profits them. There will always be someone poised to take advantage of the vulnerable: the very young, the very old, and the innocent of any age. Though I know this from long experience, I refuse to feel discouraged. In my own unassuming way, I know I can make a difference. You can as well."



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September 10, 2022

S is For Silence (Kinsey Millhone #19) by Sue Grafton

Synopsis

Just after Independence Day in July 1953 Violet Sullivan, a local good time girl living in Serena Station Southern California, drives off in her brand new Chevy and is never seen again. Left behind is her young daughter, Daisy, and Violet's impetuous husband, Foley, who had been persuaded to buy his errant wife the car only days before . . .

Now, thirty-five years later, Daisy wants closure.

Reluctant to open such an old cold case Kinsey Millhone agrees to spend five days investigating, believing at first that Violet simply moved on to pastures new. But very soon it becomes clear that a lot of people shared a past with Violet, a past that some are still desperate to keep hidden. And in a town as close-knit as Serena there aren't many places to hide when things turn vicious . . .


A small tight-knit town. A woman the whole town lusted over. A mysterious disappearance. 

S is For Silence was another installment in the Kinsey Millhone series. It time hops between 1953 and "current time" (the 80's in Kinsey's world) to tell the story of Violet and Kinsey's search for her. 

This was one of those books where, despite the intriguing story, it took me forever to get through it. I don't really know why. Perhaps I didn't feel connected to the characters when the book flashed back in time. So trying to get through those chapters was a lot more tough. 

But, I did need to know what happened to Violet. And Kinsey is always interesting. So I kept pushing through. I'm glad that it wrapped up and didn't leave any questions hanging. 

Maybe not the BEST book in the whole series, but it's worth the read. 

3/5 Stars



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The Death Artist (Kate McKinnon #1) by Jonathan Santlofer

Synopsis

Former New York cop Kate McKinnon lives a life of wealth and luxury she never would have dreamed possible. Following her marriage to an elite businessman, her post-police career as an art historian has skyrocketed her to fame and fortune. Her life is perfect, until a young woman is murdered and a close friend of Kate's becomes the prime suspect. Kate's old police instincts naturally reemerge as she delves into the case. Soon, two other murders related to the New York art world occur, and Kate finds that the killer -- now known as "the Death Artist" -- is communicating with her, leaving clues such as Polaroids and jumbled pieces of artwork. Somehow, Jacques-Louis David's famous painting The Death of Marat is at the heart of the murder spree, but how so?


The Death Artist combined three things that I love - Thrillers, art, and a badass female protagonist. And it's all set to the backdrop of the New York City luxury art lifestyle. 

But it isn't all glitz and glam. This book takes you from big penthouse suites that overlook Manhattan to the darkest hidden corners. 

I guess The Death Artist actually combined four things I love. The fourth, and final, being a mystery that kept me guessing until the reveal. I can't help but try to guess the twist the entire time I'm reading a book. It's unfortunate since I enjoy being surprised. I wish I could just enjoy the ride and see how it plays out. I feel like most readers who devour mysteries are the same as me, though. So it's always a delight to read a book that I can't guess. This was one of them. 

I was also delighted to discover The Death Artist is the first book in a trilogy involving protagonist Kate McKinnon. I'm not sure how I came to be interested in her character, but I was bummed out when the book was over - until I learned there were two more. Now, I can't wait to jump into those!

If you're into mysteries and have even the smallest interest in art, give this book a try. 

4/5 stars because it took me a few chapters to really want to dig into it. It didn't hook me right from the jump. 

Memorable Quote: “Artists, they’re vain but insecure. They want attention, like you said, but hide behind their work. They like to be alone, but want their work in the public eye. Artists are all about the work.”




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July 22, 2022

The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope

Synopsis

Sometimes, the most perfect families are hiding the most terrible secrets. How well do you know the people next door…?

Everybody wants to live on Hogarth Street, the pretty, tree-lined avenue with its white houses. The new family, The Wests, are a perfect fit. Katherine and John seem so in love and their gorgeous five-year-old twins race screeching around their beautiful emerald-green lawn.

But soon people start to notice: why don’t they join backyard barbecues? Why do they brush away offers to babysit? Why, when you knock at the door, do they shut you out, rather than inviting you in?

Every family has secrets, and on the hottest day of the year, the truth is about to come out. As a tragedy unfolds behind closed doors, the dawn chorus is split by the wail of sirens. And one by one the families who tried so hard to welcome the Wests begin to realise: Hogarth Street will never be the same again.

I got this book as a birthday gift from my sister, so it jumped to the top of my TBR pile immediately. And, oh, I am so glad that it did and I didn't sleep on it. 

As usual, I'm not including any spoilers in this review. 

I will say that this is one of the MOST suspenseful books I have read in a very long time - maybe ever. From the time I started it, I was on the edge of my seat and my heart was thumping out of my chest. 

The story-telling jumping between two households really built up the suspense and added an extra element to it. Then you have the delivery driver. Then it all comes crashing together in an unexpected ending. 

The rollercoaster experience of this read definitely makes me want to read whatever Nicole Trope publishes. 

I was absolutely HOOKED!

5/5 stars



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May 17, 2021

21st Birthday (Women's Murder Club #21) by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

 Synopsis

Detective Lindsay Boxer vows to protect a young woman from a serial killer long enough to see her twenty-first birthday.

When young wife and mother Tara Burke goes missing with her baby girl, all eyes are on her husband, Lucas. He paints her not as a missing person but a wayward wife—until a gruesome piece of evidence turns the investigation criminal. 

While Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas pursues the story and M.E. Claire Washburn harbors theories that run counter to the SFPD’s, ADA Yuki Castellano sizes Lucas up as a textbook domestic offender . . . who suddenly puts forward an unexpected suspect. If what Lucas tells law enforcement has even a grain of truth, there isn't a woman in the state of California who's safe from the reach of an unspeakable threat.


I say this every time, but it's always great to jump back into the Women's Murder Club universe. It's like visiting and catching up with an old friend. 

This time, we were met with a pretty gruesome case with twists and turns everywhere. What starts out as a missing woman and child turns into so much more. Is the husband responsible? That's up to Lindsay Boxer and the SFPD to figure out. 

But it's not as simple as one cut and dry case. There are so many layers to it. It'll keep you interested until the very end. 

And even when it got to the end, I wanted more. I'm not sure I can say it ended on a cliffhanger, but it was pretty close to one. I hope there's a continuation of the story in the next installment. It could be Cindy's huge break!

5/5 stars for this one. It was a great read!



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May 15, 2021

Post-Mortem (Kay Scarpetta #1) by Patricia Cornwell

 Synopsis

Four women with nothing in common, united only in death. Four brutalized victims of a brilliant monster - a "Mr. Nobody", moving undetected through a paralyzed city, leaving behind a gruesome trail of carnage . . . but few clues. With skilled hands, an unerring eye, and the latest advances in forensic research, an unrelenting female medical examiner - Kay Scarpetta - is determined to unmask a maniac. But someone is trying to sabotage Kay's investigation from the inside. And worse yet, someone wants her dead . . .


Post-Mortem is the first book I've read by Patricia Cornwell. I'm glad it's part of a series, because I already want to read book #2. 

I love a series that has a strong female lead, and this is another to add to my growing list of series that I enjoy. What a surprise that it's another Crime/Thriller series! I really enjoyed the different angle this one took because Kay Scarpetta is the Medical Examiner. It gives you a whole different point-of-view to read about in the Crime genre. Most of them are about the detectives. 

Post-Mortem also kept me guessing. I couldn't figure out who was guilty, and there's a reason for that. No big spoilers here, though! I enjoy not being able to figure out the whole storyline before getting to the reveal. It keeps the book interesting. 

The crime(s) in this one are particularly gruesome. They involve women being tied up, sexually assaulted, and stabbed. It definitely wasn't easy to read about and can leave you feeling uneasy. 

Overall, the characters were strong and the story moved along at a good pace. 

I look forward to reading about more of Kay's cases and learning more about her family. 

5/5 stars


Memorable Quotes: “He had become the self-appointed dark ruler of the city, an obsession for thousands of people he had never seen, and an obsession of mine. Mr. Nobody. “

“My turf was his to invade. He monitored what I did. Not a week went by that I didn’t get an arrogant electronic memo from him requesting statistical information or demanding an answer as to why the homicide rate continued to rise while other crimes were slightly on the decline — as if somehow it was my fault people killed each other in Virginia.”



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January 21, 2021

Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack

Synopsis

In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.


To be honest, I started this book a couple years ago but only got one chapter in. This time, I restarted it and I was hooked from the beginning. Sometimes you just need to read a book at the right time for it to grab you. It’s funny how that works. 

This book was unique in the fact that I liked all of the major characters in their own ways. They were all, simultaneously, good and bad. It certainly made for an interesting reading experience. The end of the book was even better when their stories all intertwined and everything was concluded. 

The majority of this book takes place in the mountains, and it really made me want to go hiking. But, it’s winter here in the Midwest, so I enjoyed living through them. 

There isn’t much else to say other than if you like an interesting book about spies, government, and stretching the boundaries of reality – you’ll enjoy reading this one. 


4/5 Stars



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January 2, 2021

1st Case by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Synopsis

A computer genius pulls off her greatest hack yet -- and her skill might just get her killed.

Angela Hoot's government career begins with an ending. Her unorthodox programming skills get her kicked out of MIT's graduate school and into the Bureau's cyber-forensics unit.

A messaging app with sophisticated tracking capabilities surfaces. Its beta users, all young women, are only identified as they turn up dead in their bedrooms. As Angela races to crack the killer's digital code, their technical rivalry escalates. She must deny the killer access to her personal life, or risk losing her life to the underbelly of the Internet.


Angela is an interesting character. But, she is reckless – to a fault. I wouldn’t mind seeing her story made into a series. If she stays in her current career path, she sure could go through some interesting experiences. 

What kept my interest is that she deals with the virtual world which, as we knows, is always changing. While the app in this book would have sounded impossible in the not-so-distant past, it’s a horrifying possibility these days – maybe not in the exact way that it played out, but similar. 

I’m not sure that she would have gone without punishment had all of this actually happened. She made a lot of choices that could have severely messed up the investigation. But, I guess it’s fine if it works out in the end. 

The flirtation and attraction between Angela and Keats was a bit ridiculous right off the bat. But, just like the book I read previous to this, it’s just something you get used to when reading books with a female protagonist. 

I’m going to make a comparison - partly because these two are linked often, and partly because I’ve read a lot from both of them this year. James Patterson books and Dean Koontz books that have a female protagonist always have a male love interest. And there is often a “damsel in distress” moment which typically involves something along the lines of “thank god he got here when he did.” Oy. You get used to it, I guess. But, it does get old. 

That said, where they differ is what most of the descriptions are about. I’ve found in Dean Koontz’s books, most of the descriptions are about how beautiful the woman is. Especially in the case of the Jane Hawk series. It’s basically beat into the reader’s brain that Jane is ridiculously beautiful. It gets old. 

In Patterson’s books, I find that you see more of the admiration of the male love interest from the woman’s point of view. 

Not that it matters all that much, it’s just something that I found interesting. 

Overall, I enjoyed the ride. The story was interesting, and I liked the new angle of seeing cases from the tech side. 


5/5 Stars




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December 31, 2020

The Midwife Murders by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Synopsis

A missing patient is a hospital ward's worst nightmare -- until even more disappear.

To Senior Midwife Lucy Ryuan, pregnancy is not an unusual condition, it's her life's work. But when two kidnappings and a vicious stabbing happen on her watch in a university hospital in Manhattan, her focus abruptly changes. Something has to be done, and Lucy is fearless enough to try.

Rumors begin to swirl, blaming everyone from the Russian Mafia to an underground adoption network. The feisty single mom teams up with a skeptical NYPD detective to solve the case, but the truth is far more twisted than Lucy could ever have imagined. 


Well, I certainly have never read a novel from the point of view of a midwife. So, that was intriguing! Lucy is a female protagonist with a strong personality – like most Patterson books where the main character is a woman. Not a critique – but it’s definitely common. 

I liked Lucy (this would be a perfect opportunity to reference ‘I Love Lucy’. But, we have only spent one novel together. It’s way too soon for that type of commitment). I wouldn’t mind having a series with her as the main character. But with the nature of the story, this one sits as a standalone book. You would hope, at least. 

That said, it was an incredibly frustrating standalone book. There was so much incompetence that had to happen at all levels to have something like this happen – MORE THAN ONCE. Every time another baby was kidnapped, all I could do was slow-blink at the book in my hand and whisper “just – how?!”

Once everything was revealed, it made a bit more sense. But still not much. I also guessed the twist, which was kind of lame. But I only guessed half of it. I had the “Who?” but I didn’t nail down the “Why?” until it was revealed. 

That said, it was an enjoyable read. It was definitely gripping as I really wanted to figure out what was happening and if the babies would be alright. The background thread of romance was really pointless to me. I promise you that a book involving a female protagonist can exist without her falling for the main male character and being saved by him. But, the tradeoff for that pointless storyline was an otherwise good book worthy of the read. 


4/5 Stars – seriously, it ended with them on a “date”. 




December 30, 2020

Memories of Tomorrow (Nameless #6) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

What strange science made Nameless who he is? What catastrophes have been erased from his memories? In the stunning conclusion of this series, the dark past comes flooding back, and Nameless must decide how much he really wants to know.

In Indiana, a murderous psycho has kidnapped his own six-year-old stepson, Jamie, and secreted him away in a subterranean cave. It’s become their bunker. For Nameless, the case is breaking down his defenses, and it may force him to face his memories.


I have to be honest and say that I was really sad to get to the end of this series. Nameless is such an interesting character, and the stories felt complete – even if they were all bite-sized. Nameless is a well-written series that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s fun and quick, and that’s how it should be digested. 

While I may have been sad to get to the end of the series, I was delighted with how the 6th installment wrapped the story up. This one really gripped me from beginning to end. I needed to know what happened to each character. It had a much darker feel to it than the others, so I was really hoping something terrible wasn’t going to happen to Nameless. 

I won’t spoil it one way or the other. But, I will say that it was a fitting conclusion to the series. I’m glad I read through it. I enjoyed going through all 6 of these novellas. Highly recommend for any fans of Dean Koontz – or if you’re looking to get your feet wet with his work. 


5/5 stars


Memorable Quotes: “On waking, he knew that his destiny was henceforth to be a defender of the innocent who are ill served—or not served at all—by the current justice system, especially when their tormentors are among the empowered.”

“It’s not about the money, it’s the kindness, the way it makes the recipient feel special. Life is hard and lonely for many people. If all of us would just make one another feel special now and then—not just with money, but however we can—wouldn’t that be lovely?”

“Southern Indiana is a land of disappearing streams. They follow carved courses through fields and forests, only to drop suddenly out of sight, into a flue, down into darkness, chuckling like evil spirits homeward bound after working their wickedness in the upper world.”

“Killing even a murderer is never exhilarating. In this case no less than others, death is still death—and solemn.”

“He is not an agent of justice, for there can be little or no real justice in this broken world, where culture and politics are forever redefining the word.”




The Mercy of Snakes (Nameless #5) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

A series of suspicious deaths in a retirement home draws Nameless into the confidence of a terrified former resident—and into the dark heart of a shocking conspiracy. In part five of the Nameless series, it’s time to hunt.

Oakshore Park is Michigan’s most exclusive assisted-living community. Presided over by two killer angels of mercy, it’s also the go-to facility in assisted dying. For a cut, they make impatient heirs happy. Nameless must concoct a scheme just as cunning. But righteous retribution stirs disquiet in the avenger as light starts to shine on the black hole of his past. Should he welcome it or keep running?


This was the weakest novella in the Nameless series. Maybe there were too many moving parts, a lack of chapters involving Nameless, or maybe I’ve listened to too many true crime stories about “Angels of Mercy”. Either way, it was just bland to me. 

That isn’t really the vibe I was hoping for going into the final novella in the series. I was definitely left hoping #6 redeems The Mercy of Snakes and ends the series strong. 


3/5 Stars


Memorable Quote: “In a world sick with envy that leads to coveting that leads to greed that too often results in violence, it wouldn’t seem that something as small as excellent muffins could lift a man’s spirits, even during talk of murder. But that is the way of the world: sadness and delight, anger and forbearance, hatred and love—all woven together in every inch of the tapestry.”




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December 29, 2020

Red Rain (Nameless #4) by Dean Koontz

Synopsis

In a town where the corrupt are protected, a bereaved mother seeks retribution for an arsonist’s deadly crimes. Only Nameless can help ease the burden of her grief—and satisfy her rage—in part four of this thrilling series.

After a suspicious house fire, Regina Belmont lost her two children, was left disfigured, and was abandoned by her gutless husband. Brokenhearted and bullied into silence by corrupt officials, Regina’s only recourse for truth and justice is Nameless. There’s something about this case that’s breaking Nameless’s heart as well. But can he bear to remember why?


This is the second bad guy in the series who thinks he can play God. Well, the God of Fire . . . so, maybe the Devil. Either way, sometimes the most charming people can be the most heartless. But, Nameless and crew don’t buy into the act. 

They know what he’s done, and now he has to pay. This one was also pretty creative in that they had to go after more than one guy, but Nameless only had to take out one himself. 

Red Rain may have been the easiest novella in the series to read. Don’t get me wrong, this guy has done truly evil things that make you angry. But, it’s not as sickly disturbing as some of the others. 


5/5 Stars


Memorable Quotes: “’Justice is a human concept, as flawed as any. There is no reliable justice in this world and, given human nature, never can be. Politics, bigotry, envy, ignorance . . . Those forces and others redefine justice day by day, until it means something different to everyone—until it means nothing at all.’”

“’There’s hope, though not in justice. There’s hope in truth. A sea of lies can’t wash away a single grain of truth. Truth is what it is.’”

“To be fair to himself, perhaps he should accept that some fates are sewn into the fabric of time with tighter stitches than others. The possibility exists that no one, even if possessing greater powers than his, can strip the future of all hardships, threats, and tragedies. Utopias, after all, are sought mostly by great fools, though also by dangerous charlatans, and more death and pain has been brought down on humanity by the pursuit of a perfect world than by all other crime combined.”

“Humble goals and modest expectations are more likely to be fulfilled than are utopian dreams.”

“Truth. There is no one truth. Everyone has his own truth. It’s all about point of view.”



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