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Archive for the ‘Suspense’ Category

The Fallen (Memory Man series) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The FallenAmos Decker, the Memory Man, is back in a new story but using many of his previous attributes as he goes about solving crimes. In this one, however, he does have some different kinds of problems with his fabulous memory. If you have read any of Amos’s previous stories you know he has a fantastic memory and though it gives him problems at times it is usually a great tool for an FBI agent to have.

This time he and Alex Jamison, his FBI partner, take a vacation to a small rust-belt town called Baronville to visit Alex’s sister’s family. While there they not only discover there are some major problems in the small town but invariably they get involved in working out some of the problems. It seems as though at one time a guy named Baron owned the town and was unliked by most residents. He supposedly left a fortune somewhere when he died but no one has ever been able to find it.

Now his last descendant lives in the old dilapidated mansion and he too is unliked by most everyone as they feel (a) he is a Baron which is reason enough to hate him and (b) he may know where the fortune is hidden. Read the rest of this entry »

The Other Mother: A Novel by Carol Goodman

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Daphne Marist, suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter Chloe is delighted when her husband signs her up for a mothers day out type group led by a free spirited woman named Esta. She’s even more pleased when Laurel, the “super-star” mother of the group befriends her after the first session. The two women clicked almost immediately finding that the had many more things in common than both having daughters about the same age maned Chloe. Before long though, Daphne begins to see that Laurel’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems and so she begins to urge Laurel to go back to work at least part time. Daphne goes so far to even research online for potential jobs for Laurel which as readers will see later backfires on Daphne.

The book opens with Daphne arriving with Chloe in tow at a new job as an archivist for a well known author’s papers. This is a job that Daphne found while searching for possible jobs for Laurel, but instead, Daphne applies and gets the job using Laurel’s identity and credentials. At the time readers are left to wonder how this came to be, and frankly it took way to long for us to find out the how and why this ocurred.

The rest of the book is mostly given to readers from various characters’ journals and leads to us getting the story in bits and pieces. While this approach certainly builds suspense and makes the book hard to put down it also makes it a little bit hard to follow. For instance, are readers sure the woman who took the job is Daphne or is this really Laurel? There are things in the various journals that point both ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Quicksand (Eve Duncan) by Iris Johansen

QuicksandEve Duncan is still trying to find the person who killed her young daughter, Bonnie, years ago. And because it is still causing her some mental problems it is also bothering her forever lover, Joe Quinn. Joe and Eve had gotten the names of three potentials that seem to fit in as possible killers of Bonnie from a gentleman named Montalvo that had used Eve to do a forensic sculpting. Montalvo works in Columbia as a detective type in the military.

Joe, who is a former Navy seal and nationally known Atlantic detective, receives word from the sheriff of Bloomburg, Illinois that Henry Kistle, a fugitive and one of Joe’s three potentials is in Bloomburg. Joe takes off immediately for Kistle’s location but before he gets there Kistle somehow is able to capture and kill the sheriff.

And then Eve receives a phone call that begins with, “Do you still miss your little Bonnie?” The call comes from the sheriff’s phone. She knows right away that someone is aware of what happened to Bonnie and Eve immediately assumes it is the killer. While talking with Eve he admits to killing the sheriff and also admits his name is Henry Kistle.

Kistle does take off and is quickly being hunted in the woods outside of Bloomburg when both Joe and Montalvo with his aide get word from the local sheriff that they have tracked him that far. However even with all their accumulated forces they are unable to get him and he also kills the sheriff’s chief deputy.

When it appears he is still in the woods, Eve flies also to Bloomburg to be of any help that she can. However as part of the story it turns out that Montalvo has developed some sort of a crush on Eve and although she is fighting it she also has developed feelings for him. Her feelings however do not replace her feelings for Joe. What she feels for Montalvo (at least she believes) are because of his extreme care for her loss of Bonnie which Joe has never been able to develop.

From here Johansen has built an interesting story as the entire group of Eve, Joe, Montalvo, and his top aide join forces with legal forces chasing Kistle. Kistle makes many of the moves you would expect in a story of this type as he continues to not only run and hide but also he kidnaps a young girl. He knows that this will really get to Eve so he constantly phones her to tell her where he and the kidnapped youngster are.

If you read Johannsen’s stories about Eve Duncan you know that she is mentally upset and has been for years not only over the loss of Bonnie but also the fact that she has never been able to catch the killer. She never gets much help from Joe in this problem because he never knew Bonnie and isn’t overly sympathetic to past occurrences.

Will Montalvo’s caring cause a split with Eve and Joe? Will they finally catch Kistle? The only way to find out these answers is to read Quicksand. You will not regret doing just that!

Proof of Life: A J. P. Beaumont Novel by J.A. Jance

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Proof of LifeJ. P. Beaumont is recently retired and experiencing some boredom. He had been a homicide detective for so long that now he is not sure what to do to keep himself busy. His wife, Mel Soames, is busy with her job as the police chief in Bellingham, Washington. Spending his days watching TV and reading is not always enjoyable to Beau and he jumps at the chance to spend time with his son and drive him home from a dental procedure. In addition, he is always looking for ways to spend more time with his increasingly busy wife.

While dining with his wife, Maxwell Cole, a crime reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and someone of whom Beau is not fond, approaches Beau. They make idle chit chat and then Max Cole goes on his way. Soon after this chance meeting, Cole is found dead in his home, in an apparent accidental fire. Was it really an accident or was it murder? Soon Erin Kelsey Howard, whose life Beau once saved, contacts him. She does not believe that the fire that killed her godfather Max was an accident. She asks Beau to investigate his death after she reads a letter from Max instructing her to seek him for help. Max had been writing a book on corruption at a high level, a possible reason for his death.

In another plot, Beau soon finds himself the foster parent of an Irish Wolfhound named, Lucy. Having never owned a dog before, Beau is not very confident that he could be a dog owner even though his wife suggested they get a dog. The dog once belonged to a family where domestic abuse was at play. One of Mel’s officers is involved in a shooting with the husband in this family. His wife and children are taken to a shelter, but the dog is not allowed. Therefore, Mel brings Lucy home to foster her. Lucy soon grows on Beau and he and the dog adjust to each other.

Beau works the Maxwell Cole case and discovers many other deaths connected to Max and proves that he is just as good a detective post retirement.

The story is full of intriguing plots and twists that are sure to keep the reader interested and guessing to the end. A surprise at the end paves the way for more J. P. Beaumont novels. Perhaps we will even see more of Lucy. Jance gives fans of Beau another great book.

Kill Me by Stephen White

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Kill MeDr. Alan Gregory, one of Stephen White’s favorite main characters, has his hands full in Kill Me. An extremely wealthy gentleman (whose full name we never know) schedules two appointments in one day. Dr. Gregory, a clinical psychologist, has never had this happen before but he accepts the man’s story and meets up with him.

Then Stephen White basically tells the story of Kill Me from that patient’s viewpoint. And it turns out to be quite a story. The gentleman lives a rather wild life in that he takes all sorts of chances with his life such as skiing in some not so ski worthy sites and other things. He is full of life and even reckless because he also has a friend and a brother who are basically living as vegetables due to illnesses. Our hero does not want to live that type of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Written in Blood by Layton Green

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Written in BloodIn Written in Blood, author Green introduces readers to Detective Joe “Preach” Everson. Following a common path, Green has given readers a flawed protagonist, though Preach’s baggage goes well beyond the ordinary. After suffering a tragedy as a young man, he had a sort of breakdown and fled his hometown of Creeksville, North Carolina. His life path from then until the book opens took him to Bible college, time as a church preacher, a prison chaplain and then as a police officer in Atlanta, where another incident led to another breakdown.

Here we reach the first thing about the novel that just doesn’t quite work. Pearch has returned to his hometown and has been hired as a police detective even though he has not been cleared to work from his breakdown. He promises to see a therapist who happens to be a relative. One has to question what police force would hire an emotionally unstable person as a detective and what therapist would risk his or her reputation and licensing to sign off on a deeply troubled soul who has suffered at least two emotional breakdowns to serve as a detective. But let’s accept this as written for the sake of the story. Read the rest of this entry »

The Undertaker’s Daughter by Sara Blaedel

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Undertaker's DaughterThe Undertaker’s Daughter introduces Ilka Jensen, a middle aged protagonist who has struggled with the loss of her father for most of her life. When she was seven, her father up and left moving to Racine, Wisconsin, never to be heard from again. That is never heard from again until now. Word comes that her father has died and named Ilka in his will. His estate cannot be settled until she signs off on the will Rather than leaving this to her attorney to handle for her, she decides to travel to Wisconsin and handle it herself. Of course things turn out to be more complicated than she expected. She finds her father has left everything to his current wife and two American daughters except his business, a failing funeral home. While I generally liked Ilka and found the book interesting, it was quite a bit different than I would expect from a Scandinavian crime author.

The first thing that struck me a bit out of the ordinary, was except for the very beginning of the book, when readers meet Ilka and her mother in Copenhagen, the entire book takes place in Wisconsin. I suppose there are other Scandinavian writers who set an occasional in America, but I found this an interesting way to start what appears to be a series. Read the rest of this entry »

Silent Treatment by Michael Palmer

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Silent TreatmentThere is no doubt that this is a medical thriller but the reader must realize that a lot of the “thriller” is in fact only connected with “medical” in a general way. Yes there are some somewhat scary moments connected with the medical industry. But most of the thrills are as Dr. Harry Corbett and a few of his associates get involved in hunting for killers.

Corbett is a highly successful doctor who is well established and well liked in the hospital where he practices. He has also been married to the love of his life, though lately he is not necessarily the love of his wife’s life. There appear to be some things happening with her that he is not aware of, only that she has been acting strangely.

Evie, his wife, is scheduled early on in the story for a minor repair on a small problem with her heart. The doctors have all convinced them that it is nothing to be concerned about but Corbett is still worried. Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Last Mrs. ParrishWho doesn’t want to be richer, thinner, blonde with blue-eyes, tanned, better looking and more successful? This seems to be the American dream for many women. Most wealthy people appear to have it all. With money, they can recreate themselves into almost the perfect person. Think of the numerous women and even many men who spend enormous amounts of money to achieve their vision of perfection.

The problem is often what appears in public is quite different than reality or in the privacy of a home.

Amber Patterson is tired of being normal. She is thin, but plain. Mousy brownish hair, dowdy, ambitious but in a career with no future for making real money. She just makes enough to get by with her paycheck to paycheck existence.

How can she change her life?

Amber finds a new friend, Daphne Parrish, who seems to be everything she could want. Daphne is beautiful, rich, blond, blue-eyes, married to a gorgeous husband and two young daughters. Amber wants Daphne life, but slightly changed without the children. She doesn’t enjoy young ones at all.

Coincidentally, both Daphne and Amber had sisters who dies due to cystic fibrosis. This is the foundation of their friendship.

Will Amber ever have a life like Daphne’s? Read the rest of this entry »

No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

No Middle NameThis one is not a normal book but is a collection of several novellas and then even more short stories. All of the tales do feature Jack Reacher, who has been the main character in many of Child’s works. No doubt that the title No Middle Name pertains to Jack Reacher. That always comes up in all of the stories that Child writes. Someone invariably asks his name and they cannot get over the fact that he doesn’t have a middle name. Even without a middle name Jack Reacher is a very interesting character. These stories carry that character forward as he makes his trek not only across the United States but even on occasion into Europe.

Reacher is a retired Military Police officer who has a very astute mind when it comes to looking into situations that would probably stymie the minds of most people. Wherever he goes he seems to not only run into things that happen to be at least a bit illegal or scary but then he always seems to also solve the problems or assist in solving them. Read the rest of this entry »