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Archive for the ‘Suspense’ Category

Trial by Fire: A Novel of Suspense by J.A. Jance

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Trial by FireAli Reynolds is approached by Sheriff of the Yavapai County Police Department to become his media relations consultant. She had just recently moved back to Sedona, Arizona after losing her job as an anchor in Los Angeles. She not only lost her job but decided to lose her husband who she had found to be cheating on her. She was in good enough financial shape to do whatever she wanted and decided to do it in her hometown. She was startled by the sheriff’s offer but she decided to take it because it sounded like a challenge and something that fit her background well.

She didn’t know that one of the problems she was going to face was a battle going on in the department between two rival unions. However that really is just a small part of this entire story. Within the first week she is able to get news out about an old farmer who busted two guys for rustling Cacti! Yes it is actually against the law to take certain cacti from the desert. Her boss was extremely happy with the way she handled the story and the next step up for her was even bigger. Read the rest of this entry »

Vicious Circle (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C.J. Box

Reviewed by Allen Hott

vicious circleAs usual the action in Joe Pickett stories kicks in pretty quickly. In this one Joe, the Wyoming Game Warden, is in a plane trying to find Dave Farkus who has turned up missing in the mountains. Farkus who is always in and out of Joe’s life somehow appears to be lost and Joe’s boss sends Joe with the other searchers. The pilot is using FLIR which is a forward looking infrared device that picks up heat or light. Just as the pilot is turning to return to base Joe spots not only a figure down in the woods but then three flashes right near the figure.

However they do not have enough gas to circle around again so they head back to base. In the following days the sheriff decides that a posse needs to be sent out to where the body of Farkus is thought to be. Joe goes along with an undersheriff who appears to be acting somewhat strangely around the body when they find it. More later in the story on this. Read the rest of this entry »

Blood Memory Society by D.A. Field

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Blood Memory SocietyWho would have believed that Dr. Will Dunbar, would be involved in a national emergency of far reaching proportions.

While diving in the Bahamas, Dr. Dunbar, Will, is summoned to Washington by a friend’s desperate plea for assistance. When he sees his friend, Colonel Ross Chapman the years seem to disappear between now and then, when they were both at West Point.

Although Dr. Dunbar is about to become the head of reproductive medicine at the Mayo Clinic, his friend is able to sidetrack him into working on this issue.

For the first-time Dr. Dunbar hears of a secret organization, The Blood Memory Society, that the government has been running since the beginning of the government in the United States. In the current case, the society has been renamed the Inherited Memory Society. Read the rest of this entry »

You’ll Never Know Dear: A Novel of Suspense by Hallie Ephron

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

You'll Never Know DearLissie and Janey Woodham were playing house with their dolls in their yard when a puppy showed up. Lissie who desperately wanted a puppy followed the dog into the woods trying to catch it hoping she would be allowed to keep it. When she gave up the chase and returned to the yard, she assumed Janey had tired of waiting for her and gone inside. By the time the family realized Janey was missing, valuable time had been lost and Janey was gone. Because the girls were playing with their custom made portrait dolls and Janey’s doll went missing with her, her mom, known to all as Miss Sorrel placed an ad in the paper each year for a reward leading to the return of the doll.

Fast forward forty years when Maggie Richards answers the ad with a doll that although in very bad condition might be Janey’s. From there the plot moves in a predictable direction. The woman panics and runs off leaving the doll behind, Lessie and her daughter Vanessa track down the woman and discover her mother, Jenny, could possibly be the long lost Janey. Not wanting Miss Sorrel to get her hopes up Vanessa tries to nail down Jenny’s past. There are the expected family secrets that eventually come out as well.

There are some twists along the way. An explosion damages the Sorrel house, causing both Lessie and Miss Sorrel to be hospitalized. A break in leads to the loss of the most valuable of Miss Sorrel’s doll collection including all of the remaining portrait dolls she and her neighbor Evelyn had made. Vannessa’s research on nightmares figures into the plot as well.

The characters were well developed and for the most part likable. The pace of the book is just right giving readers enough to keep them turning the pages to see what the next revelation would be and how it would fit into the puzzle. The subplot on Vanessa’s research on nightmares was quite interesting. I just wish that Ephron would have spent a little more time working on hiding the solution to the long ago crime. For me at least the “who did it” was pretty obvious fairly early in the book.

In spite of its not too well concealed solution, readers who enjoy a suspense filled book with a few interesting side plots should enjoy You’ll Never Know, Dear.

Before the Poison: A Novel by Peter Robinson

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Before the PoisonWhen soundtrack composer Chris Lowndes buys an old house in Yorkshire Dales, he has no idea of the history of the house. He soon learns it is the former home of a prominent doctor and his wife and child during and after WW II. Grace Fox was hanged for poisoning her husband in the 1950s. The story intrigues Lowndes and he strives to learn more from local citizens who lived in Yorkshire Dales during the trial and visits to the local library. A surprise encounter with the former owner of the house who happens the be the granddaughter of Grace Fox reveals even more evidence leading Chris to conclude that perhaps Grace was innocent after all. All while trying to determine the truth about Grace, the death of Lowndes’ wife haunts him and forces him to examine his real motives for wanting to know once and for all if Grace deserved what she got. Read the rest of this entry »

Night Watch: A Novel (Kendra Michaels) by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Night WatchI have to believe this was written mostly by Roy Johansen, the son of Iris Johansen because of all of her books that I have read she has never gone into sex as part of the story.

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This one begins to at one point but then, thankfully, backs off of it and goes ahead telling the story without that element. Good job!

Like some of her other books though it does border a bit on the occult or at least on things that are not truly in our element yet. This one gets into the possibility of regenerating parts of the human body. Kendra Michaels was blind from birth but had her sight restored in a special maneuver by Doctor Charles Waldridge. In growing up without sight she with the help of her mother really built her other senses to where she has remarkable talents such as memory. She also has the uncanny ability to connect things about people and their habits, abilities, and their thinking potential. She can also place where people have been by seeing things on their shoes or clothes that they may have come into contact with such as sand or pieces of grass. Her use of all her mental facilities far exceeds anyone else in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Kill Devil Falls: A Novel of Suspense by Brian Klingborg

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Kill Devil FallsImagine if you will, a country house mystery but instead of in a beautiful old house filled with interesting things the setting is a nearly deserted old mining town high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and instead of mostly unaquainted invited guests the characters are a few “hanger-oner” town residents, a prisoner and a U.S. Marshal sent to transport the prisoner. That in a nutshell is what Kill Devil Falls is. Does it work? For the most part I’d say it does. But for fans of the country house mysteries, be aware, this is no cozy, the action is on stage and at times brutal. The language is just what you would expect from a band of low life scumbags-rough and filled with cursing.

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The basic premise of the book is U.S. Marshal Helen Morrissey is sent to pick up a prisoner who is wanted for a string of robberies. Rita, the prisoner is one tough sounding woman who is on the run from her partner in crime. She took the money and her partner is not the only one looking for the loot. Morrissey is unhappy because she is forced to travel up a winding mountain road to a place so small it is not even in her GPS system to pick up the prisoner she was supposed to fetch from the county seat. She gets to Kill Devil Falls to find the remainders of a rundown nearly deserted community that has been condemned, a hand full of ragtag residents who for some reason have stayed. The sheriff is not in town, his son the deputy cannot assist with the transport and darkness is quickly approaching. And then Helen’s car breaks down and her prisoner is murdered. She is stuck in this Godforsaken place with at least one murderer on the loose, a target on her back and people dropping like flies. <!–more–>

This book is a bit of a surprise for a few reasons. First, it is published by Midnight Ink whose offerings tent to run more to the softer side of the mystery genre. The author does put an interesting and fresh spin on the “country house” theme. And, in spite of the fact that none of the characters are particularly likable, the overall book is. This is due in part to the vividly described setting.

This book appears to be the first in a series. Helen could certainly support a series, but I think if that is to happen, the reader is going to need to have her flushed out more. We really learn very little about Helen in Kill Devil Falls, but hopefully we will the next time out.

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Bitter SeasonSupposedly change is good for us, but unfortunately we do not always adjust as well as we could, or should even if it our choice to change.

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Detective Nikki Liska has this problem. She chose to leave homicide due to the long and unpredictable hours which are difficult for a single-parent of two teenaged boys. This was her choice.

Now she is a part of the newly formed cold case unit in Minneapolis. Now she has predictable hours, at least that is what she believes entering this position. Each member of this team is going through the extensive files of cold cases, choosing what case they can successfully solve. With newness, each member is acutely aware of the need for success in order to continue and be of value to the force and to the taxpayers.

The selected case is the murder of a police officer, Ted Duffy which happened twenty-years ago. If the police could not solve it in all those years, why would the cold case unit now be able to find new information? Nikki is not pleased with this decision. Read the rest of this entry »

Rag Doll: A Novel by Daniel Cole

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Rag DollDebuting with an embroiling work of thrilling crime fiction, Daniel Cole’s Rag Doll familiarizes readers with its dysfunctional hero William “Wolf” Fawkes, a seasoned but damaged police detective forced to match wits with an insanely depraved criminal whose gruesome acts resound with pure evil genius. As book one of the William Fawkes Detective series Rag Doll
is a memorable read that thrills with its uber-twisted plot as much as it disturbs with its gore.

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A genuinely good man, but nevertheless teetering on the edge with his sanity, Wolf finds himself suspended after exacting his own brand of vengeance on a nefarious criminal that should have remained in jail. Following his return to the police force, a gruesome crime sets everyone on edge with the discovery of a body built from the parts of six apparent murder victims, given the nickname, The Ragdoll. Possibly dealing with the work of a serial killer, Wolf, ex-partner Emily Baxter and her trainee, Alex Edmunds set about finding a connection with the victims, hoping it will lead to the killer before he or she can strike again. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lost Girls: A Novel by Heather Young

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Lost GirlsThe Lost Girls interweaves two stories that involve different generations of the same family and link a tragic moment in the past to events that occur in the present. The central figures in the stories are Lucy Evans and Justine Evans, with the chapters alternating between the two women. Lucy is Justine’s great-aunt, and her story from the past is revealed through her personal journal. Justine’s contemporary story is told from her perspective in the third person. The stories involve family relationships, friendships, hurt, resentment, sadness, grief, loss, betrayal, cowardice, courage, loyalty, and secrets.

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Shortly before Lucy’s death, she decides to write down the events that happen over the course of an unforgettable summer in 1935, when her parents and two sisters are vacationing at their house on a remote lake in Minnesota. Lucy is eleven, Lilith is thirteen, and Emily is six. Each sister is trying to deal with issues in their lives. Lucy and Lilith have been drifting apart, and Lucy is hoping to revive their friendship during the summer. However, Lilith seems to care more about boys and her personal appearance than spending time hanging out with Lucy doing things that she thinks are childish. Emily wants to hang out with her sisters instead of being constantly in their mother’s company, but no one seems to care about Emily’s wishes. Decisions made by family members affect the family dynamic, and this leads to a heartrending occurrence at the end of the summer. The lives of people directly involved and those on the periphery are affected for the remainder of their lives. Read the rest of this entry »