My Synopsis: The enigmatic Earl of Ravenwood and his new bride, Sophie Dorring, each of their own reasons for marrying...moreSeduction by Amanda Quick 4 Stars
My Synopsis: The enigmatic Earl of Ravenwood and his new bride, Sophie Dorring, each of their own reasons for marrying. Julian seeks a woman who is the exact opposite of his promiscuous first wife, whom he is suspected of murdering. Sophie desires the freedom to seek vengeance against the man who defiled her sister and believes marriage to Julian will give her this opportunity. Little do they know that this marriage of convenience will ultimately set them on a collision path with a dangerous mad man.
My Review: The story is fast moving and has some amusing moments including a visit to a popular courtesan and an early morning duel. The heroine is intelligent and independent, and the conversations are witty and entertaining. The mystery, however, is where the book encounters difficulties as it is somewhat lackluster and formulaic. In addition, the excessive foreshadowing regarding the villain gives his identity away quite early. Recommendation: A solid romance well worth the read.(less)
One Grave Too Many by Beverly Connor Book #1 in the Diane Fallon series 4 Stars
Synopsis: After returning home following a stint documenting crimes again...moreOne Grave Too Many by Beverly Connor Book #1 in the Diane Fallon series 4 Stars
Synopsis: After returning home following a stint documenting crimes against humanity for a human rights organization, forensic anthropologist, Diane Fallon, disavows this type of work and becomes a museum curator. A detective friend asks her to examine a bone and determine whether it belongs to a missing girl. Diane soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation that may threaten her life while at the same time coping with the vicious world of academic politics.
Review: This is a fast paced and absorbing read with some interesting forensics tidbits.
The lead character is strong and intelligent, and the supporting characters are well-developed; they do not merely blend into the background. There are several carefully interwoven plot lines but the story is never convoluted or confusing. There are plenty clues to the identity of the killer but they are not too obvious, and I did not manage to figure it out before it was revealed in the book, which is unusual for me.
Recommendation: This book is well worth the read.(less)
Synopsis: Cassie Neil is a psychic who helps the police capture killers until the day she makes a mistake and feels compelled to...moreStealing Shadows 4 Stars
Synopsis: Cassie Neil is a psychic who helps the police capture killers until the day she makes a mistake and feels compelled to live a quieter life. Unfortunately, Cassie's new home is being stalked by a murderer but no one believes her until the bodies start piling up.
Review: Well-written with several twists and turns to keep you guessing. The plot appears to be your typical serial killer fare but the climax turns out to be quite a shocker. For once, I was unable to guess the killer even though there are definitely sufficient clues. This might be because I was distracted (in a good way) by the romantic and paranormal aspects of the story.
The psychic elements are believable perhaps due to the fact that a main character has his doubts concerning the heroine’s abilities. He is eventually convinced by the evidence and becomes a staunch believer, thereby mimicking the readers experience and allowing for suspension of disbelief.
The primary romance builds slowly but develops into an intense and captivating relationship. Cassie is extremely strong willed and keeps herself at a distance, which can be irritating at times but is clearly consistent with the nature of her psychic abilities. Ben is attractive and sensitive but not without his own flaws, which he must overcome to save Cassie’s life.
The development of the minor characters is one of the details that draw you into the story because the women, who are easy to identify with and care about, are potential victims while the men are possible suspects. One of the few flaws in the book is that the killer’s motivation is not sufficiently developed and it would have been better to have more information about what makes him tick.
Overall, this is an entertaining and suspenseful read and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. (less)
All the Pretty Girls by J. T. Ellison Book #1 in Taylor Jackson 4 Stars
Synopsis: A serial killer dubbed The Southern Strangler is on a killing spree acro...moreAll the Pretty Girls by J. T. Ellison Book #1 in Taylor Jackson 4 Stars
Synopsis: A serial killer dubbed The Southern Strangler is on a killing spree across the Southeast. At each new crime scene, he leaves a gruesome memento from his previous kill – the victim’s hand. Nashville homicide detective, Taylor Jackson, and FBI profiler, John Baldwin are hot on the heels of this sadistic killer while at the same time, Jackson is searching for a rapist who only attacks in the rain.
Review: Very suspenseful with some great twists and turns and even though the plot involves death and murder, it is not to gory. One of the aspects of the narrative that I found particularly intriguing was the fact that the story was told from multiple perspectives, including those of characters who were ultimately killed off. While the main characters are realistic and believable, I would have liked to know more about their backgrounds and relationships. As this is the first installment in the series, these details may still be forthcoming and I will definitely continue reading. Ultimately, the identity of the killer is not surprising and it is not too difficult to figure it out. Nevertheless, his motivation for killing is one that I have not encountered before. (less)
Synopsis: Seven years ago, Theodore Lawrence Glenn was convicted of murdering four exotic dancers and swore rev...moreKilling Fear by Allison Brennan 4.5 Stars
Synopsis: Seven years ago, Theodore Lawrence Glenn was convicted of murdering four exotic dancers and swore revenge against those responsible for his imprisonment. Now he has escaped and Robin McKenna, the main prosecution witness, and Will Hooper, the detective who put Glenn away, are reunited and must get past their personal issues if they are to survive the machinations of this sadistic killer.
Review: Wow! This book is incredibly gritty and realistic. The plot has several intertwined threads that come together to form a strong and cohesive whole. Some of the past events are told in flashback, which reinforces characterization and does not distract the reader from the progression of the present day storyline.
The author does not shy away from portraying both the personal and professional weaknesses of her characters. Robin and Will’s relationship, past and present, is intensely emotional and engrossing. She is a strong and independent heroine whose success is even more significant given the adversity she has faced while he is prototypical ladies’ man who has finally met his match.
The sociopathic Glenn is also a phenomenal character and one of the most diabolical villains I have ever encountered. Nevertheless, some of the secondary characters could have been better developed, as the lack of sufficient detail regarding their backgrounds makes it difficult to fully grasp the import of certain developments within the investigative subplot.
In sum, a fast-paced and exciting read with riveting twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. Be warned, once you pick it up it will be very difficult to put it down again. (less)
Synopsis: While visiting his grandparents on a ranch in North Dakota, Cooper Sullivan meets Lily Chance and they begin a friendship t...moreBlack Hills 4 Stars
Synopsis: While visiting his grandparents on a ranch in North Dakota, Cooper Sullivan meets Lily Chance and they begin a friendship that develops into romance years later. After circumstances drive them apart, Lil fulfills her childhood dream of establishing a refuge for large cats and Coop becomes a detective and then a PI. Now, Coop has returned and they rekindle their romance. However, their path is not without obstacles for they must get past Lil’s trust issues as well as the threat of a serial killer who has decided to make Lil his next victim.
Review: The backstory regarding the animal refuge and the large cats is very enjoyable as are the descriptions of the scenery. While the book begins very well, I found that the middle dragged on a bit until the build-up of tension at the very end. While I did like the main characters and the development of their relationship, I felt that Lil’s trust issues were a bit unfounded and did not warrant her coldness toward Coop. Farley is definitely my favorite character in the book. His loyalty, honesty and ability to love despite the circumstances of his upbringing make him one of the best characters Nora has ever written. Recommendation: A enjoyable read overall and I recommend it to Nora fans without hesitation.(less)
The Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon Book #2 in the Kelly Jones series 3 stars
Synopsis: Following the discovery of a mass grave, FBI Agent Kelly Jones is on t...moreThe Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon Book #2 in the Kelly Jones series 3 stars
Synopsis: Following the discovery of a mass grave, FBI Agent Kelly Jones is on the trail of two separate killers and at the same time must cope with jurisdictional issues, rival police officers and a suspicious cover-up. To top it all off, she is in a race against time to save the life of the latest victim.
Review: Following my enjoyment of the first book in the series, I had built up certain expectations with regard to this installment but was severely disappointed. The plot fails to live up to its potential and there is one thread that remains unresolved at the rather lackadaisical conclusion.
The character development is virtually non-existent, aside from Jack and Kelly, who have gone from mere acquaintances to a fully-fledged couple with absolutely no buildup of their relationship, the other characters are completely one dimensional. The identity of the primary killer is obvious from the very beginning due to an insufficient suspect pool and an excessive number of details provided regarding his personal life. Moreover, there is no explanation for the motivation behind his crimes.
The writing flows smoothly but lacks the background detail and descriptions that made the first book so engrossing. Hopefully the next one will be better.(less)
The Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon Book #1 in Kelly Jones 4 stars
Synopsis: FBI agent, Kelly Jones and her partner, Roger Morrow are called in to investigate...moreThe Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon Book #1 in Kelly Jones 4 stars
Synopsis: FBI agent, Kelly Jones and her partner, Roger Morrow are called in to investigate when the mutilated bodies of two female students are found in the abandoned tunnels beneath a prestigious college. The ritualistic nature of the killings and the fact that both victims are daughters of powerful men contribute to the need to discover and stop the killer before he strikes again.
Review: Let me begin by saying that I adore serial killer stories, and I am always looking for ones that contribute to the genre and do not merely regurgitate traditional plot lines. Fortunately, this book falls into the former category. The plot is original and inventive with its roots in Norse mythology, and there is a strong build-up of tension and suspense with an interesting twist at the end. The characters are well developed, especially the female lead who has an interesting back story. There are a couple of minor shortcomings, such as the obvious red herrings and the final scenes, which are a little bit too reminiscent of the Silence of the Lambs. In sum, this an excellent debut novel and I am curious to read the next installment. (less)
The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Sub-genre: Historical mystery 5 Stars
Synopsis: Before the modern day criminal profiler, there were "alienists" - psychologist...moreThe Alienist by Caleb Carr. Sub-genre: Historical mystery 5 Stars
Synopsis: Before the modern day criminal profiler, there were "alienists" - psychologists interested in the workings of the criminal mind. In this book a crime reporter, John Schulyer Moore, is asked by his friend, Theodore Roosevelt in his days as the police commissioner of New York, to assist one of these alienists in the search for a serial killer butchering young children in the sex trade.
Review: This is a well-researched take on life in New York at the turn of the 20th century. The characterization is excellent, especially that of Sara, Roosevelt's secretary who is determined to become the first female detective, and the alienist, Lazlo Kreizler who seeks to understand the origins of monstrous behaviors while at the same time fighting demons of his own. The books includes some fascinating details on the beginnings of forensic science and has a profound message about humanity and society. The language and descriptive passages can be quite challenging to get through but they are well worth it. Recommendation: An absolute must for lovers of mystery and thrillers as well as the history of New York.(less)