Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery suspense thriller

Read and Review (R&R) – “Playing Nice” by JP Delaney

This month my book club selected “Playing Nice,” by J.P. Delaney

This well-written story is told in dual points of view – Pete and his partner, Maddie.

I found this book to be a very gripping, emotional page-turner and the short chapters made this 400 page book an easy read.

What if you found out that your family isn’t yours at all?

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete and his partner, Maddie’s son, Theo, isn’t actually their son – he is the Miles and Lucy Lamberts’ – switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and Lucy. When the four adults decide to try an amicable agreement to share the children, things quickly unravel. What secrets lie beneath the surface of these two families?

Buckle up for a suspenseful domestic/psychological thriller which stirs up ethical questions – What is in the best interest of the child? Nature verses Nurture? How far would you go to protect your family?

My only wish concerning this story is while the characters were well-developed, relatable and flawed, I would have liked to read more than a sprinkling on Pete and Maddie’s biological son, David. Everything centered on Theo, the rambunctious two-year-old biological son of Miles and Lucy, who doesn’t display any signs of learning setbacks from his premature birth.

If you read “Playing Nice,” be prepared for a roller-coaster ride of suspense!

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading

Read and Review (R&R) – Fatal Reunion by Annette Dashofy

Zoe and Pete are back! The latest Zoe Chambers Mystery, Fatal Reunion, is packed with action and plot twists that will keep you turning pages and wanting more Zoe and Pete when the book is done!

It’s Zoe’s 20th high school reunion and a lot of former classmates are back in town. When a young girl is found brutally murdered, the resemblances to the Monongahela Serial Killer case that was assumed closed years ago when Zoe and her best friend, Rose were seniors in high school is brought to the forefront of Zoe’s mind. In the capacity of the County Coroner, Zoe is in the middle of the investigation and the closer she and Pete get to solving the murder, the more personal the case becomes.

Dashofy’s characters are so well developed.  Her experience as a paramedic and her research into law enforcement, and the coroner’s office shine through in her writing.

Another complex, suspenseful mystery by Annette Dashofy.

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery psychological thriller reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) “Survive the Night” by Riley Sager

Riley Sager weaves a masterful tale of psychological suspense.

When Charlie’s parents are killed in a car accident, she turns to movies as a way of escaping real life. At college, Charlie becomes best friends with Maddy. But, one horrific night changes everything. Maddy has been killed by the “Campus Killer.” A serial killer who has killed three times before. Charlie can’t get over Maddy’s death and decides to leave campus before Thanksgiving accepting a ride from a male stranger who she meets at the ride-share board. As their ride ensues, Charlie begins to doubt the sincerity of the man. Could he be the campus killer or is her mistrust a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

This book takes place in the 1990’s, when pay phones were the only way to check in with someone or call for help. No cell phones, no texting. The premise of a girl getting into a car with a stranger and things going wrong is nothing new and Sager presents it with a road trip story that is filled with twisted, unbelievable characters. To Riley Sager’s credit, I couldn’t put it down. It kept me on the edge of my seat with tension, intense emotion, and danger around every turn. I had to find out – would the campus killer be revealed? What would happen to Charlie?

Categories
Book review crime fiction history mystery reading suspense

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Lessons We Learn”

“The Lessons We Learn” by Liz Milliron

Betty Ahern – the bold, risk-taking PI with moxie, wit, and heart!

It’s March 1943, and Betty Ahern is back and taking on a case that is very personal. When Betty’s best friend, Lee is jailed for the murder of his father, Betty must prove his innocence and get justice for her friend.

Betty and Homicide Detective Sam McKinnon team up and together they investigate Blackie Thomas, a numbers and illegal gambling boss, and the men and women who do his bidding. Tracking down Buffalo’s seedy and corrupt characters is a challenge, but Betty is determined and will stop at nothing to question them in brave Betty style so she can solve the case before Lee’s court plea date.

“The Lessons We Learn” is story three in Liz Milliron’s Homefront Mystery Series. Milliron immerses you into the time period and holds you there. Her characters jump off the page – some into your heart, and some into the river.

A page-turner filled with mystery and history.

Categories
Book review crime fiction humorous fiction mystery reading suspense

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Man Who Died Twice” by Richard Osman

“The Man Who Died Twice”
Richard Osman

This book was given to me in a book exchange with my local “Sisters in Crime” group. What a wonderful read. I loved this book and its characters, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim.

What happens when four septuagenarians who live in the Cooper’s Chase retirement community band together and form a crime club (aka The Thursday Murder Club)? A heartwarming friendship, and a book filled with laugh-out-loud humor.

“I am learning that it is important to stop sometimes, and just have a drink and a gossip with your friends, even as corpses start to pile up around you.”

The narrative is split between all the characters mentioned above, but Joyce and Elizabeth play the largest roles.

With diamonds, Elizabeth’s ex-husband, the MI5, a cocaine dealer, crooked businessman, the mafia, local thugs, and piling up bodies, the members of the Thursday Murder Club have their hands full.

This is the second book in this series. The first is called “The Thursday Murder Club Mystery.”

Richard Osman has created a wonderful story line and I am anxiously awaiting the next novel with these characters.

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense thriller unreliable narrator

Read and Review (R&R) – “We Were Never Here” by Andrea Bartz

When two best friends travel, what could go wrong? How about a hookup turned violent and deadly? Not once but twice – I guess lightening can strike more than once.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers, this book may interest you.

I enjoyed the travel and psychological twists and turns. The friendship element drew me in, but then really it creeped me out. Gaslighting~there was a lot of it. The inner monologue was a bit long and the boyfriend a bit too sweet. So as not to put a spoiler, I will simply say, I would have enjoyed a different ending.

I agree with several reviewers who pointed out that this would make a good Netflix movie.

And…, what is up with the last line of the book? No way could it happen again…

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Not a Happy Family,” by Shari Lapena

“Not a Happy Family”
By Shari Lapena

Normally, I write my own brief synopsis on the books I’ve read, but this synopsis on Goodreads of “Not a Happy Family,” by Shari Lapena, says it all!

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings could do something this gruesome, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

From a reader/writer’s standpoint, I loved the quick, easy read chapters which switch from one POV to another. Shari Lapena does a great job of creating a rivetingly good book where everyone is a suspect and could have a motive. “Not a Happy Family” is full of deceit, troubled siblings, rivalry, and greed.

A binge-worthy book!

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Redemption,” by C.L. Tolbert

The Redemption
By C.L. Tolbert

A suspenseful legal thriller!

Emma Thornton, a law professor in New Orleans is one tough woman. When two men are murdered on the grounds of the Redemption housing projects, she and her law students mount a defense case.

Louis Bishop is a 16-year-old boy, who grew up hard and fast in the housing development. He is charged with the crimes as an adult and incarcerated with violent adult offenders. Emma takes on a gang, guns, and corruption in the police force to defend him against the potential of a death penalty verdict.

The story is set in a seedy area of New Orleans where the cousin of the accused runs the show and everyone is afraid to talk. As the murders of witnesses who have spoken to Emma began to pile up, she knows she and her family are in the crosshairs, but she won’t stop until there is justice.

I wasn’t surprised to find out the author was a retired attorney. She wove the law, the court system and police procedure throughout the book seamlessly.

Kudos to CL Tolbert for creating such unique characters and plot line. The story is rich with vivid descriptions of New Orleans, secrets, twists, turns, and a developing romance.

I enjoyed reading this well-written, action-packed story.

I only have one question for the author – There was a lot of foreshadowing about a man referred to as “Ninja,” and I kept waiting for him to appear. Will he appear in a future Emma Thornton mystery?

I purchased this book after hearing the author speak on a Zoom event conducted by my local independent bookstore, Mystery Lovers in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. This is the second book in the Thornton Mystery Series, but can be read as a stand-alone. I hadn’t read the first book entitled “Out of Silence,” but I will be sure to pick it up now.

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Winter Witness” – By Tina DeBellegarde

Winter Witness

By Tina DeBellegarde

Are you looking for a great fall read? “Winter Witness” is an intriguing, page-turning mystery.

Tina DeBellegarde’s writing shines in her first mystery novel. Her setting comes alive on the page, her plot is intriguing, and her characters so well-written. Small town life with characters who on the outside seem like everyday folks.

This is a story about a grieving widow who is considered a “outsider” in the small Catskill Mountain town of Batavia-on-Hudson.

The town of Bativia and its “locals” secrets are revealed with the death of an elderly loved nun and her closest friend, the local historian, that the villagers “loved to hate.”

The main character, Bianca, becomes intwined in solving the mystery and also in the troubled marriage of Sheriff Mike.

If you want to hear her first chapter read by Hank Phillippi Ryan, check out First Chapter Fun. Tina’s book was read on September 2nd.

Such a great story! I am hoping for another Bativia-on-Hudson mystery.

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading suspense YA mystery

Read and Review (R&R) – “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder”

Five years ago, pretty and popular Andie Bell was murdered, and Fairview’s whole town is convinced her boyfriend, Sal Singh, killed her. Aspiring journalist, Pippa Fitz-Amobi cannot shake the notion that they are all wrong. Is Sal innocent and the killer still out there? For her senior project, Pippa starts an investigation into the murder that reveals a growing list of suspects and people who want to keep the case closed.

I read this 387-page mystery in five days. I couldn’t put it down. Suspense, suspense, suspense! Great storytelling and characterization on this roller coaster of a ride, cleverly written, YA mystery.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is Holly Jackson’s first novel. The sequel is “Good Girl, Bad Blood,” which I have ordered from my favorite local bookstore, Mystery Lover’s Bookstore and I cannot wait to read.