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book club Book review crime fiction mystery suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Local Woman Missing” by Mary Kubica

This month’s book club read was “Local Woman Missing” by Mary Kubica. This is my first read by this author and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a gripping, page-turning, suburban thriller. Everyone in our book club gave it five stars.

I will admit that at first I almost didn’t continue past part one. It was disturbing and contained abuse of children. I continued, and I will say this book is one of the best recent thrillers I’ve read. Mary Kubica’s characters are well-developed and likeable. The story is fast-paced and filled with suspense, tension, mystery and an end plot twist I didn’t see coming.

It seems lately the thrillers I have been reading are told from multiple points of view and this one was as well. Local Woman Missing is told from three points of view and with 11 years before and now timelines. I still found it very easy to follow.

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, 11 years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find….

Wow!

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Book review crime mystery suspense Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Twenty Years Later” by Charlie Donlea

Suspense, mystery, plot twists, and riveting, well-developed characters with secret-filled pasts.

The story is told from several perspectives and has a dual timeline of then and now. Once the story and the characters came together, I could not put this book down.

Twenty Years Later centers around Avery Mason. She is seeking her next big story as she negotiates her contract for the popular primetime show American Events. When a bone fragment of Victoria Ford, a woman who perished in 9/11, is identified through new developments in DNA testing, Avery sees an opportunity to guarantee rating gold. While doing her research, Avery learns that Victoria Ford was to stand trial for the gruesome murder of bestselling author, Cameron Young when she perished on 9/11.

Things change for Avery when she meets with Victoria’s sister, Emma, who shares tapes of Victoria’s frantic calls from the World Trade Center declaring her innocence and her plea for her sister to clear her name. Avery realizes that her story will be much bigger than she had imagined. Walt Jenkins, the lead investigator of the murder case, comes out of retirement to help Avery. But what Avery doesn’t realize is Walt has reasons of his own for helping.

Some of Charlie Donlea’s writing was repetitive, but I think the author thought keeping all the characters and plot lines straight for the reader was necessary.

This is Charlie Donlea’s sixth novel and a great read that will keep you guessing throughout.

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Book review crime historical fiction mystery

Read & Review (R&R) – “The Truth We Hide” by Liz Milliron

“The Truth We Hide” is a plot-driven, interesting character-filled, well-researched, historical fiction novel.

In the fourth Homefront Mystery from Author Liz Milliron, it’s 1943 and Betty Ahern is no longer building airplane parts for Bell Aircraft. She has decided to become a full-time private investigator and is studying for her license. Betty’s best friend, Lee introduces her to an acquaintance, Edward Kettle, who has recently been let go from his job and wants her to clear his name. But, Edward has a secret he would like to keep hidden and as soon as Betty takes the case, Edward is brutally murdered. Betty finds out that Edward is a homosexual and she is left to wonder was he killed because of his sexual preference or something else. Edward’s sister wants to pay Betty to continue and clear Edward’s name and Betty must examine her own moral beliefs before moving forward. As Betty investigates further, things take a dangerous turn into the world of wartime espionage.

Among the somewhat likable, some not-so-likable suspects are a tabloid reporter, a boarding house roommate of Edward, a former coworker of Edward, Edward’s lover and a young man about Betty’s age with movie star looks. The good-looking man shows an interest in Betty which causes conflict in her feelings and makes her reflect about how her fiancé who is overseas fighting in the war will react to her choice to become a full-time PI when he returns home. Will he accept her new life decision?

This series does not have to be read in order, but if you haven’t read any of the first three, you might enjoy picking up one of those as well to get acquainted with Betty when she worked at Bell Aircraft. Also, no spoilers in this review but in case you have read the other books in this series and are wondering, Betty’s best friends Dot and Lee do appear in the book and also her detective friend, Sam, is back and working the case. Will Betty uncover the hidden truth behind Edward’s murder or will Betty’s investigation turn her into the killer’s next victim? You will have to read “The Truth We Hide,” by Liz Milliron to find out.  

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Book review crime mystery reading

Read & Review (R&R) – “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger

A slow, summer read – my latest read is Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. This book is a New York Times Bestseller and Winner of the 2014 Edgar Award For Best Novel.

It is a story of a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.

Ordinary Grace transports you through beautifully written scenes to a time of innocence shattered in the life of a boy growing up in a small town of New Bremen, Minnesota.

Frank Drum is preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a novel about a boy standing at the door of his manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him.

I was moved by this book, but I also felt that the characters were stereotypical and I did figure out who the killer was before the reveal.

While not a page turner, it is an unforgettable novel which casts the light on the hard price of wisdom and the ordinary grace of God.  

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Book review crime fiction mystery police procedural reading suspense Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) “Where the Guilty Hide,” by Annette Dashofy

Non-stop action in this well-written, heart-pounding, police procedural.

“Where the Guilty Hide,” a Detective Honeywell Mystery is the first in a new series by the proficient author, Annette Dashofy. This book is set on the shores of Lake Erie and told in third person with alternating chapters of Matthias Honeywell, a good-looking detective with demons he needs to overcome, and Emma Anderson, a freelance photographer who unknowingly takes a photo that could be sold to the highest bidder or could cost Emma her life.

When Detective Honeywell’s home invasion investigation turns into a murder investigation, he methodically tracks his leads. Each time, the leads bring him back to Emma Anderson. As the investigation continues and the home invasions and bodies pile up, Matthias and Emma race to catch the killer who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

This book also has an interesting, strong, supporting cast of characters and Dashofy’s plot twists are sure to keep readers turning pages until the final scene.

Categories
Book review fiction mystery reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh

The Love of My Life, by Rosie Walsh was my book club’s April choice. It was also a Good Morning America Book Club pick.

Rosie Walsh is a New York Times bestselling author. Her other book is Ghosted.

The Love of My Life is a mystery-filled story of love, lies, and forgiveness. This book poses the question – Is it possible to love someone and not really know who they are?

The plot centers around Emma. She is an intertidal ecologist. Her adoring husband is Leo, an obituary writer.

Because of Emma’s tv star status, Leo is tasked with writing a stock obituary for her. He feels it is his place as he knows her best.

However, as the story unfolds and you turn the pages, we find out that almost everything Leo thinks he knows about his wife is a lie.

Leo tells us that “she studies the places and creatures that are submerged at high tide and exposed at low.”

He tells us how she adores their young daughter, Ruby, and their rescue dog named John Keats; that she’s also a former star of a BBC series on marine wildlife and a recent cancer survivor. Leo says,

“I think it was Kennedy who said we are tied to the ocean — that when we return to it, for sport or leisure or some such, we are returning to the place from whence we came. That’s how I feel about us. To be near to my wife, to Emma, is to return to source.

“So when I learn, in the days following this morning — this innocent, commonplace morning, with dogs and frogs and coffee … — that I know nothing of this woman, it will break me.”

This is a story told in alternating narratives with short chapters and constantly changing viewpoints and flashbacks.

There are questions of trust, betrayal, mental illness, trauma, and is it ever acceptable to hold things back from one’s spouse.

One of my favorite quotes from the book “I don’t know anything, other than that it’s only when something’s damaged beyond repair that we realize how beautiful it was.”

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading thriller

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley

This month my book club pick was “The Guest List” by New York Times bestselling author, Lucy Foley. It was published in 2020 and is a murder mystery about a death at a wedding.

The story is told from the point of view of multiple people and has alternating timelines – the bride, the bridesmaid, the best man, and the plus-one.

The secrets, grudges, and mysterious pasts of the guests are slowly revealed ultimately unveiling who is killed and the killer.

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty, and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Agatha Christie perfected what’s called the “locked room mystery.” Foley updates this method using a moody island and a brewing storm.

“It feels personal, this storm. As if it has saved all its fury for them.”

This book reminded me of “Big Little Lies” in a spooky setting, teasing about a murder in the prologue and spending the rest of the time working through multiple POVs to reveal who wants the victim dead.

I give this book three stars – a “liked it,” but didn’t “love it.” I really liked the premise and the setting. I would have liked more action in the first 200 pages. It is only in the last 100 pages that Foley ramps up the plot twists.

Okay, readers of my blog –

Were you able to guess who the victim was?

Were you able to guess who the murderer was?

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading

Read and Review (R&R) – Vera Kelly is not a Mystery

I got this book from a local bookstore and thought the premise sounded interesting – When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective.

This is book two – the first being “Who is Vera Kelly,” and perhaps I should have read this first.

Unfortunately, the story never really jelled for me. It is set in the 1960s when it is very much a “man’s world,” and relationships between same sex partners must be kept secret. While Vera went to some interesting places (Dominican Republic) and met and dealt with some shady people, I felt the majority of characters were undeveloped, her relationships didn’t do much to advance the story (I kept waiting for her love relationships to play into the plot), and the writing was choppy with different points of view injected throughout.

I am giving this book two stars.

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery police procedural suspense Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Lie Down With Dogs” by Liz Milliron

This month I read “Lie Down With Dogs,” by Liz Milliron. This is the fifth book in her Laurel Highland Mystery series but can be read as a standalone.

A police procedural, twisty mystery, written from both of Milliron’s main characters in the series, Sally Castle and Jim Duncan’s POV, this novel is two investigations intertwined in the world of greyhound racing.

Jim and Sally are both starting new career paths.

It is Jim Duncan’s first day with the Criminal Investigation Division and in addition to the adjustment to the job, (wearing a suit instead of a uniform after fourteen years and being the new guy) he has a new partner. Jim’s partner refers to him as a “rookie” and seems to be scrutinizing his every decision on the case they are called to investigate – a murder scene with a badly decomposed body and an undernourished greyhound caged in the victim’s garage.

For Sally, she is contemplating leaving the public defenders office to give her the freedom to defend and seek justice for clients of her own choosing. She considers the offer of partnership with her college friend and gives it a test run. Her first case involves a client accused of embezzling from a greyhound adoption group. Sally soon finds out that the group may have ties to the shooting victim in the case that Jim is investigating.

Both Sally and Jim are dog lovers.

And then there is Sally and Jim’s love relationship. With Sally taking a new job without the security of a guaranteed paycheck and her lease coming up for renewal, Jim asks her to move in with him taking their relationship one step further.

Is Sally’s client innocent? Will Sally exonerate her of the charges?

Will Jim earn the respect he deserves from his partner and catch the murderer before he or she kills again?

And, what about the greyhound found at the crime scene and Sally and Jim’s relationship?

You are going to have to read the book to find out!

Liz Milliron is also the author of a historical mystery series, The Home Front Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II.

Categories
Book review YA mystery

Read and Review (R&R) – The Memory of Cotton by Ann K. Howley

Fifteen-year-old Shelby’s life has spiraled out of control since her little brother died and her parents divorced. She fights at school, lashes out at her mother, and can’t find a way to pull herself out of her self-centered vortex of anger, fear, and grief. When Shelby inadvertently finds her great grandfather’s Ku Klux Klan robe and a cryptic message embroidered in a family quilt, Shelby and her conflicted, gay, best friend Darrin drive traumatized Grandma to her hometown in North Carolina to help her make amends with the past.

“The Memory of Cotton” by Ann K. Howley is a heartfelt YA novel about relationships and coming to terms with your past-no matter how painful it might be. Sometimes we must go back and revisit the hurt in order to move on. Ann Howley’s debut novel explores friendship, family dynamics, loss, and love. It is filled with vivid descriptions, a tightly written plot, and characters you definitely want to read more of.