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book club Book review psychological thriller thriller

Read and Review (R&R) – Verity by Colleen Hoover

Have you read Colleen Hoover?

This is our book club’s second read by her. The first was “It Ends With Us.”

Colleen Hoover has a huge, loyal following of fans on various social media sites and I recently saw on Instagram that her sales this year have topped Dr. Seuss and she has sold more books than James Patterson and John Grisham combined.

Below is the synopsis taken from the back of Verity –

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

What did I think of Verity?

Page-turning tension!

It was an easy, creepy read and I read all 314 pages in three days. You can sense the danger pulsing all around in this book.

A dark and disturbing erotic romantic thriller with an ending twist I did not see coming and is still messing with my brain!

There is a lot of sex in Verity and without giving out any spoilers, this book had some very graphic descriptions and touched on some subjects that as a mother I had a hard time reading, but that being said, kudos to Colleen Hoover for her writing and book successes.

Will I read another Colleen Hoover book? Yes, but not for a while.

Once I get this book out of my head, can someone please suggest a funny cozy mystery?

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 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 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 noir pulp thriller

Read and Review (R&R)

Recently “Close to the Bone,” a publisher of pulp, noir, crime, dirty realism & horror contacted me to see if I was interested in reading and reviewing Weston-Super-Nightmare by John Bowie. Bowie’s articles, poetry, short stories, and novels have appeared in Red Dog Press, Close to the Bone, and Bristol Noir, to name a few. I had never read this author and very little in the pulp-noir genre. The prospect of reading this story intrigued me. Below is my review.

John Bowie is an excellent storyteller. As a spider’s web draws your eyes to the center, Bowie pulls you into the dirty underworld filled with violence, gangster wars, and a seedy bar called Hell’s Belles. He introduces a cast of characters you can’t escape. You immediately find a soft spot for his protagonist, Jimi, and a dislike for the hard-edged Max Ballard and the men who do his bidding. Told in a deep and dirty way, some of the story makes you squirm, but Bowie’s writing is poetic and lyrical. Set in the seaside town of Weston, England, his vivid descriptions of the coast make me want to travel there. I loved the references to rock music and artists woven throughout the story. If you are a reader of pulp-noir, I am sure you will enjoy Bowie’s latest. Weston-Super Nightmare is a crash toward destiny thriller.