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….


book club Book review crime fiction psychological thriller reading suspense Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Watching You” by Lisa Jewell

Watching You by Lisa Jewell is our book club’s October read. It is a psychological thriller published in 2018 and this author’s sixteenth book. She has twenty published novels.

This was my first read of her books.

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam.

The book starts out with a diary entry and a murder and then goes back to a narrative told in multiple points of view. It took me a while to get into this book. The beginning felt too slow and filled with the routine lives of the characters (some of them a bit creepy). Once the true action started, I found myself wrapped up under a blanket and reading for three hour stretches.

I did figure out who the killer was quite early on, but Lisa Jewell’s world-building and storytelling had me hooked and I continued to read to see how it would play out.

The author did a nice job of tying up all the loose ends and even pulled at your heart strings (slightly) for the killer.

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.

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.  

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.  

Book review short stories Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “Sidle Creek” by Jolene McIlwain

My latest read and recommendation is a book written by a member of my Sisters in Crime group. Jolene McIlwain’s Sidle Creek came out this year and is published by Melville House. It is a collection of short stories centering around the rural places and people of Pennsylvania. Sidle Creek is filled with 22 expertly crafted short stories. Jolene engulfs you in the lives of her characters and transports you through vivid imagery to the places they call home. She delves into hard issues with grace, understanding and empathy. This book and the stories within will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

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Read and Review (R&R) – “The Only Woman in the Room” by Marie Benedict

Our book club’s latest pick was written by Marie Benedict, a fellow Pittsburgher.

The Only Woman in the Room is the story of the 1930s film star, Hedy Lamarr. She not only possessed stunning beauty but a brilliant mind.

A young, Austrian-born, Hedwig Kiesler is gifted numerous bouquets of flowers by an Australian arms dealer, Fritz Mandl. At the encouragement of her parents they meet. Hedy marries him but soon discovers that he only wanted her as a pretty face to accompany him to social engagements. During the abusive marriage, Kiesler and her husband host many dinners and social engagements involving high government officials. When Kiesler overhears the Third Reich’s antisemitic plans, she devises a plan to escape. Her escape lands her in Hollywood where she became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

Hedy Lamarr made many movies, but what I found most interesting is how she enlisted the help of a composer to create an invention and attempted to patent it. This patent is the basis of modern cellphone technology. She is dubbed the “mother of Wi-Fi” and other wireless communication such as GPS and Bluetooth.

I found this book very interesting.

Some other books by Marie Benedict are: The Other Einstein, Carnegie’s Maid, Her Hidden Genius, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, and Lady Clementine.

book club Book review fiction

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Madwoman Upstairs” by Catherine Lowell

Samantha Whipple, the last living Brontë descendant is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. Since her eccentric father’s untimely death, she is the presumed heir to a long-rumored trove of diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts passed down from the Brontë family – a hidden fortune never revealed to anyone outside of the family, but endlessly speculated about by Brontë scholars and fanatics. Samantha, however, has never seen this alleged estate and for all she knows, it’s just as fictional as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and long-lost objects from the past begin rematerializing in her life, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. With the help of a handsome but inscrutable professor, Samantha plunges into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës’ own works.

I’m all about scavenger hunts, but found this novel to be a slow burn. I did find Samantha’s wisecracking wittiness entertaining and I kept reading as my curiosity demanded to know would she find a fortune, and would her and her professor get together. No spoilers here, but if you read/enjoyed the Brontës, this might be the book for you. Friends that have read the Bronte books tell me that they enjoyed the references and theories about Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I have been told it is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre.

This book came out in 2016 and as of this writing, I don’t see any other books by this author.

Book review crime fiction psychological thriller reading suspense thriller

Read and Review (R&R) “The Couple Next Door,” by Shari Lapena

A friend of mine loaned me this book and it turned out to be the perfect purse companion for my recent flight and trip.

This psychological thriller is Shari Lapena’s debut novel and a very engaging, suspenseful quick read. The story is a compulsive page turner.

The Couple Next Door asks readers the question: How well do you know your friends and family?

It all started at a dinner party. . .

Anne and Marco Conti are a young couple with friendly neighbors, a beautiful baby girl, and a seemingly perfect life. When the couple are invited to a dinner party at the neighbors and the babysitter cancels, they go anyways, taking along a monitor and taking turns checking on the baby every half hour. Of course, we all know where this bad decision is going…the unthinkable happens: their baby is kidnapped. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of deceit, betrayal, and family secrets.

This book is filled with emotion and readers will find themselves drawn deeper and deeper into the secrets of the Conti family.

An unnerving plot, characters you can’t trust, and a shocking ending.

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.