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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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 psychological thriller reading suspense thriller unreliable narrator

Read & Review (R&R) – The Housemaid by Freida McFadden

This month my book club read the psychological thriller “The Housemaid” by Freida McFadden.

Right from the above opening lines I was hooked. “If I leave this house, it will be in handcuffs. I should have run for it while I had the chance. Now my shot is gone.” – Prologue

This story was definitely a page-turner filled with a major plot twist in the end that I didn’t see coming.

Millie Calloway has recently lost her job and is living out of her car. When she is offered employment as the housekeeper for the wealthy Winchester family, Millie jumps at the chance. Anything is better than sleeping in her car-even a small cot in the attic bedroom with a sealed shut window and a door with a lock on the outside. Her new employer, Nina Winchester is constantly making messes and confusing dates and times. Nina’s husband, Andrew is charismatic, intelligent, and rich. He treats Millie well. Soon, Millie starts to like Andrew and imagines what it would be like to be his wife. Millie will do anything to stay employed with the Winchesters, including ignoring major red flags popping up in the household.

This is a well-written story with unreliable narrators, gaslighting, major plot twists, and chilling menace throughout.

Believe me when I say in this book, things are not always what they seem!

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.

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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 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 fiction mystery reading suspense Uncategorized

Read & Review (R&R) – “Dead Man’s Leap” by Tina de Bellegarde

It’s another intriguing and suspense-filled, character-driven mystery for Agatha Award nominee, Tina de Bellegarde. In her latest mystery, “Dead Man’s Leap,” the flood waters are washing away more than material possessions. In the tiny town of Batavia-on-Hudson, relationships are put to the test, a dead body, bones and long-buried secrets from the past all threaten to alter the quaint village life.

This is the author’s 2nd book of her series “Batavia -on Hudson Mystery,” and while it is not necessary to read her first book “Winter Witness,” it is helpful as you are familiar with the characters.

Her main character, Bianca St. Denis is teaming up again with Sheriff Mike Riley to solve the mystery. De Bellegarde vividly sets the scene, beautifully portrays love and loss and writes characters that jump off the page and into her reader’s hearts. I am looking forward to reading the next Bativa-on-Hudson Mystery.