The Screaming Room (Lt. John Driscoll, #2) by Thomas O’Callaghan

Published May 1st 2007 by Pinnacle - Paperback - 352 pages - ISBN-13: 9780786018123

Every serial killer has a special place…

John Driscoll has laid the ghosts of his past to rest. He’s ready to start over – both personally and as an NYPD homicide commander. But it seems that a serial killer has other plans for Driscoll.

The victims’ bodies are found, brutally mutilated and carefully arranged for the world to see – grotesque visions to all except for the depraed killer, who considers them masterpieces. These blood rituals spell out a message to Driscoll. And they are just the beginning…

Driscoll’s investigation will lead him down the darkest of journeys, toward an evil beyond his worst nightmares. In a hellish landscape conceived by the all-too-clever mind of a twisted schemer, Driscoll must play a killer’s deadly game. It’s up to him to save his city – or die trying.

**Gruesome, chilling, a killer’s game.

Driscoll has finally made peace with the ghosts of his past and has accepted things he cannot change. And just when it starts getting better, his wife Colette, who was comatose for over six years from an accident that also killed his daughter, takes her last breath. And just when John lays her to rest, a serial killer is loose in New York City, leaving gruesome bodies in the most public places possible.

What begins as a strange case only gets worse, for more bodies are lining up. At first, the only connection to the victims are that they are tourists, all of different nationalities. Stranger yet, each victim was clubbed on the left side of the head hard enough to be fatal, and each has been scalped.

The deeper Driscoll and his team dig, the creepier the case gets. For forensics left behind point to a set of identical twins, male and female. Why? Why kill these seemingly innocent people? The more the team uncovers, the more their realize that these victims aren’t innocent at all.

Angus and Cassie Claxonn are in their late teens, and they are killing in vengeance. Abused by their “so-called” father when they were young, Cassie raped and her face disfigured by him, used as child prostitutes, they’d had enough. First they got rid of their father, then decided to rid the world of those disgusting and vile people like him. And the scalping… being sent to the foster mother who’d taken care of them when they were small, a spiteful note of anger at how she could have let their birth mother take them away from what they knew as a happy home, to a life of absolute terror and misery.

The case is heating up. As the team digs, Driscoll gets closer and closer to Angus and Cassie. A thorn in his side, Malcom Shewster, the father of one of the victims and a pharmaceutical mogul, doesn’t just want the killers found… He wants them dead, just as his daughter is now dead. The one million reward he put in the press is boosted to 3 million, and he wants the killers, bad. The tip hotline number is being observed, not only by the police, but Shewster’s team; he’s determined to get to Angus and Cassie first.

And just when Angus and Cassie are located and surrounded, Driscoll faces a terrible surprise, for Angus wanted something against “Lieutenant Bulldog”, and he found her: Driscoll’s sister, Mary. Angus had kidnapped her, and now plans to use her for his get-away.

But that doesn’t happen. Driscoll always gets his man.

**Fast-paced and twisted, this book will not let you down. Creepy facts that get creepier, you want to feel sorry for the twins and what they went through. But the more the bodies pop up, the more disgusted you get and cheer on the good guys.

Driscoll, although he just lost his wife, knows that she’s better off and no longer suffering. While he’ll always love her, he can put the pain to rest.

Margaret is back on his team. Both know their feelings for the other, and while Driscoll wants to pursue it as much as Margaret does, Margaret is terrified at the thought of a relationship with him. She has ghosts of her own that haunt her, which also screws up her feelings on the case.

Cedric Thomlinson is also back, the third in the trio. He knows he owes Driscoll for the second -chance he’d been given, and he’ll push himself as far as he can go.

Then there’s the mayor of NYC. William “Sully” Reirdon is the typical mayor; another one of those mayors everyone reads who’s let the power behind the title fill his head and boost his ego. Sure, like hounding Driscoll will make solving the case go faster. *eye roll* You’ll love to hate him.

And then there’s Malcom Shewster, the father of one of the victims. Another ego-maniac who believes he’ll get what he’s after, and only makes solving the case more difficult than it needs to be. And just when it looks like he’s about to get his way, Thomlinson spoils his plan, to which Driscoll now owes him hugely. If it hadn’t been for spoiling the plan, Driscoll’s sister would have been dead, right along with the killers.

This story will grip you from beginning to end, and you’ll be itching for the next book!

On a side note, at first, I wasn’t sure what to make of the title. Upon finishing the book, you’d think that The Screaming Room had something to do with the killers and their victims. But upon reflection, I think I figured it out; when we read the flashbacks, the killers are young, placed on a table, in a room in the basement. With the torture that went on, I think that’s where The Screaming Room comes in. While the title still doesn’t do it for me, the story sure as heck did!

Rating: !

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Love You to Death by Shannon K. Butcher

Mass Market Paperback - 377 Pages - Publisher: Forever; Original edition (October 1, 2009) - ISBN-13: 978-0446510295

Love You to Death

by Shannon K. Butcher

Delicate, expressive hands…long, graceful legs…One man is looking for his perfect woman–and he’ll stop at nothing until he finds her.

LOVE YOU TO DEATH
It’s been days since reporter Elise McBride has heard from her sister, Ashley. She’s convinced Ashley has met with some kind of foul play, especially when she learns that bodies of other missing women have surfaced in and around Chicago–all victims of a brutal serial killer. Convinced her sister is still alive, Elise vows to risk everything to save her…

The last thing ex-cop Trent Brady needs is more blood on his hands. Yet when he catches Elise breaking into her sister’s house, full of reckless determination and fear, he knows she needs his help. But just as desire ignites between them, a twisted madman sets his sights on Elise. Hell-bent on possessing her for himself, this psychopath won’t rest until he has his perfect woman.

**Review: Another incredible book by Butcher!

Elise McBride rushes from Hong Kong to Haven, Illinois, when she couldn’t get a hold of her scatterbrained sister, Ashley. Ashley was known for taking off for a few days at a time, of forgetting things… but she still phone her sister just about every day. When two days went by without word or a call-back, Elise worried that she dropped her assignment as a freelance reporter and hightailed it back to Illinois.

Breaking into her sister’s home and finding nothing, Elise is now sure that Ashley is in trouble. Her car can not be located, her debit or credit cards not used since the Friday night before. She’s disappeared without a trace, and Elise is frantic with worry. But she’s determined to be proactive in finding her sister, even in if puts her in harms way.

Trent Brady is the “Hot Lawn Guy” who lives across the street from Ashley. An ex-cop, he saw Elise trying to break into Ashley’s, and heads over to stop a would-be thief and call the police. The more he’s around Elise, the more he wants to stop her from doing something completely stupid. The more he’s around Elise, the more he’s falling for her. But Elise isn’t the only one with baggage; two years before, he accidentally shot his partner in the back and killed a high-as-a-kite, armed with a gun sixteen-year-old boy. He’s been carrying the guilt around for 2 years. How can he protect Elise when he can’t even stomach the thought of holding a gun again?

Watching the scene/plot unfold was fabulous, from scenes between Elise and Trent, to being inside the killer’s mind. Oh, Butcher knew how to write him in… the character gave me the creeps, how his easygoing/nonchalant behavior about his kidnapping and killing young artistic women sent shivers down my spine! All scenes leading up to the pre-climax, climax and ending … oh, wow! And the Epilogue made it all that much sweeter! A book I definitely recommend to any romantic suspense/triller enthusiast!

Rating:

Paying the Piper by Simon Wood

Mass Market Paperback: 386 pages - Publisher: Leisure Books (October 30, 2007) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0843959800 - ISBN-13: 978-0843959802

Mass Market Paperback: 386 pages - Publisher: Leisure Books (October 30, 2007) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0843959800 - ISBN-13: 978-0843959802

 

Paying the Piper

by Simon Wood

He was known as the Piper – a coldhearted kidnapper who terrified the city. Crime reporter Scott Fleetwood built his career on the Piper. The kidnapper even taunted the FBI through Scott’s column. But Scott had been duped. The person he’d been speaking to wasn’t really the Piper. By the time the FBI exposed the hoaxer, time ran out … and the real Piper killed the child. Then he vanished. But now he’s back, with very specific targets in mind – Scott’s children.

Review: Suspenseful and intense!

Eight years ago, a kidnapper dubbed the “Piper” began kidnapping children. Once the ransoms were paid, the children were returned, unharmed. During the last kidnapping, the Piper contacted Scott Fleetwood, a reporter with the San Fransisco Independent. Only, the man Scott was talking to wasn’t the real Piper. To teach the public, Scott, and the FBI a lesson, the real Piper murdered Nicholas Rooker and left the body in a park. Not a day goes by that Scott doesn’t think about Nicholas Rooker. And now the unthinkable has happened… Scott’s own son, Sammy, has been kidnapped right in front of the school. It’s the Piper – and it’s payback time.

A ransom is demanded, and Scott and his wife Jane, don’t have the funds. But Charles Rooker, Nicholas’s father, pops up at the most unexpected time and saves the day, putting up the ransom; he swears he harbors no ill will toward Scott and his family; he wants the Piper caught, once and for all.

And now the Piper has Scott running in circles and through hoops – for Scott has a lot to answer for. Scott has to do what the Piper wants him to do or the Piper will hurt Sammy. And if things couldn’t get any worse, in the middle of the night, their other son, Peter, is taken right from his own bed, with Jane unable to stop it. And a new ransom is demanded; Charles Rooker swoops in once again. He doesn’t care about the money – he wants the Piper caught. And now the Piper has made a new demand: Scott is given a deadline – he has to find the Piper.

But FBI Agent Tom Sheils is on the case. He still holds contempt towards Scott, but regardless, he’s determined to take down the Piper and bring the boys home. But he knows that Scott is keeping secrets, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it. The question is: will Scott and Sheils figure it out – before it’s too late?

**Incredible suspense, the tension is palpable. There’s no putting this book down. Just when you think you’re starting to get a handle on what’s going on, who’s involved, a twist occurs that blows your theory out of the water, time and time again.

The characters are complex and full of emotion, especially guilt. The main character, Scott, feels it daily; not one day has gone by in eight years that he doesn’t think of what happened to Nicholas Rooker. All the main men characters feel some form of guilt, and because the FBI had been made fools of, Sheils still harbors anger toward Scott, making for some very, very tense scenes.

On the back cover of the book, there’s a quote from Book Browser: “Simon Wood knows how to create tension, he knows how to build three-dimensional characters, and he has proven he can tie everything together in a high-octane climax.” I couldn’t agree more. An excellent novel and highly recommended!

Rating:

Blue Heaven by C.J. Box

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages - Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 Reprint edition (December 2, 2008 ) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0312365713 - ISBN-13: 978-0312365714

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages - Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 Reprint edition (December 2, 2008 ) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0312365713 - ISBN-13: 978-0312365714

 

In this town, the bad have it good…

Blue Heaven

by C.J. Box

A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother are on the run in the Idaho woods, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder – four men who know exactly who William and Annie are. And where their mother lives.

Retired policemen from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the local sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children. Now there’s nowhere left for William and Annie to hide … and no one they can trust. Until they meet Jess Rawlins.

Rawlins, an old-school rancher, knows trouble when he sees it. But he is only one against four men who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses. What these ex-cops do not know is just how far Rawlins will go to protect William and Annie … and see that justice is done.

Review: My first C.J. Box – won’t be my last!

Their mother’s current beau was still there that morning and walked into the kitchen, finding twelve-year-old Annie and ten-year-old William at the table eating breakfast. Following a quick conversation, Tom promised William he’d take William fishing that afternoon – school was letting out early. Upset with her mother that she’d allow that man into her home, and upset that Tom broke his promise to William, the pair set out on their own to the creek. Neither knows how to fish, but Annie is a determined girl; she figures that if Tom knows how to fish, it can’t be all that hard to learn.

But once at the creek, the children witness an execution-style murder and are now on the run from the three men who spotted them. Only, it’s not just the three men: after being rescued, Annie quickly learns that their rescuer is in on it as well. Again on the run, they’ve taken refuge in Jess Rawlins’s barn.

Retired Santa Anita policeman, Eduardo Villatoro, has come to town, wanting to solve a case that still haunts him. A few years back, after the races in Santa Anita, several million dollars was being transfered from the racetrack to the bank. The armored cars were stopped and one of the officers were killed. All this time, the killers were never found, the money still missing. But several of the bills that matched the recorded serial numbers have been deposited lately, most through a bank in Kootenai Bay (Blue Heaven). Villatoro is determined to solve this last case.

Rawlins, an old-school rancher, thinks at first that Annie and William couldn’t have witnessed what they said they did. It didn’t make any sense; especially when the supposed killers turn out to be retired policemen from Los Angeles. But as Jess continues with questions while the children are hiding in his home, he learns that the children were right. Now the four men are heading the search for the missing children, one of them staying with their mother in her house, keeping her away from the public, the media and the phone. And now Jess, divorced with a mentally ill and drug-addicted son, a man about to lose his family’s ranch, is determined to keep the children alive. But what will he do when the killers figure out the children are hiding in his home?

**Fabulously told, rich with descriptions and well-developed characters.

Jess Rawlins doesn’t see himself as a brave savior; he only wants to do what’s right. But he is a strong man with strong beliefs, and he’ll do what he must to protect those children.

Annie – for a twelve-year-old, she’s turning out to be a brave and mature young lady. She does what’s necessary to protect her brother, right down to convincing Jess to teach her how to load and shoot a gun. William believes to be brave, even when scared spitless.  I adored the children.

And the killers… they gave me the creeps. Being retired police officers, I think made the creeps worse. Vindictive, manipulative and cunning, I cringed everytime they determined what to do next to find the kids. I hated every single one of them. While they get what they deserve, I still wish more would have happened to them. If you as me, they got the easy way out.

Superb action, intense suspense, well-developed love-to-love and love-to-hate characters, incredible descriptions of what seems like a beautiful and relaxing place on earth, together with a tear-jerker ending, this was my first experience with C.J. Box. I can say with complete honesty it won’t be my last. A huge recommendation!

Rating:

Twice Kissed by Lisa Jackson

Paperback: 448 pages - Publisher: Zebra (July 25, 2006) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0821779443 - ISBN-13: 978-0821779446

Paperback: 448 pages - Publisher: Zebra (July 25, 2006) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0821779443 - ISBN-13: 978-0821779446

 

The only good twin is a dead twin…

Twice Kissed

by Lisa Jackson

MIRROR,  MIRROR…

Marquise Walker has vanished without a trace. There are few clues and much speculation on her sudden disappearance. But the truth is more terrifying than anyone can even imagine…

ON  THE  WALL…

Maggie McCrae would do anything to find her identical twin sister – even if it means stepping into her unfamiliar shoes. Walking through Marquise’s wild, uninhibited life is a revelation for Maggie, proof that she knew very little about her twin’s darker side and her connection to the only man Maggie ever loved, Thane Walker. Now he’s the man she shouldn’t trust, a man who could be her best hope … or a cold-blooded killer…

WHO’S  THE  DEADEST  TWIN  OF  ALL?

The deeper Maggie digs, the more she is drawn into the web of her own past … to a twisted family legacy of desperate deceit, betrayal, and revenge … each secret bringing her closer to a final, shocking truth – and to the identity of a killer who’s closer than she thinks….

Review: Not as great as I was lead to believe…

While feeding her horses, a voice floats through Maggie’s mind. It had been years since she felt it for the last time. Her twin-sister’s voice. Her sister is in trouble. And she’s blaming her ex-husband, Thane Walker, the man Maggie had fallen in love with years ago. Not long after she hears the voice, Thane shows up on her doorstep; just before she disappeared, Marquise and Thane had gotten into an awful fight, and now the police believe him to be their number one suspect.

Mary Theresa, now known as Marquise, has disappeared without a trace, without the tiniest clue as to where she went. Maggie ships her daughter off to her in-laws while she heads to Denver with Thane to search for her sister. Plenty of suspects: from ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends, current boyfriend, co-workers, supposed friends… Did someone ‘help’ Marquise disappear? Was she kidnapped? Was she murdered? Or did Marquise do what she’s done before; disappear for a few days only to reappear as if nothing was wrong? No ransom note, no body. The police are digging, and so is Maggie. But she doesn’t understand what she finds, for her sister has a dark side that Maggie never knew about, and doesn’t want to believe.

**I was disappointed with this story. You’re first introduced to Maggie and her daughter, Becca. She’s in some small town in Idaho, escaping a troubled past, dragging her daughter with her. What happens at the beginning is quite promising – however, it doesn’t stay that way. Thane shows up, wanting her help. She ships her daughter off, heads to Denver with Thane, and begins learning things about her twin sister that she never knew. Suddenly, she has no clue who her twin sister really is.

But then the story gets kind of lame. There’s a flashback to when they were teens. While Maggie was the loner, the one who prefered to be by herself, Mary Theresa was becoming the wild child. The twisted family legacy was rather awful in a disgusting way, not horrifying. Yes, there was deceit and betrayal, but there was no originality to it. Horrible enough that Maggie wants to truly believe that nothing happened and she suppressed it. Mary Theresa sleeps with Thane while he’s drunk, pretending to be Maggie, then claims the baby is his – when it actually wasn’t. And it goes on and on. At one point, I was screaming “enough already!”  Mary Theresa becomes the bad person; uses men to get where and what she wants, blah, blah, blah.

Mary Theresa was screwed up in the head, had been since she was a teenager. Even when she tries to make it right at the end, her vision of things was still skewed. Maggie… OMG, I’ve never met such a naive character. I mean really naive; not an inkling of what her sister was really like? Suppressing something so ‘horrible’ that she refuses to remember it? She was sixteen, for crying out loud! I can understand if she’d been twelve, but sixteen? And Thane – a charmer? I never felt the ‘charm’. And his biggest secret he was holding back had to do with the possibility of a seventeen-year-old son out there somewhere, that Mary Theresa had given up after they split, and she was trying to extort money from him. The threat was, either loan me the money or you’ll never find your son? *biggest eyeroll I can make* And the one who set up the disappearing act/killer – unoriginal to say the least. The one character I liked that seemed to have any common sense: Becca. For a kid, she was smart. She figured out her cousin was using her, what her aunt and uncle were up to, and headed straight for her mother the second she figured it out. While it was stupid how she did the latter, I still thought her the smartest.

After the story is finished, Ms. Jackson writes to her fans. The sentence: “A fun-loving triangle!” had my jaw dropping. Fun-loving? It was sick and twisted, not fun-loving! Ugh.

Rating:

The Prey by Allison Brennan – “Predator” trilogy Book #1

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages - Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 27, 2005) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0345480236 - ISBN-13: 978-0345480231

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages - Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 27, 2005) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0345480236 - ISBN-13: 978-0345480231

 

The Prey

by Allison Brennan

“Predator” trilogy Book #1

First, she imagined it. Then a killer made it real.

Rowan Smith is living in a borrowed Malibu beach house while her bestselling novel is made into a Hollywood movie. A former FBI agent with a haunted past, Rowan thinks she has outrun her demons. But fiction and reality collide when a dismembered body is found in Colorado: the real-life victim had the same name, occupation, and looks as a character in Rowan’s novel. By the time the FBI, LAPD, and her own private bodyguard gather around her, another person is killed – again, the murder ripped from the pages of Rowan’s book.

In the company of a former Delta Force officer with secrets of his own, Rowan faces an excruciating dilemma: the only way to chase down the tormenting killer is by revisiting the darkness of her past – and by praying for some way out again.

After the prey is chosen, the hunt is on and the kill is certain.

Review: Not bad for a debut novel.

Former FBI agent Rowan Smith last case haunted her so much, she quit the FBI. Parts of the case hit too close to home. At the age of 10, she witnessed her brother Bobby’s evilness when he murdered most of the members of her family. The only ones alive besides herself are her brother and her father, but her father may as well be dead. She saw her mother’s bloodied, lifeless corpse and believe he killed her. Now he sits in a mental ward, no life in his eyes. Now she’s an author whose books are being made into movies. Staying in Hollywood in a rented beach house, she’s currently working on the next movie. One morning she wakes up to the slamming of a car door. Answering the door was the worst thing she could have done; reporters were camped on her doorstep, wanting to know her reaction to a murder that was taken straight from one of her books.

When another murder happens, her producer, Annette hires a security firm. Michael Flynn, ex-cop, is on the case, determined to protect her. But he’s also falling for her, and his brother, John, ex-DEA, wonders if it’s a repeat of a past case that went horribly wrong. Their sister, Tess, makes up the entire security firm, she’s their computer expert. When more events occur, John believes Rowan’s hiding something, and believes Michael’s too smitten to properly protect her. He wonders if what she’s hiding could get them killed.

As more and more murders occur, and her books left behind at the scene, FBI and the Flynn brothers agree that someone is after Rowan. But who could it be? Someone she put away, a family member of someone she put away or a victim? And then she begins to wonder if it’s someone from her past. But who? Everyone but herself, her brother Peter and her father are alive. Who could it be?

** I have to be honest; If this had been the first Brennan novel I’ve read, I probably would have enjoyed it more. But because I’ve read her more recent work, I found this one lacking.

For a debut novel, it was good. Not great, but good. I’ve read similar plots before and I didn’t find this one original enough to score 5 stars from me.

And emotionally diconnected. Rowan closed herself off from everyone. And in doing so, the reader also feels disconnected from her. Yes, what happened in her past is terrible, no kid should have to live through that, and I have to say I was proud at the life she built despite it. But with an emotional lack coming from the main character, it through the whole book off. Intelligent, strong, she can defend herself. But her past tortures her emotionally, and the reader doesn’t feel it.

John. Ex-DEA, he brings baggage to the story as well, but I found him more likable than Rowan. Strong, self-assured, he’s haunted when a case went terribly wrong, and he’s determined to catch Pomera, the man he’s been after for years. He started the security firm with his brother.

Michael. How am I supposed to approach this? He’s supposed to be an ex-cop. Supposed to have been a cop for 15 years before he quit. I’m sorry, but what I got from him was a smitten teenager in his late teens! OMG! He was attracted to Rowan right from the beginning. While they had their runs on the beach in the morning, he’s too busy watching her than their surroundings. When John pushes Rowan for the truth, for details, Michael makes him back off and coddles her. WTH?! He acted more like a love-sick teenager, jealous of his brother, than the grown man he was supposed to be. Granted, what happens in the book is awful and while I wished him off the case, I didn’t wish for what happened to happen.

And while I felt a physical attraction between Rowan and John, I didn’t feel anything else but. I felt more from the other characters. I did like the suspense and the mystery, even though finding out who the killer is was rather predictable. The climax and ending had me flipping pages. Started of slow, picked up in the middle, and about 3/4’s of the way in, became really good.

Will this stop me from reading The Hunt and The Kill? No. I’ve been told they’re much better. But this one doesn’t rate top marks from me, and I’m sad to say it.

Rating:

Don’t Look Twice by Andrew Gross (‘Ty Hauck’ series Book #2)

Hardcover: 384 pages - Publisher: William Morrow (March 3, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0061143448 - ISBN-13: 978-0061143441

Hardcover: 384 pages - Publisher: William Morrow (March 3, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0061143448 - ISBN-13: 978-0061143441

 

Don’t Look Twice

by Andrew Gross

‘Ty Hauck’ series Book #2

In this dramatic new novel following the bestselling The Dark Tide, a drive-by shooting rocks the posh suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, and an innocent bystander is dead.

Detective Ty Hauck punges into what seems like a vicious case of retribution and follows the trail to a sinister gambling scheme at an upstate casino. Until Annie Fletcher, a young restauranteur in the midst of rebuilding her life, witnesses something she shouldn’t have – and immediately runs to him with what she knows. Suddenly, Hauck is pulled into a rising storm far greater than it first appeared – a storm wide enough to encompass corruption inside Greenwich’s circle of wealthy and powerful citizens. And punishing enough to consume Hauck’s own family, and tear brothers apart forever … if it doesn’t kill them first.

Don’t Look Twice is a gripping story of profiteering on an international scale and an emotionally resonant domestic thriller from one of the hottest new talents in suspense fiction.

Review: Fast-paced whodunnit and emotional, but plot twists rather predictable.

Ty and his daughter, Jessie, are at the gas station, stocking up on fuel and supplies before taking the boat out for its final voyage of the year. While standing in line, a red truck slams to a stop outside and bullets start flying. Ty got a look at the shooter, and a partial plate, but when he turns to see if everyone’s alright, Jessie is unconscious and covered in blood. Ty flashes back to when Norah, his other daughter, was killed years ago when the car backed down the driveway, running her over. Jessie is fine, but in shock, and the blood isn’t hers; the blood belongs to David Sanger, federal prosecutor who was standing in line behind them.

At first, the shooting seemed an act of gang revenge. But looks are deceiving, for as the investigation progresses, and the body count starts to rise, the case goes so much deeper than Ty could have possibly imagined, from the lowest of the low to people high-up in the political chain, including a U.S. senator. Ty discovers that his brother, Warren, is also involved. The questions is – how deep?

**The author writes his characters in such a way that, good or evil, they seem entirely real, entirely human. Ty is a smart detective, tenacious, determined.

I could feel the difference between Ty and Karen (from The Dark Tide.) There was a distance, and I could tell the love wasn’t there any more. Truthfully, I don’t think it was really there to begin with. And while that really is too bad, a new female character, Annie, a restauranteur, becomes involved when she witnesses a gang member disposing something in the dumpster behind her restaurant – the gun that had been used in the drive-by shooting. I could feel something between them, and I really can’t wait to see in the next book if Ty and Annie take it any further.

It was nice to be introduced to Warren, Ty’s older brother. You can tell that their relationship is a strained one; Ty had witness something involving Warren a long time ago, and it put a distance between them. Just when it looks like they’re going to become close again, a twist in the plot will leave the reader feeling just as hollow and angry as Ty does.

I have to admit, I found the plot twists rather predictable. It’s like I could tell where this was going, how deep the case really went and how high up the “food chain” it really was. And by the time you hit the end of the story, you’re left as unsatisfied as Ty – because if he actually went all the way, there was still no proving what he knew. Without proof, it was like Ty had to drop it, knowing that he wouldn’t/couldn’t win. And that was sad. For me, a mystery needs a solved case and a happy ending. A friend is murdered in an explosion in Ty’s home – an explosion meant for him, leaving Ty feeling guilty and worn out. And just when he needs his boss the most, I find that Vern isn’t there for Ty like he should be. As the chief, you’d think he’d be just as bent as Ty to finding the truth. Personally, I think it was obvious Vern knew more than he was letting on, and the more it went on, the more I became disgusted with a character I liked in the first novel, The Dark Tide.

I think I liked this book more for the emotional value than the mystery, if I may be honest with you. The emotions during and after the shooting, when he reconnects with his brother and ultimately losing him, the guilt he feels for the explosion meant for him, losing Karen all while knowing there was no longer a relationship to save, the offer of a new job… the emotions roll off the page as you’re reading this novel, and it makes it hard to put down.

Rating:

The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross (“Ty Hauck” series Book #1)

Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages - Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (January 27, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 006114343X - ISBN-13: 978-0061143434

Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages - Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (January 27, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 006114343X - ISBN-13: 978-0061143434

 

The Dark Tide

by Andrew Gross

“Ty Hauck” series Book #1

On the morning Karen Friedman learns that her husband, a hedge fund manager, has been tragically killed, Detective Ty Hauck begins his investigation of another man’s death in a suspicious hit-and-run in Karen’s hometown. The two seemingly unrelated tragedies are about to plunge a beautiful widow and a determined investigator into a maelstrom of murder, vast sums of missing money, and international conspiracy.

Review: Fast-paced, deception, lies, conspiracies, plot-twists… excellent!

One morning, while at her yoga class, Karen Friedman, along with everyone there, learns of the bombing at Grand Central Station. At first, Karen feels horrible for the people involved in some way. Until that same horror starts to sink in – her husband had taken the train to work that morning after bringing the car in for servicing. Trying not to panic, she tries to reach him – but he’s gone. The first bomb was set off in the first two cars, and Charlie always sat in the first car. There’s nothing left of him to identify – only part of his briefcase was found.

A year later, with the kids away for the night, Karen is determined to watch the documentary on TV. Just when she watch anymore, reaching for the remote to turn it off, whose face does she see? But it can’t be … can it? Is Charlie really still alive?

Nearly a week goes by when Karen finally decides she needs to talk to someone about this. She won’t tell the kids – they were just as devastated as she was when Charlie was supposedly killed. Recording the documentary on a DVR, she takes it to detective Ty Hauck.

She had met Ty previously when he came to her home. On the day of the bombing, he had been at a case of hit and run, and Charlie’s name and number had been in the kid’s pocket. Ty’s about the only one she can trust.

And that’s when the fun begins. Ty takes a leave of absense, determined to find answers for Karen. Conspiracies, lies, deception, Karen can’t believe her husband of 18 years was even involved. But the biggest shocker is actually finding Charlie and hearing his confession. Only, it doesn’t stop there.

**Great book! Had a hard time putting it down.

Karen is a strong woman, in mind and body. Determined, she wants to hear the entire thing from Charlie’s mouth, face-to-face – she and their children deserve that much. Once she latches on, like a pitbull, doesn’t let go.

Ty has lived a hell in his past, one that he actually couldn’t get passed, until he met Karen. But with Karen in his life, he moves forward, looking to the future, feeling emotions deep down that he never thought he’d feel again. Just as determined as she is, he breaks laws he’d sworn to uphold to get to the bottom of the whole matter, and it nearly cost them their lives.

From bombs to hit-and-runs, to connections in between… From plot-twist to plot-twist, conspiracies, lies and deception, this one had it all. There was a little romance put in, but I felt it was more like an on the side type of deal. While I did feel something between Karen and Ty, it wasn’t as strong a spark as it could have been. I also felt that when the action starts, the dialogue suffered a little – well, enough that I can’t give this one a full five stars.

Regardless, great mystery, great plot, enough action to satisfy, and emotions roll throughout. Excellent read!

Rating:

Heartstopper by Joy Fielding

Mass Market Paperback: 442 pages - Publisher: Seal Books (March 25, 2008 ) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 1400025052 - ISBN-13: 978-1400025053

Mass Market Paperback: 442 pages - Publisher: Seal Books (March 25, 2008 ) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 1400025052 - ISBN-13: 978-1400025053

 

Heartstopper

by Joy Fielding

New York Times and internationally bestselling author triumphs with a spine-tingling thriller about a picturesque Florida town – and the killer determined to prey on its teenage girls… Heartstopper.

Welcome to Torrance, Florida. Population: 4,160. As Sheriff John Weber would attest, the deadliest predators to date in his tiny hamlet were the alligators lurking in the nearby swamps. But that was before someone abducted and murdered a runaway teenage girl … and before the disappearance of popular and pretty Liana Martin. The pattern is chilling to Sandy Crosbie, the town’s new high school English teacher. With a marriage on the rocks, thanks to her husband’s online affairs, and a beautiful teenage daughter to protect, Sandy wishes she’d never come to the seemingly quiet town with shocking depths of scandal, sex, and brutality roiling beneath its surface. And as Sheriff Weber digs up more questions than answers in a dead-end investigation, one truth emerges: the prettiest ones – the heartstoppers – are being targeted. And this killer intends to give them their due.

Alternating between the chilling journal entries of a cold-blooded murderer and the sizzling scandals of small-town life, Heartstopper is Fielding’s most exciting novel of suspense yet.

Review: Not as chilling as I was led to believe…

I can’t even get into a description with this one before giving my honest opinion. I think this is the first time I’ve ever read a book where there doesn’t feel like there’s a main character. I mean, the synopsis has Sandy Crosbie as the main character. While you do see a lot of her and what’s going on in her life, the teens in the book, the sheriff and his family… it’s like equal exposure. Chilling journal entries? Um, I think not. And I could tell it was a teenager that wrote them – mainly because of the writing and rambling. I don’t want to reveal too much, in case you decide to read it, but I wasn’t surprised by the outcome, it really didn’t hold that much mystery or suspense for me, and not that much of a thriller either.

Sandy and her family had moved to Torrance at her husband’s insistance. Little did Sandy know it was because of an online affair – for now her husband has left her for another woman. To make matters worse, she teaches the daughter of that woman. Can we say awkward? That’s about the only thing that was awkward.

With a divorce looming in front of her, her friend finally convinces her on a double blind date, but Sandy went with the flow when she was “rescued” from her uncomfortability only to land herself in a stupid situation. And I do mean stupid situation – I thought it was the most ridiculous scenario the author could have put her in; completely obvious, and I think that made it worse, cause you knew before Sandy knew what was going to happen. Ugh. I have a friend who gave me a nickname for a stupid character like that: TSTL – Too Stupid To Live heroine. And even then, she wasn’t a heroine. She didn’t figure it out. Sure, she’s worried about her 17-year-old daughter, and how the kidnappings and killings are of beautiful teenage girls, but she was just like everyone else in town – just as clueless as to who the killer was.

The climax had me turning the page, just to see what would happen. Sure, acceptable outcome. The last chapter is the killer’s journal again, where you get the wrap-up of the aftermath. Again, everything was obvious. And this book was supposed to be a thriller? I wanted so much to like this book and was disappointed because, while I didn’t hate it, I found it to be between “whatever” and “okay.”

Rating:

Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

978-0307388995

Mass Market Paperback: 444 pages - Publisher: Vintage (April 29, 2008 ) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0307388999 - ISBN-13: 978-0307388995

 

Beautiful Lies

by Lisa Unger

Ridley Jones has been living a lie. A myserious package showed up on her doorstep one morning and the beautiful lie she used to call her life was over. Suddenly, everyone she knows feels like a stranger. She has no idea who’s on her side and who has something to hide – even her new lover, Jake, might have disturbing secrets of his own.

Now she’s determined to find out the truth, even if it means risking her life.

Review: Family secrets you like you can’t imagine.

It all started when Ridley saves a little boy from being run over in the middle of the street. That fifteen minutes of fame – are going to cost her like you wouldn’t believe.

A grainy photo and the words: “Are you my daughter?” are shoved under her door, and this starts the entire train of destruction. Everyone she knows has been lying to her, from her parents to her brother, her ex-fiance and friend, Zach and his mother, Esme. Even her deceased Uncle Max lied to her. Everyone is telling her that, because of her act of bravery, it’s bringing crazies out of the woodwork, but for some reason, that doesn’t ring true for Ridley, and she becomes determined to find out why.

And it seems that the only one she believes she can trust is Jake, a man who recently moved into her apartment building. After a little research, Ridley learns that the woman in the photo, Teresa Elizabeth Stone, had been murdered in 1972 and her 18-month-old daughter, Jessie Amelia Stone, went missing. It was believed that Christina Luna, father of Jessie, had murdered her and disappeared with the child. With Jake’s help, she gets in contact with the man who sent her the photo, Christian Luna. He’d found Teresa’s body that night, and Jessie missing, and he ran, knowing that he would be a supsect, for Teresa had a restraining order on him, and he’d been banging on her door, drunk as a skunk, earlier that night.

But as Ridley is talking to him in the park, he’s shot dead beside her, rifle shot to the head.

Lies upon lies tumble, and Ridley becomes even more determined. Whether or not she is Jessie, she’s going to find out what happened over thirty years ago. Who killed Teresa Elizabeth Stone? And what happened to Jessie?

I’d had high hopes. I’d heard such good things about this author that when Crystal suggested this book as a Buddy Read, I jumped on it. I think we both may be regretting the idea.

It’s not that it was a bad book. The action was superb, the mystery was great, the plot thick, the lies, deceit and twists ties the reader up in knots. The characters have you wondering, but the main character, Ridley… oh, boy, where do I start?

You can tell she grew up in a bubble of her parents love and money. Naive, she knows about bad things in the world, but she really had no idea. Reading about it is one thing, but being involved is another, and her eyes are being opened rather drastically, rather quickly. But the rambling… OMG, the rambling! It screams FILLER! It may give you an idea about the kind of person she is, how she grew up, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah, but enough is enough! At one point, she even jokes that we might be upset at her rambling but that there’s a point to it. I’m sorry, but there was stuff rambled about that had no bearing to the story whatsoever. The rambling drove me crazy, and I even had my husband look at me funny when I yelled: “Get to the point, already!” Not once, but three times.

And while I did feel that spark, that click between her and Jake, the relationship hit high really quick… too quick. First the sex (which is painfully really nothing to gossip about whatsoever,) then the I love you’s inside a week? Are we really supposed to believe that? Sure, I felt that connection, but the rest went way too fast. Sorry, Ms. Unger, but readers of the suspense/thriller genre are not that naive.

And the ending – perfect set up for a second book. And honestly, I wasn’t happy… Not. One. Bit. Way too many unanswered questions, plus we still don’t know who actually killed Teresa Stone. Now I feel like I’m being forced to pick up the second book, Sliver of Truth, in order to find out. To me, that screams: guaranteed sales. From an author’s and publisher’s stand-point, that’s awesome. From a reader’s stand-point, a huge load of B.S. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll pick up Sliver of Truth. I feel cheated, and I don’t like feeling cheated.

I can’t say it was a bad book, cause it wasn’t – not to me, anyway. But it wasn’t the greatest for me. Do I recommend it? *shrug* The choice is yours.

Rating: