Category Archives: Mystery

Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

Title: The Child by Fiona Barton
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense.

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…


The Child by Fiona Barton is an intriguing mystery about a newspaper reporter who is pursuing a story about the recent discovery of a baby’s skeleton at a construction site.

Newspaper reporter Kate Waters’ instincts are immediately piqued after reading a story about of the unearthing of baby’s skeletonized remains and she quickly begins looking into the case. At the same time, the newspaper story is quite upsetting to Emma Simmonds, an emotionally fragile wife of a university professor and Angela Irving, whose newborn daughter was kidnapped from a maternity ward in 1970.  Kate’s research leads her to Angela who has never given up hope she will one day find out what happened to baby Alice and she eagerly co-operates with both Kate and the police who trying to identify the remains. Emma, on the other hand, is immediately filled with dread as she scours the newspapers daily for new developments in the case. Kate is, of course, interested in breaking a big story but she also becomes emotionally involved in learning the truth after she interviews Angela.  Will Kate uncover the truth about the baby’s identity?

Kate’s newspaper is in the midst of another round of employee cuts so she is definitely feeling the pressure to break a huge story. She has been in the business long enough to have a decent list of police contacts who give her just enough information for her to begin her investigation.  Initially keeping quiet about the story she is researching, Kate is instrumental helping the police discover the identity of the baby’s remains. The case then takes an unexpected turn and Kate is hot on the trail of story that she knows is going to be huge.

Angela cannot help but hope the discovery of the baby’s skeleton will finally give her the answers she has been searching for about baby Alice’s disappearance.  Despite having her hopes raised and dashed a few times over the years, Angela is certain the remains are Alice’s.  If she is correct, will she find out the truth about what happened to her daughter? Or will she forever wonder who is responsible for kidnapping her baby?

Emma’s emotional troubles first surfaced when she was a teenager but her depression and anxiety have been much improved for quite some time. The newspaper article sends her on a downward spiral and she is very distracted as the story unfolds. It soon becomes obvious she is heavily burdened by a secret from her long ago past, but Emma finds it impossible to discuss what is haunting her. With every new revelation about the baby, Emma becomes even more fearful that the truth about what she has been hiding will be discovered.

The Child is initially somewhat slow paced as Fiona Barton introduces readers to the key players in the unfolding mystery. Kate tenaciously follows each and every lead she uncovers but she is having a very difficult time figuring out exactly how the disparate pieces of the puzzle fit together.  Angela is desperate for answers about what happened to her baby and she is a very sympathetic character. Emma is a little harder to read and the truth about her past takes a very long time to be revealed.  Astute readers will mostly likely figure out the connection between the various storylines fairly early, but this knowledge does not lessen the overall enjoyment of the novel. While there are very surprises left by the novel’s conclusion, there is one final revelation that is instrumental in tying up all of the loose ends.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Fiona Barton, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Child

Review: Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin

Title: Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.
Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.

I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can’t bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.

If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw’s whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact…

I’ve spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.

Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn’t been another girl.

And now there is.


Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin is a gritty, suspense-laden mystery.

In the ten years since her pedophile kidnapper inexplicably freed her, Laine Moreno has never fully recovered from her three year ordeal. Now twenty-three, she holds down two jobs to support herself and she relies on alcohol and drugs to keep her dark memories at bay. Laine comes face to face with her past when ten year old Olivia Shaw goes missing and Detective Sean Ortiz suspects there is a connection between Laine’s still unsolved case and Olivia’s kidnapping. Laine wants nothing more than to help find the young girl, but will she help or hinder the investigation?

Laine’s ordeal at the hands of abductor was horrendous but little was done to find her captor after her release. The daughter of a junkie, Laine was quickly forgotten as she became a ward of the state and soon turned to unhealthy methods of coping with what happened to her. Now on probation and still undergoing counseling, Laine is her own worst enemy as she numbs her pain with a plethora of prescription drug addictions and alcohol. She wants to help rescue Olivia, but Laine is impulsive and unable to cope with the traumatic memories from her time in captivity.

Since Olivia is from a wealthy family, her disappearance is a high profile case with intense media scrutiny. There is also a great deal of pressure on the police to locate the missing girl and Sean’s reason for reaching out to Laine is two-fold: rule her out as a suspect and check to see if she has recalled any new details about her own case.  Laine implicitly trusts Sean due to their history but is her faith in him misplaced? Laine soon discovers she can rely on no one but herself as she continues trying to find Olivia on her own while she becomes progressively more paranoid as her downward spiral continues.

With plenty of unexpected twists and turns and an increasingly unreliable narrator, Girl Last Seen is a somewhat dark mystery that delves into some difficult subject matter. Although Laine is initially a sympathetic protagonist, it is easy to become frustrated with her erratic behavior and poor choices.  Sean is not exactly impartial when it comes to Laine and he, too, makes some very ill-advised decisions. Nina Laurin brings the investigation to an adrenaline-fueled (but slightly improbably) conclusion and the novel ends on a surprisingly upbeat note.

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Filed under Contemporary, Girl Last Seen, Grand Central Publishing, Mystery, Nina Laurin, Rated B, Review, Suspense

Review: Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham

Title: Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham
Tom Thorne Series Book Fourteen
Publisher: Atlantic Press Monthly
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Internationally bestselling author Mark Billingham’s riveting new novel Love Like Blood marks the return of series character Tom Thorne, “the next superstar detective” (Lee Child), as he pairs up with perfectionist detective inspector Nicola Tanner of Die of Shame on an investigation that ventures into politically sensitive territory.

DI Nicola Tanner needs Tom Thorne’s help. Her partner, Susan, has been brutally murdered and Tanner is convinced that it was a case of mistaken identity—that she was the real target. The murderer’s motive might have something to do with Tanner’s recent work on a string of cold-case honor killings she believes to be related. Tanner is now on compassionate leave but insists on pursuing the case off the books and knows Thorne is just the man to jump into the fire with her. He agrees but quickly finds that working in such controversial territory is dangerous in more ways than one. And when a young couple goes missing, they have a chance to investigate a case that is anything but cold. Racing towards a twist-filled ending, Love Like Blood is another feat of masterful plotting from one of Britain’s top crime novelists.


In Love Like Blood, DI Nicola Marsh turns to Tom Thorne for help following the murder of her girlfriend Susan Best.  The investigation focuses on honour killings in this fourteenth installment of Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne series.

Having ruffled quite a few feathers while working for the Honour Crimes Unit, Nicola is certain she, not Susan, was killer’s intended target.  Currently on compassionate leave following Susan’s death, she enlists Tom’s help in an off the books investigation that might be linked to the four year old unsolved murder of Meena Athwal. Nicola’s theory that parents in the Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh communities are hiring hitmen to kill their daughters whose behavior brings shame to their families is plausible but it has made her some powerful enemies. Eager to solve his cold case, Thorne agrees to investigate Susan’s death but will they uncover the truth before it is too late?

Tom is never afraid to step on toes, but he is uncharacteristically diplomatic as he tries to convince his boss DCI Brigstocke to let him investigate the current case of a missing young couple, Amaya Shah and Kamal Azim.  He is also surprisingly honest about the fact that he is looking into Susan’s murder but he is careful to downplay Nicola’s involvement in the investigation. Now he has Brigstocke’s blessing to look into the disappearance of Shah and Azim, Tom is deeply troubled after his interviews with the victims’ families. Fortunately CCTV footage gives Thorne and Marsh a strong lead that supports the hitman theory.  When Amaya’s body is discovered, Tom is frustrated when his boss insists he concentrate on locating her boyfriend Kamal after strong evidence leads everyone to believe he is most likely her killer.

The various investigations unfold at a rather slow pace but Tom and Nicola have many intriguing leads to pursue. Nicola has uncovered a possible link to three leaders in the Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh communities who are working together to combat the hate crimes directed toward them. Arman Bannerjee is the most charismatic of the three leaders and at the urging of his son, Ravi, he previously lodged a complaint against Nicola. Needless to say, Bannerjee is less than enthused to see her and Thorne at their meetings. Tom and Nicola cannot help but wonder if Arman’s animosity is an indication he is involved in the honour killings.  When an attempt is made on Nicola’s life, Tom is certain they are the right track, but will he locate the suspected hitmen before they strike again?

Love Like Blood is a leisurely paced mystery with an refreshingly unique storyline.  Nicola and Tom are a formidable team as they tenaciously pursue numerous leads in the investigation into the honour killings and Susan’s murder.  Mark Billingham brings the novel to a jaw-dropping conclusion with a shocking plot twist that is impossible to predict.  This latest release is another brilliant addition to the Tom Thorne series that old and new fans are going to love.

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Filed under Atlantic Monthly Press, Contemporary, Love Like Blood, Mark Billingham, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Tom Thorne Series

Review: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

Title: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 401 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura married are living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.


He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly is a brilliant, twist-filled mystery that unfolds at leisurely pace.

In 1999, Laura Langrishe and Kit McCall have been dating about six months when they attend a festival in Cornwall to watch a solar eclipse.  Immediately after the eclipse is over, Laura stumbles onto the scene of an apparent sexual assault.  After the trial is over, victim Beth Taylor befriends Laura but their friendship slowly takes an unexpectedly dark turn. Fast forward fifteen years, Laura and Kit are now married and have taken extreme measures to remain out of the public eye. However, they still venture out of hiding to view eclipses but they still try to keep as far under the radar as possible. In 2015, Laura is pregnant with twins so Kit travels with a friend to view the latest eclipse and Laura’s anxiety slowly ratchets to a fever pitch amid fears that Beth will locate them again.

Weaving back and forth in time and alternating between Kit and Laura’s perspective, the events in the past and present slowly unfold.  In her early twenties, Laura is a bit self righteous as she takes charge the situation with Beth and she is determined to do everything she can to assure the rapist’s conviction. Although Kit is not a witness to the attack, he is quickly swept up in the series of events that follow.  Relieved when the trial is over, he is less than pleased when Beth insinuates herself into their lives.  Despite his best efforts to convince Laura to distance herself from Beth, Laura cannot bring herself to abandon her friend.

In the present, Laura still suffers from extreme anxiety and paranoia that worsens as they prepare to view eclipses. Laura’s fears are valid but she refuses to let them  interfere with something that holds such meaning for both her and Kit. She tries to hold her dread in check while Kit is on his trip and she is greatly relieved as his return draws near.  Relieved when her worries fail to come to fruition, Laura drops her guard as she concentrates on his impending homecoming but has she relaxed her guard a little too soon?

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly is an absolutely riveting mystery that fans of the genre will enjoy.  The pacing is a little slow but at the same time, the tension gradually builds as Laura’s doubts begin to creep in. Just when the reader thinks the whole story has been revealed, the first shocking plot twist is revealed.  The unexpected twists and turns then occur at breakneck speed as the novel hurtles to an adrenaline-laced, jaw-dropping conclusion. An absolutely outstanding, twisty-turny mystery that I absolutely loved and HIGHLY recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Erin Kelly, He Said She Said, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron

Title: You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


An addictive novel of psychological suspense from the award-winning author of Night Night, Sleep Tight, about three generations of women haunted by a little girl’s disappearance, and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to the truth . . .

Seven-year-old Lissie Woodham and her four-year-old sister Janey were playing with their porcelain dolls in the front yard when an adorable puppy scampered by. Eager to pet the pretty dog, Lissie chased after the pup as it ran down the street. When she returned to the yard, Janey’s precious doll was gone . . . and so was Janey.

Forty years after Janey went missing, Lis—now a mother with a college-age daughter of her own—still blames herself for what happened. Every year on the anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, their mother, Miss Sorrel, places a classified ad in the local paper with a picture of the toy Janey had with her that day—a one-of-a-kind porcelain doll—offering a generous cash reward for its return. For years, there’s been no response. But this year, the doll came home.

It is the first clue in a decades-old mystery that is about to turn into something far more sinister—endangering Lis and the lives of her mother and daughter as well. Someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago, and is desperate to keep it hidden.


You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron is a fast-paced and engrossing mystery that centers around the forty year disappearance of Janey Woodham.

Every year on the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, Miss Sorrel Woodham runs a newspaper ad offering a reward for the return of Janey’s porcelain doll which vanished along with the long missing girl. This year, a young woman brings a doll that Miss Sorrel is certain belongs to her daughter. However, Lis Strenger, who continues to feel guilty for her sister’s disappearance, is not as convinced. That same evening, an inexplicable explosion injures both women and when Lis’s daughter Vanessa returns to the family home, she is confused to discover Miss Sorrel’s prized doll collection has been stolen.  Equally puzzling is next door neighbor and family friend Evelyn Dumont’s insistence that Miss Sorrel’s conviction the porcelain doll belongs to Janey is nothing more than wishful thinking. Lis and Vanessa decide to locate the young woman who delivered the doll but will they find the answers they are searching for?

Lis wants nothing more than to find out the truth about what happened to Janey, so she is impatient with the local police department’s lack of urgency in locating the woman who brought them the doll. With Vanessa’s help, they quickly uncover the identity and address of the person they are searching for. Their arrival at the Maggie Richards’ home is just the first of many surprises surrounding Maggie and her mom, Jenny.

Despite police assurance they are taking the situation seriously, Lis continues her own investigation. She is puzzled when information she uncovers is quickly contradicted by the police.  Are her results wrong? Or is there a more sinister reason for the discrepancy?  Lis cannot begin to guess who would want to interfere with the investigation but she refuses to stop searching for the truth about what happened to Janey. The discovery that another young girl connected to her mother’s porcelain doll business also disappeared years after Janey’s kidnapping is yet another shocking bit of news and Lis is determined to continue looking for the truth. How far will the perpetrator go to keep their long buried secrets from being uncovered?

You’ll Never Know, Dear is an intriguing mystery that fans of the genre will enjoy. The storyline is unusual and the creepy porcelain dolls are shudder inducing.  While it is rather easy to guess the identity of the kidnapper, the motive for the crime remains elusive.  Hallie Ephron brings this suspense-laden mystery to an action-filled, satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Hallie Ephron, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow, You'll Never Know Dear

Review: The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork

Title: The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork
Holger Munch & Mia Kruger Series Book Two
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 365 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


The thrilling follow-up to Samuel Bjørk’s internationally bestselling I’m Traveling Alone, which The Wall Street Journal calls “tense and smartly constructed”

When a troubled teenager disappears from an orphanage and is found murdered, her body arranged on a bed of feathers, veteran investigator Holger Munch and his team are called into the case. Star investigator Mia Kruger, on temporary leave while she continues to struggle with her own demons, jumps back on the team and dives headfirst into this case: just in time to decode the clues in a disturbing video of the victim before she was killed, being held prisoner like an animal in a cage.

Meanwhile, Munch’s daughter, Miriam, meets an enticing stranger at a party—a passionate animal rights activist who begins to draw her into his world and away from her family.

Munch, Kruger, and the team must hunt down the killer before he can strike again in this sophisticated, intricately plotted psychological thriller by the newest phenomenon in international crime fiction.


The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork is a dark yet utterly enthralling police procedural set in Norway. Althought this latest release is the second installment in the Holger Munch & Mia Kruger series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

Investigator Holger Munch and his team are called to the scene of a seemingly ritualistic murder of teenager Camilla Green. Uncertain exactly what they are dealing with, Munch is certain he needs the help of Mia Kruger, a brilliant investigator who is currently on leave for psychological issues. Although Kruger has yet to make peace with the tragic death of her twin sister, Sigrid, she is quick to assure Munch she is ready to return to work. As many of the team members (including Munch and Kruger) struggle with turmoil in their personal lives, the investigation slowly progresses as they uncover puzzling information and a viable pool of suspects. With a predator on the hunt for the next victim, will Mia and Holger unmask the killer before he or she strikes again?

In his mid-fifties, overweight and a heavy smoker, Holger’s dedication to his career resulted in the demise of marriage ten years earlier.  His relationship with his daughter, Mariam, is a work in progress as he tries to make up for always putting his job ahead of his family.  Despite his determination to be there for her and his granddaughter, Marion, Holger is working long hours trying to solve Camilla’s murder.

Mia is going through the motions of therapy in order to return to work but she is not fully invested in actually working through her issues. She relies heavily on alcohol and drugs to cope with day to day life but she is still able to function well enough to contribute to the investigation. While Mia does experience some very keen flashes of insight, she is also somewhat distracted by memories of Sigrid and the loss of the rest of her family.  Will this lack of concentration interfere with her ability to zero in on a motive and a suspect for Camilla’s murder?

Several of the other members of the investigative team are also somewhat distracted as they try to catch Camilla’s killer. Kim Kolso is contemplating significant changes in his personal life that will also have impact his career.  Jon Larsen aka Curry is undergoing tremendous upheaval in his relationship and he is drinking heavily as he tries to cope with his girlfriend’s reaction to his latest misstep.  Cyber expert Gabriel receives a shocking bit of evidence from someone from his distant past, but can his source be trusted?

Living with her doctor boyfriend Johannes and staying home to care for their six year daughter Marion, Miriam’s relationship with her father is much improved.  Feeling a little restless and yearning for her old life, she reconnects with her old friend, Julie, who introduces her to animal activist Ziggy. Although Miriam realizes she has a lot to lose, she cannot resist spending time with the charismatic young man.

The investigation into Camille’s bizarre death yields very puzzling and disparate clues.  Camille has a troubled past and she disappeared from a children’s home run by Helene Eriksen.  Helene is co-operative but both Holger and Kruger feel like she is hiding something from them. After news of Camilla’s death goes public, local man Jim Fuglesang confesses to the murder and while Mia does not think he is the killer, she cannot discount the disquieting pictures in his possession. And what, if anything, does the discovery of a macabre film of the victim have to do with her subsequent murder?

The Owl Always Hunts at Night is an extremely atmospheric police procedural. With a few well-paced red herrings and some pivotal misdirects, Samuel Bjork brilliantly keeps the killer’s identity and motive for the murder carefully obscured.  The investigators’ distractions and Miriam’s questionable choices ratchet up the tension and will keep readers guessing whodunit and why right up to the novel’s stunning conclusion.  This newest addition to the Holger Munch & Mia Kruger series is absolutely outstanding and I highly recommend this spellbinding mystery to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Holger Munch & Mia Kruger Series, Mystery, Penguin Books, Rated B+, Review, Samuel Bjork, Suspense, The Owl Always Hunts at Night