Category Archives: Suspense

Review: The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Title: The Cutaway by Christina Kovac
Publisher: Atria / 37 Ink
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The Newsroom meets Gone Girl.” —Cosmopolitan

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.


With a clever plot and a resourceful lead protagonist, Christina Kovac’s debut mystery The Cutaway is a riveting mystery about a missing woman.

Missing person notices come across TV news producer Virginia Knightly’s desk on a fairly regular basis, but she is  soon obsessed with the case of Evelyn Carney.  An up and coming lawyer, Evelyn appears to have vanished into thin air after a rather tempestuous dinner with her war hero husband, Peter.  With her newly estranged husband’s alibi immediately clearing him of suspicion, the investigation is quickly stalled.  Virginia is a little puzzled to discover her ex-boyfriend Michael Ledger, who is now the commander of the Criminal Division, is involved in the case, but she pushes aside her curiosity in order  to utilize him as source.  With the help of Evelyn’s co-worker, Paige Linden, Virginia quickly discovers Assistant US Attorney Ian Chase is a “person of interest” in Evelyn’s disappearance. However, after uncovering some irregularities and inconsistencies in the investigation, Virginia is uncertain whom she can trust as she continues delving into what happened to Evelyn.

Virginia is a talented journalist with an uncanny ability to remember images from photographs and news stories and she knows right away that she has seen Evelyn in a cutaway from a news story.  She is right in the middle of trying to locate the footage when the somewhat smarmy news director Nick Mellay begins throwing his weight around and handing out pink slips.  Smarting from her temporary demotion, Virginia throws herself into uncovering as much information about the missing lawyer as possible.

Although she wants to stay as far away from Michael as possible, Virginia is too smart not to make use of a valuable resource, so she shoves down her misgivings and pays him a visit.  Trying to keep her personal feelings out of their renewed professional relationship, she is soon trading information and favors for insider details about the case.  While Virginia finds working alongside Michael a distasteful prospect, she views him as a trusted source even though she knows he is not being completely forthcoming about certain aspects of the investigation.

After some of her leads dry up, Virginia turns to Paige for assistance.  Despite the attorney’s reluctance to go on the record, she does provide some very valuable insight and information about Evelyn’s professional and personal lives. Some of the details Virginia gleans from Paige corroborates other facts she has unearthed while some elements of their discussions point her in new directions.

However, the one fact that seems to be irrefutable from both of Virginia’s sources is that Evelyn was personally involved with Ian Chase.  She is also aware that Ian is refusing to talk to the police, but she is hoping he will be willing to talk to grant her an interview.  Virginia is quite tenacious and rather inventive in her attempts to talk to Ian but he is firmly refusing to go on the record. When the police investigation into his role in Evelyn’s disappearance heats up, readers will enjoy the exciting peek into the process in which journalists obtain footage for their broadcast.

The Cutaway  is a very intriguing mystery that has plenty of interesting twists and turns. Christina Kovac utilizes a few red herrings and misdirects in an attempt to obscure the perpetrator’s identity and motive for the crime.  Savvy readers will most likely pick up on a few details that will provide them with a suspect almost right away but the motive for Evelyn’s disappearance will remain elusive. Chock full of suspense, this fast-paced and riveting mystery culminates with a rather surprising conclusion.  Hopefully this is just the first of many investigations starring the very intrepid and immensely appealing Virginia Knightly.

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Filed under Atria / 37 Ink, Christina Kovac, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Cutaway

Review: Find Me by J.S. Monroe

Title: Find Me by J.S. Monroe
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A sighting of a woman who supposedly died years ago sparks a desperate search for the truth in this breakout suspense thriller, perfect for readers of The Good Girl and The Widow

Sometimes we choose to see only what we want. Sometimes what we see changes the way we look at everything… 

Jarlath “Jar” Costello’s girlfriend, Rosa, committed suicide when they were both students at Cambridge, and Jar has thought about her every day since. It’s been five years, yet Jar is still obsessed with the idea that Rosa, the one true love of his life, is alive. He’s tormented by disturbingly real sightings of her—experiences the psychologist treating him describes as “post-bereavement hallucinations.”

When Rosa’s aunt uncovers an encrypted file on her laptop that she believes is Rosa’s diary, she gives Jar the hard drive, sending him on a frantic quest to unlock the mysterious document and finally make sense of the suspicious circumstances surrounding Rosa’s suicide. But the deeper he digs, the more confused he becomes as he is pressed into a dark underworld where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. When a startling discovery convinces him more than ever that these are not just hallucinations—that Rosa really is alive—Jar is thrust into the heart of a larger intrigue that may finally shed some light on Rosa’s death…even as it dangerously threatens his own life.


With plenty of suspense and unexpected twists and turns, Find Me by J.S. Monroe is a spectacular yet chilling psychological thriller.

Jarlath “Jar” Costello lost his girlfriend, Rosa Sandhoe, to suicide five years earlier.  However, due to the fact her body was never recovered, he is convinced she is still alive.  His life has gone steadily downhill as he works a job that he hates, drinks to excess and ends up having meaningless one night stands.  Jar is also continuing to experience “post-bereavement hallucination” where he sees Rosa in a variety of different locations and situations.  After Rosa’s Aunt Amy stumbles onto a what is believed to be her niece’s computer diary, Jar discovers grows more convinced Rosa is still alive and he intensifies his search for her with the help of his friend, Carl.

Although their relationship had barely started when Rosa vanished, there is never any doubt she and Jar were deeply in love.  It is not until Jar begins reading the diary entries that he realizes how deeply she was still grieving the death of her father but Jar still does not believe she was suicidal.  With each diary entry he reads, Jar becomes aware there was a lot going on in Rosa’s life that she kept hidden from him.  He is also more certain than before that she is still alive and in fact, some of this newly discovered information helps explain some of the odd events that have been happening to him recently.  Although Jar learns valuable details about what might have happened to Rosa, he has no idea how he will find her.

Broken into two parts with chapters alternating between Jar’s perspective and a hodgepodge of diary entries, there is an incredible sense of urgency as Jar uncovers the truth about Rosa. The diary entries are non-sequential since they are decrypted in random order but each chapter is clearly marked with the correct date so they are easy to follow. Initially, Jar appears to an unreliable narrator who is seemingly paranoid since he certain that someone is following him. However, as part one comes to a close, there is little doubt that Jar is on the right track about Rosa.

The pacing of part two is even more frantic as Jar’s investigation intensifies and the diary entries are now written from two characters’ perspectives.  The truth about Rosa’s disappearance is still a little murky, but the details that begin to emerge are completely horrifying.  Jar makes an absolutely shocking discovery that he first finds impossible to believe.  Will he find irrefutable proof to prove that his suspicions are, in fact, correct?

Find Me by J.S. Monroe is an utterly engrossing mystery that is part crime drama and part spy novel.  With unspeakable acts of violence committed by a thoroughly sick and twisted individual, there is a high degree of suspense as Jar uncovers the grisly  truth about what happened to Rosa.  This high octane novel moves at breakneck speed and has no shortage of breathtaking twists, turns and stunning revelations.  All in all, it is an incredibly well-written mystery with an original storyline that tackles some fascinating yet very dark subject matter.

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Filed under Contemporary, Find Me, Harlequin, JS Monroe, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

Title: The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley



When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behavior changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the specter of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

“You will be dead by Christmas.”


With an isolated setting and increasingly unreliable characters, The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne is an atmospheric, suspense-laden psychological thriller.

After a whirlwind courtship, thirty year old Rachel Daly marries forty year old lawyer David Kerthen who then whisks her and his eight year old son Jamie to the family estate in Cornwall.  Initially blissfully happy, Rachel is struggling with her stepson’s increasingly upsetting behavior that eventually brings her to ask a few probing questions about his mother Nina’s somewhat tragic death.  David is reluctant to divulge very many details and as Rachel becomes more concerned about Jaime’s mental state, she makes a decision that has violent consequences and puts her in a very precarious situation with her husband.  Will Rachel find out the truth about Nina’s death? Can she protect herself and Jamie after events begin to escalate out of control?

Rachel has come a long way from her humble beginnings but she is still somewhat uncomfortable as she tries to resume the elegant renovations of David’s family estate.  With David working long hours in London, Rachel is lonely but she keeps busy investigating her new surroundings.  She is also busy with Jamie but she is becoming increasingly worried about his strange behavior and she becomes quite frightened after he makes a rather dire prediction.  As Rachel begins piecing together the details of Nina’s fatal accident, some of the information she uncovers does not make sense and David is reluctant to discuss the night his first wife died.  What secrets are her husband keeping?  Why is he so unwilling to do more to help Jamie handle his grief?

At first glance, David is the perfect catch.  He is a devoted father and he is a well-respected lawyer who works long hours.  Through hard work and a lot of determination, he saved the estate after his father’s gambling problem nearly bankrupted the family. He positively adored his first wife, but David is quite smitten with Rachel and he has a great deal of respect for her.  However, he is most displeased when she begins asking questions he does not want to answer and he is infuriated after she takes steps to try to get Jamie help for his odd behavior.  In the aftermath of violent altercation, David is cold-hearted and ruthless in his attempts to take complete charge of his fracturing family.

In some ways, Jamie is a perfectly normal little boy.  He loves his dad and he cares a great for Rachel.  However, he is completely confused about some of the things that happened the night his mother died and with the anniversary of her death fast approaching, he is becoming quite desperate. Jamie’s declarations are unsettling and he is quite adamant that she is alive despite evidence to the contrary. However, inexplicable and unexplained occurrences play into some of Rachel’s doubts and fears and she becomes convinced that Jamie might have a legitimate reason for some of his beliefs.

For the most part, The Fire Child is an incredibly riveting mystery that moves at a very brisk pace.  S.K. Tremayne does an absolutely brilliant job building suspense as Rachel tries to uncover the truth that David is trying so hard to keep from her.  With the tension reaching a fever pitch, this psychological thriller comes to a pulse-pounding adrenaline-filled conclusion that neatly wraps up all of the various threads of this spell-binding  and somewhat eerie story.


Filed under Contemporary, Grand Central Publishing, Mystery, Rated B, Review, SK Tremayne, Suspense, The Fire Child, Thriller

Review: The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen

Title: The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen
Stevens & Windermere Series Book Six
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 367 pages
Book Rating: B

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


They are the victims no one has ever cared about, until now. Agents Stevens and Windermere return in the blistering new crime novel from the fast-rising, multi-award-nominated suspense star.

She was a forgotten girl, a runaway found murdered on the High Line train through the northern Rocky Mountains and, with little local interest, put into a dead file. But she was not alone. When Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere of the joint FBI-BCA violent crime force stumble upon the case, they discover a horror far greater than anyone expected—a string of murders on the High Line, all of them young women drifters whom no one would notice.

But someone has noticed now. Through the bleak midwinter and a frontier land of forbidding geography, Stevens and Windermere follow a frustratingly light trail of clues—and where it ends, even they will be shocked.


The Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen is a fast-paced and spellbinding police procedural about a hunt for a serial killer preying on woman on the fringe of society (runaways, prostitutes, etc).  Although this is latest release is the sixth installment in the Stevens & Windermere series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

FBI Agent Carla Windermere and BCA Agent Kirk Stevens are called in to investigate a man, Mark Higgins, who has a picture of a dead woman on his cell phone.  He says he has no idea how the picture ended up on his phone and when Stevens and Windermere learn the dead woman was found by the railroad tracks in Idaho, they decide to investigate the odd series of events.  They quickly discover there have been rumors of serial killer (known as the “Ghost Rider”) who preys on women not far from the High Line-the trains that run between Chicago, IL and Seattle, WA.  With the help of local Deputy Sheriff Kerry Finley, Kirk and Carla have identified twenty-five dead women who are most likely the victims of the ghost rider and they are hot on the trail of the killer and an at risk young woman they have identified as Mila, a friend of the last victim.  With a massive winter storm bearing down on them, Kirk, Carla and Kerry are one step behind the elusive killer who is very much at home in the vast wilderness that serves as his home and his hunting grounds.

Carla and Kirk’s investigation picks up steam immediately as they figure out how the picture of the deceased girl ended up on the stranger’s cell phone.  Using the other photos that Mark insists he did not take, they are able to track her travels, as well as those of her friend, Mila. Realizing almost immediately that Mila is in grave danger, they quickly issue a bulletin for the railroad bulls and workers to be on the look-out for her.  Carla’s boyfriend, Agent Derek Mathers, puts his computer skills to work and uses the various photos’ metadata to pinpoint Mila’s whereabouts.  Tracking her movements, Kirk and Carla soon realize that Mila has figured out the identity of the ghost rider, but will they find her and the killer before it is too late?

A solid police procedural with an unusual storyline, The Forgotten Girls is a pulse-pounding mystery that is quite enthralling. Once Windermere and Stevens know the killer’s identity, the manhunt is quickly thwarted by the weather and the vast territory they must cover during their search. Tracking a diabolical killer who is intimately familiar with the terrain is a herculean task but Kirk and Carla know they have to capture the ghost rider before he permanently disappears into the wilderness. Old and new fans of the clever investigative team in the Stevens & Windermere series are going to love this latest high-octane thriller by Owen Laukkanen.

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Filed under Contemporary, GP Putnams Sons, Mystery, Owen Laukkanen, Rated B, Review, Stevens & Windermere Series, Suspense, The Forgtten Girls, Thriller

Review: The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

Title: The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


“Be careful, Fran,” the man said quietly. “About what you think you know.”

In a dilapidated farmhouse out in the vast waterlogged plains of the English Fenlands, Fran awakes groggily to her baby’s cries one February night and finds the bed empty beside her. Her husband, Nathan, is gone.

Moving uneasily through the drafty rooms, searching for her husband, Fran soon makes a devastating discovery that upends her marriage and any semblance of safety. As she tries desperately to make sense of what happened to Nathan, Fran is forced to delve dangerously into the undercurrents of his claustrophobic hometown and question how well she knew him in the first place. Fran, increasingly isolated, grows paranoid—but Nathan isn’t the only one hiding something. Though she can’t tell a soul, Fran is shielding a damning secret of her own: a hazy, dreamlike memory from the night of Nathan’s disappearance that might be the key to it all.

From the bestselling author of The Crooked House comes an utterly gripping psychological thriller spanning the traditions of Daphne du Maurier and S. J. Watson. Christobel Kent’s The Loving Husband is spooky and skillfully written, dragging readers deep into the unsettling world of the Fens and into a marriage of half-truths and past lives, where no one can be trusted—especially not your spouse.


The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent is a suspenseful murder  mystery set  in a rural village in Great Britain.

Fran Hall lives with her husband Nathan and their two young children, four year old Emme and 3 month old Ben on a rundown farm close to where Nathan grew up.  Since their move from London, Fran has become increasingly isolated as Nathan controls just about every aspect of their life.  Awakening to discover Nathan missing from their bed, she makes a horrifying discovery when she finds his lifeless body in a ditch on their property. The investigators assigned to her case, DS Doug Gerard and DC Ed Carswell, are convinced Fran knows more than she is telling but does this mean she is a killer?

Fran was never overly thrilled with the move from London, but it seems like the best way to put her mistakes behind her.  The farmhouse is isolated and somewhat dilapidated, but she is trying to make the best of the situation for her family’s sake.  While Nathan has a thriving business that takes him away from home quite frequently and an active social life, Fran’s days revolve around her children and keeping the peace with her husband.  It is not until Nathan is murdered that the inconsistencies in his life become more apparent and Fran is somewhat surprised to discover she does not much at all about the man she has shared her life with more than five years.

While DS Gerard  and DS Carswell are initially solicitous when dealing with Fran, it does not take long for her to realize they are not on her side.  She is not exactly forthcoming with all of the details of the night Nathan was murdered but under the circumstances, her hesitance is understandable.  The only person involved in the investigation that she feels comfortable with is Family Liaison Officer DC Ali Compton.  However, Fran is unsure she can completely trust Ali so she continues to maintain her silence about some of the events that occurred the night of Nathan’s murder.

Fran is horribly confused about the information that is uncovered during the investigation . As she reflects back on her relationship with Nathan, she begins to realize how  isolated she has become.  She also starts to recognize how much of herself she has given up over the years in order to keep Nathan happy.  Fran is dismayed by her inability to answer basic questions about her husband’s business dealings or who he socializes with in his downtime.  With every new clue that emerges, she cannot help but wonder about Nathan’s  motivation for marrying her but the reason for his actions eludes Fran.

The Loving Husband is a suspense-laden domestic mystery that moves at a moderately fast pace.  Christobel Kent cleverly keeps the killer’s identity and motive for the crime a closely guarded secret with brilliantly plotted twists and turns and a few well-paced red herrings.  The novel comes to quite a stunning conclusion that is virtually impossible to predict.  An absolutely riveting mystery that fans of the genre do not want to miss.

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Filed under Christobel Kent, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Sarah Crichton Books, Suspense, The Loving Husband

Review: The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

Title: The Trophy Child by Paula Daly
Publisher: Grove Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 386 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Paula Daly is acclaimed for her distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and terrifying depictions of ordinary people whose everyday lives are turned upside down through deception and murder. In her unsettling new domestic thriller, The Trophy Child, Daly digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of motherhood and fallibility.

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child.


The dysfunctional Bloom family takes center stage in Paula Daly’s latest release, The Trophy Child, a gripping investigation into the disappearance of ten year old Bronte.

Following Bronte’s disappearance on an outing with her sixteen year old stepsister, Verity, “tiger mom” Karen quickly alienates her family, the police and the public with her withering accusations and rude comments. Ignoring the woman as best as she can, Detective Sergeant Joanne Aspinall and her newly assigned partner Detective Sergeant Oliver Black continue their search for clues to Bronte’s whereabouts. Joanne has no doubt that Verity’s account of the day her little sister went missing is truthful but she cannot discount the teenager’s recent troubles with her stepmother.  Joanne is also keeping her personal connection to the girl’s father, Noel, a secret from her boss and her partner. When Bronte eventually returns home unharmed and with a somewhat vague account of her whereabouts, the investigation reaches a dead end.  However, Joanne and Oliver are soon back at the Bloom’s when another person from the house goes missing. This investigation has a very different outcome than the previous one and Joanne has to take a hard look at everyone in the Bloom household, including Noel, Verity, Karen’s son Ewan and Ewan’s friend Dale. Will Joanne and Oliver uncover the truth about who is responsible for this latest disappearance?

Based on their outward appearance, the Bloom family seem to have everything going for them. Patriarch Noel is a successful GP with a lucrative practice whose second marriage to Karen seems to be happy. But beneath the surface, there is a high degree of dysfunction and no shortage of misery within the family. Noel drinks a little too much and works long hours, rarely interacting with his wife or children. Verity has recently gotten herself into a situation that involves weekly drug tests and counseling. Ewan is a slacker with little ambition and a fairly impressive pot habit.  Bronte’s schedule is so full of activities and tutors that the poor girl has no time just to be a child. Karen is an overbearing, ambitious and pushy mother who makes everyone’s lives miserable. Everyone feels a great deal of sympathy for Bronte and they search tirelessly for her when she goes missing.

Following the second disappearance of someone from the Bloom home, Noel immediately contacts Joanne for assistance which raises a few eyebrows including Oliver’s. The two detective sergeants are soon searching for clues but they are soon at a dead end. With very little evidence to go on, their investigation raises more questions than answers, but neither of them are quite ready to give up.  While Joanne decides to take a second look at the circumstances of Bronte’s disappearance, Oliver broadens his search and uncovers a vital clue that takes the case in a very shocking direction.

The Trophy Child is a riveting police procedural that fans of the genre do not want to miss. Paula Daly has chosen a disturbing parenting trend to focus on and with Karen Bloom, she has created a detestable character whose ambitions for her child border on abuse. The rest of the characters are realistically drawn with both positive and negative traits that are easy to relate to. The disappearances and subsequent investigations are compelling with plenty of red herrings and plot twists that will keep readers guessing right up until the novel’s somewhat dramatic conclusion.  An absolutely spellbinding mystery that is fast-paced and quite interesting. Highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Grove Press, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Trophy Child