Category Archives: Suspense

Review: Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman

Title: Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman
Hidden Justice Series Book Two
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . .  can they?

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

Review:

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman is an intriguing legal mystery with a gentle undercurrent of faith. This second installment in the Hidden Justice series easily stands on its own.

Emilie Wesley is a lawyer who is employed at a foundation that helps women escape from abusive relationships. She is worried when her client, Kaylene Adams, does not show up for a court appearance for an order of protection but nothing can prepare her for the reason Kaylene missed their appointment. Emilie is absolutely stunned by the news Kaylene is dead and authorities suspect she shot both her daughters, killing one and critically wounding the other,  before turning the gun on herself. Emilie knows Kaylene would never do anything to harm her children so she is very eager to help when her client’s younger brother, Reid Billings, requests her help in gaining custody of his niece, Kinley.

Emilie is quite shaken and she has a bit of a career crisis in the aftermath of Kaylene’s death. She is having difficulty concentrating as she tries to figure out whether or not she might have overlooked crucial information in her former client’s case. Her friends are aware of her distress and they quickly rally around her and offer unsolicited advice about her career. Adding to her worries is Emilie’s fear that her stalker is back but she  is having difficulty getting anyone to take her concerns seriously.

In the aftermath of his sister’s death,  Reid feels incredibly guilty that he let his professional aspirations prevent him from spending more time with her and her family. Stunned by his brother-in-law Robert’s demand that he stay away from him and Kinley, Reid cannot help but fear for his niece’s safety. After stumbling onto a worrying letter written to him by Kaylene, he ramps up his efforts to gain custody of Kinley. He immediately requests Emilie’s help since she has intimate knowledge of what was going on in his sister’s life.

Emilie and Reid are well aware that gaining custody of Kinley is a long shot, but fearing what will happen if she remains with Robert, they immediately begin investigating the shootings.  They leave no stone unturned as they question neighbors and Reid’s oldest niece’s friends. Reid uncovers information that supports Emilie’s assertion that Kaylene was planning to escape her marriage with her daughters but they have yet to find definitive proof that Robert was abusing her. Will they find the evidence they need before Kinley is released from the hospital into her father’s care?

The romantic element of the storyline is somewhat understated but there is no mistaking the attraction between Emilie and Reid. Emilie is also very aware that she must take care not to blur the lines between her professional and personal lives. However, Reid and Emilie do enjoy a few sweetly romantic dates during their investigation.

Imperfect Justice is a even but somewhat slow placed legal mystery. The characters are interesting  and well-developed but the storyline is a little busy due to multiple story arcs. The domestic violence aspect of the plot is realistically and sensitively depicted. Cara Putnam brings the novel to a somewhat exciting and satisfactory conclusion.  Old and new fans will enjoy this latest addition to the Hidden Justice series.

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Filed under Cara Putnam, Contemporary, Hidden Justice Series, Imperfect Justice, Inspirational, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Romance, Suspense, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: You Can Run by Steve Mosby

Title: You Can Run by Steve Mosby
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 327 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A page-turning psychological thriller, the new novel from CWA Dagger winner Steve Mosby explores the blurred lines between truth and fiction.

When a car crashes into a garage on an ordinary street, the attending officer is shocked to look inside the damaged building and discover a woman imprisoned within. As the remains of several other victims are found in the attached house, police believe they have finally identified the Red River Killer—a man who has been abducting women for nearly twenty years and taunting the police with notes about his crimes. But now the main suspect, John Blythe, is on the run.

As the manhunt for Blythe intensifies, Detective Inspector Will Turner finds himself fighting to stay involved in the investigation. The Red River killings hold a personal significance to him and he must be the one to find the killer, although he’s determined to keep this from his fellow officers at all costs.

Review:

In You Can Run, Steve Mosby puts a truly clever and unique twist on the serial killer plot device. This police procedural is a fast-paced and engrossing crime drama that is absolutely brilliant.

When a car crashes into the garage of a residential home, police are shocked when they find kidnapping victim Amanda Cassidy barely clinging to life. Detective Inspector Will Turner and his partner DI Emma Beck are assigned to the case and they make a stunning discovery in the basement of the home: four barrels containing the decomposing bodies of women who have been abducted and murdered by the Red River Killer. Their attempts to locate homeowner and now suspected serial killer, John Blythe, result in a massive manhunt. Will is troubled by an unexpected detail after the bodies are removed from the barrels. However, it is his interview of Jeremy Townsend, the husband of victim Melanie West, that really sets his alarm bells ringing. Turner is also convinced that John Blythe might have someone helping him evade capture but will Emma believe his theory once the truth about his personal connection to the case is revealed?

Will is an excellent detective who greatly relies on gut instincts and feelings during his investigations. He easily picks up on nebulous clues that everyone else overlooks but his co-workers consider him to be a little weird. Will does not have the same career aspirations as his partner Emma and he sometimes feels like he is hindering her career. Will is not one to talk much about his personal life, but in the Red River Killer investigation, he is holding back vital information that could have far reaching implications for both of their futures.  After Will has a rash confrontation in full view of his fellow police officers, he jeopardizes both his and Emma’s roles in the investigation.

While there is absolutely no doubt that John Blythe is the Red River Killer, there are plenty of twists and turns during the manhunt to capture him. There is, of course, a great deal of suspense surrounding Jeremy Townsend which leads to more questions than answers due to his somewhat bizarre behavior. Simon Bunting is also a rather mysterious addition to the cast of characters and it is virtually impossible to figure out exactly how he figures into the unfolding storyline. Will’s childhood friend Rob is a mystifying piece in this perplexing puzzle that will keep readers guessing how he fits into the Red Killer investigation.

You Can Run is an intricately plotted and suspense-laden police procedural that has a dazzling array of cunning twists and turns.  Will and Emma are a well-matched investigative team that are more than capable of solving this increasingly complex case. Steve Mosby puts a fresh spin on the serial killer plot device and he keeps the tension high as the novel wends its ways to a jaw-dropping conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this un-put-down-able mystery to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mystery, Pegasus Books, Rated B+, Review, Steve Mosby, Suspense, You Can Run

Review: Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson

Title: Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson
Dark Iceland Series Book Two
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.

Ari Thor Arason is a local policeman who has an uneasy relationship with the villagers in an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland—where no one locks their doors.

The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by a murder. One of Ari’s colleagues is gunned down at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark Arctic waters closing in, it falls to Ari Thor to piece together a puzzle that involves a new mayor and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik. It becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all.

Review:

Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson is a gripping mystery that takes place just as winter is beginning in a small Icelandic town on the coast. This second installment in the Dark Iceland series is a fast-paced police procedural starring Ari Thór Arason and takes place five years after the first novel ends since the translated editions are slightly out of order.

Ari Thór and his girlfriend Kristín have reunited and now live together with their ten month old son.  His former boss, Tómas, has relocated to Reykjavík and he does not know the new police chief, Herjólfur, very well. While  Ari Thór is recovering from a bout of the flu, he is stunned to discover that the small police department has been rocked by a shocking murder. With Tómas temporarily reassigned to help with the investigation, they start their investigation at the deserted house where the shooting occurred.

Although five years have passed since his introduction, Ari Thór is much the same. He is quiet  with a keen intellect and sharp instincts but he is not one to talk about his problems. The encroaching winter darkness still presses in on him and leaves him feeling claustrophobic. His relationship with Kristín remains troubled and despite his concerns about her recent emotional distance, Ari Thór finds it easier to ignore their problems instead of discussing them.  He is also still troubled by events from his childhood and he is still unable to discuss these issues with Kristín.

Despite some lingering  resentment over not being chosen as Tómas’s replacement, Ari Thór does not let this interfere with  the murder investigation.  He feels a bit of  kinship with the victim’s son and he keeps a respectful distance in order to allow him to process his grief in private.  Although Ari Thór is happy to be working with Tómas again, he cannot help but bristle a bit when his old boss takes complete charge of the police department.  Ari Thór might not be as experienced as Tómas but he is an excellent investigator with an uncanny ability to solve crimes.

Interspersed with the investigation are chapters containing diary entries from a patient at a psychiatric hospital. While the person’s identity remains shrouded in mystery, the pages from the diary paint a  fairly bleak picture of somewhat dodgy treatment for an unspecified condition.  The person’s identity and the significance of these chapters are not revealed until Ari Thór has unmasks the murderer and uncovers the motive for the crime.

Nightblind is an absolutely riveting police procedural that is fast-paced and compelling.  The plot is complex and the characters are well fleshed out. The investigation into the murder unfolds at a realistic pace and Ari Thór utilizes good old fashioned detective work to solve the crime. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this latest addition to Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series to readers who enjoy atmospheric mysteries.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dark Iceland Series, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Nightblind, Ragnar Jónasson, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner

Title: Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner
DI David Vogel Series Book One
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

This compelling novel of psychological suspense is the first in an intriguing new series featuring Bristol detective, DI David Vogel.

The discovery of the partially-clothed body of a teenage girl in the heart of Bristol’s red light district indicates a tragic yet familiar scenario. But this marks the start of a baffling murder investigation where nothing is as it first appears. Fourteen-year-old Melanie Cooke told her mother she was visiting a school friend. Who was she really going to meet?

Detective Inspector David Vogel is led towards three very different principal protagonists, each of whom grows increasingly chilling. But are they what they seem? And is any one of them capable of murder?

A darkly complex secret lies behind Melanie’s death – and its ultimate revelation will shock Vogel and his team to the core.

Review:

The first installment in the DI David Vogel series, Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner is a dark yet compelling police procedural.

DI David Vogel is affected more than usual when he is assigned to investigate the death of fourteen year old Melanie Cooke since he has a daughter who is the same age as the victim. He does not let this affect his investigation but he is definitely determined to bring her killer to justice. Like many murder inquiries, he and his team, DC Dawn Saslow and DS John Willis, begin with the victim’s family. Although stepfather Jim Fisher has an alibi, troubling information almost immediately comes to light. Melanie’s father, Terry Cooke, is incredibly distraught at the news but he co-operates fully with the investigation. However, DC Willis zeroes in on Terry as a suspect right from the beginning.  Vogel is not convinced Terry murdered his daughter, but will the evidence prove Willis is on the right track?

Interspersed with David’s investigations are chapters  written from three very different individuals. Saul desperately wants to meet and marry and turns to an online marriage website to find a bride, but will he find a woman to share his life with? Leo is gay but he is so deeply closeted he turns to hook-ups to satisfy his desires but will he change his mind after he becomes infatuated with a one-night stand? Al is a pedophile with voyeuristic tendencies but will he continue to resist acting on his fantasies?  While these three men initially do not seem to have any connection to Melanie’s murder, will this change once Vogel delves deeper into the investigation?

Deadly Dance is an intriguing but rather slow-paced mystery. The investigation into Melanie’s murder is a straight-forward murder inquiry and Vogel is a by the book detective inspector who has keen instincts and a sharp intellect.  The chapters written from Saul, Al and Leo’s perspectives are somewhat explicit but Al’s exploits are particularly difficult to read.  These chapters are not intended to be titillating and none of their scenes are gratuitous but the subject matter is not for the faint of heart.  Readers will most immediately guess the identity of Melanie’s killer, but Hilary Bonner still brings the novel to a jaw-dropping, action packed conclusion. The DI David Vogel  series is off to an outstanding beginning with this first clever installment.

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Filed under Contemporary, Deadly Dance, DI David Vogel Series, Hilary Bonner, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Severn House Publishers, Suspense

Review: Monument Road by Michael Wiley

Title: Monument Road by Michael Wiley
Franky Dast Mystery Series Book One
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Introducing former death-row inmate turned private investigator Franky Dast in the first of an intriguing new crime noir series.

Having spent eight years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, Franky Dast now works as an investigator for the Justice Now Initiative, seeking to help others in the same situation. But when he learns that Bill Higby, the detective whose testimony helped convict him, is facing his own murder charge, Franky is torn. Should he help the man he hates more than any other, the man who remains convinced of Franky’s guilt to this day?

As Franky delves further, he comes to realize that in order to prove Higby’s innocence, he must also prove his own. Unless he finds out what happened that fateful night eight years before, the night 15-year-old Duane Bronson and his 13-year-old brother were murdered, Franky will always be under suspicion, and the real killer will remain free. What really happened that dark, wet night on Monument Road? And is Franky prepared for the shocking truth?

Will appeal to fans of GREG ILES and MICHAEL CONNELLY

Review:

Monument Road by Michael Wiley is a riveting mystery which features a former death row inmate who is struggling to reintegrate to society while at the same time working as a investigator for the nonprofit that helped overturn his conviction.

After stopping to help brothers Duane and Steven Bronson late one night, Franky Dast is eventually arrested, convicted and sent to death row for their horrific murders.  Eight years later, after his tireless work on his appeals and aided by the Justice Now Iniative, his conviction has been overturned and Franky has been released from prison.  Franky might be no longer incarcerated, but many people, including his brother Jared and Bill Higby, the detective who arrested him, have no doubt that he killed the teenagers. After Bill is arrested for shooting and killing Joshua Skooner, his neighbor and son of prominent judge Eric Skooner, Franky is gleeful about his nemesis’s plight.  However, he quickly comes to the conclusion that Bill might be innocent and Franky’s subsequent investigation unexpectedly leads back to the Bronson brothers’ murders.

Franky might no longer be physically in prison, but he is not exactly free from the effects of his incarceration.  He vacillates between the highest of highs and the lowest of lows as he tries to adjust to his new life. Despite his adjustment issues, he jumps headlong into working for the Justice Now Iniative where he goes to extreme lengths to help exonerate prisoners who have been wrongly convicted. Franky is highly intelligent and relentless in his pursuit of the truth but his impulsivity and volatility do not always result in the best decisions. He refuses to take no for an answer in his zeal to find answers and Franky frequently skirts the boundaries of respectable behavior when confronted with recalcitrant witnesses.

Monument Road is a well-executed mystery that takes a stunning turn when Franky uncovers evidence that hints at shocking corruption and wrongdoing at the highest level in the justice system. Franky is a complex character who is surprisingly sympathetic despite his erratic behavior and ill-thought out decisions. The plot is engaging and Michael Wiley brings the novel to an action packed conclusion. This first installment in the Franky Dast Mystery series is sure to be a hit with fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Franky Dast Mystery Series, Michael Wiley, Monument Road, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Severn House Publishers, Suspense

Review: The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan

Title: The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 361 pages
Book Rating: B+

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

Summary:

One cryptic clue leads a desperate man into a labyrinthine puzzle of murder in the electrifying new novel from national bestselling author Harry Dolan.

There’s a killer, and he wears a crooked hat.

Private investigator Jack Pellum has spent two years searching for the man who he believes murdered his wife–a man he last saw wearing a peacoat and a fedora. Months of posting fliers and combing through crime records yield no leads. Then a local writer commits suicide, and he leaves a bewildering message that may be the first breadcrumb in a winding trail of unsolved murders . . .

Michael Underhill is a philosophical man preoccupied by what-ifs and could-have-beens, but his life is finally coming together. He has a sweet and beautiful girlfriend, and together they’re building their future home. Nothing will go wrong, not if Underhill has anything to say about it. The problem is, Underhill has a dark and secret past, and it’s coming back to haunt him.

These two men are inexorably drawn together in a mystery where there is far more than meets the eye, and nothing can be taken for granted. Filled with devious reversals and razor-sharp tension, The Man in the Crooked Hat is a masterwork from “one of America’s best new crime writers” (Lansing State Journal).

Review:

In Harry Dolan’s The Man in the Crooked Hat, an ex-cop haunted by his wife’s unsolved murder follows a string of seemingly disparate murders in hopes of unmasking a clever murderer.

Jack Pellum refuses to stop looking for his beloved wife Olivia Makinnen’s killer and he is hopeful a new lead will finally provide the answers he is searching for. He is certain someone he spotted near their apartment right before Olivia’s death, a stranger wearing a hat, is the person who murdered his wife. When his ex-partner tells him about that Danny Cavanaugh, who recently committed suicide, left a cryptic message about a killer who wears a crooked hat, Jack immediately starts investigating the puzzling lead. A friend of the recently deceased, Paul Rook, is another link to a possible murder by the man in the hat. Even more promising, Paul has a file of unsolved murders that stretches back decades and provides Jack with a new place to begin his investigation:Danny’s brother Alex’s never solved homicide. Thus begins Jack’s latest quest in his eighteen month hunt for Olivia’s killer.

Jack is tenacious and determined to find the person responsible for murdering his wife. He spends day after day putting up flyers in hopes that someone will recognize the man in the hat. Danny’s suicide is the first concrete information that the man in the hat might just be real, but finding the connection between the dead man’s message and his wife’s killer might be impossible. That is until Paul shows up with a stack of unsolved murders that also mention the man in the hat. Jack knows tying these deaths together with take a herculean effort but he is definitely up to the challenge.

While Jack has no idea who killed his wife, readers know from the very beginning that Michael Underhill is Olivia’s murderer. What no one, including Jack, knows is why Michael killed her. As Jack begins untangling the very complicated threads that might tie Underhill to the other murders, readers are provided with intriguing peeks into the life Michael is building with Anna Haley. She has no idea what the man she loves has been up to nor does she have a clue how far he is willing to go to ensure her happiness. With Jack gaining traction in unraveling the complicated trail of unsolved murders, will he finally find justice for Olivia?

The Man in the Crooked Hat is an extremely clever and well-executed mystery. In a refreshing change of pace from the typical tech-laden investigations, Jack mainly relies on good old fashioned detective work to unearth clues and follow the evidence he uncovers. With plenty of unexpected twists and turns, Harry Dolan brings this brilliant novel to an exciting conclusion that completely wraps up all of the story’s various threads. Fans of the genre do not want to miss this fast-paced, twist-filled and very intriguing whydunit.

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Filed under Contemporary, GP Putnams Sons, Harry Dolan, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Man in the Crooked Hat