REVIEW: THE MURDER LIST, BY HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN

 

Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.

Problem is—she’s wrong.

And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.

My Thoughts: Alternating voices carried us through The Murder List, from Jack Kirkland, a defense attorney, to Martha Gardiner, the fierce DA. In the middle was Rachel North, a Harvard law student interning for Martha, but planning to eventually join her husband Jack in his “murder list” practice.

We follow Rachel from her days working for a Senator, who has some questionable proclivities, to her internship, in which she is trying to beat the lawyers at their own game.

I liked Rachel initially, but as time went by, I began to understand her less and less. What was her true agenda? Who would still be standing in the end, with the legal eagles battling it out in the courtroom and beyond? A stunning conclusion left me wondering what clues I had missed along the way. 4 stars.

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REVIEW: THEY ALL FALL DOWN, BY TAMMY COHEN

 

Hannah had a perfect life in London—a loving husband, a great job—until she did something shocking. Something that she doesn’t quite understand herself; and now she has landed herself in a high-risk psychiatric unit.

Since Hannah has been admitted, two women have died, including Charlie, one of her closest friends in the institution. It’s a high-risk unit, the authorities say. Deaths happen. But Hannah knows Charlie wouldn’t have killed herself. She is convinced there’s a serial killer picking off the patients one by one, passing their deaths off as suicides. But why? And who will believe her?

Corinne, Hannah’s mother, is worried sick about her eldest daughter. She hates that she’s ended up in the unit, though she knows it’s the best place for her to get the treatment she needs. At first, Corinne assumes Hannah’s outlandish claims about a killer in the unit are just another manifestation of her psychological condition, but as she starts to uncover strange inconsistencies surrounding the unit’s charismatic director, Dr. Roberts, she begins to wonder if her daughter might have stumbled upon the truth.

 

My Thoughts:  I flew through the pages of They All Fall Down, trying to figure out the mysterious deaths, and who, if anyone, was behind them.

Could Hannah be right about what was happening in the frightening new world in which she now lived?  The alternating narrators included Hannah, her mother Corinne, a therapist named Laura, and various others.  In each perspective, we learned a little bit more about the strange world inside.  Finally, we discovered the secret pasts of several characters, all of which led to the final reveal, just as danger galloped toward Hannah with every step.  4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: FIRE & FURY, BY MICHAEL WOLFF

 

With extraordinary access to the West Wing, Michael Wolff reveals what happened behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of our time in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country—and the world—has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.

This riveting and explosive account of Trump’s administration provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office, including:

— What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before in history has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

My Thoughts: Within the pages of Fire & Fury, the reader will find more than enough information to reinforce his or her view of the current administration.

To learn that the Trump camp had other plans besides winning, like creating their own media empire, seems totally plausible. But now that Trump is in, he has doubled down and cemented his position, longing for the attention and loyalty he believes that he deserves.

If he doesn’t like something, he tweets a rant; in fact, Twitter ranting is his go-to reaction to what he calls “fake news” or a “witch hunt.”

Around him, in the West Wing, chaos reigns. The rivalry between staff members reminds me of a huge dysfunctional family, and the enmity grows with each passing day. As the ongoing investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice continues, we watch daily for new information…and new rants from the Ranter in Chief.

Reading this book will not be an uplifting experience. But if we arm ourselves with knowledge of what is happening in Washington, we might be able to take action. I am familiar with protests, having been young during the Vietnam War. Having watched Nixon be investigated, with the threat of impeachment hovering, I can live through the experience again. Hopefully, sooner rather than later. A 5 star read.

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REVIEW: THE CUTAWAY, BY CHRISTINA KOVAC

 

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.

My Thoughts: The Cutaway was a gripping story that kept me fascinated throughout, beginning with the up close and personal look at how television news stories are developed, including the live shots and the video clips that bring a finished product to the viewers. The danger, the intensity, and the insider politics make the story even more compelling. Set in Washington, D.C., we also get an insider view of how corruption breeds within a system, including how funding PACs can be made up of “dark” money.

The characters were especially captivating, beginning with Virginia, whose skill kept me going. I also enjoyed her close familial-like ties with her staff, like Ben, the evening news anchor, who might have turned into a romantic connection. Then there were those like Isaiah, who had been around a long time, and who were loyal…but who could also be tempted to stray when their own careers seemed to be threatened.

Nick Mellay, the news director, was a weasel, IMO. Quick to think of his own needs above others, he turned Virginia’s job upside down, demoting her for his own reasons…carrying out his own selfish plan. Seeing him get a comeuppance was worth the read.

How will Virginia connect the dots when some of her sources have their own dark agendas? What will happen when she comes face-to-face with the killer? Will the story be worth all the drama? Many odd twists and turns finally bring a solution, but I didn’t guess the identity of the killer until she was right in front of me.

Definitely a 5 star read for me.

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