REVIEW: WHEN YOU SEE ME, BY LISA GARDNER

FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy and Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren have built a task force to follow the digital breadcrumbs left behind by deceased serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. When a disturbing piece of evidence is discovered in the hills of Georgia, they bring Flora Dane and true-crime savant Keith Edgar to a small town where something seems to be deeply wrong. What at first looks like a Gothic eeriness soon hardens into something much more sinister…and they discover that for all the evil Jacob committed while alive, his worst secret is still to be revealed. Quincy and DD must summon their considerable skills and experience to crack the most disturbing case of their careers—and Flora must face her own past directly in the hope of saving others.

Multiple narrators tell the story in When You See Me: D. D. Warren, Kimberly Quincy, and Flora Dane take us into the deep and dark tale set in a small town in Georgia. A town surrounded by forests that feels familiar to Flora from her captivity with Jacob Ness.

I loved how the characters interacted with one another, one of my favorite aspects of this series. D. D. and Flora have a special connection because of Flora’s experiences with Jacob Ness. Flora also brings out the nurturing qualities in D. D.

A young girl unable to communicate is a victim in the mayor’s house, and as D. D. tries to help her, the girl opens up in small ways until there is finally a breakthrough for her. Plus, she helps by revealing information through her drawings.

Another brilliant and engaging book that earned five stars from me.

REVIEW: THE FAMILY, BY LOUISE JENSEN

 

Laura is devastated when her husband dies, leaving her and their almost grown-up daughter, Tilly, alone. When the insurance company refuses to pay out, Laura is in danger of losing the house and has no choice but to seek help from elsewhere.

Oak Leaf Farm, a community that lives just outside of town, seems to be everything that Laura and Tilly need, so when this self-made family offer Laura the lifeline she’s been looking for she gratefully accepts.

But all is not right on the farm and when both Laura and Tilly are drawn to the community’s handsome and charismatic leader, mother and daughter find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines…

 

When a ready-made family and community are offered to Laura and Tilly, red flags appeared, reminding me that such an apparent solution could be anything but the answer they need.

Each of the community members offer apparent friendship and help, but it didn’t take long to realize that the fear Laura is beginning to feel is probably warranted.

The Family offered up many plausible twists and turns, so that by the end, I knew that there were so many evil possibilities that I couldn’t stop reading. 4 stars.

***

REVIEW: BITTERSWEET, BY MIRANDA BEVERLY-WHITTEMORE

18339743

 

 

 

When Mabel Dagmar, an ordinary girl, first met the privileged blue blood Genevra Winslow, the most relevant thing about her was how little she noticed Mabel. As if she were simply an annoyance to bear. Or an item of furniture, something she could overlook. Since Ev was her college roommate, Mabel tried to find a way to coexist with the strange girl.

So when Genevra (Ev) made an overture, offering an invitation to a special event, Mabel didn’t know what to make of it; she did notice, however, how Ev’s moods changed from dark to light, and that her occasional invitations afterwards were unpredictable. But the “intermittent reinforcement” had definitely hooked Mabel.

The invitation to the Winslow family summer retreat at their Vermont estate seemed almost like a gift that could then be quickly withheld. And what Ev did in the subsequent weeks, as Mabel found herself in the middle of a privileged world, was true to form. She alternately snarled, scowled, and withheld her attention, and then drew Mabel back to her with one kind gesture. To say she was spoiled and entitled would be an understatement. I did not like anything about this character, even though I realized that her parents had had a role in creating this behavior.

Because Ev was often unavailable, both physically and emotionally, Mabel found her own way among the family members, and developed a unique relationship with Ev’s aunt, Indo, an eccentric woman who made an unusual request.

Narrated in Mabel’s first person voice, the reader is drawn into the story, seeing the privileged world through Mabel’s eyes…and wanting to warn her as she becomes more and more hooked on the feelings this world engenders. Our narrator tells the story as if looking back on this time and these events. There is a sense of loss about her tale. And all the while, she, too, has a dark secret.

What did Mabel discover about the Winslows? How did what she learned change everything about her summer and her life? Did she rise above the evil she had inadvertently become a part of? And who would be an unexpected ally in the end?

Bittersweet: A Novel was a story about a family so dysfunctional that one would have to look very hard to find anything good about it. How Mabel turned things around in the end brought a satisfying conclusion to the dark and twisted history of this family. 5.0 stars.