REVIEW: THE VANISHING, BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ

 

Decades ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, The Incident occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases. The residents slept for two days. When they woke up they discovered that things had changed—they had changed. Some started having visions. Others heard ominous voices. And then, scientists from a mysterious government agency arrived. Determined not to become research subjects of strange experiments, the residents of Fogg Lake blamed their “hallucinations” on food poisoning, and the story worked. But now it has become apparent that the eerie effects of The Incident are showing up in the descendants of Fogg Lake.…

Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClair, best friends and co-owners of an investigation firm in Seattle, use what they call their “other sight” to help solve cases. When Olivia suddenly vanishes one night, Cat frantically begins the search for her friend. No one takes the disappearance seriously except Slater Arganbright, an agent from a shadowy organization known only as the Foundation, who shows up at her firm with a cryptic warning.

A ruthless killer is hunting the only witnesses to a murder that occurred in the Fogg Lake caves fifteen years ago—Catalina and Olivia. And someone intends to make both women vanish.


We first meet Catalina and Olivia when they stumble into the caves and witness a murder. The explosion that left them forever changed will lead them to go along with the town residents in blaming the after effects on food poisoning, and it will be years before they realize that the visions they are seeing are actually useful and can help them solve cases.Their investigations become very personal when Olivia is snatched from the streets by the nefarious members of a group called Vortex.

As she follows clues, Catalina literally bumps into Slater Arganbright, a member of the Foundation, and together they will search for Olivia…and become connected in interesting ways.

Finding the truth about the caves and that long-ago murder will finally keep them safe and help the residents of Fogg Lake.

The Vanishing is an interesting tale that will become an ongoing quest in this new series. 4 stars.

***

REVIEW: BRING HER HOME, BY DAVID BELL

 

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.
 
As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.
 
When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

My Thoughts: Our primary narrator in Bring Her Home is Bill Price, the father of Summer, one of the missing teenagers. One girl was dead, the other badly beaten, and one is still missing. We soon realize the ultimate dilemma in a situation like this. Who is the girl in the hospital, what happened to her, and will we ever know the truth about what happened.

Many red herrings and surprise twists kept me intrigued throughout, and I soon realized that I didn’t trust anyone. Even though I was primarily rooting for the father to find his daughter and his answers, I also felt troubled by some issues that came to light through the investigation. The presence of Bill’s sister Paige added an interesting layer, as she offered helpful insights, and their conversations gave us a hint of their family life as children.

Who can a parent trust in this situation, and what more will be revealed before the end? How does the death of Julia, Bill’s wife and Summer’s mother, figure into what is now happening? The answers did not come easily, and the unexpected twist at the end left me pondering all the nefarious characters and their motives. An intriguing story that left me wondering throughout. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: INK AND BONE, BY LISA UNGER

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A little girl lost on a hiking trail, a father and son shot, and a deep sadness that turns the mother into someone not really there. Someone wounded. Thus begins our story.

The man and boy would recover, but the memories of what happened and the guilt the father feels because he was on his phone when the abductors grabbed Abbey…those feelings and thoughts would always haunt him.

Wolf and Merri Gleason are broken. But Merri has not given up, and travels back to The Hollows, in upstate New York, to hire a P.I. named Jones Cooper, a man who has been known to solve cases with the help of a local psychic, Eloise Montgomery.

Finley, Eloise’s granddaughter, is a tough looking young woman with spiky hair and lots of tattoos. Her body was a living canvas of ink and bone. Like her grandmother, though, she has the gift. She hears and sees things that others do not. Sometimes it is hard for her to distinguish between the real and unreal. The sounds she hears, like the “squeak-clink” that is so repetitive, often are trying to tell her something. Could what she hears and sees have something to do with Abbey Gleason’s disappearance, or perhaps the other missing girls, like Eliza Fitzpatrick and so many more? She has agreed to work with Jones Cooper to try to find little Abbey.

Ink and Bone was a surreal story that took the reader into the world of The Whispers and The Others, showing us what Finley is seeing and hearing, and following her down the various pathways into the woods and mines, hoping to find the answers. Could those who have taken the children be the unseen individuals who live off the grid, but who quietly work among the other residents, unnoticed because they are so broken and flawed?

Would there be a happy ending for any of the families? Could Finley and Jones fight their way through all the impossible barriers to bring some children home? Could the lost souls that have already gone ahead find peace at last? A riveting story that felt haunting and eerie, even as I kept rapidly turning pages, was a tale with no happy ending; it, however, was one in which I couldn’t guess what would ultimately happen until the very end. 5 stars.

***An e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE GOOD GIRL, BY MARY KUBICA

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When Mia Dennett, a 25-year-old art teacher, mysteriously disappears, her family has varied reactions. Her father James, the judge, who is filled with his own self-importance and has never gotten along with Mia, thinks she is just doing what Mia does, moving to the beat of her own drum. But Eve, the mother, is worried. She knows that, in spite of some times during her teens when she acted out, Mia is responsible…and good.

Eve first learns of her disappearance when one of Mia’s colleagues calls after she doesn’t show up for work…and that fact is concerning, as Mia is responsible about her work. Even though Mia has her own apartment and doesn’t see her family often, she does talk to her mother. Her estrangement from her father and older sister seems to be more about them and their idea of who she should be. Image, money, and power drive them, while Mia is drawn to creative pursuits.

Gabe Hoffman is the detective who responds, and the one who will follow along with them through the investigation. His persistence and ability to seek answers makes him heroic, in Eve’s eyes. She comes to rely on him when her husband is increasingly more self-involved and remote.

Mia’s older sister Grace, an attorney, is seemingly detached, as if she could care less.

In an interesting back and forth style, we follow the main players in this drama. They tell the story from their perspectives, and we can see where we are in the time frame by the titles of each chapter, like “Eve: Before,” or “Eve: After.”

We know right away that Mia has been found at some point, because in Eve’s and Gabe’s “after” sections, she is with them in the present. But not really there. Something has wiped out her memory of events.

Colin is another narrator, and we learn the most from his perspective about what is happening to Mia while she is away. We see the two of them in the remote Minnesota log cabin and watch as Mia and Colin grow closer, in a Stockholm Syndrome fashion…and in these sections, I worried about what would ultimately happen. Something traumatic occurs in those final moments in the cabin that will take many months and several subsequent events to set Mia free.

Short chapters that bring the reader increasingly closer to the final denouement kept me rapidly turning pages and marveling at how the story forms and ultimately brings us our answers. A startling reveal near the end did not really surprise me, as I had suspicions about this character. But then, in an epilogue from Mia’s perspective, the final twist totally stunned me. And made The Good Girl a 5 star read for me.

***