REVIEW: DON’T MAKE A SOUND, BY T.R. RAGAN

 

 

Plagued by traumatic childhood memories, crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still struggles to gain control of her rage, her paranoia, and her life. Now, after finally getting promoted at work, she is forced to return home and face her past.

River Rock is where she’d been abandoned by her two older sisters to suffer alone, and in silence, the unspeakable abuses of her family. It’s also where Sawyer’s best friend disappeared and two teenage girls were murdered. Three cold cases dead and buried with the rest of the town’s secrets.

When another girl is slain in a familiar grisly fashion, Sawyer is determined to put an end to the crimes. Pulled back into the horrors of her family history, Sawyer must reconcile with her estranged sisters, who both have shattering memories of their own. As Sawyer’s investigation leads to River Rock’s darkest corners, what will prove more dangerous—what she knows of the past or what she has yet to discover?

 
 
 

Don’t Make a Sound alternates between Sawyer’s narrative and the voices of women in a group called The Crew. Women who are seeking justice against men who assaulted them.

I enjoyed watching Sawyer as she tried to solve old and new murder cases, and how she tried to sort through the pieces of her past life, a life she had escaped.

Sawyer’s sister Harper suffers from OCD, while Aria, the youngest sister, hopes to have a normal life.

As I tried to follow the clues about “The Crew” members, I had my own theories. Would they prove true, or were there more troubling answers?

The twists and turns led to answers about the secrets of the past and River Rock, and I was pleasantly surprised that I had figured out the identity of one of the members of The Crew. 4.5 stars.

 
***

REVIEW: HIS & HERS, BY ALICE FEENEY

 

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation.

Someone isn’t telling the truth, and some secrets are worth killing to keep.

Narrated by alternating characters, His & Hers weaves a tale of darkness, secrets, school bullying, and murder. As we follow the path between the past and the present, we are shown connections that will lead us to the answers.

Anna Andrews tells “her” view of events, while her ex-husband Jack Harper reveals his perspective.

A group of girls that were connected at school, and who were not exactly friends— but frenemies—do not appear to share connections in the present. But then we begin to note how their present-day lives do intersect…when they all begin to turn up as murder victims, one by one.

Who is targeting them? Not knowing who to trust, we muddle along. Just when we begin to figure it out, the author throws a few dramatic curves, and we are biting our nails as we plummet toward the denouement.

An alternate narrative from the killer reveals the details as they unfold, and we finally know the identity of that individual at the very end. I loved trying to guess who did what, and the satisfactory conclusion for my favorite characters left me smiling. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE REQUEST, BY DAVID BELL

Ryan Francis has it all—great job, wonderful wife, beautiful child—and he loves posting photos of his perfect life on social media. Until the night his friend Blake asks him to break into a woman’s home to retrieve incriminating items that implicate Blake in an affair. Ryan refuses to help, but when Blake threatens to reveal Ryan’s darkest secret—which could jeopardize everything in Ryan’s life—Ryan has no choice but to honor Blake’s request.

When he arrives at the woman’s home, Ryan is shocked to find her dead—and just as shocked to realize he knows her. Then his phone chimes, revealing a Facebook friend request from the woman. With police sirens rapidly approaching, Ryan flees, wondering why his friend was setting him up for murder.

Determined to keep his life intact and to clear his name, Ryan must find the real murderer—but solving the crime may lead him closer to home than he ever could have imagined.

 

From the very beginning pages of The Request, we can tell that Ryan is in for some difficult times ahead, and the past is about to come back to haunt his present.

With friends like Blake, who needs enemies? There is so much wrong with Blake’s request and the demands he is making, but Ryan is too caught up in it all to unpack them. The fact of a woman blackmailing him at the same time confuses it all, but definitely kept me turning the pages.

There is something a little off about Amanda, although we can’t pinpoint what is wrong with her, other than possibly being overwhelmed with being home all day every day with a new baby.

Will she figure out the dark secrets Ryan is hiding, and will Ryan be able to deal with Blake’s demands while fending off the blackmailer?

Issues of trust/mistrust and dark secrets combined with technical issues like social media hacking kept me intrigued throughout. A compelling story that was intense and suspenseful. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE HOUSE GUEST, BY MARK EDWARDS

 

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

As I was drawn into the story of The House Guest, I was leery of almost every character that appeared. Especially Eden. Who could possibly trust anything she said or did?

But as the story leads us along, and as we meet other characters, all of whom seem suspicious and/or nefarious, I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

What would happen to Ruth when she mysteriously disappeared? Who was behind it, and would Adam figure it out, with the help of a mysterious stranger who seemed to be stalking him?

What did the homeowners, Mona and Jack, have to do with what was happening? Was Eden an old friend, or were they, too, involved in the cult-like events that surrounded them all?

I liked trailing along after the characters and the story, trying to decide who was evil and who was good. In the end, we are quickly swept away to a beautiful beach setting…and we think it is all over. But is it? 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: SAFE HOUSE, BY JO JAKEMAN

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty—or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears.

As I began the journey in Safe House, I was prepared for twists and turns and keeping an eye out for whoever is watching Charlie Miller try to turn her life around.

Many young women make the mistake of trusting the wrong man, and in Charlie’s case, her bad choices ended with a prison sentence. Starting over will not necessarily lead to a new beginning.

I loved how the author revealed the inner thoughts of our main character, Charlie, whose first-person voice tells the story. We flip back and forth in time, filling in the pieces of the story, and gradually coming to understand what happened.

Someone has his eye on Charlie and as we feel him literally breathing down her neck, the tension escalates. Will Charlie finally be able to start over, or will her past collide with her present?

The author also gave us a cozy feel as she showed Charlie fixing up her cottage and integrating with the villagers. A scenario that offers hope just as everything is about to crash down around her. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: CROSS HER HEART, BY MELINDA LEIGH

 

For more than twenty-five years, Philadelphia homicide detective Bree Taggert has tucked away the nightmarish childhood memories of her parents’ murder-suicide…Until her younger sister, Erin, is killed in a crime that echoes that tragic night: innocent witnesses and a stormy marriage that ended in gunfire. There’s just one chilling difference. Erin’s husband, Justin, has vanished.

Bree knows how explosive the line between love and hate can be, yet the evidence against her troubled brother-in-law isn’t adding up. Teaming up with Justin’s old friend, former sheriff’s investigator and K-9 handler Matt Flynn, Bree vows to uncover the secrets of her sister’s life and death, as she promised Erin’s children. But as her investigation unfolds, the danger hits close to home. Once again, Bree’s family is caught in a death grip. And this time, it could be fatal for her.

When Bree receives a desperate call from her sister Erin, she is determined to help her with whatever trouble she is facing. But despite their family’s violent past, Bree cannot foresee what does come to pass: Erin is murdered. Cross Her Heart brings together moments from the past and the present as Bree determines to find out who has killed her sister.

Many possibilities lead the reader down several pathways, following red herrings and trying to sort out family issues. The little town of Grey’s Hollow has more than its share of troubled individuals, from addicts to criminals in many forms.

I liked Bree’s way of dealing with issues, and I enjoyed the family drama unfolding in a peaceful setting, despite the trauma of Erin’s death. A friendship is brewing between Bree and former detective Matt Flynn, who will be a larger-than-life figure in her life.

As the first book in a new series featuring Bree Taggert, this one roped me in to a cast of characters that would stay and be part of her ongoing life. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: COCONUT LAYER CAKE MURDER, BY JOANNE FLUKE

 

When Hannah learns that her sister Michelle’s boyfriend, Detective Lonnie Murphy, is the prime suspect in a murder case, she goes straight from a movie studio sound stage to the Los Angeles airport.

Back in frigid Minnesota, she discovers that proving Lonnie’s innocence will be harder than figuring out what went wrong with a recipe. Lonnie remembers only parts of the night he went out to a local bar and ended up driving a very impaired woman home. He knows he helped her to her bedroom, but he doesn’t recall anything else until he woke up on her couch the following morning. When he went to the bedroom to check on her, he was shocked to discover she was dead.

Hannah doesn’t know what to believe—only that exonerating a suspect who can’t remember is almost impossible, especially since Lonnie’s brother, Detective Rick Murphy, and Lonnie’s partner, Chief Detective Mike Kingston, have been taken off the case. Before everything comes crashing down on Lonnie like a heaping slice of coconut layer cake, it’ll be up to Hannah to rack up enough clues to toast a flaky killer . . .

The main thing we know for sure at the beginning of Hannah’s investigation into the Coconut Layer Cake Murder is that her friend Lonnie is innocent. She would bet her life on it. Well, almost. As Hannah goes through the process of eliminating the various other suspects, she is baking cakes and cookies regularly, her way of thinking when she is trying to solve something.

I liked Hannah’s sense of humor, her thought processes, and how she was also trying to sort through her feelings for both Norman and Mike, potential love interests in her life.

As we follow Hannah and her investigation, we are also treated to various recipes stashed between the chapters. Yum! It’s a good thing that I couldn’t actually see her baking the goodies, like we do when viewing her actions on the Hallmark Channel. I wouldn’t be able to turn away from the temptations.

In the end, Hannah figures it out, with the help of her friends, and even starts to decide who is the most suitable partner for her in life. 4 stars.

***

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: SUCH A PERFECT WIFE, BY KATE WHITE

On a sunny morning in late September, Shannon Blaine sets off for a jog along the rural roads near her home in Lake George, New York. It’s her usual a.m. routine, her “me time” after dropping the kids off at school…except on this day she never returns.

Is her husband lying when he says he has no clue where she is? Could Shannon have split on her own, overwhelmed by the pressures of her life? Or is she the victim of a sexual predator who had been prowling the area and snatched her before she knew what was happening.

True crime writer Bailey Weggins, on assignment for the website Crime Beat, heads north from New York City to report on the mysterious disappearance. An anonymous tip soon leads Bailey to a grisly, bone-chilling discovery. Every town has its secrets, Bailey reminds herself, and nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. She keeps digging for answers until—when it’s almost too late—she unearths the terrifying truth.

 

From the first page of Such a Perfect Wife, I was pulled into the story of a missing jogger in the lovely town of Lake George. Having read other books with reporter Bailey Weggins as the main character and first person narrator, I was rapidly turning pages to see what she would discover next. I liked the way her mind worked, and how we learned her processes through her internal monologues and the conversations she had with the missing woman’s family and friends.

Just when we thought there was nothing to connect one suspect to the murder because of a link to other murders, suggesting a serial killer, something unexpected tipped Bailey off…and put her in grave danger. A heart-pounding tale that kept me glued to the pages and earned 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE LOOK-ALIKE, BY ERICA SPINDLER

Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head—that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?

A page-turner that kept me in its grip, The Look-Alike reminded me of every favorite thriller of mine. A story with many possible suspects, intense moments that kept me glued to the pages, and characters that felt like real people.

I liked Sienna’s voice and how she stood by her family, even those who were difficult, like her mother, and her brother Brad who seems to have betrayed her.

I had to work through it all for a while, sorting through the clues and setting aside the red herrings, but in the end, the reveal was perfectly orchestrated and allowed for Sienna to put the pieces together. Definitely a five star read.

***My ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.