REVIEW: DEAD TO HER, BY SARAH PINBOROUGH

Marriage can be murder…

SOMETHING OLD

Marcie’s affair with Jason Maddox catapulted her into the world of the elite.
Old money, old ties, old secrets. Marcie may have married into this world—
but she’ll never be part of it.

SOMETHING NEW

Then Jason’s boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London.
Young, attractive, reckless—nobody can take their eyes off Keisha.
Including Marcie’s husband.

SOMETHING YOU CAN NEVER, EVER UNDO…

Some people would kill for the life Marcie has—what will she do to keep it?

 

Marcie is trying to fit into her new life in Savannah without letting the past keep her captive.

Keisha wants the money she would have if her wealthy and brutish husband dies.

Jason longs to take over the company from his boss.

All of these people have secrets, and the darkness that keeps them from being truly good will surely dictate what happens next in their lives.

Dead to Her unfolds from the perspectives of them all, and we are left trying to guess who has suddenly turned a corner into true darkness. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the author surprised me in the end.

An enjoyable read, but it seemed to take forever to read it as I sank further into the darkness with the characters. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE LYING ROOM, BY NICCI FRENCH

 

It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair….

 

From the very first page of The Lying Room, we watch every move Neve Connolly makes, keeping track of her actions, her lies, and what she must do to make sense of a murder…and to figure out who is responsible.

With the police on her heels at every turn and with a growing list of friends and acquaintances that she must not trust, Neve and her troubled daughter Mabel play against time, juggling events and hoping to save themselves.

All along, we also follow Neve’s efforts to get through the routines of home, work, and caring for her children, staying clear of anything that will bring the police to her door. It was hard to figure out who might be setting up Neve, and I had plenty of people to mistrust along the way. Red herrings, misdirection, and troublesome moments from the past kept me on guard as I tried to sort it all out. A riveting tale that kept me fully engaged…and then suddenly, it all made sense. 5 stars.

***

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.

***

REVIEW: THE SILENT PATIENT, BY ALEX MICHAELIDES

 

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

 

My Thoughts: In the beginning of The Silent Patient, we are offered excerpts from the diary of Alicia Berenson, the young painter who was charged with killing her husband, after which she went completely silent. Nobody anticipated these actions, so her motivation appeared to be a complete mystery. Further, in all her time at the Grove, a psychiatric unit, therapy had been unsuccessful, since she has refused to speak.

Theo Faber, the psychotherapist determined to bring about her healing, tells the story of his efforts in his first person voice. But there are vague hints along the way that suggest that there is more to his story as well. Theo’s marital difficulties are mixed up with Alicia’s story in some way, and as the journey continued, we came to question everything we had believed to be true. Murky shadows seemingly cloaked the connections between the characters and the timing of events.

To avoid spoilers, suffice it to say that nothing is quite what it seems, and at the end, you might wonder if you have stepped into a Twilight Zone. Definitely an engaging tale that kept me reading until the very end. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: I KNOW YOU KNOW, BY GILLY MACMILLAN

 

Twenty years ago, eleven-year-olds Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were murdered in the city of Bristol, their bodies dumped near a dog racing track. A man was convicted of the brutal crime, but decades later, questions still linger.

For his whole life, filmmaker Cody Swift has been haunted by the deaths of his childhood best friends. The loose ends of the police investigation consume him so much that he decides to return to Bristol in search of answers. Hoping to uncover new evidence, and to encourage those who may be keeping long-buried secrets to speak up, Cody starts a podcast to record his findings. But there are many people who don’t want the case—along with old wounds—reopened so many years after the tragedy, especially Charlie’s mother, Jess, who decides to take matters into her own hands.

When a long-dead body is found in the same location the boys were left decades before, the disturbing discovery launches another murder investigation. Now Detective John Fletcher, the investigator on the original case, must reopen his dusty files and decide if the two murders are linked. With his career at risk, the clock is ticking and lives are in jeopardy…

My Thoughts: I Know You Know takes the reader back and forth in time, from 1996 to the present. A few characters show up repeatedly in both time periods, namely John Fletcher, the primary detective back then; Jessica Paige, Charlie’s mother; and Cody Swift, a friend to the murdered boys.

Past secrets link several of the characters, and how they have hidden from the past kept me turning the pages as I tried to sort out who did what to whom.

When Cody Swift starts a podcast to record his investigation into the murders, with the hope of overturning the conviction of Sidney Noyce, now deceased, his actions seem to be a good thing. Of course, he relentlessly pursues Jessica, trying to get her comments, and her refusal is reported on his show, too, driving her further into hiding.

We know John Fletcher has made some questionable choices in the original case. Is his effort to find answers now a way to make up for them, or his own brand of a cover-up?

In some ways, I had trouble sorting out the time periods and what happened in each situation, but in the end, I felt a sense of closure. Each of the characters was flawed, but someone would finally come out on top in terms of overcoming the past. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE FRENCH GIRL, BY LEXIE ELLIOTT

 

They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway…until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive. And there are some people you can’t forget…like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free…

 

My Thoughts: In Kate’s first person voice, we follow the story in The French Girl. A mystery, possibly a murder, and suspicion that turns friends against one another as the investigator zeroes in on them all. Set in London, the story takes us to the French countryside as the investigator continues his search for a killer.

Kate is literally haunted by Severine, seeing her in various poses as she goes through her days and nights. Do the hauntings hint that she knows more than she thinks? Can she figure out the truth of what happened? Or will she finally realize that her memories have been hidden from her for a reason?

There were many characters to loathe, like Caro, whose presence in Kate’s life these days is an annoying and disturbing reminder of those feelings.

What about Tom, who seems to know more than he is letting on? And then there is Lara, her best friend, who might be hiding something, too.

And, years after their stunning break-up, Kate has to look again at her relationship with Seb…wondering if there are dark secrets she hadn’t previously considered.

I figured out the perpetrator early on, but couldn’t wait to see how it would all play out. I couldn’t stop turning pages, and I enjoyed how Kate’s world seemed to right itself in the end. 4.5 stars.***

REVIEW: PROMISE NOT TO TELL, BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ

 

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she’ll leave some of her secrets behind…
 
Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.
 
Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire…and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped.

Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

My Thoughts: Two children who had escaped a burning barn fire in Quinton Zane’s cult 22 years ago are reunited in the early part of Promise Not to Tell. Cabot Sutter was one of the children, and Virginia Troy was another.

Before Hannah Brewster’s death, she had been sending paintings to Virginia, who owned an art gallery. Something in Hannah’s latest painting, of which Virginia has a photo, stirs up some questions.

Anson Salinas heads up a team of investigators, and because he raised three of the children saved from that fire, including Cabot, he has a vested interest in learning more secrets.

Set near Seattle and on one of the San Juan Islands, the story captured my interest from the beginning. There was a great mix of mysteries from the past and current attractions that kept me turning the pages.

What do Cabot and Virginia learn after another fire reveals some previously unknown connections? Why do some of the people in a high tech company show signs of nefarious intent?

I loved the mix of mystery and the hint of future normalcy, which included glimpses of other connections, like Virginia’s grandmother Octavia.

The hint that Quinton Zane might still be alive hovers over the story, and near the end, there is a suggestion of more drama and mystery ahead. A captivating 5 star read for me.

***

REVIEW: EAVES OF DESTRUCTION, BY KATE CARLISLE

 

At the annual Victorian Home and Garden Tour, Lighthouse Cove, California’s premier contractor, Shannon Hammer, realizes that the competition is about to turn deadly….

Shannon is in high demand among rival homeowners, who will do anything to win Best in Show. One-upmanship and even espionage break out among neighbors, construction crews, decorators, and landscapers. Thanks to several new hires, Shannon is sure she can handle the extra load—until murder throws a wrench in the works.

The small town’s corrupt building inspector is found dead on one of Shannon’s job sites, and soon plenty of suspects are coming out of the woodwork. When another body is discovered, Shannon calls on her team of close friends and devilishly astute thriller writer Mac to help her nail down the details and build a case against the killer before the door shuts on someone else—for good.

 

My Thoughts: In the beautiful little town of Lighthouse Cove, in Northern California, Shannon Hammer enjoys success with the construction company she inherited from her dad. Renovating beautiful Victorian houses is her specialty.

She also seems to find a lot of dead bodies, and her tendency to try to solve the mysteries is a fun part of the story.

I enjoyed her relationship with the mystery writer, Mac, and couldn’t help but love how she tried to solve another kind of mystery for her newest construction worker, Amanda Walsh.

Some of the characters were clearly suspects just because of their horrific personalities, while others just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Watching Shannon and her crew do their jobs, in addition to helping find the killer, kept me turning the pages of Eaves of Destruction. I also enjoy the TV show based on the books. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: LITTLE BROKEN THINGS, BY NICOLE BAART

 

I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn’s house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.

 

 

My Thoughts: From the first page of Little Broken Things, I was captivated by the story of a child in hiding. Who was her mother? What about her father? And why did Quinn’s sister Nora bring this secret child to her in the middle of the night, with instructions to keep her safe, but with no answers to the big questions?

Quinn, married to Walker, has been wanting a child of her own, but it doesn’t take long for her to fall for this child called Lucy. Across the lake, Quinn’s mother Liz lives in the family home, staring at the little A-frame house she has rented to her daughter…and wanting to be a part of her life. She pushes her way in the next day, and discovers the child.

Meanwhile, Nora is still at large, and somehow her connection to her high school friend Tiffany becomes another piece of the story. How does the death of Tiffany’s aunt and guardian play a role in the unfolding story?

We watch as the alternating narrators tell bits of the tale, and I thought I had it all figured out…but at the last minute, we are thrown one more piece of the puzzle, one that changes our view of things…and now the broken pieces are starting to make sense. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: HER LAST GOODBYE, BY MELINDA LEIGH

 

Young mother Chelsea Clark leaves the house for a girls’ night out…and vanishes. Her family knows she would never voluntarily leave her two small children. Her desperate husband—also the prime suspect—hires Morgan to find his wife and prove his innocence.

As a single mother, Morgan sympathizes with Chelsea’s family and is determined to find her. She teams up with private investigator Lance Kruger. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier their investigation gets. When Morgan is stalked by a violent predator, everything—and everyone—she holds dear is in grave danger.

Now, Morgan must track down a deranged criminal to protect her own family…but she won’t need to leave home to find him. She’s his next target.

My Thoughts: From the very first page of Her Last Goodbye, I was immersed in this newest story in the Morgan Dane Series.

Morgan and Lance have a new client, Tim Clark, whose wife Chelsea has gone missing, and they are concerned because of the Sheriff’s attitude of focusing primarily on Tim as a suspect. Their work is cut out for them; finding Chelsea and smoothing the Sheriff’s ruffled feathers. Tim worked at a company called Speed Net, and checking out the employees was one of their first steps.

Chelsea is an alternate narrator in this story, so we know right away that she has been abducted. From her perspective, we learn that she is chained inside some kind of container with no windows, and that her abductor wears a mask.

Juggling the care of her three daughters with this newest case, and also handling health issues now arising with her grandfather, Morgan is even more stressed than usual.

So when one of their suspects seems to be stalking Morgan, the intensity ratchets up…and even after their investigation moves forward, greater potential harm to Morgan comes out of left field. Who is the perpetrator, and why is he now targeting Morgan? Could he be one of the sex offenders in the area, or someone they had previously overlooked? After running investigations on numerous employees, Morgan inadvertently stumbled upon an omission that could make all the difference.

Rather than risk further run-ins with the Sheriff, Morgan and Lance try something very dangerous…which leads to success.

I literally held my breath through many scenes in this book, so I am definitely giving this one 5 stars.

***