REVIEW: GIRL ON THE RUN, BY DARYL WOOD GERBER

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From the beginning moments of Girl on the Run, we are drawn into a world of fantasy, secrets, and ultimate betrayal.

Standing in the midst of a beautiful Happily Ever Ball, Chessa Paxton, our event planner, has the normal fears about how a party will come off, but something else is tugging at her, something that hints that it is only a matter of time until the worst might occur. Chessa’s fears about her husband Zach are soon realized, and the blurry, eerie feeling that takes over her will be just the tip of the iceberg.

Did someone drug Chessa’s drink? What is the big secret Zach is keeping, and how did Chessa find out that something might be wrong? Who are the frightening characters behind the masks at the ball, and who among them will bring about the ultimate mayhem? Waking up to her dead husband, and learning of a mass murder in a nearby meadow, Chessa slips from the house, eluding the police, and heads out to uncover the truth and to find out who framed her. She knows she is innocent…or is she?

Some of the truths Chessa will discover go back to her childhood when her father was betrayed, and just when we thought we knew all of the secrets, we learn there are more. A “master of disguise,” Chessa cleverly changes up her look while trying to stay ahead of the killer or killers.

The cast of characters is large, including Chessa’s stepfather, a senator named Jeremiah Wolfe, and an evangelical type minister named Davey Diggs. The primary detective in charge is Marcus Newman, with his sidekick Keegan, and we also see early on that, while he believes Chessa could be guilty, certain facts don’t line up with that conclusion, so he is keeping an open mind.

Alternate narrators keep us intrigued as we try to figure out the whodunit as well as the motives behind it all. This suspenseful story that kept me engaged throughout was set in one of my favorite places, Lake Tahoe, so I felt I could have been there with the characters. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

REVIEW: CATCH ME, BY LISA GARDNER

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Charlene (Charlie) Grant is convinced that she will die on January 21, in four days.

Two years before on that date, her best friend Randi was killed, and a year later, so was Jackie. She can feel that there is a connection…and that she’s next.

The setting is Boston, and the jurisdiction is D. D. Warren’s. She has been dealing with new mother drama (she and her partner Alex have a 10-week-old son Jack), sleepless nights, etc., and at work, there are a string of murders she is trying to solve. So when Charlie approaches her with her strange request for help in solving her own murder, D. D. is skeptical.

We have multiple narrators in Catch Me: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel, beginning with an unknown first person child narrator in the prologue that sets up a backstory that won’t completely fall into place until later. And then there is Charlie. Her narrative is fascinating. We can see inside her terrified mind, but she is also compulsively and obsessively vigilant in her quest to figure out who is after her and stop him or her in their tracks.

We also have a seven-year-old boy, Jesse, whose narrative takes us into the world of Internet games. His is AthleteAnimalz, and seems harmless. But is it?

Meanwhile, the victims in the latest string of killings are sexual predators, and a detective that specializes in those cases is brought in. There is just something about Detective O (Ellen Ohlenbusch) that ticks D. D. off, but she is trying to be cooperative.

The intensity of the story ratchets up as more intrigue builds, and we are shown many possibilities even as we rapidly approach Charlie’s deadline.

When a mysterious “player” appears in one murder scenario, and we see strange notes (from her?) in the interim, we have to ask: Who is Abigail, and what, if anything, does she have to do with the mystery? And why does Charlie have spotty memories about her childhood and her abusive mother? Why does she continually dream of a baby crying?

I could not put this one down. I have always loved this series, and I like the fact that I can’t easily figure out who the bad guys are. There seem to be many likely suspects. So the stunning reveal was totally satisfying. 5.0 stars, and recommended for fans of suspense thrillers and this series specifically.