REVIEW: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, BY B. A. PARIS

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When a couple seems as perfect as Jack and Grace Angel, it is inevitable that there are secrets, and that more is going on with them.

Grace met Jack just a few months before they married, and she was impressed with how he expressed love and caring for her sister Millie, who has Down Syndrome and lives in a facility. He is a brilliant attorney, defending battered women, who has never lost a case. Grace becomes the perfect homemaker who gave up her job right after the marriage.

It doesn’t take long for the creep factor to enter this story, narrated by Grace, and I was worried and afraid for her from the first moments after their wedding.

Alternating between the past and the present, Behind Closed Doors, set in England, is a frightening tale that swept back and forth in time, the intensity increasing with every page.

Why does Grace never leave the house without Jack accompanying her? Is their inseparability a good thing or a sign of something dark? If Grace is under Jack’s spell, how can she manage to grasp control of her own fate and protect her sister? Will she finally be able to come out of the shadows and find happiness at last, and what must she do to accomplish that task?

A riveting tale that had me biting my nails throughout, this suspense novel earned:

cropped again 5

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE TRUTH-TELLER’S LIE”

BOOKISH FRIDAY LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s featured book is one from a favorite mystery author:  The Truth Teller’s Lie, by Sophie Hannah, is “a superbly creepy, twisty thriller” (The Times (London)) by the internationally best-selling author of The Other Woman’s House and The Wrong Mother…

 

 

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Beginning:  (2006:  Monday, April 3)

I could explain, if you were here to listen.  I am breaking my promise to you, the only one you ever asked me to make.  I’m sure you remember.  There was nothing casual about your voice when you said, “I want you to promise me something.”

***

56:  At no point had she taken a step back into the house.  She stood right on the threshold.  Behind her, in the hall, Simon could see a light-brown ribbed carpet, a red telephone on a wooden table, a scattering of shoes, trainers and boots.

***

Synopsis:  Naomi Jenkins knows all about secrets: three years ago something so terrible happened to her that she’s never told anyone about it. Now, Naomi has another secret: her relationship with the unhappily married Robert Haworth. When Robert vanishes without explanation, Naomi knows he must have come to harm. But the police are less convinced, particularly when Robert’s wife insists he is not missing. In desperation, Naomi decides that if she can’t persuade the detectives that Robert is in danger, she’ll convince them that he is a danger to others. Naomi knows how to describe the actions of a psychopath; all she needs to do is dig up her own traumatic past.

The second book in Sophie Hannah’s beloved Zailer and Waterhouse series, The Truth-Teller’s Lie is a chillingly smart suspense novel sure to appeal to fans of Tess Gerritsen and Gillian Flynn.

***

What do you think?  I am quite hooked on this series, but it’s been a while since I read one of them.

***

 

REVIEW: DON’T YOU CRY, BY MARY KUBICA

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As we begin the story of Don’t You Cry, we are introduced to Quinn Collins. A young woman living in Chicago and sharing an apartment with Esther Vaughan, and we learn more about her through her voice as she alternately narrates the story.

An alarm shatters the silence, Quinn awakens to a man in her bed who looks nothing like he did the night before….she asks him to leave. Then she goes to search for the alarm, but Esther is not in her room. She shuts the alarm off, notices that the window to the fire escape is wide open, but doesn’t think too much of it. She goes back to sleep.

Right away the red flags go up. Why is Quinn not more curious about the situation? Is she completely insensitive? But then after several hours go by—almost a day, in fact—she is suddenly spooked and talks to her friend and colleague Ben.

Sorting through Esther’s effects in her room, there are several strange discoveries: paperwork for a name change, ATM receipts for large withdrawals, and notes addressed to My Dearest. More comes to light over the next few days, and we have to wonder if Esther left involuntarily, or if she is even plotting some nefarious deeds.

Alex Gallo, our alternate narrator, lives in a nearby Michigan harbor town, an hour away, and we soon learn of his obsession with a strange young woman he calls “Pearl.” Who is she, and what will happen between them? Why is he drawn to her? She is a few years older, and he is a teenager, abandoned by his mother and living with an alcoholic father…so the connection might not be a romantic one. And how does Ingrid, the agoraphobic woman Alex helps occasionally, fit into the story? What are the secrets lurking in the abandoned house across the street, where once lived a girl named Genevieve? What is the significance of a creepy lullaby?

Of course, it is easy to leap to conclusions at this point, but everything we’ve learned so far might simply be a slew of red herrings…and the truth could still be inaccessible to us.

At some point, I became annoyed and even a little frightened of all the characters…which had the effect of making me want to keep reading. What will be unveiled in the end? Stay tuned, and don’t close your eyes for a moment. You might be stunned by what happens next. I was. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE OBSESSION, BY NORA ROBERTS

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Eleven-year-old Naomi Bowes woke during a hot night in her West Virginia home…and when she heard a noise, she got up. She followed her father into the woods, curious. What she found in the root cellar after he came back up and left….would change her life forever.

Rescuing the young woman named Ashley and reporting her father’s crimes to the police could have haunted her forever. But she decided not to be the daughter of serial killer Thomas Bowes for the rest of her life. Taken in by her maternal uncle Seth and his partner Harry, along with her mother and brother Mason, she had a good life as Naomi Carson, moving from Washington, D.C. to New York…and then, alone, all around the country, staying ahead of the news reports and gossip. Until finally she landed in Sunrise Cove, Washington, where she optimistically believed she had outrun her ghosts.

I really loved the new life Naomi was creating in Sunrise Cove, renovating a big old mansion and gradually becoming a part of the community. The descriptions of the home interiors as they slowly came together, along with her vision of life on the water, made me love how a grim story could turn into moments of beauty. Naomi’s photography career also kept me engaged, as she showed the reader what she saw through her lens, and how she brought life and creativity into each shot.

Meeting Xander Keaton, the man who owned a garage in town, who was someone so much more than he appeared on the surface…that event was the final straw that turned her life of beauty into one that included the possibility of love.

But suddenly, something is happening all around the small, lovely town. Girls are going missing and turning up dead…and not far from Naomi’s haven. Who, if anyone, is targeting her and dumping bodies in places that are familiar to her? What, if anything, do the photos on Naomi’s website mean to the killer?

When her FBI agent brother Mason comes to town, the pieces begin to fall into place. Will they finally unmask and capture the killer? Who will it turn out to be?

The Obsession was a page-turning thriller that was also so much more. Totally engaging. 5 stars.

BOOKISH FRIDAYS: “THE OBSESSION”

BOOKISH FRIDAY LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today I’m getting a late start, as I had to go to the lab for a routine blood draw…and wasn’t sure I’d even have time to post anything.  But while I waited, I started reading The Obsession, by Nora Roberts, on Pippa…and kept reading it while I had breakfast afterwards.  Wow!  Now I can’t wait to read more.

 

 

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Beginning:  (August 29, 1998) (Naomi)

She didn’t know what woke her, and no matter how many times she relived that night, no matter where the nightmare chased her, she never would.

Summer turned the air into a wet, simmering stew, one smelling of sweat and drenching green.  The humming fan on her dresser stirred it, but it was like sleeping in the steam pumping off the pot.

***

56:  Shocked, she grabbed Mason’s hand.  “You never told me.”

“Some shit you don’t tell your sister.  At least when you’re eight.  He scared the crap out of me—you, too.  We just got used to being scared of him, like that was normal.”

***

Blurb:  “She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.”

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

***

I’m glad tomorrow is the Read-a-Thon, the first I’ve participated in…because I can keep reading this all day, along with more books that are calling to me.  What do you think?  Want to read it?

***

REVIEW: MISSING PIECES, BY HEATHER GUDENKAUF

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An unexpected phone call turns the lives of Jack and Sarah Quinlan upside down. Their twin daughters, Emma and Elizabeth, are away at college, so they are able to quickly arrange to leave their home in Larkspur, Montana, and to fly to Penny Gate, Iowa.

Jack’s Aunt Julia has taken a bad fall and is in critical condition. Soon, they learn that there is more to the story, and that Julia’s accident might not have been accidental.

But just when Sarah thinks she knows everything about her husband’s family, pieces of a strangely convoluted puzzle begin to fall into place, and she is forced to face that her husband has kept many secrets and told numerous lies. Why did Jack say that his parents died in a car accident, when in actuality, his mother had been murdered and his father, missing, was presumed to be the killer?

Meeting all the family members again, especially after the reporter part of Sarah’s personality leads her to the files from the case of Lydia Tierney, Jack’s mother, and more questions arise, she is also stunned to realize that Celia, married to Jack’s cousin Dean, was his serious girlfriend when they were teenagers. Another lie of omission.

So many suspects for both murders, like Amy, a troubled young woman and Jack’s sister; Dean, the angry cousin; and possibly even Jack. So who could have brought such violence into their lives?

When a series of threatening e-mails addressed to Sarah arrive, and the IP address is somewhere in Penny Gate, the threat becomes startlingly close to home. As the danger ratcheted up, it looked like nobody would walk away alive.

I was stunned by the denouement, as I had my eye on one particular suspect all along…and I was wrong. But I actually liked how it turned out, as the guilty character was very annoying. But what would happen to them all after the Missing Pieces are put together? Could they survive the emotional trauma? Definitely a 5 star read.

***My copy of an e-ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH NO PAST, BY KATHRYN CROFT

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Leah Mills lives a quiet life in London, working as a librarian, and obsessed with her routines. Going home to her sparse flat lined with books, she seemingly hides from the world. Friends and social outlets are nonexistent, aside from her work.

Then there is her online world. Her laptop takes her away from her flat existence…and she feels safe. Until she starts getting the strange e-mails.

But why is Leah hiding? What is the mysterious event that transpired fourteen years earlier that changed everything for her? And why is someone now sending her threatening missives? Why is her mother, who lives in Watford, ashamed of her?

We meet characters from her past, when the story carries us back there, like her friend Imogen and her boyfriend Corey, and Adam, who is Leah’s boyfriend. They are like a little posse, doing everything together. And Adam is the leader. Why is he obsessed with one of their teachers?

Our story goes back and forth through time, piecing out the answers to these questions, a little bit at a time, until we think we have it figured out. And then we realize that there is so much more to the story.

As I read The Girl with No Past, with its nail-biting suspense, I was glued to the pages, afraid to set the book down. With each new person that Leah slowly lets into her life, I am afraid for her. For who can she trust? I will not forget this story, which I am giving 5 stars.

REVIEW: THE WRONG MAN, BY KATE WHITE

 

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It was a beautiful spring season, shortly after Kit Finn’s 35th birthday, so while on a working vacation in Islamorada, Florida, she decides to do something daring.

She starts seeing everything differently, with this new perspective. So when she literally bumps into a handsome man after breakfast in the hotel…and then sees him several more times in random places, she responds when he asks her to dinner.

Their dinner turns into a brief sexual encounter, so when she heads home afterwards, she anticipates nothing more. But he calls and arranges to meet her for dinner back in New York.

He said his name was Matt Healy and that he had just sold his tech company. He is pondering what to do next.

Back in New York and ready to resume her life as an interior decorator with her 71 year old business partner, Baby Meadow, she is full of ideas for a cottage she is doing over for a client named Avery Howe.

But she does show up at the hotel for the prearranged dinner date, excited and full of the possibilities. Imagine her surprise to be greeted at the door by a stranger. A stranger who says his name is Matt Healy.

From that point on, everything about The Wrong Man: A Novel of Suspense felt like a dizzying whirl through a topsy-turvy world, as Kit discovers more and more unsettling facts about the man she thought she had met, a man whom the real Matt Healy says had stolen his identity.

Could everything after that be a twisted lie, as more and more layers unfold to reveal deeper secrets and betrayals? The police are involved now, so when a man is struck down by a car in Florida, matching the description of Kit’s stranger, she goes there to identify him. Only to see that the man is actually the real Matt Healy.

Who was the man in Florida? Why is he now in New York, contacting Kit with his own version of events? Is his true identity Garrett Kelman, and can he be trusted?

A case of insider trading in a company called Ithaca darkens the murky waters…and somehow Kit’s involvement grows, with more murders and unexpected details that keep flooding in. To say more would be to reveal too much. Suffice it to say that before you turn the last page, you will have suspected every character at one point or another, and Kit will be on a race to find the truth and stay alive. 5 stars.

REVIEW: CRASH & BURN, BY LISA GARDNER

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From the very first page of Crash & Burn (Tessa Leoni series), we are drawn into the mind of a woman, tortured by the confused thoughts in her head, as well as bits and pieces of memories. After she catapults over a ravine in her SUV, she manages to climb out of it. She keeps calling out for someone named Vero, as she crawls up the ravine from the crashed car.

Investigators believe she is referring to a missing child and spend hours searching.

Wyatt Foster, a Sheriff’s deputy from the small county in New Hampshire, is on the case, along with Todd Reynes, who had been the nighttime duty officer. When they finally realize that the woman was alone in the car, they are even more stymied, as there is obviously a lot to unravel. About the woman, about her husband, and about why the woman is so confused.

Apparently she has sustained three concussions within a short period of time, resulting in Traumatic Brain Injury. They immediately focus suspicion on her husband, identified now as Thomas Frank, while she is Nicole Frank.

Tessa Leoni, who works for a private investigative company, and who we have met in previous novels, is also on the case, but she cannot share what she knows. At least not in the beginning.

As the story continues, a whole series of events begin to create even more havoc, adding further trails that are challenging to follow. Who is Vero? And what is Nicole’s connection to her? Who are Thomas and Nicole Frank, since they didn’t exist before the past twenty-two years, at least not with those names? Do Vero and Nicole have something to do with a missing child case from thirty years before? How do two burned houses figure into the mix?

As the threads of the mystery begin to come together, and just before they really start to make sense, we are thrust hither and yon, with various and sundry possibilities until we are also pretty confused. In the end, the questions are answered…but what now? Physical evidence and proof are lacking, leaving the investigators with little more than theories and a few facts. Definitely a compelling story that kept this reader turning pages…and giving this one 5 stars.

REVIEW: AS NIGHT FALLS, BY JENNY MILCHMAN

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Sandy and Ben Tremont are living an idyllic life in the Adirondacks in a hilltop mansion, with their 15-year-old daughter Ivy.  And yes, having a teenaged daughter is a challenge for Sandy, since they seem to be at odds more often than not.

 
But not everything is as wonderful as it appears.  Sandy is keeping a big secret about her past, one that is about to resurrect itself and bring havoc upon them all.

 
Miles away, two convicts have just escaped from prison, and they have a destination in mind.  They are headed for that hilltop with evil in mind.  And a plan.

 
Will it be a plan for vengeance?  Or is something more going on?  Nick Muncey sees himself as a winner, and for most of his life, he got everything he wanted.  He had to learn new games in prison, but now, for his escape partner, he has chosen big and simple Harlan, who listens and does what Nick wants.

 
When the two of them arrive at the Tremont home, it is not immediately apparent why Nick has chosen this place, but soon we are able to put together the connections.

 
As Night Falls is a suspenseful and frightening tale of one night that turns disastrous, and a past that formed the man who would bring danger into all their lives.

 
The story flows back and forth between the present and the 1970s and 1980s, when Barbara Muncey was raising her son Nick…and a daughter she ignored.  Nick was allowed to create havoc over and over until the day that he finally ended up in prison.  But his days of plotting and scheming are not over, and terror grips the Tremont family.

 
The characters were three-dimensional and felt very real, especially the frightening ones. Ben was the least formed character, and Ivy was somewhat stereotypical with her teenage sulkiness and whining…and then, suddenly, she became a daughter to be proud of.

 
To avoid spoilers, I will only say that the intensity does not slacken throughout, although there were some slow and lagging parts in the middle; perhaps the lagging was a way of intensifying the danger, but it didn’t really work that way for me.  Overall, however, the story was gripping, and one that I would recommend for those who love suspense thrillers.  4.5 stars.