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Currently Browsing: mystery/suspense
Apr
18

Review: The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

Review: The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts The Medea Complex Author: Rachel Florence Roberts Reviewer: Una Rating: C What I’m Talking About: The Medea Complex was an interesting premise and nothing like what I expected.  Although I liked the idea of the novel and where the author was going, the execution of it fell flat. The Medea Complex is a psychological thriller based on a true story.  I admit the mystery of whether or not Anne was insane was gripping.  I saw this novel as more of a mystery than a psychological thriller with the underlying mystery the truth of Anne’s illness and its cause.   As the story unfolded I found myself trying to figure out what was going on, what was true and what was not.  However, nothing proceeded as expected.  Though this could be seen as a positive, there are a couple of elements that grated.  From the synopsis I expected the story to focus just on Anne’s personal struggle, but that is not the case.  Although she is the major character, the conflict involves more than Anne’s personal turmoil.  The historical politics at work and political schemes were the central core of the story.  This is something we do not discover until later in the novel.  I found this intrigue to be fascinating and gripping.  The different ploys in place and the lengths to which people would go, regardless the cost, were staggering and heart-wrenching. There are multiple points of view in The Medea Complex.  All of them slowly combined to give a glimpse of what is really going on.  Fittingly, all is not revealed until the end, but the deliberate moments where information is withheld are insulting and annoying.  At one point, Anne is hypnotized and questioned regarding the incident that caused her to be incarcerated in the asylum.  It was blatantly obvious at the conclusion of the interview (of which we only saw the barest beginning) that something major was revealed.  However, we are not privy to that information until the very end.  I found this very frustrating and insulting to know a major plot point is discovered but purposely hidden from us. Another item that is difficult to discuss without spoiling the novel stems from the first person narrative.  We have multiple points of view but they are all first person narrative.  This means that if a character is performing a ruse, it should be evident in the narrative.  Since we are privy to their thoughts and feelings as...
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Mar
13

Review: The Innocent by Shiloh Walker

Review: The Innocent by Shiloh Walker The Innocent Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Jay Roberts is a security specialist with ties to Agent Taylor Jones and his group of FBI psychics. Jay has lived a lonely life, never able to touch anyone else because she is psychometric and picks up history and thoughts via touch. Yet she found something special with Lincoln Dawson when they met online. However, about two months ago, Lincoln suddenly and mysteriously cut all ties with Jay. Lincoln Dawson is a former county sheriff living in Hell, Georgia. His daughter, DeeDee, has been missing for two months, and no one in the god-forsaken place seems to care about DeeDee’s disappearance or any of the other horrible problems which keep happening. With her gut-instincts telling Jay something more was going on, she decides it is time to find out why Linc left her. However, once she arrives in Hell, she realizes something sinister is hanging over the town and its citizens. Sensing something was going to happen, Jay’s boss Oz, contacts Taige Morgan, a famous psychic that works with Agent Taylor’s group, and sends her to help Jay uncover the truth. The Innocent is a gripping new suspense novella that takes place in Ms. Walker’s FBI Psychic series. However, one does not need to have read any of the other books to enjoy The Innocent; it is completely stand alone. Although it is a shortened-length story, it is packed with riveting action and suspense. As Jay, Taige and Linc put the puzzle pieces together, I was glued to the pages, trying to figure out what was happening before the characters could uncover the truth. The story is filled with fabulous, complex characters which add so much to the story. The bad guys are slimy and evil, just the way I like them, and even better, the heroes are jaded and rough. For example, Lincoln isn’t so innocent. He’s a real ass to anyone who turned a blind eye to his daughter’s disappearance. Using his family’s fortune, he has caused true hardship for many in the town. He’s not just a man in pain and turmoil; he is bent on bring down those around him, sinking to deep lows at times to do so. The book does have a minor love-interest story, but I feel it plays second fiddle to the mystery and suspense. Jay and Linc have a chance to explore the feelings that developed...
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Feb
13

Review: Darkwalker by E.L. Tettensor

Review: Darkwalker by E.L. Tettensor Darkwalker Author: E. L. Tettensor  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Darkwalker is the debut novel in the Nicholas Lenoir series.  It seems the series will chronicle Nicholas Lenoir, a detective in a dark, historical fantasy world.  We were wary at first, but we found ourselves rooting for this anti-hero and really loved this first offering that left us hungry for more! Gikany and Una have a habit of diving into a book without much research (unless you count reading the book’s back blurb).  As we started Darkwalker, it started to dawn on us that not only is it historical, it is taking place in a fictional world.  Take Sherlock Holmes’s London, change the name and place it somewhere else, with another cultural group nearby that transects it, and take the dark, dreary factor way up.  This is where our story takes place…and it is mesmerizing.  We really enjoyed the landscapes that were created in our mind’s eye – the descriptions are rich and they greatly enhance the atmosphere of the novel.  The conflict and prejudice that exists between the “whites” and the Adali is compelling, reminiscent of those conflicts between Anglos and Africans as well as Anglos and Gypsies in our histories.  We found the tension between these two groups authentic, enriching the world and storytelling without any sign of preaching.  It truly added another element to the world-building, giving it a foundation as it alluded to our own historical pasts. However the most compelling element in Darkwalker is most assuredly Nicholas Lenoir.  This is the author’s take on the five things you need to know about Lenoir (taken from a guest post linked on her website): He’s the smartest person in the room. In his mind, at least. He doesn’t believe in redemption—least of all for him. Wherever you come from, Lenoir’s hometown is better. You’re just going to have to trust him on this. Words are weapons, but silence is power. We all have our demons, but his are darker. And in the room. Right now. We have read other novels where the main character is not well liked by others, but to the reader is captivating and enchanting.  That is not Lenoir.  As we started Darkwalker, we disliked him (we have some colorful pejoratives we could use, but we’re sure you get the gist).  In fact, we were so angry with him, we almost stopped reading.  But, this shows how well the...
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Dec
24

Review: City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

Review: City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte City of Lost Dreams Author: Magnus Flyte  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I was excited to read City of Lost Dreams, sequel to City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte. What I wasn’t counting on, however, was the time it would take me to savor this beautifully written novel that reaches my classical artistic and musical sides that are so frequently tucked into a tiny drawer, waiting to be let out to play. However, this title is so skillfully written, I fear that others will become as entranced with the music and art mentioned as I have been. Which means that the websites I usually visit to feed the art monster are going to load a bit slower. The story opens with a great summary of the previous title. I’m not  counting the Prologue – I’ve not figured out how that piece fits in quite yet. I like the way Flyte recaps Pollina and her delicate medical condition and her history with Sarah. How Nico is so old and little and about his gregarious attitude and demeanor (as well as his alcoholic tendencies). We also see Max again. And that familiar spark between Sarah and Max sparks. Helga? Helene…Harriet. Yes, It’s Harriet. “He was about a half step away from seeing Rudolph II on a piece of toast.” Sarah was talking about Max here. I laughed-out-loud remembering the GLEE episode where Finn has a grilled cheese sandwich that he believes has the face of Jesus on it. I thought this sentence totally captured the essence of Max. He’s a dreamer that is looking for his Holy Grail – one day, he’ll find it. I was a little sad that we didn’t see more of Max in this title. I surely hope that there’s a third book that will fill us in on what’s been going on with him! What I like most about Pollina – Pols – is how direct and honest she is. Her observations about a situation seem to be spot-on, and while she can’t see – due to her blindness – she seems to be quite intuitive. And she’s more self-aware than others realize. I cried at how beautiful her soul is. “…it’s not hard to make history come alive in Prague. The hard part is making history stay dead.” Sarah says this to Harriet, Max’s new girlfriend when she talks about writing a historical fiction novel about Elizabeth Weston, a contemporary poet...
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Oct
25

Review: Deadly Shadows by Shirley Wells

Review: Deadly Shadows by Shirley Wells Deadly Shadows Author: Shirley Wells Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: As I was preparing to write my review for Deadly Shadows, I went back and looked over the previous reviews I’ve written for the Dylan Scott series, and two things came to mind: consistently entertaining and engrossing, and always original. Each book in Ms. Wells’s highly addictive series brings an exciting new tale that is uniquely its own story while carrying on the same characters from book to book. Deadly Shadows is no different in this regard. I found myself unable to put down my Kindle once I started reading. The book opens with a gruesome murder committed by an unknown assailant. The scene then suddenly shifts to a bar where we meet Joe Child. Joe is an ex-con turned bible-thumper, and he is the reason our hero, PI Dylan Scott was removed from the police force years ago (you can find that back story in some of my other reviews). Joe is attempting to convince David Young (they used to do jobs together) to come into his flock. While they are discussing the pros and cons of Joe’s new-found faith, Davey is hauled off by Dawson’s Clough’s finest where we discover that (*VERY MINOR SPOILER HERE*) Davey is none other than Dylan Scott, working undercover for the Dawson’s Clough police force. Dylan is deep undercover, reprising his role as a two-bit crook from years ago in order to discover what has happened to two young girls missing from town. While neither girl knew the other, they had both spent time at Joe’s commune. Dylan is convinced Joe either has something to do with the disappearances or has knowledge of what happened, and Dylan wants to bring him down. However, not everyone sees things the way Dylan does. Many appreciate the work Joe is doing to serve the town’s homeless. I absolutely love how Ms. Wells sets up her mysteries. The story is told from multiple points-of-view, which are masterfully written so you cannot be certain if a suspect is innocent or guilty. Deadly Shadows spreads out like fan from the first chapter: each character and scenario is its own mini-plot. Yet the complexity is never overwhelming or extraneous. I am driven to look for clues in every scene and interaction. It’s exhilarating, exciting, and nail-biting! One aspect of the series that I adore is the human dynamics and emotional realism of each...
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Apr
20

Review: Children of the Underground by Trevor Shane

Review: Children of the Underground by Trevor Shane Children of the Underground Author: Trevor Shane  Release Date: April 2, 2013 Publisher: NAL Trade Children of Paranoia #2 ISBN: #978-0451239297 Genre: Suspense Format(s): Paperback (400 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Even if you have choices, sometimes you have only one worth taking. The war had been raging for as long as anyone could remember. The secret, endless war between two opposing sides—one good, one evil. Neither side knows which is which; it is kill or be killed in an invisible conflict where assassination is the weapon of choice.  When she was just seventeen, Maria was pulled into this secret war and they killed her lover and stole her child. Now they are telling her to go home. To ignore what she knows is going on in the shadows all around her. They told Maria to forget all she’d lost. The trouble is, some things simply can’t be forgotten. Now, with a loose-cannon killer at her side, Maria is going to do whatever it takes to get back what belongs to her. And that means starting a war of her own… What B is talking about: When we first met Maria in Children of Paranoia, she was a seventeen year old girl who’d fallen in love with a dangerous man, gotten pregnant, and realized, too late, that the world wasn’t what she thought it was. Instead of the rules she was used to (flirting with an attractive man, attending university, growing up), she discovered that a secret war, perpetuated by fear and vengeance, was being waged all around her, and had been for so many generations that no one could say for certain why the killing began in the first place. This war was dictated by an entirely different set of rules. Rules that quickly and brutally destroyed everything that she loved. No longer an innocent in “the War,” she’s now determined to take back what was stolen from her so long ago, no matter the cost.  Although this isn’t a genre I typically choose for myself, I have very much enjoyed the novels in the Children of Paranoia series so far. Children of the Underground was even more clever and intricate than its predecessor, the characters’ stories unfolding via dual storylines playing out simultaneously, offering the reader a view of the future unfolding alongside the present, and tying both together within each chapter. It isn’t nearly as confusing as it sounds. By telling Maria’s story...
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Dec
6

Review: Dying Art by Shirley Wells

Review: Dying Art by Shirley Wells Dying Art Author: Shirley Wells  Release Date: Nov. 12, 2012 Publisher: Carina Press Dylan Scott Mystery #5 Genre: Mystery Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book:       Dylan Scott vowed never to return to the dreary town of Dawson’s Clough. But one visit from a beautiful ex-lover and he’s back in Lancashire, investigating a possible murder. The police think Prue Murphy died during a burglary gone wrong, but her sister isn’t so sure—and neither is Dylan. After all, the killer overlooked the only valuable thing in Prue’s flat.       So who could have wanted the quirky young woman dead, and why? Dylan’s search for answers takes him to France, where he discovers Prue’s family didn’t know her as well as they thought they did. And the more he digs, the more secrets he unearths—secrets someone would kill to keep buried… What I’m talking about:       Ex-police office Dylan Scott is an amazing detective with a proven track record. Unfortunately, there isn’t a high demand for solving mysterious deaths. That is until Dylan’s old flame, Madeleine “Maddie” Murphy comes tumbling into his office looking for help with the investigation into her sister Prue’s murder.       Back in Dawson’s Clough, Dylan sifts through the clues, meeting the main players, including Prue’s shady landlord, the owner of a not-very-successful wine bar, and the widow of a renowned artist, who may or may not have been friends with Prue. And as always, Dylan must juggle solving the crime with his family life, and this time, an ex-lover who wants to win Dylan back into her bed.       Oh, I LOVE the Dylan Scott Mysteries! There is just something about the almost anti-hero that has me cheering for him all the way. Dylan is a good man, and we’ve seen this time and time again, over the course of five stories. His life is far from perfect, but he makes the most of it. He loves his wife and kids and works hard.       I’ve said this before, but one of my favorite things about the Dylan Scott books is that we view the crime scene and plot development from multiple points of view. One would think that this would “give away” the murderer, but it actually has the opposite effect. The reader is left wondering “whodunit,” because everyone either seems to be hiding something, or totally innocent. The multiple POVs...
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Nov
30

Review: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

Review: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte City of Dark Magic Author: Magnus Flyte   Release Date: Nov. 27, 2012 Publisher: Penguin Series: City of Dark Magic #1 ISBN: 978-0143122685 Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense Format(s): Paperback (464 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.       Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide. What VampBard’s talking about:       Feeding the musician with her favorite composer?  Yes, please!  Sure, the blurb talks about Beethoven, but I never dreamed that Magnus Flyte would create such a compelling plot surrounding the mystery of Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved!       I took notes on the characters in this novel. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get my wires crossed.  Eventually, I did stop taking notes; I figured that I would be able to keep things straight because I had fallen completely in love with the characters created in City of Dark Magic.       I adore Sarah.  This tenacious heroine of our story had more guts than I initially gave her credit.  Beginning the story, she appeared to be an insecure music historian, trying to find her own way in the shadow of her mentor.  When she received her invitation to curate the Beethoven collection in Prague, I felt she began coming out of her shell.  Sarah, however, was no prude.  The girl likes sex, and she’s adventurous!       Nico.  A little person.  He’s positively ancient, too.  His teasing bites of snark kept me chuckling and on my toes.  No.  There wasn’t anything kinky about Nico.       Max, however, began the story shielded in mystery and...
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Aug
20

Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards The Last Victim Author: Karen Robards    Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012 Publisher: Ballantine ISBN: 978-0345535405 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Suspense Format(s): Hardcover (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later. Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world. Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help. This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts. Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her. What VampBard’s talking about: The Last Victim was definitely not a predictable read!  Chock full of suspense, murder, and some freaky ghost stuff, my interest level was high throughout the story.  You know you’re hooked when there’s a self-talk monologue going through your head about where the story is headed.  You know you’re immersed when that self-talk comes out of your mouth.  I would be deeply immersed in this title.   Dr. Charlotte Stone, a.k.a. Charlie or Doc, is our gutsy, ghost-seeing heroine. ...
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Jul
6

Quickie Review: Dead Calm by Shirley Wells

Quickie Review: Dead Calm by Shirley Wells Dead Calm Author: Shirley Wells  Release Date: June 4, 2012 Publisher: Carina Press Dylan Scott Mystery #4 ISBN: #978-1426893889 Genre: Mystery, Novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book:       Detective Dylan Scott thinks cruising well above the Arctic Circle in November is nothing short of madness. He has zero interest in seeing the elusive aurora borealis, but agrees to the Norwegian holiday to keep his wife and mother happy. At least the biggest problem he’ll have to deal with is boredom. But that boredom quickly dissipates when the unpleasant elderly woman in the neighboring cabin is found dead.       Everyone thinks Hanna Larsen had a heart attack. Everyone except Dylan. Dylan is convinced there’s a killer aboard the Midnight Sun—a killer who may strike again… What I’m talking about:       The story opens with our reluctant hero, Dylan Scott, having a late night run in with the irritable woman staying in the cabin next to his aboard the cruise ship, Midnight Sun. Much to his (and everyone else) surprise, the miserable old woman, Hanna Larsen, is found dead the next morning in her cabin. Everyone assumes it was her heart problems and the stress of traveling that caused her death, but Dylan’s inner private eye sees it differently, especially after he knows he heard someone leaving her cabin at 3:00 AM. Soon Dylan has a fairly long list of suspects and is determined to prove there is more going on than appears.       Once again, Ms. Wells offers a wonderful whodunit with the most lovable Dylan Scott. Dead Calm has all of the ingredients that make each of the full-length Dylan Scott Mysteries engrossing and exciting. Even in this shortened format, the mystery is packed with viable suspects, multiple points-of-view, and a few surprising twists.       I have really grown to love Dylan over the course of reading three (of four) of his stories. He is truly a likable guy – he’s an average “joe,” complete with his own flaws and bad habits. He is annoyed by his mother, doesn’t want to be on this trip, and is obsessed with a dead woman, yet we know he loves his family and does what he can to make them happy. I enjoy reading his point-of-view and seeing how he works out the mystery. I find that I am always trying to solve the case before he does. And...
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