3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · non fiction · suspense · True Crime

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly | ARC #BookReview, #FirstNations #Violence #MeToo

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Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly

Rating: 3 stars 

Published: August 27, 2019 

Publisher: Viking 

Pages: 304 

Genres: non fiction, true crime, mystery

Recommend to fans of: true crime books, learning about violence against Indigenous & First Nations women, constantly learning 

 

Synopsis:

A gripping account of the unsolved death of an Indigenous teenager, and the detective determined to find her killer, set against the backdrop of a troubled city.

On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.
Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina’s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.
Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.
Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.
The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Viking, and Joanna Jolly for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:
– the background and non judgmental explanation of the life circumstances that led Tina and her family to their current life situations
– The detective who was working to solve her murder.

Love:
– the book brings to light the important topic of violence against First Nations women

Dislike:
– A possible dislike for some people (not for me though) — the descriptions of the crime and her body when discovered. This is to be expected since it’s a true crime book.
– Nothing specific to dislike, but nothing was particularly amazing either.

Wish that:
– It held my attention more. The overall topic is interesting, but not phenomenal in the presentation.
– The story had lived up to its potential. It was such a complex, informative, must be discussed story, but overall it read as a little boring, especially for a true crime mystery book.

Overall, an okay book about an important but terrible event that occurred in real life. I’m so glad that Tina Fontaine’s murder is being discussed in the context of violence against First Nations women. An important topic, but unfortunately this book doesn’t do it justice in my opinion.

 

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3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · suspense · thriller

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner | Release Day #BookReview

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Never Tell by Lisa Gardner 

Published: February 19, 2019 

Publisher: Dutton Books 

Pages: 416 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense

Rating: 3.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: her other books in the series, police procedurals, mysteries written by women 

Foodie Vibes: green smoothie with all your macros that your overbearing mother made for you 

 

Synopsis: 

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman—Evie Carter—from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim—a hostage—and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dutton Books, and Lisa Gardner for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The main characters in this series (Detective D.D. Warren and Flora) – strong, intelligent female roles
  • Longish book but a quick engaging read 
  • The reveal of the killer … just wait for it!
  • The pacing of the writing 

Love: 

  • The past and the present cases coming together makes for a very great mystery 
  • Finding out what the recent murder victim really was hiding #Interesting

Dislike:

  • The mother of the victim – so over the top and somewhat unbelievable 

Wish that: 

  • The last 1/4 of the book kept my attention better – for all the action I thought I would be more engaged 

Overall, another solid mystery from the author in her D.D. Warren series. Not my favorite book of hers. But I did enjoy the return of Flora in a new role.

 

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Who is your favorite mystery/thriller author? 

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2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · suspense · thriller

What We Did by Christobel Kent | ARC #BookReview

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What We Did by Christobel Kent

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: revenge books

Foodie Vibes: very little food because after you do what these women did, who can eat?

 

Synopsis: 

He stole her childhood . . . she’ll take his future

Something happened, she didn’t know what, something spun, the world turning, back, back, too fast. She would be sick. Bridget put out a hand to steady herself against the wall.

Bridget has a secret–one she keeps from everyone, even her husband. One that threatens to explode when her childhood music teacher, Carmichael, walks into her dress shop. With him is a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, fresh-faced and pretty. She reminds Bridget of herself at that age, na�ve and vulnerable.

Bridget wants him away–away from her, away from that girl. But Carmichael won’t leave her alone, won’t stop stalking her. And Bridget’s not a little girl anymore. When he pushes her too far, she snaps. But what she thought was a decisive act only unravels more insidious threats–more than she could have ever imagined–and from which no one is safe, not even her family.

The bestselling British author Christobel Kent has written yet another thrilling page-turner with a twisted, riveting conclusion. What We Did is a nightmarish, impossible-to-put-down tale of the secrets we keep from our families, of chilling childhood abuse, and of long-awaited retribution.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Sarah Crichton Books, and Christobel Kent for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • The relationship between the sisters
  • The mystery of what will happen next throughout the whole story
  • The day to day life working in a clothing store

Love: – 

Dislike: 

  • The flippancy the sisters have over serious topics
  • Despite all the drama and action, most of the time I was bored
  • All the triggers

Wish that:

-I related to the main character more, but then again based on some of her actions maybe it’s better that I don’t relate

Overall, not the book for me due to multiple reasons. Despite the promising plot, the story lacked much. 

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

Her One Mistakes by Heidi Perks | New Release

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Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, domestic fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: great psychological thrillers, characters that you root for

Foodie Vibes: ice cream that your husband tricks your daughter into believing that she doesn’t want 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books, and Heidi Perks for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review. Sorry about the late review on this ARC. A migraine prevented me from getting the reading done.

Lately the thrillers I’ve been reading have been exceptional. Her One Mistake can be added to that list. The book takes us through the horror of losing a child. The palpable fear is so intense, it’s almost indescribable. The author crafted a complex mystery that’s slowly revealed in perfect timing. The mysteries upon mysteries make for a book that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I think I read it in less than 2 days. 

I also like that the concept of gaslighting is featured. It’s not called as such, but it’s well done. The tension and suspense is perfect. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a book about a child being kidnapped, or if it would be too typical. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the complexity, surprise and characters. A wonderful psychological thriller that I highly recommend. 

 

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Literary Fiction · suspense

Looker by Laura Sims | Release Day

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Looker by Laura Sims

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Scribner

Pages: 192

Genres: literary fiction, suspense

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: interesting character studies, messed up people losing control of their life 

Foodie Vibes: an orzo, feta, watermelon salad to impress your neighbor and wine to drown your sorrows

 

Synopsis: 

A dazzling, razor-sharp debut novel about a woman whose obsession with the beautiful actress on her block drives her to the edge.

I’ve never crossed their little fenced-in garden, of course. I stand on the sidewalk in front of the fern-and-ivy-filled planter that hangs from the fence—placed there as a sort of screen, I’m sure—and have a direct line of view into the kitchen at night. I’m grateful they’ve never thought to install blinds. That’s how confident they are. No one would dare stand in front of our house and watch us, they think. And they’re probably right: except for me.

In this taut and thrilling debut, an unraveling woman, unhappily childless and recently separated, becomes fixated on her neighbor—the actress. The unnamed narrator can’t help noticing with wry irony that, though she and the actress live just a few doors apart, a chasm of professional success and personal fulfillment lies between them. The actress, a celebrity with her face on the side of every bus, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and their three adorable children, while the narrator, working in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.

When an interaction with the actress at the annual block party takes a disastrous turn, what began as an innocent preoccupation spirals quickly, and lethally, into a frightening and irretrievable madness. Searing and darkly witty, Looker is enormously entertaining—at once a propulsive Hitchcockian thriller and a fearlessly original portrait of the perils of envy.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner, and Laura Sims for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Looker is the tale of a sad, obsessed lady. I would consider the book more of a character study in the literary fiction genre with some aspects of suspense. The main character is obsessed with her neighbor, who is an actress. Most of her day is spent daydreaming about scenarios involving the actress. One of the great but also frustrating aspects of the book is the inability to determine what is real and what is a daydream until after the event possibly occurs. There are a thousand reasons why I don’t like the main character, which usually means that I will dislike the book. However, I ended up absolutely fascinated by the story. 

The downsides: there are many inappropriate sexual fantasies … and realities. Also she’s a terrible pet owner. 

Trigger Warning (and also SPOILER ALERT, but I wish someone had told me this before reading): death of a pet by murder. This deeply upset me

Overall, a horrifying yet fascinating read. 

 

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mystery · Police Procedural · suspense · thriller

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge |ARC Review

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She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 368

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, police procedural, contemporary fiction 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: mystery and suspense books, people who rock climb 

Foodie Vibes: orange juice and vodka for the wild parties the teenagers had 30 years ago 

 

Synopsis: 

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust? A teen girl goes missing after a night of partying; thirty years later, the discovery of her body reopens a cold case in an absorbing novel featuring a small-town cop determined to finally get to the truth—for fans of Tana French and Kate Atkinson.

On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and the youngest of the group—Aurora Jackson—is delighted to be allowed to tag along. The evening starts like any other—they drink, they dance, they fight, they kiss. Some of them slip off into the woods in pairs, others are left jealous and heartbroken. But by morning, Aurora has disappeared. Her friends claim that she was safe the last time they saw her, right before she went to sleep. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.

Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead, and all of them profoundly changed forever.

This searing, psychologically captivating novel marks the arrival of a dazzling new talent, and the start of a new series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House and Gytha Lodge for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

She Lies in Wait is quite an addictive read. This mystery captures my attention from the very beginning and didn’t let up. The author creates suspense in part by alternating chapters, between present day and the night Aurora died. As soon as we get another clue, we can’t be sure what’s the truth or a lie.

The book was especially suspenseful, because everyone had something to hide, even  one of the police detectives. As a reader, I didn’t know who to trust, but also wanted to believe that everyone was innocent. The mystery and tension was great.

A few parts I found myself getting a little lost, but nothing that dramatically affected the story. Also I much preferred the friends as teenagers and the police as adults. The friends as adults weren’t as intriguing and tension filled as it could have been. 

Overall, a really good book in the genre. I definitely recommend giving it a read!

 

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4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense

The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

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The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

Published: September 19, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 358

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, suspense 

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: romance novels with a mix of suspense, realistic fiction, adorable family life, couples that are #relationshipgoals 

Foodie Vibes: bananas and ice cream ~ for all those pregnancy cravings 

 

Synopsis: 

My relationship with my husband has been splashed all over the tabloids ever since we first started dating. What should I have expected when I took New York City’s most eligible bachelor off the market?

But no matter how long I’m with my husband, I can’t shake the feeling that a stroke of luck brought me here. That I don’t deserve the life around me. And I swear, if one more paparazzi takes a picture of me I’m going to freaking lose my mind.

I needed to prove to myself that I’m not worthless. So I wrote a novel under a pen name, but I’ve been rejected by so many literary agents I’ve lost count. And I’m so consumed with this idea that I need more out of life that I never had a chance to see the real story unfolding around me. The story that would threaten the life I took for granted.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads and Ivy Smoak for the copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The Light to My Darkness is wonderful, heartfelt, passionate, and has just enough suspense. Penny is pregnant with her second child. She craves bananas and ice cream. She looks after her adorable 3 year old, Scarlett. And her husband absolutely worships her. The only difference this time around is that she has a moderate to severe heart murmur, and the pregnancy is putting added stress on her heart. 

I really liked that this romance novel features a pregnant and married woman as the main character. Not many authors do this. Their relationship is very steamy. The stress that her health condition puts on their day to day lives is also explored. The representation is great. Scarlett is also such a smart adorable kid. The suspense of Penny’s health condition and later darker elements kept me turning the pages quickly. 

However, there are a few aspects that I’m not a huge fan of. One is the manner that the couple met. Some people don’t have a problem with it, but I did. Also the last 20% of the book had a lot of information thrown in quickly. I wish that it was further explored. And the ending … let’s just say you’ll either love it or hate it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this contemporary romance featuring a strong smart woman who is pregnant. The suspense made it even better. I definitely recommend giving The Light to My Darkness a read. 

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · suspense · thriller

ARC Review | Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell 

Published: December 26, 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 320 

Genres: thriller, suspense, domestic fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: weird creepy unspoken about vibes in a whole community 

Foodie Vibes: tea and crumpets – a proper snack for a proper community neighborhood 

 

Synopsis: 

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Lisa Jewell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Watching You is a unique book. Not quite what I expected. I thought I would be reading a mix of suspense, psychological thriller and domestic fiction. While it has some of those aspects, it tends to be more random pondering of the neighbors about other neighbors with a bit of suspense thrown in. 

I spent a good portion of the book wondering what was the point of the story. Eventually the different plot lines came together to create a fairly good conclusion. The people of the community are all a bit odd. They give an authentic feel to the story while keeping the underlying uncertainty to the book. I didn’t relate completely with one specific character, but a little piece of each one. And I think other readers will also find someone to connect with. 

The one thing I didn’t get was why was everyone so obsessed with Tom Fitzwilliams? He didn’t seem to be that great of a guy to me. 

Overall, a unique book written about ordinary people. Less suspense and more strange pondering about the neighbors. But somehow the author makes it all come together to make it work. 

 

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mystery · suspense · thriller

New Release | The Sisters by Rosalind Noonan

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The Sisters by Rosalind Noonan

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about cults, adopted kids growing up well, suspense in suburbia

Foodie Vibes: frozen peanut butter sandwiches, mall court food

 

Synopsis:

Twelve years ago, Glory abandoned her two daughters–four-year-old Ruby and baby Aurora–at a fire station, running off to a man who promised love and protection. Though the refuge she hoped for turned out to be a sham, she believes Ruby and Aurora are better off without her. But Glory has since given birth to another daughter, who’s clamoring for a life beyond their close-knit, tightly controlled world.

Sixteen-year-old Ruby loves her adoptive parents, but she hasn’t forgotten Glory. Now that she has her driver’s license, Ruby sets out in search of her birth mother. What she finds is a ramshackle house of castaway women, referred to as “sisters,” ruled over by a charismatic bully who monitors their every move.

Glory would take ten-year-old Luna away in a heartbeat if they had somewhere to go. On good days, the girl is confined to the fenced-in yard; on bad days, she’s sent to the dusty attic as punishment. When Ruby makes contact, Glory seizes on a chance for escape. Ruby is desperate to help, but how much does she owe to family she barely knows–and how can she fix someone else’s life when she has so little power over her own?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Kensington Publishing Corporation and Rosalind Noonan for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The Sisters starts out making me think the story is about a mom who gives up her young kids for adoption. Which gives it more of a contemporary fiction/domestic fiction vibe. But then more and more little hints are dropped, and the story changes. Boom! There’s drama, suspense, cults in suburbia, and more. The book has a little bit of everything. 

I really liked Ruby, the main character. She’s smart, kind, and seamlessly pulls together the worlds of bother her birth mom and adoptive parents. I also liked that the author shines a light on adoptions as well as non traditional types of cults. Informative as well as interesting! The story pulled me in right from the beginning and didn’t let go. 

However a few moments I wasn’t a fan of, mainly due to the mistreatment of the women. That’s to be expected in books with these topics.

Overall, a perfect mix of drama, suspense and a loving family. A definitely recommend from me!

 

Random Question: If a book is really good, do you stay up late reading?

 

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3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · suspense · thriller

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohajalian 

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The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohajalian

Published: March 13, 2018

Publisher: Doubleday Books

Pages: 356 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: cross continental thrillers, people unsure about their reality, spy mysteries

Foodie Vibes: wine and peanuts served on the flight 

 

Synopsis:

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police—she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home—Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean—or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

 

Review:

The Flight Attendant is a heart poundiogly good book that keeps you on the edge of your airline seat. Cassie is a flight attendant. Good at her job, but reckless in her personal life, which is very evident when she wakes up from being blackout drunk lying next to a murdered man. She doesn’t remember what happened, but she’s pretty sure she didn’t kill him. Things are about to get complicated.

She’s determined to find out what happened and prove to herself and others that she’s innocent. The book takes us on a wild ride across the world. 

While I didn’t like Cassie’s behavior at times, it absolutely set the book up in the best way. Also the ending was a bit of a let down. The mystery aspect, not the action. The action was fantastic. 

Overall, a good read that inspires me to read more by the author.

 

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