2 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · Police Procedural · psychological thriller · suspense

ARC Review | The Goodnight Song by Nick Hollin

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The Goodnight Song by Nick Hollin

Published: September 17, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 283

Genres: psychological thriller, police procedural, mystery, suspense

Rating: 2 stars

Recommend to fans of: twisted family psychological thrillers, lovers of the first book in the series

Foodie Vibes: takeout pizza – easy and filling on the go
Synopsis:

Gifted criminal profiler Nathan Radley has a unique way of thinking that allows him to empathize with the twisted killers he helps capture.

But Nathan a dark secret. He has more in common with the criminals he hunts than anyone could dare to imagine. He lives in constant fear of losing control of his own dark desires…

When the headless body of a policeman is dragged from the Thames – an exact enactment of one of his oldest and darkest fantasies, only ever confessed in the pages of his teenage diary – Nathan finds himself the main suspect in the most twisted case of his career.

Someone has his diary and is leaking pages to frame him for the disturbing murders he has spent his whole career trying not to commit.

As more bodies surface and more extracts are released, Nathan has no choice but to go in search of the killer to clear his name. He knows it’s someone dangerous, he knows it’s someone he trusted, but how many precious lives will be lost before he can work out who?

A nail-biting and unputdownable thriller that fans of Peter James, Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott will adore.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Nick Hollin for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book follows a criminal psychologist who works for the police. His twin brother is a serial killer and taunted him endlessly in the last book. His actions have continued to haunt the criminal psychologist throughout this book as well. The premise appears to be the setup for an action packed intriguing read. However it falls short. 

At the beginning the story jumps around making it difficult to tell what’s a memory, flashback, reality or something else. Perhaps if I had read the first book in the series it would have made more sense. Also I’m not sure exactly why, but I never got into the book. It didn’t intrigue me, and found myself reading it solely to finish. There was nothing outright bad about the book, but I simply didn’t connect with it. 

The story had a lot of action and suspense. And for sure plenty of spine tingling creepiness.

The Goodnight Song unfortunately missed the mark for me.

 

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christian · Christian fiction · mystery · romance · suspense · Uncategorized

ARC Review | A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

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A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Revell

Pages: 336

Genres: suspense, mystery, Christian fiction, romance

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: conspiracy theories, books that cut close to reality and freak you out too

Foodie Vibes: coffee, coffee, coffee to keep yourself awake & reading so you can’ quickly find out what happens

 

Synopsis:

Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret–one worth killing for. But when she finds out one of her clients has been murdered, she quickly realizes that the computer security specialist wasn’t simply suffering from paranoia.

Detective Nate Quinn has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed eighteen people, including his partner, and left him dealing with PTSD. His first case back on the job involves the murder of Stephen Shaw, and his only lead turns out to be an old friend, Grace Callahan–and her life is in grave danger. Someone believes Shaw gave his psychologist information before he died. Information they are willing to kill for.

With her signature pulse-pounding suspense, Lisa Harris takes readers deep into the heart of fear in this race against the clock.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Revell and Lisa Harris for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Another good novel from Lisa Harris. Not my all time favorite from her, but still a good solid suspenseful mystery. It was nice to get back into the world of police detectives solving mysteries in Christian fiction.

I enjoyed the world of conspiracy theories with good reason. The book was so psychologically terrifying. The fact that these things could happen in real life is so scary. Hackers attacking the power grid and leaving our country without power for months. The impact it could have on our country and so many people is terrifying. Such an interesting premise! There was a lot of action, physical and mental, that kept me reading, reading, reading to find out what happens.

Despite all the action that I loved, I didn’t really like that the murder mystery involved a psychiatric patient in any way. In this case, the patient wasn’t a suspect (not a spoiler), but there is so much stigma and stereotypes that I’m wary of books that even associate therapy, mental health, etc. with anything negative. Also a key to solving a major part of the mystery was overlooked until much later. If I were there, I would have found the object right away by doing a simple but thorough search. If the characters stopped to think for 2 seconds the detective and psychology would have found it. So frustrating!

Overall, a compelling mystery that unfortunately had a few nuances that bothered me. Loved the conspiracy theory ascent though.

 

Are you more of a murder mystery, psychological thriller or horror novel reading? Tell me why in the comments 

2 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · non fiction · True Crime

The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Killer by J. Reuben Appelman

 

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The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Killer by J. Reuben Appelman

Published: August 14, 2018

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 288

Genres: true crime, non fiction, mystery

Rating: 2 stars

Recommend to fans of: dark twisted minds, unsolved crimes

Foodie Vibes: greasy diner food

 

Synopsis:

Enthralling. Gripping. Cinematic. Raw. A cold case murder investigation paced like a podcast, as visually stunning as a film, and as brave and personal as our darkest memoirs. J. Reuben Appelman cracks open one of America’s most notorious murder sprees while simultaneously banging the gavel on his own history with violence. A deftly-crafted true crime story with grit, set amid the decaying sprawl of Detroit and its outliers.

With a foreword by Catherine Broad, sister of victim Timothy King.

Four children were abducted and murdered outside of Detroit during the winters of 1976 and 1977, their bodies eventually dumped in snow banks around the city. J. Reuben Appelman was six years old at the time the murders began and had evaded an abduction attempt during that same period, fueling a lifelong obsession with what became known as the Oakland County Child Killings.

Autopsies showed the victims to have been fed while in captivity, reportedly held with care. And yet, with equal care, their bodies had allegedly been groomed post-mortem, scrubbed-free of evidence that might link to a killer. There were few credible leads, and equally few credible suspects. That’s what the cops had passed down to the press, and that’s what the city of Detroit, and J. Reuben Appelman, had come to believe.

When the abductions mysteriously stopped, a task force operating on one of the largest manhunt budgets in history shut down without an arrest. Although no more murders occurred, Detroit and its environs remained haunted. The killer had, presumably, not been caught.

Eerily overlaid upon the author’s own decades-old history with violence, The Kill Jar tells the gripping story of J. Reuben Appelman’s ten-year investigation into buried leads, apparent police cover-ups of evidence, con-men, child pornography rings, and high-level corruption saturating Detroit’s most notorious serial killer case.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Gallery Books, and J. Reuben Appelman for the book to review. As always, an honest review from me.

I’m a big fan of true crime books, but this one missed the mark for me. The entire book emirates terror and disturbing thoughts. It gave me the heebie jeebies while reading and left me feeling very unsettled for hours after. The weird disturbing vibes are not my thing.

While the author’s search to find the true killer of these unsolved crimes is noble, the writing comes across as a little too obsessed. Maybe you have to be to search out serial killers and pedophiles? Still, it’s good that someone’s investigating these crimes and holding people accountable.

Also, the bits about his personal life didn’t really need to be included, in my opinion. There were raw, authentic, and insightful. It felt more like a therapy session than cohesive thoughts to tie the rest of the story together.

Overall, The Kill Jar was not the true crime book for me. Way too disturbing and focused on the horrific details of too many predators. It’s not a bad book, but definitely not a good fit for me.

 

How do you shake off unsettling feeling from a book?

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

The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker

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The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker

Published: July 10, 2018

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 529

Genres: thriller, mystery, suspense

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: police mysteries, series with cliffhangers to make you read all the books

Read with food: fast food because you’re busy hunting down serial killers

 

Synopsis:

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days.

While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thanks to Goodreads, J.D. Barker and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the book. As always, an honest review from me.

The Fifth to Die seems to be a continuation of the book before it in the series. I haven’t read it, but am able to keep up. Certain references to the characters’ personal lives or little nuances are lost on me, but for the most part makes sense. If you’re looking for a book to really get into the detectives’ lives, then read the whole series. But like most police investigation novels, they’re meant to also be read as a stand alone. Now with that being said, let’s get into the rest of the review.

Teenage girls are going missing in the city of Chicago, and then their bodies found. They’ve been disposed of in some strange ways with other peculiar clues. The police know there’s something strange about it all, but can’t quite put their finger on it. The book takes us through a slow to moderate progression as the cops work to solve the crimes. With the book being over 500 pages, there’s time to dive into the small details of the case and more than just a glance at the characters’ personal lives. While it took me some time to read, the number of pages didn’t feel too overwhelming. I was intrigued throughout.

However, while I enjoyed the book I didn’t absolutely love it. Solving the case pulled me in but I didn’t connect with the anger/passion towards finding the serial killer’s past.

Overall an enjoyable slow burn of a police mystery. I recommend reading the other books in the series first to get the most out of it.

 

 

Do you ever read books in a series out of order?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · Police Procedural · psychological thriller · suspense · thriller · Uncategorized

Truth and Lies by Caroline Mitchell

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Truth and Lies by Caroline Mitchell

Published: August 30, 2018

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Pages: 348

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, police procedural, psychological thriller

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: twisted serial killers, police procedurals, characters to root for, the TV show Criminal Minds

Foodie Vibes: home cooked meals alternating with bad police station coffee

 

Synopsis:

Meet Amy Winter: Detective Inspector, daughter of a serial killer.

DI Amy Winter is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her highly respected police officer father. But when a letter arrives from the prison cell of Lillian Grimes, one half of a notorious husband-and-wife serial-killer team, it contains a revelation that will tear her life apart.

Responsible for a string of heinous killings decades ago, Lillian is pure evil. A psychopathic murderer. And Amy’s biological mother. Now, she is ready to reveal the location of three of her victims—but only if Amy plays along with her twisted game.

While her fellow detectives frantically search for a young girl taken from her mother’s doorstep, Amy must confront her own dark past. Haunted by blurred memories of a sister who sacrificed herself to save her, Amy faces a race against time to uncover the missing bodies.

But what if, from behind bars, Grimes has been pulling the strings even tighter than Amy thought? And can she overcome her demons to prevent another murder?

 

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer, and Caroline Mitchell for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me.

Truth and Lies pulled me in right from the beginning. I was so engrossed in the story that I hardly stopped to take notes for my book review. The character of Amy, a Detective Inspector, made the entire book work. She’s the daughter of a serial killer and is being contacted by her imprisoned mother. Forced to unearth haunting memories of her childhood to solve the case.

I really enjoyed the creepy multilayer story. It reminded me of a Criminal Minds episode but set in the U.K. And Criminal Minds is my favorite TV show, so that’s good all around. The evil from Amy’s mother was so far reaching. It impacted many people and made for a great novel.

At the beginning I had trouble figuring out which police personal were which. As the story went on, it made more sense. Also, I wish the characters were more developed. Now this isn’t always possible with an intense police procedural. I really want to get to know Amy better and find out what happens to her next. I hope there’s a sequel!

 

Have you read the book?

Do books ever remind you of TV shows?

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

The Sixth Day by Catherine Coulter

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The Sixth Day by Catherine Coulter

Published: April 10, 2018

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 538

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: mysteries set in London, police procedurals, thrillers mixed with fantasy

Read with food: fish and chips in iconic London

 

Synopsis:

When several major political figures die mysteriously, officials declare the deaths are from natural causes. Then the German Vice-Chancellor dies on the steps of 10 Downing Street and a drone is spotted hovering over the scene. The truth becomes clear – these high-profile deaths are well-constructed assassinations, and the Covert Eyes team is tasked to investigate.

With the help of Dr Isabella Marin, a young expert in the enigmatic Voynich Manuscript and cryptophasia (twin language), Nicholas and Michaela home in on Roman Ardelean, a wealthy cybersecurity genius and a descendant of fifteenth century Romanian Vlad the Impaler – often romanticised as Dracula. Ardelean believes the Voynich Manuscript will unlock the secret to curing his severely ill twin brother’s blood disorder and is willing to murder anyone who gets in his way, including Nicholas and Michaela.

Along with MI5, the Covert Eyes team must race against the clock to find Ardelean before he unleashes a devastating attack on London intended to destroy those he believes betrayed him.

Review: 

Thank you to Goodreads Giveaway for a free copy of the book, as well as the publisher and author. As always, an honest review.

Drones, falcons, cyber warfare, and boots on the ground police determined to solve the mystery of multiple high ranking officials’ deaths pretty much sums up this action packed book. In general The Sixth Day was good but not great.

I enjoyed the page turning action packed intensity of it. I even finished the last 200 pages in an afternoon. The story is extremely relevant to this day and age. It’s even more terrifying, because with technology these sorts of crimes are possible. Definitely creeps me out a bit! The entire book takes place over six days, which works wonderfully.

However a major premise of the story wasn’t a great fit for me as a reader. The foundation of the mystery is the legend of Dracula and The Voynich Manuscript. Ancient curses, bloodletting, twin powers, secret texts and languages. If that’s what you love in a book, then you will probably enjoy the story even more than I already did. This sort of fantasy folklore aspect isn’t my cup of tea, so I enjoyed the actual investigation more than anything else. Also at over 500 pages, the book was too long. I thought it could be shortened by maybe 50 to 100 pages.

The Sixth Day is the first book that I’ve read by the author. I would read more of her books, but would pick and choose carefully based on the subject matter. Overall, a good solid police mystery, set in London, filled with tons of action, and featuring ancient texts.

 

Random question of the blog post:

What advice would you give to someone looking to get more reading done each day?

 

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

Book Review: Last Witness by Chris Merritt

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Last Witness by Chris Merritt

Published by Bookouture on July 24, 2018

Pages: 325

Genres: mystery, thriller

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: crime thrillers set in the U.K., the balance between police work and family life

Read with: a roast chicken and potato dinner~ appropriately matches the homey feel of the characters’ personal lives

 

Synopsis: 

What if you made one mistake and it came back to kill you? 

Detective Zac Boateng’s old friend, Troy McEwen, is found dead in his home. The official verdict is suicide. But Boateng believes it was murder. And he thinks he might be next on the killer’s list.

If Troy didn’t take his own life, then who did? As he investigates, Boateng discovers a link to an incident from decades earlier. Mistakes were made that day. Lives were lost and secrets kept. Until now…

As more people who were there on that fateful day are found dead, Boateng knows that the killer is closing in on him…

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

Overall I enjoyed Last Witness, but it didn’t wow me. The premise is cliche, but it works. Supposed suicides that only a few people think might actually be murders. As I have found, cliches are cliches for a reason. Because they work. And it does work in this book. The story holds up and generally held my interest throughout. However it took me awhile to be completely pulled into the story. For it to really find it’s footing. I think this might be since the story bounced around a lot at the beginning.

When the book found it’s footing halfway through, I just kept reading to find out who was the killer. I appreciated that both male and female police are represented well. Also, the characters’ family lives are well established and create believable characters. The story still focuses mostly on the mystery, but it’s evident that there’s an entire backstory for all the characters. The author gives them a depth and realness that rounds out the story.

In general, the book has a bit of an unsure start, but comes together to intrigue the reader.

 

What’s the most important aspect of a book for you? 

Book Reviews

Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

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Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on September 15, 2017

Pages: 430 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, crime fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: intense twisted books with satisfying endings, passionate characters, trauma intensive stories

Read with food: Alcohol and nachos 

A shot of whatever alcohol you have lying around to get through the tough traumatic sections (Some cold water if you’re under 21 or don’t drink alcohol) Be safe people!

Football game nachos: quick, cheap, and not that nutritious but it gets some food in your system; much in the keeping of the character of Niko

 

Synopsis:

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

First and foremost, a big trigger warning for torture and sexual assault in graphic detail. It’s definitely intense, and I almost stopped reading the book because of it. That being said, about 10% of the book or maybe less is torture and assault. Also, the authors put a trigger warning at the beginning which I much appreciated.

Niko has spent his entire life caring for people, especially those close to him and in need. As a child, Niko’s friend and neighbor Aislin has a very difficult upbringing. He does his best to be a great friend and protector, even though he’s only 14 years old. Aislin is kidnapped. Niko is devastated and angry. He grows up to be a cop, but never stops searching for Aislin, his North Star.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about Pitch Dark. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed the storylines. The drama, the suspense, and how everything turns out. Works well in the book. It’s the details where I have some issues. Of course there’s the graphic descriptions of the assault. It makes the book what it is, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. At least not to that intensity. Also, the character of Niko is very over the top at times. Obviously he had gone through terrible things, but he acts as if he’s the only one who can solve the case, protect the victims, etc. I appreciate the sentiment and passion, but it gets to be a bit much at times. Also, some of the descriptions are a bit odd and left me asking “do people really talk like this?”

The story overall works well and I’m glad that I read Pitch Dark. I liked the revelations towards the end. The character of Aislin was a welcome breath of fresh air and encouraging strength. I ended up enjoying Pitch Dark, despite my mixed feelings throughout.