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The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White

The Drowned Girls (Angie Pallorino #1)The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t even know what to say about this book. It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish – and I loved every minute of it!

If you break down the story, there’s three separate storylines going on, and each of them is intriguing and had me begging for more. And for the first time in a long time, I found myself seeking out the love scenes, having fallen madly in “shipping” with the main characters.

Before I get further: this book deals with graphic sexual assault. People wishing to avoid this topic should pick another novel.

Angie Pallorino is at a bad place in her personal life: her mother has just been institutionalized with schizophrenia, and Angie fears she may be be showing symptoms herself; Angie seeks release in dangerous, anonymous sexual encounters she describes as “hunting”; and she has some serious questions about her childhood. Then at work, where she’s still recovering from an incident which shook her to her core and claimed her partners life, a violent serial rapist has escalated to serial murderer and is leaving a string of dead, mutilated girls across the city. And Angie’s partner in this new investigation? A guy she slept with at the club, thinking it was completely anonymous.

Each of these storylines: the killer, the romance and the personal issues, all were so good I found myself waiting for the next installment in each – especially the romance. It was HOT. I seriously loved Angie and Maddocks together, I couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out.

The ending is so nuanced and well thought out – I didn’t see it coming, and I don’t know how you could. But it was satisfying and it fit. There were enough layers to keep things interesting and enough clues to make you say “oh yeahhhhh.”

This is apparently the first book in a new series, and I can’t wait for the next one! Things were wrapped up with the main storylines, but enough was left open to keep things interesting!

Mark me down for number two – STAT!

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The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

The Lucky OnesThe Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I’ve said before, when I see that Mark Edwards has a new book out, I know to clear my schedule for the next few days. No ones better at crafting a chilling, eerie thriller that will stay with you for weeks afterward.

“The Lucky Ones” is no different.

It’s Edwards’ take on a police procedural, and it is a great twisty ride that you won’t be able to put down until the last page – which is a good thing because it doesn’t all finish up until then.

The book follows two people: Detective Imogen Evans who is chasing a serial killer who just claimed his third victim, and Ben, a single dad who is struggling in the wake of his separation from his wife. The two will cross paths as they both realize they are in the crosshairs of the most dangerous criminal to shake up their sleepy English town.

I don’t want to give away too many plot details because it’s fun to see everything unfold. Edwards has a talent for creating unique stories that will both fascinate and scare you. And this guy – “The Viper” as he’s known in the book – is very creepy indeed. There’s a feeling of something being “off” throughout the entire novel, casting a dark, suspenseful shadow over the book, which is delicious as it grows and grows.

At certain points, I thought I knew where things were headed, but the ending proved me wrong. It’s really all in the details here, and putting them together is how you can figure out this puzzle.

I still think my favorite Edwards novel is “Follow You Home,” but “The Lucky Ones” is certainly a great addition to anyone’s library.

Highly recommended.

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Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

Sweet Little LiesSweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. A solid mystery, with a bang-up ending that caught me entirely by surprise!

Cat Kinsella hasn’t quite been the same since the summer of 1998, when her family visited her Gran in Ireland and a local girl disappeared. Cat always suspected her father had something to do with it. Now a police detective, Cat is suddenly drawn into a case with echoes of the past when a body turns up near her father’s bar. Cat tries to remain emotionally distant from the case, but finds she can’t as more information comes to light.

This book was like a roller coaster ride. Things start slowly, but then speed up, only to have the case stall and then *BOOM*, things fall into place. And the ending is quite a big one – almost impossible to guess, I’d say. But it is satisfying and makes sense based on the rest of the book.

There’s also a lot of moral ambiguity in this book, really blurring the lines on conduct and honesty. I still don’t know how I feel about all the decisions Cat made in the book, but it seems to all work out in the end. It gives some complexity to Cat’s character, though her character was already well developed and had me hooked from the beginning.

I really hope we see more of Cat because I’d like to explore some of that complexity and see how she handles other cases. She seems to really care, without the dispassion that can seem to permeate other police procedurals. Hopefully, this will be the start of a series.

I really enjoyed this book. It has family drama, mystery and some mayhem.

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Secrets of the Dead by Carol Wyer

Secrets of the DeadSecrets of the Dead by Carol Wyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get ready for a fast-paced, suspense-packed adventure with DI Robyn Carter, in the new thriller from Carol Wyer. The book is second in a series but works as a standalone.

I loved it. Full stop.

Carter is pulled into a seemingly straightforward investigation when a colleague asks her to look into the death of a hotel manager. Soon more bodies begin to show up each under strange circumstances and with ties to the same hotel. Carter and her team struggle to understand what is going on before more people die.

This book creates a villain who is stunningly creepy and could give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money. Seriously, he’s scary. Wyer is excellent at creating characters and worlds that will transport you and make you double check your locks at the same time. His backstory was well developed and created a vivid picture while satisfying the “thriller” aspect of the novel.

The mystery is also very good and very multi-layered. I had some hints about what was going to happen but did not solve the mystery before the reveal. That was fun, getting some small clues before the author revealed the big picture. In the end everything came together neatly and to my satisfaction.

Robyn Carter was also a well-done character, she was relatable and interesting. Her struggles to perform her job while obeying the rules was a great added supply that really added to the story. It’s something we’ve all been through.

I’m thinking I need to go pick up the first book in the series because if it’s as good as this one I will love it. I’m looking forward to more in the series and from this author. Highly recommended

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The Mayfly by James Hazel

The MayflyThe Mayfly by James Hazel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First things first: This book was FANTASTIC. If you’re a mystery/thriller fan, you need to check this book out. OK, now on to the details.

I don’t want to give too much away because the reveals are great, and you’re going to want to stay up late reading.

The book follows Charlie Priest, a former cop turned lawyer with his own issues. But despite his flaws, he’s a fantastic investigator, who is attacked by a strange man one night in his home. The next day, the man is dead – killed brutally – and the victim’s family wants to hire Priest to figure out what happened. The answers lie deep in history, from the horrors of Buchenwald in 1945 and a remote farm post-war, all leading to to the present day. Priest must fight to figure out what is going on as the body count rises.

The elements of the book are blended really well, creating an atmosphere that just screams “thriller.” This book combines dark history, creepy families and just enough gore to make you want to sleep with one eye open. Figuring out how all the pieces fit together is a great challenge and I did not figure it out before the ending.

The scenario presented in the book is just real enough to really scare you, which also adds to the fun. The characters are fantastic; well written and flawed, but with enough character to like them. I think this is the start of a new series, and I’m ecstatic to see them again.

Overall, I throughly enjoyed this book. It is one of my top reads so far this year.

Highly recommended.

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You Will Pay by Lisa Jackson

You Will PayYou Will Pay by Lisa Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a new standalone novel, Lisa Jackson creates a fascinating mystery, anchored in the past, with reverberations in the present. It’s another winner from Jackson, though not quite one of my favorites (though that’s a tall order, because her books are generally very good).

Twenty years ago, a group of young people were thrown together at a Christian summer camp. As expected hormones and bad behavior raged, culminating in the disappearance of three of the camp’s young employees. Now, as a set of bones are discovered, The unsolved disappearances are getting a fresh look. Everyone has something to hide and everyone behaved poorly, but who is a killer? The remaining group is determined to find out.

The mystery of what happened all those years ago is at the heart of this novel. It’s so suspenseful and twisty, you can’t help but get sucked in and want to find out what happened. There’s enough things that will keep you turning pages.

I didn’t figure it all out. I had some ideas, but the final outcomes remained a mystery to me. I loved the suspense in this novel and was satisfied with how things turned out. Everything seemed to wrap up nicely.

The novel is not only told in both the past and the present, it is told from various viewpoints, as Jackson shows what happened 20 years ago from all angles. While this provides some good information and adds to the mystery, it does make it hard to really connect with any of the characters.

Because of that, the romance fell flat for me. But I was really in it for the mystery anyway. That’s the gem of this novel and what Jackson really does best: creating a world of suspense and mystery that drags you in.

I’ll be interested to see if these characters will return for another novel. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Maggie, Annette or Nell. If this does turn into a series, I’ll definitely be picking up the future books!

Highly recommended.

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke GirlsThe Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one had been in my queue for awhile, as I got busy with other deadlines. But I was so happy to get to read it, and I am ecstatic to say that this book was well worth the wait. Creepy, suspenseful and full of drama – this book has it all and kept me turning pages late into the night.

First: one of the themes of this book is sexual abuse, and those who wish to avoid that topic should probably skip this book.

The book follows two timelines: Lane Roanoke moves to the family home in Kansas after the suicide of her mother. Living there are her grandparents and her cousin (also 16 years old at the time) live there. All Lane knows about her relatives is that her mother was estranged from them and that her and Allegra are the last of “the Roanoke Girls,” a line of young women who either die young or run away. After one fateful summer, Lane runs. Eleven years later, she learns Allegra is missing and she decides to return to Roanoke to find Allegra and face her family’s demons once and for all.

This book packs quite an emotional punch, really grabbing you from the first page and never letting go. There is a pervading sense of something being “off” as soon as Lane gets to the house, and while it doesn’t remain a secret for long, you can’t look away because you want to know how it all ends. There are so many things that you need to know.

The book also touches on a lot of issues that are really important (fidelity, love, abuse, etc.) and it really gives a great weight to the story. You don’t feel like you’re reading a gratuitous, dramatic novel, but something much more important, if that makes sense. It gets you thinking about different issues and things people face.

I really liked this book and can’t recommend it enough. It’s hard to describe why, but I guess the book just pulls you in and makes you care about the people in it.

I can’t wait for more from Amy Engel.

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