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Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Every Last LieEvery Last Lie by Mary Kubica

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’d heard great things about Mary Kubica’s work before reading this book, but I’d never had the opportunity to read her work before now. And now that I’m a Kubica veteran, I can confirm all of good things I’ve heard.

This book packs a punch you don’t even see coming.

It’s only four days after Clara gives birth to her second child that she receives word that no one wants to hear: her husband has died in a crash caused by his own reckless driving. Their 4-year-old, also in the car, is uninjured. It seems like an open-and-shut case until Clara begins discovering weird things about Nick’s life just before the crash. She becomes determined to find out if this was an accident or something a lot worse. The story is told from both Clara and Nick’s viewpoints, to show all the secrets Nick kept before his death.

I hesitate to call this a mystery/thriller because it starts out with Clara finding out about her husband’s death and quickly becomes a drama about her struggling to accept it. You could literally feel her anxiety and sadness as you read, especially as she begins to find out the secrets Nick kept from her. Slowly, before you even realize it, the novel becomes a mystery, which deepens as it becomes apparent that Nick was keeping a lot of secrets. Like, a lot. By then, you’re hooked, unable to look away until you discover what the heck is going on.

Like I said, it’s definitely the sign of a great writer when you actually feel anxious and paranoid FOR the character. As you watch Clara unravel, it’s like her instability radiates off the pages. I couldn’t stop reading!

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m going to be really vague here, but I had some suspicions that the ending would turn out like it did, but it was pretty intense, regardless. There are enough suspects and red herrings to keep you turning pages.

Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed this book. From now on, I’m a big fan of Mary Kubica.

Highly recommended.

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Watching The Bodies by Graham Smith

Watching The Bodies: a Jake Boulder ThrillerWatching The Bodies: a Jake Boulder Thriller by Graham Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of classic detective stories will love this twisted serial killer saga that pits a madman against an amateur sleuth who gets in over his head when asked to look into a local girl’s murder.

The novel has a distinct Agatha Christie feel and delivers on the classic suspense, just like the legendary author.

The town of Casperton is rocked when a girl is found murdered, quite brutally. Her rich parents enlist the help of the local PI, Alphonse, who pulls his friend, Jake Boulder into the investigation. While this looks like a “straightforward” killing as details of the victim’s life emerge, soon more bodies are found and it becomes apparent that the town is in the grip of a madman, who will do anything for one more kill.

I liked Jake as a character, he was quirky and flawed, but very sharp and good-natured. He makes a great “hero” for the story and I’m interested to see more of him and where he goes throughout the series. The other characters were great too – Jake’s mother, Alphonse and Kira (the victim) were all really interesting.

The mystery was solid – not too twisty as has been the recent trend, but really a battle of wits between the detectives and the killer, to see who wins. And it’s quite a ride. The “action” isn’t what’s important, it’s the game of wits between the parties.

There were a couple of interesting subplots that I wish had gotten more time (like, Kira’s, um, fixation on Jake or the killer’s past) but i think that’s fairly typical for series debuts, as authors try out and see what works for the blend of characters.

Overall, I’m excited to see where this series goes in the future.

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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 Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

The Good DaughterThe Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I want to start off by saying that I liked this book. I’m glad I stuck with it, didn’t listen to the negative reviews. But I understand where they come from.

First things first: one of the main storylines involves a violent sexual assault. Readers should be aware.

The story is good and has potential, lots of it: Dahlia is a woman who has come back to her hometown (or at least the place she lived the longest with her eccentric mother) to care for said mother and finally hear the truth about her past. Then, Dahlia stumbles upon a woman, badly beaten, in the woods. And her mother begins acting stranger than normal. All of it is connected, if Dahlia can only figure out how.

The issue with the story is that it’s like an airplane that doesn’t quite take off. Every time the story gets going, any time there’s a big reveal, the author drops it and move onto another thread. Or starts a new chapter from a different perspective in a completely different place. Its hard to stay excited with that happening.

Also, it’s hard to connect with the characters. They’re so “eccentric” that they’re aloof, really. I couldn’t get a good read on them or their motivations. Like how Dahlia just accepts that she’ll never be more than an under-the-table hotel maid. Just like that. It’s hard to understand.

But the story did keep my interest. You can tell everything’s connected somehow, and I did want to find out. I just didn’t feel desperate to know, like with other mysteries.

I think this book is really miscast as a thriller, when it’s more a drama. Maybe knowing some of that going in, people would understand it better. I might have had less of a “thriller” expectation, and understood that it would be slower paced.

I would say if you have the time and patience to read a good family drama, this would be a good book. It’s going to take a little bit to get into it. But it will turn out enjoyable if you stick with it. Trust me.

If you’re looking for a nice, tight thriller, skip it.

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The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

The CutawayThe Cutaway by Christina Kovac

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First things first: “The Cutaway” is a great thriller which will keep you guessing and twisting until the reveal. It’s like a tangled web where everyone’s involved, the question is: how?

But that ending with the main characters: thumbs DOWN! But maybe that means we’ll see these characters again. And if that’s the case, put me down for a copy ASAP.

The story revolves around Virginia Knightley, a news producer in Washington D.C., who gets a standard press release about a missing woman. But something about this woman strikes her, and she decides to look further into the case. How did a beautiful woman disappear after dinner with her husband in a wealthy area of D.C.? The more questions Virginia asks, the more questions she has.

The thriller/mystery was awesome. I was hooked. It was like an episode of Dateline that you can’t look away from. And as the pieces start to come together, it creates a dark picture of the inside world of Washington’s social and political scenes, which are dangerously entangled.

I liked the depiction of the news aspect as well. It was pretty accurate as far as news judgement and sourcing goes, which I appreciated.

But oh, that personal drama storyline. I was so rooting for it to go the exact opposite of what it did. I’m still not over it. But hopefully this means we’ll see more of these characters and continue their story. That’s the only way I’m able to accept it, lol.

Overall, it’s a great book. I might have wished for it to go a little bit differently, but I was definitely flipping pages to see how to it turned out. Make no mistake, I was hooked.

Highly recommended.

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In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell

In the Shadow of LakecrestIn the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I DEVOURED this book.

I was worried that the historical (1920’s) setting would give the book a stilted/overly complicated style. But this book was such an easy read on top of such a great story, that I didn’t even realize how quickly I was racing through it.

The novel tells the love story of Kate Moore – raised by a poor mother who dreamed of a rich, handsome husband for her only child – and Matthew Lemont, a wealthy heir to a Chicago family’s fortune and terrible legacy. The Lemonts are well-respected, but also feared due to rumors of strange happenings on the family estate, Lakecrest. Many of the tumors surround Matthew’s aunt, Cecily, an eccentric artist who disappeared into a strange building 16 years before. As Kate unravels the family’s secrets, can she keep her sanity and her life from falling apart?

This story has it all: rumors of strange, heathen rituals, an evil mother-in-law, family secrets, a weird, sprawling estate; literally every gothic novel element is there, just waiting to be unraveled. And the author does a great job of using each element just enough to keep you guessing. There are enough moving parts to keep you guessing until the end.

I also liked that you couldn’t trust any of the characters in the novel. It wasn’t clear who was telling the truth, who was insane, etc. throughout the book. Even Kate comes under suspicion. That’s really the mark of a great suspense novel, when you truly feel you can’t even trust the person telling the story – you’re so wrapped up in the intrigue.

I also loved the ending. So neat and clean. It really was the exact perfect way it should have ended.

I highly recommend this novel to people who love suspense and great thrillers. I look forward to this author’s next work.

A++

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