Review: The Janes (Alice Vega #2) by Louisa Luna

The Janes (Alice Vega #2)The Janes by Louisa Luna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the successful conclusion to the missing Brandt girls case, Alice Vega, reputable ‘people-finder’, returns home to California, leaving Max Caplan behind.

They both return to their regular lives, Alice being Alice, and Cap being lovable father to teenager, Nell.

Soon enough, a new case falls in Alice’s lap and it’s no surprise, she calls on dear old Caplan to help her out.

This time, he joins her on the West Coast to investigate the death of two Jane Does and their possible connection to a human trafficking ring.

With their street smarts and unending energy, Vega and Cap have quickly become one of my favorite investigative pairs. The underlying sexual tension is a bonus that is hard to resist.

Although a slow burn, for crime thriller classicists, this story packs a solid punch.

The steadfastness with which Vega tackles each investigation is oddly inspiring and Cap’s dedication to her is lovely to read.

This case, set in San Diego, tackles real life issue of human trafficking, as well as sexual slavery and abused minors. If these are topics that will be sensitive for you, tread cautiously.

The good news is, Vega and Cap are on the case and they never let up.

I’m not sure how much longer Luna plans to write this dynamic duo together, but I hope it is for a long, long time.

I know I will continue to pick them up. As a matter of fact, I am ready for the next one already!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Doubleday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and really look forward to solving another case with Vega and Cap!

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Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Whisper ManThe Whisper Man by Alex North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

This is exactly how I like my police procedural/investigative thrillers. Well done, Alex North!

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy thinks a fresh start is just what he and Jake, his young son, need.

They move into a house in the small town of Featherbank. A town with a sordid past.

20-years ago a serial killer abducted and killed 5 residents. He was captured, tried for his crimes and imprisoned.

The killer’s name was Frank Carter, but he was known to the world as The Whisper Man, as he lured children out of their homes by whispering at their windows.

The Whisper Man has become a bit of a legend in the small town and even decades later seems fresh in the minds of many.

When a boy in Jake’s class gets abducted, the similarities to the Whisper Man crimes, cause many to wonder if he had an accomplice all those years ago, or if there is a clever copy cat in town.

This story follows the perspectives of Tom and Jake, two detectives working the case, and even into the mind of the killer.

I loved the atmosphere of this one. It felt gritty and heavy. Any scene with Jake in it, your classic creepy kid, left me entirely unsettled.

The action was high-intensity and I felt the investigatory portions were well done.

I will admit, I was a little nervous going into this one because I had heard mixed reviews. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely read more books by this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Celadon Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. My apologies for taking so long. It was definitely worth the wait!

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Review: The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves

The Long Call (Two Rivers, #1)The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darkly evocative and smartly written!

My first Ann Cleeves did not disappoint. I consider myself already anxiously anticipating the next installment to this all new, Two Rivers, series.

I was so pleasantly impressed with this. By far the best traditional mystery I have read this year. It is obvious from the first pages that Cleeves is a skilled, veteran mystery writer.

Following Detective Matthew Venn and two of his junior colleagues, Jen and Ross, was an absolute delight. I felt like I was there with them, learning the evidence as they were. Matthew was just a lovely protagonist. Thoughtful and introverted, extremely smart and dedicated to the idea of truth and justice for all.

At the beginning of our tale, Matthew is attending his estranged Father’s funeral. Standing in the back he observes neighbors, and other locals, he might once have considered friends.

But he has left that part of his life far behind after the strict evangelical community his parents were a part of could not accept that he is gay. Basically excommunicated from the community, he hasn’t spoken with either of his parents in many years.

Upon quietly making his exit from the church, he receives a phone call from one of his colleagues. The body of a murdered man has just been found on a beach not far from his current location. He of course rushes to the scene and thus begins an investigation into the community of which he was once a part.

I loved the tone of this novel. From start to finish the writing was so intelligent and gripping. It gave me strong Broadchurch vibes whilst also reminding me of the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith. I would say if you enjoy the Cormoran books, you should DEFINITELY pick this one up.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I am in love with it and cannot wait to continue on with the series!!! Well done, Ms. Cleeves!!

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Review: We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn #4) by Becky Masterman

We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn, #4)We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Like many retired Agents before her, Brigid Quinn, has found it hard to leave life in the FBI behind. Living in Arizona with her husband of 2-years, Carlo, a former Priest and University Professor, she is working as a Private Investigator and acclimating to this new chapter in her life.

Jerry Beaufort is just starting a new chapter as well. He has been behind bars for year as the world around him changed and progressed.

Once free, Jerry sets out on a quest to find a document that ties him to a set of killings, one little known and one made famous by Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood.

That’s right. In 1959, Jerry spent some time with Perry Smith and Dick Hickok, the two men sentenced to death for the Clutter killings. There was another family killed during that time, the Walkers, and Jerry was there.

When he learns Hickok may have left a written confession behind with a Priest, pointing the finger at him, he knows he needs to track it down no matter what the cost. His investigation leads him to the door of Brigid and her unsuspecting husband, Carlo.

Thus begins a game of cat and mouse where you are really unsure of who holds what role. Brigid is on to Jerry and she is not going to let some criminal steamroll her. We read both perspectives so there really isn’t much by way of mystery but it is compelling nonetheless.

Although this is the fourth book in Masterman’s, Brigid Quinn series, like many Adult Mysteries, you can read them out of order or as stand-alone novels. I liked Brigid a lot. She is a bit older than the protagonists I generally read but some of my favorite mystery series do involve older sleuths.

There is something more believable about reading from an experienced detective’s point of view. Brigid was no nonsense and I really enjoyed that about her. I could definitely picture myself picking up more books in this series as some point.

I also really enjoyed the premise behind this. The whole, what if there was a 3rd person involved in the Clutter killings? It was interesting to me to take a true life case and add a twist to it. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to do that with newer cases but I think here it worked quite well.

Overall, this was solid. There were some parts I think could have been edited out or down but it was a smooth read and a good story. It didn’t knock my socks off but I had a fun time reading it nonetheless.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, who knew of my love for In Cold Blood and offered to send me a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and know I will pick up more Brigid Quinn books in the future.

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Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You GoI Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And just like that, Mackintosh is redeemed in my eyes!

Artist, Jenna Gray, arrives in a small town on the Welsh Coast and hastily rents a remote cottage there. Like many unreliable narrators before her, she is clearly running from something, but what?

Chances are it is connected with the hit-and-run death of a child that the book opens with but as a reader, you aren’t sure of the connection.

We then follow Jenna as she settles into her new life and begins to find happiness in her newly discovered independence. We also follow intrepid police detectives continuing to work the hit-and-run case.

Slowly, the two storylines begin to merge and what is revealed projects the narrative into the stratosphere. A new perspective is introduced and things rapidly start to come together.

I had a lot of fun with this one although some of the subject matter was hard to read. Trigger Warnings for: (view spoiler)

Overall, I loved the atmosphere, the mystery was strong, as well as the police procedural aspects of the story. Jenna really grew on me over the course of the book and all in all, I did appreciate her character growth.

I would recommend this to the few thriller readers out there who have yet to pick this one up. I feel like I was the last one but there you go.

A quick read with a satisfying ending — what more could you ask for this summer? Pick it up!

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Review: Just One Bite (Timothy Blake #2) by Jack Heath

Just One Bite (Timothy Blake #2)Just One Bite by Jack Heath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My favorite cannibal returns to the page in this second installment of the Timothy Blake series!

Timothy Blake is brilliant. He’s also as morally grey as you can get. Working as a civilian consultant for the FBI, Blake contributes a lot to the investigations he works, as it is easy for him to get into the mind of a killer.

In this second book, Blake is moonlighting as a ‘body disposal expert’ for a local crime lord and during the course of that work, stumbles across a naked corpse in the woods, which he promptly brings home. As you do.

Unfortunately, the next case he gets called in on to help the FBI with is to look for that missing man. The man now currently residing in his freezer. How is Blake going to solve the crime and get away with hiding the body?

Guys, I am so into Jack Heath’s writing. It is so good. It draws you in. It is easy to read, never overwrought. It is dark, grisly, disturbingnot for the faint of heartmorbidly humorous…all these things and more!!!

If you are sleeping on this series and you like dark, original stories, you need to make time for this. Hangman, the first book in the series, was one of my favorite police procedural thrillers of 2018. It really stuck with me. I was so psyched to be getting a second book with Timothy Blake. Now, where this one leaves off, there DEFINITELY needs to be a third book!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Hanover Square Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I am so in love with this series and I will never stop recommending it to readers who enjoy darker content. I am highly anticipating the next book!

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Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Little DarlingsLittle Darlings by Melanie Golding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightfully creepy story!

Lauren Tranter has just become a first-time mother of twin boys, Riley and Morgan. While still in hospital she begins to struggle with new motherhood. A terrible hemorrhage post-birth provides an additional trauma. She now finds herself in pain, alone and questioning her ability to be able to handle all of this.

Making matters worse, one night an intruder in her room, a very scary, ragged woman, tries to take her babies; trys to take them and exchange them with her own evil little monsters. Luckily, Lauren is able to fight her off. Hiding in the bathroom of her hospital room, she calls for help.

Unfortunately, no one believes her. No hospital staff report seeing anyone. How could an intruder have gotten past the surveillance cameras without being seen? Lauren must be hallucinating, suffering from some sort of postpartum psychosis.

Detective Jo Harper isn’t convinced that Lauren was imagining the incident however and she begins to investigate further, contrary to her superiors wishes.

Once back home with the boys, Lauren’s struggles continue. Her asshole husband, Patrick…

…is about as supportive as a dead jellyfish, so without any relief, she really begins to sink toward rock bottom. She never leaves the house, doesn’t socialize and lives in constant fear that the would-be kidnapper from the hospital will return.

In fact, one evening, she sees the woman outside the house, staring in at her. As Patrick begrudgingly goes to investigate, Lauren decides to call the sympathetic officer who spoke to her while she was in the hospital, Detective Harper.

This book has an absolutely wicked, ominous feel throughout. I don’t think I have ever read a thriller that bordered on the supernaturally horrific as much as this one did.

The idea of changelings is closely examined in this work and I loved how many chapters began with little excerpts from various fairy tales focused on that topic. Lauren is truly terrified for the majority of this book and that really got under my skin. The writing was so strong, I was definitely swept up in her thoughts and equally as much into Detective Harper’s investigation.

I loved so much about this book. There is a lot of the plot I am not even going to mention here as it is best to be taken off guard by it.

Immediately after finishing I was thinking I would give it a 4.5-star rating. There were a couple of plot points that I wished had been expanded on or moved around in the context of the story, but upon further reflection, to hell with that. This is a great freaking book. I loved it and would definitely recommend it to any reader who likes dark, slightly scary, content!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with an ARC copy to read and review. I will most likely read it again someday as I enjoyed it that much. Until then I will be loaning out my copy to all friends and family who will take it. I genuinely cannot wait to see what is next for this author!

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Review: She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens #1) by Gytha Lodge

She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens, #1)She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

1983: Topaz. Coralie. Jojo. Benners. Connor. Brett.

Aurora.

When Aurora Jackson accepts an invitation to go camping with her older sister and her friends, she has no idea it will be her last night on Earth. The younger girl feels shy and out of place as the older kids get to drinking, drugs, dancing and more. The party goes late into the night and everyone basically passes out. In the morning, when they wake, the older kids find nothing of Aurora but her cold sleeping bag.

No trace of her is ever found and suspicions circle the group of friends for the next thirty years.

Present Day: A young girl on a camping trip with her family, stumbles upon the bones of a human hand in a small cavern at the base of a tree. Aurora has been found and so begins the cold case that may finally end up concluding what happened on that ill-fated night in the woods.

The small-town cop in charge of the investigation, DCI Jonah Sheens, knew the kids involved that night. In fact, when it happened, he was just a kid himself, at school with all the rest. Trying to keep his own past to himself, DCI Sheens and a great cast of fellow officers slowly unravel what happened to poor Aurora.

This gripping crime thriller is told in a format of alternating timelines. You get to see what happened on that camping trip in 1983 and the police procedural aspects of the current investigation. I thought the timelines were really well done and the pacing, for me, was perfect. I was so impressed with the fact that this is a debut novel. I hope that Lodge continues on with DCI Sheens character. I enjoyed him and the other officers he had on his team. I would absolutely continue on with this series, no question.

If you like police procedural and split timeline narratives, you should check this one out. Plus, it is always great to support new authors. Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to getting my hands on more Gytha Lodge books in the future!

Trigger Warnings: Rape, sexual assault, drug use and emotional abuse.

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Review: Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

Find You in the DarkFind You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Dark and twisted, this book had me glued to the pages from start to finish. I flew through it. Almost as soon as I started reading I was sucked in. Find You in the Dark mainly follows Martin Reese, a retired tech guru with an amazingly odd hobby. He was a really unique character. Not super likable in the mainstream sense, he is definitely morally grey, but personally, I like that. I got major Tony Stark vibes from this guy without the iron super-suit. Super smart, wealthy, cunning, dry and harboring a lot of secrets.

We also get the perspective of Detective Sandra Whittal. I loved Sandra, she was my favorite character. She’s on to Reese and his extracurricular activities and she’s pretty much the only one. Dogged in her investigation, Detective Whittal refuses to back down, even when reprimanded by her higher-ups. Along with her sexy partner, who she may or may not be intimately involved with – you’ll have to read to find out – she commences a wonderfully plotted cat-and-mouse game with Reese.

Okay, we have a cat, we have a mouse, then a dog gets thrown in too just to make the game a little more interesting. That’s right, we get to climb into the mind of a serial killer. It’s dark and I loved every second of it. There were twists and turns in this I did not see coming. In a few places I was absolutely floored. I thought the plot progression was wonderful and the characters fleshed out, messy and complicated though they were. As you can tell, I had a heck of a lot of fun with this one. I hope there is a continuation to this book. It left off in a place that could stay here and let the reader decide the rest or could be progressed further. I would love to see Sandra and Martin meet again for a rematch!

A big thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and really look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

Original: I am planning to start this one this week as I feel it will be perfect for Spooktober. A little nervous because the ratings aren’t the best so far but I have odd tastes, so who knows, maybe I will love it! I mean a bloody shovel on the cover is intriguing to me, so there’s that…

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