Review: All the Dark Places (Detective Rita Myers #1) by Terri Parlato

All the Dark PlacesAll the Dark Places by Terri Parlato
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

All the Dark Places is the start of Terri Parlato’s Detective Rita Myers Mystery series. There are 2-books released thus far, with the 2nd-book having just come out this past December.

I actually read them out of order, starting with What Waits in the Woods. I really enjoyed it and knew immediately that I needed to read this 1st-book ASAP.

I loved Rita and needed more of her in my life!

This is a dual perspective story following Detective Rita Myers, our MC, and Molly Bradley, the woman most closely linked to the mystery tackled in this book.

This story is set during the first week of January, which incidentally is when I read it. This tickled me for some reason. This has no bearing on my review, I just thought it was a funny coincidence.

So, it’s the first week of January and Molly has planned a dinner party for her husband, Jay’s, 40th-birthday. They have their tight-knit group of friends, which consists of three other local couples, over to the house.

It’s a great time. There’s plenty of drinks, laughs, food and even a beautiful cake. At the end of the night, the wine has definitely gone to Molly’s head. She heads upstairs to bed while Jay sees the other couples out.

The next morning when Molly wakes, Jay isn’t in the bedroom. He isn’t in the house at all and no coffee has been made. Fearing something is wrong, Molly rushes out to his office, housed in an outbuilding on their property. It’s there that she finds his dead body.

Detective Rita Myers is assigned to Jay Bradley’s case. An experienced detective, Rita is convinced that Jay’s murder isn’t some random act of violence. She believes someone in their circle is responsible for his death.

The investigation leaves no stone unturned as Rita digs into Molly and Jay’s life. It turns out, their group, like most, is hiding a lot deep dark secrets, including Molly herself.

It’s really hard for me to not 5-star a book that keeps me invested for an entire day. I flew through this and loved it. It wasn’t totally perfect, but pretty damn close.

I am well and truly invested in Detective Rita Myers now. I can’t wait for more books in this series, but I have a feeling, since the second one just released, that I’m in for quite a wait before book three.

I listened to the audiobook for both and loved them so much. It’s dual narrators, to fit the dual perspective and the narrators truly captured the spirit of these characters.

I definitely recommend this series to any Reader who enjoys Police Procedural Mysteries, or Crime Thrillers. Parlato’s mysteries are engaging and hard to put down once you start.

Detective Myers is such a compelling MC as well. She’s someone you can really get behind. She’s strong, smart, determined and always looking to do what’s right.

When I say I read this straight through, I’m not joking. I was on a journey with these characters. I didn’t even have time to make status updates. That’s how invested I was. I’m actually hoping for a paycheck from Rita’s department for my efforts.

If you’re looking for a strong new Mystery series to start, look no further. This is where it’s at. While you’re reading it, I’ll just be over here patiently waiting for more!!

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Review: What Waits in the Woods (Detective Rita Myers #2) by Terri Parlato

What Waits in the WoodsWhat Waits in the Woods by Terri Parlato
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What Waits in the Woods is the 2nd-book in Terri Parlato’s Detective Rita Myers series. This is an Adult Police Procedural Mystery following, you guessed it, Detective Rita Myers.

I actually didn’t read the 1st-book, All the Dark Places, prior to reading this one, but I enjoyed this so much, I started the 1st-book immediately after and have already finished it.

It’s fair to say, I will continue to pick up each book in this series as they’re released. Keep ’em coming, Parlato!

This is a dual perspective story following Detective Myers and Esmé Foster, a young woman directly connected to the mystery investigated in this book.

I listened to the audiobook and the dual narrators truly brought these two perspectives to life.

Esmé left her small hometown of Graybridge, 11-years ago to pursue her ballet career. After an injury and a recent break-up though, she decides it’s finally time to return after she gets a call from her brother stating their father isn’t well.

The day that Esmé returns, a body is discovered on her family property. She arrives home to police cars and questions, not exactly the homecoming she was expecting.

Making matters worse is the fact that the dead body isn’t just some stranger, it’s Kara Cunningham, one of Esmé’s closest childhood friends.

Esmé is devastated by the loss of her friend, but there’s something else needling her as well. Esmé and Kara looked a lot alike, what if she was actually the intended target?

Esmé has her reasons for believing this could be the case, but it’s going to take her processing a lot of old baggage to actually figure it out.

Detective Rita Myers gets called to the Foster property after the discovery of Kara’s body and immediately digs in to her investigation. Detective Myers has a lot of experience and genuine care in her work.

There’s no doubt she is going to get to the bottom of this grisly crime, no matter what it takes.

I had so much fun reading this. The mystery was intriguing, the plot was fast-paced and the reveals were exciting and more often than not, unexpected.

I think Detective Myers is a fabulous main character and I know I am just going to become more and more attached to her as the series continues.

She’s a seasoned detective, no-nonsense and smart. She works with a lot of younger detectives and cops and you can tell that they look up to her as a leader.

I also enjoyed getting to know her more on a personal side outside of work. She has some interesting neighbors and even a potential love interest that I am hoping to learn more about in subsequent books.

As with many Mystery series, I don’t feel like you need to necessarily read these books in order. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything going into this because I hadn’t read the 1st-book yet. It’s a complete story unto itself.

I do feel, though, that this is the type of series where the longer you stay involved with this group of characters, the more attached you become, and the higher your enjoyment level will ultimately be.

I knew right away that I would continue on with this series. The writing is compelling, the mystery is well-formatted and the characters are likable.

This is a very solid Police Procedural Mystery. I would recommend it for fans of Caz Frear’s Cat Kinsella series, or Gytha Lodge’s DCI Jonah Sheens series, as I feel like the tone here and quality of the mystery are very similar to those.

Thank you to the publisher, Recorded Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I’m so excited to have a new Mystery author to follow. I hope this series keeps going for a long, long time!

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Review: The Haunting on West 10th Street (Detective Maria Miller #1) by Helen Phifer

The Haunting on West 10th Street (Detective Maria Miller, #1)The Haunting on West 10th Street by Helen Phifer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Haunting on West 10th Street is the 1st-book in the Detective Maria Miller Police Procedural Mystery series by Helen Phifer.

In this story we follow Detective Miller and her partner, Frankie, as they investigate a brutal crime in the attic of a Greenwich brownstone, where decades earlier a beautiful actress was murdered in the same way. The detectives are puzzled by the disturbing similarities between the crimes occurring in this house.

How could they be connected? Do they just have a sadistic copycat on their hands, or something more sinister?

Immediately upon entering the brownstone, Maria feels something dark. It’s a tickle in her senses; unpleasant and unsettling. The dramatic staging of the crime scene only enhances these feelings.

In both the past and present cases, body parts were removed from the victims and not recovered. Additionally, evidence of satanic rituals have been found. Who could possibly want to recreate something so evil?

This story is told using a dual timeline. We follow Maria and Frankie in the present, but we also get a historical perspective featuring the events leading up to the previous murder in the house. Lastly, we do get a modern perspective from an unknown individual, who appears to be our baddie.

I enjoyed getting the multi-perspectives, as well as the history. Although I did find the past sections a little slower-paced than the modern perspectives. With this being said, I still enjoyed the fact that it was told this way and I feel like it gave a lot of needed insight into the property and the characters involved.

The brownstone on West 10th feels like a haunting presence in this story. It becomes a character unto itself and I always appreciate when an author can provide us with such a vivid sense of place.

There is quite a bit of focus on the partnership between Maria and Frankie. They’ve been together for a long time and you can tell that they both care deeply for one another, but with Frankie’s marriage failing, could there be something more?

I know some Readers won’t care for the slight romance plot that’s woven throughout this story, but for me, I found it made the characters feel more realistic.

When you’re working with someone as closely as these two are, over a number of years, there’s bound to be some types of complicated feelings intrinsic to that relationship.

I didn’t feel like the author overplayed that, or let it overshadow the investigative aspects of the story. For me, it was blended in well and felt natural.

I did have the chance to listen to the audiobook for this one and I definitely recommend it as a format for this story. The back-and-forth between the timelines was handled well and the narration is fantastic.

Overall, this was super entertaining. I vibed well with Maria as a character and am definitely looking forward to going along on future investigations with these detectives. The ending was such a great set-up for the continuation of the series. I can’t wait to see what will come their way next.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys darker, Police Procedural Mysteries. Particularly, if you are a Horror fan like me, this may work really well for your tastes. Phifer definitely has a knack for incorporating some paranormal aspects into her mysteries.

Thank you to the publisher, Storm Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I can’t wait to continue on with this series!

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Review: The Raging Storm (Two Rivers #3) by Ann Cleeves

The Raging Storm (Two Rivers #3)The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Raging Storm is the third release in the Two Rivers series by beloved Mystery author, Ann Cleeves.

This Police Procedural Mystery series follows Detective Matthew Venn. I loved the first book in the series and have been hooked on it ever since. I feel like I have been waiting for this release for so long and it did not disappoint!!

The setting for this story is the small village of Greystone, Devon, a place Venn is very familiar with. He spent time there as a child, and due to personal reasons, has since parted ways with the community.

This might sound ominous, and it sort of is. If you’ve read the previous books, you’ll know, but basically, Matthew was raised in a very religious household; part of the Barum Brethren, who have many members living in Greystone.

Matthew’s sexuality, among other things, forced his separation from the group and family. Even the thought of returning makes him uncomfortable, but he’s a professional and goes where he must.

Duty calls after the body of minor-celebrity sailor, Jem Roscoe, has been discovered in a dinghy anchored off Scully Cove. The residents of Greystone are shocked.

Roscoe, who grew up there, had returned after many years away and was renting a cottage. He just came back a few weeks ago, who could possibly want him dead?

Everyone seemed to find his presence entertaining. Many were curious as to why he came back. When asked, he claimed to be waiting for a visitor, but never indicated who. Could this person be the one responsible for his death?

Matthew, along with his team members, Jen Rafferty and Ross May, head to Greystone to investigate this highly mysterious death.

As they begin their investigation, talking with the locals and digging into the lore and history of the town, they discover this mystery may run much deeper than they initially expected. As mentioned, Roscoe did have roots in the community, even if he had been away for many years.

With storm fronts ripping through the small town, the investigation takes many unexpected turns as we rushed towards the surprising and satisfying conclusion.

I had so much fun with this. The audiobook is fantastic. I definitely recommend that as a format for this story.

I love Matthew as a character. He is smart, dedicated, but also still processing his childhood and schism from his family and community. This makes him feel vulnerable at times. He’s healed a lot, is happily married and obviously successful in his career, but those old insecurities sneak up on him sometimes.

I feel like his character is just so relatable and I think a lot of Readers will be able to really connect with him.

In addition to a compelling leading man, these novels contain exceptionally well-plotted mysteries. I loved how this one evolved over the course of the story.

You can tell from the very start that Cleeves is a veteran-Mystery writer. This lady knows what she is doing. All you have to do is sit back, relax and take it all in.

I love mystery stories set in small towns and this one is a perfect example of why. As the detectives began questioning the locals, they certainly learned a lot. There are so many connections and everyone knows each other’s business.

It was interesting that Jem Rosco, who was originally from the town, had gained some celebrity. They all had opinions on that, whether it was based on who he was when he was young, or assumptions they made about his character now. I loved how he created such a fervor just by returning to town.

The rumor mills were churning even before he got himself killed. That may sound harsh, but seriously, the town was just a’clucking about his return.

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys Police Procedural Mysteries. I think this whole series is just incredible. The writing is fantastic, the characters well-developed and the mysteries all super compelling.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I cannot wait for the next book!!!

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Review: What Remains by Wendy Walker

What RemainsWhat Remains by Wendy Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a violent incident in a department store, Detective Elise Sutton was hailed a hero in her community. The truth is though, Elise doesn’t feel like one.

She’s battling complicated and conflicting emotions about that day and the only person who seems to understand is the man she saved. A man she comes to know as Wade Austin. The two of them are now connected by the event.

Unfortunately for Elise, he’ll never let her go.

Elise quickly realizes she’s called a wolf to her door. This man is not who he says he is and soon he becomes an eminent threat to her and everyone she cares for.

Racing against the clock, Elise works to outsmart him and severe their tie before it’s too late. This guy has done his homework though and always seems two steps ahead.

Y,all! Wendy Walker has done it again. This was so gripping. The opening scene, oh my word, I was at the edge of my seat. 100% in it.

There were a lot of elements to this, like Wade’s interactions with Elise, that really got under my skin. The circumstances were playing off some of my own real-life fears. I always love when a narrative is actually able to raise my heart rate and that was certainly the case here.

I liked Elise as a main character. She was smart, resourceful and fiercely independent. I did get angry at her now and again for her secretiveness, but I understand her motivations for being that way.

I loved her partner, Rowan. I sort of wish we would get more Thrillers with them as a detective duo. I feel like there is more we could explore with them personally and since they specialize in cold cases, I am sure there is plenty of interesting mysteries for them to dig into.

Wishful thinking, I know. I’m sure this is a standalone, but this just gives you an idea of how much Walker sold me on this detective partnership.

In addition to the steady pace and tension throughout, the ending of this got nail-biting intense. I was at the edge of my seat, flying through the pages so fast, I think I saw sparks come from the end of my fingers.

I would absolutely recommend this to people who enjoy a taut, intense, well-plotted Thriller. I always enjoy Walker’s stories, but I think this is my favorite one yet!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I’m sure you can tell by this review, but I’ll say it one more time, I loved it!!

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Review: All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby

All the Sinners BleedAll the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

When I first completed the audiobook for All the Sinners Bleed I decided to give it 4.5-stars, not rounded up. My thought process was that I didn’t connect to it emotionally in the same way that I did Razorblade Tears, which I gave 5-stars.

For some reason, in my little pea-brain, I was thinking because I didn’t feel that way that it wasn’t as good a story for me as that one. Hence the slightly lower rating.

Even though that was my reasoning initially, and I stress the initially part, I was wrong. Here we are, a full 4-days after I completed the book, and I cannot stop thinking about Titus, Charon County, or this mystery.

First, can we all acknowledge that Adam Lazarre-White is one of the most talented voice artists out there. I could listen to him read anything and be lulled into happiness. It’s true. You think I’m embellishing, but I’m not.

In this story we follow Titus Crowne, the first black sheriff of Charon County in Virginia. Titus used to work for the FBI, but decided to come home for a number of different reasons.

He ran for sheriff with the hopes of making a difference in his community; changing it for the better. The job has had it’s ups-and-downs, but overall, it seems they’re are making headway. Then, a year to the day after his election, a school shooting rocks their small community.

Caution: Scenes from school shooting on page.

A teacher is dead and the shooter, a former student and someone Titus knows well, is shot and killed by the responding deputies.

Even though there are many witnesses, Titus insists on an internal review of the shooting. It’s the right thing to do.

Looking into the teacher, and the former student, Titus and his department unknowingly open up a big ole’ can of worms. It appears the student was abused by the teacher. The teacher everyone felt was so pristine was anything but.

Y’all, this story goes dark and I loved it. It’s extremely interesting. There are religious elements, a cult-like atmosphere, buried bodies and so many secrets it makes Washington D.C. seem transparent.

The most compelling thing about this novel though is simply Cosby’s quality of storytelling. From the very first chapter I was reminded of how easy it is to get swept away by his writing. The way the plot and characters are developed is a masterclass in style.

Titus is such a great main character. He has so many admirable qualities, but he also has a past. He’s human, he struggles with things and second-guesses himself, but he always works hard to do the right thing. He’s the type of character you want to succeed.

He’s also the type of character I’m really hoping I will meet again. To my knowledge, this is a standalone novel, but man, would I love to someday get a follow-up. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Titus.

The mystery aspect, which involves many dead bodies, goes there. It gets graphic. I was actually surprised by how dark certain scenes got. I was living for it.

I recommend this to Readers who enjoyed The Echo Man. If you like that mystery, I think you could end up really vibing with this one as well. There was just something about this that gave me the same level of toe-curling enjoyment that that one did.

I loved following along with this investigation and felt my pulse ratchet up a notch every time the stakes were raised, which spoiler alert, was a lot!

I highly recommend this one for your Summer reading list. If you love a fast-paced, intense, Police Procedural Thriller, this is an absolute must for you. It’s a nail-biter!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I loved this!

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Review: A Killer in the Family (DCI Jonah Sheens #5) by Gytha Lodge

A Killer in the Family (Jonah Sheens #5)A Killer in the Family by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Killer in the Family is the 5th-book in the DCI Jonah Sheens series. This is a top-tier Police Procedural Mystery series for me and I have anxiously awaited each new release.

As with many Adult Mystery series, these books don’t necessarily need to be read in order. Personally though, I would recommend it, mainly due to the interesting character development involving the group of detectives.

With this being said, any of the books in this series would also make great standalone novels. However, I feel like once you read one, you’ll want to read them all!

In this installment, DCI Jonah Sheens and his team are trying to track down a serial killer. Dubbed the ‘bonfire killer’ because of the circumstances in which the victims are found, the killer shows no signs of slowing down.

The area of Southampton is on edge. It’s recommended women not walk alone after dark. Extra precautions should be taken, but not everyone is listening.

Thanks to a DNA registry compiled via a UK-based ancestry website, the investigators have a strong lead. It takes them to the doorstep of single-mom, Aisling Cooley.

The events that happen next will leave both the investigators and Ms. Cooley scratching their heads. For Aisling, it’s a puzzle almost too devastating to want to figure out.

Could there be a killer in the family?

Y’all, this book doesn’t release until August, but I couldn’t resist picking it up. I normally never, ever, ever pick up ARCs months before their actual release, but for this one, I was willing to break my own rules.

Right out the gate, Lodge shocked me with an epic Prologue. Like, that’s how you start a story. Jaw on the floor, yikes, what am I getting into?!

I got super invested in this mystery. I had so many different theories, but I actually hoped I wasn’t correct, as I really liked all the characters involved.

In addition to this new case, I enjoying reading the continuing storylines involving our main group of recurring characters, DCI Jonah Sheens and his team. Particularly Juliette and Ben, I love them and their friendship so much.

One of the things I love most about this team is how well they work together. I feel like in a lot of stories involving people that work together, there’s always some sort of drama or contempt amongst the characters.

That doesn’t happen in these books. They support one another, they treat each other with respect and the camaraderie is frankly, workplace goals. Each one of them has their strengths and Sheens recognizes that and assigns them tasks accordingly.

I love a happy, supportive, cohesive team, working on one myself IRL, so appreciate that representation here.

I also really enjoyed the concept of using consumer DNA services to track a killer. I just read a fantastic nonfiction book, The Forever Witness: How Genetic Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder, about that very topic, so it was fun to see its fictional use here.

This investigation was perfectly paced and the plot was structured so well. Lodge kept me guessing, and second-guessing myself, at the edge of my seat, until the exciting final scenes.

Overall, A Killer in the Family is a sensational addition to the Jonah Sheens series. I absolutely loved this one. Lodge has successfully created another enticing page-turner.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This is one of my favorite series and I hope it continues for a long time to come!!

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Review: The Echo Man (Major Crimes #1) by Sam Holland

The Echo ManThe Echo Man by Sam Holland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Echo Man is a debut Adult Thriller from Sam Holland. This novel released in 2022 and the follow-up, The Twenty, just released in early-May.

In anticipation of the release of The Twenty, which I was kindly gifted a copy by Crooked Lane Books, I wanted to be sure to pick this one up first.

I don’t know if, or how they’re related, or if you need to read them in order, but when I can, I do like to pick up an author’s work in order of release.

I decided on the audio for this one and loved that format. It was so addictive and cringey, hearing it out loud. It was exactly the reading experience I needed at the moment.

This is one of those stories that is hard to explain, but it was expertly woven together, so when you’re reading it, everything fits; everything makes sense.

There’s a woman named Jessica, married, living with her husband and their daughter. We start following her just before her house is set on fire. She narrowly escapes with her injured daughter in her arms. Her husband, sleeping in a different room, wasn’t lucky enough to make it out.

The police suspect Jessica is guilty of setting the fire, but she didn’t do it. Because of a shady history though, she’s afraid of not being believed and she flees from the hospital where she was being treated for minor injuries.

She befriends a disgraced detective, Nate Griffin, who knows Jessica isn’t guilty. In fact, he suspects the crime against Jessica and her family may have been committed by a criminal who has gotten away from him in the past.

There’s also a detective duo, Cara Elliott and Noah Deakin, who are simultaneously working a series of seemingly unrelated murders. As the bodies begin to add up, Cara can’t help but notice how the crimes seem to match those of famous serial killers.

You’re following these two separate duos, watching as their stories begin to blend and ultimately thread together into one nail-biting, pulse-pounding conclusion.

I found it very compelling. I was so into what was going on with Jessica, but also loved following along with Cara, on the more police procedural side of things. I felt it was the perfect blend of their two storylines; and I liked having one civilian perspective in addition to the investigators.

Both sides were equally interesting and the pace at which it alternated was perfection.

Let me be clear, this isn’t a story for the faint of heart. It’s not your average Thriller and it definitely took me by surprise. This gets DARK. Honestly, it contains some of the most brutal depictions of violence that I have ever read and I read dark shit for fun, like that’s my comfort zone.

I’m talking toe-curling, grimacing, exclaiming expletives whilst listening to it, dark. Not only that though, what a solid mystery; so good!

Overall, I am beyond happy that I finally made time for this one. What a way to enter the scene, Sam Holland.

I will remember this one for a long time to come and am looking forward to beginning The Twenty soon!

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Review: Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier

WonderlandWonderland by Jennifer Hillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Jennifer Hillier’s tense and twisty amusement park-set Thriller, Wonderland, was first published in 2015. I’ve had this on my TBR for years, but just never picked it up.

Now, for the first time ever, it is being released in audio format via Macmillan Audio. After graciously being gifted a copy by the publisher, I excitedly read it and loved it!

This story follows Vanessa Castro, the new deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, home to Wonderland. Vanessa is a lady with a past, that is clear, but all isn’t revealed to you right away. She’s a mystery unto herself.

Vanessa has moved to Seaside, along with her two children, after the death of her husband and a corresponding scandal at her old department. Vanessa is hoping for a fresh start and her older child, Ava, is almost excited to be working at Wonderland for the Summer.

Vanessa’s first day on the job kicks off with a bang, after the decomposing body of a homeless man, dubbed Homeless Harry, is discovered on the main causeway of the park just before opening.

Who is this man? It’s clear he didn’t die in the spot where he was discovered? Why would someone deposit his body there? What’s the message?

On the same day, prior to the body discovery, a disgruntled employee, a self-proclaimed free climber, scales the Wonder Wheel and photographs himself giving the middle finger in his Wonderland uniform.

He posts the image to his socials and it goes viral. After he posted, he disappeared. What is going on at Wonderland?

Homeless Harry and the Wonder Wheel Boy all in one day. Vanessa is left scratching her head and is about to get a quick lesson in how things work around Seaside.

Wonderland is by far the largest employer in the town. Not only that, it brings in huge amounts of money as a well-known and hugely popular tourist attraction.

Because of this, the powers that be at Wonderland hold quite a bit of sway within local politics and law enforcement. While Vanessa isn’t necessarily surprised by this, she is surprised by just how deep that river runs.

I loved Vanessa. She wasn’t perfect. She has a history, she has a dark past and it’s something that she struggles with at times throughout the novel. So, even though she has a successful career and is a great Mom, she can still have her own personal demons.

To me, that kind of character is so much more believable than the main characters who are perfect in every way, have it all, and just terrible things happen ‘around’ them, but not necessarily to them, or because of them.

Vanessa Castro is the type of character I would go to bat for. I think she was great at her job and did the best she could balancing her work and home life. For that, I give her props.

I also liked Vanessa’s daughter, Ava’s, role in the story. The dynamic between them, as well as what was going on in Ava’s private life added a lot of tension to the story.

Even though they have that mother-daughter relationship and lived together, there were still quite a few secrets between them. The transition to the new town wasn’t easy for Ava. At her age, I think she was 14, almost 15, that type of move will always be rough and I thought Hillier did a great job exploring that.

Ava’s work at the park was interesting as well. She ended up working in the Clown Museum and it sounded totally nuts. Definitely something I would have wanted to do at that age.

Overall, this is an engaging Mystery, with strong Police Procedural aspects and a ton of tension. I loved the pacing of the reveals as secrets come to light and I found the setting to be eerie and interesting. I couldn’t believe how quickly this drew me in.

Additionally, the audiobook is absolutely terrific. I cannot recommend it enough. The narration by Eunice Wong brought this story to life for me. I was transported while listening to it. A++ job!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m so happy that I finally had the chance to read this one. It’s a great reminder of why I love Hillier’s work; so good!!

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Review: The Last Party (DC Morgan #1) by Clare Mackintosh

The Last Party (DC Morgan, #1)The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

On New Year’s Day, the remote Welsh village of Cwm Coed has an annual tradition of taking a community swim in the pristine waters of Llyn Drych, or Mirror Lake.

A bit of a polar plunge, if you will. It makes sense as the lake is so much a part of life for the village.

It gets the blood flowing, the community spirit popping and overall, is a solid way to start the first day of a new year.

When a dead body is found floating in the lake in the early moments of this tradition however, it’s clear, this will be a very memorable year indeed.

On the opposite side of the lake, a new, luxury living community, The Shores, has been built. The instigator of this travesty, according to the locals, is Rhys Lloyd, an opera singer, who also happens to be a local boy himself. In fact, he inherited the land from his father.

The previous evening, on New Year’s Eve, Rhys, along with the other owners at The Shores had thrown a lavish party, to which all were invited. It appears this body may have floated over from that side, but is he, or she the victim of foul play, or just a terrible accident?

When it’s discovered the body is actually Rhys himself, this draws attention from both sides of the lake. Jurisdiction could get tricky, so a partnership is proposed.

DC Ffion Morgan, from Cwn Coed, will team up with a DC from the English-side of the lake, Leo Brady. A match made in heaven, IMO. The snark and chemistry between these two characters gripped me from the very start, which made for a super fun investigatory aspect.

This story is told through the use of many different perspectives, both from The Shores and from the village. It’s clear the stars are Ffion and Leo, but in order to get the full scope of this mystery, additional insights were required.

The residents of The Shores were all terrible people. It was captivating getting to know them and all of their various dramas. If you’re a fan of the ‘rich people behaving badly’ set-up, you will most likely end up enjoying this one as well.

We also learn a bit about both Ffion and Leo’s personal lives. I liked that. It helped to build them out and I felt like by the end, I was quite attached to the two of them. They were both sympathetic characters, who it was easy to root for.

The mystery of this was very well plotted. There were some huge reveals and twists. One in particular had my literal jaw drop to the floor. I was gobsmacked. I did not see it coming.

Overall, I would say this was fabulously fun, packed with unlikable characters, twists and OMG-moments. I had a blast trying to figure out whodunit. With a victim as despicable as Rhys, it could have been anyone!

I loved Ffion so much. She definitely stole my heart. She’s such a complex, yet likable character. I am really looking forward to more books in this series.

Of course, I am keeping my fingers crossed that the rumors are true and this actually is this first book in a series. I would definitely be down for going on more investigations with Ffion and Leo.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I’ve enjoyed Mackintosh books before, but this one is definitely a new fave!

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