Tag Archives: Suspense

Book Review: The Forbidden Door – Superb Suspense

The Forbidden Door

By Dean Koontz

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Former FBI agent Jane Hawk is back with a vengeance in the fourth installment of Koontz’s bestselling series. With law enforcement and the Techno Arcadians both searching for Jane and her young son, Travis, she has been forced to do things she never imagined doing before. She will do anything to save five-year-old Travis and the world as we know it.

Sure, there are things in this world that need to be changed, but not this way. Hordes of people look “normal” but have actually been altered by an injection of a Nano machine that takes over their brains to help the Arcadians create a perfect, supreme society. Part of their job is culling the herd so to speak, which includes murder and in some cases, suicide.

Jane has a personal stake in this game. Somehow they got to her husband and she will move heaven and earth to keep them away from anyone else she loves. She knew he would have never killed himself, so she started investigating and found out scores of people who were happy and productive also mysteriously committed suicide. As an FBI agent, she had resources available to help look for the reason why this happened, but now that she has become the most wanted person in the United States she has to move in the shadows. Keeping one step ahead of the bad guys both known and unknown is exhausting but Jane is relentless in her mission. Unfortunately, the Arcadians are ramping up at a frenzied pace and becoming more and more reckless causing things to begin going horrifically wrong.

The novel moves from Jane’s point of view to the Arcadians, both getting closer and closer to each other until the final confrontation of the book. As the tension rises, the forces of good and evil clash, determined to fight to the finish no matter what the cost.

Koontz is one of my favorite authors of all time. He delivers solid plots that are so realistic they can terrify you page after page. His descriptive style is absolutely stunning without dropping over the ledge of pretention. Foreshadowing is done artfully, such as …”lightning rips the fabric of the night, and thunder speaks against the window glass.” Seriously beautiful writing page after page without intruding or overpowering the plot is one of his specialties. Much to my delight, The Forbidden Door is no exception.

This is the fourth book in the Jane Hawk series, the fifth and last book, The Night Window, will be available in 2019. This is the second book of the series that I have read. Koontz does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed in an early chapter, so I never felt lost or confused.

I have read many of this award-winning author’s books, my favorite being the Odd Thomas series. The Jane Hawk series comes in a close second. Both series are totally different but are extremely well written and highly entertaining. When looking through the list of Koontz books to see which ones I would choose to be favorites, it was almost impossible. It is much like trying to pick a favorite child – I love them all for different reasons, each of them is amazing in their own way.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Burning Ridge – Nail Biting, Page-Turning K-9 Mystery

Burning Ridge

By Margaret Mizushima

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Deputy Mattie Cobb loves what she does. Her K-9 partner, Robo, has helped her out of scrapes with criminals and supports her through the residual trauma from her unhappy childhood. They love and depend upon each other both on and off the job.

Cole Walker, the local vet, has grown very fond of Mattie. Mattie cares for him also, but has learned to keep her emotions in check. What if he finds out about her childhood? She can barely live with the things that happened, especially being abandoned by her mother when she was very young, so it is hard for her to allow Cole into her life despite the strong feelings for him.

When the beauty of Colorado’s mountains becomes stained with murder, it hits Mattie close to home. Dead bodies begin surfacing, some old and one painfully new. Physically and emotionally she will be pushed to the limits – will she ever be the same again once her past comes to light? And will she survive to find out?

Mizushima brings the magnificence of the Colorado Redstone Ridge to life in the pages of her book. The insanity of a murderer is played out amidst tall fragrant pines and longhorn sheep innocently grazing the ridge. The juxtaposition of these images in the readers minds magnifies the best of nature and the worst of man, making both memorable in the twisted tale.

The characters are rich and full. Mattie’s past also includes Mama T, her beloved foster mom. Her sidekicks at the sheriff’s department are interesting. I especially like Rainbow and how yoga helped Mattie survive.

Mizushima has written three previous Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries and this is the first one I have read. It worked perfectly as a stand-alone mystery I was not confused and never felt anything was missing from the story. As a matter of fact, when I got to the last 50 pages, I had to keep slowing myself down because the action was so intense I had to know what was going to happen.

I highly recommend Burning Ridge and cannot wait to read the first three books in this series. If you are a fan of Longmire, you will love this book. If you are a great mystery fan, you will love this book. And last, but not least, if you love dogs – this is the book for you!

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Other Woman – Debut Author Delivers!

The Other Woman

By Sandie Jones

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Emily was picked up in a bar. She wasn’t looking for a man, but this adorable, well-dressed guy offers to buy her a drink and one thing leads to another. Emily falls fast and hard for Adam. He is a perfect man; smart, handsome, fun and single.

Their relationship begins to move at the speed of light. Dates turned to cohabitation, living together they quickly become engaged and everything in Emily’s world revolves around Adam. The only glitch in the relationship is Adam’s mother. He is truly a momma’s boy and will drop any and everything if she calls. And oddly enough, he has not brought Emily to his mother’s home so they can actually meet.

Once they do meet, Emily is even more confused. His mom seems delightful. That is until she is left alone with her. It is as though her future mother-in-law has two personalities. She is a sweet little old woman that needs 100% of her son’s attention that can turn into a conniving, meddling woman that will do anything to drive a wedge between her precious son and Emily in the blink of an eye. What lengths will this woman take to keep Emily and Adam from being together?

Emily cannot say anything against the other woman in Adam’s life, even when she begins to fear for her life. Something is going on that seems to be escalating into madness and Emily is going to have to get out of the situation before there is no turning back. But will Adam believe her?

This amazingly intricate psychological thriller cannot be put down. Just when you think you have everyone figured out, you realize nothing and no one is what and who they seem to be. Or are they? I literally did not know what was going to happen until the last pages.  In my opinion that is a fabulous psychological thriller.

This is the author Sandie Jones’ debut novel. It is an intriguing tale of mystery, suspense and of course a twisted psychological thriller. Ms. Jones is an author not to be missed; I am looking forward to reading more by this amazing author.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Thinnest Air – Superb Suspenseful Thriller

The Thinnest Air

By Minka Kent

Meredith knows everyone looks at her like she is an airheaded beauty. She makes the perfect trophy wife for her millionaire husband. By all accounts, looking from outside the marriage, she is nothing but another bauble for Andrew Price to show off to his friends and associates. They have grossly underestimated her.

Even Meredith’s sister Greer, who she has always shared everything with, didn’t think it was good to be married to this man. In the beginning things were great. It wasn’t just the exotic vacations, fancy restaurants and posh parties. Andrew couldn’t get enough of her. Mer felt loved and adored.

Then the boredom set in. There are only so many places to shop in the little ski town they lived in. Most of the neighbors and friends of Andrew had relationships with Andrew’s ex-wife, judging every move Mer makes without even caring to get to know her. When she finds a note on her car by a strange man, she is terrified. More incidents occur, each one a bit more unsettling. Surprisingly, her husband brushes them off. The only one that takes her seriously is a Ronan, a young cop determined to keep her safe.

Then Meredith goes missing. Everyone’s secrets suddenly start surfacing. No one is as they seem to be on the surface and even the closest relationships are not what they seem. Will Meredith be found alive?

This is the perfect psychological thriller. The twists and turns don’t stop as the emotions and terror ramp up. Just when I began to trust a character, they would do something making me think they were not the person I thought they were. I seriously did not know who was good and who was terrifying until the last chapters. The Thinnest Air is one of the best books I have read this year. I read it from the Kindle app on my phone, and literally read it while riding in the car, waiting in line at the grocery store, at McDonald’s playground and during the Cub game.

Kent pulls you into the story making the characters real from the very first pages. She tells volumes with descriptive phases and dialog that stays with the reader long after the page has been turned. For example, when Mer thinks: “We’re powerless when it comes to our men. I’m just lucky I found a good one. The wrong one could easily be my undoing.”  The author perfectly lays out the foreshadowing quickly and quietly.  Once Mer goes missing, her sister Greer says to herself; I’m beginning to realize my sister was drowning in an ocean of secrets, and I was inland the entire time, clueless. These are just a few examples of this easy to read, page turning novel that will keep you breathless with every turn of the page.

This is the first novel I have read by Minka Kent. She has previously published two books, The Memory Watcher and The Perfect Roommate. She is a master of psychological thrillers, and I cannot wait to read her previous books and am looking forward to The Stillwater Girls scheduled for publication April 2019.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Blood Wedding – Superb Psychological Thriller

Blood Wedding

By Pierre LeMaitre (translated from French by Frank Wynne)

Sophie is a woman in conflict. At the very least she is mentally unstable, but she is quite possibly a murderer. Somehow she goes from being a happily married career woman to a fugitive in the blink of an eye and she cannot understand how the whole thing happened to her.

It starts with little things. Missing items, forgetting to do small errands, lost birthday gifts that turn up months later. These lead up to horrible mistakes at work. Soon Sophie begins to lose more than everyday items; she is also missing parts of her day. She finds herself in places and situations and doesn’t have a clue as to how or why she is there. Her husband is losing his patience and she is sure she has lost her mind.

Each slip of memory chips a sliver of her psyche away until she doesn’t know who she is anymore. It isn’t hard to disappear and reinvent herself when it became necessary, she does what she has to do.  What is hard is finding a new husband whose name she can take to solidify her new persona. But she has always known somewhere inside herself there is a strong, smart woman behind the façade she has built to hide behind. But is there enough of that woman left to save her?

Enter Frantz, the shy military man Sophie meets through a dating service. Frantz wants to help Sophie and she is so exhausted all of the time she is relieved to find someone she can trust to take care of her. Even if she doesn’t really love him, she needs him. He just might be her ticket out of the crazy life hers has become – or is she jumping from the frying pan into the fire by making a pact with the devil himself?

A catalyst, unbeknown and barely associated to Sophie, sets off a series of life changing events. The scariest thing is that any or all of the things that happen to her could happen to anyone if they are in the wrong place at the right time. It is terrifying to realize how easily Sophie’s life turned upside down and out of control.

If you look up Suspenseful Thriller Blood Wedding should be at the top of the list. I could not turn the pages fast enough to see what happened next. The plot is so solid I could not find an unanswered question.

The supporting characters have depth and are memorable without overshadowing but always important to the story.  Their interaction with the main characters enhanced and advanced the plot. The main characters are fully developed, multi-dimensional and seem to jump off the page to grab the reader’s attention. Sophie pulls you into her descent into madness, from which I fervently hoped she would be able to claw her way back to the person she used to be.

Nothing or no one is what or who they seem to be as the plot swirls around Sophie and Frantz. LeMaitre expertly grabs the reader, dragging you into the depth of Sophie’s despair and into the plotting mind of Frantz. Then he takes you on a roller coaster ride through a house of mirrors at breakneck speed, making you question the ideas you had when you met Sophie and Frantz. This adventure is one that readers live for. You will not be disappointed.

From the first page to the last the suspense never stops. I love this book. The lightning fast pace, perfect plot and characters that are unerringly realistic are reminiscent of a Hitchcock movie. Each page helps build the tension until the momentum explodes in the final chapters. The ending is satisfying, with no loose ends begging for explanation, which is perfection.

Pierre LeMaitre is an acclaimed, award winning author and screenwriter. His books are written in French, but many have been translated to English. Blood Wedding is the first novel I’ve read by LeMaitre, but it will not be the last.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher/author in connection with Killer Nashville in return for my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Right Behind You – Superb Suspense!

right-behind-youRight Behind You

Lisa Gardner

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

Lisa Gardner’s beloved characters, Rainie and Quincy are back in action. This time it is personal. Of all the unlikely couples in the world to adopt a troubled girl, it is them. They fostered her after she bounced from home to home. She didn’t seem to fit anywhere, most likely due to her past. Now she could be targeted by a killer.

Sharlah has had a rough start in life. Daughter of alcoholic/drug addict parents, she was raised by her brother. He was only a few years older than she was when he had to take charge of her wellbeing. He fed her; made sure she got to school on time and protected her. Even when he had to use deadly force, he did what he had to do to keep her safe.

It has been years since they have seen each other. Sharlah doesn’t let anyone get close to her since the night her parents died which was the last day she saw her beloved brother. The only breathing thing she has let herself get close to is Luka. A year after arriving at Rainie and Quincy’s as a foster child, he brought the retired police dog home to Sharlah. She and Luka are inseparable and the love they have for each other is evident. Sharlah loves her foster (soon to be adoptive parents) but has a much harder time showing them the affection that comes easy for her with Luka.

Then the fragile world they have created begins to cave in. Sharlah’s brother Telly Ray Nash could be in trouble. Serious trouble. Trouble so serious that the local authorities have called in Quincy to help find Telly even though he is a retired FBI profiler.

Rainie and Quincy are both concerned for the safety of the community and even more concerned for Sharlah. They can only hope he isn’t coming for Sharlah next.

Right Behind You is action packed with twists and turns that surprised me until the very end. Just when I thought I had this fast-paced novel figured out, a new wrinkle in the plot would take me down a different path. It was a fabulous read for any suspense lover.

Her characters are so real I expect to see some of them on the street. The setting was familiar due to my travels in the Northwest, I especially loved the reference to the cheese factory as I’ve been there several times just like the tourists in the story.

Lisa Gardner never fails to deliver, and this book is no exception. It is obvious to see that she has earned the crown as the #1 best-selling New York Times author of suspense. This is the eighth novel in her FBI Profiler Series. I have read a few of them, as well as several of her other books. Her books intrigue and entertain, if you haven’t read her novels, Right Behind You will make you an instant fan.

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Book Review: Die For You – Fabulously Complex YA Novel

die-for-youDie For You

By Amy Fellner Dominy

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.

Teenagers fall in and out of love daily. But the love Dillon and Emma have is more than puppy love. They have a real connection, bound together with deep emotion and a short, but encompassing past.

Emma met Dillon when she moved in with her father after her parents split. It was her choice to leave her friends, high school just before senior year and start over in a new place. It was rough for her and meeting Dillon helped fill the emptiness she felt after making one of the hardest choices of her young life.

Emma helped Dillon fight some demons he was struggling with. This made her feel needed and loved. They planned a future together after senior year. Both had been accepted to the same college and were planning to spend the next four years and the rest of their lives together. They knew their young love would withstand the test of time and both of them wanted to be together forever.

But when Emma unexpectedly receives the most unbelievable opportunity for an internship in Rome for the next year, she knew she had to try for it. Her life dream of becoming an archeologist like her father made studying in the ancient city a dream come true. She felt sure that Dillon would support her dream, after all, it was only a year apart and they could phone, skype and text to keep in touch almost as if they were together.

But Dillon had other ideas. At what lengths would he go to make sure Emma stayed with him forever? She was about to find out.

I loved this YA book. It was a love story, a coming of age story that had elements of suspense, mystery and family issues. The complexity of the characters and story evolution made Die For You a great book for YA audiences as well as adults. It was well written, with realistic conversations and situations. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down.

Per her website, Amy Fellner Dominy is “…a former advertising copywriter, MFA playwright and hula-hoop champion.”  You have to love an author with a hula-hoop championship under her belt! She is an award winning YA and youth writer, with a picture book coming out soon. Die For You is her fifth novel, I am looking forward to reading the previous four as well as her picture book.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

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