Tag Archives: Suspense

Book Review: Dark Oceans – Modern Day Search for an Ancient Relic

Dark Oceans

Or The Geometry of Chance

By Mark Macrossan

Thrust into the world of espionage, murder and mayhem, the spectrum of characters in Dark Oceans are all linked together, albeit tenuously. The common denominator is an ancient artifact, the Isfahan Decagon. It is famed to be the only one of its kind. The Decagon has perfect tiling with a perfect golden ratio. Not only that, the Decagon is said to have an infinite non-repeating pattern that surpasses anything created today, therefore making it the Holy Grail of collectors and museums around the world. It has been missing since at least the 1800’s. It may have been in a ship wreck, but has ties to Portugal, Western Australia as well as the English.

So begins the quest to find it. Dark Oceans takes the reader around the world in the search. The race to find the Decagon includes characters on land, sea and air, doing anything within their power to be the first to grab the prize.

Among the characters that are searching for the Decagon, are thieves, murders, organized crime minions and a few in law enforcement. It is difficult to tell who is good and who is bad until the end when all is revealed to the reader. My favorite characters are Jon and Alistair. Jon is a barrister who has had a windfall of a massive amount of cash. It appeared in his account without reason. He slowly begins to spend the money, but soon finds himself to be very unlucky. Or someone is trying to kill him. He is rescued by his quirky neighbor, Alistair and his cat. But they can’t keep Jon safe if he doesn’t stop jumping into dangerous situations far out of his league.

This fast paced thriller has more twists and turns and characters coming and going than summertime crowds at an amusement park. That is if the attendees of said amusement park allowed fire arms, garrotes and objects to bludgeon anyone that hops in line in front of them. At times it was confusing due to the sheer number of characters – most of them evil – that are weaving in and out of the story.

It is the first book by Macrossan that I have read. He is a playwright, short story and poetry writer. Formerly a barrister as well as a theater producer and film extra, he has traveled the world to gather fodder for his novel. Dark Oceans is his first.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from  Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The East End – Suspenseful, Complex, Page Turning Masterpiece

The East End

By Jason Allen

 The Hamptons are known as the playground of the rich and famous. Little thought is given to those who cook and serve the elite, keep the gardens blooming and basically are called upon to clean up the messes created by the upper crust of society. East End pulls back the curtain and allows the reader to delve into the life of Corey Halpern and his family. They can barely make ends meet and are plagued by violence, drug and alcohol abuse.  Living lives mostly invisible to the rich people inhabiting the homes they take care of, Corey and his family are barely holding on.

Corey secretly began “pranking” the people of the Hamptons by breaking into their homes and not taking anything. He moves objects and puts salt in the milk. He does just enough to mess with them but does not do any real harm. While sneaking into the home of Leo Sheffield, his employer, he is surprised to see Tiffany Sheffield and Angelique. They are two of the girls he goes to school with, who have arrived unexpectedly. Because he has had a crush on Angelique he stays to watch the girls. Not in an actually creepy way, but just to be near her. Then things go decidedly south. Mr. Sheffield arrives with someone other than his wife. Angelique has put her friend Tiffany to bed after too much wine, but unfortunately sees something that will change her life forever. Corey is also a witness and vows to protect Angelique from one of the most powerful men in the Hamptons.

Allen masterfully intertwines the lives of the very rich with the lives of the people that take care of them. Most of the time money can get the rich out of whatever problems they encounter, but not this time. The danger that touches Corey’s family bleeds into the Sheffield family by the end of the book in the most surprising way.

The East End will be available on May 7, 2019 at your favorite bookseller. I loved this fast-paced story. It is full of twists, turns, danger and deceit. The story pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the final pages. Jason Allen is an author that delivers exactly what a reader wants: a solid story about flawed people bound together by circumstances beyond their control. Kudos!

If you would like to connect with Jason Allen, visit his website:  Author Website

or contact him via social media with the links below:

Twitter: @EathanJason

Facebook: @jasonallenauthor

Goodreads

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Netgalley, Justine Sha, Publicist and Park Row Books in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Blood on the Chesapeake – Page Turning Mystery

Blood on the Chesapeake

By Randy Overbeck

Darrell Henshaw is new to the Chesapeake Bay area. He needs a new start from the ghosts of his past as well as distance from his former fiancé that apparently thought monogamy was an option, not a requirement of their relationship. Much to his delight, he is hired at the local high school as a history teacher and the football coach. He is settling in just fine until he starts getting the familiar prickling in the hairs on the back of his neck. There are spirits in the school that are not at rest searching him out. He tries to ignore the feelings and strange happenings, but the restless ghost needs Darrell’s help and isn’t going away any time soon.

Meantime, he is really enjoying connecting with the kids in his history class. It isn’t easy, the diverse group doesn’t really like the newcomer and most of them dislike history in general. But Darrell brings a spark of life to the classroom they cannot ignore. By assigning a report that will delve into the local area’s past the students begin to engage, but strangely enough the community and school leaders seem reluctant to participate. Could they be hiding something? Darrell may be flying too close to the flame to notice he might ignite something that cannot be extinguished. And he might die trying.

But Darrell is far from all work and no play. He has found a new friend to hang out with, Al. Also a teacher at the school, Al lightens up the mood by telling bad jokes that make you groan and chuckle. Most of them are rated G so you can tell them to your kids. And then there is Erin. Darrell is not looking for love again, but she has caught his eye and just might be the one to thaw his heart.

Overbeck’s characters are interesting and engaging. Darrell has a bit of OCD going on, reminding me of the Monk series by Lee Goldberg. It is endearing and a bit comical, but the reader will quickly know that Darrell has to wash his hands twice and dry them on precisely three paper towels. His newfound girlfriend Erin, is much more carefree. She is the perfect balance to the baggage Darrell brings into the relationship but she is ready for the challenge. The other character that stands out for me is the medium/lady of the evening, Natalia – I hope to see more of her in the next book in the series.

I loved this paranormal mystery by new author Randy Overback. True to his main character, the events taught to the class about the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are factual, but the places and dates are not per the Author’s note at the beginning of the book. So technically it is a paranormal historical mystery – but whatever box you want to check about this book, be sure to include it on the must read list.

A prolific writer of trade journals and professional texts, Overback’s first novel, Leave No Child Behind is the 2011 Silver Award for Thriller of the Year winner. It would not surprise me one bit to see Blood on the Chesapeake winning awards in the near future also. The title page of Blood on the Chesapeake, adds “The Haunted Shores Mysteries”. Because this is Mr. Overbeck’s first novel in the series, we can assume there will be more to hear from Darrell and Erin in the future. The Chesapeake area is rich in history, therefore, must be rich in ghosts that need their help. I am excited to add this new series to my list of must reads, and recommend picking up your copy today.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Don’t Forget To Breathe – Captivating YA Psychological Thriller

Don’t Forget to Breathe

By Cathrina Constantine

Leocadia, Leo to her friends, is adrift in a life she doesn’t like but chose to enter. Up until last year she was an honor student. But after she found her mother murdered in their home and was assaulted by the killer, she withdrew from her grieving father and most of her friends. Her father drinks to numb his pain and she sometimes uses illegal substances to make it through the day.

A part of her still wants her former life, even though nothing will bring back her mother. She is cleaning up her act at school, stopped smoking, doing her homework again and hanging out with her best friend who never gave up on her. In the past year, Leo befriended a new kid, Henry, who was having trouble fitting in. He wants to be more than friends, but Leo does not feel the same towards him. Henry used to be her go-to guy to smoke a little weed with, but now that she is clean, she feels sorry for him, but is not attracted to him at all.

Nora, her best friend who never gave up on Leo introduces her to Becket Kane. Becket is one of the star football players at the school who has had his eye on Leo. They make a cute couple, even though Henry is always lurking in the shadows. Besides, Leo has had a really awful year and her mom’s killer is still on the loose, how can she get involved with a guy that could never understand.

When Henry persuades Leo to come to the local haunted house that is across the street from the home she lived in until the murder, she is unsure about facing her demons. But when she finds a picture of her mother in the infamous haunted house, along with some fresh flowers she is terrified.

Is the killer close? Will he strike again? Is it someone she knows? All of these questions and more are superbly spun into a tale of lies, deceit and death.

This novel moves at the speed of light, twisting and turning until the shocking last pages. It is a must read for any mystery/thriller fan. The characters and plot fit together seamlessly and it was impossible for me to figure out who the real bad guys actually were until the end. I had my suspicions, but when the motives are revealed, the subtle surprises gave me that “ah ha” moment every reader loves. It is a perfectly plotted psychological thriller, with no loose ends to leave the reader hanging.

This is the first novel that I have read by Cathrina Constantine, but not the first she has written. It is no wonder that Don’t Forget to Breathe is an award winner of the Literary Classics 2016 Gold Award, the 2016 New Apple Medalist Award Winner for YA/Mystery-Thriller and received the Literary Classics 2016 Gold Award.

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

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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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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