Tag Archives: Thriller

Book Review: The Rusted Dream – A Fast-Paced Thriller

The Rusted Dream (Dr. Dan Trix Mystery Series #11)

By: Rodney Romig

Dr. Dan Trix and his lovely wife Elaine live in a posh neighborhood known as Naughty Pines. This country club community enables the Trix family to rub elbows of the elite bunch that like to drop by and drink his expensive wines. But the visitor today is more surprising than most of his guests. It is Pamela, his ex-wife. She has a problem.

It seems as though her husband, Bronco J, is missing. It is not like him to disappear and Pamela is worried. He is a wealthy man, so anyone could be after him, but his investment in a private college must be linked somehow. Especially since other investors have turned up dead.

Pamela obviously needs protection. So Trix and his sidekick Lester Ponzolli – whom he met while serving in the Army – are on the hunt for Bronco J. Meanwhile, Elaine and Pamela bone up on their martial arts training, after someone attacked the two women when they were alone in the house. The hunt for Bronco J is far flung, requiring trips both in and out of the United States. It is a race to see if the good guys or the bad guys will get to Bronco J first – peppered with the pitfalls of surprise attacks by the men who want to see Bronco J and possibly Ponzolli and Trix dead.

To say this book was fast-paced would be an understatement. Fast-talking, fast moving and exhausting action defines this page-turning mystery. The characters are clever, quirky and gave me a long list of fabulous wines that are, if they are not fictional, most likely out of my price range.

At times the dialog was so prolific, it read like a screen-play instead of a novel. That doesn’t bother me in small doses, but I needed more meat with details of the story than pages of witty banter. When there was action, it was explosive, but I wanted more. I feel readers need to digest what is happening rather than flip pages at a breakneck pace while the characters amuse themselves with inside jokes. Perhaps it is because this is book 11 in the series and not having read the previous 10, I might feel differently – which isn’t the author’s fault.

This is the first book I have read by Rodney Romig. He has led a global life. After his graduation in Nebraska, armed with a B. A. in English and a Ph.D. in Economics, he lived and worked in Asia and Europe, then landed in Hawaii. His knowledge of the world shines through his characters as they travel on their adventures. Roming’s novel Lakeside was chosen as the 2013 Royal Palm Award winner for best published literary novel. If you love fast talking, fast paced novels, The Rusted Dream is definitely the book for you.

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 © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: You Can Run – Fabulous Fast Paced Thriller

by Karen Cleveland

You Can Run is a fast-paced thriller that will leave you breathless. Jill Baily was a CIA operative before she had her son, Owen. While still working for the organization, she now sits at a desk vetting new sources. Much different, and safer, she no longer puts herself or her family in danger. Or so she thinks.

Every day during her lunchbreak, she watches the live cam of her son at daycare. But today she is horrified to see he isn’t there. When her cell phone rings and she hears “We have your son” her world collapses. She must do as they say if she ever wants to see Owen again. She is instructed to verify a source without vetting him within three minutes. It is against all of her training, but she will do anything to get her baby back – even though she is compromising the country she vowed to protect.

So begins her life on the run. Terrified to even tell her husband, she insists they move to another state. Her husband goes along with the move, and quietly Jill scrubs her identity. All is well, she has another child and the past is gone but not forgotten. Until the day she sees someone following her and the children. Her world comes crashing down again, but this time she is going to fight for her family with every fiber of her being.

The chilling theme of someone holding an infant hostage ramps up You Can Run to a whole different level. The characters are interesting, scary, intriguing and realistic. Even though Jill is a CIA agent, she is a wife and mother, so she is relatable on many levels. The last few chapters will leave you breathless and unable to stop reading until the end. I loved it.

Karen Cleveland is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst, which brings a scary realism to her novels. She has written two previous books, Need to Know and Keep You Close, both of which are New York Times bestsellers. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Need to Know. Thriller fans will love You Can Run as well as the other books she has written.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Complicit – Riveting Thriller

Complicit: by Amy Rivers

Forensic psychologist Kate Medina quit her job with the correctional department, fleeing from the job and life she loved after a brutal attack. Settling back in her hometown, Kate finds a job as the psychologist in the high school she and her sister attended. Helping teens has helped her, but the past is never far from her mind.

When one of the girls she is counseling disappears, Kate is determined to help the students deal with the trauma of the event as well as helping the police with the investigation. But digging into the life of the missing girl unwittingly puts her in danger. The lead detective on the case, coincidentally her ex-boyfriend, Roman Aguilar, contacts Kate to see if her counselling sessions hold any clues about the missing student. Kate is compelled to help, but her unresolved feelings for Roman keep getting the way.

As the investigation unfolds, it is evident that the missing student is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a sinister group behind the missing girl’s disappearance that involves sex trafficking, kidnapping and murder. Will Kate and Roman find those responsible before one or both of them die? And, as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, her father is diagnosed with a terminal illness. This results in a visit from her long absent sister, who grudgingly appears at the family home when she hears he is sick.

Complicit is a fast-paced thriller and full of twists and turns that exposes the underbelly of human trafficking that is happening in the United States today. I literally could not put it down. The realistic characters and realization that these events could be pulled from today’s headlines is chilling. I loved the plot and characters, each of them fully developed and their transition thorough the pages was realistic and believable.

I highly recommend Complicit. Ms. Rivers, in addition to being an outstanding author, is the Director for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and has worked with law inforcement on cases much like this work of fiction. By bringing the issue of human trafficking to light, she is helping others speak up and hopefully get the help they need. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Something In The Water Book One: Drowning by Dean Comyn

The newly formed task force, MCU2 (Major Crime Unit), is in charge of keeping a visiting Health Ministry virologist, Dr. Nicholas Veda, and his date safe while they are in the UK. Now they are both missing. Did they slip away or is this a kidnapping? Dr. Veda and his date disappeared from the Opera House in London without a trace, leaving Chief Inspector John C. Wayne of the MCU2 in a bad situation. Wayne and his team have to find Veda before his disappearance becomes an international incident. Not to mention could easily blow up all hopes of anyone in authority taking MCU2 seriously.

Wayne has assembled his squad carefully, recently adding Canadian Charles Burns to his roster. Even though Burns is a Training Specialist in his previous job, he is told to watch and listen, but not to involve himself in discussions or missions other than just observing. His resolve lasts a New York minute when Burns could not help but insert himself into the mission. Soon bullets are flying, the CIA becomes involved and Burns is playing a huge role in attempting to find Veda.

If you are a fan of James Bond, you will love Charles Burns. He doesn’t have the luck Bond has with ladies, nor the gadgets, but does have the quick thinking, fast action of Ian Fleming’s beloved secret agent.

This fast-paced thriller is full of page-turning action. The twists and turns take the reader on a breathtaking ride. I read it in a few days, because putting it down during the action was impossible. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers, action and plot twists. It is exciting to know this is the first book in a series, so readers will see Burns and Wayne again.

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. You can find it here: Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Bookreview: Please See Us – Must Read Debut Novel

Please See Us

By Caitlin Mullen

Women are dead and hidden in plain sight, but no one sees them. Atlantic City isn’t the bustling place it used to be. Casinos have closed and shops are boarded up. The darkened streets breed vermin that walk on four legs and two. Women walk the streets turning tricks and dreaming of a different life, like the dead women once did – who will be next?

Teenage Clara dreams of leaving the life of stealing and scamming and finding her mother who she hasn’t seen in years. Living with her aunt, she reads palms and Tarot cards for the tourists and locals. She isn’t a total scam. Visions come to her about people, mostly unbidden, but it helps reel them in for a reading.

Lily returns home to Atlantic City after heartbreak in New York. She needs to get away from her cheating boyfriend but that comes with a price. Her rising career as a Soho gallery girl comes to a screeching halt and she finds an awful job at a drowning spa. When her path intersects with Clara they begin an unusual partnership that leans toward an awkward friendship. They may be the only two people concerned enough about the missing women.

Please See Us is a brilliantly layered thriller. The indifference and absence of the police throughout the novel works extremely well. Most crime novels have a huge police presence, but Mullen skillfully keeps them in the wings throughout most of the story. Lily is running away from her life, yet a part of her wants to go back and forgive and forget. Clara can’t escape, yet longs for it with all of her being. Luis, a young deaf mute whose life intertwines with Lily and Clara, also weaves his story into the fabric of the novel in unexpected ways.

This is Caitlin Mullen’s debut novel. Her attention to detail creates a setting and characters that come alive on the pages. The characters are complex and interesting and relatable even though most readers hopefully have not experienced the traumas they have endured. She wowed me with the depth of the plot that moved so quickly I found myself reading it late into the night to see what happened next.

I highly recommend Please See Us to anyone who likes psychological thrillers, mysteries and novels featuring strong, unforgettable characters. If you like Gillian Flynn or Paula Hawkins Girl on a Train, you will love Please See Us.

 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. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Courier – Heart Pounding Thriller

The Courier

By Gordon J. Campbell

To say Gregg Westwood is having a bad day is an understatement. His secure job as a medical supply rep in Japan has been abruptly terminated.  After the bad news, he stops at one of his favorite watering holes, the Officer’s Club on the United States Airforce base in Tokyo. Gregg joins a couple of acquaintances for a drink. This decision will change his life.

These two men purportedly working for the US government’s finance and accounting group are actually members of a US intelligence agency. Over lunch the next day they offer Gregg a job as a courier. It is fast and easy money for what they describe as a mini vacation, traveling to other countries business class, delivering parcels than returning home to his family.

Gregg accepts the offer and is soon off to deliver the package. What he hasn’t bargained for are the assassins on his tail. He has unwittingly become a huge part of stopping an international drug ring, having street thugs attempting to kill him and will be called on to rescue someone he dearly loves before his job is complete. Before the last pages, Gregg will transition from courier to mercenary out of necessity and self-preservation. This is the beginning of his new life.

To say The Courier is a fast-paced thriller does not do it justice. The action never ends and it perfectly compliments the plot. Just when you think Gregg is going to be captured or killed, he lives to fight another day like a modern-day James Bond.

The characters are diverse and engaging. Some of them are decidedly creepy and determined to get a literal boatload of illegal opioids into the US. Adding reality to the character’s profiles brings them to life on the pages.

The Courier is destined to become a best-seller and I envision a blockbuster movie in the future. As we all know the book is always better than then film, so enjoy the masterful story before it hits the big screen. This is the first book I’ve read by Campbell and the first book in a series. I cannot wait to read the next Gregg Westwood boo

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. See it here: https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/the-courier-gordon-campbell

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: False Flag in Autumn

False Flag in Autumn

By Michael Bowen

Josie Robideaux Kendall, Louisiana born and bred, has had aspirations for years to work in the White House. She has jumped into everything surrounding politics in Washington DC with both feet in the meantime. She is a “hard-nosed political apparatchik* who can make things happen”. She knows who to call and what to do to make things happen or not happen – depending upon who she is working for. But her usual job of getting someone elected has taken a turn.

There is some convincing evidence that a heavy hitting politician used a spin on a murder that he most likely committed himself to get elected. Rafe, Josie’s husband, encounters the revelation from one if his cronies in DC so she knows it is credible. Now what will she do with the information?

So begins the heart-pounding twists of events that takes Josie from coast to coast. Not only is she working to get the probable murderer out of office, Josie steps into a bigger situation that will have global impact. Not only is the President of the United States a target, but she is now on the assassin’s radar. Putting herself in mortal danger isn’t what she bargained for, but she has never shirked her duty or compromised her convictions.

False Flag in Autumn is an interesting romp in politics. It gives outsiders like me a fascinating glimpse inside a world that I will never be a part of but find interesting. The action heats up as Josie pulls out all the stops, no matter what the personal price, to save the President.

Michael Bowen, recently retired from a lengthy career as a trial lawyer. He is a prolific and critically acclaimed author of 19 books. They range from thrillers such as False Flag in Autumn to political satire. This is the first book I have read by Bowen and thoroughly enjoyed it.

*Yes dear readers I had no idea what a political apparatchik meant so – per Google: “An apparatchik is someone who works for a government or a political party and who always obeys orders” – now we both know (unless you already did) if so, kudos!

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: She’s Out – Is a Felon Ever Truly Free?

She’s Out

By Linda La Plante

You can let a person out of jail, but can said person ever truly be free? Dolly Rawlins was a model prisoner that stuck to herself. Imprisoned for murdering her husband, she paid her debt to society and had lofty dreams of opening a home for orphans. She knew it would not be easy, but having worked with young mothers while in prison and watching the system take away their babies, she knew she wanted to turn her life around by giving back to those who needed her the most.

A group of former inmates have a different plan. Dolly is rumored to have a cache of diamonds hidden from a heist that she was suspected of stashing before her arrest and they wanted a piece of that haul. Hiding their motive by generously offering Dolly a place to stay while she gets back on her feet, each of women dreamed of wealth. Dolly is a smart cookie, realizing the women are plotting something. She is cunning enough to know she needs a place to stay under the radar. When one of the women offers to sell her the old Victorian Grange Manor House, Dolly jumps at the chance. On the surface, it seems perfect to spruce up and turn into a home for children. Unfortunately, the authorities are not on board with a house that used to be a brothel used to house children. Coupled with Dolly’s past, they dashed her dreams.

Dolly still has the diamonds, kept safe by an old acquaintance – or so she thinks. When she begins to make inquiries, Dolly finds out she has been double crossed. Then she comes to the realization that society will never forget her past or allow her to move on. A heist of monumental proportions is the only thing that will set her free.

She’s Out is an intriguingly intricate tale of women that each have their own agenda. They agree they don’t necessarily like each other, but need each other. The story pulled me in immediately, and by the end of the novel, the page-turning plot was impossible to put down until the last words were read. Some novels keep popping up in my mind long after the last pages – this is one of them.

The last book in a trilogy, She’s Out reads perfectly as a stand-alone novel. I have not read the previous two books, but did not feel lost or confused at any point in the book. Ms. La Plante is an acclaimed writer, screenwriter, actress and producer. Her books have been adapted to movies as well as television series.  Bibliophiles who love fabulously written fast-paced thrillers and have not read her works should dive into one of her books. If you are already a fan, She’s Out is a must read. I cannot wait to read her new book, Buried, which is coming in March 2020.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Bookish First (https://www.bookishfirst.com/)in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Takes One To Know One – Nail Biting Thriller

Takes One to Know One

By Susan Isaacs

Corie Geller never imagined the turn her life would take. As an FBI Special Agent, she has done things most people believe only happens in spy novels and blockbuster movies. Now her life revolves around her husband, Federal Judge Josh Geller and her young step-daughter, Eliza. Corie, fluent in Arabic, is now a freelancer for several publishers. She reads Arabic novels and makes recommendations as to which would translate and sell in English. She does the occasional job for the FBI, but keeps that life separate from her personal life as much as possible to keep her husband and step-daughter safe.

On a whim, she joins a group of suburban self-employed people that meet once a week for lunch. Thinking it would be stimulating, Corie soon learns that she does not really fit in well, but can’t really figure out how to leave the group. Then she starts noticing one of the members, Pete Delaney acting extremely strange. He is nondescript, but there is something about him that Corie senses is off. Is he an agent like her? Or is there something illegal going on?

She begins taking more notice of him. After finding out from another in the group that he has been seen acting oddly aggressive outside of the group, she quietly begins investigating him. She shares her thoughts with her father, a retired NYPD detective who agrees there is something going on.

Is he a drug runner? Is he an illegal arms dealer? Perhaps a kidnapper or killer – or just a boring guy who has anger issues? Corie is bound and determined to find out.

Acclaimed author Susan Isaacs has done it again. This page turner has mystery, intrigue and believable characters. The heart pounding action will not allow you to put it down. I particularly like the fact that the final confrontation was not the end of the book. Oftentimes books end with only a page or two of closure, but Isaacs gives readers a thorough ending that ties up loose ends. I really like that I am not left wondering what happened.

I highly recommend Takes One to Know One to all mystery and thriller lovers. Isaac’s never disappoints, she once again has written a fabulously intriguing book and with interesting characters.

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. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Trace of Evil – Must Read Thriller

Trace of Evil

By Alice Blanchard

As the daughter of a police officer as well as the only woman detective in the department, Natalie Lockhart has to prove herself every day. The tiny town of Burning Lake, New York is renowned for killing three young women in 1712, so called witches, that were obviously innocent. Now the town celebrates the tragic deaths every fall by cashing in on everything occult. There are magic notions and potions to purchase at the gift shops and plenty of tourists to snatch them up. But there is a dark side to this tiny town.

Many of the residents, especially teens, dabble in the occult, join covens and practice their spells. Back in her youth, Natalie was once a member of a coven. But she left that far behind. Most of the covens are harmless, but some, just like some people, are pure evil. Oddly enough, in this small town there have been nine seemingly random disappearances over the past few years, and Natalie is given the task to find a common thread among them or at least solve on or two.

After suffering the loss of her sister to a violent crime as a child, Natalie takes working these cold case files seriously. But she is pulled from the cold cases and thrust into a shocking murder scene. As fate would have it, Daisy, another person that Natalie has known all her life, has been murdered. The suspect is in a coma, and things are just not adding up. Secrets held close by Daisy are unearthed. Was the killer someone Daisy knew? Maybe the little town known for burning witches over a century ago has a serial killer with a vendetta on the loose. Either way, Natalie will not stop until he or she is found and brought to justice – but at what cost?

This fast-paced thriller is impossible to put down. Ms. Blanchard’s storytelling pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the shattering last pages. The characters come to life making you love or hate them, furiously reading so you can see what happens next. Delving into the past to save todays would be victims, Natalie takes you on her journey, feeding us clues and conclusions as they reveal themselves.

This is the first book by award winning author Alice Blanchard that I have read, but will not be the last. Trace of Evil will be available in December 2019, so put it on your Christmas list now. In the meantime, check out her other books, she has several that I can’t wait to add to read.

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


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