Tag Archives: Thriller

Book Review: Long Road to Mercy – Baldacci’s New Series Not to Be Missed

Long Road to Mercy

By David Baldacci

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 © 2018 Laura Hartman

FBI special Agent Atlee Pine is a loner. She specifically requested an assignment in a tiny office in Shattered Rock, just outside of the Grand Canyon. Pine began her life as a team with her twin sister, but no longer works well with others. Just her and her administrative assistant are perfect for her loner lifestyle. She doesn’t mind hard work or long hours. As a matter of fact it suits her well, leaving less time to think about the serial killer that abducted and most likely killed her twin sister Mercy when they were young children.

Pine gets a call that there is a missing person and a dead mule at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A missing person is not that unusual. Hikers wander off and go missing, but it is extremely unusual to have someone from a group disappear leaving a dead mutilated mule in his wake. As Pine begins investigating she begins to see the disappearance is just the tip of the iceberg in a much bigger plot with huge ramifications.

It sounds like an impossible riddle:  What do the Grand Canyon, a dead mule, the Russian and Korean governments, a possible kidnapping and/or murder and a lone FBI Agent have in common? Baldacci weaves an intricate tale full of action, adventure and intrigue. His characters travel the United States in their quest to find the truth, trying to live long enough for justice to prevail.

I have read many books by Baldacci, and am very excited to find he has begun this new series featuring Atlee Pine. She is a character that has many sides and secrets. Some of them are hers, and some are truths that have been kept from her. I am anxious to find out more.

Baldacci’s latest page-turning thriller lives up to his reader’s expectations and beyond. It is hard pressed to find anyone who has not heard of this award winning, NYT Best Selling author. There is a reason for the accolades; his books are complex yet easy to read. I learned more interesting facts about the Grand Canyon than I’ve heard before, making me want to visit the only one of the Seven Natural Wonders that is located in the United States.

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Book Review: Lies – Heart Pounding, Page Turning Psychological Thriller

Lies

By T. M. Logan

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.

Joe has a great life, an ordinary life. Being married to Mel and father to William – Wills as he calls him, makes him content. He teaches school, helps around the house and does his fair share of parenting. Life is pretty darned good. That is until it slowly begins to unravel.

It all begins when Wills and Joe see Mel’s car on their way home from school. Wills wants to surprise her, but unfortunately Joe is the one who is surprised. Mel seems to be in some sort of meeting with an old college buddy, Ben Delaney. Joe knows Delaney, his daughter babysits Wills and their social circles sometimes intersect. He cannot figure out why Mel is meeting with him when she said she was at work.

Later, what begins as a conversation between Joe and Ben quickly develops into a confrontation. Words lead to shoving and Joe pushes Ben a little too hard. Shocked, he feels he must do something, but Wills is waiting in the car and has an immediate medical need that can’t be delayed. Once Wills is safely home and has been given his medicine, Joe worries about the fight he had with Ben. Giving an excuse to his wife, which is nowhere near the truth, he leaves the house to make sure Ben is okay.

When Joe gets back to the hotel parking lot where he left Ben, he is gone. Could Ben have been lying about his meeting with Mel? Was Ben hurt worse than it seemed when Joe had to attend to his son and left him bleeding next to his car?  Or was he fine and simply gone home.

Joe can’t tell Mel what happened or why. Then she lies to him about the meeting with Ben. As the lies pile up they gain momentum. And to make matters worse, it appears as though someone begins to systematically ruin Joe’s peaceful, perfect life. It begins almost immediately after the incident, whispers and rumors that become accusations and arrests. How did his life unravel in less than a week’s time? Will anyone believe the truth? Does Joe really know the truth about anyone or anything? His life depends upon him finding the true behind all of the lies before it is too late.

The scariest thing about this fabulous book is that it is totally believable. Technology and crime unfortunately have become willing partners. Life as we now know it could end with a few clicks of someone’s computer or a quick picture or two on an anonymous cell phone. Joe’s life goes from bad to worse in the time it takes to pay a bill or “like” something on FB. The tension ramps up from mild to out of control then continues with breakneck speed up until the final chapter.

Lies is Logan’s debut novel, published last year in the UK where he resides. It is now available in the US. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves mysteries featuring psychological twists and turns. The characters are everyday people you work with or that live next door. Who knows what secrets they have or what their past and/or present situations may motivate them to do.

Logan’s next book, 29 Seconds is also a psychological thriller and will be available in the US next year. It is available now in the UK if you happen to be traveling there, pick me up a copy.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Need to Know – Do You Really Know the Man You Love?

Need to Know

By Karen Cleveland

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.

Viv and Matt live a full life. Viv has a demanding job as a counterintelligence analyst for the CIA. While she is looking for Russian sleeper agents on U.S. soil, Matt takes on most of the duties of child rearing. They have a young daughter that is older than their twin boys. One of the boys has developmental problems requiring frequent visits to specialists that Matt willingly takes care of. Like any couple that has been married for over a decade, they know each other inside out.

Because of the cost of her son’s specialists, Viv had to go back to work sooner than she planned. But she loves and believes in the importance of her job. She is on the cusp of having her hard work to pay off. She has developed a program to identify people involved in these sleeper cells. Pictures start appearing on her monitor, she recognizes one of them. It is Matt.

Has her whole life been a lie? How could he be a Russian spy and did he marry her because she works for the CIA? The old adage of keeping your enemies close just might be the reason Matt met her in the first place. So many things run through Viv’s mind she can barely breathe, but she knows her husband is mixed up in something that has the ability to implode her family.

Once Matt is confronted, Viv realizes that she will have to make impossible decisions involving the country she loves and the safety of her family. She can no longer trust anything Matt says – or can she? Was he trapped in situation that he did not want to be in? Is he lying or telling her the truth? Viv has to make a move that will change the rest of their lives forever.

Debut novelist Karen Cleveland’s psychological thriller will keep you up late into the night. Her characters come to life on the pages and the twist in the last chapter will stay with the reader long after closing the book.

Need to Know could literally be ripped from today’s headlines. Recently I was in Washington D.C. at the Newseum. There is a section on spy cells that infiltrate the U.S. and how they are uncovered. The real life spies acted much like the ones in Cleveland’s novel. The realism of the book became more and more evident with each exhibit.

It is evident that Cleveland, a former CIA agent, is a gifted novelist. Need to Know holds a well-deserved spot on the New York Times Best Seller list. Film rights to the book have been sold – snatch up this book before the movie hits the screen. While I am excited to see the book come to life in the theaters, in my opinion, the book is always better than the movie and this one is outstanding.

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 Exes’ Revenge – Fast Paced Psychological Thriller Not to Be Missed

The Exes’ Revenge

By Jo Jakeman

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.

Phillip is a jerk. To be completely honest, he WAS a jerk because he is dead now. His ex-wives are at his funeral, as well as his current wife. But technically she isn’t his legal wife because he and his second wife never finalized the divorce. But all in all it doesn’t matter because he cannot hurt any of them, physically or psychologically ever again. Perhaps the three women have crossed the line of good and evil just like Phillip or maybe their survival instincts just kicked in.

The Exes’ Revenge opens with the funeral, so the reader knows up front the man is dead. But the events that lead to this funeral unfurl in the coming chapters like a flag in a sweet summer breeze that turns into a hurricane.

The three wives are unlikely cohorts, but Phillip and fear bind them together in a way that can never be understood by outsiders. He manipulates them against each other until he crosses the line of no return. But will one of them turn on the other two because deep down she cannot live without him?

Ruby, his first wife has always been a mother figure to him. Even though she has been on the receiving end of his bad temper, she has always forgiven him. But how can she possibly forgive him after finding out one of his best kept secrets?

Naomi, his third wife, is young and beautiful. She is the perfect trophy wife for Phillip to drag around to parties showing off his masculinity to his friends and co-workers. He expects her to keep a perfect home. Of course if she doesn’t there are consequences. She dare not call the police – he is a cop.

Imogen, the second (and not quite divorced) wife is the only one Phillip has a child with. Alistair is young and impressionable. He is happy with Imogen and terrified of his father. How could anyone trust a man like Phillip with her child?

The three women don’t really like each other, but are thrown together because of Phillip. They soon realize that the three of them must work together to get him out of their lives forever before one or more of them dies at his hand. The closer they get, they realize he has taken something from each of them that can never be replaced. He seems to have a knack of finding their greatest vulnerabilities and then somehow look innocent when tragedy strikes. As the novel progresses, the three women find out how cruel he is and it might just be a race to kill or be killed.

Jakeman’s psychological thriller is a page tuner you don’t want to miss. The well-developed characters will pull you into their nightmare because you know them like your favorite neighbor. Pay attention to the easy to read plot because many bits and pieces that may seem irrelevant will turn up in the last chapters fully explaining the means and motives of the main characters.

This is the first book I have read by Jo Jakeman. I really enjoyed her fast-paced writing style. She brings full characters to life and puts them in a plot that twists and turns until the end. This is Jo Jakeman’s second novel. The first, Sticks and Stones, is on my list to read. I can’t get enough of this 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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Bookrevie: Blood and Wisdom – Must Read Debut Thriller

Blood and Wisdom

By Verlin Darrow

Aria Piper and Karl Gatlin go way back. They were both interns at a counseling center over ten years ago. Karl decided he was better at being a private investigator than a counselor. Aria has a private psychotherapy practice and runs a spiritual center. Some have called it a cult, others have called it a religion but those who are adrift in their lives see it as salvation.

Someone starts threatening Aria, so she calls on her old friend Karl to check it out. When a headless dead body shows up on her property, Karl jumps into an investigation that involves much more than he expects.

Bodyguards and global gangsters bump heads and draw guns. Everyone Karl encounters seems to have secrets in their past and deadly problems now. He has to dig deep, using all of his PI and psychotherapy training to find out who the bad guys really are before anyone else dies.

Karl’s part time sidekick is Larry. He is a shared custody dog, and both Karl and his ex-wife love and want him. I wanted Larry. At times I would almost forget he was a dog because he acts just like a human, except most humans don’t bite others to help defend those they love.

Blood and Wisdom is a fast paced thriller with as many twists and turns as Lombard Street. The plot is intriguing. Wrapped around the mystery are the intricate workings of the spiritual center. There are very interesting practices and beliefs that are touched upon. I love learning new things, and this book taught me new things that I wanted to learn more about.

All of the above makes Blood and Wisdom a fantastic read, but wait there is more! Darrow writes spot on descriptions and conversations. He drops in gems such as “If my mind was a magic eight ball, hers was a tilt-a-whirl”. Twelve words tell the reader exactly where these two characters are coming from.

If you are a fan of Tim Dorsey, you will like Verlin Darrow. His humor is very reminiscent of Dorsey, not quite as outlandish, but very amusing. I love the one liners tucked into the story. This is the first book he has written, so snatch it up now so you can say you were one of the first to discover this fabulous new author.

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 © 2018 Laura Hartman

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