Tag Archives: Thriller

Book Review: The Whispering Room – Nail Biting Thriller

The Whispering Room

By Dean Koontz

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

The Whispering Room is the second novel featuring Jane Hawk, ex FBI agent who is now the most wanted woman in the United States. She is wanted for murder and various other charges that seem to pop up every day. Jane has been wrongly accused of most of the crimes and only kills someone if it is necessary.

The force she is fighting is more than one person. A group called Techno Arcadians wants to make the world a perfect place by creating peace through mind control. They have created a technology that will enable an elite group of people absolute power over anyone that has been injected with a nano-machine implant that will live in their brains. If the person is told to kill someone, they will do it. If they are told to kill themselves they will do it. There are unimaginable horrors that can and will take place if the few in power are not stopped. Jane is the unrelenting force that is pursuing them.

She has lost the people she loves one by death and another by separation due to the Archadians.

Tough as nails and willing to die if she has to, Jane uses all of her skills, those she was born with and those taught to her by the United States government when she worked for them, to complete her self-imposed mission. She has made many friends and made alliances during her career. She will call in those chits as needed through her ordeal as well as create a few unlikely alliances. But will it be enough?

There is a reason Dean Koontz is a best-selling author. The story is full of plot twists and surprises. He paints the scenes so vividly with his words the reader is drawn in immediately and stays with Jane for the duration of her ordeal. There are so many beautiful bits of description and subtle humor Koontz books are a joy to read. One of the best in this book in this book is when one of the characters loves his truck a little less than his wife, but more than his cat. I know a few men that feel the same way.

The supporting characters have a depth that pleases readers without even realizing the richness it adds to the novel. It appears effortless, but I am sure it cannot be. Therefore we can only attribute it to the talented Mr. Koontz. A couple of my favorites were Jolie, a very strong, smart young woman, Dr. Walkins one of the kindest characters in the book as well as Bernie Riggowitz. I hope I see more of all of them in the next book. And a brief personal note: thank you Mr. Koontz for not killing Dixie.

I have read many of Dean Koontz books and he has never disappointed me. I thoroughly enjoyed The Whispering Room. It is smart, well-written and entertaining. It is the first book in the Jane Hawk series that I’ve read, but I plan to pick up the first book, The Silent Corner.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Deep Freeze by John Sandford – Needs More Than 5 Stars!

Book Review: Deep Freeze

By John Sandford

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

BCA Agent Virgil Flowers is back in the tenth book in the #1 New York Times best-selling series. Flowers would rather be photographing wild life as a freelance photographer instead of solving a murder. But unfortunately his much needed vacation has been cut short by a call asking him to investigate a murder in the tiny town of Trippton, Minnesota.

Not only does this put an abrupt halt to his much needed rest and relaxation, it also pulls him away from his girlfriend and his dog. The prospect of going back to Trippton in the middle of winter isn’t very appealing, even though he has friends there since he previously solved a case there.

After a Class Reunion meeting held at the home of the richest woman in town, she turns up dead. The murder happened minutes after the meeting, so one would assume the killer is one of her classmates. Unfortunately, almost everyone in the small town disliked the victim and more than a few had a solid motive. Virgil knows how catting people can be; especially those with a history.

The townspeople mostly like Virgil, for an outsider that is. He has a few true friends in the snow covered town, Johnson Johnson being at the top of that list.  Johnson is happy to see him and more than willing to help him get information that Virgil may have trouble getting on his own.

Then, as if Virgil needed more irritation, enter Margaret Griffin. She has been sent by a major toy manufacturer to serve cease and desist orders to someone in Trippton because they are making “modified” dolls of an x-rated nature. Someone in high places within the state wants the little homegrown shop closed, so Virgil is also asked to give Griffin a hand. Unfortunately for him, that results in more problems than the murder investigation.

When an attempt is made on Virgil’s life, he isn’t sure if it is the people in the town that depend upon the illicit income from the modified dolls or the murderer feeling the heat.

I loved everything about this book. The humor, the twists and turns, the characters and interestingly entertaining plot add up to another best seller. As a longtime fan of Sandford’s writing, I was not disappointed.

The engaging plot had me reading “just one more chapter” late into the night. Sandford skillfully pulls the reader into the story and holds you there in the bitter cold of Minnesota right there with his characters.

Virgil is an interesting man. He seems laid back, but looks can be deceiving. His mind is always turning and moving towards the goal of finishing up the cases and getting back home. The reader can tell he is smart, savvy and more than a little compassionate for the plight of those who need help, even if they are on the wrong side of the law.

There is a reason Sandford is a best-selling author. His books are interesting, funny and easy to read. Don’t confuse “easy” with simple. Deep Freeze is a complex story told in a laid back manner that keeps readers turning the pages.

I am sorry to say I have not read one of Sandford’s books for several years. Conversely, I am excited to have rediscovered his masterful prose and will be catching up with some of the previous adventures of Virgil I have missed. I highly recommend this book to thriller fans as well as anyone who loves a well written book with a fabulously entertaining plot.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: The Prom Dress Killer – The Latest Detective Al Warner Suspense


The Prom Dress Killer

By George A Bernstein

Miami is home to a lot of people. Most of them are good, hardworking people just trying to make their way through life. Unfortunately there are a few bad apples and these are the few that Homicide Detective Al Warner has to deal with on a daily basis. Keeping the people of Miami safe and the bad guys behind bars is his mission in life.

Unfortunately for Warner and his city, there is a new serial killer on the loose. He has been dubbed the Prom Dress Killer because after he murders the young women, he dresses them up in fancy vintage prom dresses and leaves them in a place where they will be found. Warner pulls the case because he has the reputation of finding this elusive breed of murderer, bringing them to justice and in the process bringing closure to the families of the victims.

Warner is hot on the trail of the maniac that seems to be targeting young, attractive redheads. He is pulling out all of the stops to catch him before another woman is murdered. Unfortunately for Warner, the Prom Dress Killer is always one step – and one body – ahead of the cop that desperately wants to stop the killings.

The reader is reminded several times in the book just how good Warner is at his job. Almost to the point of me wanting to say “I got it!”. I understood that Warner is a hard-boiled, old fashioned cop that has solved multiple serial killings and put the bad guys where they belong. I really didn’t need that many reminders. Warner’s dialog was great, in the moment and moved the story forward. But I got really tired of every word ending in “ing” was written as “in’ ”. A few would have been ok, but to me it got in the way of the story.

The serial killer himself is well written. Everything is not as it seems to be, so kudos to Bernstein for crafting the character and situations that are downright page turning. I held my breath a few times wanting to tell the red haired women that are in the story not to be so stupid, but just like good horror movies, they didn’t listen.

Bernstein’s plot was solid. There were a few red herrings, which were really great plot twists. But sometimes the way in which the story was told actually got in the way of the plot. Sometimes overuse of a word or two can put the reader off. When I read “akimbo” at least three times in the first 100 pages, I wanted to suggest a thesaurus.

If you are a fan of Philip Marlow, there are shadows of this kind of PI in The Prom Dress Killer, you might enjoy this series. This is the third book in the Detective Al Warner suspense novels and the first one I’ve read. Bernstein had a top 100 novel on Amazon with his first book Trapped (not part of the Warner series).

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 © 2017 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: The Girl Before – Fabulous Thriller – Would You Give Up Everything?

girl-beforeThe Girl Before

By J Delaney

 

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

Two women. Two traumas. One home. One outrageous contract. One or two possible murders.

The book begins with a house search. Jane has had something horrible happen to her and she needs to get out of her current flat to feel safe. The agent takes her to a home that is stark, sterile and has been empty for quite a while.

She falls in love with the security so on a whim fills out the questionnaire the builder requires before she is considered a candidate for occupancy. At first she is unnerved by it, but soon realizes she can put up with the crazy rules and requirements if she is chosen.

Surprisingly she is, giving up almost all of her possessions, she begins a journey that others have not lived through. Will she?

The Girl Before was fascinating. I cannot imagine living without color, pictures of loved ones, or having to answer questions before the computer running my home will allow the shower to start. When things get sinister, Jane feels as though she needs to find out what happen to Emma, but this may prove to be fatal.

Delaney’s book is creepy, engaging and thought provoking. I love the way in which it is written. Going back and forth from Emma to Jane the reader sees history almost repeat itself. Was it the choices both women made? Was it the home itself?

You can tell when the characters start to live minimally and begin to lose themselves in the process. The author shows this by removing all of the dialog quotation marks. Oddly enough, I didn’t miss them for several chapters – quite possibly the same way these women didn’t miss their identity until it was gone.

This is a fascinating thriller is full of surprises, twists and turns. I absolutely did not see the end coming, but was exceedingly satisfied as a reader when I finish.

Just a note to those that may object, there is violence and sex in The Girl Before but I believe it is essential to the story.

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Book Review – The Conveyance – So Creepy Good You Can’t Put it Down!

The_ConveyanceThe Conveyance

by Brian W. Matthews

Dr. Brad Jordan has a new twelve year old patient, Doug Belle. He has been acting out and his mother isn’t much help – as a matter of fact, she seems to be making Doug’s issues worse instead of better. On the way home after their session, Brad is in a horrific car accident that he amazingly walks away from sore and bruised.

His best friend Frank, a cop, drops him off at home where he finds Toni, his wife upset. They have been trying for months to have a child and she has the evidence of another failure in her hand. The home pregnancy kit was negative again.

Despite his injuries, they decide to go to play cards with Frank and his wife Kerry for the evening to get their minds off of the accident and their inability to have a child. The evening was a disaster. An argument escalated to the point of no return so they head back home. The only bright spot of the visit was the discussion about a cute little tourist town, Emersville, were Kerry purchased a “creepy little doll”.  She felt compelled to buy it, but there was something off about it.

Brad and Toni take a trip to Emersville the next day, picking up a creepy doll of their own. That is when the trouble started. Brad starts having disturbing dreams. Young Doug seems to be having more severe episodes, especially after Brad takes the doll to work (as a psychologist he uses toys, including dolls to get his patients to open up). Then Kerry turns up missing. Emersville has something to do with it, so Frank, Brad and Toni begin to peel back the layers of the town to find out exactly what is going on. Hopefully they will find Kerry and all live to tell the tale.

Matthew’s page turning thriller is a fast and sometimes hair-raising read. I loved the mystery and the intricate web the main characters became tangled in. All of the characters were well-written. I liked them, hated them or was scared of them. I am sure that was the intended reaction. Lucky for me I didn’t have any dolls laying around the house. I might have had to lock them in a closet or throw them away, just in case they got any ideas. It pays to be cautious when reading thrillers late into the night.

If you are a fan of Dean Koontz or Stephen King, you will love this book. This is Matthew’s third book, but the first one I’ve read. His previous novels are Forever Man and Revelation.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Random House Books that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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Mindfront by Dave Becker: Heartstopping Psychological Thriller

Mindfront

MindfrontWritten by: Dave Becker

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

325 pages

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Dr. Martin Keller is on a relaxing vacation. After his morning run, he steps into the shower feeling a bit dizzy. When he looks down, he is covered with blood, but doesn’t know why. Stepping from the shower he finds his family brutally massacred in their hotel room. Before he can take a breath, men wearing black helmets dark visors hiding their faces and armed with assault weapons stormed the room.

Marty jumps from the window and runs for his life. He has to find the people or organization that brutally murdered his family. He suspects their murder is connected to the project he has been working on for the last ten years, Swansong. It started out as a project funded by George Washington University – or was it secretly funded by the government? His research uncovered a code in brainwaves of animals and eventually humans that could lead to a terrifying form of torture of prisoners and terrorists than has ever been imagined in history.

He is one step ahead of the armed men, but has to find out who created the nightmare his life has become. Is it the Army, CIA, FBI or a group of terrorists? Dead bodies turn up wherever he goes; most of them have a chess piece with their name carved on it shoved in their eye. The suspense of not knowing who is playing this deadly game with Marty will keep you reading at breakneck speed.

Becker keeps you breathless as you enter Marty’s mind and try and figure out what and who is real. Dr. Keller feels like he is losing touch with reality and takes you into the darkness of his mind as he tries to hold on to what he believes to be real – but is it?

To say Dave Becker’s latest book, Mindfront is a fast paced thriller is like saying the Concord was a pretty fast airplane. From the minute I downloaded the file and began to read this psychological thriller I could not stop. I had to see what would happen next.

I loved Becker’s first novel, The Faustian Host and he did not disappoint me with Mindfront. I am still looking forward to his follow-up novel with the Faustian Host characters. Mindfront was different but does not disappoint. It is a great read. To write two very different books that are both winners shows us Becker isn’t a one trick pony. I am still waiting for the Faustian Host sequel, but anything Becker writes will be in my library.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

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.

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