THE DIME by Kathleen Kent

March 25, 2017

Click to purchase

It’s been just over two years since Betty and her girlfriend, Jackie, relocated from Brooklyn to Dallas. Betty, a narcotics officer with Dallas PD, has finally been given lead on a huge case: a local has been in contact with one of the big Mexican cartels and a drop has been scheduled. Betty and her team have spent hours staking out the location where it’s to take place, but an incident with a bystander throws everything off kilter. As bodies stack up, the case becomes more complicated – worse so when it becomes clear that Betty herself has become a target. But a target of exactly what is unclear.

While this is by no means Kathleen Kent’s first rodeo, it is her first crime novel. And I have to say it’s a resounding success.

Betty Rhyzyk is a tall redhead, born and bred in Brooklyn. And she’s just the latest of a string of cops in the family. Her Polish roots run deep and the narrative is peppered with pieces of translated family wisdom. By the time the meat of the story begins, however, Betty is the only surviving member of the Rhyzyk clan.

Not that she’s alone in the world by any means. Her girlfriend, Jackie, a nurse who spends much of her time worrying over Betty’s diet, is steadfast and supportive even when the story begins to take a nasty turn. And Betty is supported by her fellow police officers as well, more or less. Kent does a fantastic job portraying the difficulties of being a female cop in what is still a very male centric career.

She also does a wonderful job bringing Dallas and Texas to life in this tale, so much so that the city becomes more than just a setting. The sense of place is true to its inspiration, as I’m sure anyone in the DFW area can attest (which makes sense because it’s the place Kent calls home.), imbuing the story with a distinct flavor and characteristic.

The Dime is the kind of book that begins with a bang and still manages to become increasingly intense. And the pacing and plot never falter. It is a dark one, so do be warned, but definitely one that’s joining the ranks of my own personal favorites. No word yet on whether Betty will be a new series lead, but I for one certainly hope that will be the case.

3/17 Becky LeJeune

THE DIME by Kathleen Kent. Mulholland Books; First Edition/First Printing edition (February 14, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316311038. 352p.

Kindle


SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks

March 20, 2017

Click to purchase

When will I learn not to start a thriller at 11:00 at night when I have to be at work at 7:30 the next morning?! Using every ounce of self discipline I have (which isn’t very much, I’m sorry to say) I read a little more than half of this book by 2:00 a.m, when I forced myself to go to bed. Sleep was slow in coming and I found myself waking at 3:45 and again at 5 to check on my daughter. No, she’s not a young child, but she’s mine and apparently this plotline was weighing heavily on my mind.

This is a hybrid domestic/legal thriller, two of my favorites mashed up together. Judge Scott Sampson is the happily married father of young twins. Wednesday afternoons he picks up the kids and they go swimming, so he’s really disappointed when Allison, his wife, texts him and says she forgot they have a doctor’s appointment that afternoon so she would pick them up.

Except she didn’t. And he didn’t. But someone who resembles Allison and was driving a gray Honda minivan did and both kids are now missing.

The judge is told to say nothing and how to rule in a case coming before him the next day. They are both frightened and freaking out, to say the least. The judge’s first impulse is to call the courthouse cops, but Allison is adamant they follow instructions exactly. But that first instruction is only the beginning. It turns out a much bigger case is in play.

The tension is almost unbearable at times in this fast paced, emotionally riveting read. This is Park’s first standalone thriller. I loved his Carter Ross mystery series but this is a big departure and extremely well done.

Parks’ Say Nothing got the trifecta of starred reviews, an enviable feat, from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. And if I starred reviews, he’d get mine, too. Don’t miss it.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks. Dutton (March 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1101985595. 448p.

Kindle


DARE YOU by Jennifer Brown

February 24, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Nikki Kill Series, Book 2

Jennifer Brown’s synesthete heroine returns in this follow up to last year’s Shade Me.

In the months following her discoveries regarding Peyton Hollis and her murder, Nikki Kill has tried to live a fairly normal life But really, how normal can you get when you discover your mother had another child who was murdered by her own shady (but ridiculously rich) family. And considering said family then set their sights on Nikki, killing yet another Hollis child (Nikki’s boyfriend) instead… But crazy Luna Hollis is behind bars and the rest of the Hollises have fled the country, so Nikki is seemingly safe.

Safe enough to graduate, anyway.

When Nikki is arrested at a post-graduation bash, however, she finds out Luna is free once again. Not only that, but the DA’s office has now turned to Nikki as their number one suspect in Peyton’s murder. It’s clear Nikki’s being framed and it’s also clear Luna is the one responsible. But that doesn’t mean Nikki will have an easy time proving it.

Nikki’s story is a tangled web of secrets and lies, and she only barely scratched the surface in Shade Me. Considering her investigation seemed to be at a dead end, though, I was interested in seeing just how Brown would continue the tale.

Brown does a great job with this sequel. A witness allows Luna to be released, leaving Nikki once again the focus of crazy Hollis rage and obsession. And it turns out Peyton’s clues from before have more meaning than Nikki originally gleaned from them.

Nikki is a bit like a darker, more troubled Veronica Mars. No, Nikki doesn’t have a cop turned PI for a father. But Brown works the story in a way that it does make sense for Nikki to be investigating a murder and (as she has by now) to gain the trust of an actual cop in the official investigation. Her synesthesia isn’t a super power, but it does allow her to see things differently than those around her, giving her an added set of clues on top of anything the police might have at hand. And considering Peyton used it as their own secret language, it also makes sense that Nikki would uncover revelations the police aren’t clued into.

This is technically a teen series, but it absolutely has cross over appeal for adult mystery/thriller fans. Dare You does satisfactorily address some of the remaining questions left from Shade Me but also leaves the current duology open to continuation. And given how this second outing ends, I definitely hope to see more of Nikki Kill.

2/17 Becky LeJeune

DARE YOU by Jennifer Brown. Katherine Tegen Books (February 14, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062324467. 480p.

Kindle


THE PRISONER by Alex Berenson

February 20, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

A John Wells Novel, Book 11

Alex Berenson, who is a reporter for the New York Times, introduced the character of John Wells in his first published book. Wells stood out as one of the most amazing personages presented for readers in a novel. He was an American working for the CIA who had succeeded in joining a unit of the terrorist group Al Qaeda. They had gotten to trust him making him privy to their plans. John became so rapt in his role that he even learned to appreciate Islam’s religion and converted to it.

After leaving the group with this mission accomplished, further books described the deeds of this dark individual in fighting terrorism. The Prisoner returns full circle to the beginnings of Wells’ career.

A high level mole is thought to be active at the very top levels of the CIA. To find this traitor John is forced to repeat his actions of the first book. He must be arrested by Americans or their allies and be imprisoned with a terrorist who is thought to know who the mole is.

Wells gets himself captured in circumstances that would point to him being a member of ISIS, allowing him entree to the terrorist organization. What happens to John during his capture and while imprisoned is described graphically enough to follow Berenson’s thoughts of the U.S. handling of terrorist suspects held outside of our country.

This book, like its predecessors, moves rapidly and keeps the reader glued to the pages following the process to its conclusions. There should be further novels featuring John Wells. He is just too interesting a character to let go without maximum development during the current conflicts with Islamic Terrorists. All Berenson’s novels featuring Wells are all-nighters, and there is no reason not to assume that those following will be any different.

2/17 Paul Lane

THE PRISONER by Alex Berenson. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (January 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-0399176159. 432p.

Kindle


KILLER CHEF by James Patterson

February 19, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Contributor: Jeffrey J. Keyes

James Patterson is hands down the world’s most prolific, traditionally published, adult fiction author. I’ve read many of his early Alex Cross books, and it is my understanding that he stills writes those. I also read the first half dozen Women’s Murder Club books. But all the other books over the years, the Women’s Murder Club, Private, Michael Bennett series and most of the standalones carry another author’s name. I am not finding fault here, in fact Patterson has turned many midlist authors into international bestsellers, and that is a good thing. Another good thing is his new imprint, BookShots.

BookShots were conceived as a way to get people who don’t read to pick up a book. I pulled this from the BookShots website:

Welcome to BookShots by James Patterson. Life moves fast—books should too. Pulse-pounding thrillers under $5 and 150 pages or less. Impossible to put down. Read on any device. Visit BookShots.com

Last summer, Alexandra Alter wrote an interesting piece about it in the New York Times, and she said, “Mr. Patterson’s plan: make them shorter, cheaper, more plot-driven and more widely available.” The books are all less than 150 pages and less than $5. If he’s right, and so far it looks like he may be on to something, more people will be reading books, and that makes this librarian (and former bookseller) happy.

So I decided to try one out. Killer Chef is set in New Orleans where a serial killer is targeting upscale couples and somehow poisoning their dinners at different restaurants. But the Killer Chef is not the murderer; he is the detective in charge of solving the crime, who works a second job as a partner/chef of a food truck.

The story moves quickly, the hallmark of all James Patterson books. Likewise, the undeveloped characters and plot, also trademark Patterson, but it feels almost deliberate. The book is entertaining in the way of a mediocre TV show, which I think was kind of the point.

I have recommended these Bookshots to high school students through adults who are reluctant readers, and have gotten mixed feedback. But I really like the idea of these books, and there are already quite a few available, and in every genre from romance to mystery to sci-fi to thrillers.

Not sure what the difference between co-author and contributor is, but it doesn’t matter. It has the Patterson name on it and it will sell.

2/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

KILLER CHEF by James Patterson. BookShots (November 1, 2016).  ISBN 978-0316317245. 144p.

Kindle


RUSH OF BLOOD by Mark Billingham

February 6, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Billingham publishes a standalone novel about murder in both the United States and England. It first came out as a paperback, and is now being released as a hardcover.

The plot involves three initially unconnected British couples that meet at a pool in their vacation hotel in Florida. They become fast friends and enjoy the respite offered by time lounging away from pressures in their daily life.

The vacation is spoiled, however, by the disappearance of a young girl during their last day in the sun. Her body is discovered hidden in the mangroves close by.

The couples return to their homes and to the normality of work while thinking back about the horror of the murder occurring while they were vacationing. They decide to try and keep their new friendship alive by meeting at each of their homes for dinner.

The three dinners integral to the story bring out flaws and defects in their individual characters not seen during the relaxed atmosphere of their vacation. Also the investigation of the murder in Florida continues with the police in London doing interviews of the six vacationers and reporting the details to the U.S. authorities reviewing the crime.

A murder takes place in the area that the couples live in with details coinciding with the one in Florida. It is a young girl with a mental defect about the same age as the American crime victim. The combination of the effort in both England and the U.S. brings the murders close to a solution with attention focused on vacationers from the U.K. vacationing or traveling to Florida during the period of the first killing. An unexpected ending is logical and well done bringing the mysteries to a close.

I have enjoyed Mark Billingham’s novels in the past, like this one, but have one overall observation. The pace is slower than it should be, the characters just there but two dimensional. I read the book slowly not being led into any all nighter, but certainly did not toss it aside as uninteresting. This observation will not stop me, nor, I feel, other readers from seeking out future novels by the author.

2/17 Paul Lane

RUSH OF BLOOD by Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly Press (February 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-0802125910. 480p.

Kindle


BEHIND HER EYES by Sarah Pinborough

January 31, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Louise has been single too long. That’s the only explanation for what happened. That and the fact that the man was handsome and they seemed to hit it off. But he’s married! And worse, he’s her new boss! Vowing it’ll never happen again, Louise painstakingly attempts to ensure a normal and unromantic work atmosphere. But when she runs into David’s wife, things become incredibly complicated.

Adele is pretty and oh-so-put-together. But she seems lonely. The more Adele and Louse spend time together, the harder it becomes for Louise to detach herself. And then things between her and David take a turn as well. But there’s something wrong with Adele and David. The picture Adele paints of their relationship is troubling, to say the least, but the David Louise knows is nothing like that. Or is he?

Having been a fan of Sarah Pinborough’s work for quite some time now, it really was no surprise to me that Behind Her Eyes would turn out to be so fabulous. It seems, though, that she may finally get the readership she deserves Stateside with this latest.

Behind Her Eyes begins almost innocently, and with an edge of humor as well. Louise is in a real pickle. So much so that she hides in the bathroom when David introduces his wife around his new office. So it’s understandable then that Adele would have no idea who Louise is when they run into each other. And for all her faults, Louise is a nice person.

Adele, though, is much less transparent. In fact, it’s clear from the beginning that something odd is going on with Adele and David.

Chapters alternate between Louise and Adele. And Adele’s story is further broken up between “Then” and “Now.” It makes for a truly wonderful reading experience that’s filled with uncertainty and suspicion – and that’s on the part of the characters and the reader.

And then there’s that ending. It’s an ending everyone is talking about (Behind Her Eyes has been out in the UK for some months now) and one that’s definitely worth it. I for one did not see it coming at all.

Behind Her Eyes is a definite favorite of mine for 2017 and one I highly recommend to any thriller fan looking for a fabulous new read!

1/17 Becky LeJeune

BEHIND HER EYES by Sarah Pinborough. Flatiron Books (January 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-1250111173. 320p.

Kindle


FATAL by John Lescroart

January 26, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Kate meets Peter at a dinner she attends with her husband, and becomes intrigued with the charming, married man. She wants a little fling and she sets out to seduce him. She succeeds, ending things then and there, but she has awakened the beast in Peter.

A few days later Kate is having lunch with her closest friend, Beth, a cop, and the women are caught up and severely injured in a terrorist attack in the busy San Francisco restaurant near Peter’s office. That event, coupled with his tryst with Kate, convince Peter to leave his wife and family and follow through on all his sexual desires, even though Kate has rebuffed him.

Months later, Kate and Beth are both on the road to recovery when they hear that Peter has been murdered. Beth is assigned the case and while her partner cares for his sick child, she follows every lead, getting nowhere fast.

These characters are well drawn and Beth would make a great continuing character should Lescroart choose to leave Dismas Hardy, his regular series character, behind. This is a terrific standalone thriller that melds police procedural with plenty of suspense and action, and should appeal to Harlan Coben or Gillian Flynn fans.

Copyright ©2017 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

1/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FATAL by John Lescroart. Atria Books (January 24, 2017).  ISBN 978-1501115677. 320p.

Kindle


THE PROMETHEUS MAN by Scott Reardon

January 25, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Tom Reese is not a member of the CIA nor any other lettered agency of the Federal Government. But his brother Eric was and was killed.

The agency has allowed the case of Eric’s death to go cold. Tom assumes the personage of an active CIA operative and gets himself transferred to Paris and joins the team that traces his only link to his brother’s killer.

Remember that authors use literary license in order to make their story palatable. So we will disregard the impossible feat of assuming the identity of an active agent of the CIA and proceed to the events.

Eric Blake and his team were engaged in finding a man who was the test subject of a project to turn out the perfect soldier via augmenting his body. The CIA finally realizes that there are two Tom Reeses’ working for them in two different places. Plus the man that was augmented discovers that someone is after him.

In going forward, Tom meets the daughter of the augmented man and agrees to drive her from Paris to Berlin to meet her father. She trusts him to do so (again literary license) and in avoiding both the CIA and a group after them, fall in love. In a coincidence it is also discovered that Tom was augmented in the same experiment as his brother.

The novel does keep the reader’s interest and continually reading. The setting in Europe is well documented and the action sufficient to say that disregarding the improbable makes the book well worth the time spent reading it. I will be on the lookout for additional novels by Reardon and will have no problem overlooking what is, shall we say, far fetched.

1/17 Paul Lane

THE PROMETHEUS MAN by Scott Reardon. Mulholland Books; (January 24, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316310925. 352p.

Kindle


THE GIRL BEFORE by J.P. Delaney

January 24, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

From the publisher:

In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

#########

Usually I don’t bother with the publisher’s synopsis as they tend to run to lots of superlatives and not much substance. In this case, the superlatives are warranted. This was a terrific read and was an all nighter for me.

I loved the characters, they way the story moved between them, and the way the mystery builds. I am not always a fan of the “girl books”, the unreliable narrator as it were, but it definitely worked here. I loved it.

1/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE GIRL BEFORE by J.P. Delaney. Ballantine Books (January 24, 2017). ISBN 978-0425285046. 352p.