HER PERFECT LIFE by Hank Phillippi Ryan

September 27, 2021

From the publisher:

Everyone knows Lily Atwood―and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all―fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips―but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he―or she―know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world―and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life? And what if the spotlight is the most dangerous place of all?

Publishers Weekly PICK OF THE WEEK!
Goodreads  BIGGEST MYSTERIES/THRILLERS OF THE YEAR!
Crime Reads MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK!

“Superlative…this is a fast-paced, surprise-packed treat.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

..a well-crafted plot and strong female characters drive a satisfying psychological thriller.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Lily loves her life. She’s an Emmy-winning TV journalist and a single mom to a precocious daughter, Rowan. Her producer, Greer, and her nanny, Petra, help manage her life. But when her mysterious source brings up her sister, Lily is thrown.

When Lily was 7 years old, her much older sister, Cassie, disappeared. She was a freshman in college when she went missing and she was never found. But Lily is torn; her perfect life would crumble if all her secrets got out.

She’s a single mom because her daughter’s father was a married man. Her sister, Cassie, was involved in drugs and a possible murder when she disappeared. Lily doesn’t want all that coming out, fearing she would lose her credibility and her career. Her source is dragging Greer into his web, and Lily along with her.

I love that these strong women were at the heart of this story, and have to solve the mystery of Cassie’s disappearance, who the source really is, and why he’s doing what he’s doing. And they kick ass!

The suspense kept spiraling up throughout this novel, making it impossible to put down. Ryan is at the top of her game, and that’s really saying something as she’s written so many great books. Don’t miss it!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HER PERFECT LIFE by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Forge Books; 1st edition (September 14, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250258885. 336 pages.

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HEARTBREAKER by B. J. Daniels

August 20, 2021

Montana Justice, Book 2

From the publisher:

He’ll risk everything to rescue her…

Ex-military man Thorn Grayson has debts to pay. So when a plane crashes in the mountains near his cabin, he’s hired to find the wreckage—and the kidnapped woman believed to be the sole survivor. But when he locates Geneva, or “JJ” as she insists on being called, she’s not at all what he expected.

JJ isn’t sure she can trust the mysterious man who’s come to her rescue. But she has secrets of her own—secrets she’ll do anything to keep. So she’ll follow his instructions and keep her distance to get off this mountain alive without blowing her cover. As dangerous conditions force them together—and the undeniable chemistry between them ignites—he’ll protect her at any cost. But when the morning light comes, will the truth tear them apart?


This was my first read by this author. If I had seen this cover, I might not have read the book but I’m glad I did. For what it’s worth, the cover cowboy looks nothing like the description in the book and why they keep calling him a cowboy is also suspect. This is not a cowboy romance; it is romantic suspense with a loner, ex-Military protagonist who owns a couple of horses and lives in solitude in the mountains of Montana. Maybe that makes him a cowboy, but there are no ranches or rodeos or any kind of cowboy activities usually found in these kinds of books. I liked this book but it was not at all what I expected, and I hadn’t even seen the cover when I read it, which would have made my expectations even more wrong.

Thorn’s wife was killed and he hasn’t recovered. He’s had a hard life, and thanks to a judge who sent him to a sort of boot camp, he turned his life around. He joined the armed services, and is now retired and living alone on his mountain. When the judge calls to ask a favor, Thorn can’t say no. The judge’s friend Franklin is a very wealthy man. He lost his daughter to drugs, and now his granddaughter Geneva is out of control. He cuts her off except for a modest allowance, but then he is contacted by a man claiming to have kidnapped her. The kidnapper asks for $10 million dollars in ransom.

But grandpa was pretty smart. He put a high tech tracking device on his granddaughter’s phone, so he is able to see her whereabouts. Turns out she was flown out to the mountains, where the plane has apparently crashed about half an hour away from Thorn’s home. The judge asks Thorn to go check out the plane and rescue the granddaughter.

She is still alive, but is not at all what Thorn is expecting from a spoiled party girl. This girl has swiped a gun from one of her kidnappers who died in the plane crash, and she is not sure if she can trust Thorn so she shoots at him and tries to get away. He manages to get hold of her and get her back, but it turns out she may not be who Thorn thinks she is.

This was a fairly complicated kidnapping plot, with the wrong girl being taken and lots of bad guys popping up and making things worse. The girl Thorn rescued is JJ, a homeless travel agent who was squatting because she had made travel arrangements for Geneva so she knew the girl wouldn’t be home. But Geneva was smart enough to leave her phone behind so Grandpa couldn’t find her.

Thorn and JJ try to find Geneva, thinking her in serious trouble. There are lots of twists and turns and the suspense is high in this page-turner. A happy ending is reached pretty much all the way around, and I ended up enjoying this book a lot. In fact I couldn’t put it down.

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HEARTBREAKER by B. J. Daniels. HQN; Original edition (March 24, 2020). ISBN: 978-1335045195. 304 pages.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME by Laura Dave

July 26, 2021

From the publisher:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
SELECTION OF THE REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB
A HIGHLY ANTICIPATED, BEST BOOK OF SUMMER SELECTED BY * VOGUE * USA TODAY * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * CNN * TOWN & COUNTRY * PARADE * BUSTLE * AND MORE!

A “gripping” (Entertainment Weekly) mystery about a woman who thinks she’s found the love of her life—until he disappears.

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.


I haven’t read a thriller in a while and this one kept popping up as the one to read this summer, so I did. It is a fast paced story with interesting characters, but not a lot of depth. If you are looking for a quick, entertaining read, look no further. I read it in one night.

Hannah’s mother took off when she was a young child, leaving her in the care of her grandfather as there was no father in the picture. Her grandfather was a woodturner, and he taught Hannah his craft. Once a table she made landed in Architectural Digest, her career was made. She creates mostly custom pieces on commission for the uber wealthy. That’s how she meets Owen.

Owen works for one of Hannah’s regular customers. They are in NY and Owen’s boss stops by the wood shop to check on their current piece in progress. Owen is entranced with Hannah, and she is equally attracted to him. Owen is a young widower, having lost his wife in a tragic car accident when his daughter was a toddler. He hasn’t dated much over the years since he lost his wife, but he quickly realizes that Hannah is someone special. Bailey, his 16-year-old daughter, is not thrilled; she hasn’t had to share her doting father and isn’t sure she wants to. This is not unexpected behavior. What is unexpected is how Hannah relates to Bailey. Having no real relationship with her own mother, and at 40 Hannah is pretty sure she is not having her own children, Hannah leans in to the relationship as best as she can. Bailey eventually accepts her but grudgingly.

The family dynamic is upended when Owen disappears. He leaves a note for Hannah, but all it says is “protect her.” She knows he means Bailey. He leaves Bailey a longer note and a bag full of cash. hundreds of thousands of dollars, stuffed into her school locker before he takes off. Then the shit hits the fan; turns out the company he works for is in serious trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Shop, as it is known, has been raided and the Owen’s boss arrested. Hannah’s best friend, Jules, is a photojournalist and she gives Hannah a heads up on the upcoming raid which is how Owen has time to disappear.

The FBI and the US Marshal’s office send agents to their home, a houseboat in Sausalito, but neither Hannah nor Bailey know anything. Hannah starts to suspect there is more to Owen’s disappearance than what happened at The Shop. This suspicion takes her to Austin, Texas, where she pretty quickly figures out why Owen has gone missing. By quickly I mean just a few days but it takes most of the book to get there.

The ending was so family-centric that it was almost jarring and hard to believe. Maybe if I had been more emotionally wrangled into the Owen-Hannah relationship it would have made more sense, but I didn’t quite get that the two years they were together were enough to make it all plausible. That said, it was a very good read and I enjoyed it. This was a Reese Witherspoon pick which I generally like, and this book was no exception.

7/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME by Laura Dave. Simon & Schuster; Book Club edition (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-1501171345. 320 pages.

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BLOOD KIN by Matt Hilton

July 24, 2021

A Grey and Villere Thriller, Book 8

From the publisher:

A fast-paced and action-packed ride through upstate New York for fans of CHRIS RYAN and STEPHEN LEATHER.

When Nicolas ‘Po’ Villere runs into Elspeth Fuchs, an old flame, he’s surprised to find who’s by her side. It’s her son, Jacob, and he’s a dead ringer for when Po was a child. His age lines up with when Po last saw Elspeth, before she left him for Caleb Moorcock and a life in a secluded community.

Elspeth and Jacob are now running for their lives from the abusive Caleb. Po and his partner, Private Investigator Tess Grey, offer shelter. But before Po can dive into the boy’s parentage, Caleb snatches the absconded pair and drags them back to their fortified commune.

Has Po dodged a bullet? Maybe it’s best for them all if he never learns whether he’s Jacob’s father. Who’s he kidding? Po resolves to rescue Elspeth and discover the truth about Jacob no matter what . . .


Matt Hilton is a top tier author of exciting crime novels and “Blood Kin” certainly ranks with the best of them. It features Tess Grey a private detective and Nicolas “Po” Villere an ex-con who had been imprisoned for murdering his father. Po’s contention was that there were extenuating circumstances but he did serve his sentence picking up a wide variety of “skills” while incarcerated, some of these quite lethal.

The story begins while Po is waiting for Tess to finish up a day in court and he runs into Elspeth Fuchs whom he hasn’t seen in years and once was almost married to. She is traveling with her 10-year-old son Jacob. Po is fascinated by Jacob who looks very much like him and based on the number of years since they were together could actually be his child conceived while being with Elspeth. He invites them to his home to meet Tess, but Elspeth doesn’t trust their motives and disappears with her son.

A sixth sense pushes Po and Tess to follow them and they do so accompanied by Pinky a friend of theirs who has the build of a strong men, is definitely one and believes it is his function to help his friends. Their chase gets them to an enclave run by Caleb Moorcock who is Elspeth’s husband and is a tyrant and a bully with the added problem of being a murderer and dealing in drugs.

The plot certainly includes necessary conflict and the attempt to rescue Elspeth and her son from the tyranny of Elspeth’s psychotic husband. The book is easily finished in one fell swoop and the reader kept involved by the constant action and shifting in the presentation of characters. I’ve had the pleasure of reading other novels by Matt Hilton and do feel comfortable in recommending this book and all future novels by him to readers that go for police and crime books.

7/2021 Paul Lane

BLOOD KIN by Matt Hilton. Severn House Publishers; Main edition (August 3, 2021). ISBN: 978-0727890962. 240 pages.

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AN AMBUSH OF WIDOWS by Jeff Abbott

July 14, 2021

From the publisher:

In New York Times bestselling author Jeff Abbott’s latest novel of riveting psychological suspense, an uneasy alliance forms as two widows delve into their husbands’ deadly and dangerous secrets—as they try to protect their own.

Henry North is a down-on-his-luck cybersecurity expert from New Orleans. Adam Zhang is the cofounder of one of Austin’s most successful venture capitalist firms. These two men didn’t know each other. They had never met. Yet they died together, violently, in a place neither had any business being.

When Henry doesn’t return from a business trip, his wife, Kirsten, panics—and then gets an anonymous phone call: “Your husband is dead in Austin.”

Flora Zhang knew her husband was keeping secrets. She suspected an affair, but she had decided she could forgive him for his weakness—until her husband ended up dead. And with no explanation for her husband’s murder, the police begin to suspect her.

Together, these two widows will face a powerful foe determined to write a false narrative about the murders. In doing so, neither Flora nor Kirsten will remain the women the world thought they were.


It’s a Jeff Abbott novel. It’s good, it’s engrossing it’s definitely an all-nighter. How to review it becomes the problem. The plot involves two women; the first is Kirsten North. She is happily married to Henry North who is a cyber security expert currently down on his luck. They live in New Orleans. Kirrsten in her own right is a consultant to the Tech Sector with a good reputation for digging out hard to obtain facts about companies her clients need information on for things like possible purchase or doing business with.

The other woman is Flora Zang married to Adam Zang who has an impeccable record of launching start up Tech companies. They live in Austin, Texas a city currently enjoying a major expansion with the arrival of many successful Tech companies. Flora’s problem is that Adam is married to the business and she seems to be number two wife in the relationship. Her current major interest lies in living a life dedicated to spending her husband’s fortune doing good deeds which would prove important in enhancing the business’s reputation.  She does love her husband and married him before he made his fortune.     

Action begins at a moment that Kirsten is readying herself to begin her day’s work. Henry is on a business trip and has indicated that he is going to New York. Her personal phone rings and since very few have the number she picks it up thinking that It is Henry forgetting something.    A strange voice, using a disguising app, tells her that her husband has been shot to death in Austin. After going through the thinking that the call is a bad joke, she decides to go to Austin and upon arrival finds that it is true. Henry is dead and has been killed along with Adam Zang in a warehouse owned by Zang Industries. In attempting to find out what happened to her husband she meets with Flora Zang and the two women find common cause in attempting to find out who killed their husbands and why.     

In typical Jeff Abbott fashion, the reader will head straight forward into the book and face a fascinating and changing set of facts before the ending is reached. A very bright note is that the author sets up future books featuring the two women and all that remains is to keep one’s eyes open for when they come out.  Five star – of course.     

7/2021 Paul Lane

AN AMBUSH OF WIDOWS by Jeff Abbott. Grand Central Publishing (July 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538719145. 352 pages.

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CHINA by Edward Rutherfurd

May 31, 2021

From the publisher:

The internationally bestselling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world with his trademark epic style in China: The Novel

Edward Rutherfurd has enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations. Now, in China: The Novel, Rutherfurd takes readers into the rich and fascinating milieu of the Middle Kingdom.

The story begins in 1839, at the dawn of the First Opium War, and follows Chinese history through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and up to the present day. Rutherfurd chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of members of Chinese, British, and American families, as they negotiate the tides of history. Along the way, in his signature style, Rutherfurd provides a deeply researched portrait of Chinese history and society, its ancient traditions and great upheavals, and China’s emergence as a rising global power. As always, we are treated to romance and adventure, heroines and scoundrels, grinding struggle and incredible fortunes.    

China: The Novel brings to life the rich terrain of this vast and constantly evolving country. From Shanghai to Nanking to the Great Wall, Rutherfurd chronicles the turbulent rise and fall of empires as the colonial West meets the opulent and complex East in a dramatic struggle between cultures and people.

Extraordinarily researched and majestically told, Edward Rutherfurd paints a thrilling portrait of one of the most singular and remarkable countries in the world.


This novel is a well researched venture into the period of about 1830 until the Boxer Revolution of 1900 in China. The author chooses several different families and individuals to frame his story on. These are characters that experience what was the Chinese culture during the time of their lives. Overall Rutherfurd utilizes the character of Cixi, the dowager empress, as the individual influencing events in the country both during her own lifetime and attempting to continue to do so after her death.       

The story opens with what were the Opium wars of the early 1800s in which England carried on a lucrative trade of selling opium to China and buying tea from them. The Chinese realizing that they were getting generations of dope addicts as the price being paid to allow England to actually pay for tea attempted to keep the British from bringing the narcotic into their home ports. With fortunes riding on continuing the opium sales battles were fought between the modern weapons of the English and easily defeated Chinese troops.   

Rutherfurd aptly shows a country with a rich history going back almost 5000 years with a population of a rich and also a destitute poor class. The path to wealth is mainly through entrance into some level of the ruling class and only minor possibilities through opening a successful business. One of the leading individuals is a man that faced with feeding his family decides to embark upon a path that would be impossible to conceive of by most men. He elects to become a eunuch in order to obtain work at the emperor’s palace where that condition is mandatory to hold a position. He consults his wife and his father getting their approval and goes ahead with the change. By a lucky occurrence he obtains the job of doing the nails of Cixi than the emperor’s concubine pleases her and continues on. He is dubbed “Lacquer Nail” the name that sticks with him permanently and is in a position to follow Cixi as she marries the emperor and in time assumes the role of dowager empress.   

In 1900 a rebellion breaks out looking to stop the many groups of foreigners from continuing to bleed the country. The initiators of the insurrection are known as Boxers due to their interest in the martial arts. The foreigners centered in the city of Peking group together for mutual defense in the British legation using small groups of soldiers from the countries residing in China to defend them. Word is sent to a combined army of troops sent to restore the safety of the people working in China as part of their legations to come to their rescue. The section of the novel dealing with the rebellion and the subsequent arrival of the rescue force is a very well done portrait of people facing a situation that they are not attuned to contending with.       

The book is a long one, but Rutherfurd’s ability to create a story and the people involved in it makes for one excellent read and a commanding portrait of a civilization not like that of most of the western world.

5/2021 Paul Lane

CHINA by Edward Rutherfurd. Doubleday (May 11, 2021). ISBN: 978-0385538930. 784 pages.

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BASIL’S WAR by Stephen Hunter

May 22, 2021

A WWII Spy Thriller

From the publisher:

A British spy goes behind enemy lines to crack a secret code in this “highly entertaining World War II espionage thriller” (Seattle Times).

Basil St. Florian is an accomplished agent in the British Army, tasked with dozens of dangerous missions for crown and country across the globe. But his current mission, going undercover in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, might be his toughest assignment yet. He will be searching for an ecclesiastic manuscript that doesn’t officially exist, one that genius professor Alan Turing believes may hold the key to a code that could prevent the death of millions and possibly even end the war.

St. Florian isn’t the classic British special agent with a stiff upper lip―he is a swashbuckling, whisky-drinking cynic and thrill-seeker who resents having to leave Vivien Leigh’s bed to set out on his crucial mission. Despite these proclivities, though, Basil’s Army superiors know he’s the best man for the job, carrying out his espionage with enough charm and quick wit to make any of his subjects lower their guards.

Action-packed and bursting with WWII-era intrigue (much of which has basis in fact), Basil’s War is a classic espionage thriller from Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, essayist, and bestselling novelist Stephen Hunter.


Stephen Hunter is a successful author with a longtime background in the literary world. His main thrust are books involving the military art of sniping. He is gifted with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of weaponry which he has used to bring his novels several steps above other books about sniping and snipers. 

This current book is a change in focus and involves the exploits of Basil St Florian in action as a spy during World War II. Basil is in the language of another day a “rake” for his many encounters with women. He is bold, daring and has a great sense of humor. He has traveled several times from his home in England into France, a country conquered by the Nazi war machine and an area that might be used as a springboard for action against Britian. He has successfully completed several missions and we meet him as he begins another.     

In certain situations books are used as keys for secret codes. That is the message to be sent is tied to a mutually known book and the words are represented by location designations used by both parties. The difficulty level is very high since the same book must be used by both senders and receivers in order to decode the message. In his latest mission Basil must travel into enemy territory find a scroll written several hundred years ago, photograph certain portions and bring these photos back in order to be used to convince Russian dictator Joseph Stalin to shift a military position in order to avoid a massacre of his soldiers.     

In the course of the mission Basil meets Alan Turing, a man that led a group of mathematicians in discovering the key to the Nazi codes used in their transmission of orders. Turing and his group actually lived and worked on breaking codes during WWII. While the codes sought by Basil are not fact, the touch of adding Turing to the plot is a good one and helps validate the action.     

The almost blasé approach Hunter takes brings down the quality of the action described and I felt leaves the reader with a “hey what happened” feeling. If it is a book by Stephen Hunter I would pick up his next novel, but possibly return to awaiting others featuring the sniping format if Basil does not pick up the pace.

5/2021 Paul Lane

BASIL’S WAR by Stephen Hunter. Mysterious Press (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-1613162248. 288 pages.

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THE GIRL WHO DIED by Ragnar Jonasson

May 20, 2021

From the publisher:

From Ragnar Jónasson, the award-winning author of the international bestselling Ari Thór series, The Girl Who Died is a standalone thriller about a young woman seeking a new start in a secluded village where a small community is desperate to protect its secrets.

Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World

Una wants nothing more than to teach, but she has been unable to secure steady employment in Reykjavík. Her savings are depleted, her love life is nonexistent, and she cannot face another winter staring at the four walls of her shabby apartment. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track.

But Skálar isn’t just one of Iceland’s most isolated villages, it is home to just ten people. Una’s only students are two girls aged seven and nine. Teaching them only occupies so many hours in a day and the few adults she interacts with are civil but distant. She only seems to connect with Thór, a man she shares an attraction with but who is determined to keep her at arm’s length.

As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, Una finds herself more often than not in her rented attic space―the site of a local legendary haunting―drinking her loneliness away. She is plagued by nightmares of a little girl in a white dress singing a lullaby. And when a sudden tragedy echoes an event long buried in Skálar’s past, the villagers become even more guarded, leaving a suspicious Una seeking to uncover a shocking truth that’s been kept secret for generations.


The author is an Icelandic citizen residing in Iceland with an excellent world-wide reputation.  The current novel is set in Iceland involving people that live there but showing that human emotions are similar all over the world. I can only describe it as a tight book starting slowly and building to a climax that is exactly right for the action found. Without dragging a verdict out this is a definite five star book and my recommendation to readers is just get ready to buy all forthcoming novels by the author.      

Una is a young woman living in the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavík. She barely makes a living there, has few friends and not many interests for her spare time. An ad appears in the newspaper asking for a teacher for a position teaching a small class in the remote village of Skalar located on the seacoast. The isolated village has only 10 people living in it.  Uma comes to the conclusion that she has nothing to lose, has a chance to make a guaranteed salary for easy work and accepts the job.     

The village is as thought; remote, isolated and the very essence of the phrase provincial. Her class consists of only two girls of different ages and she gets what amounts to free room. Looks good but she meets a lot of resistance from the people in town and is terrifyingly confronted by a ghost in the house she gets the room in. 

Jonasson continues to pull the reader into the action and finishes his novel with one of the most perfect endings I’ve read. An excellent read and for me an introduction to a talented author that I am pleased to have learned about.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE GIRL WHO DIED by Ragnar Jonasson. Minotaur Books (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250793737. 320 pages.

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LEGACY OF WAR by Wilbur Smith

May 18, 2021

Courtney Family Novels, Book 16

From the publisher:

A brand-new Courtney Series adventure.

The action-packed new book in the Courtney Series and the sequel to Courtney’s War.

The war is over, Hitler is dead – and yet his evil legacy lives on. Saffron Courtney and her beloved husband Gerhard only just survived the brutal conflict, but Gerhard’s Nazi-supporting brother, Konrad, is still free and determined to regain power. As a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse develops, a plot against the couple begins to stir. One that will have ramifications throughout Europe. . .

Further afield in Kenya, the last outcrop of the colonial empire is feeling the stirrings of rebellion. As the situation becomes violent, and the Courtney family home is under threat, Leon Courtney finds himself caught between two powerful sides – and a battle for the freedom of a country.

Legacy of War is a nail-biting story of courage, bravery, rebellion and war from the master of adventure fiction.


Wilbur Smith has long since established himself as one the foremost authors of our time. His huge legacy of novels has been built around excellent research as well as the gift of being a true wordsmith. Reading his books is always a fascinating adventure with journeys into history of his beloved Africa where he was born. He has used the device of featuring several families to populate his novels which move from ancient Egypt to modern times. His technique is to make all of his heroes and also his bad guys larger than life. The good guys usually experience all that befalls them with an attitude that prohibits doing the “wrong” thing regardless of what is done to do them harm. The bad guys are what you would expect – no principled scoundrels hell bent on doing evil to gain their own nefarious ends.      

Legacy of War utilizes Saffron Courtney and her husband Gerhard.  The two were featured in Courtney’s War, the book prior to this one set during the second World War. Saffron bravely traveled behind enemy lines for England to get information about enemy activity while Gerhard was a pilot in the German air force fighting in the invasion of Russia and the bloodbath that took place at Stalingrad. They are now married with two children and living in what is now Kenya working a huge farm area that is part of the Courtney holdings.     

Gerhard’s brother also lives in south Africa but has a background during the war which makes him a criminal and sought after by the Israeli Mossad to stand trial for his crimes. The first portion of the novel describes Gerhard participating in the chase after his brother with the need for justice outweighing family ties. There is another section devoted to descriptions of the Mau Mau, a native group that is looking, through violent rebellion, to correct their perceived inequities that allow whites to own land while native groups cannot. The violence of this group does take a strong stomach but the descriptions are taken from real life during the time they were active.     

Smith moves into a meeting by Saffron with Jomo Kenyatta a native who became the first black president of Kenya showcasing the entrance of equality between the two races living in the country with the Courtney’s accepting the situation as both a desired and natural occurrence in African history.

5/2021 Paul Lane

LEGACY OF WAR by Wilbur Smith. Zaffre (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1499862355. 480 pages.

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HER THREE LIVES by Cate Holahan

May 15, 2021

From the publisher:

Gaslight goes high-tech in USA Today bestselling author Cate Holahan’s new standalone thriller in which a family must determine who the real enemy is after a brutal home invasion breaks their trust in each other.

Her public life

Jade Thompson has it all. She’s an up-and-coming social media influencer, and she has a beautiful new home and a successful architect for a fiancé. But there’s trouble behind the scenes. To Greg’s children, his divorce from their mother and his new life can only mean a big mid-life crisis. To Jade, his suburban Connecticut upbringing isn’t an easy match with her Caribbean roots.

Her private life

A savage home invasion leaves Greg house-bound with a traumatic brain injury and glued to the live feeds from his ubiquitous security cameras. As the police investigate the crime and Greg’s frustration and rage grows, Jade begins to wonder what he may know about their attackers. And whether they are coming back.

Her secret life

As Greg watches Jade’s comings and goings, he becomes convinced that her behavior is suspicious and that she’s hiding a big secret.  The more he sees, the more he wonders whether the break-in was really a random burglary. And whether he’s worth more to Jade if he were dead than alive.

PopSugar’s Best Mysteries and Thrillers Books of April 2021


Cate Holahan has a tremendous gift for bringing characters she utilizes in her novels to vivid life for her readers. In her current novel, she places her characters into a plot that is as twisty and turny as any I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, making this book into a grab hold adventure into sleepless nights. 

Jade Thompson is a woman that has made a success of herself via the creation and building up an interesting blog involved in design details and sales of products in that area to an increasing number of interested readers. She has also just become engaged to Greg who is an extremely successful architect who has made himself wealthy via becoming involved with the design of big buildings. Greg is in the process of divorcing this wife of many years and has met and fallen in love with Jade. He has asked Jade to marry him with her accepting.     

Greg has two adult children who are not too thrilled with their father becoming engaged to a woman that is very close in age to his daughter and seemingly leaving their mother. The plot thickens when one night Jade and Greg are subjected to a home invasion. Greg suffers a hit to his head by one of the two robbers using a blunt instrument while Jade is hit in the stomach.  She has become pregnant and loses the baby as a result of the blow. She also is robbed of a very valuable ring she received as an engagement present.    

Holahan takes her readers on a rollercoaster ride as besides Jade and Greg, Jade’s mother and Greg’s adult children get involved in throwing around the whys and wherefores of what was the cause of the home invasion if it had anything to do with an engagement that apparently all felt was too soon and ill advised. Believe me when I state that readers will become dizzy from the myriad of  permutations and combinations involved. It will be an experience that will add to the enjoyment of the book and the expectation of reading future books by the author.

5/2021 Paul Lane

HER THREE LIVES by Cate Holahan. Grand Central Publishing (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538736340. 352 pages.

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