Review: The Girl She Wanted by K. L. Slater

Alexa has always looked up to her older sister Carrie. Carrie lives in Alexa’s family home, and adores her one-year-old niece Florence. Alexa doesn’t know how they would cope without her. So when Carrie is suspended from her job as a senior nurse, accused of the most terrible crime, Alexa reels in disbelief. Alexa knows how caring Carrie is, and as she watches Florence gurgling and cooing whenever Carrie is around, she knows her little girl is in safe hands.

Alexa’s husband doesn’t trust Carrie. He wants her out of the house, unable to ignore what people are saying about her. But when he suggests that Carrie could be a danger to their daughter, Alexa shuts him out. Nobody will ever come between her and her sister.

Then Florence is hurt while in Carrie’s care and Alexa at last starts to wonder. Alexa has always wanted to protect Carrie from the past they have hidden. But does Alexa know what Carrie wants? And will the secret that has kept the sisters together now destroy her little girl?

Review

After reading one too many police procedurals, I decided to take a break before my detectives start to merge into one fuzzy blur of complicated background stories and piling body counts. The Girl She Wanted by K. L. Slater offered me the break that I needed and I had fun delving into the world of unreliable narrators, secrets and lies.

Carrie is a nurse with over twenty year’s experience. Her career and reputation take a big hit when a series of suspicious deaths occur in her ward. Now everyone, including her family and friends, starts to look at her differently. Is Carrie really guilty of the heinous crimes? Is she the victim of a set up? I had so many questions going into this story. I didn’t know who to believe.

Told from different perspectives, there were twists and turns that had me changing my mind about the characters. Some of the chapters were slower though, which I wasn’t a fan of. However, the secrets, lies and reveals had my attention and kept me turning pages until the end. Not my favorite book by the author but still one that I recommend to fans of this genre.

Review: The Killer’s Girl (Detective Morgan Brookes #2)by Helen Phifer

When the body of a young woman is found, tied to her bed and the victim of a brutal attack in her own home, Detective Morgan Brookes is sickened by what she finds as she searches the house. And unprepared for the nightmares it inspires about her childhood.

When the DNA collected gives a positive ID, Morgan can’t wait to put the attacker behind bars. But the person it matches to is already in prison. How could the DNA of someone who has been locked up for over twenty years have shown up in Morgan’s crime scene? And then they make another close match. To Morgan herself.

Faced with the impossible proof that she is somehow connected to this case, Morgan delves deep into the crimes of a killer who stalked the Lake District two decades ago. But distracted by the old case, she misses the signs that he has found a new victim. And when he strikes close to home, Morgan finally realises that she has been living on borrowed time. To find this killer, it’s clear she must confront the nightmares in her past…

Review

Last week I called myself to a meeting to evaluate why I was reading so many cop procedural and starting way too many series. This book re-affirmed my decision to keep discovering new series. The Detective Morgan Brookes series is so far one of my favorite ones and it just keeps getting better.

Morgan Brookes was a rookie when we first met her in the first book. She had just discovered a body while on her first patrol. Identifying her astuteness as an investigator, the lead detective, moved her to the DCI unit. In this installment, a woman is found murdered in her house and once again, Morgan and the team are on the case. We get to hear from the killer who is cold, calculating and elusive. I had no idea who it was until the detectives made the connection.

This case was tough to begin with. Then it got personal for Morgan hence raising the stakes.  Every single clue had me scratching my head wondering where the evidence would lead us. I was also curious to find out how the case connected to a serial killer rapist incarcerated for life.

With deftly drawn characters, an engaging plotline and unpredictable ending, The Killer’s Girl is certainly a riveting read and great addition to the Detective Morgan Brookes series. The ending promised more drama to come and I can’t wait for it!

Review: The Little Grave (Detective Amanda Steele #1) by Carolyn Arnold

It’s been five years since Detective Amanda Steele’s life was derailed in the path of an oncoming drunk driver. The small community of Dumfries, Virginia, may have moved on from the tragic deaths of her husband and daughter, but Amanda cannot. When the driver who killed her family is found murdered in a motel room, she can’t keep away from the case.

Fighting her sergeant to be allowed to work an investigation with such a personal connection to her, Amanda is in a race to prove that she can uncover the truth. But the more she digs into the past of the man who destroyed her future, the more shocking discoveries she makes. And when Amanda finds the link between a silver bracelet in his possession and the brutal unsolved murder of a young exotic dancer, she realizes she’s caught up in something darker than she ever imagined and suspects that more girls could be in danger.

But as Amanda edges toward the truth, she gets closer to a secret as personal as it is deadly. Amanda has stumbled upon a dangerous killer, and she must face some terrible truths in order to catch this killer – and save his next victim as she couldn’t save her own daughter…

Review

The Little Grave is the first book in the Detective Amanda Steele series by Carolyn Arnold. Readers are introduced to Detective Amanda, the lead detective in a case investigating the murder of a man who five years ago killed her family in a drunk driving incident.

Amanda is easy to root for. I know the haunted detective with a complicated past is overdone in cop procedural but this still felt different. Amanda suffered a tragic loss and of course, this has an impact in her present life. However, the author does not bog us down with the details of personal life. Instead, this part is interwoven in present events hence giving us the MCs back-story without losing focus on the case. I empathized with Amanda as she tried to navigate through life after such a major loss. I enjoyed the characterization of other support characters such as her new partner, Trent, who I hope to, get to know more as the series progresses. My only issue with Amanda so far is her attitude towards him and some need to fly solo which I don’t understand.

This story involves a multi-layered case which included a murder in a motel and a cold case. A number of twists cleverly lead us to the connection between the 2. I am still not sure that Amanda would have worked on such a personal case in real life but the author managed to maneuver around this and make her involvement realistic.

This was a compelling read that I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. I was totally hooked to the narrative and thought the plot was quite well developed and riveting. There are few issues that were left unresolved but I hope that they will be addressed in the next book. I can’t wait to catch up with Detective Amanda Steele in book 2.

Review: Perfect Little Dolls (Detective Eleanor Raven #2) by Karen Long

VAULT: A large room or chamber used for storage of valuables, especially an underground one…

In the unrelenting heat of the Toronto summer, a fire at a land-fill site uncovers the remains of a local prostitute. But the post-mortem reveals disturbing details – the body has been preserved and is not who or what it seems.

DI Eleanor Raven is back on duty six months after barely surviving being kidnapped and tortured by a depraved serial killer. Work is her sanctuary but she’s carrying deep scars – mental as well as physical. Where do you go when the place you feel safest is also the place where you are most at risk?

As Eleanor battles her own demons, it looks as though a killer in the city is making a gruesome human collection. And Eleanor’s fight to save the last victim of the Collector becomes a battle to save herself.

Review

Perfect Little Dolls is the second installment in the Detective Eleanor Raven Series. My review of the first book is here. In this story, Eleanor is back from a lengthy sick leave to soon find herself immersed in an investigation about a body found at a land-fill. The detectives are puzzled by the fact that the body seems preserved and the victim looks more like a doll than a human being.

This isn’t the traditional ‘whodunit’ as we know who perpetrator is earlier on in the story. However, it was interesting to follow the investigations to see how the detectives connect the dots. The case was complex with very little information to go on for the investigators. Our Unsub was smart,calculating and managed to easily avoid suspicion. This made this quite a suspenseful, edge of the seat thriller as detectives raced against time to catch the killer before more bodies showed up.

The MC in this installment is struggling with quite a lot of personal issues. There were chapters that showed her in therapy but I really can’t say that I understood what was going on there. I am still not too crazy about Eleanor’s personal life as there is still a lot that I don’t understand. However, I like her as a detective. Her ‘creative’ look at cases and determination to follow her hunches made this an entertaining read. To add credibility to the investigation though, evidence is used to back the hunches.

I enjoyed this installment. There are sections that I skimmed over where was process of preserving bodies was kinda being explained. However, the rest of the story was fast-paced, enthralling with a mix of characters that I liked. I can’t wait to read the fourth book in the series.

Review: Wildflower Graves (Detective Ellie Reeves #2) by Rita Herron

Detective Ellie Reeves heads into the wilds of the Appalachian Mountains when she wants to get lost––to forget the whispers chasing her and the past that keeps her up at night. She’s sick of having to prove herself to her small town. But hiking in the endless miles of woods isn’t the escape she was hoping for. One night, as dusk falls, a gust of wind blows some petals on to Ellie’s path. Following the trail, she finds a golden-haired young woman dead on a bed of daffodils, with a note: Monday’s child is fair of face.

The wilderness, and its shadows, are the perfect hunting ground for a criminal––but what does the sinister nursery rhyme mean? It soon becomes clear when another dead woman, Tuesday’s Child, is found.

Ellie is up against a serial killer who will claim a victim for every day of the week, and in the next twenty-four hours there will be another body. As this ruthless murderer closes in on her, can she save more innocent women? Or will he get to Ellie first?

Review

Detective Ellie Reeves is back! Wildflower Graves is the second installment in the Detective Ellie Reeves series. Once again, the Appalachian Mountains are the site for horrific murders. Women are found dead and posed in a sea of wildflower seemingly dressed for burial. The case hits close home for Ellie when the killer begins taunting her and goes a step further by abducting her colleague and friend.

I really like the character development in this story. I had quite a number of issues with Ellie in the first book. Her romantic entanglements and tendency to run the show solo put me off. However, I enjoyed following her as she worked this case. I like her partnership with Derrick and also liked how she worked and related with Cord. I also enjoyed how the author fleshed out the other support characters such as Bryce and Ellie’s family. I found myself drawn to more characters this time around as compared to the first book.

This was a dark, twisty case with an abundance of suspects. The evidence pointed to different people and had me changing my mind from one suspect to the other. Towards the end, I was frantic in my search for answers and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The reveal was unpredictable and the ending perfect for this roller-coaster of a crime thriller.

This was yet another captivating, fast-paced, twisty cop procedural. I loved everything about it and can’t wait for the third book already.

Review: One by One by Ruth Ware

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

Review

I have never seen snow in real life. It does look beautiful in movies, especially Christmas movies where they show snow falling and families all cozy and warm indoors. In this story, snow is an enemy. An avalanche has guests at a Chalet completely cut off from the rest of the world. The ripple effects had me shivering all the way down here in sunny Africa.  Things get worse at the chalet when bodies start turning up and it becomes clear that the snow is not the only thing posing danger

I love a good, claustrophobic mystery. Can you imagine being snowed in with a killer?  The story reminded me of one of the author’s previous books, The Woman in Cabin 10, which I enjoyed. However, I ended up not enjoying this book as much as I thought I would. The mystery had my attention and I absolutely loved the setting and the elements. On the downside, the story has quite a number of characters. I believe that they were 10 at the start. I still can’t keep some of their names straight in my mind and I am not sure what purpose some of them served since we don’t even get to know them well. The pace dragged on at some point. I just kept looking forward to the next body as there was nothing else going on. Surprisingly, even after the mystery had been solved, we still had more chapters.

The chapters leading up to the reveal were more intense and moved a bit faster. In the end, as much as I enjoyed the concept of the locked-in mystery, the characterization and pace affected my enjoyment of this story. As I always say when reviewing books that I didn’t enjoy, please do check out Goodreads reviews as there are many others who loved this one. Do not let my negative experience sway you. In addition, if you enjoy locked-in/claustrophobic mysteries, this is one is still worth checking out.

Review: Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

The internationally bestselling author of Nine Elms and The Girl in the Ice is back with a nail-biting new Kate Marshall case, a woman with a dark secret and a powerful sense of justice.

When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don’t add up: why was the victim there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown?

Kate is certain there is more to this case than meets the eye. As she and her research assistant Tristan Harper dig deeper, they discover a bloody trail that points towards an active serial killer hiding in plain sight. People have been silently disappearing for years, and when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.

Review

Kate Marshall is back! I am really enjoying this series and the characters.

The story begins with Kate and her son, Jake, on a diving expedition where they stumble upon the body of a young man. The authorities are very quick to label it an accident. It barely takes a day before the case is shut. However, Kate is convinced that there is more than what meets the eye.

There were so many questions right from the start. How did the young man die? Why did the police decide it was an accident so fast? Immediately after, more twists are thrown in as new discoveries emerge. If that is not enough, Kate’s colleague at the University goes missing. Needless to say, I was hooked from the start as I tried to guess what was going on.

Kate’s characterization continues to impress me. She is once again investigating the case as a civilian but the author portrays this very realistically showing how lacking access to police resources impedes the investigation. I like Kate’s role as a mother and also a woman just trying to put her life back together. I absolutely love Tristan. He is an interesting addition to the series and I love how the author portrayed him in this installment where we get to know him better. Let me not talk much about the other characters and risk spoiling the story for you but take my word, they are all memorable in their own ways.

Once again Robert Bryndza has delivered a cracker of a crime thriller. It is fast-paced, suspenseful, dark, twisty and utterly captivating. There were no dull moments and I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn’t reading it. I can’t wait to meet up with Kate and Tristan again in book 3.

Review: Nine Elms (Kate Marshall #1) by Robert Bryndza

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly turned into a nightmare. Traumatized, betrayed, and publicly vilified for the shocking circumstances surrounding the cannibal murder case, Kate could only watch as her career ended in scandal.

Fifteen years after those catastrophic events, Kate is still haunted by the unquiet ghosts of her troubled past. Now a lecturer at a small coastal English university, she finally has a chance to face them. A copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. Success promises redemption, but there’s much more on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim…and his successor means to finish the job.

Review

I used to love the Detective Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza. I don’t know what happened to it as it seems to have been dropped mid-series. However, I was super excited to find out the author had another crime thriller series.

Kate Marshall is a former detective whose career ended in scandal. She left the police force and adapted to a nice, quiet life as a University Lecturer. This in itself makes the story stands out as the investigations are being carried by someone not active in the police force. A cold case soon has Kate on the hot tracks of a vile, twisted killer.

I loved the characters of Kate and her sidekick, Tristan and had a great time following their investigations. This wasn’t the only duo that I liked though. Other support characters such as Jake, Kate’s son and Myra, her sponsor, also found their way into my heart. The depiction of the characters was quite realistic that I already feel like they are people that I know.

 I liked how the author used multiple narrators to bring the case alive. We had chapters narrated by Kate and a few by Tristan. We also had quite a number of chilling, dark chapters by the unsub. There is something fascinating albeit twisted about being stuck in the mind of a murderer and seeing the world through their twisted, narrow messed up view.

This is another brilliant, captivating, well-woven narrative by Bryndza. I am just about to read the next book in the series, Shadow Sands and my expectations are way up there. I can’t wait to catch up with Kate and Tristan.

Review: Cry for Mercy (DI Eleanor Raven #1) by Karen Long

Detective Inspector Eleanor Raven arrives at the derelict power station briefed on the murder scene inside. A beautiful young woman has been found, her body posed and a cherry-red lipstick painted across her mouth. But when she catches sight of the engagement ring crusted with blood on her delicate finger, Eleanor pushes back on the grief it provokes. Lydia Greystein had so much to live for. The only way Eleanor can help now is to find the killer responsible, and she and her team immediately set to work.

And when another woman is found, bound in the same ritualistic stance and wearing the same bright red lipstick, Eleanor’s case becomes more twisted and urgent than ever. But struggling to unpick the killer’s motivations, the team is at a loss until Eleanor finds a link between the victims and a cold case, an unsolved death with a connection to her own personal life. To follow the clues now risks bringing her secrets into the open.

But as Eleanor begins to understand the killer, he starts to understand her too.

Review

Another new, exciting series!

Cry for Mercy is the first installment in the DI Eleanor Raven series by Karen Long. The story introduces us to the MC, Eleanor, a different kind of detective. Unlike the usual lead detectives in cop procedurals, Eleanor is not battling some monster from her past. However, her present life (especially when she is not on the clock) is interesting and kinda shocking.

Apart from the MC, we meet other fascinating characters including her current and former partners at work. We even have a dog unofficially joining the team. I enjoyed meeting this diverse cast and following them as they worked on the case. I even ‘enjoyed’ getting lost in the dark, twisted mind of the killer who really didn’t see anything wrong with what they were doing.

This was a dark, complex case filled with secrets, illicit desires and of course, a growing body count. The multiple narrators, including the killer, had me invested in the case and I couldn’t stop turning pages/scrolling up until the end.

Cry for Mercy is fast-paced, dark, enthralling and has every element that makes a cop procedural great. This promises to be a great series and I can’t wait to read the next book which luckily is already on my self.

Review: Silent Girls (Agent Tori Hunter #1) by Roger Stelljes

She moved far away to try and forget her past. A past that would seep back in when she least expected it and crushed her soul over and over. She tried to keep the evidence packed away in boxes high up on a closet shelf like carefully packing away a tragic part of her life. As if sealing the boxes, was sealing away a time in her life she desperately wanted to go back and change. Until one day a mysterious letter arrives from an unknown sender that unravels everything.

FBI Special Agent Tori Hunter returns to her hometown of Manchester, Minnesota for the first time in twenty years to investigate the disappearance of a woman who is gone without a trace. She is desperate to solve a case that will cause her to confront her own painful past and question the motives of friends she thought she knew and trusted. It will plunge her and the other detectives into the crosshairs of a dangerous killer while in search of the truth.

Review

Silent Girls is the first installment in the Agent Tori Hunter series by Roger Stelljes.

Tori’s twin sister disappeared without a trace twenty years ago. Shortly after the disappearance, Tori moved away from her hometown eager to put the past behind. However, she remained tormented by the loss of her sister and the lack of answers. Soon, the past caught up with her as more women begin to disappear in similar ways and Tori goes back to Manchester Bay to help investigate the cases.

This is a very well written cop procedural with an intense, dark, suspenseful mystery that had me guessing from the first page. Young women were going missing in the middle of the night leaving their cars behind. There were no signs of struggle and it appeared as if the women simply left their cars and disappeared into the night. Tori is desperate to solve the case in the hope that she will also get answers concerning her sister’s disappearance. However, things get complicated as more women go missing and it soon becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose.

I loved this story. It is an addictive read with well-crafted characters and a baddie whose identity was hard to guess. There was a bit of romance but it didn’t bother me much especially since it didn’t take the focus away from the case. I can’t wait to read the read the next book in the series.