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review 2017-02-18 13:27
I See You
I See You - Clare Mackintosh

By:  Clare Mackintosh 

ISBN: 9781101988299

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date:  2/21/2017

Format:  Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars 


Clare Mackintosh returns following her smashing debut and international bestseller, (2016) I Let You Go, landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016, with a strong follow-up. A clever, gritty, dark and twisty psychological thriller, I SEE YOU.

Someone is watching when you least expect.

FindTheOne.com is more than a dating site. An online matchmaking service for more than dating. Find the victim, and go for the kill.

A commute to work. A dreaded task. The Tube. However, someone has hacked into the system and they are watching the daily routines of women. A devious dangerous plan. Cyber Crime, coffee shops, CCTV, money laundering, greed, stalking, adverts, a killer, FindTheOne.com, an ax to grind, payback, and murder. Trust no one.

Middle-class Zoe Walker, a mother of two teens (Katie and Justin) -divorced, and dating a guy named Simon- must take the train to work. The only jobs worth taking were in zone one; the only affordable mortgages in zone four. She could only dream of working close enough to her home to walk.

On her morning commute, she is shocked to discover in the London Gazette a photo of herself in the personal ads. FindtheOne.com. What the heck? She is looking at herself. A forty-year-old woman. The woman in the advert is none other than herself. Soon other women’s photos appear, and they end in a crime.

We also are introduced to Kelly Swift, the detective who has been disgraced and back on the scene with the latest murders. Her departure four years earlier from British Transport Police’s Sexual offenses Unit had been rapid and uncomfortable. She had spent nine months off sick returning to what had been presented to her as a clean slate but was really a punishment posting.

She had thrown herself into her shift work, quickly becoming one of the most respected officers on the Neighborhood Policing Team, pretending to herself she was a uniform cop through and through when every day she yearned to be dealing with serious investigations again. Will she lose control again?

The Underground Crime soars with the investigation into crime on public transport after record increases in reported sexual offenses, violent assaults, and thefts. Terrifying enough to make you stop using the Tube altogether. Kelly is back on the case full force.

With sprinkles of spine-chilling words in italics, from the mystery person throughout the novel (the best parts). Told from three POV: Zoe, the mom; Kelly the determined police officer, and the creepy mystery person.

“I see you. But you don’t see me. You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress. I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same. If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl. Boy kills the girl. The irony isn’t lost on me . . . You’re still reading. And I’m still watching.”

Zoe is worried for all the women and girls out there as well as her daughter and herself. She feels the danger. She cannot see it, but she can feel it.
She knows it is getting close.

“Routine is comforting to you. It’s familiar, reassuring. Routine makes you feel safe. Routine will kill you.”

"You never know where you might meet The One. A way of introductions between London’s commuters on FindTheOne.com. A matchmaker. A broker. A go-between. To give coincidence a head start. . ."

Soon the adverts are all-consuming for Zoe, and Kelly is determined to find the killer. They work together and believe the adverts are at the heart of the series of crime against women. What is the motive and who is stalking and preparing information on each woman? Who are the buyers/subscribers? These customers come from all walks of life.

Who are these men?

“They’re your friends. Father. Brother. Best Friend. Neighbor. Boss. The people you see every day; the people you travel to and from work with. You think you know them better than that. You’re wrong.”

The ruthless psychopath is more than a matchmaker. “Someone could be downloading your profile right now. . . A facilitator for desires hidden so deep inside they’re barely acknowledged. The chance to kill someone.”

From making notes of everything from hair color, body size, duration, availability, employment, routines, timing, locations, and a rating of easy, moderate, difficult. A cost. Chilling!

As Zoe and Kelly plan an attack, they are in danger as well as Katie. Any woman on the train could be the next victim. Once the photo appears, are they worth the amount someone is willing to pay to kill?

With a cast of characters, the author leaves you in suspense as you doubt everyone close to Zoe. Who is the sinister mastermind behind this elaborate cybercrime – a deadly scheme of cat and mouse?

Mackintosh spins an elaborate set up with the slow burning background of Zoe and her family as well as Kelly. Two interesting women. The suspense builds to a fast-paced heart-pounding climax, with an array of red herrings. Readers will be mindful of their own daily routines and possibly be looking over their shoulders, or mixing up their daily grind. I know, I will. Take a different route, a different time.

In our world of identity theft, technology, social media, and cyber-crimes, a horrifying fictional account, and yet a believable one which makes it even scarier.

I See You, would make a great movie. You never know who is watching. Are we ever safe? Highly entertaining, suspenseful, and innovative.

For me, the mystery secret person and the words in italics— "the icing on the cake." The twisty finale will leave you spinning. The secret is finally revealed. I was reminded of the final episode of Season One TV Series, Secrets and Lies. Deliciously evil!

Well crafted, Mackintosh once again uses her cop procedural expertise mixed with her fine-tuned writing abilities, to keep readers glued to the pages for a strong and gritty second installment. Highly recommend both books.

A special thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy, in exchange for an honest review.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/04/I-See-You
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review 2016-11-11 17:02
Love You to Death
Love You to Death: An Absolutely Gripping Thriller With a Killer Twist (Detective Ruby Preston Crime Thriller Series Book 1) - Caroline Mitchell
Detective Ruby Preston Crime Thriller Series #1
ISBN: 9781786810847 
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date:  11/11/2016
Format: Other
My Rating: 5 stars  ++


A special thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Master crime thriller author, Caroline Mitchell “ups the ante” with her edgy and gritty new series: LOVE YOU TO DEATH,the first jaw-dropper Detective Ruby Preston debut, which will blow you away. OMG! A thriller like no other, ever. Mitchell’s best yet! Movie Worthy.

Merry Christmas Mummy. What if Santa doesn’t bring me what I want, Mummy? Now let me kill you for leaving me How far will a person go for love?

Set in London, this is a series you will be dying to read. I started at 2am and planned on reading for an hour or so. Trust me, there is NO way you can sleep once you start. Did not stop until I finished the last satisfying page. Non-stop action. Dark, gripping, heart-pounding. It was worth an entire sleepless night. Cannot wait to tell everyone about this book. Words cannot adequately describe the intensity. My heart is still not back to normal..

Caroline Mitchell shines. Brilliantly plotted, the antagonist Lucy is beyond evil, MENTAL, deranged, with demons unleashed in ways you cannot imagine. The author gives an award- winning performance. Each character is sculpted with the finest of instruments.

And this is not even the best part! Detective Ruby Preston is spectacular! Gritty, edgy, kick-ass, tough – absolutely love her! She is not beyond going around the law when needed, plus she has many flaws, a secret past, and a great heart. To further enhance your reading enjoyment, yes . . . there is plenty more.

The author adds a bad boy, Nathan Crosby (rich-gangster) on the wrong side of the law from a crime (abusive) family (even though he is the best of the bunch and a great heart-loved him) – on and off again boyfriend with a lots of history; a horrible mom, dad, and evil crime lord brother, Lenny.

To add more spice, there is another DI, romantic interest "sleeping with (off and on)." And let’s not forget Ruby’s mom, Joy which has dementia in a care facility, Oakwood; which also adds some flair for the dramatic and humor.

Ruby's past is about to catch up with her, which may destroy her career, her life, and anyone who gets in the way. Complicated. Hang on for the ride of your life. Buckle up, it is a rip-roaring roller coaster ride that never loses speed until the explosive conclusion.

A few tidbits. OK, "few" is not in my vocabulary. However, promise not to give away any spoilers, but man, there are some shockers, twists, and many surprises. Nothing about this novel is predictable. Had me, guessing to the very end.

Meet Lucy. Bad girl. Emily was not her mother. She was just like all the others. Nothing but a huge disappointment. She had another Mummy with a different surname, and soon she would be knocking on her door. Tomorrow she would begin again. And again. And again. She would do what it took to find her mother. Somebody worthy of her love. Was she cursed?

She does not want distractions of other family members. She enjoyed the hunt. It gave her a special kind of joy. But there was no time to waste, and tomorrow, she would get back to the serious task of finding her mother. She will eliminate anyone who gets in the way. Husbands and other family members, included. She scratches off the names. Emily, Monica, Anita . .

She knew she had been born to a strong, loving independent woman. Someone who would take her in and love her forever. They would go on shopping trips together, and when Christmas came, it would be the best day of all. She works her way down the list. Time was running out. Only a few months to Christmas and Lucy would not spend it alone! Soon Lucy would have her fairy-tale ending. Christmas Day!

Women who gave up their babies for adoption are being targeted. A serial killer. The door-knocker. Desperate letters to a mother. A death notification. A black-edged card.

Dearest Mother, “Yes, you read right. I’m your daughter. I’ve come to find you. I know that this will come as a shock to you, or perhaps you’ve always known that this day would come. That the daughter you gave away would come looking for answers. But there’s no need to worry. I don’t care about the past. I just want us to be a family. Writing this letter has not been easy, but I want us to be together. I hope this advance warning will make things easier when we meet. I’m so looking forward to being a part of your family again.” Lots of love, Lucy x

The door-knocker killer. She knocks on doors with the news she is the daughter they gave away and is invited in. The woman on the other side is now a victim, at the hands of a monster.

Would she ever really have a happy ever after? Was trying to recreate a happy ending a façade. It all revolved around a set up based on a movie, Lucy’s First Christmas. A twisted desperation to recreate an idyllic family scene. An old-fashioned heart-warming fairy tale, gone bad. She was playing it out.

Lucy is totally unpredictable and would react without warning. Will her victims give the right answers to her stupid game? If not. Watch out, you will be eliminated. Wait, if you do have the right answer, she still wants the joy of killing you.

Detective Ruby Preston is on the case. Now she is receiving letters RIP. No one knows her middle name which starts with an I, but only a select few in her past. Could it be her worst nightmare? Now she finds, herself risking her career for something in her past which has risen to the surface. Plus, who can she trust at work?

Ruby now has more problems and it is getting personal in more ways than one. A journalist has received a letter which could end her career.

Dear Helen: "Detective Ruby Preston (RIP) is sleeping with gangster Nathan Crosby and DI Jack Downers. Disgusting behavior from a MET police officer. The public needs to know." Lucy

Who in the heck is this gal Lucy? How does she know about her past and present?

Mix in Nathan (Ruby/ Nathan), Joy-Ruby’s mom with dementia, Goldie- a hooker prostitute, Cathy-a homeless girl, Lenny a crime lord (Nathan’s brother), The Crosbys (rich, powerful, corrupt family), women being held captive and murdered, a DI Downes-a love interest, and an entire team on the hunt for the killer, plus more twists and turns and shockers than you can count!

Plus with all Ruby’s flaws, she is struggling with her on and off relationship with Nathan. They are on both sides of the law which propose ongoing problems, but they can’t quite part ways. He has bought her a new flat, in a safe neighborhood (which she needs desperately on her salary), but she is afraid it comes with strings. She is unsure about her new relationship with DI Downes since they work together, which can get complicated. Plus she does like her booze.

A gripping psychological crime cop suspense thriller on steroids! My Top Thriller List for 2016. Hard to describe without giving away clues; however, if you think a mix of: Karin Slaughter/Lisa Gardner (crime-cop-female protagonist-gritty, edgy), Mark Edwards/Jennifer Hillier (sinister, horror, evil, suspense), Harlan Coben (non-stop action, twists) and Paul Cleave/Michael Robotham/Lindsay Barclay (crime, psychological suspense, humor) + Caroline’s own personal cop/crime expertise + writing talent = LOVE YOU TO DEATH.

Plot and character driven -coming from all sides. Everything you could possibly want from a crime thriller is here. Buy this book and move to the top of your reading list. Comes out today!! I am so thrilled about the Ruby Preston series, and cannot wait for the next installment to see what comes next.

I am enjoying how many of the authors today are taking their female leads (series) and kicking it up a notch (like Marcia Clark and Mitchell, among others), with more ballsy protagonists than their previous series, with secret pasts and often color outside the lines, with moral gray areas.

What amazes me is how the Mitchell can crank out so many books. Like LOVE YOU TO DEATH, and currently reading WITNESS, coming Dec 20, 2016 (loving it-Featured Weekend Read), and The Silent Twin (April 2016) – all in one year. Impressive!

My third in a row with the awesome publisher, Bookouture (great covers). The UK gals can sure write psychological crime thrillers, like no other!


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/02/Love-You-to-Death
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review 2016-11-07 22:35
Bronx Requiem
Bronx Requiem - John Clarkson
ISBN: 9781250047250
Publisher: St  Martin's Press
Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 11/8/2016 
Format:  Hardcover
My Rating: 5 Stars +++ 

Top Books of 2016


A special "big" thank you, to St. Martins' Press, Minotaur, and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. 5 Stars +++

Talented crime writer, John Clarkson returns following the sensational thriller, Among Thieves (2015) with my favorite tough guy, James Beck, (My hero) who runs a slick operation in Red Hook, Brooklyn- to give employment and a second chance to his fellow ex-cons . . .

BRONX REQUIEM —Multi-layered, non-stop action, suspense, twists, adrenaline-fueled; a true “murder mystery,” with an unstoppable inner circle, of unconventional friends, led by Beck; you most definitely, want him in your corner. "I LOVE these guys!"

Top 10 Books of 2016!

Hard-boiled crime fiction, "at its finest." If you could only read one thriller this year, this would be "the one."

James Beck met Packy Johnson (Paco) in prison.

They forged a friendship and an unbreakable bond. Packy Johnson had been incarcerated for most of his life and had earned his status as a respected, righteous con. Beck had never asked Packy why he had decided to help him along ago.

Packy never questioned him. How a man with no criminal record had killed a cop? In Clinton maximum-security prison, James Beck learned the meaning and value of a true friend.

Beck knew two things: He would never return to prison. And no person, or institutions or circumstances would ever stop him from being the man he wanted to be.

Presently, as the book opens, it is nine years later. Packy was being released, after a seventeen-year sentence. Plans were made. Walter (parole officer) had taken care of the arrangements. Beck was to pick up Packy at the bus station. He was one of them.

However, he does not show.

Later they find out he has hitchhiked when the bus broke down. Now, he is dead. How could this have happened?

Why now, less than a day out of prison, not far from his mother-in-law’s apartment, beaten to death and shot in the head? No robbery (money in his pocket with his ID). Left in a gutter, seventeen hours later in Northern Bronx. What went wrong?

Packy had lived 42 years, 32 of which had been spent in juvenile institutions, foster homes, or prisons. 80% of his life confined, focused on simply surviving. Now was the chance to finally experience life. They have to make this right and find the killer. Justice for their loyal friend.

Who shot Packy Johnson? What made him risk his parole hitchhiking into town, and then rush over to the housing project minutes after he arrives, ready to take on a whole crew?

At the same time, there is a girl named Amelia Johnson(street name, Princess) who is trying to escape the clutches of an evil monster, Derrick Watkins—a pimp. A low-echelon criminal like many of the young men in her neighborhood – the Bronx River Houses-who dealt in drugs, theft, and prostitution. She knew the game.

When he took her in to give her food, clothes, and a place to stay, Amelia knew she had entered into a dangerous game. But knowing the game did not make her able to win at it.

A sixteen-year-old, girl trying to escape first her mother’s boyfriend at the age of twelve. A father she never knew who should have protected her. A hopeless selfish "drug addict" mother who died and left her alone. A crazy grandmother; angry, volatile, and a nag—a poor foster system which failed her and now- prostitution, control, and abuse.

Packy’s daughter (she is hilarious). He has not seen since she was three years old.

Her unstable grandmother, Lorena Leon told her she was useless, finally forcing her to be in this inescapable situation before they would finally kill her. She has to find a way to escape the clutches of Derrick, Tyrell, Johnny Morris, Eddie, Jerome, Eric Juju Jackson, and Whitey Bondurant. Someone had sent for her. A criminal enterprise.



Detective John Palmer is on the (Paco Johnson) case with his partner, Raymond Ippolito. Ippolito was the senior detective, whereas Palmer had been a detective for a little over a year. Palmer saw this case an opportunity for advancement – he was overly ambitious. (what a dick).

It ran in the family since Palmer’s father, John Palmer senior had a reputation for being a hard-charger, a well- known lobbyist, lawyer, and political operator. A well know advocate for law enforcement and his influence extended to the NYPD, the Department of Corrections, NY Police, the Justice Department, and Homeland Security. (do you smell corruption?)

There was no drugs or burglary involved. This is a homicide. Murder. The parole officer assigned to the case was Walter Ferguson.

James Beck and his team, (Manny Guzman, Demarco Jones, Walter Ferguson) have their offices out of an old oak bar on the ground floor of the building at the far end of Red Hook, on the waterfront, providing a measure of safety and security for them.

It had taken them a year to renovate the place with the help of local workers and ex-cons. He had restored the ground floor bar, gutted the second and third floors to add bedrooms, bathrooms, storage rooms, workout space, with an open loft, divided into an office space, kitchen/dining, and seating area. (What a cool place, adding to the intrigue)!

Walter, a distinguished African American man as part of their group is devastated since he was responsible for Packy. Packy was one of them. They have to call in the "big gun" for help: Ciro Baldassare, the strongest of the crew.

Beck and his team, who operate out of his Red Hook saloon, set out to find who killed Packy. In the meantime, they are trying to help Amelia and Queenie (older madam) who work for pimp Derrick Watkins, one of the Bronx’s most vicious criminals.

A race against time, Beck and his gang, not only have to face some of the most violent gang leaders, now they have to go up against politics, corruption, and power; Detective John Palmer, the ambitious cop not above skirting the law, who has his own agenda. He wants to send a cop killer back to jail. Forever. Does he know who he is messing with?

Intense, suspense, gritty! Wow, having read Among Thievesenjoyed listening to the interview with Clarkson afterward, and his inspiration for the character, James Beck, and his inner circle continuing with Bronx Requiem (see below). Please, please let there be more....Loving this series!

Clarkson has created a unique, captivating series, with believable topics and flawed characters--inspired by our society. You root for them. These guys (brotherhood) know the ins and outs of crime.

Beck is a complex character. He has a heart of gold. A loyal friend. A hero, even though he is not a bully and can stand up to bullies. Intelligent and street smart. He is not impulsive. He carefully plans, looking at all options before he acts. A man with a past, and relies on his group of friends for support—and did I mention, what an awesome backdrop setting?

So vivid and realistic, I want to pull up a bar stool, have a drink, and better still feel the spine tingling action within these walls, spend the night, and have their yummy breakfast the following morning, and be a part of the well-laid plans, to take down the bad guys.

Meticulously written, a plot "out of this world", and well-developed characters. Mixed with lots of humor, action, and emotion. The good (bad guys) taking down the (really) bad guys; and helping the innocent in the process.

The strong bond between Packy and Beck, the inner circle, the loyalty of friends, and the added addition of Amelia (so good)--with the crew taking her under their wing, which was quite challenging after she was set on revenge; Amelia, Queenie, and Lorena brought a nice balance of female kick ass emotion and which sets the novel apart from the norm.

All the ingredients for a blockbuster movie hit. (keeping fingers crossed)

Not only did I LOVE the book, and was beyond excited to receive an early reading copy; I always pre-order the audiobook, as well. Peter Berkrot is my all time favorite narrator. He was exceptional in Among Thieves, and cannot wait until Nov 8 to listen to the highly anticipated performance of Bronx Requiem. (stunning cover)

A huge Clarkson, Beck, and Berkrot fan! This is "as good as it gets, folks." A hero you will not soon forget. Fans of true crime, hard-boiled fiction, mystery, and suspense thrillers will devour! Move over Lee Child, David Baldacci, and Michael Connelly.

From the Author:


"Around 2011, John became interested in the fact that the US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. With 5% of the world’s population, we have 24% of the world’s prisoners. There are over 2 million people in prison and over 4 million on parole or probation.

How did this happen? What are all those people doing? How do they survive in and out of prison? Out of all this grew the idea of writing a crime novel with ex-cons as the heroes. The result: Among Thieves and Bronx Requiem."


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/07/02/Bronx-Requiem
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review 2016-09-25 16:52
The Twenty-Three
The Twenty-Three: A Promise Falls Novel (Promise Falls Trilogy) - Linwood Barclay

By: Linwood Barclay 

Promise Falls Trilogy #3

ISBN:  9780451472724

Publisher: Penguin Berkley

Publication Date:  11/1/2016 

Format: Other

My Rating:  5 Stars  


A special thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

International bestselling author, Linwood Barclay takes readers back to the beginning Broken Promise Promise Falls Trilogy, #1 (2015).

"Best Cliffhanger Mystery Thriller Suspense Series," landing on my Top 30 Books of 2015—with highly anticipated THE TWENTY-THREE a spine-chilling thriller conclusion Promise Falls Trilogy #3. (or is it)? Everything comes full circle.


Promise Falls is an explosive series about the disturbing evil secrets of a quiet yet mysterious small town (turns out, not so quiet). Love the cover!

Set in a fictional upstate New York small town outside of Albany, called Promise Falls—a town slowly dying, with a number of the businesses closing, or recently closed, and the younger generation, forced to move on to larger cities with better opportunities.

Presently murder, and a whole lot more. A serial killer is targeting their town.

A multi-layered plot, with an array of intriguing and well-developed characters, and a town of scandalous secrets, lies, conspiracy, murder, possibly revenge, and a list of crimes-and the mysterious number, "twenty-three".

There is also a backstory of Olivia Fisher, (#1) a young woman with a bright future, killed years ago in a brutal murder. Her mother died of cancer recently, and the dad remaining - still grieving, and left to control the fiancé, who has turned into a raging alcoholic.

Final Assignment (Promise Falls Trilogy, #1.5) 2016
Far From True (Promise Falls Trilogy, #2) 2016

How do the dots connect? Who has a motive for harming the people of Promise Falls?" Who is Mr. Twenty-Three?

Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and we all know what happens with the number 23. It spells HORROR for Promise Falls. The motive for harming the people, points to the number 23.

It had all started with the horrific murder of Rosemary Gaynor. However, it really went back to the original: Olivia Fisher’s death- the first. Then most recently Lorraine Plummer. What do college students and women being murdered have to do with the other happenings? A serial killer is on the loose once again with his signature mark.

And then there were some strange goings-on around town. Everything from dead squirrels, and a Ferris wheel coming to life all on its own to a college predator and a flaming bus. As if all that weren’t enough, the bombed drive-in, and now someone was poisoning the water.

People are dying and even the lines at 911 were busy. Someone is poisoning the town’s water supply and possibly a multiple murderer—a serial killer. One in the same, or multiple people with different agendas?

What is the missing link? Promise Falls was already on the edge about a possible terrorist attack after the drive-in. However now things were getting out of hand. The town’s water supply is being tainted. A fuel spill, chemicals, or was someone intentionally seeking to harm?

Everyone was drinking the tap water and getting sick, and dying. Causing nausea, headache, vomiting, severe drop in blood pressure. To seizure, cardiorespiratory arrest and Hypo tension. By the time it is over, the number of dead is over two hundred, including those fatalities for the elderly, who died before they could even get them to the hospital.

Who wants revenge?

In the meantime, Sam Worthington and Carl were missing. David Hartwell has to warn them about the water. Randall Finley, running for mayor is of course, trying to push his bottled water to gain attention for his campaign, while making more enemies and causing suspicions.

Who had a working knowledge of the town’s infrastructure?

Victims of crime the ones you do not hear about. What about relatives of perpetrators? The pain. Lives getting turned upside down and they are not responsible but get blamed. Shunned. How can they move on and start over? Who has a tormented past? A history of psychological abuse? Motive? Madness. Payback? An agenda. . .

Detective Barry Duckworth is front and center with #3. His detective work is brilliant; however, he may be in danger as he gets closer to the truth. Will he find the killer of the homicides and connect the dots, before it is too late, or will he die trying?

The sins of the past and present collide.

With an array of suspects, and clues --is there more than one killer, and how are they linked together? With more twists and turns than you can image, Barclay keeps readers glued to the pages of yet another riveting thriller. A mix of psychological, crime, cop procedures, forensics, mystery, suspense, wit, and humor----all rolled into one action-packed thriller!

Only Barclay, an pull out a shocker at 98% which is mind-blowing! One of my favorite authors. Just when you think, all the pieces of the puzzle are solved----BAM! Here comes another.

Read them all! For fans of Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Unger, Lisa Gardner, Gregg Hurwitz, and John Hart-this spine-chilling series is award-winning and "movie worthy!"


Let's see what Janet Evanovich can do for the "number 23" and favorite sleuth, Stephanie Plum in Turbo Twenty-Three(Nov 15) "a magical number" for November.





Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/03/17/The-TwentyThree
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review 2016-09-07 22:10
Darktown: A Novel - Thomas Mullen

By: Thomas Mullen 

ISBN: 9781501133862
Publisher:   Atria Books

Publication Date: 9/13/2016

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars +++


A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Most Anticipated Book of 2016! Worth all the hype and more. CONGRATS, to Mullen: Landing Amy Pascal & Jamie Foxx Team For 1940s TV Crime Drama About Race ‘DARKTOWN.’

Thomas Mullen has brilliantly crafted a cast of unforgettable characters in DARKTOWN with a mysterious murder, a southern black woman in 1948, amid strains of the civil rights movement.

Top Cop Procedural Thriller and Best Cover of 2016!

A gritty cop procedural, in which the streets of 1948, the sweltering heat and humidity of an Atlanta, GA summer- a city just as dangerous for black cops, as for criminals.

The city’s first African American officers. An induction- However, unfortunately, here in the South, these officers were not respected, or treated equally as the whites. NO where close. Second class citizens, only moving a little from the back of the bus, and now in, even greater danger.

Meet Officer Lucius Boggs and his partner Tommy Smith.

From different backgrounds, their office was in the basement of the Negro YMCA, a makeshift precinct. Off color jokes were made and slang terms relating to their “walking a beat” compared to the running of laps, or paperwork/lifting weights, in relation to their ramshackle headquarters (hot in the summer, cold in the winter).

Things were as good as they could be for a Southern Negro in Atlanta, or were they settling?. Were they any different in Alabama or North Carolina? How long would it take to walk to Chicago where so many people had ventured for in search for a better life? Were there choices?

The novel chronicles the case of a black woman who turns up fatally beaten after last seen in a car driven by a white man, which deepens the divide in the police department.

Atlanta police officers were ordered to abide by a strict moral code—no drinking, even at home, and no womanizing—but that had not entirely sunk in with Tommy Smith. The Negro officers dutifully avoided alcohol, as they knew all too well that a witness could report them and get them suspended, but for Smith the idea of suddenly becoming a chaste man was altogether too much.

Boggs had always felt marked for something bigger, a curse of being raised by a reverend. The son of a minister, and though he had chosen not to follow in his father’s footsteps, the idea of tomcatting across town the way his partner did was utterly foreign to him.

The white officers were the worst!

One day they would most likely run over them and insist it was an accident. They had been officers for just under three months, walking the beats around Auburn Avenue (the neighborhood where both had lived all their lives save the war years), and the West Side, on the other side of downtown.

Although Atlanta’s eight Negro officers had not yet been entrusted with squad cars (hello), they did have uniforms, (yippee) plus fire arms, (living on the edge) which terrified a number of white people in Atlanta and beyond. They were not detectives, only beat cops. They had no squad cars and were forbidden from entering the white headquarters. They could not conduct investigations. By the time they walked to a call box to call in a report, and the whites came, they did nothing but laugh in their faces.

White people were not often found in Sweet Auburn, the wealthiest Negro neighborhood in Atlanta—Possibly in the country. Adventurous whites looking for gambling, or whores in the darker parts of town would normally troll along Decatur Street by railroad tracks, a half mile to the south.

On the West side of town was where most of Atlanta’s colored neighborhoods were in dire conditions. The end of the war had brought a population to the city with farmers fleeing sharecropping to find something only slightly less horrible. Families packed into one room apartments with poor living conditions, no garbage collection or enforcement of housing codes.

The novel revolves around an investigation. A woman, light-skinned and young, in her early twenties, in a canary-yellow sundress, was with a white man in a car driving reckless.

Colored officers only patrolled the colored parts of town, where whites were infrequent visitors. This man said Boggs did not have the power to arrest him when they stopped him. They were worried about the girl. The Buick took off almost running them over.

“Stop, or I’ll call the real cops.” Smith shook his head, “Funny how that don’t work.”

Atlanta, GA. Two parts Confederate racist to two parts Negro to one part something that doesn’t quite have a name. Neither city or country but some odd combination, a once sleepy railroad crossing that had exploded due to the wartime need for material and the necessities of shipping it. The South was very good a providing cheap, non-unionized labor. So the town continued to grow.

Twenty blocks away we meet Officer Denny Rakestraw and partner Lionel Dunlow. Rake had seen Dunlow beat at least a dozen men (usually blacks) rather than arresting them, and instructed those on what to say to stand witness at a trial. From bribes from bootleggers and numbers runners, and madams.

Dunlow ranked high on Boggs’ and Smith’s list of most hated white officers. They were called "jungle moneys” and verbally and physically abused daily. Dunlow never arrested white men. Only blacks. Boggs was smart and the white officers made fun of his prolific writing skills, when writing reports.

Dunlow falsified reports, beaten people, re-typed their reports, eliminating critical information, murder, racial injustice, corruption. They were not even allowed to identify bodies in the morgue. A detective had to be present. How could they bring him down?

Rake had survived against steep odds for years in Europe—from threats collaborators and spies. Back home in Atlanta, however, he was finding the moral territory more difficult to chart than he expected. Rake refused to play along with Dunlow’s sick games. He was smart.

Could he be an ally for Boggs and Smith- Someone to count on to get in places they couldn’t? Could he be trusted? Rake’s mother never permitted the N word to be spoken in their house growing up. He grew up respecting everyone, no matter their color.

The colored officers were only allowed to work the 6-2 shift, and there were only eight of them, so the white officers had occasion to visit what was now the colored officers’ turf. No white cops had ever had Auburn Ave. beat. Now they seem interested.

The woman they had seen earlier in the yellow sundress with the white man turns up dead. In a garbage dump surrounding by decaying food, hardly recognizable. A six- year old boy Horace saw the pretty lady in the yellow dress running. The lady was banging on someone’s door. The white man had stopped to find her.

Smith and Boggs had seen her in that car with the white man who hit her and they were not able to help. A desperate search for answers for this girl and her unknown family. The white officers couldn’t care less about a dead colored girl, especially one found in a dump.

The man’s name was Brian Underhill (a former cop) and he was selectively left out of the report. They were obsessed trying to find out more about the mysterious Black Jane Doe. A yellow dress, a heart-shaped locked, and a birthmark on her right shoulder was all they had to go on.

What was the connection between Underhill and Dunlow?

A colored girl, Lily Ellsworth. What was her story? What had led her to her death? Only Boggs and Smith had seen her the night she died. July 9 in Darktown. Their heart broken for her and the cruelty of whites. Someone had taken advantage of a situation. A white man named Brian Underhill (former cop)—what was he hiding? What about the family and the connection? Justice!

From murder, corruption, and conspiracy. 



Also purchased Audiobook narrated by talented Andre Holland (currently listening). Highly recommend.

The dark underbelly of Atlanta. Black cops were denied overtime and made far less than white cops, and when they had been needed in a courtroom, the judge even refused to let them enter in uniform. They had to carry their uniforms and change in a custodial closet. Everything they had to encounter was dangerous.

Worn down, fighting against every turn, Boggs and Smith have no other choice than to break a few rules, even risk being fired to get to the bottom of this cruel murder. Will they have some help?

Smith says to Bogg: “Remind me why we are doing this?” “To be upstanding citizens and paragons of our race. To provide a good example for colored kids. There weren’t better jobs.”Give me more . . . .
•“Maceo Snipes” shot in the back for being the first Negro voter in Taylor County.
•“Isaac Woodard” War veteran blinded two years ago by SC cops for daring to wear his Army uniform.
•“The Malcolms and Dorseys” Two married couples including another vet and a pregnant woman, ambushed and murdered on a bridge over the Apalachee River.

Smith opened his eyes. “Give me those keys.”

WOW, Mullen delves deep – from suspense, mystery, crimes, racial injustices, dirty law enforcement, and a changing world in the South--amid city politics and police corruption.

If you have read any of Karin Slaughter’s books set in Atlanta, from women to racial cop corruption- fans will devour Mullen’s ride through DARKTOWN.

In Slaughter’s Cop Town, set in 1970 Atlanta, the city was still bubbling over with racial and political unrest. From women, blacks to whites. A divided town. Look where we are today in 2016? Almost 70 years later. We are still dealing with similar racial issues.

When reading DARKTOWN set in 1948 Atlanta, compared toCop Town set in 1970 Atlanta---“There is still nothing pretty about this divided cop town. But in exposing its ugliness, Slaughter forces us to question whether times really have changed.

There was no precedent to follow, no Jim Crow Guide to Colored Policing. They had survived into adulthood by proceeding warily, yet now they were expected to walk with heavy step and newfound power through their neighborhoods. In some parts, they were expected to vanish.

It is no surprise the much anticipated DARKTOWN is more than just a fictional crime thriller- infused with historical details and timely controversial subjects. It has been picked up by Hollywood! Deadline. So Excited.

Interview with Mullen:

“I’m always looking for tensions, these differences between people. Subtle differences between the different black characters, the different white characters. You’re not going to find they’re all the same.” And with widely varying backgrounds, influences, and experiences, they make the story rich and deep. There are veterans and non-veterans, a sense of duty or lack of it, bigots and outright racists.

“The backgrounds of the characters inform their world views,” says Mullen. “When I’m doing my research, I’m trying to keep my antenna up to spot those differences.”

Indeed, Mullen accomplished his goal in a bold way, and hoping we hear more from these unforgettable courageous characters. Entertaining and Insightful. His best yet!

Having spent my entire career in Atlanta, in the media industry, I love revisiting the vibrant city, from past to present, watching these areas come alive again today. In some ways, we have come a long way, and others- we are back living in the darkness.





A Conversation with Thomas Mullen, author of “Darktown”


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/1/3/Darktown-A-Novel
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