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review 2019-11-24 08:47
Shady Cross
Shady Cross - James Hankins

Shady Cross has an interesting premise. A low-time criminal is in a car crash and happens upon a big bag with cash. He's about to celebrate his luck when the phone in the bag starts ringing and he speaks to a young girl, whom he's never met, who is abducted. Clearly, the bag contains her ransom. Suddenly overtaken by a conscience he decides to deliver the ransom. This, however, turns out not to be easy.

It had a very masculine feel to it. The main characters kept steering into trouble and at some point, as everything was following up in rapid succession I started to loose my interested. This because it was getting more and more unrealistic, almost by the page. Just deliver the ransom already!

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2017-08-09 02:35
Shady Cross by James Hankins
Shady Cross - James Hankins

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this book even though I didn't love it. I recently discovered that Amazon Prime members can borrow books with narration as part of their Prime Reading program. There are not a ton of options but this one sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try. I did find it to be an entertaining story and I really liked the premise. 

Stokes is a small time criminal. He is not above taking something that isn't his and tends to keep his eye out for any opportunity to to make a little money. When he is involved in an accident that takes another man's life and finds a bag full of money, he thinks that he has finally found his big payday. Then the phone in the bag rings and everything changes. When he realizes that the money in that bag was meant to save a little girl's life, he feels compelled to do the right thing and save the girl.

This book had a lot of things going for it. I love that the story features an antihero. It was kind of fun to see a character with questionable morals work so hard to save someone he has never met. The story was exciting with one roadblock blocking his path after another. There were a few surprises along the way as well.

I didn't love all aspects of the book. I started to tire of all of the problems that Stokes kept running into. It seemed that no matter what he tried thing would go wrong. It became a bit predictable and the excitement of the story suffered as a result. I also never really connected with the characters. I didn't dislike him but I didn't like him either. I never fully believed that he would really risk so much to save the girl. 

This is the first time that I have listened to Bon Shaw narrated a story and I really enjoyed his performance. He handled all of the voice really well and the dialogue in the story was flawless. The cast of character in this story really cover a wide range including men, woman, older adults, and children and he did a great job with all of them. I would not hesitate to listen to his work again in the future.

I would recommend this book to fast paces mystery fans. This was an enjoyable listen that was a little different than the norm. This was the first time that I have read James Hankins work but I do plan to read more in the future.

Initial Thoughts
This falls somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me. I liked that it was a different kind of hero but by the end of the book he had run into so many problems that they stopped being exciting. The narration was great.

Book source: Kindle Prime borrow

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review 2017-06-09 08:58
The Inside Dark
The Inside Dark - James Hankins

By:  James Hankins

ISBN: 978-1477819906

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer 

Publication Date:  7/11/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  5 Stars


Acclaimed author, James Hankins returns following The Prettiest One (2016) with his latest edgy psychological crime thriller, with gruesome evil secrets of the past —THE INSIDE DARK.

Top 20 Summer Books Coming July.

Psychologically rich, taut, fast-paced suspense, with twists around every corner, Hawkins will keep you guessing until the final conclusion.

What drives a person to kill?

Set in the Boston area, Jason Swike, is a crime, mystery, suspense novelist – married to Sophie with a six-year-old son, Max (Down syndrome and blood disease). There was a car accident leaving her in a wheelchair, and the couple (separated/estranged for two years).

As the novel opens Jason has been chained to the wall of an old horse corral in a deserted ramshackle stable. He was given no food, and only water, mixed with drugs.

When would death arrive?

Death enjoys what it does. Death likes to whistle while it works.

“Take me out to the ballgame. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.”

Death has a name.

Headlines. The most feared in Massachusetts. The media had dubbed Death’s latest human incarnation, Crackerjack—because serial killers with catchy monikers grab more viewers and sell more papers than ordinary killers do.

Crackerjack broke bones—cracked, snapped, twisted, or crushed. Then the final death blow. Death has a humor . . .

Three strikes you’re out. Crackerjack had clearly taken his media-given nickname to heart.

Death had an odd sense of whimsy.

In addition to broken bones, all his victims had been found with their faces adorned with skillfully rendered designs, like those you pay for at an amusement park or carnival. From superheroes, fairies, wild animals, and cartoon characters.

Soon death would come whistling for him.

Jason learns he is not alone in the stable. There is another man being tortured. Ian Cobb. He hears the whistling and knew Death would come for the other man, Ian. Then he would be next. The last sound heard by his victims.

During the torture, he could hear the pleading for him to help. He had to help him. Soon the struggle stumbled into his stall. A life-and-death struggle with a serial killer, taking place literally on top of him.

With the help of Cobb, Jason takes down Crackerjack, (Wallace Barton) the sadistic serial killer who whistled as he tortured his victims. Cobb even had the similar face painted design.

Jason had killed him with the hammer (the final blow), but it was self-defense. He had struck him three times.

Soon there is much success for Jason. He is a hero. They were both lucky. Jason got away without a scratch; however, not Cobb. Why did CrackerJack keep Jason around longer?

Briggs is the homicide detective. Jason and Ian were the only ones which had escaped the serial killer. There were six bodies buried in the woods behind the serial killers stable bringing the total to sixteen. Briggs is suspicious of Jason’s story. Something does not add up.

Soon Jason enjoys the limelight and his book sales soar. In less than forty hours he had a six-figure offer in hand from a major publisher for a non-fiction book about Jason’s ordeal and his eventual escape. Then were two Hollywood producers. Life is good.

What if he stretched the truth, embellished a bit— just to get the job done. Would it be so wrong to lie a little? He had a wife in a wheelchair from a car accident (which he was to blame), and a son with expensive medical needs. Jason needed to lie a little during the TV interview. He needed book sales. His family had medical needs and he needed to win them back.

Cobb takes a backseat. Cobb takes care of his elderly father at home. He owns a plumbing business which his father had started and he had shared with his brother John until his death. Half of his income went to nursing care, doctor visits, medical supplies, and equipment.

What is Cobb hiding?

Ian gives up his part of the reward to Jason. However, Jason soon learns all this comes with strings. Both men had been taken from an empty parking lot and drugged. Both have family medical problems and a tragic past.

Then later his nightmare begins once again.

He hears the whistling again . . .

Did he kill the real killer? Was there a copycat? Is the real killer still out there?

More bodies surface.

Jason has some secrets of his own. He desperately needs the money, with his own son’s medical needs with a rare blood disease (aHUS) and the possibility of facing a future of dialysis and even kidney transplants. His care is costly.

Cobb also has a creepy disturbing past which shapes his life. Each is blaming someone else in their lives for their behavior. Both these men have some things in common (both suffered catastrophes) and Detective Lamar Briggs knows something is not right and will not stop until he gets answers.

Jason is worried about his own family. If the killer is still at large, he needs to hire his own hit man. How far will Swike go to sell books, and to resuscitate a drowning career as a crime writer? He cannot let the killer get to him and his family.

Two different car accidents trigger a dangerous chain of events. Jason is drawn into a twisted game while the psychopath killer is pulling all the strings.

Time to let The Inside Dark out . . .

From an abandoned horse stable to a motel. A nightmarish journey of madness, evil, to sadistic—a cleverly written twisty, tense, suspenseful creepy thriller!

This crackerjack suspense hits a home run!

An avid fan of talented Hawkins, from his first book to this latest, have enjoyed immensely his writing crossing many genres. Each book is unique— from mystery, suspense, crime, and psychological thrillers.

For fans of Jennifer Hillier, Lisa Unger, and Paul Cleave (other favorites). The author knows creepy, torture, revenge, and twisted minds. THE INSIDE DARK is a "must read" terrifying cat-and-mouse game. Wickedly evil for your summer reading pleasure.

If you have not read James Hankins, what are you waiting for?

Read my reviews:
The Prettiest One
Shady Cross ( Top 50 Books of 2015 )
Brothers and Bones
Jack of Spades

A special thank you to Thomas and Mercer and NetGalley for an early reading copy.



Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/02/The-Inside-Dark
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review 2016-09-09 21:03
"Shady Cross" by James Hankins
Shady Cross - James Hankins

"Shady Cross" played like a movie in my head from the first page. One of those intense, claustrophobic movies, shot with a shoulder-mounted camera, with no sound track and a lot of close-ups of desperate people and dismal places, that I'd like to look away from but can't.

The story is told from the point of view of Stokes, an habitual criminal with little empathy and less conscience, who blames the fact that, in his thirties, he has no family, no friends and no money, not on his own weak character and poor judgement, but on the fact that he's just never caught a break.

This is not a world view I'm used to living with. I felt as comfortable as if I'd just put on a shirt drenched in someone-else's sweat.

Yet I kept reading.


Because of the "what will he do?" dilemma that baits the hook this book reeled  me in with.

Stokes finally gets a break. He has a dead man's backpack in his hands with $35o,ooo  in it, that he can just walk away with and no one will ever know. Then a phone in the backpack rings . He answers it and little girl says, “Daddy? Are you coming to get me? They say if you give them money they’ll let you take me home.”

I found that I really wanted to know what a man like him would do in those circumstances.

"Shady Cross" has three things going for it that kept me hooked: constant tension that is delivered at an almost exhausting pace and intensity; a plot with so many unexpected turns and frustrations that you feel you have to keep reading so you can find out how it all works out; and the character of Stokes a fundamentally flawed man who is quite hard to like and almost impossible to trust but who I still found myself rooting for from time to time.

The audiobook version of "Shady Cross" is nine hours and ten minutes long. I gulped it down in two sessions and wished I'd had the time to read it without stopping.

There are two things I didn't like about "Shady Cross" The main one is that I could never quite buy Stoke's motivation for continuing to try to do the right thing, no matter how ineptly, rather than looking after his own interests. It's not that this wasn't explained, it's just that I didn't believe the explanation. The second thing is related to first thing and it's the way Stokes feels about how everything works out. I bought what happened in the end, just not how Stokes felt about it.

Still, it's a fun way to spend a few hours and it does what thriller should do: keeps you guessing and keeps you turning the pages.

Bon Shaw does a great job narrating "Shady Cross" and keeping me inside Stokes' unpleasant head. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.



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review 2016-04-05 00:56
Shady Cross by James Hankins
Shady Cross - James Hankins


Highly enjoyable read! Stokes, the anti-heroic MC, comes across a fat chunk of money. He thinks it's his lucky day until being mistaken for someone else on the phone and learning that the money was intended to save the life of a little girl. What to do; What to do? This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Great writing, great plot.  I listened to the audio book version, and I also enjoyed the narrator.

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