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Search tags: thriller-suspense
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review 2018-01-17 04:07
Sleepy Little Murder Town
Zero Day - David Baldacci

I am a huge fan of the Will Robie series, so I thought I'd try the John Puller books. Plus action/adventure and suspense fans really recommend this series. John Puller is more like Jack Reacher than Will Robie. He's enlisted army and he's an investigator of crime scenes with military ties. His father is a three star general and his brother is in max security prison for treason. John is a by the books guy who follows the evidence. He is a decorated combat veteran with PTSD, but he manages to work past the flashback and triggers and uses the lessons he learned in Iraq to stay alive.

What seems like it should be a routine investigation into the murder of an Air Force officer and his family in one in a dying mining town in West Virginia leads to a conspiracy that goes much further and wider, and much deadlier.

Baldacci can write. John Puller is man of great self-control but he is no pushover. He can handle himself and is no fool. Highly intelligent and methodical in his work, he thinks on his feet and uses his logic and intuition expertly. I listened to the audiobook and the male narrator nails Puller. His diction is precise in speaking John's dialogue, making him feel distinct from other characters. The female narrator also does a good job, especially with the regional dialects. I liked having both a male and female narrator, because it gives the audiobook flow a vibrant energy.

The descriptions of the forgotten mining town and its citizens in comparison to the luxury enjoyed by the rich man who owns most of the town has a realism that grounds the story. The theme of broken promises and environmental rape and pillage, taking advantage of the workers and the townspeople for that extra dime in the pocket.

The suspense is expertly written. What starts as a grisly murder of a family that seems completely random leads to a climax that puts the lives of John, Samantha, the town sheriff, and the whole town and perhaps the region in jeopardy. The clock is ticking while Puller works to solve the puzzle of who, what, where and why.

The action is very good and it's balanced by a plot that is free of holes. I play a game when I read mysteries, trying to guess whodunit. I didn't guess this one, but fortunately John figures it out.

At first glance, John seems to be a very rigid guy, but glimpses of a sense of humor, empathy, pathos and vulnerability shine through his tough facade. His principles are rock solid, and it's clear that he doesn't like bullies or those who harm innocents. He's not moved by people who try to use their power and influence as bargaining chips. To him, bad is bad, no matter how big their bank accounts are. His relationship with his father is nuanced. His father is suffering from dementia and it's clear that interacting with his father through his fog of memory loss is very painful for John. But he's a man of duty and loyalty and honors his father, even when it's hard for him. I like John a lot. I'll be adding him to list of Kickbutt heroes.

I prefer Will Robie over John Puller, but I definitely enjoyed this book and plan on continuing to read it. It's just me, I like the Black Ops Asssassin trope a lot. But Puller is great for a procedural with a hero who is intellectual but also very capable of kicking butt. I think the mystery of Puller's brother Robert's treason a mystery worth delving into, and eventually I know that John will put his skills to work on it. John is a good 21st Century hero, a man of honor, integrity, intellect but also physical skills and capabilities that carry him through and make him an interesting and admirable lead character.

I'd recommend this to action/adventure suspense fans, especially for those look for an NCIS-style book.

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review 2018-01-14 09:33
On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt

Helena Trant meets a handsome stranger on the Night of the seventh moon festival in Bavaria. She knows what he's up to, so she plays it safe, and returns home to England untouched...Only to go back to Germany wanting to meet the handsome stranger again.

She does, only to learn the stranger's name is Maximilian and he's royalty, but he's also utterly in love with her. They marry, live a week of bliss...And then she wakes up with everybody telling her her beautiful dream was all a lie, conjured up by her mind to protect it from the truth that what really happened to her was a true nightmare.


Back when I was younger, Victoria Holt was one of my favorite authors and I used to gobble up her books like they were life-sustaining. I liked the suspenseful and gothic elements, the twists and turns, the ambiguity of many of the characters (including the heroes), and I loved the stories kept me guessing what was real and what was a mere supposition on the heroine's part.
Yes, they're all written in the first-person POV, which is rather limiting, but it also serves to keep things interesting way beyond the point where we'd be bored with an omniscient narrator.

This was one of my VH favorites back in the day, but I must confess that while I still enjoyed the story, the length bothered me this time around and so many years later.
The pacing was plodding, dragging its behind in multiple places, the heroine was too gullible for my liking (and for her own good), and the whole thing was too wordy by half.

Does it deliver? Yes, it still does, pity it takes to long to get there.

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review 2018-01-09 12:13
Brazen Virtue by Nora Roberts
Brazen Virtue - Nora Roberts

Mystery writer Grace McCabe, fresh from a book tour, is bunking with her sister in D.C. for a few days, alarmed at the fact that after a nasty divorce, Kathleen let her son with his father, moved across the country and makes her living as a phone-sex operator.

When she comes home one night and finds her sister murdered, Grace's first thought is, Kathleen's ex-husband did it. But then another phone-sex operator, employed by the same agency as Kathleen, turns up dead...


This book was yet another let-down. The heroine came across as too much of a self-absorbed airhead for my liking, the hero didn't get enough space to shine, the killer was once more relegated into the sidelines...

There was too much going on, mostly revolving around the heroine, instead of focusing on the suspense and in the end the one thing that was interesting about the story was brushed under the carpet, while the rest (mostly ballast) got the spotlight.

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review 2018-01-09 06:59
Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts
Sacred Sins - Nora Roberts

A killer is plaguing Washington, D.C., strangling women with a priest's amice and leaving notes about their sins being forgiven. The police is stumped, so they reluctantly engaged the help of psychiatrist Dr. Teresa Court.

As the tension over the murder case rises, sparks fly between Tess and Detective Ben Paris, but soon they're not just sparks of animosity.


I already read this one in 2011, gave it three stars without writing a review, and completely forgot about the story. On this second re-read, it loses a star, but I'm pretty sure that I'll still forget about it, since it was quite a disappointment.

I liked the premise, the suspense (what there was, that is), and I liked the killer's mind. Unfortunately, he was relegated into the background, overshadowed by the two protagonists and the drama around their budding "relationship".

I didn't like neither Tess nor Ben. He was mostly an ass with a chip on his shoulder about shrinks (rather understandable, but they cannot all be the same) and she was a bleeding heart convinced the killer needed help and healing. She seemed not to care much about the killer's victims or the fact the guy was a killer, she just wanted to help him.
So I wanted to smack them both, I didn't buy their romance because of their different opinions and stands on quite a lot of things...

The only saving grace was the aforementioned killer (pity, he didn't appear much), the final surprise when his identity was revealed, and Ben's partner Ed, the gentle giant.
I'm quite looking forward to his story.

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review 2018-01-04 13:39
Detective Defender by Marilyn Pappano
Detective Defender (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) - Marilyn Pappano

After twenty-four years of radio silence, Martine Broussard once more sees Pauline, one of the four friends who'd abandoned their home town after a night gone awry. That same night Pauline is killed, her heart removed. The primary detectives on the case are Jack Murphy and his partner James "Jimmy" DiBiase, the man Martine loathes most.

But it's that same man who brings her comfort, offers his shoulder for her to lean and cry on, and vows to keep her safe no matter what, especially after they learn one other friend out of the four had ended up like Pauline.



I loved this one. As it happened with her short story A Family for Christmas, this one also had a mature, adult feel. There was no juvenile behavior (unless you count the hero's nonchalant, womanizing mask—which the heroine learns is really just a façade), the "misunderstanding" (if you want to call it that) was put to rest without much ado, the two communicated...The hero and heroine actually acted like adults, appropriate to their age.
And their romance was a real treat to behold. It progressed slowly, realistically, and as they got to know one another (well, as Martine got to know the depths of Jimmy's character) so the reader got to know them, root for them, and wish them the best.

The second big thumbs-up goes to the suspense angle of the plot. The mystery was intriguing, the red-herrings perfectly placed to keep the reader guessing and playing detective...The final reveal was quite a surprise, yet the motive was a bit of a let-down. I expected more than just a crazy person's crazy motivation.
Speaking of let-downs...The heroine's dipping her toes into the TSTL ocean was the second blemish on this otherwise great story.

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