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review 2017-05-29 18:14
He Said/She Said/Erin Kelly
He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura married are living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.

 

I've got to say, this book did not play out at all the way I expected it too. Nonetheless, it had an intriguing plot.

 

And it was the plot that carried this book. I found it really hard to get into the story and to care about the characters. While I eventually became intrigued by the court case, I never really related to the characters at all. I couldn't understand their decisions and I struggled to see things from their perspective. The book mainly centres around a rape case.

 

Kit and Laura's love was very sweet but very intense. I appreciated it for the perspective it brought; however, they were incredibly judgemental and I found it hard to really care for them. I didn't comprehend the complete and utter terror they had, their fear to the point of crippling anxiety, even after the ultimate reveal. This could have worked with more setup or perhaps if I'd suspended my disbelief more, but while some incidents did happen, I expected a lot more horrible things to have occurred to have completely altered the way they lived their lives.

 

The final twist itself was pretty great, almost enough to carry the entire book, but the ending itself was incredibly strange and not really what I expected from those characters.

The most accurate portrayal in this book seemed to be of the rape case itself. I was intrigued by how all of the players were set up and by the ultimate results, which dealt with a very real world topic.

 

Ultimately, though this book didn't quite draw me in, plot was great and the twist was surprising, and I recommend this to those who enjoy thrillers.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-29 17:17
"Winner Take All - John Rain #3" by Barry Eisler
Winner Take All - Barry Eisler

"Winner Take All" was an enjoyable continuation of the John Rain series but it lacked the impact and or depth of the first two books "A Clean Kill In Tokyo" and "A Lonely Resurrection".

 

The encouraging thing is that it seems to have managed a transition from John Rain as a lone wolf to someone who may have people he can trust. This should open out future books and increase the momentum of the character development.

 

John Rain is an assassin, particularly gifted at making his kills look like death by natural causes. In the course of this book he kills about a dozen people, most of them in a close up and personal way, and doesn't lose a moment's sleep over it, unless you count the fact that he realises that, in his fifties, he's starting to be less fast and to heal more slowly.

 

Barry Eisler's biggest achievement is to make me care about John Rain. Rain kills for money, trusts no one, feels that his mixed blood excludes him from both his Japanese and his American heritage, and leads a life so solitary that it leaves almost no trace on the world.

 

So what's to like? Perhaps his sense of regret that he is who he is? Perhaps his acceptance, uncoloured by excuses or mitigating arguments, that he is a killer? Perhaps his loyalty to the women in his life? Perhaps that the people he kills are, mostly, nastier than he is?

 

You see how seductive and corrupting these lines of argument are? That's the kind of man Rain is. His strong sense of self, his discipline and his endurance are seductive. You start to admire how he does what he does. You start to want him to survive, perhaps even to be happy. I can't say this is something I've ever felt about Jack Reacher.

 

Barry Eisler sets his books in places that, for me, are exotic but in which John Rain is clearly at home, or at least as at home as John Rain is ever going to get.

 

"Winner Take All" (I hate that title. The absence of an S at the end of TAKE, makes me stumble every time. What was Barry Eisler thinking? This was his third attempt at a title for this book and THIS is what he came up with?) is set in Macao and Rio, taking John out of the his comfort zone in Tokyo and setting him loose to become someone new.

 

This turns out to be almost cruel as John discovers that living in a new country with a new name doesn't change who he is, what he has done and what the people who know about him will always want him to do. I felt sorry for Rio John Rain. The Macao John Rain, not so much.

 

Rain makes his first kill in Macoa in the first few pages, taking out a fellow predator just on a suspicion. As the book progresses, Rain's body count rises rapidly. True, most of them were trying to kill him but his efficiency and his ability to compartmentalise are chilling.

 

The new thing, probably the best thing, in this book is that John starts to trust at least two, maybe three people (the tentative, almost reluctant quality of John's trust explains why I can't be entirely sure of the number).

 

I like the fact that John can see he's getting older and that this has consequences. I liked that the people he (probably) trusts are not people who would inspire trust in others. I liked the fact that, despite staying in the best hotels in Rio and Macao, Tokyo still calls to him. The scene where he returns to his old neighborhood and finds it changed and all evidence of his time there erased, was beautifully done.

 

I also love the way Barry Eisler reads his own novels. He improved my experience far beyond what I would have gained from the text alone.

 

I'll be back for more.

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review 2017-05-28 04:43
I Am Death
I Am Death (A Robert Hunter Thriller) - Chris Carter

Robert Hunter #7

By: Chris Carter

ISBN: 9781476765716

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler 

Publication Date: 5/30/2017 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Mastermind Chris Carter returns following An Evil Mind with I AM DEATH –a terrifying, dark, intense, and twisted psychological crime thriller, featuring Robert Hunter front and center in a suspense cat-and-mouse "mind-blowing" chase.

For those who enjoy twisty, smart, edgy, intelligent, gruesome, and very dark psycho-thrillers!

Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division grew up as an only child to working class parents in an underprivileged neighborhood of South Los Angeles. His mother lost her battle with cancer when he was only seven and his father never remarried and had to take on two jobs to cope with the demands of raising a child.

He was different. He got bored easily and made his way quickly through school- At the age of twelve Hunter was given a scholarship to the Mirman School for Highly Gifted Children. Only the beginning, making his way to Stanford University. At nineteen he had graduated with a degree in psychology and at twenty-three received his Ph.D. in criminal behavior analysis and biopsychology.

For years the FBI had made attempts to recruit Hunter. Hunter would rather be a detective with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division than join the most advanced serial killer—tracking force in the US, and even, the world. however, Hunter would rather be a detective with the local police force than join the most advanced serial-killer tracking task force in the USA. He had continued to decline every offer by Kennedy.

In other words, he is brilliant!

Hunter did not have a family and was not married. No kids. An insomniac. His partner of six years, Detective Carlos Garcia was also his best friend. They headed up a specialized group where all the homicides were overwhelming brutality and or sadism had been used by the perpetrator and tagged by the department as UV crimes.

A young woman about to start her second year of law school at Cal State was found by the LA airport and left in a position of a five-point human star. (A protection against evil)? A symbol that has been associated with evil and devil worshipping.

Nichole Wilson from Indiana and was abducted while babysitting for a wealthy couple. Grisly details. A tube of paper. Lacerations; no two the exact same size. Tortured. Violated. Whipped. Two different instruments. Like cutting brushstrokes onto a canvas. Blood inside the brain. A sadistic killer. A note from the killer in blood, I AM DEATH.

The killer had tortured her for almost six days. They had never come across a killer with this level of confidence.

Hunter knew this meant one thing. He did it for one reason. To let everyone know that this wouldn’t end here. A huge ego. Confident. Intelligent. Knowledgeable. Meticulous. He wanted the body found and the note.

Perpetrators who place their victims’ bodies in specific positions or shapes, with the intention of them being found that way are very particular about every detail.

The abduction, the torturing, the killing, the positioning and disposal of the body and the note. Tremendous detail. He wants them to know how good he is. Did the killer make the call?

Nichole Wilson was only the beginning.

From a flight attendant’s corpse to a kidnapped eleven-year-old boy renamed Squirm. A system that failed him. A serial killer. From taunting notes, photographs, to messages from a monster, a fast-paced action-fueled—terrifying sadistic game. A clue to a double meaning.

Gross, dark, gruesome, bloody, chilling, and brilliantly crafted. As always Chris Carter draws on his personal experience and a pro at creating the most heinous and intelligent of evil psychological crime thrillers. He knows monsters.

An unpredictable twist at the end wraps up another winner by Carter!

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

JDCMustReadBooks

 


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/03/I-Am-Death
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review 2017-05-26 12:38
A solid thriller, with an intriguing dynamic between the lead investigator and the killer. Beware of evil hiding under the appearance of normality.
The Fourth Monkey - A.J. Barker

Thanks to Net Galley and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This novel ticks many of the boxes of successful thrillers: interesting and gruesome crimes (and a pretty bizarre serial killer), police procedural elements (and an investigating team easy to connect with and amusing at times), tension ticking (a girl has been taken by the 4MK [Four Monkey Killer] and she must be found before she dies), twists and turns (I suspect most avid readers of thrillers will guess some, at least, of them), red herrings… It is fairly long, although it keeps a good pace. If I missed anything, it was perhaps more psychological insight. And if we stop to think about it, the police force seems pretty ineffective but…

The story is told in chapters written in the third person from different points of view, mostly Porter’s (the lead investigator in the case although not fully back to work after some time off. We learn the reason later in the book) and Emory’s (the young victim), although there is the odd chapter from one of the other detective’s points of view, Clair. Interspersed with this we have fragments of the killer’s diary, which is found in the pocket of a man killed by a bus at the beginning of the book. The diary, that starts out pretty harmless, as the account of what seems to be a pretty normal childhood, gets creepier and creepier as it goes along and it provides an understanding (or justification of sorts) for the killer’s later behaviour (blood is thicker and all that, but there are also lies, secrets and betrayals. That is, if we are to believe the diary).  That and other aspects of the book (and I don’t want to say much to avoid spoilers) including the cat-and-mouse chase, provide us with some interesting insights into the mind of the killer and emphasise the fact that appearances can be very deceptive. A seemingly normal middle-class family can hide all kinds of dirty secrets. And upper-class families can too, as becomes evident through the book. The revenge/avenging aspect of the murders (the sins of the fathers are visited…) is not new, although it makes the murderer more intriguing.

The other parts of the book help move the story forward and the events are set chronologically, from the moment Porter is awakened by a phone call that brings him back to the police, as he’s been chasing the 4MK Killer for over five years. Although Porter’s point of view dominates the novel, I did not feel we got to know him all that well. Yes, something has happened to him (I guessed what it was early on) and he is suffering and unwilling to openly acknowledge that or discuss it; he is not keen on gadgets and seems utterly out of touch with new technologies and social media, and he is determined and driven, putting himself at risk repeatedly for the good of others. But, although I liked the fact that the team of detectives investigating the case were pretty normal individuals (not corrupt, not twisted and bitter, even when it would be more than justified, not morally ambiguous psychopaths), I still missed having more of a sense of who Porter really is. Clair has little page space and I got no sense of her own personality, other than knowing that she cares for Porter and her colleagues and she has an amusing love/dislike relationship with Nash (who is the character that provides the light relief throughout the book). In the case of Emory, who finds herself in a terrifying situation, we get to share her experiences with her, and it is one of the most effective portions of the book, adding to the tension and the need to keep turning the pages.

The style of writing is direct, with only the necessary descriptions to allow us to follow the investigation (including descriptions of clues and places. I particularly enjoyed the idea of the tunnels from bootlegging times that help bring the setting’s history into the novel). The chronological storyline and the signposting of the different points of view, make it a story dynamic and easy to read, and although it is perhaps longer than the norm in the genre it is a fairly quick read.

As I said, there are plenty of twists and turns, enough to keep one’s mind busy, although I suspect avid readers of the genre will guess a few of them, if not all. I have read some of the comments disparaging the fact that the police seem to be pretty ineffective and they only get to rescue the victim thanks to the clues left by the killer. Indeed, that is so (in fairness, Porter, who seems the most clued-on of the team and the expert on this case, is battling personal issues of his own and not at his best) but, if anything, that further emphasises the relationship between Porter and the killer. What attracts the killer to Porter? The ending (oh, yes, very satisfying, although, of course, it creates intrigue for the next book in the series) highlights that issue even more. I get the feeling that this series will improve as it goes along but only time will tell.

In summary, a story of evil hiding in unexpected places, of secrets and lies that are covered by a thin veneer of normality, and a solid police procedural thriller, with a main character and a killer whose relationship holds the key to more mysteries to come.  Ah, a word of warning. If you don’t like graphic violence and torture, you might want to give it a miss.

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review 2017-05-25 05:05
Missing
The Paper Year: A Psychological Thriller With An Ending You'll Never See Coming (Piper Adler Book 1) - Avery Aster

This book starts with a story that does not seem to ring true.  If Piper attempted suicide, why are too many things not adding up?  There is much more to this.  She is sure of it.

 

Boden is not the best spouse for her to have as Piper goes through all of the uncertainty.  Lots of surprises inside.  While still a short story, there is a lot packed into it.  

 

This is a quick and mysterious read.  A bit different from the author's usual fare  I thought that made for a nice change of pace.  I am not sure I was happy how fast the end came together, but I think it is a good read all the same.  I give this book a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

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