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review 2017-06-16 04:37
The Sixth Victim (A Constance Piper Mystery) by Tessa Harris
The Sixth Victim (A Constance Piper Mystery) - Tessa Harris

The Sixth Victim (A Constance Piper Mystery) by Tessa Harris is brilliantly written and a fast, mesmerizing book to read. I gave it five stars because this author made me feel as if I were on the foggy, frightening streets.

 

I received a complimentary Kindle copy from Kensington Books and NetGalley. That did not change my opinion for this review.

 

Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Sixth-Victim-Constance-Piper-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01LJKQGX4

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review 2017-05-20 14:13
The Sixth Victim (A Constance Piper Mystery) - Tessa Harris
** spoiler alert ** Set in London during the days of the Jack the Ripper frenzy, this book was both entertaining and creepy. The murders of Jack the Ripper, while important to the story, are mostly in the background.

The main story is told of two characters. One is Constance who thinks she may be clairvoyant as she keeps dreaming things and seeing things while in a desperate attempt to find her friend, Emily Tindall. Emily is the second major character who has become Constance's friend. She has been trying to educate her in all things regarding being a lady. In the meantime, Constance comes to be introduced to a lady of means who is looking for her sister and inquires about Constance's help in her journey.

Suddenly Emily disappears and Constance is on the hunt to find her friend. This leads to the start of Constance's dreams and sets her on a path of regarding a sixth victim who has been found murdered. This murder is much different than the one's left behind by Jack the Ripper. However, is he the culprit and two women are missing? Could the body be one of those people that Constance is looking for?

A creepy, suspenseful and tragic read that held my interest way into the night.

Huge thanks to Kensington Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley to read and review with an honest, unbiased opinion.
 

 

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review 2017-04-17 21:08
Police-procedural with touches of domestic noir and many stories to keep the intrigue going.
Cleaved: Grafton County Series, book 2 - Sue Coletta

I’m writing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with a copy of the book that I freely chose to review.

I have just finished reading Sue Coletta’s Marred and I wanted to see what happened next. Reading the two books back-to-back allowed me to think a bit more about the genre, the characters and the style.

Here we have again the married couple of Niko Quintano, now sheriff in Alexandria, Grafton County, New Hampshire, and his wife, crime novelist Sage. They moved trying to leave behind a tragedy but it seems it followed them, and in Marred there was more heartache and family loses for the Quintanos. Now, the couple has a child, their two kids (their beloved dogs, Rugger and Colt, which I didn’t mention in my last review although they play an important role), and they are enjoying life. The book doesn’t allow us to relax though, quite the opposite, as it opens with a terrifying scene, narrated in the first person from Sage’s perspective. She is locked up somewhere, small, dark and cold, floating in water, and can’t recall how she got there. And we, the readers, share in her anguish and fear and are thrown in at the deep end from the beginning. The book then goes back and we get to know how Sage ended up there. Her plight is linked to a new bizarre wave of murders that befall the county but there are several interrelated plots and all of them touch the different characters personally. What should have been a happy time for Sage and Niko turns into another nightmare and nobody is safe.

The story is told from several of the characters’ points of view, as was the case with Marred. Sage, the writer, narrates her story in the first person and is good at observing events, but especially at talking about feelings and analysing the impact their horrific experiences might have on all of them (including her 13 months’ old baby son, Noah, and their two dogs). Her husband Niko and Frankie, the deputy sheriff with attitude, wit and a fashionable sense of dress, also have their own stories, but these are told in the third-person.

I talked about genre in the previous review but I have to come back to it. Whilst the book works as police-procedural, due to the details about murder scenes and also to the lectures on the subject (the deputies in training come handy as a justification and a stand-in for the readers, and this time even Frankie gets to explain some aspects of forensic science), there is a lot of content that relates to family relationships and also to the effects of crime and trauma on the survivors, that put me in mind of what these days is called domestic-noir (although in standard cases, the guilty party tends to be part of the family. Not so here…). Although this aspect is more evident in the fragments narrated by Sage, Frankie also gets confronted with her own relationship and how it can be a source of conflict with one’s profession and moral stance (she’s still one of my favourite characters but she behaves in a more reckless manner that I had ever imagined she would and shows less concern for the law than I expected), and Niko also struggles to try to maintain his professional demeanour when faced with attacks on his beloved family.

There are several story strands and a variety of crimes, and readers will be kept on their toes trying to decide how they related to each other (if they do), how many criminals there are and what their motives are. Although the sheriff notes the difficulties and the limitations of law enforcement in the area as it is not a high-crime place, I couldn’t help but think of series like Murder, She Wrote or Midsomer Murders where a seemingly sleepy town is attacked by an epidemic of crime, courtesy of it being the setting of a series. Also, like in most stories where both members of a couple investigate crimes (professionally or not), at some point, one or both of them end up becoming victims, and this has been Sage’s lot from the beginning, perhaps more so in this book, as she has even more to lose now. This novel might cross over several genres but it does live up to the expectations of the readers and it will keep them turning pages.

The characters keep stumbling on the same stone over and over. If in the previous book they got into serious trouble for not completely trusting each other and lying (with the best of intentions at heart), they still do it here (perhaps not to the same extent) and there is a price to be paid for it. I felt like I do sometimes when watching a horror movie when you see the characters keep getting themselves into trouble, and you want to shout at them: ‘Don’t do that! Don’t be stupid!’ but they don’t listen. The murders are as gruesome as in the previous book and varied; we get a better glimpse at Frankie’s life and some of her connections, but there is more of the personal point of view and dramatic side of the story, at least in my opinion. The book has humorous scenes and the witty dialogue that’s one of the author’s trademarks, but it is also scary and tense, and even more terrifying if you’re an author yourself. (Beware of book signings is all I’ll say.)

Once again, the ending is satisfying (as a psychiatrist I’ll keep my peace rather than discuss the details) but has a hook and leaves readers with an eerie feeling. I wasn’t sure I was totally clear in my mind as to how the different strands fitted in, especially with so many things being hidden and not fully knowing who knew what.  I wouldn’t have minded one of those scenes à la Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, where the detective gives an explanation and everything is tied up with a nice ribbon. Although, perhaps it just shows that the rhythm of the novel is quite fast and if you blink, you’ve missed it.

Another novel by Sue Coletta with an irresistible story that requires a strong stomach but will be of interest to readers who like to dig into the character’s psyche and are after more than just a well-plotted book. Oh, and readers must like dogs too. Especially scary for writers.

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review 2016-09-25 01:35
Willing Victim
Willing Victim - Cara McKenna

First read April 2013.
Read again September, 2016. Just as great the second time.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-11 08:22
Ring: Diverse authors can be spooky fun
Ring - Koji Suzuki,Glynne Walley

The following review will have spoilers, because while a lot of terrible things happen in the beginning of the book, some terrible things happen later in the book which need to be mentioned. The following review has triggers for rape, domestic abuse, suicide, and victim blaming. Here we go.

The only thing that really kept me reading this terrible book was the hope that Asakawa and his friend Ryuji would meet a horrible, painful death. Asakawa and Ryuji are just straight up horrible people and I really can't think of anything positive to say about either of them. Our first introduction to Ryuji comes with a discussion of how many women he's raped. Ryuji practically brags about it to Asakawa. Cementing his status as third most terrible person in this book, Asakawa goes on to say that Ryuji disgusts him, but he still hangs out with him, because there's just something about him. Asakawa proceeds to bring the confessed rapist into his house with his wife and young daughter after his wife has begged him never to bring Ryuji home, which is a totally reasonable request. It gets worse.

 

Asakawa, fully believing that after watching the tape he will die, attempts to off everybody he has a passing acquaintance with. He first shows the tape to Ryuji, which can be somewhat forgiven because Ryuji insisted on watching it. But Asakawa then goes on to offer to show it to his boss and a colleague. It gets worse.

 

I guess at this point the author didn't think there were enough reasons to hate his characters, so he added another one. Our budding serial killer leaves the tape laying around his house, unmarked and his wife and young daughter watch it. No warning about the tape, no note, just leaves it laying out. His response, he calls his wife an idiot
several times and thinks about hitting her for endangering their daughter, never mind that he was the one that left the tape out. It gets worse.

 

Asakawa and Ryuji discover that the tape was created by a woman named Sadako who was killed by Dr. Nagao. Dr. Nagao raped her, killer her, and then dumped her body in a well. Dr. Nagao tells Ryuji and Asakawa that some force compelled him to rape Sadako and then kill her. Way to shift the blame to somebody else. It gets worse.

 

It's revealed that Sadako was intersex and that she was a virgin. Asakawa goes on to misgender her several times (I hate these characters). Asakawa and Ryuji then proceed to theorize that Sadako was unable to have sex with anybody (really hate them) and so fed up with life, she forced Dr. Nagao to rape her so she wouldn't die a virgin and then kill her (these people are the worst). Asakawa then comes to the conclusion that maybe, note the maybe because he's still unsure, she didn't force Dr. Nagao to rape her, but she definitely forced him to kill her. I can't really say it gets worse from here because I think we've reached the peak of this books awfulness, but it certainly doesn't get better.

 

It's revealed in the end that Ryuji has never actually raped anybody and he just told Asakawa that to impress him (I can't even). Moving on, our horrible excuse for a human being, I refuse to use hero to describe this guy, rides off into the sunset to save his family, by showing the tape to his wife's parents.

 

As far as plot goes, I was too focused on the casual attitude to rape, spousal abuse, victim blaming, misgendering, suicide and Asakawa's horror that anybody should die a virgin to focus on it. Did I mention how much I hated Asakawa?

 

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