Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Do No Harm Review

Author: Robert Pobi
Series: Lucas Page #3
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: Aug. 9, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

Many thanks to Minotaur Books for an arc of this book.





Review:
While recovering from his latest impressive set of injuries, Lucas Page is hopeful his days of assisting the FBI in tracking down serial killers is just about over.  Lucas is an ex-FBI agent himself and plans on keeping it that way.  However, his extraordinary gift in pattern recognition has proved useful in seeing what others miss.  He's often called to crime scenes to detect what's eluded officers.  Lucas, a polymath, astrophysicist and professor is looking forward to normal life with his five adopted kids and wife Erin who's a respected surgeon.  Things are finally peaceful until the couple attends a medical charity bash, and Page begins watching the annual memorial video documenting the high number of doctors who have died in the past year . . . many in so called accidents or by suicide.  How is it no one else has noticed that these "random" deaths are missing a key element?  Where's the pattern?  And just like that, Page is called back in by the FBI to assist in a race against time.

It soon becomes clear that someone is targeting members of the medical community which puts Page's wife Erin in the eye of the killer.  Page doubles his efforts and once again is joined by his old partner, Special Agent Alice Whitaker who's also recovering from injuries.  They quickly fall back into their pattern of life threatening escapades with dry banter mingled in, offering some comic relief to a fast-paced, drive the wheels off it investigation.  Their team is rounded out by ex-military NYPD Detective Johnny Russo who turns a blind eye to Page's decidedly cold and ungiving personality.  Together, they forge all speed ahead to catch a killer before anyone else is murdered.

Dark, twisted and complex, No Harm Done is a tense, action-packed ride from cover to cover.  I enjoyed more insight into Page's family life with kid time which served to soften the edges of his stoic personality.  And as always, I was fascinated by this character's study of patterns where there seemingly is none.  Readers get to see the crime scenes through Page's eyes as one thing after another clicks into place emerging as a pattern.  Expertly plotted and delivered, No Harm Done is a great addition to the Lucas Page series.  This one stands alone, but readers will benefit from grabbing the first two books to get the full introduction to the man and his fellow characters.  Highly recommended to fans of mysteries, police procedurals and suspense thrillers.

Synopsis:
Lucas Page is a polymath, astrophysicist, professor, husband, father of five adopted children, bestselling author, and ex-FBI agent―emphasis on "ex." Severely wounded after being caught in an explosion, Page left the FBI behind and put his focus on the rebuilding the rest of his life. But Page is uniquely gifted in being able to recognize patterns that elude others, a skill that brings the F.B.I. knocking at his door again and again.

Lucas Page's wife Erin loses a friend, a gifted plastic surgeon, to suicide and Lucas begins to realize how many people Erin knew that have died in the past year, in freak accidents and now suicide. Intrigued despite himself, Page begins digging through obituaries and realizes that there's a pattern―a bad one. These deaths don't make sense unless the doctors are being murdered, the target of a particularly clever killer. This time, the FBI wants as little to do with Lucas as he does with them so he's left with only one option―ignore it and go back to his normal life. But then, the pattern reveals that the next victim is likely to be...Erin herself.
 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Waiting On Forever Blog Tour & Review

Author: Claudia Connor
Series: McKinney/Walker Bros. #4
Genre: Romance
Release Date: August 9, 2022


Many thanks to the author and Social Butterfly PR for an arc of this book and for the book tour invitation!

Waiting on Forever, an all-new standalone romance full of steam and angst in The Walker Brothers Series from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Connor is available now!

Review:
Dallas Walker has returned home in need of the love and support of his family.  He's ready to move on from the horrors he witnessed and was forced to participate in as an undercover agent in a sex trafficking ring.  He has nightmares fill with the innocent faces of young girls forced into prostitution - the ones he believes he failed.  Dallas knows the love and care of his family is the answer . . . and he's beginning to realize his attraction and desire for his reclusive neighbor might be just what the doctored ordered.  If only she would stop giving him the cold shoulder and share what she's running from with him.

Maggie Ellis wants nothing more than to be alone, to bury herself and her grief in her work and her backyard collection of plants, flowers and ... oh yes, chickens.  These are things she can depend on, things that will never leave her drowning in grief and loss like an event in her past did.  Maggie has figured out that while she may be lonely, there's safety in solitude.  If only her new sinfully sexy neighbor Dallas would stop knocking on her door.  There's no way she's getting involved with him . . . is she?  No, it's just not the safe thing to do.

Waiting On Forever is another Connor classic romance.  She has such a gift for writing small town romance featuring two characters who fight fate every step of the way.  I adored these characters and loved getting to visit with some of the other Walker families while getting to know some new folks.  The push/pull sizzling chemistry is ever present as is the delightful banter.  Watching these two characters interact and slowly tear down walls is beautiful although sometimes a bit heart breaking.  Both are haunted by their past, and both have to learn to let go in order to move on. 

Waiting On Forever is another fantastic addition to this outstanding series.  I can't wait for the next one and highly recommend this one to fans of sweet, low-angst romance.  That's not to say there's no angst because of course there is.  But it's refreshing to read a romance where it's a pretty sure thing they'll be a happy ever after.  Grab this one romance fans!

Synopsis:

Dallas Walker is haunted. He won’t ever forget the horrors he witnessed while working undercover to bust a human trafficking ring, but he has a plan to start a new life. Coming home to his family is step one. Getting to know his alluring new neighbor could be step two. If only she’d give him a chance…

Maggie Ellis just wants to be left alone. She’d rather spend her days spinning clay into art and feel nothing than open herself up to another devastating loss. But her sexy new neighbor with a lonely look in his eyes isn’t giving up. And he makes her question everything…

Together, Dallas and Maggie might have a shot at happily ever after. But only if they can let go of the past and hold on to each other when it matters most.

 Excerpt:
Her motion activated lights cast faint shadows near the house, but the light didn’t nearly reach the back of the yard. She searched the dense brush along the back, saw movement and fired a warning shot into the air, then another.

She heard the rustling of an animal scurrying away then the sound of leaves crunching and twigs breaking behind her and to her left. She swung around, gun raised.

“Jesus!”

“Nope, just me.”

Dallas stood just a few yards away, stock still, chest bare, in a dark shade of boxer briefs and his hands up in surrender.

“That’s a good way to get shot.” She lowered the weapon. “Sorry.”

He took a step forward toward the faint light she stood in. “I thought you were getting shot. What the hell are you doing?”

“Scaring away whatever was snooping around the chicken coop. Raccoon maybe, or a fox.”

“I guess you know how to use that?”

“I do.” Her lips twitched. “I have a permit and everything, officer.” She lifted the butt a few inches off the ground.

Still looking distressed, he rubbed the heel of his hand up his forehead and into his hair.

“I’m sorry if I scared you. And woke you up.” Obviously, because again, he was standing there in his boxers and…yeah. Just boxers.

“You didn’t wake me. I was outside. With my popcorn.”

“Do you always come outside in your underwear to eat popcorn?”

“I burned it.”

“Ahh.” She grimaced. “That’s a bad smell. Guess you weren’t kidding when you said you couldn’t cook.”

“Mmm. Is this a usual thing?” he asked with a nod to the gun, closing the distance between them even more. “Scaring away predators?”

“Oh. Every now and then. I lost one last year.” She kept talking, kept looking at the man. Her gaze skimmed over a muscled chest, sculpted arms, over a tattoo on his upper right bicep that she couldn’t make out.

“Holly’s not much of a guard dog,” she went on. “But her hearing’s still good, so when her ears perk up I know something’s amiss. Were you coming to save me?”

“I didn’t know what I was coming to do, but I heard gunshots and—”

“And you came bounding over. I hope you didn’t um…scratch anything.”

Dallas glanced down, winced, then looked back up. “Nah. I’m good.”

Uh, huh. Well. She forced her attention up to his face and not on the dark boxers that hugged his thighs…annnnd… she was staring. How could she not?

But when her eyes finally met his she saw he was staring too. And it dawned on her that she was also barefooted and in her underwear. She tugged the tank top she slept in, stretching it until it covered the juncture between her thighs.

“Well, I…uh…”

A cool breeze rippled over her and she shivered. Or maybe that was the man now just a couple of feet away giving her chills. What had she been about to say?

And when had he gotten so close? Or had she? Just an arm’s length apart now and she found herself imagining all kinds of things. Like what would she do if he moved closer? If he touched her?

The feeling changed like a coin flipping from heads to tails and even with the cool wind she felt hot. It was uncomfortable and also layered with a ripple of nervous excitement. Standing in her backyard at night with a man—this man. And both of them barely dressed.

When Holly barked from inside the back door, she glanced toward the house. When she looked back, the moment was gone. “Guess I should go back in. Holly’s probably worried.”  She shifted the gun hanging at her side.

“Probably so,” he said. “I’ll get myself back. Finish airing out the house.”

“Yeah. Maybe try another bag. Listen for the popping. More than a second between pops and it’s done.”

“Yeah. Okay.”

He still wasn’t moving and she swallowed hard. Had a ludicrous thought of asking him in. To make popcorn. To watch Downton Abbey?

He nodded toward her house. “I’ll wait until you’re inside.”

“Oh. Right. Thank you.” She turned, went inside, locking the door behind her. It’d been a long time since she’d been in the position for someone to care about her getting safely inside. She had to admit it didn’t totally suck.

About Claudia

Claudia Connor is an award winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance, including the beloved McKinney Brothers series. Claudia writes, warm, heartfelt romances with a bit of steam, a lot of family and always a happily ever after. 

Claudia attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. When she's not writing, she enjoys movies, reading, and travel, with a heavy dose of daydreaming during all three. Claudia lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.

 Connect with Claudia

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3yEgB4a

Instagram: https://bit.ly/3P3TCox

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3nSf2cJ

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/3I8WON8

Website: https://www.claudiaconnor.com/

 

 





Sunday, August 7, 2022

Still Missing Review

Author: Chevy Stevens
Debut Novel
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Purchase Link: Amazon

5 Broken Hearts

Still Missing is that rare debut find - a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.


Review:
Still Missing is my third book by Chevy Stevens having read an arc of Dark Roads and Never Let You Go both of which I loved.  I needed to know if this author is the real deal.  Can she deliver over and over?  As a reader, I'm ecstatic to say Stevens is the real deal!  Now three books into her catalog of work, and I have no qualms about saying she's now an aut0-buy author for me.  I can't wait to work my way through all her titles.

Still Missing is the story of Annie Sullivan, a thirty-two year old real estate agent who's kidnapped by a man who pretended interest in a house she was showing.  She's swept away to a remote mountain cabin where she's held for a year before getting an opportunity to escape.  During that time, she's repeatedly raped and held to a rigid schedule by the man she calls the "freak".  Needless to say, when she finally escapes she's suffering a devastating case of PTSD.  And that's about all I can say about the plot without major spoilers.  

This story is as complex and convoluted as any I've read in recent memory.  It unfolds through two narratives - one of Annie's therapy sessions with her psychiatrist where readers have a front row seat to the horrors Annie endured during her year of captivity, and secondly the present events taking place in Annie's life as she desperately tries to reclaim her old life and some sense of normalcy after returning home.  Problem is . . . Annie isn't the woman she was before her kidnapping, and she can't seem to acclimate herself back into her old life.  If that's not enough, she has a sense of lingering danger.  Is it paranoia?  Or something more?

I have to say that this story is intense - I felt it from the moment of the kidnapping until the final page of the book.  Stevens has mastered the art of setting and maintaining tone and pace in a way that keeps readers off-kilter and burning through pages even as the sense of dread and impending doom grows.  I just knew something more was coming and kept reading and waiting for the other shoe to drop.  What could be worse than being kidnapped and held in isolation for a year with a psycho?  All I can say is "read it"!  

Still Missing is a taut, tense, eye-opening heart breaker of a psychological thriller.  My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner.  It's intense, fast-paced and absolutely shocking.  Well done, Chevy Stevens.  I can't wait to read more of your work.  Highly recommended to fans of psychological thrillers!  

Synopsis:

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Stay Awake Review

Author: Megan Goldin
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

4 Compelling Hearts
Many thanks to St. Martins Press for an arc of this book.

In the vein of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that plays with memory and murder.


Review:
Liv Reese is missing the past two years of her life.  As in she has no idea what happened during that period of time.  One minute she's sitting at her desk at a trendy magazine office and the next she's in the back of a taxi feeling disoriented and lost with two years having passed.  Her hands and arms are covered with messages written in ink - Stay Awake, Wake up, Trust no one.  When the cab stops at her old brownstone, she rings the bell to get her roommate up; however, the door is answered by an angry stranger yelling at her to go away while claiming to have lived there for some time.  Megan's phone is missing as is her purse.  If she allows herself to go to sleep, she repeatedly forgets the last twenty-four hours.  Each time she wakes up, her mind is a blank slate.  She's running on fumes.  What's happening to her?  Why does she have the feeling she may have done something terrible and her life is in danger?

Detectives Darcy Halliday and Jack Lavelle are working the murder case of a man whose apartment window has the words Wake Up written on them in his blood.  A woman was seen entering his apartment with him hours earlier, but later left by the back alley alone.  As their investigation progresses, the detectives have reason to suspect Liv is that woman.  It's true that the same message is written on her hand, but does that make her a murderer?  She hasn't a clue why she wrote it nor why she was carrying a bloody knife wrapped in her bloody shirt that she threw in a garbage can.  The story that ensues is convoluted, twisted and tense.

Stay Awake unfolds through two points of view - Liv's and Det. Hallidays.  Liv has an illness brought on by an extremely traumatic event that she doesn't remember.  This story is told through dual timelines, slowly revealing what happened to Liv two years ago and the police investigation in the present.  The action is fast-paced from beginning to end, and the tone is dire.  Readers soon realize that someone has reason to silence Liv, and she's a sitting duck with the amnesia rendering her clueless as to who she can trust and who she can't.  Goldin brilliantly weaves several viable red herrings into the story, and I'll admit to not suspecting the true murderer until the reveal.  When I realized who the culprit was and why, I kicked myself for not figuring it out.  But then, that's the magic of Goldin's stories.

While some may find Liv’s story a bit repetitive, it serves to drive home the dilemma she finds herself in each time she awakens with no memory.  She's living in a nightmare, on the run from everyone including the police while doing everything possible to stay awake and figure out what's happening to her.   I believe the repetitiveness of that part of the story drives home the magnitude of the state she finds herself in while driving the tempo at breakneck speed.

Stay Awake is a mesmerizing, expertly plotted psychological thriller intertwined with an excellent police procedural.  The two go hand in hand steadily building the tension all the way to the shocking climax.  My understanding is that readers may get to see Det. Halliday in future books, and I must say I'm intrigued.  Goldin has penned another dark, ominous thriller with vibes of Memento.  Highly recommended to fans of suspense thrillers, mysteries and police procedurals!

Synopsis:
Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Dirt Creek Book Tour Spotlight

 


Dirt Creek available NOW from Flatiron Books!  Grab your copy today!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Who's lying about what happened at Dirt Creek?

“Blends a taut psychological thriller with a suspenseful police procedural…Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jane Harper won’t want to miss this page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A novel of sharp-edged tempers, accidents waiting to happen and dark inheritances.” —New York Times Book Review

When twelve-year-old Esther disappears on the way home from school in a small town in rural Australia, the community is thrown into a maelstrom of suspicion and grief. As Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels arrives in town during the hottest spring in decades and begins her investigation, Esther’s tenacious best friend, Ronnie, is determined to find Esther and bring her home.

When schoolfriend Lewis tells Ronnie that he saw Esther with a strange man at the creek the afternoon she went missing, Ronnie feels she is one step closer to finding her. But why is Lewis refusing to speak to the police? And who else is lying about how much they know about what has happened to Esther?

Punctuated by a Greek chorus, which gives voice to the remaining children of the small, dying town, this novel explores the ties that bind, what we try and leave behind us, and what we can never outrun, while never losing sight of the question of what happened to Esther, and what her loss does to a whole town.

In Hayley Scrivenor's Dirt Creek, a small-town debut mystery described as The Dry meets Everything I Never Told You, a girl goes missing and a community falls apart and comes together.


Hayley Scrivenor's "stunning debut" (starred Publishers Weekly) DIRT CREEK "blends a taut psychological thriller with a suspenseful police procedural" (starred PW) to create "a beautifully written character study of small town Australia and what happens to it as the town is torn apart by a vanished child" (Deadly Pleasures).

Monday, August 1, 2022

Quarter To Midnight Book Tour, Review & Excerpt

Author: Karen Rose
Series: New Orleans #1
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: Aug. 2, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

4 Hearts

Special thanks to Berkley Publishing for an arc of this book and an invitation to the book tour.  Scroll to bottom to read an excerpt of Quarter To Midnight.

Review published in Mystery & Suspense Magazine

Discover New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Rose's brand-new series set in the sultry, crime-ridden city of New Orleans and featuring a tough team of high-end private investigators who are after justice--no matter what they have to do to get it.

Review:
I love knowing without a doubt when I open a Karen Rose book, I'm in for an intense, highly atmospheric reading experience with complex interwoven plot lines and a full cast of well developed, dimensional characters.  I know I need to be one hundred percent present without distractions, giving my full attention to the story or risk missing some of the essential minute details and clues woven in that are classic Karen Rose.  I know I'm about to be highly entertained with a story that is all-consuming, volatile and most likely graphic.  I'm happy to say that Quarter To Midnight holds true to pattern, proving to be another gripping read by this talented author.

Quarter To Midnight is the first in a new series by Author Karen Rose.  Set in New Orleans, it takes advantage of both the colorful, flamboyant setting of the city and the dark, deadly swampland surrounding it which Rose extensively draws from to set pace and tone, driving the story forward with undertones of impending doom.  As the story opens, retired police officer Rocky Herbert is found dead from a gunshot wound that is assumed to be self-inflicted.  However, his famous son Chef Gabe Herbert suspects foul play and turns to his father's friend ex-police officer turned Private Investigator Burke Broussard for help.  Burke knows firsthand that the police department is a cesspool of corruption, especially among the brass, as are the political and judicial arena's in NOLA so he keeps the investigation under the  radar, soliciting only those he trusts with his life to help.  Burke assigns his best investigator ex-marine Molly Sutton to the case without first catching the electric undercurrent of attraction flowing between Molly and Gabe.  No problem - Molly would never cross that line with a client . . . would she?  

As Molly digs deeper, she uncovers information about an old case that Rocky had been ordered to let go but continued working after his retirement that involved a five year old boy called Xavier who saw a woman murdered in the middle of the flooding from Hurricane Katrina.  All these years later, someone is searching for Xavier - desperate to silence him to keep their connection to the murdered woman from seeing the light of day.  As the story progresses, bodies begin piling up, dirty secrets come oozing out and the story line becomes quite convoluted with suspects and motives.  One thing's crystal clear . . . someone in high places is willing to kill to keep his/her dark secret.

Quarter To Midnight is an intense story of greed, corruption and abuse of power, but also a story of love, perseverance and justice for those who can no longer speak for themselves.  The intensity of the story line is sporadically broken up with short bursts of comic relief provided by the crazy sidekick of one of the main characters as well as by a feisty old woman who delivers hilarious one liners, causing people to dismiss this wise lawyer from way back as frivolous.  This is a grave mistake on their part.  Rose's unique blend of romance, suspense and laugh out loud moments goes down as smooth as a cold glass of sweet iced tea on a hot New Orleans day.  Molly and Gabe's chemistry serves to satiate those readers looking for the "romance" in romance suspense, and those looking for an intricate crime plot line that will keep them guessing until the end will also feel gratified.  

Author Karen Rose is known for her long intricate stories and at over six hundred pages, Quarter To Midnight holds true to form.  And yet, once I got sucked into the story, I burned through pages searching for answers and reached The End before I realized how much time had passed.  Rose demands readers' attention with her meticulous writing style and precise attention to the smallest of seemingly unimportant details which often hold the key to solving the mystery.  I'm happy to say Rose's New Orleans Series is off and running full speed, and I can't wait for more.  Highly recommend to fans of romance suspense and mysteries!
  
Synopsis:
There are good cops. And there are bad cops. The question is...who wins?

After completing her tours with the Marines in Iraq, Molly Sutton knew she could take down any bad guy she met. But when her law enforcement agency in North Carolina turned against her, she joined up with her former CO Burke Broussard, who left New Orleans PD to set up a private investigative service for people who couldn't find justice elsewhere.

Gabe Hebert saw the toll that working for the NOPD took on his dad and decided instead to make a name for himself as one of the best young chefs in the French Quarter. But when his father's death is ruled a suicide after a deliberately botched investigation by his former captain, Gabe knows his dad stumbled onto a truth that someone wants silenced.

Gabe goes to his father's best friend, Burke, for help. Burke assigns the toughest member of his team, Molly, to the case. Molly can't believe she's being asked to work with the smoking hot chef whose chocolate cake is not the only thing that makes her mouth water. Sparks fly as they follow the leads Gabe's dad left them, unraveling a web of crimes, corruption, and murder that runs all the way to the top.
 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:

www.karenrosebooks.com

Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON'T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published fifteen more novels and two novellas. Her seventeenth novel, ALONE IN THE DARK, will be released in 2016.

Karen's books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, London's Sunday Times, and Germany's der Spiegel (#1), and the Irish Times, as well as lists in South Africa (#1) and Australia!

Her novels, I'M WATCHING YOU and SILENT SCREAM, received the Romance Writers of America's RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005 and 2011. Five of her other books have been RITA finalists. To date, her books have been translated into twenty-four languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, her two daughters, two dogs, and a cat.

QUARTER TO MIDNIGHT by Karen Rose

Berkley Hardcover | On Sale August 2, 2022

Excerpt

 

Molly looked up to find her boss standing in his office doorway. Burke Broussard was in his midforties and, other than a few silver hairs at his temples, hadn't changed a bit since he'd been her CO in the Marines a decade before. "Morning, Burke. I brought you coffee, too." She held up the cup.

 

"Thank the good Lord for that," he said fervently. "I've been here since six."

 

Molly shuddered in mostly mock horror. "Why?" She'd left rising with the sun behind when she'd finished her final tour with the Marine Corps. Burke, however, had a love-hate relationship with mornings. He said he hated them, but he continued coming in earlier and earlier. The man was a fool.

 

He was also smart as hell, driven to succeed, compassionate, and generous to a fault. But a morning fool.

 

"Come into my office," he said. "I have a new client you should meet."

 

Joy's eyes widened further, and she maneuvered her wheelchair so that she could unabashedly watch Molly walk into Burke's office.

 

And Molly immediately understood why.

 

Sitting in the chair at Burke's conference table was none other than Gabriel Hebert, Choux chef extraordinaire. He looked tired and tense and very unhappy.

 

She wondered if he'd been so unhappy the night before. He had looked tired, but not this unhappy. Of course, he might be one of those people who could put on the face they wished the world to see.

 

"Molly, this is Mr. Hebert. Gabe, this is Miss Sutton. I'm going to assign her to your case."

 

Molly's brows shot up. What?

 

Gabe's brows shot up as well, then crunched together in a disgruntled frown. "What? You're handing me off?" He came to his feet. "What the hell, Burke?"

 

The two men faced off, and they couldn't have appeared more physically different. Burke's skin was olive toned, his deep tan a testament to all the road biking he did in his spare time. Gabe was so lightly tanned that she might still call him pale. And, like a lot of redheads, he had a smattering of freckles across his nose.

 

She'd always wanted to trace those freckles with her fingertips. She'd wondered where else he had them.

 

Both men were tall, but Burke's body was bulky where Gabe's was lean. Molly loved to watch Gabe move. When he was cooking in his restaurant's kitchen, it was like watching a choreographed dance.

 

Only their accents were similar-both speaking with that smooth New Orleans drawl that sounded like hot summer nights with jazz music thick in the air. Except that Gabe's voice made her shiver, when Burke's never had.

 

She probably shouldn't have shivered at all, considering how angry he seemed, but her body couldn't help how it reacted. Sue me.

 

Burke waved at him to be seated. "I'm too close, Gabe. Your father . . . he was important to me, too. He was my partner. I had his back, and he had mine. Whatever else went down when I was on the force, I knew your father would stand by me, and he did. I don't know that I'd be able to keep an open mind."

 

Gabe did not sit down, his frown deepening to something almost dangerous. "Open to what?" he asked, each word dripping with anger and warning.

 

"The truth," Burke said simply. "Whatever it might be. Molly's my right hand. She will not let you down. Now, please, have a seat. If, after you've talked with her, you want someone else, we'll figure it out. Don't worry. You can depend on her discretion, no matter who you choose to work your case."

 

Gabe released a harsh breath. "Okay." He sat, then shifted his gaze to Molly, who still stood in the doorway, having not moved a muscle. He did a double take. "Do I know . . ." He trailed off. "Right. Last night. Happy birthday, Miss Sutton."

 

Burke looked between them, his expression suddenly unhappy. "You two know each other?"

 

"No," Gabe said.

 

"No," Molly said at the same time. "I've been to his restaurant a few times, that's all. The girls took me there last night for my birthday. I brought you some cake," she added lamely. "It's in the fridge in the break room."

 

"Thank you, Molly." Clearly relieved, Burke gestured to one of the empty chairs at the table. "Join us. As I'm sure you've figured out, this case requires extreme discretion."

 

Molly nodded. "I understand. Mr. Hebert, if you decide I'm not the best fit, there will be no hard feelings. But should you choose to work with me, I'll do my very best."

 

Gabe's shoulders slumped, his exhaustion clear to see. "I appreciate that." He swallowed hard. "I need to find out who killed my father."

 

Molly glanced at Burke. "Are the police involved?"

 

Gabe's laugh was bitter. "Most likely, yes."

 

Burke sighed. "What he means is, someone in law enforcement might be complicit. Or responsible."

 

Molly sat back, wishing she was surprised. "All right, then. Let me have it."

 


Friday, July 29, 2022

Things We Do In The Dark Review

Author Jennifer Hillier
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: July 19, 2022
Order Link: Amazon

3 Hearts

Special thanks to Minotaur Books for an arc.

Review published in Mystery & Suspense Magazine

A brilliant new thriller from Jennifer Hillier, the award-winning author of the breakout novels Little Secrets and Jar of Hearts. Paris Peralta is suspected of killing her celebrity husband, and her long-hidden past now threatens to destroy her future.

Review:

Things We Do In The Dark is a multilayered, complex thriller delivered through multiple points of view in a past/present story line.  Per Hillier's now signature style, characters are deeply complex and plot lines are convoluted.  At least three story lines appear to run concurrent through much of the story before finally being woven together with some major revelations by the end.  

This story opens with an intense scene that quickly grabs readers' attention when Paris Peralta awakens on the floor of her upscale bathroom holding a bloody straight razor and staring at an armed police officer yelling at her to drop the weapon.  Paris is confused and disoriented, but there's no denying the horrific fact that her celebrity husband Jimmy is dead in the bloody bathtub.  What happened?  As bad as it looks, Paris fears it'll get worse when the devastating news and pictures hit the national tabloids and newspapers.  If someone from her past recognizes her, the carefully constructed facade she's been living for twenty-five years will be blown.  She can't afford for her past to catch up with her.

The story continues with the introduction of Ruby Reyes aka the Ice Queen who’s being released from prison after serving 25 years for the murder of a man.  She’s fully aware of Paris's real identity and is using the information to threaten and blackmail Paris.  The clock's ticking down to a full blown confrontation when Paris's location hits the news.  And finally, we have Drew Malcolm - a journalist with a wildly popular podcast called Things We Do In The Dark.  He's fully aware of how cruel and evil Ruby Reyes is and doesn't believe for a minute that she's been rehabilitated. Drew is determined to expose her for the villain he knows her to be at all costs.  Maybe if he can do that, he'll be able to silence his own demons and finally lay the past to rest.

All the elements of a perfect storm are present in Hillier's Things We Do In The Dark.  Readers are quickly sucked into the opening and through past/present chapters, they learn the backstory of each main player and the events that tie them together.  They listen to each character's voice and are charged with deciding whose version of the story is authentic.  As the story progresses, the author does a great job weaving in a missing person case, building suspense while rehashing the events of one tragic night twenty five years ago.  In doing so, she's set up her game board with all the players including their secrets and motivations.  However, there comes a point where the backstory begins to overshadow the present and the repetitiveness slows the story to a crawl, and in this reader's opinion, the end result comes dangerously close to disclosing information better left for readers to discover on their own.  It's at this point that I had an Aha moment with the realization of exactly where this story was headed which proved to be true, serving to diminish the mystery and suspense there on out for me.  As the story continues, the pace picks back up and readers will enjoy some typical Hillier twists before the final reveal.  

Hillier's characters are always dimensional, well-developed, dark and deeply troubled and the same holds true in Things We Do In The Dark.  She brilliantly manipulates these characters through dark, convoluted plot lines in settings that add to the dark, ominous tone.  While Things We Do In The Dark won't go down as my favorite work of Hillier's, she continues to be one of my favorite, extremely talented authors, and I look forward to more of her work.  I'm recommending this book to fans of dark, suspense thrillers.

 Synopsis:

When Paris Peralta is arrested in her own bathroom – covered in blood, holding a straight razor, her celebrity husband dead in the bathtub behind her – she knows she'll be charged with murder. But as bad as this looks, it's not what worries her the most. With the unwanted media attention now surrounding her, it's only a matter of time before someone from her long hidden past recognizes her and destroys the new life she's worked so hard to build, along with any chance of a future.

Twenty-five years earlier, Ruby Reyes, known as the Ice Queen, was convicted of a similar murder in a trial that riveted Canada in the early nineties. Reyes knows who Paris really is, and when she's unexpectedly released from prison, she threatens to expose all of Paris's secrets. Left with no other choice, Paris must finally confront the dark past she escaped, once and for all.

Because the only thing worse than a murder charge are two murder charges.