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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rapture in Death - J. D. Robb

Rapture in Death by J. D. Robb


First Paragraph:

The alley was dark and stank of piss and vomit.  It was home for quick-footed rats and the bony, hungry-eyed felines who hunted them.  Red eyes glinted in the dark, some of them human, all of them feral.
     Eve's heart tripped lightly as she slipped into the fetid, damp-edged shadows.  He'd gone in, she was sure of it.  It was her job to follow, to find him, to bring him in.  Her weapon was in her hand, and her hand was steady.


My Thoughts:

Rapture in Death is the 4th book by J. D. Robb.  Eve and Roarke are now married and the first death that occurs is at an off-planet resort that Roarke owns.  They are sharing the 'honeymoon suite' and Eve is on vacation, but she has to pull on her 'cop' persona (which never really leaves her) and dig in.  This book was published in 1996 and it is 21 years old now.  The series is set in the mid-21st century - 2058 or so.  There are futuristic elements for sure, but I find it interesting how many things mentioned are now, in 2017, at least possible or maybe even available.  Sort of like the old 'Star Trek' show and the Engineer Scottie saying 'Computer...' or noticing those 'tricorders' in their hands.  Doesn't it remind you of all of us gazing at our phones in our hands or saying 'Siri' or 'Alexa'.  Curious, right?  And the re-reading binge continues...


Blurb:

They died with smiles on their faces. Three apparent suicides: a brilliant engineer, an infamous lawyer, and a controversial politician. Three strangers with nothing in common—and no obvious reasons for killing themselves. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas finds the deaths suspicious. And her instincts pay off when autopsies reveal small burns on the brains of the victims.

Was it a genetic abnormality or a high-tech method of murder? Eve’s investigation turns to the provocative world of virtual reality games—where the same techniques used to create joy and desire can also prompt the mind to become the weapon of its own destruction...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Immortal in Death - J. D. Robb

Immortal in Death by J. D. Robb


First Paragraph:

Getting married was murder.  Eve wasn't sure how it had happened in the first place.  She was a cop, for God's sake.  Throughout her ten years on the force, she'd firmly believed cops should stay single, unencumbered, and focused utterly on the job.  It was insane to believe one person could split time, energy, and emotion between the law, with all its rights and wrongs, and family, with all its demands and personalities.


My Thoughts:

Immortal in Death is the 3rd book in J. D. Robb's series featuring Eve Dallas and Roarke.  As always, aptly narrated by Susan Ericksen.  And, in case you were wondering, Nora Roberts (the author behind the name of J. D. Robb) wanted to reach a different set of readers with these books.  Apparently, it wasn't until about #9 that the 'secret' came out.  In this tale, Eve and Roarke are planning their wedding.  Well, Roarke is planning it - Eve is busy with murder, as usual.  Mavis, one of Eve's closest friends, has been arrested for second degree murder.  The dead woman - Pandora - mega-famous model.  Eve is determined to find the real killer because she knows that it's not Mavis.  We get to know more about several of the secondary characters, and this is the book that Officer Delia Peabody makes her debut as Eve's assistant.  I'm happily doing listen/read combos on these books.


Blurb:

She was one of the most sought after women in the world. A top model who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted—even another woman’s man. And now she was dead, the victim of a brutal murder. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas put her life on the line to take the case when suspicion fell on her best friend, the other woman in the fatal love triangle. Beneath the facade of glamour, Eve found that the world of high fashion thrived on an all-consuming obsession for youth and fame. One that led from the runway to the dark underworld of New York City where drugs could be found to fulfill any desire—for a price…

Monday, July 31, 2017

Glory in Death - J. D. Robb

Glory in Death by J. D. Robb


First Paragraph:

The dead were her business.  She lived with them, worked with them, studied them.  She dreamed of them.  And because that didn't seem to be enough, in some deep, secret chamber of her heart, she mourned for them.
     A decade as a cop had toughened her, given her a cold, clinical, and often cynical eye toward death and its many causes.  It made scenes such as the one she viewed now, on a rainy night on a dark street nasty with litter, almost too usual.  But still, she felt.
     Murder no longer shocked, but it continued to repel.


My Thoughts:

Glory in Death is the second book in J. D. Robb's series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke.  It begins with a murder of a noted prosecutor, someone that Eve had worked with and thought well of.  I listened to this one on audio with Susan Ericksen narrating.  She's done all the books in this series and, in my head, she's the voice of Eve.  The reader gets to meet additional characters that will appear in later books and also get to know others better.  The relationship between our two main characters progresses and I like how they are with each other.  For me, this is a favorite series and I'm having fun rereading the early books.  If you like a great series that seems to go on and on, this one is recommended by me.


Blurb:

The first victim was found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second was murdered in her own apartment building. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas had no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provided Eve with a long list of suspects—including her own lover, Roarke. As a woman, Eve was compelled to trust the man who shared her bed. But as a cop, it was her job to follow every lead...to investigate every scandalous rumor...to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark. Or how dangerous.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Lying Game - Ruth Ware

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware


First Paragraph:

The Reach is wide and quiet this morning, the pale blue sky streaked with pink mackerel-belly clouds, the shallow sea barely rippling in the slight breeze, and so the sound of the dog barking breaks into the calm like gunshots, setting flocks of gulls crying and wheeling in the air.


My Thoughts:

The Lying Game is Ruth Ware's third thriller and I listened to it read by Imogen Church, who also narrated this author's other books.  I like her narration.  I had actually read an advance copy of this book early this year, but decided to try it again on audio and see if my opinion had changed.  First, I'll say that I really liked Ware's first two books, especially her debut.  This one...well, I'll share that it likely won't be my favorite and I'm hoping her next is a little more to my taste.  The story is fine enough and does have some twists and turns.  I also like books that include 'old school ties'.  What I wasn't as happy about was the amount of lying and deception among the characters - especially between Isa and her significant other.  I also got very, very weary of hearing about her baby and caring for the baby.  How many times does the reader need to hear a detailed description of breastfeeding and a child crying?  I wonder if this author has recently had a baby.  Seriously.  Anyway, I don't want to discourage others from trying it.  Not every book by a favorite author is going to be a 'winner' for every reader, right?  I'll look forward to Ruth Ware's next.  And maybe go back and reread her first two.


Blurb:

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister...

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Golden Hour - T. Greenwood

The Golden Hour by T. Greenwood


First Paragraph:

If this day were a painting, if I were asked to fill my palette with all the colors of that afternoon, you might be surprised by the ones I'd choose: grasshopper greens and cerulean blue.  It was June, I might argue, the last day of school.  Of course, the grass was green, the sky blue.
     But what color is thirteen?  Is it the cinder brown of wide eyes, the crimson flush of hot cheeks?  Maybe a dollop of peach for the chipped nail polish on ragged fingernails, that same fleshy pink for thin legs as they run across that endless green.  A cadmium shirt, and the washed-out cobalt of denim cutoff jeans.  Add blue to black for the hair, tied back, a horse's tail swooshing side to side like a pendulum with each stride.


My Thoughts:

T. Greenwood is another author that I've meant to read for a long time.  I'm glad I selected The Golden Hour to start my journey through her writings.  This is the tale of a damaged woman, Wyn, an artist, who tries to live her life and forget a terrible attack when she was a young teen.  She told part of the truth about that day, but not all of it.  Really not all of it.  And this has stunted her growth as an artist, as a wife, as a friend, as a mother.  When Wyn learns that evidence has been found that might set the man free who was convicted of her attack, she runs away to an island in Maine, to a house that her best friend owns.  There she finds many things, not the least of which is herself.  I liked this book very much and loved the descriptive quality of the writing - the colors, the setting.  I'll be trying other books by T. Greenwood soon.


Blurb:

On a spring afternoon long ago, thirteen-year-old Wyn Davies took a shortcut through the woods in her New Hampshire hometown and became a cautionary tale. Now, twenty years later, she lives in New York, on the opposite side of a duplex from her ex, with their four-year-old daughter shuttling between them. Wyn makes her living painting commissioned canvases of birch trees to match her clients’ furnishings. But the nagging sense that she has sold her artistic soul is soon eclipsed by a greater fear. Robby Rousseau, who has spent the past two decades in prison for a terrible crime against her, may be released based on new DNA evidence—unless Wyn breaks her silence about that afternoon.

To clear her head, refocus her painting, and escape an even more present threat, Wyn agrees to be temporary caretaker for a friend’s new property on a remote Maine island. The house has been empty for years, and in the basement Wyn discovers a box of film canisters labeled “Epitaphs and Prophecies.” Like time capsules, the photographs help her piece together the life of the house’s former owner, an artistic young mother, much like Wyn. But there is a mystery behind the images too, and unraveling it will force Wyn to finally confront what happened in those woods—and perhaps escape them at last.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

He Said, She Said - Erin Kelly

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly


First Paragraph:

We stand side by side in front of the speckled mirror.  Our reflections avoid eye contact.  Like me, she's wearing black and like mine, her clothes have clearly been chosen with care and respect.  Neither of us is on trial, or not officially, but we both know that in cases like this, it's always the woman who is judged.


My Thoughts:

Erin Kelly is an author that I've meant to try for a long time.  Since this is a 'big' year for a solar eclipse (less than 4 weeks away), He Said, She Said seemed an appropriate place to begin.  And, yes, solar eclipses play a big part in the story.  I listened to this book on audio and it was perfectly narrated by Helen Johns and Jonathan Broadbent.  This is quite the twisty tale.  Not particularly fast moving and also lots of pretty unlikable characters, but I was caught up in the drama.  Told from both Kit and Laura's points of view and taking us backwards and forwards in time, we eventually get the entire picture of what happened in 1999 and then, what happened in the later years.  I liked this one a lot and will be checking out other books by Erin Kelly.  Recommended.


Blurb:

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.
 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Color of Water in July - Nora Carroll

The Color of Water in July by Nora Carroll


First Paragraph:

There must be a precise moment when wet cement turns dry, when it no longer accepts footprints or scratched-in declarations of love; an ordinary moment, unnoticed, just like any.  But in that moment, the facts of a life can change.


My Thoughts:

The Color of Water in July was a nice read for summer.  Set in Michigan on a lake, it tells the tale of Jess and her family, of the secrets that have been carried forward year after year, and of Jess' discovery of them.  She returns to her family's 'summer cottage' in order to arrange a sale.  Her grandmother, Mamie, has left her the property and she's anxious to get the job done and return to her life in New York.  Told from several viewpoints and from various points in time, this was not a thriller, but it was a story that I wanted to finish.  There were definitely secrets and hidden things.  Jess herself was a bit clueless and tame, but she finds herself in the end.  I was satisfied.


Blurb:

It’s been a long seventeen years since Jess last saw her grandmother or visited the family cottage set on an idyllic lake in Northern Michigan. For all that time, she’s been haunted by loss—of her innocence and her ability to trust and, most of all, of a profound summer romance that might have been something more. So when her grandmother leaves the house to her, Jess summons her courage and returns to a place full of memories—and secrets.

There, she stumbles upon old letters and photographs of a time not so much forgotten as buried. As she begins to unravel the hidden histories of her mother and her grandmother, she makes a startling discovery about a tragic death that prompted her family’s slow undoing. With every uneven and painful step into the past, Jess comes closer to a truth that could alter her own path—and open a door to a different future.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Breakdown - B. A. Paris

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris


First Paragraph:

The thunder starts as we're saying goodbye, leaving each other for the summer holidays ahead.  A loud crack echoes off the ground, making Connie jump.  John laughs, the hot air dense around us.
     'You need to hurry!' he shouts.
     With a quick wave I run to my car.  As I reach it, my mobile starts ringing, its sound muffled in my bag.  From the ringtone I know that it's Matthew.


My Thoughts:

I have not yet read B.A. Paris' first book, Behind Closed Doors, though I've heard a lot about it.  I do own a print copy of it.  However, I decided to go ahead and read, or rather listen, to her second book, The Breakdown.  I have really been on a listening binge - also I've been walking a lot at the gym, so it's all been a good thing.  Narrated by Georgia Maguire, who does a really excellent job, The Breakdown is quite the page turner.  First of all, I'll say that I guessed a lot of the solution to the story very early on - doesn't bother me though.  I know that some are disappointed when they figure out 'whodunit'.  Not me.  That being said, I did have a few surprises along the way.  Cass' worry that she is experiencing 'early onset dementia', like her mother, was very, very sad.  I do understand about caring for parents with dementia.  It's a tragic thing and hard to recover from.  Her fear and anxiety amped up the storyline, but it did get a little repetitive over time.  I'll share that I listened to this book - all 9hrs-20min of it - in just under 2 days.  If that tells you anything.  So, my final answer regarding The Breakdown - a good psychological thriller.  And I'll be reading this author's first book soon and looking forward to her third.    


Blurb:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not a Sound - Heather Gudenkauf

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf


First Paragraph:

I find her sitting all by herself in the emergency waiting room, her lovely features distorted from the swelling and bruising.  Only a few patients remain, unusual for a Friday night and a full moon.  Sitting across from her, an elderly woman coughs wetly into a handkerchief while her husband, arms folded across his chest and head tilted back, snores gently.  Another man with no discernible ailment stares blankly up at the television mounted on the wall.  Canned laughter fills the room.


My Thoughts:

Not a Sound was a good read for me, or rather, a good listen.  Narrated by Julia Whelan, the story kept me quite absorbed and not minding my walking regimen at the local rec center.  Amelia Winn is an experienced ER nurse who is also trained in collection of forensic evidence.  As the result of an accident while she's walking a victim to her car, Amelia's injuries include the loss of her hearing.  This is, of course, quite an adjustment and Amelia doesn't do well for quite some time.  Finally, however, she's ready to resume more normal life, look for a job, and see how she can manage with her service dog, Stitch.  The mystery was not particularly hard for me to guess, but I know that I tend to be skeptical of everyone in books such as these and often figure out the 'villain'.  I loved reading about Stitch and how he assisted Amelia in her daily life.  This was a book that is 'dear to the heart' of the author, Heather, also a person with a profound hearing loss.  And the story included an oncologist and cancer treatments - the author's son had a rare form of bone cancer and is now an 8-year survivor - wonderful!  I read another book by this author a while back that I didn't like as well, but I need to try her other books.  This one got a thumbs-up from me!


Blurb:

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Down a Dark Road - Linda Castillo

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo


First Paragraph:

Two Years Earlier
He waited until the children slept.  It was his final kindness.  Give them a few more hours of peace before he took from them the thing they loved most.  Before he shattered their innocence forever.  Took something from himself he would never get back.


My Thoughts:

Linda Castillo's series featuring Police Chief Kate Burkholder is one of my favorites.  I look forward to a new book each summer.  Down a Dark Road is #9 and it's a good one.  As these books continue, we learn more and more about Kate's life as a child and young adult - her Amish life.  She left in her late teens and became a police officer, but she eventually returned to her home area as the Chief of Police.  She understands the issues that the Amish people face, but she also is shunned by many of them because of her current life.  This book is quite gripping and involves a hostage situation and some questionable police decisions.  Kate is also called on the carpet by the town council of Painter's Mill, mostly a political decision, but one that could have consequences in later books.  I listened to Kathleen McInerney's narration of the story and it was as good as ever.  This is a series that I love and I'll be watching for the next book, hopefully in a year or so.


Blurb:

Two years ago, Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire, putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. But this is personal for Kate. She grew up with Joseph King. As a thirteen year old Amish girl, she’d worshipped the ground he walked on. She never could have imagined the nightmare scenario that becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and takes his five children hostage at their Amish uncle’s farm. Armed and desperate, he has nothing left to lose.

Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate makes contact with King only to find herself trapped with a killer. Or is he? All King asks of her is to help him prove his innocence—and he releases her unharmed. Kate is skeptical, but when the facts and the evidence don’t align, she begins to wonder who she should trust. Spurned by some of her fellow cops, she embarks on her own investigation only to unearth an unspeakable secret—and someone who is willing to commit murder to keep it buried.