Book Review – Want To Know A Secret? By Frieda McFadden

Freida McFadden is one of the new authors that I’ve recently discovered whose work just keeps me glued to the pages. Take this book, for instance – it’s about a wife/mother/YouTuber with secrets. Given the blurb alone, this isn’t something I would have normally picked up. It would have been an easy pass because it’s not the kind of plot I’m normally interested in. And even while reading it, I asked myself what I was doing because, again, this isn’t the type of plot I’m normally interested in, plus, I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and yet – I couldn’t put it down! My eyes literally devoured it at breakneck speed! Bonus points for the nasty little twist she put at the end to sink the dagger of surprise deep between the reader’s shoulder blades. She’s quickly becoming an automatic yes author for me!

Book Review: Hold Back The Night By Sean Lynch

Two escaped convicts, a raging wildfire, and an innocent family in both of their paths . . .

One word is all I need to describe this book – intense. From the SWAT scenes to the criminal element to the fire, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat, breathless, not sure whether you should beg for it to stop or beg for more. I chose more and was quite satisfied with the outcome.

From Goodreads:

As wildfires blaze in Northern California, a female SWAT team operative hunts two escaped convicts in a heart-pounding thriller inspired by real-life cases and crackling with authenticity from bestselling author and law enforcement veteran Sean Lynch.

If you think you’re scared now…wait until dark.

Three unsuspecting women. Two escaped convicts. One shocking night of escalating terror. From acclaimed crime writer and law enforcement veteran Sean Lynch…

It begins with a spark. A simple act of carelessness that ignites the autumn grass of the Sierra Nevadas. In minutes, the flames spread. A raging wildfire sweeps down the mountain, engulfing a van from the local prison–giving two chained convicts a chance to escape…
Two desperate men. Psychologically disturbed. Extremely dangerous.

In Farnham County live three very different women. Marjorie Guthrie, a wealthy suburban housewife fleeing an abusive marriage; Mary Hernandez, her troubled, rebellious sister; and Leanne Strayer, a young SWAT deputy with a dark past. All three share one thing in common: they are in the wrong place at the wrong time….
Today, their worst fears come true. Tonight, the nightmares come home.

Book Review: At First Light By Barbara Nickless

Gritty murders full of symbolism. Viking lore and ruins. An academic and a detective hot on the killer’s trail.

This was a smart book that read like watching a movie and kept me guessing until the end! The characters were great, well developed, perfectly flawed, and interesting. The plot was enthralling, and the Viking history, semiotics, and lore were fascinating! This is the first in a brilliant new series that is sure to be a success!

From Goodreads: Ritual murder. Archaic clues. A visionary killer. In this heart-stopping novel by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Sydney Rose Parnell series, words can kill.

On the muddy banks of the Calumet River, a body has been found posed next to a series of mysterious glyphs and bearing wounds from a ritualistic slaying. Chicago detective Addie Bisset knows only one man who can decipher the message left by the killer: her friend Dr. Evan Wilding. A brilliant forensic semiotician, Evan decodes the etchings as Viking Age runes. They suggest either human sacrifice or righteous punishment. But to what god? And for what sins?

Only one thing is clear from the disturbing runic riddles: there are more victims to come.

As Evan races to determine the identity of the Viking Poet, he and Addie uncover the killer’s most terrifying secret yet: the motive. This startling discovery puts Evan’s life in mortal danger, and verse by ancient verse, time is running out. 

Book Review: One By One By Frieda McFadden

Three couples leave for a rural resort vacation, but when their car breaks down they find themselves stranded and lost in the woods . . . but are they alone?

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and while the plot was no less compelling than the first, I found the writing a little weaker in this one. I was so drawn in by the story, however, that I barely noticed the little hiccups after a while as I sped through the pages!

From Goodreads: One by one, they will get what they deserve…

A night spent sleeping on dirt and leaves is not how Claire Matchett expected to spend her vacation.

She thought this would be a break from the stresses of work and raising her young children. A chance to repair her damaged marriage. A week of hiking and hot tubs with two other couple friends. It sounded like heaven.

Then Claire’s minivan breaks down on a lonely dirt road. With no cell reception, the group has no choice but to hike the rest of the way to their hotel. But it turns out the woods aren’t as easy to navigate as they thought.

Hours later, they are lost. Hopelessly lost.

And as they navigate deeper into the woods, the members of their party are struck down mysteriously one by one. Has a wild animal been hunting them? Or is the hunter one of them?

But as more time passes, one thing becomes clear:

Only one of them will return home alive. 

Book Review: The Girl In The Moss By Loreth Anne White

An ex-cop strives to find her new normal as she reconciles recently recovered memories about her traumatic past, tries to earn her P.I. license, and her feelings about her engagement to a man who’s still with the force. A new client’s cold case may be just what she needs – if it doesn’t end up getting her killed.

This thriller had twists out the wazoo! Just when one revelation was made, everything was turned upside down by the next! Not my favorite by this author, but a solid, suspenseful read.

This is the 3rd book in a series, which I didn’t know when I picked it up. It definitely wasn’t necessary to read the previous books, but it probably would have helped with certain aspects of the MC’s backstory.

From Goodreads: A shallow grave exposes deadly secrets as bestselling author Loreth Anne White brings her thrilling series of romantic suspense to its shocking conclusion…

Disgraced ex-cop Angie Pallorino is determined to make a new start for herself as a private investigator. But first, she and her lover, newly promoted homicide detective James Maddocks, attempt a quiet getaway to rekindle a romance struggling in the shadows of their careers. The peace doesn’t last long when human skeletal remains are found in a nearby mossy grove.

This decades-old mystery is just what Angie needs to establish her new career—even as it thrusts her and Maddocks back into the media spotlight, once again endangering their tenuous relationship.

Then, when Angie’s inquiry into the old crime intersects with a cold case from her own policing past—one that a detective on Maddocks’s new team is working—the investigation takes a startling twist. It puts more than Angie’s last shot at redemption and a future with Maddocks at risk. The mystery of the girl in the moss could kill her.

Book Review: Do Not Disturb By Freida McFadden

After committing a horrible crime, a woman goes on the run before the police find out. When a blizzard forces her off the road, she seeks shelter at out of the way, creepy, rundown Baxter Motel, where the cute owner is friendly, but the tenants have a history of winding up dead.

I’ve found a new author! One who writes suspenseful, Hitchcockian-type books that keep me on the edge of my seat! You may think you have this one figured out, but you may be wrong! Parts were not completely unpredictable, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the epilogue, but there’s no denying that this twisty thriller had me hooked! (I may have immediately bought another book by this author. And I may have immediately started reading it. My apologies to the hordes of unread books I have that have been patiently waiting their turn. #sorrynotsorry )

From Goodreads:

Quinn Alexander has committed an unthinkable crime.

To avoid spending her life in prison, Quinn makes a run for it. She leaves behind her home, her job, and her family. She grabs her passport and heads for the northern border before the police can discover what she’s done.

But when an unexpected snowstorm forces her off the road, Quinn must take refuge at the broken-down, isolated Baxter Motel. The handsome and kindly owner, Nick Baxter, is only too happy to offer her a cheap room for the night.

Unfortunately, the Baxter Motel isn’t the quiet, safe haven it seemed to be. The motel has a dark and disturbing past. And in the dilapidated house across the way, the silhouette of Nick’s ailing wife is always at the window. Always watching.

In the morning, Quinn must leave the motel. She’ll pack up her belongings and get back on the road to freedom.

But first, she must survive the night.

Do Not Disturb is a Hitchcock-style psychological thriller that will keep you tearing through the pages until you reach the shocking conclusion!

And The 2021 Al Blanchard Award Goes To . . .

. . . alas, not me but someone else! But I was one of the top 4 and received an honorable mention for my crime/mystery short story, “Lady Killer,” so that’s pretty cool. I was unable to attend this year’s Crime Bake convention in Massachusetts, but they sent me this award certificate to commemorate the achievement.

This is the second time I’ve made it to the top 10 of the Al Blanchard Awards, but my first time as a finalist, and I have to say, it was pretty exciting!

The award submission period opens each January and is open to all writers living in New England or writers who have written a story in the mystery, thriller, suspense, caper, or horror genre that takes place in New England. Find out more info here.

For those who don’t know who Al was: (as taken from the Crime Bake website)

“Al Blanchard was MWA-NE chapter president and a member of Sisters in Crime when he and then-president of Sisters in Crime New England Gin Mackey seized the initiative to organize a regional mystery conference for New England. He then served as co-chair for the first three New England Crime Bake conferences.

Al exemplified everything great about mystery writing. He was the grateful recipient of mentoring and advice from writers who came before him, and he was always ready to reach out to new and aspiring writers to share his experience and knowledge. He was a dedicated and prolific writer whose career was exploding at the time of his tragic death in 2004.

The New England Crime Bake Committee established the Al Blanchard Award in his memory to annually honor the best crime short story by a New England writer or with a New England setting.”

To all those genre fans out there, happy reading and happy writing!

Book Review: A Dark Lure By Loreth Anne White

A woman who escaped her long-term abduction by a serial killer leaves her old life behind and starts over at a ranch in a remote part of Canada. Although her captor was arrested and died in jail, she still can’t let her guard down, and now the patriarch who runs the place where she calls home is dying, threatening her new way of life – but her actual life is also in danger.

I’m not entirely sure why I liked this book so much. It’s dark, and dreary, and has trigger warnings for days. It also has light, and hope, and the promise of new beginnings. Plenty of suspense and tension kept me hooked, crafty twists kept me guessing, and I stayed up way too late reading the end. This author’s been a bit hit or miss for me, but this was a hit!

From Goodreads:

Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.

Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?

As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.

Book Review: Five Little Pigs By Agatha Christie

After her mother is convicted of killing her father, a young girl is sent to live with relatives in another country. On her 21st birthday, she’s given a letter from her mother that declares her innocence. Someway, somehow, the young woman must find out the truth about what happened all those years ago. Hercule Poirot to the rescue!

I thought I had read almost all of Christie’s books, but when this one showed up in my Kindle daily deals email and it didn’t sound familiar, I decided to scoop it up.

It’s amazing how this book, written in the 1940s, still manages to compare with those written today. Truly the Queen of Mystery, Christie weaves a tangled web of secrets and deceit, giving the reader all the clues they need to figure out who committed the crime while creating enough diversions and plausible scenarios to keep them guessing!

From Goodreads: In Agatha Christie’s classic, Five Little Pigs, beloved detective Hercule Poirot races to solve a case from out of the past.

Beautiful Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, but just like the nursery rhyme, there were five other “little pigs” who could have done it: Philip Blake (the stockbroker), who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist), who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcée), who had her roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess), who had none; and Angela Warren (the disfigured sister), who cried all the way home.

Sixteen years later, Caroline’s daughter is determined to prove her mother’s innocence, and Poirot just can’t get that nursery rhyme out of his mind.

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