This Land is No Stranger: A Nordic Mystery Thriller by Sarah Hollister and Gil Reavill – A #BookReview – #nordicnoir

Book Blurb:

This Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister and Gil ReavillWith a career that is spiraling out of control and a nasty drug habit that has taken her to rock bottom, NYC detective Veronika Brand is looking for a way out. When a call from Sweden interrupts her personal chaos, the foreign tongue of her distant Swedish relatives pulls her across the Atlantic with the lure of adventure and escape. But what she finds is far from the idyllic picture her grandmother painted. Instead of long languid summers basking in the midnight sun, she unearths secrets long since buried in the frozen ground.

In Krister Hammar, a local Sami land rights lawyer, she thinks she has found a kindred spirit. But when they stumble upon a brutal murder scene in a manor house owned by the rivals of her family, she starts questioning his truth. She finds herself being moved like a chess piece between the desolate region of Härjedalen in the north and the steely-cold streets of Stockholm, scrambling to find the links between her family history, a trail of missing Roma girls, and a series of vicious murders. In unfamiliar territory on the wrong side of the law, Veronika has her sights set only on the beast that preys on the wicked. Will she be able to see past the lure of the northern lights to the dark secrets that threaten to destroy her?

[Note: I chose this novel as my maternal grandmother was 100% Swedish having immigrated to Minnesota, one of the many “sons.” I thought I’d give some time to the Swedish side as I always seem to favor the Irish side, i.e. Reading Ireland Month—March, coming up. Hubby found the ebook first, however, and got a bit of culture shock. It is, after all, described as Nordic noir or Scanoir and does tend to run dark. As Donna Moreau (author of Waiting Wives mentioned), “it is an intriguing family saga intertwined with the …mysterious Roma people.” Aware of the impact of the Irish Travelers in Ireland, the Romani people are not  genetically related and represent a much larger population in Sweden*. A surprising revelation.]

His Review:

Revenge is a dish best served cold! Can an eighty year old crime between families continue to this day? The tale of the Hatfields and McCoys compares closely with the ongoing animosity between the Dalgren and Voss families. Veronika Brand is the granddaughter of the Dalgren family and is invited back to Sweden to attend a family reunion for her 95 year old relative.

This Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister and Gil ReavillIn 1940 when the Nazi’s occupied Sweden, her ancestors began printing pro-Nazi propaganda after the country is occupied. A splinter group led by the family Voss decides to stop the paper by burning down the printing establishment. They are not aware that some of the Dalgrens are asleep in the apartment over the printing shop. The death of the Dalgrens in the fire starts the feud between the Dalgrens and Voss’.

The Voss family is very wealthy, ruthless and are involved in many nefarious endeavors including prostitution and slavery. They have the power. A vengeful Dalgren family is hardly a problem. The Voss family also owns and operates the largest trucking firm in Europe. Young Romani girls are kidnapped or otherwise drawn into a world of sex slavery and poor diets. They finally die from poor nutrition and continual sexual brutality from customers who use them in total depravity.

The inter-familial war of revenge is continual and brutal. Veronika Brand is a former New York detective who becomes embroiled in the conflict. Brutal murders and lack of any social responsibility drove me to the conclusion that this may not be a future vacation destination. Cruelty and death are portrayed as an integral part of the psyche of the northern Swedish families. There seemed to be no division between the young and old regarding a more innocent mind set.

CE WilliamsThe narrative is well written although exhausting to read. Continual brutal murder and total disregard for human life with wicked visuals of red snow were excessive. The ending, however, was satisfying and surprising! I kept wondering why a well-trained New York detective would stay in such a toxic environment! The conclusion explained a lot.  4 stars-CE Williams 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from publisher through NetGalley. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: LYS
Print Length: 302 pages
Publication Date: March 11, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: This Land is No Stranger [Amazon]
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Sarah Hollister - authorThe Authors: Sarah Hollister is an American writer and playwright, living the Scandinavian reality on one of the 24,000 islands in the Swedish archipelago near Stockholm. Her plays Sisters’ Dance and Relevant Truth have been produced in New York City, and she is a member of the Dramatikerförbund (Sweden’s drama guild), which awarded her residences at the Henning Mankell House in northern Sweden. She is a founding member of the Stockholm Writers Festival.

Gil Reavill - authorA New York-based author, screenwriter and journalist, Gil Reavill often writes about crime, both in fiction, with the 13 series of thrillers (13 Hollywood Apes, 13 Stolen Girls, 13 Under the Wire) and non-fiction, with Mafia Summit and Aftermath, Inc. Reavill also co-wrote the screenplay for the corrupt-cop feature film, Dirty, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. While growing up in Wisconsin, in the American Upper Midwest, I was surrounded with Nordic immigrant culture, Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish communities. Later on, I discovered Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, and, especially, Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow. I was interested in the cross-fertilization of American and Scandinavian crime fiction, the trans-Atlantic influences flowing both ways. –This text refers to the hardcover edition.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

*Swedish Romani info obtained from Wikipedia.

In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite Book 8) by Robert Dugoni – a #BookReview – #kidnappingthriller – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“…certified tracker, often referred to as a sign-cutter.”

Book Blurb:

What family secrets are behind two disappearances? Seattle detective Tracy Crosswhite is determined to uncover the truth in the latest installment of New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s heart-stopping series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniReturning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage—and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts—to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead.

My Review:

I was thrilled when Thomas & Mercer granted me this advance copy through NetGalley as I’ve become a solid fan of the Tracy Crosswhite series.

In Her Tracks by Robert DugoniSeattle detective Crosswhite has had a bit of a transition recently following maternity leave, expecting to return to her position as part of the Violent Crimes Unit and finding herself instead in Cold Cases. The retiring detective of Cold Cases left a couple of awesome, caring shoes to fill as well as credible stats. Violent Crimes partner Kins, however, taps her for just a bit of help in his active kidnapping case and as Crosswhite begins her journey into Cold Cases finds a thread that might provide a crossover.

Big hook at the beginning gets the ball rolling into her cold case while Kins’ investigation adds dimension to the active case. Crosswhite still struggles with some of her history and the kidnapping cases heap on the anxiety and apprehension.

The author does an amazing job of gradually upping the tension (the pacing is perfect) with Kins’ active missing person case as well as Crosswhite’s Cold Case, slipping into the house as a fly on the wall of three brothers living in their parents old home, persons of interest in the missing person’s case. Dugoni has a way of eeking out the most sinister despots, highlighting all the warts, the character development coursing seamlessly between Crosswhite’s team, their investigation, and the scheming predators.

Crosswhite is relentless, focused. The well-plotted storyline just flows, grabs and holds attention as it builds toward a pulsing, overwhelming sense of urgency—so close…hurry!! And so satisfying. Should I mention the little red herrings and one devil of a shocker near the end I NEVER saw coming in Kins’ case (while I’d correctly guessed the resolution to Crosswhite’s Cold Case).

I’ve read a number of Dugoni’s books, including a couple from the Charles Jenkins series, as well as three others in the Crosswhite series, Close to Home, A Steep Price, and A Cold Trail. This one, however, may be my favorite, until another comes out, that is. Highly recommend this thriller and the series, though this could work as a standalone if this one is your introduction to the series. (Trust me, you’ll catch up quickly.) On pre-order now.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Crime Fiction, Kidnapping Thrillers, Murder
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

  • ASIN : B087Q1QNTL

Print Length: 340 pages
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble 

Robert Dugoni - authorThe Author: Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 7 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Charles Jenkins espionage series, and the David Sloane legal thriller series.

His stand-alone novels include The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novel, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell – Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series.

Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and the two-time winner of the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He is also a two-time finalist for the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award.

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Visit his website at http://www.robertdugoni.com, and follow him on twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Bones of the Innocent: A Mason Collins Crime Thriller 3 by John A Connell – A CE #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars 

Book Blurb:

Bones of the Innocent by John A ConnellMason Collins grapples with secrets and murder as he races against time to save the lives of abducted teenagers in a case a twisted as the streets of Tangier’s medina.

Summer, 1946. Just as assassins from a shadowy organization close in for the kill, a flamboyant stranger offers Mason a way out: He must accompany the stranger to Morocco to investigate the abductions of teenage girls. Girls that vanished without a trace.

Once Mason lands in Tangier, he discovers that nothing—or no one—is what it seems. This playground for the super rich is called the wickedest city in the world, and he realizes those who could help him the most harbor a terrible secret.

But just as Mason begins to unravel the mystery, the assassins have once again picked up his trail. Now, Mason must put his life on the line to find the girls before it’s too late. If he lives that long…

Bones of the Innocent is the third in the Mason Collins series of historical crime thrillers that bestselling author Lee Child declares is “…a must-read series for me.”

If you like your murder mystery served with a dose of adrenaline and a dash of the bizarre then you’ll love Bones!

His Review:

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’” is very appropriate for this tale. John Connell has developed his character, Mason Collins, into an international cop for hire. Bones of the Innocent by John A ConnellThe setting is Tangier and is a very good reason not to visit the place. From the onset Mason is at odds with most of the police force in the area.

The other characters are well developed and most of them are hateful. When diplomats’ children are among the missing, it sparks a big investigation into the missing youths. Tangier is a melting pot of many cultures and distrust of other cultures is a key element in this narrative. The dialogue points out the problem with multi-languages being used in a very small country.

As the plot develops, the local police are less than thrilled with the intrusion of this outside detective.  There seem to be many false leads leading to the climax. Distrust between ethnic groups hampers straight forward investigations. Disparity between the haves and have-nots is everywhere.

CE WilliamsThe author keeps this story going at a fast clip and a well-scheduled reading interval will help with the book. The climax is rewarding and satisfactory.  I found the loss of many different ethnic children very disturbing and disheartening. 5 stars

We received this digital download from BookBub and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my honest opinions. 5 stars – C.E. Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Nailhead Publishing
ASIN: B07T1PGV1G
Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: July 5, 2019
Source: Publisher and BookBub
Title Link: Bones of the Innocent [Amazon]
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John A Connell - authorThe Author: John A. Connell is a 2016 Barry Award nominee and the author of the Mason Collins series. He was born in Atlanta then grew up in Ohio, New York and Virginia before ending up in Atlanta again at the age of 13. He has a BA in Anthropology, and has been a jazz pianist, a stock boy in a brassiere factory, a machinist, repairer of newspaper racks, and a printing-press operator. He then moved to Los Angeles to work as a motion picture camera operator for film and TV, where he worked on films like Jurassic Park and Thelma and Louise, and on TV shows, including NYPD Blue and The Practice. John and his wife spend their time between the U.S. and France.
He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.
John loves to hear from readers, so please feel free to contact him at john@johnaconnell.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Missing Sister by Elle Marr – a #BookReview #thriller

Did CE, the Vicarious Blogger* love this one?

Book Blurb:

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIn Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one.

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…

My Thoughts 

Debut author Elle Marr apparently hits it out of the ballpark with The Missing Sister.

Officially released on April Fool’s Day, she has garnered more than 3,000 ratings on Goodreads but at less than a 3.61 average. At kinder, gentler Amazon, just over 500 ratings (as of April 2) with a 3.9 average rating (one day after release). Someone did one bang-up job of promoting and marketing because it certainly had the buzz before it hit the official board.

The location of Paris is a crucial component of the well-plotted suspense identical twin device. Shayna, the twin purportedly favored by their parents for being the serious goal-driven half, has come to identify and return home with the body of her sister. But the message she finds in Angel’s apartment contradicts that the body they possess at the Paris morgue might be she. Trust no one should mean that…but Shayna is also the damaged twin.

It is Angela that received the wild side, at times pushing her twin well beyond her boundaries. Angela appears to have found a more accepting “family” in the Parisian academic scene, where she was pushing through a doctoral degree. It would seem she had a comfortable safe location close to her studies and specifically the catacombs underneath the city–until she disappeared and “found” days later in the River Seine.

Here is my problem: Shayna has a finite amount of time to either claim the body and return home with it, or, feeling she would have “felt” it if her sister died, has the same short time to find her alive. But why would she be hiding? And the pace slows

Shortly upon her arrival, the reader is introduced to the first of a number of suspicious characters, red herrings, lovely jaunts through the city and atmospheric street-side cafes. (Brought back so many memories, though most of ours consisted of the cathedrals since that was where we were singing.) In between the sojourns, she digs into Angela’s papers, belongings, anything looking for additional twin-type clues. She finds an occasional clue, but they come painfully slow. The process doesn’t get really serious until near the conclusion and Shayna makes some bad choices in between.

There is shared history to examine, the relationship between the twins (as with my own father, the identical twin deemed the bad one), and the secret–that awful secret between them that drives what appears to be a permanent wedge. (In the case of my dad and uncle also a permanent one. I never understood that, until additional information came out long after his death.) In this case, I couldn’t identify with either Shayna nor Angela, and while I enjoyed the travelogue, didn’t the French characters. The big reveal doesn’t exactly come as a shock–you might have guessed it all along–but I did enjoy the hair-raising climax and finally getting the real skinny.

A meaningful effort for a debut and I can see where this author will grow into a compelling storyteller–this was a good start. Just wish it hadn’t been spoon-fed quite so sparingly. This is one you’ll either connect with or won’t, but may provide some entertainment in the meantime. I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a name you’ll see on award lists. 3.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Missing Sister by Elle MarrIdentical twins are at times a psychological mystery. Elle has wrapped this up masterfully in this tale of intrigue and suspense involving identical twins. They have many of the characteristics I have read about including developing their own language and calligraphy.

Families always seem to have dominant and recessive individuals within siblings. Our twins, Shayna and Angela, are no exception to the rule. Angela is the strong dominant twin and Shelby is the recessive twin, or is she? A death of both their parents while Angela is completing a Doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris puts this conjecture to the test.

Angela is missing! Shayna is called to Paris to identify a body in the morgue and possibly send it back to San Diego, California for burial. The morgue is closed for the weekend so Shayna goes to her sister’s apartment to pack her things.

The psychic alarm in Shayna’s head has not gone off! She is certain that were her sister dead she would have felt something in the ether. Thankfully Angela’s boyfriend Sebastian is there to help her pack and go through Angela’s things. A whiteboard in Angela’s apartment has a cryptic message in their personal script, “Alive: Trust No One!”

CE WilliamsOur author, Elle Mann, develops twists and turns more explosive than a roller coaster. Who can she trust to help her solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance? Skillfully the reader is drawn into intrigues which include over two hundred miles of catacombs under Paris. Read this book and enjoy the intrigue which is “The Missing Sister!” 5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, Women’s Detective Fiction, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542006058
ASIN: B07QYMXX41
Print Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Missing Sister (Amazon)

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Two Five of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Elle Marr - authorThe Author: Originally from Sacramento, debut author Elle Marr explored the urban wilderness of Southern California before spending three wine-and-cheese-filled years in France, where she earned a master’s degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris. She now lives and writes outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, son, and one very demanding feline. Connect with her online at http://www.ellemarr.com, on facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

*As coined by Nina of The Cozy Pages