The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan – #BookReview – #psychologicalthrillers

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

A Reading Ireland Month book 4 leaf clover

Book Blurb:

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernanFor fans of the compulsive psychological suspense of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a mother-daughter story—one running from a horrible truth, and the other fighting to reveal it—that twists and turns in shocking ways, from the internationally bestselling author of The Scholar and The Ruin.

First Rule: Make them like you.
Second Rule: Make them need you.
Third Rule: Make them pay.
They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.
They think I’m working hard to impress them.
They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.
 They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

His Review:

Law schools across the nation have different academic statuses. Maine has very good schools but they pale to those in Virginia. Hannah Rokeby needs to fill her experience basket and applies for a position with “The Innocence Project” and Professor Robert Parekh. Although the positions have been filled, she is able to coerce the good professor with knowledge of events he would like to keep quiet.

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernanEight hundred clients were clamoring for assistance from The Innocence Project. One of the cases was “The Dandridge Case.” Dandridge had been found guilty of rape and murder and received a thirteen years to life sentence. His case was coming up for appeal the following week. Hannah wanted to be involved but another of the volunteers had been selected. Hannah devised a way to get her to quit the project.

Dervla writes a compelling tome into the life of a third-year law student. There are many hours spent reviewing the case as originally tried looking for loopholes.

After tricking the other member of a three-person review team into leaving for a job interview, she is put on the review team. She immediately starts investigating the entire case. Circumstances proceed and show that the investigation and discovery techniques leave a lot to be desired. Can the team prove that Dandridge had been unfairly tried and convicted?

CE WilliamsEnjoy this book as you find that becoming a lawyer is not an easy task and one’s personal life can get in the way of hours of investigation. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: William Morrow
ASIN: B0983LWC3J
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: May 10, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): The Murder Rule [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
 

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The Author: Award-winning, number one bestseller Dervla McTiernan has established herself as one of the biggest names in crime fiction. Her books have garnered critical acclaim around the world and sold over 400,000 copies in Australia and New Zealand alone.

In 2022, McTiernan returns with her first-ever standalone thriller, The Murder Rule. Inspired by the true story of a young law student who worked at the Innocence Project and eventually uncovered evidence which exonerated a man who had been in prison for 26 years, McTiernan has created an unforgettable, twisty thriller – the must-read novel of the year.

Sign up for Dervla’s Newsletter at https://dervlamctiernan.com/newsletter/

About Dervla:

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Rúin, is a critically acclaimed international bestseller published around the world. The Rúin won the Ned Kelly, Davitt and Barry Awards and was shortlisted for numerous others. It was on the Amazon US Best Book of the Year list 2018 and screen rights were snapped up by Colin Farrell’s production company and Hopscotch Features. Dervla’s second book, The Scholar, won the International Thriller Award and debuted straight into the Nielsen Bookscan Top 5 on release in 2019, and her third, The Good Turn, went straight to no.1, confirming her place as one of Australia’s best crime writers.

https://dervlamctiernan.com/

Instagram: @dervlamctiernan

Facebook and Twitter: @DervlaMcTiernan

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Have a great weekend!

The Darkest Place: A Robin Lockwood Novel by Phillip Margolin – #BookReview – #legalthrillers

Book Blurb:

Defense attorney Robin Lockwood faces an unimaginable personal disaster and her greatest professional challenge in the next New York Times bestselling Phillip Margolin’s new legal thriller, The Darkest Place.

The Darkest Place by Phillip MargolinRobin Lockwood is an increasingly prominent defense attorney in the Portland community. A Yale graduate and former MMA fighter, she’s becoming known for her string of innovative and successful defense strategies. As a favor to a judge, Robin takes on the pro bono defense of a reprehensible defendant charged with even more reprehensible crimes. But what she doesn’t know—what she can’t know—is how this one decision, this one case, will wreak complete devastation on her life and plans.

As she recovers from those consequences, Robin heads home to her small town of Elk Grove and the bosom of her family. As she tries to recuperate, a unique legal challenge presents itself—Marjorie Loman, a surrogate, is accused of kidnapping the baby she carried for another couple, and assaulting that couple in the process. There’s no question that she committed these actions but that’s not the same as being guilty of the crime. As Robin works to defend her client, she learns that Marjorie Loman has been hiding under a fake identity and is facing a warrant for her arrest for another, even more serious crime. And buried within the truth may once again be unexpected, deadly consequences.

His Review:

Sequestered in a remote location in Oregon, Marjorie Loman was surprised by a knock on her door late at night. Two police officers were standing at her door. They give her the news that her husband’s body was found in an alley behind a trash can near Portland. Laughing might not have been the best response to the news!

The Darkest Place by Phillip MargolinHaving your assets tied up in probate calls for desperate measures. Surrogates were being paid around $50,000 to carry another families’ child. The nine months would cover the period waiting for the courts to release their joint properties. She will then be well set for the rest of her life. Her husband had taken most of the couple’s assets and converted them to gold bars but no one knew where the bars were hidden.

Author Margolin always writes intricate plots with some clever twists. This book is no exception. I formed a quick empathy for Marjorie and did not understand why the people in Oregon were so caustic towards her. She wants to keep the baby after a nurse lets him sleep with her the night of his birth. The subsequent psychosis that followed that error made a very gripping tale. I was not aware of the post-partum problems associated with surrogate births.

CE WilliamsThe author held my interest throughout the book and kept me intrigued as well as educated me. I suggest the book to anyone who is considering surrogacy for overcoming the inability to have their own child. The author weaves parallel plots in a gripping manner and releases a very satisfying read. 5 stars – C.E. Williams 

We’ve read two previous Robin Lockwood series novels, most recently A Matter of Life and Death, and in 2020 A Reasonable Doubt, and enjoyed both, although more so the former. We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B092T8M4K8
Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: March 8, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Darkest Place [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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Phillip Margolin - author
Phillip Margolin – author

The Author: I grew up in New York City and Levittown, New York. In 1965, I graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor’s degree in government. I spent 1965 to 1967 in Liberia, West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer, graduated from New York University School of Law in 1970 as a night student. I went nights and worked as a junior high teacher in the South Bronx to support myself. My first job following law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the chief judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals, and from 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice, specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court, and the Oregon Court of Appeals. As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court, and have represented approximately thirty people charged with homicide, several of whom faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use battered women’s syndrome to defend a woman accused of murdering her spouse.

Since 1996, I have been writing full-time. All of my novels have been bestsellers. Heartstone, my first novel, was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar for best original paperback mystery of 1978. My second novel, The Last Innocent Man, was made into an HBO movie. Gone, But Not Forgotten has been sold to more than twenty-five foreign publishers and was made into a miniseries starring Brooke Shields. It was also the Main Selection of the Literary Guild. After Dark was a Book of the Month Club selection. The Burning Man, my fifth novel, published in August 1996, was the Main Selection of the Literary Guild and a Reader’s Digest condensed book. My sixth novel, The Undertaker’s Widow, was published in 1998 and was a Book of the Month Club selection. Wild Justice (HarperCollins, September 2000) was a Main Selection of the Literary Guild, a selection of the Book of the Month Club, and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. The Associate was published by HarperCollins in August 2001, and Ties that Bind was published by HarperCollins in March 2003. My tenth novel, Sleeping Beauty, was published by HarperCollins on March 23, 2004. Lost Lake was published by HarperCollins in March 2005 and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. Proof Positive was published by HarperCollins in July 2006. Executive Privilege was published by HarperCollins in May 2008 and in 2009 was given the Spotted Owl Award for the Best Northwest Mystery. Fugitive was published by HarperCollins on June 2, 2009. Willamette Writers gave me the 2009 Distinguished Northwest Writers Award. My latest novel, Supreme Justice, was published by HarperCollins in May 2010. My next novel, Capitol Murder, will come out in April 2012.

On October 11, 2011, HarperCollins will publish Vanishing Acts, my first Young Adult novel, which I wrote with my daughter, Ami Margolin Rome. Also in October, the short story “The Case of the Purloined Paget,” which I wrote with my brother, Jerry, will be published by Random House in the anthology A Study in Sherlock.

In addition to my novels, I have published short stories and nonfiction articles in magazines and law journals. My short story “The Jailhouse Lawyer” was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 1999. The House on Pine Terrace was selected for the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2010.

From 1996 to 2009 I was the president and chairman of the Board of Chess for Success. I am still heavily involved in the program, and returned to the board after a one-year absence in 2010. Chess for Success is a nonprofit charity that uses chess to teach study skills to elementary- and middle-school children in Title I schools . From 2007 to the present, I have been on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards, the Writers in the Schools program, and Portland Arts and Lectures.

©CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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The Couple Next Door: A Novel by Shari Lapena – #Audiobook Review – #psychologicalthrillers

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

(Amazon) Editors Pick 

Book Blurb:

An instant New York Times best seller

“I read this novel at one sitting, absolutely riveted by the storyline. The suspense was beautifully rendered and unrelenting!” (Sue Grafton, New York Times best-selling author of X)

It all started at a dinner party…

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors – a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives….

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all – a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story. Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. 

Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years. What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family – a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

My Review:

Of course I’d heard of this author for some time but didn’t have an opportunity for a book. This time I saw an audiobook copy for this one, released in 2016. Mercy!

The Couple Next Door by Shari LapenaBeing an older book and armed with the blurb, this gripping tale doesn’t need a lot of introduction. A young couple with a new baby backed by rich parents (hers), they have the home, a business, and the appearance of “having it all.”

Maybe.

Behind closed doors, however, is a young husband worried about his business, a new mom who is having difficulty coping with a fussy infant, and parents with attitude. It is the tangled story of couples keeping secrets from each other, the new mom feeling unattractive, her husband neglected and attracted to Cynthia next door. It is during Cynthia’s dinner party that Anne and Marco’s baby is abducted. Marco had assured her that in the absence of the babysitter, a last-minute cancellation, they could use the baby monitor and check in on her every half hour. After all, they were only next door.

Anne is a fragile personality suffering postpartum depression. Marco wanted a few more drinks, time to flirt with Cynthia, and it was late when they returned home to find Cora missing from her crib.

Here is a case for unreliable narrator. The storyline spins a lot of effort justifying leaving the baby, Anne is crazy over the top with guilt, the parents are incensed. Then there is the police who are having a problem swallowing any of it.

Something doesn’t add up.

Not easy to cozy up with any of the characters. Marco is beside himself for another reason, as are her parents. There is a lot of deceiving, misconception, and tension that intensifies into the plot. It might be faster paced were it not for the same theme of guilt and justification repeated so many times, each time, however, adding an additional little wrinkle.

Not just one or two twists but then the bomb, the final well placed bulls eye in the conclusion that totally knocks the reader off their rocker. What? NO! I hated that one and couldn’t believe that was how it ended.

Well, phooey. I didn’t expect that. Definitely a slow burning thriller with a killer (get it?) ending.

Did you read this one? Disappointed in the ending as I was? Shocked? So was I.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B01IIABQYC
Listening Length: 8 hrs 40 mins
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Couple Next Door [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

Shari Lapena - authorThe Author: Shari Lapena

 

Kirsten Potter - narratorThe Narrator:  Kirsten Potter, a graduate of the Boston University School for the Arts, has performed on stage, film, and television, including roles on MediumBones, and Judging Amy. An award-winning audiobook narrator.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Happy Thursday!

The Chain by Adrian McKinty – #Audiobook Review – #readingirelandmonth21 – #TBT

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

It’s something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it’s a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn’t do as she’s told, the boy will die.  “You are not the first. And you will certainly not be the last.” Rachel is now part of The Chain, an unending and ingenious scheme that turns victims into criminals — and is making someone else very rich in the process. The rules are simple, the moral challenges impossible; find the money fast, find your victim , and then commit a horrible act you’d have thought yourself incapable of just twenty-four hours ago. But what the masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. It turns out that kidnapping is only the beginning.

My Review:

Somehow I feel like I was tricked into listening to this audiobook by a beloved author and then just before I clicked on my speaker, the author got switched. Reading the reviews, everyone loves McKinty’s Sean Duffy series. Of course, I weighed in for Reading Ireland Reviews and this was not anything like I expected.

The Chain by Adrian McKintyThe premise here, of course, is the kidnapping of a thirteen year old girl, Kylie. Rachel Klein, the mother, however, is not a monied person, and in fact a single mother with a history of cancer. It doesn’t make sense she’d have been the target of a kidnapper—can you really get blood out of a turnip? Apparently so.

In this case, it’s a terrifyingly unique ransom. Not just the money—no—she has now been inducted into the “chain.” Her daughter can only survive by her abducting another child and jumping through the hoops as she’s done. And the chain can’t be broken. Remember all the admonitions when you got a chain letter? Terrible things would befall those who didn’t keep it going. Talk about a rock and a hard place!

There are subsequent parents as Rachel works to free her own daughter. Can the daughter be returned unscathed? What must something like this do to a child? There is the obvious exposition of laying one’s life open on social media. Gees, TOO EASY! Just pick someone. Or maybe not. Must be the right family, the right child to insure the chain continues.

Rachel becomes a mamma bear and will countenance no less in the other mothers or families. But mothers and families are different. And Rachel can’t do it alone—she brings in a brother-in-law, former Marine. He waxes strong and dependent with his own physical problems.

The plot gradually reveals in small dollops those behind the chain. But at this point even the parents have been forced into acts they’d have never dreamed of doing. The narrative goes darker and stretches disbelief. Are any of the characters sympathetic now?

A thriller at the beginning, a suspense, not a lot of sagging, but tilts in the end to disbelief. Still, I’m intrigued enough that I’ll try this author’s main series as this is apparently a standalone and veers substantially from his norm.

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher:  Mulholland Books – Hachette Audio

  • ASIN: ASIN : B07K6HCYPY

 Print Length: 369 pages
Listening Length: 10 hrs 9 mins
Narrator: January LaVoy
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Chain [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Adrian McKinty - authorThe Author: Adrian McKinty is an Edgar Award winning crime novelist from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Adrian studied philosophy at Oxford University on a full scholarship. In the early 90’s he emigrated to New York City where he worked in bars, building sites and bookstores for seven years before moving to Denver, Colorado to become a high school English teacher. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

His first crime novel Dead I Well May Be was shortlisted for the 2004 Dagger Award and was optioned by Universal Pictures. He has written a dozen novels since then. He has won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Barry Award, the Audie Award and the Anthony Award. He has been shortlisted for the Dagger Award, Theakston Crime Novel of the Year Award and the Prix du Meilleurs Polar.

 

January LaVoy - narrator, actressThe Narrator: January LaVoy is an Atlanta-based actress, best known for her role as Noelle Ortiz-Stubbs on the long-running ABC daytime drama ONE LIFE TO LIVE.  She has appeared on and Off-Broadway, in regional theaters across the country, and guest starred on several prime time network series, including Elementary, Blue Bloods, and N0S4A2. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, and is a full-time faculty member in the Department of Theater and Dance at Emory University.

©2021 V Williams

Tell No One by Harlan Coben – An #Audiobook Review #suspense #TBT

Tell No One by Harlan Coven

Book Blurb:

Critically acclaimed, best-selling author Harlan Coben has won the Shamus, Anthony, and Edgar Awards during his impressive career.

Tell No One by Harlan CobenTell No One is an irresistibly suspenseful thriller infused with nail-biting tension and packed with shocking plot twists. It has been eight years since Dr. David Beck’s wife, Elizabeth, was murdered by a serial killer. When Beck receives a message containing a phrase only Elizabeth should know, he is tormented to tears. Either someone is playing a sick joke, or the wife he’s never stopped loving is still alive. He’s been warned to tell no one, and as the desperation of his search for the truth intensifies, he heads straight toward a deadly secret.

Coben tempers the drama with dashes of sly humor and a cast of unforgettable characters, including a bare-hands assassin, a glamorous plus-size model and a drug dealer with a soft spot for Dr. Beck. Listeners will relish Ed Sala’s exhilarating narration. 

My Review:

Tell No One by Harlan CobenNo, I hadn’t read everything the author has turned out and sure if I did it was years ago—before I started reviewing—but thumbing through the Netflix offerings came across The Stranger his ebook originally published in 2015. Admittedly, I couldn’t find the audiobook in my local well-stocked library, but here was Tell No One (originally published in 2009) and I must say—close enough. There’s a mild case of déjà vu lurking there.

Okay, yes, there is quite the hook and the premise gets you to reading. The novel is fast-paced and the prose engaging. I couldn’t quite get into any of the characters—main (i.e. Dr. David Beck) or the support characters who were all over the place from medical colleagues to partner of his sister to the street thug who rescues him. I must admit, however, to rooting for the street thug to split—while he had the chance.

I don’t know. What was I expecting?

The narrative gets to spinning when Dr. Beck receives an email that almost convinces him that the wife he thought he’d lost eight years ago is still alive. No, he’d never found a replacement, isn’t married, still pining over the soul mate with whom he’d carved momentous occasions on a pine tree. Also, nature being what it is, has unearthed two bodies at the site where the kidnapping and his attack took place and a whole new scenario opens. Hmmm…

Coben heaps it on, adding twists, adding bits of clues concealed as info, adding more characters, explosive scenes, and enough tender scenes between he and Elizabeth that even the most romance addicted YA would begin to gag. There are more questions, but suddenly Beck himself appears to be a POI in his wife’s kidnapping and death. Wait. Is she really dead?

He’s on the lam and amazingly with the help of his street thug buddy evades the dragnet. Oh, I’m telling you, this will get quite a bit more complex and convoluted, stretching into disbelieving territory before it all winds up in conclusion. Even then, this is a tough act to sell and I’m not wholly buying. Yes, lots of suspense building and at this point I was just curious to see how the author was going to pull it all together, but then he didn’t. Not for me. I was kinda bummed.

The Stranger by Harlan CobenSo, now let’s see—The Stranger (Netflix series) has the same kind of harried husband, discovers a devastating secret about his wife, wife disappears; unlikable, unrelatable main and support characters. Unfathomable conclusion leaves you somewhat flat. What? is written across your forehead. Maybe just mine, but I downloaded the ebook and I’ll report back.

Book Details:

Genre: Mysteries, Suspense Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers, Serial Killer Thrillers, Murder Thrillers
Publisher:  Recorded Books
Print Length: 396 pages
ASIN: B002SXIF4A
Listening Length: 10 hrs 36 mins
ASIN: B0078IX10I
Narrator: Ed Sala
Audible Release Date: February 13, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Tell No One [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Harlan Coben - authorThe Author: With over 70 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of thirty one novels including RUN AWAY, FOOL ME ONCE, TELL NO ONE, NO SECOND CHANCE and the renowned Myron Bolitar series. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Harlan is the creator and executive producer for the Netflix television dramas SAFE starring Michael C. Hall, Audrey Fleurot and Amanda Abbington, and THE FIVE starring Tom Cullen and OT Fagbenle. He is currently filming THE STRANGER, based on his novel, for Netflix starring Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea. Harlan was also showrunner and executive producer for two French TV mini-series, UNE CHANCE DE TROP (NO SECOND CHANCE) with Alexandra Lamy and JUST UN REGARD (JUST ONE LOOK) with Virginie Ledoyen. KEINE ZWEIT CHANCE, also based on Harlan’s novel, aired in Germany on Sat1.

Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONNE) was turned into the renowned French film, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. The movie with subtitles is now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and DVD/Blu-Ray.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

In his first books, Coben immersed himself in the exploits of sports agent Myron Bolitar. Critics loved the series, saying, “You race to turn pages…both suspenseful and often surprisingly funny” (People). After seven books Coben wanted to try something different. “I came up with a great idea that simply would not work for Myron,” says Coben. The result was the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller TELL NO ONE, which became the most decorated thriller of the year. Two books later, Bookspan, recognizing Coben’s broad international appeal, named NO SECOND CHANCE its first ever International Book of the Month in 2003 – the Main Selection in 15 different countries.

Harlan was the first writer in more than a decade to be invited to write fiction for the NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page. His Father’s Day short story, THE KEY TO MY FATHER, appeared June 15, 2003. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications including the New York Times, Parade Magazine and Bloomberg Views.

Harlan has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. In Paris, he was awarded the prestigious Vermeil Medal of Honor for contributions to culture and society by the Mayor of Paris. He was won the El Premio del Novela Negra RBA in Spain, the Grand Prix de Lectrices in France, and the CWA/ITV3 Bestseller Dagger for favorite crime novelist in England. On the other end of the spectrum, Little League Baseball inducted Harlan into their Hall of Excellence in 2013, and Harlan is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame from his playing days at Amherst College.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

The Narrator: Ed Sala received a master’s degree in playwriting from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. He’s lived his life primarily as an actor, appearing on and off Broadway, at Carnegie Hall and in movies and episodic television. His plays have been produced from New York City to Melbourne, Australia. He considers himself very lucky to live a life in this business.

©2021 V Williams

Exit Strategy (NYPD Negotiators Book 1) by Jen J Danna – a #BookReview #crimethrillers

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

 Book Blurb:

Exit Strategy by Jen J DannaIn this taut new suspense series featuring NYPD detective Gemma Capello and her close-knit law enforcement family, a madman brings a halt to the heart of the city that never sleeps . . .

After her mother’s death during a bank robbery when she was a child, Gemma Capello grew up to become one of the NYPD’s elite hostage negotiators. In a family of cops, there’s rarely a day when a Capello isn’t facing down some form of threat. Still, despite their unpredictable schedules, they always find time for their annual family summer picnic. But this year, a sudden phone call changes everything.

A heavily armed gunman has taken hostages at City Hall. Gemma races downtown to join the rest of the Hostage Negotiation Team as they scramble to identify the captives—fearing the mayor may be among them. But as they search for answers and struggle to gain control of the circumstances, it becomes clear that the mayor is at the center of it all, just not in the way they initially believed.

With several lives on the line and a criminal who always seems to be one step ahead, Gemma is the only one able to connect with the suspect. Soon, she finds herself engaging in a battle of wits while enduring a battle of egos in the command center. With time running out and a mastermind who has proven he’ll do whatever it takes to get what he wants, Gemma risks it all—her career and her life—in a last-ditch effort to save the hostages. Now, she needs to figure out how to save herself . . .

My Review:

Exit Strategy by Jen J Danna - a police proceduralGemma Capello grew up in an NYPD cop family. She is predisposed to being a negotiator after her mother dies trying to de-escalate a bad situation. She has worked in various positions with the NYPD but her real talent is negotiating to save lives. But Hostage Negotiating is not an exact science.

There are many situations that require a trained negotiator. Gemma is one of the best. The issue is that the negotiator has to follow guidelines set up by the department and hers is not the final word.  The backup for the negotiators is the A-team. Their mission is to neutralize the situation and to save as many lives as possible with deadly force.

The negotiator is responsible to a “controller” whose purpose is to balance expediency with results. Usually, the negotiator is much more empathetic than the controller. Given the situation, Gemma finds herself in she has to continually beg for more time. People’s lives are at stake.

Ms. Danna has done a tremendous job of fleshing out her novel. I felt drawn to the situation and the location in New York due to her excellent description of the settings. She adds in some history of the area and of the subway system. I was enthralled with her historical accuracy and description of the New York City subway system and both current and abandoned stations.

Growing up in Little Italy, Gemma knows the area and some of the people who live there. Her childhood dovetails well into the overall outcome of the tale. She wants to save hostages and ultimately the perpetrator.  The perpetrator is a sympathetic character in this story and you understand his motivation but cannot embrace the methodology. I found myself hoping that Gemma could de-escalate the situation and that the perpetrator would survive. CE Williams

Feeling empathetic towards both the villain and Gemma was swept along on a terrific well-plotted storyline. Parts of this book will make you want to go to New York and witness some of the areas described. My hat is off to this author and her attention to detail and the weaving of a great read. CE Williams

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 Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Police Procedurals, Kidnapping Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B07ZPKNKTP
Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: To be released July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Jen J Danna - authorThe Author: A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.

With Ann Vanderlaan, she writes two series. Under Danna and Vanderlaan, they craft suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Their five Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries include DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT; NO ONE SEES ME ‘TILL I FALL; A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH; TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER; and LAMENT THE COMMON BONES.

Under the joint pseudonym of Sara Driscoll, they write the FBI K-9s mysteries series, starring search-and-rescue team Meg Jennings and her black lab, Hawk. The series includes LONE WOLF, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, and STORM RISING. The fourth book in the series, NO MAN’S LAND, will release in December 2019. [Note: Both the CE and I read this one and also thought a five star. The author has a gripping writing style.]

Jen is also the author of the upcoming NYPD Negotiators thriller series, with the first book, EXIT STRATEGY, releasing in August 2020.

Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband, two daughters, and three rescued cats, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her through the contact page on her website or by email at jenjdanna@gmail.com.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Out of the Red and Into the Black: A Debt is Paid by Shane A Ahalt Sr – A #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Out of the Red and Into the BlackUnspeakable acts go on under our noses every single day. If you could do something about them would you? How far would you go? Shane Ahalt’s debut thriller will have you questioning your morality and your stance on vigilantism.

When Chris Caldwell, the chief of police of a small town, investigates the kidnapping of Tyler Creasy and the brutal and torturous murder of his parents, the investigation reveals dark secrets of the family. As the clues unravel and similar instances are discovered to have occurred over a period of more than 60 years, the question arises “Is this an isolated incident or is there something more sinister in the works?” Chief Caldwell’s investigation turns up more than he bargained for as history seems to repeat itself. Will he solve these vicious and violent murders or will they become cold cases? Will he discover what happened to Tyler? Find out in Shane Ahalt Sr.’s debut thriller, Out of the Red and Into the Black.

His Review:

A child with serious abusive issues originating from parents has a lifelong cross to bear. Tyler Creasy and his friend Raquel are two such children. Accidental touches when young lead to a world of depravity I have never contemplated. The question that roars into your mind as you read this book is: “How can any parent do this to their own children?”

Out of the Red and Into the Black by Shane Ahalt SrBrian Smart is a computer analyst with the F.B.I. He was rescued as a young man by someone who had been similarly subjected to such abuse. After being rescued Brian was loved and well educated. His foster father charged him with one task. When given the chance, he would rescue another child subjected to this abuse and thereby “pay it forward”. Brian begins to see this happening and sets out to rescue the child being abused.

The author has developed a skillful methodology to capture the offenders and bring them to justice. The justice is renegade in nature and therefore the rescuers are being sought by the same organization that Brian works for. Most of the crimes occur in four contiguous states and these are the area that Brian’s FBI group investigates.

The use of computer cyber security and advanced monitoring methods are intriguing and effective. I found myself having no sympathy for the recipients of their crimes. I did find that the overall crimes and subsequent retributions to be duplicitous. The two young people are being taught by Brian to assist other young people caught in this abomination.

CE WilliamsI was torn between having hope for the victims and concern about the impact on their lives as they tried to make restitution for what happened to them. “Revenge is Mine” sayeth the Lord, certainly is not argued in this text. Rather “An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth” is the norm. I appreciated the authors’ attention to detail and methodology. Living in the bubble of not having been visited this issue was a far simpler way to live. We received this author request and download in the expectation of a review and these are my honest opinions. Trigger Warnings: Graphic descriptions. 4 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thrillers, Kidnapping Thrillers, Murder Thrillers
Publisher: Indie Author
ASIN: B07ZQTJYJY
Print Length: 196 pages
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Out of the Red and Into the Black (Amazon)
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 Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Shane A Ahalt Sr - authorThe Author: Shane Ahalt Sr. is a father, husband, teacher, writer, and 21 year veteran of the United States Navy.

Upon graduating The George Washington University, he was commissioned in the Navy where he flew helicopters. When he retired from the Navy, he decided to give back to his community by becoming a High School Math teacher.

Although he is a native of the Washington D.C. suburbs. He is currently a teacher in Florida at a small alternative school.

Writing is a talent he stumbled upon and, to date, he has published one book, “Out of the Red and Into the Black.”

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

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