Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning – a #BookReview – #Mystery #Thriller

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningSeeking to rediscover herself after a divorce, a detective-minded woman embarks on solving the small mysteries of a Midwest neighborhood, only to learn the secrets hidden there are more horrifying than she could have ever imagined.

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place for her to sort through her pain and move on with her life.

But Francine quickly discovers the “idyllic” neighborhood is hiding a number of disturbing mysteries. Behind every door and window there’s marital strife, simmering grudges, and a secret so terrible, someone will kill to keep it quiet.

Francine rewrites her prescription from relaxation to investigation. If she can remember how to trust herself, she might discover what’s hidden in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again, assuming she stays alive long enough to be in it…

My Review:

Well, here I go again with one of Patrick Canning’s books. This author writes such off-the-wall stuff you know going in it’ll be a ride. The question is just how crazy will this roller-coaster be? Answer: Subtle, confounding, twisty, and who can you trust?

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningFrancine is reeling from a devastating divorce in 1989 in San Francisco when her sister Ellie suggests a child/housesitting stay at her home in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois while they take a European vacation. It certainly looks benign enough, quaint, friendly, and attractive. A nice getaway when she needs one.

A bon voyage-welcome party turns a bit ugly, however, when one of the guests throws a drink in Francine’s face. True, you never know what goes on behind closed doors and there are certainly enough neighbors here to offer a variety of single and married, tempers, secrets, and fears. Her sister’s best friend Laura Jean is a strong ally and there are a number of interesting support characters. When Francine discovers the death of Brownie (a goat), she decides it’s time to start investigating the neighbors more deeply.

And what a smorgasbord of characters there are! You are not meant to like them all. Hers is not the only temporary stay in the hood and it is Bruno that brings a special light to Francine’s eyes as they collaborate together in his own secret research.

Francine is fragile and easy to invest in; Bruno a history teacher smothered in cliché right up to his bow tie and brown corduroy trousers and I really liked them both. Obvious red herrings, teenage boy, nasty HOA lady, ex-Marine. It’s a slow burn but weirdly compelling. What IS going on here? Are you confused yet?

The conclusion brings a shock you never saw coming and a head-shaking surprise you can’t compute. Yes, yes, you knew the one answer, but… I loved the little questionnaire questions her ex left with her at the beginning of each chapter setting your nerves to jangling and the tension rising.

“In most marriages, one or both partners are unhappy. [x] True [ ] False.
“I often think: ‘I wish I were a child again.’ [x]True [ ] False.
“I am so touchy on some subjects that I can’t talk about them. [x] True [ ] False.

The author’s writing style is beguiling, clever, and wily fun. Keep reading and watch his mind twist you in the wind. I’ve read one of his books before, The Colonel and the Bee back in July, 2018 and if I didn’t recognize that signature…um, just wait…of his, I wouldn’t know it was the same author–and I really enjoyed that one. This is a suspense thriller that leaves you shaking your head, just shy of a book hangover. A mystery thriller you shouldn’t miss. Totally recommended.

Rosepoint recommended

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Women Sleuths
ASIN: B08CS2RK9S
Print Length: 283 pages
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Direct author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Patrick Canning - authorThe Author: Patrick Canning was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois, and now lives in California with his dog, Hank.

He is primarily focused on turning coffee into words, words into money, money back into coffee.

Find him at patrickcanningbooks.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

One Night in Drake Mansion (Skeptic Detective Book 1) by Channing Whitaker – a #BookReview – Ghost Thriller

“Apophenia is a psychological phenomenon in which human beings tend to interpret random stimuli as being significant.”

Book Blurb:

A haunted mansion turned reality TV set. Now, which of the contestants will scream the truth first?

One Night in Drake Mansion by Channing WhitakerAmateur sleuth Harlan Holt only believes in cold hard facts. So when he’s cast for a supernatural reality show, he’s determined to disprove an 80-year-old spooky mystery and demystify the other contestant’s ghostly superstitions. And soon Holt is pitched into the rundown residence where a mysterious immortal magician is rumored to roam…

Along with a psychic, a ghost hunter, and a Hollywood scream queen, he sets off in search of clues in the race to unravel the decades-old murder. But when objects start flying across the room and he nearly gets killed, even Holt struggles for a scientific explanation of the strange phenomena.

Can Holt solve the case before the house claims another victim?

One Night in Drake Mansion is the first book in the intriguing Skeptic Detective mystery series. If you like good old-fashioned whodunits, clever heroes, and unpredictable twists and turns, then you’ll love Channing Whitaker’s original tale. 

My Review:

Well, we’ve all done the ghost mysteries in the old, abandoned, and haunted mansion. But not like this. This one comes complete with lights, camera, action!

This is one of those that don’t necessarily hook you from page one–must have patience. The “skeptic detective” is protagonist Ph.D. candidate Harlan Holt. He is all about science and for him, everything has a reasonable scientific explanation. He is closely acquainted with Genevieve (Vieve), an aspiring medical student.

One Night in Drake Mansion by Channing WhitakerThe premise, however, is not just about spending the night in a haunted house. It’s a reality TV show with crews, trucks, equipment, lights, and sound following every nuance of the contestants all hoping to win at least a portion of the promised million dollars. There is also an actress, a paranormal investigator, and a medium.

The Vinton Drake family of five and their guest Malvern Kamrar, a renowned magician all disappear one evening without a trace. There have been unexplained activities at the site for more than eighty years including sounds and sightings of apparitions in the upper windows of the mansion. In addition to surviving the night, they are hoping to uncover the real story of the disappearance and in this quest has Drake’s journal which may help provide some answers.

It doesn’t take long for Harlan to begin his investigation, poking into all the rooms. It rings so true of those old movies where the assembled gather in candlelight to provide their own field of expertise and exchange intel. The support characters are more two-dimensional but provide an acerbic wit and depth to the gathering offering theories based on their experiences.

ghost image by ClipArtNot just ghost hunting (WHO yah gonna call…), but POV switches to the crew manager and discussions of technology while filming, zooming in on-camera one or whichever is closest to the action. Remember, first it’s a reality TV show–ratings are where it’s at. Second–if they can figure out whether there are reasonable explanations for the manifestations that’s fine, but really, wouldn’t they rather have something sensational? RATINGS, people! And oh yes, things go way beyond your simple ghost hunting, haunted mansion storyline. Complex, tension-filled, things start happening. Is there a scientific explanation or is it really haunted?

The author is quite the storyteller and the well-plotted narrative complicated, multi-layered. You’ll never guess in a million years the conclusion. Wow, I just had to shake my head. I did NOT see that happening or even begin to fathom the double-whammy coming at me. I think the author had a chuckle or two knowing what he got over the reader. ACK! But I did have a quibble or two–the protagonist, while better developed–could not engage with either him or Vieve and must admit to having my attention flag a few times. Then–it heated up…

So completely unique and the first in the series that I can imagine is quite compelling. If you enjoy ghost stories, paranormal mysteries, you’ll likely enjoy this one. We received from Amazon with no expectation of a review and this is my honest opinion. Recommended.

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Book Details:

Genre: Ghost Mysteries, Paranormal Suspense, Ghost Thriller
Publisher: Off Speed Press
ASIN: B07DP7HDZ1
Print Length: 294 pages
Publication Date: June 11, 2018
Source: Free from Amazon
Title Link: One Night in Drake Mansion

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Channing Whitaker - authorThe Author: Channing Whitaker is a novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker originally hailing from Centerville, Iowa. An alum of Indian Hills Community College, Channing went on to study cinema, screenwriting, literature, and mathematics at the University of Iowa. His college years were also spent tending bar and in bar security, which he considers a valuable study of humanity, and an indispensable supplement to his formal education.

Post graduation, Channing began his career in the production of television news, independent films, and commercial videos, as well as writing for websites, corporate media, and advertising. His career has taken Channing from Iowa to Texas, Alaska, Oklahoma, and to California where he currently resides.

Channing is a fan of many media forms and genres. He considers himself a storyteller foremost and works in multiple media and genres himself. Channing’s artistic influences include Trevanian, Gene Roddenberry, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Jarmusch, and Robert Altman, though he credits his late father, a psychology professor, with profoundly impacting his approach to the deep, conflicted, and multifaceted characters which drive his stories.

In his home life, Channing is a father of two, a sports lover, and a real-life space exploration enthusiast.

Channing is among a small subset of writers who are also dyslexic. He considers learning to overcome the challenges of this diagnosis to have aided him in persevering amid the rejection-filled, uncertain, and competitive fields of writing and screenwriting.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Playing Nice by JP Delaney – a #BookReview – Psychological Thriller

“People said it took a village to raise a child, but I didn’t even have a cul-de-sac.”

Book Blurb:

Playing Nice by JP DelaneyPete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s son, Theo, isn’t actually his son—he is the Lamberts’, switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they’ve been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again.

The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents—or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts’ glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.

They are done playing nice.

My Review:

Dang but I do pick a douzy when I try a new (to me) author and this book had me spinning. The premise is that two babies are swapped at birth, both preemies, both showing up at a time when the hospital is short-staffed. It could happen…haven’t we heard of that happening?

Playing Nice by JP DelaneyJournalist Pete Riley and his partner Maddie get that rude awakening one morning when Miles Lambert and his wife Lucy show up at their door to explain the situation and seek an amicable solution. But swap them back? It’s been two years. How could they?

Talk about a shock! It takes a toll, has them both reeling. Theo is not their son?

Pete is Theo’s stay-at-home dad, his major caregiver. Maddie has the better paying position. The Lamberts on the other hand appear very well off. Have provided extremely well for their son David, who has been determined to be “slow.” Maddie and Pete had been cautioned that under the circumstances of their son’s birth, he may have sustained some brain damage. And Theo is not the easiest child–now a terrible two–gave it the name and is having problems adjusting to his nursery care situation exhibiting some aggression towards another child who wants to take his toy.

The Lambert’s boy is painfully slow, quiet, and fortunately, Lucy has help with him in the form of a nanny while Miles goes off to his high paying position. While their initial meetings appear to be successful and the couples have made what seem a mutual agreement, Miles begins to push boundaries and there are times when that harmonious ambiance begins to slip, the environment turns icy, and they are soon embroiled in a lawsuit that goes from contentious to a living hell.

This is one of those books that hooks you at the outset, sets you on a crash course with two POVs (Pete’s and Maddies) and Court Case Numbers and Exhibits. Just when you don’t think it could get any worse, it does. The high-powered legal team hired by Miles, the attorney procured by Pete and Maddie by taking out a second mortgage each interpreting the law until the reader is so bewildered the situation looks impossible.

“…the psychopathic spectrum–that is, they score low on tests for remorse, conscience, and moral judgment, and high for fearlessness, quick thinking, and cold-bloodedness.”

Interesting little tidbits of tidy information laid so quietly and carefully, perhaps you didn’t notice in the avalanche of emotions of the DNA finding–perhaps you skipped right over it, huh! No, not the part about proving the parents…and then there were the arguments of nature vs nurture.

All the characters exhibit some flaws, Peter being almost dangerously easy and naive; Miles just dangerous. Nor is Lucy or Maddie particularly devoid of their little secrets, one of which I’d suspected but clouded for me just a tad following the conclusion. The climax has the reader holding their breath and reading faster, dripping with sweat. There is tension, wildly crazy legal ramifications, twists, turns, and the exhausting parental turmoil caused in dealing with “special” children.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and I fully appreciated the opportunity to read and review this novel. Totally recommended.

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books

  • ISBN-10:0593213335
  • ISBN-13:978-0593213339
  • ASIN: B0818Q3JWK

Print Length: 418 pages
Publication Date: To be released July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo
 

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

JP Delaney - authorThe Author: JP Delaney is a pseudonym for a British writer of psychological suspense who has previously written best-selling fiction under other names. THE GIRL BEFORE was an instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller and was published in over 40 countries. The follow-up, BELIEVE ME, was also an international bestseller. THE PERFECT WIFE will be published summer 2019. For more information, go to http://www.jpdelaney.co.uk or follow @jpdelaneywriter on Facebook.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis – a #BookReview #literaryfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

“Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother.”

A review by the CE.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisIt’s 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library’s history.

His Review:

This book is a romp through the changing morays of women in America during the early and last decade of the 20th century. The story takes place in the marble confines of the New York Public Library.  The building superintendent, Jack Lyons, and his wife Laura were resident caretakers of the building and as such at the time made their home in the library.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisThe struggle for the right to vote and the development of women as independent members of society was just beginning. Jack sees himself as a writer who will produce a great American novel and thereby produce a good income for his family. Every spare minute of his day not working for the library was spent in that endeavor. Laura is given the position of curator of the Berg Collection of early books by such luminaries as Poe and Whitman, while being expected to raise the children and do all of the chores of keeping their home. Laura wants to write as well.

New York saw a large increase in the population in the second decade of the century; primarily poor and struggling immigrants. Disease was particularly cruel during that time period and wages extremely low. A year at Columbia School of Journalism including books and tuition was $170. Laura receives a scholarship for one term or $85.00. Now in addition to being a curator and family matriarch, she becomes a student. Meanwhile, her husband used any time available to “write” his novel.

The male students were given assignments to review trials or the mayor’s speeches. The females were sent to cover neighborhood conditions. Hardly the same interest in the topics. Laura meets one of the new social workers, Dr. Amelia Parker, a no-nonsense large woman who takes no guff from anyone. She is teaching immigrant women how to care for their children. She takes Laura under her wing and introduces her to the Heterodoxy Club. The group is scorned by society and the topic cannot be written about but is the topic assigned for her master’s thesis.

Her granddaughter Sadie Donovan is hired at the library to do basically the same tasks as her grandmother so many years before, without her grandmother’s yoke of family and husband. Books disappear during both ladies’ tenures and they are suspected of being the thieves. The author skillfully intermingles the two lives drawing parallels nearly a century apart. Both women are fighting the upward battle of emancipation.

CE WilliamsThe dual plots move along smoothly and my interest was held throughout. I became sympathetic to the plight of both of the women and their crass treatment in general during the time period. Success for any woman seemed to require the overcoming of societal morays and prejudices along with reduced pay and increased responsibility. This is a fulfilling novel, well written and paced with empathetic characters and a joy to read.  5 stars CE Williams

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. Highly Recommended.

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Literary Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dutton
ISBN: 1524744611
ASIN: B081M7TFWS
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Fiona Davis - authorThe Author: Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of historical novels set in iconic New York City buildings, including THE CHELSEA GIRLS and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down to write fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and she’s based in New York City.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Out of Her Mind (Sawyer Brooks Book 2) by T R Ragan – a #BookReview – #psychologicalthriller

Book Blurb:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganA string of copycat crimes leads a reporter down a terrifying path in a heart-stopping thriller by New York Times bestselling author T.R. Ragan.

Crime reporter Sawyer Brooks still grieves for the family she and her two sisters never had. Raised in a house of horrors, they continue to fight through the trauma—releasing their rage by seeking justice for those who are just as vulnerable as they were.

When a little girl’s bones are unearthed in Sacramento’s Land Park and twelve-year-old Riley Addison disappears, solving these cases becomes an obsession for Sawyer—one that puts her job at risk. Yet she can’t turn back, and the deeper Sawyer’s investigation goes, the darker it gets. A psychopath is on the loose and has been trolling Sacramento for years—hiding in plain sight behind a motherly facade.

The more Sawyer persists, the closer she gets to a disturbing place reminiscent of her own terrorized childhood. With time running out, Sawyer will risk anything to save Riley from the dark. But the killer will do anything to keep her there.

My Review:

Out of Her Mind by T R RaganSawyer Brooks is one of three sisters, all of whom had a singularly abusive childhood. She is still dealing with touch issues among others, but has made a reputation for herself as being a focused investigative crime reporter for the Sacramento Independent. In this issue, her sister Aria joins in the investigation of a missing girl from the area, which they quickly ascertain is one of several over the years. Riley Addison is around eleven and not a runaway.

In a sub-plot apparently brought forward from Book 1, there is a female vigilante group dubbed the “Black Wigs” operating in the Sacramento area caught on video. The group is targeting men accused of sexual crimes. Unfortunately, they’ve had a few problems executing their plans that would appear is beginning to cause a serious rift between the five members. Nevertheless, they proceed with the next target.

Dialogue is taut and leading. Forget trying to solve it yourself. Just enjoy the storyline and let it take you where you need to go–with a few little twists along the way. Sawyer is a damaged protagonist. She has depth, a pit bull when she’s doggedly trying to uncover the story, but she has additional issues. She can be impatient and compulsive. It’s good she has a supportive boss because the local police detective can’t work on hunches. He wants proof and is increasingly tired of her unsolicited input.

Short chapters, each of which ramps up the tension until it becomes stressful. You can’t put it down NOW! Can she find the little girl before it’s too late? The antagonist is certifiable. The loose threads she holds are becoming frayed with the little girl’s attitude.

I have to admit–I didn’t catch Book 1 of this series. (I know you’re surprised to see that.) I have, however, read two of her Jessie Cole series. (See links below.) Of course, I recognized the author, but was also attracted by this book’s locale–we lived there over forty years. The author’s dark writing style will get into your head and twist. Her novels are compelling, tight, well-plotted, and fast-paced. I love strong, independent, and intelligent female protagonists and if I had a quibble, it would be the (trigger warning) abusive background. Again. Still, it’s a narrative that doesn’t slow, doesn’t disappoint, and sets you up for Book 3 of a scheduled trilogy. I must know how those two themes being forwarded will pan out.

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Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Vigilante Justice, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
ISBN: 1542093902
ASIN: B084FVY89J
Print Length: 285 pages
Publication Date: November 22, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

T R Ragan - authorThe Author: T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) has sold over three million books and is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling mystery and thriller author.

Readers interested in signing up for a monthly newsletter or getting their name in a TR RAGAN book should check out her website at http://www.trragan.com

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram: @trraganauthor

LIZZY GARDNER SERIES
Abducted
Dead Weight
A Dark Mind
Obsessed
Almost Dead
Evil Never Dies

FAITH MCMANN TRILOGY
Furious
Outrage
Wrath

JESSIE COLE SERIES
Her Last Day (My 4.5 star review here)
Deadly Recall
Deranged
Buried Deep (My 5 star review here)

SAWYER BROOKS SERIES
Don’t Make a Sound – 6/20
Out of Her Mind – 11/20

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Book Blitz – Speakeasy by A M Dunnewin for RABT Book Tours and PR

Suspense Thriller / Historical
Date Published: 12/21/2011
Publisher:  Dark Hour Press, LLC
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

The novella is centered on Eddie Durante, owner of a speakeasy who’s supported by his mobster uncle—the boss of the Durante family. Eddie is a young widower after his family’s rival, the Caprice family, murdered his wife over a territory dispute. After devising a plan that retaliated against four of the rivaling capos, Eddie is left with the daunting task to try and move on. That is, until he’s notified that the Caprices have put a hit man in the speakeasy—and Eddie’s name is on the list. But things take an unexpected turn when Eddie instead starts to find the dead bodies of his relatives, the ones who had helped in the retaliation.

Behind the backdrop of jazz music and glistening flappers, murder after murder begins to unravel as revenge takes center stage, and Eddie soon learns that some secrets can’t be taken to the grave.

Excerpt

Once the doors were closed, Sal didn’t take long to get right to the point. “They know it was you, Eddie.”
The words slapped him across the face, but Eddie didn’t respond.
“That you were the one who came up with the idea,” Sal continued. “They’re out for retaliation, and it’s rumored that they’ve sent a torpedo into this juice joint of yours. That’s part of the reason why I’m not being too open with the information. Afraid of who might be listening.”
A hit man in his speakeasy. Eddie stared out the windshield, watching Sal begin to light a cigarette out of the corner of his eye. “I had a lot of ideas,” he remarked hoarsely, fear and dread subtly mixing into his thoughts.
“Only took one,” Sal responded as he lit the cigarette. He silently offered one to Eddie, who refused with a shake of his head. “Sorry, kid,” Sal explained as he took a puff. “After what they did to your wife, I wouldn’t have blamed ya.”
Eddie remained silent, his eyes drifting to the bootleggers who were moving the last of the crates. No wonder they weren’t laying their eyes on him. He was a dead target.
Sal took another drag on his cigarette, taking a moment for himself. “Don’t worry, though,” he finally remarked. “Your family’s got your back. My brother-in-law, your dear uncle, has requested that Joe stay by your side until we can square away if there’s a torpedo and who it is.”
“What?” Eddie balked, shattering his calm exterior.
“It’s temporary,” Sal cooed, trying to calm the young man down. “He’s just some extra protection.”
Eddie gawked, unable to believe that they’d send Joe, of all people, to protect him. “He’s crazy,” was all Eddie could summarize when it came to his cousin.
“He’s happy,” Sal tried to smooth over.
“Trigger happy,” Eddie corrected.
Sal shrugged his shoulders. “He gets the job done. And when the boss’ favorite nephew needs protection, the boss will only send the very best.”
“I don’t need protection,” Eddie fought back, trying not to raise his voice to the lunacy. “And even if I did, I have Anthony and Marcus in there—”
“Little orphan Anthony and Baby Marcus?” Sal choked, half laughing, half sputtering on the cigarette smoke. “Marcus is too naive, and Anthony,” but Sal had to chuckle first before he could continue. “Well, ya better just pray your killer isn’t a female.”
“Thanks for warning me,” Eddie begrudgingly admitted as he pulled the door handle…

About the Author

 

A. M. Dunnewin grew up with a taste for mysteries and thrillers, inherited ever so lovingly from her family. An affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, A. M.’s own stories cover a wide range of genres that tend to take a dark turn when least expected. With a B.A. in Psychology, she’s a gambler of words, obsessed with chai tea, and addicted to books – everything from classical literature to graphic novels. Other hobbies include art, history, music, equestrianism, and a good classic film. She currently dwells in Northern California.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
RABT Book Tours & PR
©2020

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