Deadly Little Lies: An utterly addictive psychological thriller by Stephanie DeCarolis –#BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

THE PERFECT LIFE

Deadly Little Lies by Stephanie DeCarolisJuliana Daniels finally has the life she’s always dreamed of. A loving husband, a career as an attorney, and a cozy apartment in Manhattan to call home.

But when she gets a message from an old college friend, her blood runs cold. Remember me?

ONE DEADLY LIE

Juliana drops her phone as though she’s been scalded. The name Jenny Teller shines out from the screen… but Jenny can’t have sent that message.

Because Jenny is dead.

Juliana’s other college friends have all received the same message. The four of them are the only ones who know the truth about the night Jenny died. It’s a secret they have kept buried for thirteen years.

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

With ‘Jenny’ now blackmailing them and threatening to expose their secret, only one thing is certain. Someone else knows the truth about that night… or one of them is lying. 

My Review:

Juliana Daniels (Jules) has managed to secure for herself a scholarship to a pretty exclusive university where she feels the deep divide between her middle class upbringing and that of her new monied classmates. It might have been a serious struggle had not Tori (her new roommate), Nessa, and Emily included her into their little clique.

Deadly Little Lies by Stephanie DeCarolisEmily is the obvious alpha, taking Jules on quietly as a “project” and grooms her to be as narcissistic as herself. With her new status, she feels important, looked up to, and just as quietly abandons old friends, counting the minutes when the holidays with her parents are over and she can return to campus life where she’s learned to party hardy.

“It wasn’t enough to just be desired; if I was going to keep up, I had to learn to desire nothing in return.”

The narrative settles into chapters alternating between “Now” and “Then.” The Now describes her inclusion as a successful attorney, a Manhattan apartment, and a loving, attentive, supportive husband, Jason.

Then swings us back to her university years where she experiences something that will haunt her during the intervening ten years until she gets the same taunting message as her so-called snobbish, titled friends, Remember me?” But it can’t be her—they all know that—because she’s dead.

UGH! I liked Jason. But Jules, Tori, and Nessa not so much. Emily was meant to be disliked and she was truly nasty, raising the blood pressure every time she had the focus. Their shared horrific event brought them together again, trying to discern who could possibly have sent the first and then additional messages, as well as intrusions into Jules home. And none of it shared with Jules’ husband. Oh, these deep, dark secrets!

As they are all summoned together for a tenth year reunion, matters come to a head, the pace escalates into the conclusion. There were twists and turns, some expected, some not, though I had not anticipated the final reveal.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Detective Fiction, Noir Crime, Domestic Thrillers
Publisher: HQ Digital
ASIN: B09HMNK836
Print Length: 378 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Stephanie DeCarolis - authorThe Author:  Stephanie is the USA Today best-selling author of The Guilty Husband and Deadly Little Lies. She is a graduate of Binghamton University and St. John’s University School of Law, and she currently lives in New York with her husband, their two daughters, and their very spoiled cat.

 

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Deep in the Forest: A Mystery Novel (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Book 5) by Lynda McDaniel –#BookReview – @wordwardrobe

Book Blurb:

Deep in the Forest by Lynda McDanielHampshire, England, 2006: I should’ve known not to visit Nigel Steadman; trouble followed him closer than his shadow. But I’d finally made it all the way to Dublin, and it seemed a shame not to hop across the Irish Sea to see my old friend. Besides, he’d always said for me to come stay with him in London.

It wasn’t till I called from Dublin that I learned he’d moved to the New Forest in the south of England. Goodbye London before I ever met you—and hello heartache. That’s where Nigel roped me into doing some undercover work checking out the Ownbey gang he was trying to trick into telling the truth. But as you can imagine, things didn’t go the way we’d planned. Gunslingers, kidnappers, and thieves highjacked my vacation and turned it into a nightmare.

So here I am in a makeshift jail, and it feels like I’ll never see Fiona and the boys again. And if the bad guys have their way, I won’t. Even when my best friend Della Kincaid flies over to help, she can’t do much. I’m in so deep, she doesn’t know where to look for me. Time to pray. ~Abit Bradshaw

You’ll love this suspenseful mystery because who hasn’t tried to do the right thing—only to have it all go all wrong?

My Review:

Each of these series entries works well as a standalone and are unique but I have to say taking Abit Bradshaw and wife Fiona to Ireland is definitely a radical departure from their usual setting in the Appalachians.

Deep in the Forest by Lynda McDanielFiona is from Ireland and this was a grand chance to visit family. A chance also for Abit to get to London to see his old friend Nigel. He is envisioning the sightseeing until he discovers that Nigel is no longer in London—he relocated to New Forest. Nigel may best be a friend from afar as it doesn’t take long before he coerces Abit into doing a little “spying” for him. He’s always got something going on that could be considered dodgy—or even more—and this one appears to involve Nigel’s “gang” as well. Also, there is another gang which may prove downright dangerous and better left alone.

Abit, who got the childhood nickname from his dad who thought him “a bit slow” has, however, become quite the independent, strong, and actually musically talented adult as well as husband and father. I get the feeling Nigel takes advantage of him and wondered again how their friendship got past the first caper.

As always, Ms McDaniel completely immerses the reader into the locality, the local population vernacular, foods, and way of life. And in this particular narrative, it’s the local colorful characters, both good and bad, that take center stage rather than the overwhelming gorgeous atmosphere of the majestic mountains back home.

The POV switches between Abit and Della, his oldest friend and mentor—the lady who bought the little country store his dad owned back in Laurel Hills, North Carolina. Della is investigating her own drama at the store when she gets the word Abit is missing. I always enjoy references to the talent with his mandolin and Bluegrass music and Abit does get to show off some talents here as well.

I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of Bluegrass music in Book 4, Murder Ballad Blues. I have read several of this author’s works and am definitely a fan. These are engaging characters, stunning atmospherics, clean, down home stories without gore, and unique page-turning mysteries.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and these are my honest thoughts. I thoroughly enjoy the author’s sense of humor and prose, and I’m always left looking forward to the next novel.

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Religious Mysteries, Heist Crime, Women’s Detective Fiction
Publisher: Lynda McDaniel Books
ASIN: B09HR7SMDJ
Print Length: 254 pages
Publication Date: October 3, 2021
Source: Direct author connection 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Lynda McDaniel - authorThe Author: [Lynda McDaniel] I love writing page-turners—both fiction and nonfiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers and clients. I know I’m easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire my readers.

After all, we’re all busy these days, and I want to deliver value–whether that’s a gripping mystery filled with memorable characters or books on writing that give you the tools to write your own fiction and nonfiction. Both make me happy.

I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place—a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But living there changed my life in so many positive ways. Decades later, I realized that everything I value today, I was introduced to there. My Appalachian Mountain Mysteries–“A Life for a Life,” “The Roads to Damascus,” “Welcome the Little Children”–pay homage to the people of Appalachia who taught me so much. And to Mollie the Wonder Dog, who plays a role in both “The Roads to Damascus” (aka Millie) and in “Welcome the Little Children (as Millie and Mollie).

To keep up to date with Abit, Della, and the gang (and receive a free novelette that pulls back the curtain on Abit’s and Della’s lives before they met in Laurel Falls), head over to http://www.LyndaMcDanielBooks.com. No spam, no pestering, just the free novelette, a 12-part serialized preview of my upcoming Book Four (via my blog), and special offers/updates.

Over the years, I’ve written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters and blogs. I’m proudest of the 18 books I’ve written. My nonfiction books include “Words at Work,” which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) I’ve also written two Amazon Bestselling Books: “How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write” and “Write Your Book Now!” (with Virginia McCullough).

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’ve lived all over this country—from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Santa Rosa, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

YouTube attribution: Stuche51

Look Twice (Ingrid Skyberg Book 8) by Eva Hudson – #BookReview – Women’s Detective Fiction

Book Blurb:

Look Twice by Eva HudsonA double agent. A double cross. This time, Ingrid is in double trouble.

When Special Agent Ingrid Skyberg discovers an undeveloped roll of film left behind by her predecessor in the FBI, she isn’t sure what to make of the strange photos he took. A map of Scotland, an out-of-print book, a rare bird, a cluster of Post-It notes, an office party… do these images have something to do with crimes he committed as a Russian double agent known as ‘Skylark’?

Ingrid starts digging and becomes convinced that – far from being a traitor – her predecessor was just another victim of the mysterious Skylark who has killed many times to protect his identity. When a case file she has been using is suddenly deleted from the system, Ingrid knows that Skylark is now watching her… and the race is on to find him before she becomes his next victim.

Look Twice is a high-octane spy thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, flipping the pages to find out if Ingrid can survive her most ruthless opponent yet. 

His Review:

Running for your life with a friend is brutal. Outrunning you best friend is survival. Ingrid had only been a teenager when she and her best friend were running from a killer. She had outrun her friend Megan and now Megan is dead. Guilt still lingers after twenty years. She had only seen a face in the dark and couldn’t identify the killer.

Look Twice by Ava HudsonAndy Scott is on trial for killing a number of young women. Could he be the killer? Her mother, Svetlana, is convinced she should know the killer’s face, even after twenty years! He was the potential candidate for Prime Minister and now is on trial for twelve murders. Svetlana calls at the most inopportune times during investigations. An ignored call is a personal affront from a bad daughter.

Being a successful and efficient FBI agent requires a strong support team. The team goes up and down from your position. Ingrid is very well organized but keeps having her effective assistants transferred from her. Administering her position requires her to keep a constant eye on her support staff. Zeke, her newest assistant, is enduring yet another epileptic seizure. Triggers for epileptic seizure can be something as simple as a faulty electrical connection.

An envelope of old photographs found in the ceiling is a clue to the killer. They refer to a person named Skylark! Who is this unidentified Skylark? The hunt for the identity of Skylark takes many twists and turns. Meanwhile, Svetlana gets more irritated by her daughter’s lack of attention to her phone calls. Can the case against Andy Scott be fully investigated in spite of Ingrid’s distractions?

CE WilliamsAn entertaining novel that will keep you guessing at every turn. 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: Women’s Detective Fiction, International Mystery & Crime, Espionage Thrillers
ASIN: B099NXP3NQ
Print Length: 375 pages
Publication Date: September 6, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Look Twice [Amazon]

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Eva Hudson - authorThe Author: Eva Hudson was born and grew up on a south London council estate. Before she started writing full time, she worked as a local government officer, singer, dotcom entrepreneur, portrait artist, project manager, graphic designer, web designer and content editor.

In 2011, her first novel – The Loyal Servant – won the inaugural Lucy Cavendish fiction prize from Cambridge University. She published the first of her chart-topping Ingrid Skyberg Thrillers in 2013 and never looked back.

ABOUT INGRID SKYBERG

One of the toughest Special Agents ever to come out of Quantico Ingrid Skyberg is tenacious, resourceful, virtually indestructible and just a tiny bit out of control. Assigned to the US embassy in London, Ingrid is on the case when an American citizen gets into trouble… or winds up dead… or is accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Whether she needs to wear combat fatigues or a cocktail dress, Ingrid Skyberg always gets the job done.

She’s a strong female protagonist, perfect for fans of action-packed thrillers with a twist.

[NOTE: Eva Hudson died in 2015 of cancer. Her books, this protagonist, this series is being continued by Jo Monroe. Please see her sweet, emotional testimonial at EVA HUDSON.]

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Bitter Rain (Kate Fox Book 3) by Shannon Baker – a #BookReview – #mysteries

“A lump the size of a Bartlett pear made its way down her throat.

Book Blurb:

Bitter Rain by Shannon BakerSheriff Kate Fox is still settling into her new role when Deputy Kyle Red Owl’s sister, Shelly, vanishes from the nearby Lakota reservation. Convinced it’s an “Indian issue,” neighboring sheriffs are reluctant to get involved. Tempers flare—and Kate knows things are bound to get even more heated.

But when Kate and Kyle start to gather evidence, they realize the case isn’t at all what it seems.

Their search for Shelly has uncovered deep-buried family secrets, and soon, Shelly isn’t the only one in danger.

As Kate struggles to nail down a suspect—and with the truth seeming just out of reach—the new sheriff knows she’s running out of time.

And then she makes a big mistake. Can Kate right the wrong in time to save the life that’s hanging in the balance? 

My Review:

The storyline centers around the Nebraska Sandhills across the South Dakota state line and the crushing poverty level of the Lakota at the Antelope Ridge Reservation. I enjoy books about the Midwest and any parts east of my native California—always so eye-opening. The Sandhills situate in an area of low population, cattle outnumbering humans by approximately fifty to one.

Bitter Rain by Shannon BakerIn this episode of the series, Sheriff Kate Fox is called to the site of an apparent accident but finding no one there except Sheriff Lee Barnett on scene from a different county is sent away with the explanation it must have been an auto from the local rez and whoever was driving had someone pick them up. It’s obviously good ole boy territory and as a newly elected female sheriff, she’s not totally accepted, particularly when it appears to be an Indian issue.

But Kate had gotten a call from a terrified young female pleading for help. And she is one who listens to her gut feeling. The missing female turns out to be her own Deputy’s sister, Shelly, and now Deputy Kyle Red Owl is also heavily drawn into the search.

Turns out, she is pretty much blocked in her investigation at every turn, but she does manage a small lead every now and then only serving to further muddy the waters.

In the meantime, the area not known for friendly rain is experiencing one gully washer after another, which doesn’t help.

Further hampering interview efforts besides the divisive racial issue is her own family. As the middle child with seven brothers and sisters (or is it nine?), either the oldest, youngest, or any in between is constantly intruding on her time. It doesn’t help that her immense family and familial obligations and expectations seem to override pretty much any other minute she isn’t thinking about her missing niece. Well, bring it on!

The conditions of the people populating the reservation describes conditions beyond dismally, buying into the old stereotype, and painting a crushing scene of desperation.

A lot going on in this novel, the mystery, the family sub-plot, and the deeply descriptive prose of the area. The author is nothing if not full of analogies and has one for every occasion:

“We stood as natural as ketchup on ice cream.”
“To say I was relieved to wish them a fun day would be like calling Lake Michigan a puddle.”

 Philosophical thoughts:

“It was the face of fake compassion I hated worse than cooked cabbage.”
“It’ll be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
“It’ll stop hurting when the pain goes away.”

As a newly elected sheriff, Kate has a lot to prove—not just to the county apparently—but also to her family. A rather unique writing style that cried “tilt” as often as it spoke a deeply meaning thought. A theme of hanging in there, overcoming, concessions, and adapting.
The conclusion included a twist I certainly didn’t see coming, although all the leads were to the over-obvious. Interesting, thoughtful, deeply disturbing, and also engaging and entertaining.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. It appears this novel was previously released in 2018, new cover, but I’m in for a penny, in for a pound, and looking forward to Book 4.

Rosepoint Rating: Four stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Detective Fiction, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Mystery Series
Publisher: Severn River Publishing

  • ASIN : B08PDVXL26

Print Length: 276 pages
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Shannon Baker - authorThe Author: Shannon Baker is author of the Kate Fox Mystery series. Set in rural Nebraska cattle country, according to a starred review in Library Journal, “Baker’s writing evokes the beauty of the Nebraska Sandhills, and her colorful cast of secondary characters adds a depth of charm.” Now a resident of Tucson, Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. Shannon is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 and 2017 Writer of the Year.

Baker also writes the Nora Abbott mystery series, a fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder. The first in the series, Height of Deception, is set in Flagstaff, AZ, where she lived for several years and worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, a hotbed of environmentalists who, usually, don’t resort to murder. It is a 2013 finalist in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.

A lover of the great outdoors, she can be found backpacking in the Rockies, traipsing to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, skiing mountains and plains, kayaking lakes, hiking, cycling, and diving whenever she gets the chance. Having the desert for a backyard is a daily thrill, bringing javelinas, rattlesnakes, zillions of birds, and spectacular sunsets every day.

Arizona sunsets notwithstanding, Baker is, and always will be, a Nebraska Husker. Go Big Red.

©2021 V Williams

Mystery at the Old Mill (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 4) by Clare Chase – a #BookReview – #cozy mystery

“…a huge flock of widgeon rose to the sky, changing its shape like a dense collection of iron filings pulled by a magnet.” 

Book Blurb:

When the calm of Saxford St Peter is disrupted by a deadly fire at the Old Mill, amateur sleuth Eve Mallow finds herself investigating a most surprising mystery!

Mystery at the Old Mill by Clare ChaseEveryone in Saxford St Peter is desperate to know more about Harry Tennant, the newcomer who owns the Old Mill. He usually keeps himself to himself, but he’s finally invited the villagers round for drinks, and Eve Mallow isn’t the only one looking forward to having some questions answered.

But two days before the party, a terrible fire sweeps through the mill, and Harry is found dead. When Eve passes the burned remains of his beautiful house, she can’t resist the call to investigate. Especially when it turns out quiet, charming Harry was living a double life as the famous advice writer Pippa Longford. Eve has to wonder what revelations were contained in the letters he received… and whether one of them was worth killing for.

Accompanied by her reliable dachshund sidekick Gus, Eve starts digging. She soon realises Harry was at the centre of a web of lives – and lies. There’s an uncle desperate to inherit, two women who thought they were his one and only, not to mention everyone who shared their darkest secrets with him. Was one of those strangers much closer to home than Harry knew? And can Eve untangle the truth before she finds herself face to face with a killer?

My Review:

My second excursion into an Eve Mallow mystery. I did enjoy Book 1, Mystery on Hidden Lane, which as the first of the series developed the character of Eve apparently as by Book 4, there is little further fleshing of Eve as there is of Gus, her companion Dachshund.

I was intrigued in Book 1 by the idea of a freelance obituary writer, an easy cover for her sleuthing activities when something happens. In this entry to the series—the death of a man living in the Old Mill in Saxton St Peter, Suffolk village.

Mystery at the Old Mill by Clare ChaseThe victim, Harry Tennant, is an “agony aunt,” that is, an advice columnist. Unfortunately, he is passed off as a woman, and very few knew that he is actually Pippy Longford. And fewer still that the local citizens of the community were writing to someone right there in their midst. Interesting premise!

Harry is not a nice man. (“He’d fought bullying by becoming a bully”…and it worked for him.) Heaven knows he has lots of advice—for everyone—about everything. His columns are not always helpful—but, hey, that’s what sells. When his old mill burns down with him in it, it is established that it wasn’t accidental.

I’m not quite sure what to think about Book 4. Obviously, I missed Books 2 and 3, but Book 4 does not redux the character of Eve sufficiently, other than she is still working with her BFF, Viv in her tea shop. Eve takes to discussing the threads of the case with Gus, who eyes her appropriately depending whether or not he gets to go on her interviews.

I had difficulty getting into the rather drawn out plot, well-plotted though it was, just a bit slow for me and my attention lagged more than once. Who knew Tennant’s alter-ego and who was it who might have been harmed by a juicy tidbit he was set to announce at the open house he’d planned to reveal the night following his death?

His isn’t the only body to fall by the wayside in the ensuing investigation and there are a number of red herrings. Eve had a way of seriously ticking off her interviewees, curtailing any further discussion. Several possible perps rise to the top of the list and the atmosphere becomes tense.

Seems the more obvious suspects are too obvious and in the end, the conclusion is enlightening as well as surprising. In the meantime, I enjoyed the little tidbits about the frigid location by the North Sea and the country lanes with their very colorful names: i.e., Blind Eye Lane, Haunted Lane, Old Yard Lane. If you are a fan of the author, I’d suggest you begin this series with Book 1, as I felt a bit lost in Book 4. Must have missed something and perhaps would not function as a standalone.

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

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five of Five 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Women’s Detective Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Christian Suspense
Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN : B08CBHCRSG

Print Length: 317 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Clare Chase - authorThe Author: Clare Chase writes classic mysteries. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations.

Her debut novel was shortlisted for Novelicious’s Undiscovered Award, as well as an EPIC award post-publication, and was chosen as a Debut of the Month by LoveReading. Murder on the Marshes (Tara Thorpe 1) was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award.

Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

You can find Clare’s website and blog at http://www.clarechase.com

©2020 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

Endless dreams and boundless imaginations!

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