Review: The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter brings back Will Trent and Sara Linton in this superb and timely thriller full of devious twists, disturbing secrets, and shocking surprises you won’t see coming

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor.

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.

This book was excellent. I feel like I have been waiting forever for a new Will Trent book and it did not disappoint. In fact, I think this is my favorite book from Karin Slaughter to date.

I’ve always been a fan of Slaughter’s writing, but the way she was able to write this story with such a sense of urgency was so impressive to me. Even though there were plenty of parts that had a lot of information and background instead of action-packed sequences, that urgency was always there. It was very hard to put the book down. I loved the way Slaughter played with timelines and point of views, as well. We get third person POVs from Will, Sara, and Faith, which I expect from this series, but what was different was seeing some of the same scenes from different perspectives. I loved this! After the first few chapters, though, our main characters don’t have many scenes together, so while we still see what’s happening with all of them at the same time of day, it’s only from one perspective per scene. I also thought the frequent references to time reminded me a little of the tv show 24, which I loved.

The story focuses on the ramp up to a domestic terrorist attack. This particular sect is a white supremacist group, which is pretty timely. There are always scenes in a Slaughter book that are hard to read, but hearing the ideology of this group was so revolting. There’s a lot of people in our world today that throw out the term “nazi” at anyone they disagree with and I think it desensitizes us to when there are actually people like this that hold those type of views. This is an important topic, but it felt like there were a little more politics in this book than I generally like to read. Also, I wish Slaughter would have emphasized a little more that alt-right and alt-left groups do not represent people on the right or the left. This was really my only complaint, though.

Overall, I loved The Last Widow. I loved being back in Will Trent’s world. I love his relationship with Sara, and the other strong women in his life, Faith and Amanda. I also liked Van from the FBI and wouldn’t mind seeing more from him in the future. I loved the sense of urgency Slaughter infused into the story. I think this is my favorite book of 2019 so far and I really hope Slaughter doesn’t make us wait several more years before giving us another Will Trent book!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

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Review: The Smiling Man (Aidan Waits Thriller #2) by Joseph Knox

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

‘Packing a punch from the very first page. You will love The Smiling Man’ Jane Harper, author of The Dry

From the bestselling author of Sirens, Detective Aidan Waits is on the hunt to find the identity of The Smiling Man.

Disconnected from his history and careless of his future, Detective Aidan Waits has resigned himself to the night shift. An endless cycle of meaningless emergency calls and lonely dead ends. Until he and his partner, Detective Inspector Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe, are summoned to The Palace, a vast disused hotel in the centre of a restless, simmering city.

There they find the body of a man. He is dead.

And he is smiling.

The tags have been removed from the man’s clothes. His teeth filed down and replaced. Even his fingertips are not his own. Only a patch sewn into the inside of his trousers gives any indication as to who he was, and to the desperate last act of his life…

But even as Waits puts together the pieces of this stranger’s life, someone is sifting through the shards of his own.

When the mysterious fires, anonymous phone calls and outright threats escalate, he realises that a ghost from his own past haunts his every move.

And to discover the smiling man’s identity, he must finally confront his own.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Smiling Man will be available January 15, 2019. 

I have been looking forward to reading The Smiling Man for awhile now and I’m happy to report that I liked it even more than the first book in the series.

Aidan Waits is such an interesting character. I was glad to see he was more sober in this book. His life is still a mess, but I feel he’s at least trying to get things in the right direction. I enjoyed his dysfunctional relationship with his shift partner/superior officer, Sutty. Their banter brought a little bit of levity to the otherwise heavy story, even though it was more of a dark humor. I was into it, though.

I thought the writing in the first book could be a little scattered and hard to follow at times, but I didn’t feel that way about this one. While there are several threads that I didn’t really see the connection in until the end, they all made sense. I really do like Knox’s writing style. It’s pretty addictive and when I gave myself time to sit down and read this book, I never wanted to put it down. I loved how short most of the chapters were, too.

Overall, I enjoyed The Smiling Man. Knox’s writing style is unique and addictive and I am eternally fascinated by Aidan Waits. I thought the mystery was well done, but I could’ve spent a little less time on some of the side mysteries, even though they all play in to the bigger picture. I am definitely looking forward to more in this series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

‘All hail the new Queen of Crime!’ Heat

When troubled teen Connor moves to Exeter from the US to escape his past, he finds himself embroiled in a world of popular kids and easy girls. Everyone wants to be his friend, but they don’t know about what he did…and they don’t know about his father.

As Connor’s life in England begins to unravel, DS Adrian Miles and his partner Imogen Grey are working up against the clock to catch a serial killer who dates his victims before he kills them. Determined to uncover the truth, Imogen is forced to act as bait – but will she take it too far and risk her own life?

Katerina Diamond is back with a bang in this dark, twisted novel, perfect for fans of M.J. Arlidge and Karin Slaughter.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Promise will be available September 20, 2018.

Last year I read and fell in love with the DS Imogen Grey series and The Promise was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I’m so happy to report that it completely lived up to my expectations.

I just love Diamond’s writing style. The mysteries are always so well done and also really character driven. Even though the book was kind of long, I just flew right through it. I never wanted to put it down. I will say that this is the first of her books that I figured things out well before they were revealed, but I was so invested in all the characters that I didn’t mind not being surprised like I have been before.

While the story is told through several different viewpoints, we get quite a lot of Connor’s POV. I think we actually hear more from him than from Imogen or Adrian and while I expected that to upset me, it didn’t. As I mentioned earlier, I was heavily invested in the characters and that included Connor. I felt so bad for all that he went through and just wanted to see him catch a break. Though he plays an integral role in the mystery and the lead up to the resolution, I thought his own ending was left a little more open than I like. Though I don’t anticipate it happening, I really wouldn’t mind seeing more of him in future books.

There were a few developments in Imogen and Adrian’s personal relationships and their partnership, as well. Adrian is still grieving from the events of the previous book. Imogen struggles with making the decision  between keeping her relationship with Dean or moving along in her career. In addition, their own relationship begins to change and neither of them are sure about what’s happening. I don’t want to get too spoilery, but I am very, very anxious to see how things develop in the next book.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Promise. I’m afraid this little review doesn’t come close to expressing how much. I loved the writing, the mystery, and the characters. While this book still had plenty of dark content, it wasn’t as dark as some of the other books in this series and I liked that. Katerina Diamond has really become one of my favorite authors and I definitely recommend her to mystery and crime fans. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars 

Review: Close to Home (DI Adam Fawley #1) by Cara Hunter

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

They know who did it. Perhaps not consciously. Perhaps not yet. But they know. 

When eight-year-old Daisy Mason vanishes from her family’s Oxford home during a costume party, Detective Inspector Adam Fawley knows that nine times out of ten, the offender is someone close to home. And Daisy’s family is certainly strange—her mother is obsessed with keeping up appearances, while her father is cold and defensive under questioning. And then there’s Daisy’s little brother, so withdrawn and uncommunicative . . .

DI Fawley works against the clock to find any trace of the little girl, but it’s as if she disappeared into thin air—no one saw anything; no one knows anything. But everyone has an opinion, and everyone, it seems, has a secret to conceal.

This book, guys! It’s SO GOOD! Why has no one told me how good this is? In any case, I am here to tell you to go read this book!

Close to Home kept me guessing the whole time. Did one of my guesses end up being right? Sure, but I had about 9 theories going at the same time and I really didn’t commit to the real conclusion until only a few pages before it was revealed. Hunter did an incredible job of making numerous red herrings seem not just plausible, but likely.

The characterization was really great, as well. I really hated the Masons and I just wanted to find out what the deal was with this crazy family. I also really liked all of the police officers. It’s not often in these type of books that the members of the police force are so likable, but they were here. I can’t wait to read more about them. Adam Fawley was a great main character. Even though he had a tragic backstory, he was not some cliched, half-way functioning alcoholic. He was a good detective and he was also a good person.

I thought I would hate the non-traditional formatting with it’s lack of proper chapters, but it actually ended up working for me. It kept the pace very steady and it made it so much easier for me to keep reading right past my bedtime. I loved the multiple POVs and timelines utilized, as well as the tweets. I feel this book helps prove my theory that Twitter is the worst thing to ever happen to society (and yes, I say that knowing that I will tweet a link to this review). The whole Trial by Twitter thing is so relevant to our world today and I thought it was really smart to include it here.

The only tiny thing I didn’t like about the book was that I wanted more details for the conclusion. We’re given enough answers to know what happens, but I would have liked to have known all the little details on how we got there. It was just a little too vague to fully satisfy me, but this is me just being nit-picky.

Overall, I just loved Close to Home. I loved the characters and the writing and the mystery. I am blown away that this is Cara Hunter’s debut book. It was so cleverly written and I never wanted to put it down. This is my favorite book of the year so far and Hunter has made her way onto my favorite authors list. I can’t wait to read the next book!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

 

Review: Speak of the Devil (Anna Curtis #3) by Allison Leotta

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

On the very night she gets engaged to the man she loves, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis’s professional life takes a shocking turn that threatens everything she holds dear. A few miles away from where she’s enjoying her romantic dinner, two separate groups are gearing up to raid a brothel. A vicious killer known as Diablo—the Devil—leads one group. A few minutes later, Anna’s own investigative team heads in to search the brothel, as part of an ongoing fight against human trafficking in DC. Both groups are caught off guard, with deadly results.

As Anna investigates the bloody face-off, the boundaries between her work and home life begin to blur when she discovers a web of long-buried secrets and official lies that lead straight to her doorstep. And everything Anna counted on—the happiness she seemed so close to securing—comes into question as Diablo moves in for yet another kill.

Allison Leotta draws on her experience as a DC sex-crimes prosecutor to take you into the back rooms of the US Attorney’s Office, the hidden world of the Witness Protection Program, and the secret rituals of one of America’s most dangerous gangs.

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After finishing this book I am now caught up on the Anna Curtis series (since the first book I read was #4). I think it’s safe to say that Allison Leotta has gotten better with each book. I enjoyed Law of Attraction, I devoured Discretion and thought it was basically everything a DC-based crime novel should be, and Speak of the Devil keeps up with the crime/mystery aspect I expect while also really delivering on the emotional front.

Any book in this genre includes some scenes that are hard to read and when one features a gang who’s mottos is “Kill, Rape, Control”, you know you’re in for some heart wrenching situations. Not only do we get the violent POV of some of the gang members, we get the POV of one of those gang members who wants out. His character development was very strong and really conveyed the intensity of his emotions. I was really rooting for him throughout the book.

There are also big things happening in Anna’s personal life. Now, I’ve read A Good Killing (book 4), and know what the outcome of these personal developments would be, but I was not expecting how emotionally invested in it I would be. I’ve always been a little ambivalent towards Jack, but in this book we find things out about him that made me start to dislike him. And he handles things pretty poorly. But still. Anna really loves him and wants to marry him and I found myself hoping things would go her way.

In addition to the personal storylines, the actual crime/mystery part of the book was very well done. Leotta continues to impress me with her writing of the legal specifics, never going overboard on the details, but making it realistic and easy to understand. There are also several very suspenseful chapters that made me curse my 1/2 hour lunch break. The crime story itself had several layers that all came together well in the end, including a twist involving the murder of Jack’s wife, Nina.

Overall, I really enjoyed Speak of the Devil. It was an incredibly well-written, well-paced story that really tugs on the heartstrings. I’m looking forward to re-reading A Good Killing, to see if I feel any differently now that I know more of Anna’s background. I recommend this series to fans of crime/mystery/suspense. If you’re not reading this series yet, you should be!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

*There’s still a couple days left to enter my 2 Year Blogaversary Giveaway-Ending 6/26*

Review: Law of Attraction (Anna Curtis #1) by Allison Leotta

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Synopsis from B&N:

As a newly minted Assistant US Attorney in Washington, DC, Anna Curtis has already developed a thick skin to help her deal with the unsettling brutality she encounters daily in her overflowing stack of domestic violence cases. Yet when Laprea Johnson—battered to death by her boyfriend on the morning after Valentine’s Day—crosses Anna’s desk, there’s something about this particular case that Anna can’t quite shake, something that reminds the prosecutor of her own troubled past.

It’s also the biggest case of Anna’s career—and the most personal. If she wins it, she could lose everything. The victim she tried to protect is dead. Her lover—no, her ex-lover—is defending the accused killer. Caught between seeking justice for Laprea and saving her personal life, Anna makes a series of choices that jeopardize her career, her relationships, and her very life as she uncovers the shocking truth behind the murder.

Weaving expert knowledge with deft storytelling, Law of Attraction provides a fascinating glimpse into the most emotional cases of DC’s criminal justice system.

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I recently read A Good Killing, which is the 4th book in the Anna Curtis series, and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to start the series from the beginning and not too long after that I won a giveaway from Allison Leotta where I won signed copies of the entire series! I finally finished the first book and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it!

In Law of Attraction Anna Curtis is a relatively new prosecutor in Washington DC. A domestic violence case comes across her desk and she takes a very personal interest in it. Things get complicated when her old law school classmate and current crush, Nick Wagner, is the public defender of the abuser, D’Marco. After the case is finished – and D’Marco is set free, Anna and Nick’s relationship heats up, only to come to a crashing halt when Laprea is found dead and Anna and Nick find themselves on opposing sides of the court. Anna joins Homicide chief Jack Bailey to put D’Marco away for good. However, the twists and turns that come up along the way may lead to an outcome Anna could never expect.

The story is told in 3rd person POV and we get the perspectives of pretty much all the major players – Mostly Anna, but also Nick, Jack, D’Marco, Laprea, and a couple of other minor characters. Most of the books I read tend to be 1st Person POV, which I love, but I think the 3rd person POV really worked well here. I loved getting everyone’s perspectives and felt it helped move the story along at a good pace.

I thought Anna was a well developed character and I liked to see her starting out in the profession. I also liked meeting the characters that popped up in A Good Killing – Jack, Anna’s sister Jody, and her friend Grace. It was pretty easy for me to be completely Team Cooper in A Good Killing, but now seeing Anna’s earlier romance I’m feeling conflicted about what’s to come.

Leotta did a good job of weaving information of legal processes into the story. Sometimes I think books like this go overboard with explanations, but I here I think we got just enough information of how things worked and I really found those tidbits interesting. My brother’s a cop and often has to go to court so I liked hearing another perspective of those same type of court proceedings.

The only thing I didn’t really like in this book is that there were a couple chapters where it stopped feeling like a crime/suspense book and felt like a straight up romance-including an overly graphic love scene. I understand that it was important to build up the relationship between Anna and Nick, but it was maybe a little bit much.

Overall, I really enjoyed Law of Attraction. I liked the writing style, the characters, and the case. While some of the plot played out predictably, the final twists were ones I didn’t see coming. This is a series I’m definitely glad I started from the beginning and I look forward to reading the next installment.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Review: The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

The Forgotten Girls (Louise Rick, #7)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick-the new commander of the Missing Persons Department-is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed-and hidden-in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Forgotten Girls will be available February 3, 2015.

What I didn’t realize when I requested this book from NetGalley was that there were previous books involving the same characters. According to GoodReads this is book #7 in the Louise Rick / Camilla Lind series. However, most of these books are in Danish and there are only four, including The Forgotten Girls, that have been translated into English. I was a little confused by this and was afraid I would be missing too much, but Blaedel kindly answered my question on Twitter and this is the first book in the Special Search Unit trilogy and can be read without reading any of her previous books. That said, there were still a few times that I worried I was missing something from previous books, but Blaedel did a great job of including enough background information and context that I never felt lost.

Louise Rick is starting a new job heading up a special search unit for missing persons. As most of us feel when starting new jobs, it starts out not being what she expected and is having second thoughts. This is especially true when she’s assigned a detective that she didn’t want, Eik Nordstrom, who she finds passed out in a bar on his first day. I enjoyed watching how their relationship changed and developed throughout the story. Louise starts out very closed off and almost cold and Eik seems like an extreme chain-smoking slacker, but the more they work together, the more their true characters are revealed and they end up working very well together. Their relationship outside of the office evolves, as well. They actually reminded me a lot of John Tomasetti and Kate Burkholder from the Kate Burkholder series which is probably one of the reasons I liked them so much.

Their first case is to identify a woman found dead in the woods near where Louise grew up. The woman has very distinct scarring and they figure it will be an easy case to solve. However, no one matching her description has been reported missing. After releasing the photo to the public, the woman is identified as Lise. She and her twin sister, Mette, so close they were often referred to as just Lisemette, were patients in a home for the mentally disabled. The twist is that Lisemette died thirty years ago. Once Lise is positively identified, Louise and Eik begin the search for her possibly still missing twin.

It took a few chapters for the story to really take off for me, but once it did I was hooked. There were lots of twists and turns throughout the book. Woven along with the mystery of Lisemette is a killer rapist on the loose. As Louise and Eik investigate Lisemette, they find themselves involved in the rapist investigation, which also has ties to Louise’s past.  There was also some definite darker themes. The twins, who were mentally disabled, were put into a home when they were three. It was heartbreaking to read the way the mentally disabled were treated back then. Parents just gave up raising their children and institutionalized them. They were then discouraged from visiting their children and they became known as “forgotten girls”.

In addition to Louise, we spend some time with her best friend, Camilla, who is a major bridezilla. As the stress of the wedding begins to wear on her, she dusts off her old journalist instincts and delves into the case Louise has told her about. I have to say for most of the book I didn’t really care for Camilla. However, once she stopped being so uptight about the wedding, she became a little more likable.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Forgotten Girls. Though there were a few times I felt some of the writing was a little lost in translation, the plot of the story really made up for it. I was surprised by the resolution of the central mystery and it left just enough of a cliffhanger about a mystery from Louise’s past that I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. I’ll definitely be reading Blaedel’s other books in the meantime. I would recommend this to fans of mystery/crime novels.

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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