Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

This week on Good Reads is Mystery and Thriller Week, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some of my favorite books from the genre (links go to my reviews).

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Sharon Bolton is one of my very favorite authors and all of her books I’ve read have been great, but my two favorite books by her (and just favorites in general) are Daisy in Chains and Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1).

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The Imogen Grey series by Katerina Diamond is fantastic. Be forewarned that they are pretty dark, but they are so worth it!

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Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole. This book completely lived up to the hype and I am dying for the next in the series.

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Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. A different take on the serial-killer novel, smartly written, and just look at that cover!

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen totally lived up to the hype for me. I thought I had it all figured out, but that twist completely got me.

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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. The story within a story really worked for me and I loved this.

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I would be remiss to have a list about my favorite mysteries without including a book by one of my favorite authors, Linwood Barclay. I really enjoy his Promise Falls books and The Twenty-Three really stood out for the panic-inducing atmosphere the book starts out with.

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Another favorite author I need to mention is Karin Slaughter. I really love her Will Trent series, as well as her standalone titles.

Ok, I’m going to stop myself here because I could go on and on with this topic. If you want to find some more great mystery titles, I am going to refer you to my favorite Mystery blogger: Annie @ TheMisstery. Several of the books I mentioned above I discovered because of her. I feel like almost every blog post she writes results in me adding another book to my TBR.

And lastly, I’m going to leave you with this fun little game that is over on Good Reads. What is the name of your mystery novel? Mine is The Stalker on Flight 42

What are some of your favorite mysteries and thrillers? What was the title of your mystery novel?

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Cracked Kingdom (The Royals #5) by Erin Watt. Read March 1-3. 3 Stars. 

***BEWARE OF MILD SPOILERS***
This had all the guilty pleasure drama I expect from a Royal book. It was a decent end to the series, but I didn’t LOVE it. I wish the whole head trauma issues were written with a little more care. Though it’s never explicitly said that Sebastian has a TBI, that’s what it sounded like. TBI’s are no joke and I thought they could’ve talked a little more about it than the page or so towards the end of the book. I liked that there was resolution in regards to Steve and with Hartley’s dad and with the bomb he dropped regarding Easton at the end of the previous book – though, again, I wish there was a little more about that. As fans of the series know, the authors really rushed to get this put out by their self-imposed deadline, but I would’ve been ok with waiting just a little longer so some of the typos and few continuity issues were edited out beforehand. Overall, though, I liked Easton and Hartley together and I liked that Ella and Reed were included in the ending.

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Parting Shot (Promise Falls #4) by Linwood Barclay. Read March 1-4. 4 Stars. 

I thought The Twenty-Three was the end to the Promise Falls series, but was quite pleased to find out there was another one! After the end of this one I thought for sure there would have to be even more, but I did some research and it looks like this will be the last book set in Promise Falls (at least for a good long while). I wished we got some more of David Harwood in this book. Poor, often stupid David Harwood makes so many awful decisions, but I have always enjoyed reading about him and the previous book left his storyline kind of on a major cliffhanger. There was a cameo mention that tied things up with him, but I still feel like I wanted more. However, there was enough going on in this book without him. The book centers around Cal Weaver and Barry Duckworth and their cases. I’m always amazed by how Barclay can tie all of his many threads together and I loved how it all turned out in this one. This book reminded me why he is one of my favorite authors. The ending was more open-ended than I would’ve liked, but I still really enjoyed this book.

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Wesley James Ruined my Life by Jennifer Honeybourn. Read March 5-7. 3 Stars. 

I liked the premise of this book, but it fell a little flat for me. I expected Wesley to have done something horrific to Quinn in the past, but what he did to make her “hate” him wasn’t really that big of a deal. It reminded me a little bit of Lola and the Boy Next Door in that regard. Quinn just way overreacted. I thought she was kind of psycho when it came to her vendetta against him. And while I wanted to ship their romance, I just didn’t get it. There weren’t even really any cute moments between the two of them until the end. I didn’t feel like Quinn fell for him. It felt like she just had a childhood crush on him that never ended, but she tried to deny it for awhile. I didn’t really understand why Wesley was so interested in her, either. I did like the medieval restaurant setting, though, and there were a couple funny moments. Not one I would pick up again, though.

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The Lonely Hearts Club (The Lonely Hearts Club #1) by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read March 7-8. 3.5 Stars.

Last year I discovered Elizabeth Eulberg and have really enjoyed several of her books. I find her writing pretty addictive. There’s lots of character development and plenty of cute moments. I did have some issues with this book, though. Penny really frustrated me sometimes. Whenever she “stood up for herself” it included tearing someone else down. She said a lot of really rude, unnecessary things to people and it was almost always praised by those around her. I also thought she and all her friends were really shallow about 95% of the time. That said, I did still like Penny at the end of the day and am going to go on to read the next book.

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We Can Work it Out (The Lonely Hearts Club #2) by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read March 9-10. 3 Stars. 

A quick, addicting read, even though it didn’t feel like a lot actually happened. I felt like all the drama Penny dealt with she brought upon herself and it wasn’t really necessary. I liked the cute moments between her and Ryan, though. I’m glad I finally got to this series, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll want to read again.

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Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine. Read March 11-12. 3 Stars. 

I think this fell victim to being over-hyped. I had such high expectations for it and it did not come close to meeting them. It was sloooooow, the chapters were long (and we all know how much I hate that), and I felt about zero suspense until about the last quarter or so of the book. I guessed who the bad guy was very early on. However, the writing wasn’t that bad, if a little too repetitive and I did enjoy that last quarter of the book. I’ll still check out the sequel since I’m trying out Kindle Unlimited right now.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. Read March 17-18. 4 Stars. 

Just before this book I read Dear Aaron and I thought nothing could melt my cold heart like that did. I was wrong. I absolutely adored the relationship in this. It started out rough and Jasmine was VERY hard to like, but as it went on and their friendship grew and Ivan was So. Freaking. Sweet., I just fell in love with it. That’s not to say it was a perfect book because I did have a few issues with it, but I don’t even really care enough about the faults to write about them. The one thing I’ll say is that I wish we got to see more of Ruby and Aaron in this one, but I did like the little bit we got.

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Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. Reach March 18-22. 1 Star.

I’m going to preface this by saying I really should have just DNF-ed this book and moved on with my life. I feel like this type of book is for a very specific audience and I am not at all that audience. I do not really like the Alpha-Male-You-Belong-To-Me-I’ll-Kill-Anyone-Who-Looks-At-You thing. I didn’t really find the relationship between Dex and Iris romantic. I felt like most of the big “romantic” moments were #MeToo movement scenarios. I just couldn’t get behind it. No means no, not “keep going until I finally give in”.

I also just didn’t find the story that interesting. The conclusion to the situation with Iris’ father was really anti-climatic. I think this book just goes to show that liking one book by an author does not mean you will like all books by him/her.

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Wish You Were Mine by Tara Sivec. Read March 27-29. 3.5 Stars

I loved the way this started out with the past and present timelines and the dual 1st person POVs. I felt like when the past timeline ended, though, it went a little bit downhill for me. I felt like the main characters just kept repeating themselves over and over. The main issue in the story is based on a miscommunication, as well, which always kind of bugs me. I also didn’t love Cameron and her short temper all the time. However, there were lots of good moments in the book and I did like Everett and his brother, Jason (wish we would’ve seen a little more of him, though). I would probably recommend this one to Romance fans.

********Re-Reads********

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Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. I loved this book just as much the second time around. Once again, I read it in a day. I just adore pretty much everything about this.

********Removed from the TBR********

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Meet Cute by various authors. I got this from the library, but I only ended up reading one story out of it. Most of the reviews I read said the JLA story was the best and I, unfortunately, was not really impressed by it so I decided not to read anymore.

********Back on the TBR********

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. I made it about 17% through this and just couldn’t get into it. I don’t see me finishing it before it’s due back at the library.

Review: The Twenty-Three (Promise Falls Trilogy #3) by Linwood Barclay

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Linwood Barclay comes the third jaw-dropping thriller set in Promise Falls.
 
Everything has been leading to this.

It’s the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd, and the small town of Promise Falls, New York, has found itself in the midst of a full-blown catastrophe. Hundreds of people are going to the hospital with similar flu-like symptoms—and dozens have died. Investigators quickly zero in on the water supply. But the question for many, including private investigator Cal Weaver, remains: Who would benefit from a mass poisoning of this town?

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is faced with another problem. A college student has been murdered, and he’s seen the killer’s handiwork before—in the unsolved homicides of two other women in town. Suddenly, all the strange things that have happened in the last month start to add up…

Bloody mannequins found in car “23” of an abandoned Ferris wheel…a fiery, out-of-control bus with “23” on the back, that same number on the hoodie of a man accused of assault…

The motive for harming the people of Promise Falls points to the number 23—and working out why will bring Duckworth closer to death than he’s ever been before…

The Twenty-Three will be available November 1, 2016

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

The Twenty-Three is the conclusion to the Promise Falls series and I think Barclay definitely saved the best for last.

The book starts out setting the stage of a town catastrophe. A contamination in the water supply sends hundreds of people to the hospital. To make matters worse, the contamination appears to be deliberate. Barclay did such a great job setting up the atmosphere. I could really feel the panic and fear that such an event would cause. He also sets a steady pace for the rest of the novel. Shifting through several different perspectives (focusing mostly on Detective Barry Duckworth, Private Investigator Cal Weaver, and former investigative reporter David Harwood) kept the suspense high and there were just enough twists and surprises to keep me guessing right up until the very end.

In addition to the water supply mystery, Duckworth is still working on the cases of a serial killer and the odd incidents relating to the number twenty-three that have been playing out through the past couple books. I loved that we finally got to find out what twenty-three was relating to and how all the mysteries throughout the series connected.

My only real problem with this book came at the conclusion. While almost everything wrapped up nicely, I felt David’s storyline was a little open-ended. I would have liked to get one last POV of him and also from Cal. I also would have loved an epilogue. I have a feeling, though, that we haven’t seen the last of these characters and that is just fine by me.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Twenty-Three. I loved how all the mysteries came to a head and were resolved, with just enough twists thrown in to keep me on my toes. The writing, as always, was wonderful and suspenseful. I really had a hard time putting this one down and the few times I had to, I was still thinking about it. I definitely recommend this series to fans of mystery/suspense.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: September 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp #2) by Vince Flynn. Read August 26-31 (Yes this was last month, but it was too late for my August post) 4 Stars.

While I liked the first book in this series, I enjoyed this one a lot more. There was loads more character development and the storyline was really intriguing. I found the large cast of supporting characters a little hard to keep straight at times, but that was really my only complaint. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

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Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn. Read September 1-3. 4 Stars.

What a weird, clever little book! Wishes and moonshine, murder and romance. The main character, Lennie, was a kind of unlikable most of the time, but I still rooted for her throughout the whole book. I liked her uncles and her friend Larry and the evolution of her relationship with Smith. I thought the end was really cleverly written.

I’ve read this author’s previous books and really didn’t like one and really liked the other, so this book was the tie-breaker that has made me decide I like this author’s work.

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Broken Prince (The Royals #2) by Erin Watt. Read September 3-4. 3 Stars.

It took me a little longer to get into this book than it did the first one. Not a lot happened until it got towards the end of the book and then it was mostly just setting up the third book. But I am quite interested in reading the third book now, so I guess that worked.

Getting Reed’s POV was kind of letdown. I thought he was an interesting character in Paper Princess, but every time we get his POV he’s basically just whiny and pining. I actually enjoyed his character much more from Ella’s POV, so I’m glad this book shared POV with her.

I’ve had about a billion problems with Callum since the first book, but he finally redeemed himself (partly anyways) for me in this book. He’s not as clueless or as big of a jerk as I thought he was, so that made me happy.

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Chance of a Lifetime (Anderson Brothers #3) by Marissa Clarke. Read September 4-5. 2 Stars.

I liked seeing a blind lead character. I thought the story did a good job of showing that someone with a disability can be independent and capable. I wished the character had been a little more likable, though. I did like Chance, though. The bucket list plot didn’t take up very much of the story like I thought it would. There was a ton more graphic sexual content than I was expecting, as well. I would’ve enjoyed some more character development or actual plot in place of at least a couple of those scenes, but I guess that’s the genre. Overall, just an ok book for me, though may be worth the read if you’re a fan of romance novels and looking for more diverse characters.

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The Deal (Off-Campus #1) by Elle Kennedy. Read September 5-7. 3 Stars.

I’ve seen people rave about this series and I decided to finally give it a try, even though New Adult is not really my genre. I was pretty surprised that I actually ended up liking this. The story is super familiar (and a little overdone) and there wasn’t anything really surprising in it, but the character development was well done and both the main characters were likable. There was some good bantering, as well. Being New Adult, of course there were the requisite graphic scenes, but I was actually kind of surprised that it didn’t take up half the book. There was actually more story than sex scenes, so kudos to Kennedy for that (especially since I’m pretty sure she writes full-on erotica with her other books). It did go on a little too long, but overall I enjoyed it – especially the development of Garret and Hannah’s relationship – and will read the next book in the series.

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The Mistake (Off-Campus #2) by Elle Kennedy. Read September 7-9. 2.5 Stars.

The extra half star for all the scenes between Logan and his roommates because those were often pretty comical. This book could have used a lot more of that. I didn’t like this book as much as the last one, but it did have a few cute moments. It was definitely more the type of NA book I’m used to (and try to avoid), so I was a little disappointed. Might still try the next book, though.

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The Twenty-Three (Promise Falls #3) by Linwood Barclay. Read September 11-13. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed The Twenty-Three. I loved how all the mysteries came to a head and were resolved, with just enough twists thrown in to keep me on my toes. The writing, as always, was wonderful and suspenseful. I really had a hard time putting this one down and the few times I had to, I was still thinking about it. I definitely recommend this series to fans of mystery/suspense. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. Read September 7-24. 3 Stars.

I feel kind of bad for saying I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would because it wasn’t as funny as I was expecting. Schumer really lays a lot of her life out there and a lot of it is really heavy stuff. I wasn’t expecting how serious so much of this book was, but I appreciate her willingness to go there and also the positive reinforcement to women to accept themselves and not settle for things like the abusive relationships she lived through. There were several funny and light-hearted moments, just not as many as I would have liked.

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DNF

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. Could not get into this at all. I tried to keep going, but finally decided to DNF when it started mocking religion. If the writing and the story had been interesting enough I could look past that, but since I wasn’t impressed up to that point, it was the last nail in the coffin.

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RE-READS

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Fiancé by Fate by Jennifer Shirk. I was just in the mood for something cute and I read the sequel to this book last month which made me want to read this one again.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Had to re-read it to prepare for Crooked Kingdom. I love it just as much every time I read it.

Review: Far From True (Promise Falls #2) by Linwood Barclay

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

After the screen of a run-down drive-in movie theater collapses and kills four people, the daughter of one of the victims asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into a recent break-in at her father’s house. Cal discovers a hidden basement room where it’s clear that salacious activities have taken place—as well as evidence of missing DVDs. But his investigation soon becomes more complicated when he realizes it may not be discs the thief was actually interested in….

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is still trying to solve two murders—one of which is three years old—he believes are connected, since each featured a similar distinctive wound.

As the lies begin to unravel, Cal is headed straight into the heart of a dark secret as his search uncovers more startling truths about Promise Falls. And when yet another murder happens, Cal and Barry are both driven to pursue their investigations, no matter where they lead. Evil deeds long thought buried are about to haunt the residents of this town—as the sins of the past and present collide with terrifying results.

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

For anyone that follows my blog, you know that Linwood Barclay is my Favorite Mystery/Suspense author and he does not disappointment in this second installment of the Promise Falls series! While the first book in the series, Broken Promise, featured mostly David Harwood (originally from Never Look Away), Far From True, features several characters, but the only 1st Person POV privilege is given to private investigator Cal Weaver (from A Tap on the Window). I love the way Barclay incorporates familiar characters, which is fun for his faithful readers, but new readers won’t be lost because the characters are continuously developing and growing (and finding more trouble to get mixed up in).

While I was a little disappointed there wasn’t as much David Harwood as the first book, we still see enough of him to keep him a major player in the book. I liked seeing Cal Weaver again and Detective Duckworth just gets better for me every time I see him. I loved his interactions with his wife, especially when they were at meals. It provided some much needed humor/light-hearted moments.

There are a lot of POVs and storylines to follow in this book. While I don’t think every author could pull this off, Barclay makes it work. There was never a dull moment and I was invested enough in each of the storylines that I was never upset when it was time for a POV shift. There were mysteries and storylines from the first book continued in this one, along with some new mysteries and twists introduced that may have implications to some of the ongoing investigations. While we do get some answers and clues, there are also more questions and unresolved mysteries that will continue on into the next installment, which I am very anxious for.

Overall, I really enjoyed Far From True. It has great, well-developed characters, intriguing mysteries, and is very smartly written. I definitely recommend the Promise Falls series to fans of Mystery and Suspense and to fans of Linwood Barclay.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Review: Broken Promise (Promise Falls #1) by Linwood Barclay

Book Review Header

Synopsis from Good Reads:

From New York Times bestselling author Linwood Barclay comes an explosive novel set in the peaceful small town of Promise Falls, where secrets can always be buried—but never forgotten…

After his wife’s death and the collapse of his newspaper, David Harwood has no choice but to uproot his nine-year-old son and move back into his childhood home in Promise Falls, New York. David believes his life is in free fall, and he can’t find a way to stop his descent.

Then he comes across a family secret of epic proportions. A year after a devastating miscarriage, David’s cousin Marla has continued to struggle. But when David’s mother asks him to check on her, he’s horrified to discover that she’s been secretly raising a child who is not her own—a baby she claims was a gift from an “angel” left on her porch.

When the baby’s real mother is found murdered, David can’t help wanting to piece together what happened—even if it means proving his own cousin’s guilt. But as he uncovers each piece of evidence, David realizes that Marla’s mysterious child is just the tip of the iceberg.

Other strange things are happening. Animals are found ritually slaughtered. An ominous abandoned Ferris wheel seems to stand as a warning that something dark has infected Promise Falls. And someone has decided that the entire town must pay for the sins of its past…in blood.

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Broken Promise is the first book in a new series, but it’s also a continuation of the characters from Never Look Away, which is actually one of the first reviews I ever wrote for this blog (the book was great, the review was not). While events from Never Look Away are referenced, they’re mostly pretty vague and you don’t have read it before reading Broken Promise. It doesn’t even really give away what happens, so if you want to go back and read it, you’re still in for some surprises.

It’s been a couple years since the events of Never Look Away has occurred and David finds himself an unemployed single father, living with his parents. His mother sends him to check on his cousin who is grieving over the loss of her baby – and seemed to have gone a little crazy. When David shows up at her house, he finds her with a baby she claims was dropped off by an angel. David finds an address he believes to be the real home of the baby and when he shows up there he finds a murder scene. David being David, he can’t help but to do a little investigating of his own when his cousin appears to be the prime suspect.

As the story went on, I started to suspect a lot of things. Even though I was usually right, it was written in such a way that I still felt surprised at every reveal. Barclay is really a master of this genre and I love his writing. All of the characters are very well developed and there is really rich imagery. I usually don’t care for too much description, but I really appreciated it here. While the romance (if you can even call it that) was a very small portion of the book, I was 100% against it. Poor David has just awful taste in women. I think it has the potential to add a lot of unnecessary drama in future installments of the series and I’m really hoping that a new love interest is introduced instead.

There an abundance of side plots in this story. Some of them are connected to the central mystery, but there are a couple that aren’t resolved by the end of the book and appear to set things up nicely for the next book in the series. While it slightly annoyed me to not have answers, I know Barclay will eventually take care of it and I’m really looking forward to the next book.

Overall, I really enjoyed Broken Promise. I love that we get to see more of David Harwood and Detective Duckworth. There was also a quick cameo from Cal from A Tap on the Window. Barclay is one of my favorite mystery/suspense writers and this book definitely did not disappointment. I recommend it to all fans of the genre.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars