Close To Home: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 5

Author: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: Close To Home
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 5
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

While investigating the hit-and-run death of a young boy, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite makes a startling discovery: the suspect is an active-duty serviceman at a local naval base. After a key piece of case evidence goes missing, he is cleared of charges in a military court. But Tracy knows she can’t turn her back on this kind of injustice.

When she uncovers the driver’s ties to a rash of recent heroin overdoses in the city, she realizes that this isn’t just a case of the military protecting its own. It runs much deeper than that, and the accused wasn’t acting alone. For Tracy, it’s all hitting very close to home.

As Tracy moves closer to uncovering the truth behind this insidious conspiracy, she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

And there is my wall. Dammit! I was really hoping this author could pull it off and keep me going with a series, but this one fell down for me. I was actually kind of bored until about the 60% mark, which is a bit of a shock after how well I’ve liked the other books.

The biggest issue I had with this book was it felt horribly repetitive. It kept going over and over the exact same information on the case again and again. Once we are presented with something during the reveal of the crime, we don’t need it then talked about again in detail, then presented in court with the same level of detail and then talked about again between different characters, IN DETAIL. If you remove all the times the same stuff was presented here you would have a decent book that was about one third of this.

I’m also seeing a trend with the character or setting descriptions throughout the series. I get that you want to be able to say each book is a stand alone, but for readers that have been reading the series, we don’t need the… wait for it… exact same details (see a pattern there?) and descriptions every time one of those secondary characters or locations come into play again, especially when you see those same characters in nearly every book, sometimes more than once.

This also reached my max believability meter with the main character, yet again, being put in a life or death situation. EVERY BOOK. I’ve been able to swallow it because the author made the scenarios believable enough to work (mostly) up until this point, though I was pushed in the last one a bit. This time, the situation was just over the top ridiculous.

The finial part that dropped my rating way down on this one was the overly PSA/preachy feel to it. It was like reading medical journal article on opioids, addiction and their history. It was made worse by the blatant regurgitation of the popular, but false, belief that pot is a gateway drug. While I actually enjoy learning something new that I’d never run across before, I don’t need to be preached to or have your personal opinion pushed down my throat. It is one way to have a character have certain beliefs or a stance as that makes it part of that character, but to work it in as general facts in the book is preaching.

So, no. I wasn’t much of a fan of this one and that is just disappointing.

Broken Bones: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 7

Broken BonesAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Broken Bones
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #7
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


 

Blurb: The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers in the Black Country are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.
At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what at first looks like a tragic abandonment soon takes an even more sinister turn.

When another young woman goes missing, the two investigations bring the team into a terrifying, hidden world, and a showdown puts Kim’s life at risk as secrets from as secrets from her own past come to light.

As Kim battles her own demons, can she stop the killer, before another life is lost?

Even though I know I haven’t necessarily rated all the books in this series quite so high, the D.I. Kim Stone series is one of my top favorite crime drama series and this one is no exception. For me, that is a bit surprising because most authors this deep into a crime series tend to lose me with too much repetition or similarity between the themes in the books. You absolutely get something new with each and every book in this series.

Like with most books in this series, there are several different plot lines and threads woven throughout. The way Ms. Marsons manages to pull that off every time without being too much is one of the things I think I like the most about these books.

If I have really anything negative to say it is that I wanted to spend more time with Kim’s character, but we got a pretty large balance across the board with the rest of her team in this one. I like the team and their dynamics, but I love Kim and want to see her hog the pages and get only sprinklings of the others.

 

Say You’re Sorry: Morgan Dane, Book 1

Say You're SorryAuthor: Melinda Leigh
Book Name: Say You’re Sorry
Series: Morgan Dane
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime, Romance
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.

I think that this book is a good example of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” There are so many sub-plots and side-plots, you nearly need a flow chart to remember which characters are which and who is doing what and to follow along. A few of those don’t ever even get fleshed out, so serve no real purpose.

I JUST wrote in another review about how it drives me crazy if an author puts their main character in life or death peril over and over again throughout the series, making it completely unrealistic and unbelievable. This book takes it to a whole other level, putting the main character, Morgan, in peril in what seems like nearly every other chapter. I’m talking full on gun in her face, getting shot at, knife at her throat, life threatening peril. If this were some sort of a combat drama, maybe that would work, but this isn’t. And this is only book one of a series featuring this same main character?

While there were parts of this that I really enjoyed, it was a bit too much and why this is only an okay/good book for me. I don’t know if there was enough that I liked about this to make me pick up the second book.

In The Clearing: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 3

In The ClearingAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: In The Clearing
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 3
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Detective Tracy Crosswhite has a skill, and a soft spot, for tackling unsolved crimes. Having lost her own sister to murder at a young age, Tracy has dedicated her career to bringing justice and closure to the families and friends of victims of crime.

So when Jenny, a former police academy classmate and protégé, asks Tracy to help solve a cold case that involves the suspicious suicide of a Native American high school girl forty years earlier, Tracy agrees. Following up on evidence Jenny’s detective father collected when he was the investigating deputy, Tracy probes one small town’s memory and finds dark, well-concealed secrets hidden within the community’s fabric. Can Tracy uphold the promise she’s made to the dead girl’s family and deliver the truth of what happened to their daughter? Or will she become the next victim?

Initially, after reading the blurb, I was worried this was going to fall into that repetitive, beginning to be totally unbelievable zone where the main character is forever in a constant battle for their life. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Yes, we have a point where a very real danger presents itself, but it isn’t like the other books in the series where it is a major part of the story. So, while it brushes up against that line, it doesn’t cross it, staying solidly on the side of being believable.

I love that this book touches on the concept that one situation that is totally unrelated to another can spark a light bulb moment to make the other one more clear. This is something that happens to me all the time, so it was kind of cool to see it here.

All in all, I’m still loving this series.

 

Her Final Breath: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 2

Her Final BreathAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: Her Final Breath
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 2
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite has returned to the police force after the sensational retrial of her sister’s killer. Still scarred from that ordeal, Tracy is pulled into an investigation that threatens to end her career, if not her life.

A serial killer known as the Cowboy is killing young women in cheap motels in North Seattle. Even after a stalker leaves a menacing message for Crosswhite, suggesting the killer or a copycat could be targeting her personally, she is charged with bringing the murderer to justice. With clues scarce and more victims dying, Tracy realizes the key to solving the murders may lie in a decade-old homicide investigation that others, including her captain, Johnny Nolasco, would prefer to keep buried. With the Cowboy on the hunt, can Tracy find the evidence to stop him, or will she become his next victim?

So far, I’m still loving this series.

The way that Nolasco managed to get away with blatant harassment kind of bugs me, but that is part of his character. I have a feeling it may be groundwork for something later in the series, so it didn’t impact my enjoyment of this one.

I am on edge with this because it is only book two in the series. I have some concerns we will see Tracy in life or death peril in every single book and that kills a series for me because of how unrealistic and repetitive it becomes. For now, though, I did really love this one and am looking forward to the next.

My Sister’s Grave: Tracy Crosswhite, Book 1

My Sister's GraveAuthor: Robert Dugoni
Book Name: My Sister’s Grave
Series: Tracy Crosswhite
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

I thought this was really awesome, probably one of the best crime/mystery dramas I’ve read.

The main character, Tracy, was incredibly well done. I’m often annoyed by how female police officers are portrayed. They are usually utterly cold and hard and completely flawless, weak and weepy and stupid, or horribly trampy. That is not the case here. She is solid and firmly grounded in humanity, not perfect but not a mess.

The main reasons I often struggle with giving a full 5 star rating to most crime or mystery dramas is because they tend to be over the top unrealistic or too simplistic and obvious because I know what was going to happen at every turn. This kept me interested from beginning to end and I was kept not knowing anything until it happened. This managed to do all of that and still gave a solid, unexpected end that maintained the believability and realism of the rest of the book.

I’ve been burned in the past on starting a new series only to find out by the time I got to book three that all the goods were in the first book or two and the rest are only slightly adjusted carbon copies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed with this one that the rest of the books can continue the pattern that this one set.

Where Angels Rest: Mann Family, Book 1

Where Angels RestAuthor: Kate Brady
Book Name: Where Angels Rest
Series: Mann Family
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

 

Blurb:  A RACE FOR SALVATION

For the past decade, psychologist Erin Sims has been helping victims of violent crimes move on with life . . . but the one person she can’t save is the one who matters most. In only seven days, her brother will be executed for a murder he didn’t commit. Convinced she knows the identity of the real killer, Erin is determined to find the man and bring him to justice.

A COUNTDOWN TO DESTRUCTION

Sheriff Nick Mann moved to rural Ohio hoping to forget the tragedies of his past. When Erin shows up in town, bringing scandal and unwanted media attention with her, Nick knows she’s trouble. No one believes sleepy Hopewell could harbor a serial killer . . . until residents begin to disappear. Now as Nick untangles the dark secrets plaguing his town, he can’t help falling for the beautiful woman with the warm heart and iron will. And, as the days tick by, the truth becomes clear: Erin is hunting a vicious murderer-one whose only escape is to silence her forever.

Review:  I’ll get it out of the way right up front.  This does have that insta-love kind of thing going on here since the time line of this story lasts only about 7 days (14 if you count the time skip at the end, but I’m not being picky here).  That said, because there is so much that goes on in those seven days, I’m willing to overlook that because it does mostly work here.  Still not my favorite thing in a story, but it doesn’t kill this for me.  Because the timeline for this is so extremely short, it pushes the bounds of believability with all that does happen in this story, but again, it is still written in a way that it works.

I liked this.  The characters were interesting and had decent personalities that made them likable.  That isn’t often something I tend to find in romantic suspense lately.  I liked the fact that Erin had a backbone and Nick wasn’t all alpha-male to the point where he treated Erin like some fragile piece of glass.

This was also pretty twisty as to trying to figure out who the bad guy was, at least for a large portion of the book.  It was nice to not really know from page one exactly who and why.  Sure there were hints if you were really paying attention, but I think the author did a pretty good job of making the reader have doubts about those hints for quite a while.

It was definitely good enough to make me want to pick up another book by this author.

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Evil Games: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 2

Evil GamesAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Evil Games
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #2
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal stabbing, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But as further disturbing events come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone even more sinister at work.

With the investigation gathering momentum, whilst also trying to expose the secrets of a sick paedophile ring, Kim finds herself in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Pitted against a dangerous sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

Review:  Not sure if it is just my perception of this one or if the writing and construction of this story was just different from the first book, but this one didn’t have quite the same feel.

The story line was interesting and intriguing and I did really enjoy that.  It was the huge chunks of time we spent with the bad guy that brought this down for me.  I don’t mind that approach in writing, but in this it just seemed to be way too much and not entirely necessary.  There is only so much devious mind exploration and self ego stroking I need to read before I get the idea of the bad guy’s thinking.  I like Kim’s character so much, that I’d much prefer the majority of the time be spent focused on her.

There were also two separate stories going on here and even though both of those cases were Kim’s to work on, the majority of her time was spent focused on Alex.  So much so that the pedophile part to the story kind of gets shoved to the side and all the other members of her team are the ones to work on it, becoming more of an afterthought rather than a bigger part of the overall story.

So while this was still good, I much preferred the first book to this one.

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Criminal: Will Trent, Book 7

UnseenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Unseen
Series: Will Trent
Order: #7
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Will Trent is a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent whose latest case has him posing as Bill Black, a scary ex-con who rides a motorcycle around Macon, Georgia, and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. The cover has worked and he has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer who thinks he might be a useful ally. But undercover and cut off from the support of the woman he loves, Sara Linton, Will finds his demons catching up with him.

Although she has no idea where Will has gone, or why, Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s shooting is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.

Review:  I think I kind of hit a wall with this one.  While the story itself is good, there is just only so much of the seriously dark, ugly and nearly unforgiving hopelessness that these stories tend to exude that I can stomach.  The cops are almost always bad.  Even the supposed good guys in the stories are really kind of nasty and horrible to each other.  The bad guys are so horrifically bad and on all kinds of levels that it can’t help but poison everyone around them.

I don’t mind reading the darker stuff.  I’ve found a few that I’ve really enjoyed, but that was because they were pretty well balanced by the time I reached the end with a level of positive that made the darker more interesting.  These books, and this addition to the series is no exception, are just so excessively depressing with little to no relief that there just isn’t a whole lot to recommend when you can’t pull yourself out of the dark hole these tend to drop you in.

A book kind of loses something for me when I feel relieved that I finally reached the end.  I don’t enjoy a story that doesn’t let up on all the negativity so I think I might need to be done with this author for a while.

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Have You Seen Her? : Karen Rose

Have You Seen Her?Author: Karen Rose
Book Name: Don’t Tell
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  Steven dropped to his knees next to the paramedic. “Jenna.” Her eyes opened and in them he saw shock and tears and guilt. “I’m so sorry, Steven. I should have listened to you.” Steven noticed the smears of blood on her worn Duke T-shirt. “Any other wounds?” he asked the paramedic.Only her throat. the blood on her shirt appears to be her own.” “We found bloody handprints on the carpet where she crawled from the bedroom,” said Uniform Two.Steven’s gut seethed as he pictured her scared and hurt and crawling through her own house like a wounded animal. For that alone, whoever did this to her would pay…

Review:  I was really surprised that I didn’t like this one better as I’ve really enjoyed the other Karen Rose books I’ve read in the past.  For this one, I just really wasn’t a fan of the characters at all.  Both of the main characters came across as insanely immature rather than rational, intelligent adults with regards the romantic aspects of the story.  Steven especially.  One or two of his little quirks wouldn’t have been an issue, but it was kind of a never ending thing that made it rather ridiculous.  Jenna wasn’t as bad, but she still had her moments that played off of Steven’s.

Outside of the romantic aspect is how Steven had nearly a complete lack of interaction with his own children.  I get the job takes you away, but there was this lack of concern or action or real emotional tie that never made itself known in the story which made him seem very uncaring about his kids.  It was made even more apparent when he had zero qualms about having Jenna come in and pretty much act like a mom with them when he’d only known her for days.  It just didn’t really add up to caring, involved dad to me.  Especially when you consider the traumatic history with the youngest, Nicky.

The suspenseful aspects of the story were pretty good and were the only parts that kept me reading this because the rest was off just enough for me that it kept me from enjoying the good like I could have.  This was definitely not my favorite.

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The Bone Thief: Body Farm, Book 5

The Bone ThiefAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: The Bone Thief
Series: Body Farm
Order: #5
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Dr. Bill Brockton has been called in on a seemingly routine case, to exhume a body and obtain a bone sample for a DNA paternity test. But when the coffin is opened, Brockton and his colleagues, including his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady, are stunned to see that the corpse has been horribly violated.

Brockton’s initial shock gives way to astonishment as he uncovers a flourishing and lucrative black market in body parts. At the center of this ghoulish empire is a daring and prosperous grave robber. Soon Brockton finds himself drawn into the dangerous enterprise when the FBI recruits him to bring down the postmortem chop shop–using corpses from the Body Farm as bait in an undercover sting operation.

As Brockton struggles to play the unscrupulous role the FBI asks of him, his friend and colleague medical examiner Eddie Garcia faces a devastating injury that could end his career. Exposed to a near-lethal dose of radioactivity, Dr. Garcia has lost most of his right hand and his entire left hand. Out of options, he embarks on a desperate quest: both of his ravaged hands will be severed at the wrist and replaced with those from a cadaver. But unless suitable ones are found soon, the opportunity will be lost.

As Brockton delves deep into the clandestine trade, he is faced with an agonizing choice: Is he willing to risk an FBI investigation–and his own principles–to help his friend? Will he be able to live with himself if he crosses that line? Will he be able to live with himself if he doesn’t? And as the criminal case and the medical crisis converge, a pair of simpler questions arise: Will Dr. Garcia survive–and will Brockton?

Review:  Not really sure what the difference is, but I’m not loving these books as much as I did when I first started the series.  There is still a lot to like, but there is also a lot that I’ve started having to sort of skim through.

I do love to learn something new when I read a book, but this book, like the last one, seems more like an academic text rather than a fiction novel in a lot of places.  It is one thing to have some specifics included when addressing a new topic, but I don’t need pages and pages of it.  I also don’t need those same pages and pages when it is something you’ve gone over in previous books.  At that point, it is no longer about learning some new fact, but either learning an entire new professional field or taking a full on refresher course with each book.  There is such a thing as overkill.

The parts that are interesting, the science and investigative aspects are even seeming to push the boundaries for me as some of the scenarios are really not all that believable for Bill’s character.  Sure, they may be possible, but really one man is truly only capable of being excellent at so many things.  You can’t be that good or that in demand in every single aspect.

I do still like these, just not as much and I’ll be less likely to grab the next book unless I don’t have much else to draw my interest.

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Broken: Will Trent, Book 4

BrokenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Broken
Series: Will Trent
Order: 4
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  When Special Agent Will Trent arrives in Grant County, he finds a police department determined to protect its own. Officer Lena Adams is hiding secrets from him, and while her role in the death of the county’s popular police chief is unclear, that man’s widow, Dr. Sara Linton, desperately needs Trent’s help to crack the case of a prisoner’s death. While the police force investigates the murder of a young woman pulled from a frigid lake, Trent investigates the police force. Caught between two complicated and determined women, trying to understand the facts surrounding Chief Tolliver’s death, Trent will uncover explosive secrets–and confront a thin blue line that could be murderous if crossed.

Review:  Another addition to the Will Trent series.  In general, I am still liking the stories in this series, but there are things that are starting to get a little old and beginning to grate on my nerves.

The attitude and treatment towards Will’s dyslexia from both his boss and partner is beyond irritating.  Not only is it pretty darn ugly, but it just doesn’t strike me as being remotely realistic.  Either it is an acceptable disability to have in his profession and concessions are made to help him find work arounds for some of the areas where he lacks or it isn’t and he shouldn’t have that job.  The ridicule and snide comments, even the occasional things that are said and done that may even make his job harder just don’t add up.  The fact that we are at book 4 in the series and none of that has changed is annoying.  That and when Faith was introduced in this series, she seemed to be accepting and non-judgmental towards him, but now she is nearly as bad as the boss.

There is also a pretty consistent presentation for regular police officers in this series and this book continues that trend where normal police officers are lazy, stupid, corrupt or any combination of those traits.  Every single police officer, with an extremely rare few, in every book so far has been presented this way.  It is yet another aspect of these stories that just doesn’t really ring true and is starting to get pretty old.  It takes away from all the rest that is going on in the books, which is usually pretty good if you can get around these other things.

The last is Will’s relationship with his wife.  I had hoped after some of the things in previous books that we would finally be getting away from this horrid relationship that, other than adding a rather ugly element to the stories and makes Will seem even more pathetic, has no real bearing on the stories.

When you combine all of those issues that run consistently through all of the books so far in this series, you end up with these really bleak and hopeless characters that, even when the crimes are solved and the story is wrapping up, leaves a depressive taste with the reader rather than a feeling of resolution and growth.  It isn’t that good of a feeling.

I generally like the crime elements of these stories and, even though he does come across as mostly pathetic, I like Will’s character and want to see some good going on for him.  Have actually been hoping to see that from the beginning, yet this book is just the same no change, no improvement, general hopeless misery we’ve seen from the beginning.  I’m beginning to wonder what the point is as I’m so not a fan of the dreary feel.

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Silent Scream: D.I. Kim Stone, Book 1

Silent ScreamAuthor: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Silent Scream
Series: D. I. Kim Stone
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever…

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

 

Review:  I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  So many times, I struggle with British writing because there is often enough of a cultural difference, both in the quirks and phrases used as well as presenting the subject matter in a rather dry way, that I don’t often like them.  While I did run into a few issues of just not knowing a particular term here and there, none of the other issues that I’ve found with other authors seemed to really be a problem here and I ended up really liking this one.  The biggest issue I did have was that I’m not even remotely familiar with British police procedures and norms, so it was, at times, a little difficult to determine believability and is the only reason this didn’t get a higher rating.

I did really enjoy the many layers and threads running through this story and it kept me interested all the way through.  It was complex and a little challenging to follow without being overly convoluted.  I liked Kim’s character and the fact that she is a female authority but doesn’t step into that stereotypical ball buster role that so many women in any position of power tend to get shoved.  She still has all kinds of attitude, but it isn’t an ugly or vindictive one, just spunky with an interesting personality.

 

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Bones of Betrayal: Body Farm, Book 4

Bones of BetrayalAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: Bones of Betrayal
Series: Body Farm
Order: #4
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Dr. Bill Brockton is in the middle of a nuclear-terrorism disaster drill when he receives an urgent call from the nearby town of Oak Ridge — better known as Atomic City, home of the Bomb, and the key site for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Although more than sixty years have passed, could repercussions from that dangerous time still be felt today?

With his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady, Brockton hastens to the death scene, where they find a body frozen facedown in a swimming pool behind a historic, crumbling hotel. The forensic detectives identify the victim as Dr. Leonard Novak, a renowned physicist and designer of a plutonium reactor integral to the Manhattan Project. They also discover that he didn’t drown: he died from a searing dose of radioactivity.

As that same peril threatens the medical examiner and even Miranda, Brockton enlists the help of a beautiful, enigmatic librarian to peel back the layers of Novak’s life to the secret at its core. The physicist’s house and personal life yield few clues beyond a faded roll of undeveloped film, but everything changes when Brockton chances upon Novak’s ninety-year-old ex-wife, Beatrice. Charming and utterly unreliable, she takes him on a trip back into Oak Ridge’s wartime past, deep into the shadows of the nuclear race where things were not quite as they seemed.

As Beatrice drifts between lucidity and dementia, Brockton wonders if her stories are fact or fancy, history or myth. But he knows one thing — that she holds the key to a mystery that is becoming increasingly labyrinthine. For as the radiation count steadily rises, and the race to find the truth intensifies, the old woman’s tales hint at something far darker and more complex than the forensic anthropologist himself could have ever imagined.

Review:  This one was missing much of what I have found I really love in the Body Farm books.  The dorky humor was there, but it sort of fell flat this time.  We had almost no actual forensic work or science in this at all and it was a bit on the dull side to me.

I think the biggest problem and why so much of those things are missing is because this is more of a history on the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb, the culture of Oak Ridge and very little else.  Bill’s part and his participation in this entire story never made any logical sense to me outside of discovering the older body and working with those remains, which again, was a tiny part of the overall story.  Even the revelation of the bad guys was really off in this one, with little to no science or police work really being how those bad guys got found out.

What is there is as well written as any other Body Farm book, but it is just way outside of my sphere of interest and isn’t at the level I’ve come to expect from these books.  It comes very close to skirting the border of what I dislike most with many books in this genre by having Bill being and doing things well outside of his sphere of expertise and being in places and talking to people he has no reason to professionally.  At least in other books, it has been made to work in ways when he may fall close to that kind of behavior to make those situations believable.  It just wasn’t here.

This is by far my least favorite of the series so far and I’m hoping that this isn’t an indication of where the series is going from here.

The Devil’s Bones: Body Farm, Book 3

The Devil's BonesAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: The Devil’s Bones
Series: Body Farm
Order: #3
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars



Blurb:  A burned car sits on a Tennessee hilltop, a woman’s lifeless, charred body seated inside. Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton’s job is to discover the truth hidden in the fire-desecrated corpse. Was the woman’s death accidental . . . or was she incinerated to cover up her murder?

But his research into the effect of flame on flesh and bone is about to collide with reality like a lit match meeting spilled gasoline. The arrival of a mysterious package–a set of suspiciously unnatural cremated remains–is pulling Brockton toward a nightmare too inhuman to imagine. And an old nemesis is waiting in the shadows to put him to the ultimate test, one that could reduce Brockton’s life to smoldering ruins.

Review:  As book three in this series, this is just as great as the first two.  I have to say after reading all of these so far, I’m absolutely loving the series.  I love the characters that are developing along the way as well.

Bill’s character comes across as this truly genuine guy that is imperfect but still tries to be a decent human being.  All of the supporting characters that seem to be constant, Miranda and Art are much the same.  The humor that gets tossed around amongst them is very much on the corny side, but it is kind of a charming sort of corny that I actually like.  I think it tends to emphasize a bit of the dorky side, especially with Bill’s character, and helps the reader get a strong feel for who he is outside of just his professional expertise.

For this book, I was glad to see a resolution to the Hamilton plot that has spanned the first three books.  It has been excellently written and handled and by resolving it now, it didn’t become a burden to the series, but it got enough time and attention to give it weight and importance. My one teeny, tiny complaint is that there was a somewhat big event in the last book (Bill getting sued by a student), that didn’t get addressed or resolved in that book that I expected to see in this one, but didn’t.  Either I missed it, or it just got glossed over, but it wasn’t mentioned at all so I was a little surprised because it isn’t clear how that got worked out.

Overall, though, another wonderful addition to the series.

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Fractured: Will Trent, Book 2

FracturedAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Fractured
Series: Will Trent
Order: 2
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars
Blurb:  Ansley Park is one of Atlanta’s most upscale neighborhoods–but in one gleaming mansion, in a teenager’s lavish bedroom, a girl has been savagely murdered. And in the hallway, her mother stands amid shattered glass, having killed her daughter’s attacker with her bare hands. Detective Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is one of the first on the scene. Trent soon sees something that the Atlanta cops are missing, something in the trail of blood, in a matrix of forensic evidence, and in the eyes of the stunned mother. When another teenage girl goes missing, Trent knows that this case, which started in the best of homes, is about to cut quick and deep through the ruins of perfect lives broken wide-open: where human demons emerge with a vengeance.

Review:  Much like the first book in this series, the crime in this book is investigated and solved by people who actually appear to know what they are doing.  One big difference between book one and this one is the fewer character perspectives this was presented in.  I’d say it was probably a plus as we could spend more time focused on the more important characters and not jumping all over the place.  At the same time, I’m not sure this had quite the emotional impact the first book did.

The crime and investigative aspects of this story were really good and I have no complaints in that regard because that was really well written.  My one issue was with the tiny side plot of the romance between Will and Angie.  For one, them suddenly being engaged is a complete 180 from where their relationship was left at the end of the last book and there is no rational explanation for it.  She gave him an STD so now they are getting married?  That makes absolutely no sense what-so-ever.  This is such a small portion of the story.  It really only got a few pages of attention, so that makes it even more confusing because why is it even really necessary?  To underscore how messed up Will is?  That is already abundantly clear and his weirdness really doesn’t need that additional layer.  The relationship between the two characters is so ugly and unhealthy, it makes it incredibly hard to like either character.  The whole thing is beyond strange and awkward.  So much so that if more time and attention were spent on it, I’d quickly start not liking these books.

Because that aspect of the story was so small and got so little page time, it didn’t take away from the rest of the story too much this time.  Instead, the focus was mainly on the believable story of the crime and what Will and Faith, who he is partnered with in this book, do to solve that crime.  I am liking what I’m reading in these books because of how believable they come across.  I am just hoping this series doesn’t go off the rails in some crazy direction.

A Perfect Evil: Maggie O’Dell, Book 1

A Perfect EvilAuthor: Alex Kava
Book Name: A Perfect Evil
Series: Maggie O’Dell
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Romance
Rating:  Okay
2+stars



Blurb:  The brutal murders of three young boys paralyze the citizens of Platte City, Nebraska. What’s worse is the grim realization that the man recently executed for the crimes was a copycat. When Sheriff Nick Morrelli is called to the scene of another grisly murder, it becomes clear that the real predator is still at large, waiting to kill again.

Morrelli understands the urgency of the case terrorizing his community, but it’s the experienced eye of FBI criminal profiler Maggie O’Dell that pinpoints the true nature of the evil behind the killings–a revelation made all the more horrific when Morrelli’s own nephew goes missing.

Maggie understands something else: the killer is enjoying himself, relishing his ability to stay one step ahead of her, making this case more personal by the hour. Because out there, watching, is a killer with a heart of pure and perfect evil.

Review:  It is reasonable to assume that there have been huge changes with regards to investigating and solving crimes between when this book was originally published and now, but basic common sense and police procedure surely wasn’t that inept nearly 10 years ago.  If it was, then I cannot imagine that a single crime was ever solved or that every single person behind bars is innocent.

Every single thing that came up in this with regards to the investigation, how the crime scenes or evidence collection were handled, even just general common sense blew my mind at how utterly unprofessional it all seemed.  Maggie is supposedly a profiler, but she never actually gives the police a profile.  Apparently she has one, because she keeps telling Morrelli how different people don’t fit it, but she never actually presents one.  Morrelli is a joke in every sense of the word.  And in the end, after watching every single thing happen in this book like it is a three stooges act, the killer still isn’t caught and they have lots of circumstantial evidence against lots of other people (who will be getting charged on that thread of evidence) and the killer walks free.

The romantic aspect in this feels just as inappropriate and unprofessional as the job aspect.  Sorry, but a guy that can’t keep it in his pants and is thinking about getting it on, even when his own nephew is kidnapped is crazy.  Maggie, the FBI profiler, getting distracted by the typical jerk jock?  Makes her look like a stupid ditz, not someone who is smart enough to have a high level degree and job like that.

I don’t know that there is a single thing about this book that worked for me, there was so much that was just wrong.  Even if I were to consider some of my issues being irrelevant because of a dated version of crime fighting, this still wasn’t that great.

 

Edge of Black: Dr. Samantha Owens, Book 2

Edge of BlackAuthor: J.T. Ellison
Book Name: Edge of Black
Series: Dr. Samantha Owens
Order: #2
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Rating:  Good
3+stars



Blurb:  Dr. Samantha Owens is starting over: new city, new job, new man, new life. She’s trying to put some distance between herself and the devastating loss of her husband and children–but old hurts leave scars.

Before she’s even unpacked her office at Georgetown University’s forensic pathology department, she’s called to consult on a case that’s rocked the capital and the country. An unknown pathogen released into the Washington Metro has caused nationwide panic. Three people died–just three.

A miracle and a puzzle…

Amid the media frenzy and Homeland Security alarm bells, Sam painstakingly dissects the lives of those three victims and makes an unsettling conclusion. This is no textbook terrorist causing mayhem with broad strokes, but an artist wielding a much finer, more pointed instrument of destruction. An assassin, whose motive is deeply personal and far from understandable.

Xander Whitfield, a former army ranger and Sam’s new boyfriend, knows about seeing the world in shades of gray. About feeling compelled to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Only his disturbing kinship with a killer can lead Sam to the truth…and once more into the line of fire.

Review:  After the first book, this one ended up being a bit of a disappointment in comparison because this jumped into the mostly ridiculous arena with regards to the characters and their jobs.

Sam has gone from being an ME to a teacher after book one, which works and isn’t the issue.  Within a chapter, she is already neck deep in doing not only ME things again, but police investigation, probably even on a level of what should be homeland security or some other alphabet soup kind of a job.  She isn’t any of those things, except the ME.  Outside of a page or two of teaching, she didn’t do any other teaching in this book even though that is what she is supposed to be doing because she couldn’t handle the stress and emotional weight of being an ME any longer.

Then we have Xander, who of course jumps in and goes all lone wolf, not once but twice with his manly man, commando self.  Just because you are ex military, even special forces, does not suddenly make you the only man on the planet that knows what is going on and how to catch the bad guy.  He becomes the cliched one man army, then later drags not only his pacifist dad into an incredibly dangerous situation, but his completely untrained and unqualified girlfriend, too.

Yes, this is a really entertaining and intense read and for the most part, I actually did enjoy the story, but I am just a little tired of characters that are not cops or law enforcement being the only characters in any kind of crime drama book that seem smart enough or capable enough to solve the crimes.  Why even bother having the police if they are that incompetent?  I will accept a certain level of bleed in or cross over in job duties, but the level that it happens in this book is way out there, especially when these characters go and do all this stuff without authorization and there is absolutely no fall out for going against the rules.

Book one did a much better job of keeping the characters within the lines drawn for them than what we see in this book or at least made the reasons for crossing those lines seem more legitimate to where they actually worked.  Not sure if the next book will follow in the path of this book or the first one, but I’m hoping for the first.

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Flesh and Bone: Body Farm, Book 2

Flesh and BoneAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: Flesh and Bone
Series: Body Farm
Order: #2
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars



Blurb:  Anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton founded Tennessee’s world-famous Body Farm–a small piece of land where corpses are left to decay in order to gain important forensic information. Now, in the wake of a shocking crime in nearby Chattanooga, he’s called upon by Jess Carter–the rising star of the state’s medical examiners–to help her unravel a murderous puzzle. But after re-creating the death scene at the Body Farm, Brockton discovers his career, reputation, and life are in dire jeopardy when a second, unexplained corpse appears in the grisly setting.

Accused of a horrific crime–transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah–Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that’s tightening around him . . . and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence.

Review:  It has been hard for me to find a crime drama genre book that I truly like, even though I do love the genre, let alone one that impressed me.  This one did.   Simply because all the things that all those other books do wrong and drive me crazy, this one managed to do right.

The main character, Bill, while incredibly educated and intelligent isn’t the one to do all the work in this to solve the crime.  His character does stick mainly to his expertise and lets others that have their own expertise come in and do their jobs.  The police aren’t idiots.  They may not be perfect and they may not always get it right, but they also don’t always need someone else to do their jobs for them.  On a whole, the situations that go on in this book are so much more realistic and believable than what you so often see in others in this same genre.

Having read the first book in the series, I really kind of knew just from reading the blurb where this would end.  In a way.  I had no clue the path it would take to get there, though, and that kind of hit me in the gut because I really didn’t expect that at all.

I was seriously impressed by the emotional impact of this story.  For me that is kind of huge as I don’t often see a male author get that aspect of a story to ring true enough for me to connect with it.  That is one of the bigger reasons I tend to stay away from male authors, so to be able to get the emotions to resonate as they did in this book is surprising and will definitely keep me coming back to this series as it continues.

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Dead Past: Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation, Book 4

Dead PastAuthor: Beverly Connor
Book Name: Dead Past
Series: Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation
Order: #4
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars



Blurb:  As a child, Juliet Price witnessed the bloody slaying of an entire family. Then the killer chased her down, brutalized her, and left her for dead. The police were never able to find the man responsible. For years, Juliet’s traumatized mind hid the events from her. Then she sees a television show featuring the unsolved cold case, and the horrors come to her in her nightmares. She shares her fears with Diane Fallon, who realizes that Juliet’s shattered visions recall not one, but two intertwined crimes-crimes that Diane intends to uncover.

Review:  If you don’t mind a level of unbelievability and extreme coincidence, then this, like the others in this series, is a decent read, but there is just so much that screams “Yeah, right!” that it is sometimes hard to enjoy the rest of the story.

As the forth book in this series, I’m starting to wonder if this is going the wayside of the cookie cutter, formula writing as this just isn’t really anything new or different than what we got out of the other three books in this series.  As always, Diane is doing way more than just collecting and analyzing evidence.  As always, someone tries to hurt or kill her, multiple times throughout the book.  As always, the police are idiots and Diane knows everything there is to know about pretty much everything and is the one to solve all the different plot threads in the book.

Since I’m not much of a fan of reading the exact same thing with slightly different names and specifics over and over again, this book most likely dropped this series out of my list of potential reads for the future unless I’m just really hurting for something to read.  If you look at the book as a single entity, it is well written and decently interesting so it deserves a rating that reflects that.  But viewed in the context of the rest of the series, there is just nothing to make it stand out, which brings that rating way down.

Triptych: Will Trent, Book 1

TriptychAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Triptych
Series: Will Trent
Order: 1
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars
Blurb:  From Atlanta’s wealthiest suburbs to its stark inner-city housing projects, a killer has crossed the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries, too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread–and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael’ s lover before she became his enemy. But unbeknownst to both of them, another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer’s trail in the most coincidental of ways–and who may be the key to breaking the case wide open.

Review:  Following what appears to be something of a pattern in the crime drama genre, we get this story from a wide variety of perspectives.  Interestingly, though, none from the victims.  I was a bit surprised when I read the blurb that the person this series is named after wasn’t even mentioned.  Probably because he isn’t the focus character in this book.  Will is a part of it, but really kind of isn’t the star of the show.

I’ll say absolutely that I liked this and that I thought it was really good, but I did have a few issues.  Sometimes having that many perspectives going on can be a bit too much.  It is really easy to miss out on details when you are jumping all over the place.  There were a couple of times that I thought I ran into errors with a couple of facts along the way, but they were pretty minor in the overall so I didn’t take the time to dig to be sure.

There were a couple of times where I was frustrated when a character meant to talk about something with another character that would have opened up the plot more, but then doesn’t get around to it.  It is one way to write a story and build up the suspense, but it does sometimes take away from the story a bit if it is overused.  This came close.

Since I’m not a cop, have never been a cop or ever known one or what procedures are in different situations, I don’t know this for a fact, but it sure does seem like there are quite a few places where fiction may be playing fast and loose with fact in this one.  Same thing with the legal/trial procedure end of things.  This is another thing that came pretty close to being just too much without ever actually crossing over that line into the ridiculous.

I didn’t feel as though Will got enough page time for a reader to get to know him as much as we probably should in the first book in a series.  I think I was more emotionally connected to John and learned more about and understood most all of the other characters than I did Will.  Hopefully that will be rectified in future books.

While I did have those few issues, and they were few, but they were just enough to keep this from getting a 5.

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