The Hiding Place

Hiding placeAuthor: C.J. Tudor

Publisher: Crown

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Definitely interesting, but I wish it had been darker.

Joe didn’t want to return to his hometown, but after a brutal murder surfaces there, he feels he must because of his past.  He lies his way into a teaching job at the academy, which he also attended as a youngster.  Somethings have changed, but many things haven’t.  He knows he must confront his past and the awful things that he and his gang did.  Betrayal, murder, and suicide just scratch the surface.  But the worst day of Joe’s life wasn’t the day his eight-year-old sister went missing, it was the day she came back.

The best part of this book was the ending.  Not because it was finally over, but because it threw a great twist that I wasn’t prepared for as I thought I had it all figured out.  The first half of the book was largely character development and it developed several characters in a bad, bad way.  The second half of the book finally started to shed some light on the turning points of Joe’s past including what happened to his sister, Annie, what happened at the pit, and why Joe and his chums are no more.

I really enjoyed Tudor’s previous novel The Chalk Man because of how dark it was, and it really kept me intrigued in her specific style of writing.  Unfortunately, I compared this book to some other authors while reading it, so it took a bit of individuality away from it.  I wanted it to dive a lot darker, but it is what it is.  There is quite a bit of harsh language throughout, so I would not advise it for a younger audience.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions express within are my own.

Forget You Know Me

Forget you know meAuthor: Jessica Strawser

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wonderfully thought out story full of characters that develop beautifully and show us the importance of being there for each other in the good times and the bad.

It is rare to find a friend you can stay close to through thick and thin. Molly and Liza have always thought their relationship could withstand anything. After Molly married Daniel, Liza became an honorary member of the family with no one thinking twice about it. When Liza moved, the relationship became more awkward and strained than either of them wanted to admit. Their friendship may not be able to withstand all they thought, and Molly and Daniel’s marriage may not be as rock solid either. Trying to hang on to the last strands of their relationship, Molly and Liza plan a video chat to reconnect. Just when things are starting to warm up between them, Molly must leave the room to attend to a crying child. Liza waits for her to return, leading to the moment things change forever. Liza sees something on the camera that scares her for her friend. She calls the police and then gets in the car and drives all night to be where she thinks she is needed. When she arrives, she is turned away by an icy Molly, and left wondering what she actually saw and what has come over her friend.  None of them can pretend things are ok and they might never be again.

Forget You Know Me starts with a bang and doesn’t slow down until the last page is turned and the last question left is answered. Strawser did an amazing job of creating characters that are flawed but still clinging to that small hope that all they have done wrongs that can be righted and find their way back to that safe place they once knew and held dear. I had trouble following Molly’s motives at first, but as things play out it becomes clear why she is acting the way she is and by the last chapter we see the characters grow and develop in a way I didn’t really think possible at the beginning. I loved watching them learn what was happening and connect the dots to the bigger picture that was being played out. Molly, Liza, and Daniel are the main characters but even the secondary characters have enough material to flesh them out in a way I really started to care about them as if they were more involved than they were. Max may have been one of my favorite characters to be honest. This is the type of book that takes close concentration to see all that is happening and be able to connect all pieces, there was no skimming or skipping ahead to see what was going to happen and I loved that because I was engaged with the characters and didn’t want to miss anything that was going to happen. Molly might have had a lot going on in her life and felt no way out at times, which is something a lot of us probably feel in some form or fashion at some point in our lives, making her a very relatable character. I recommend this book to those that enjoy a great contemporary read with lots of mystery and a very satisfying conclusion. There is a bit of language making it more suitable for a mature reader.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Killer Collective

thekillercollective

Author: Barry Eisler

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 1, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A deep thriller with ties that span the globe and a group willing to do anything to stop a horrible group of people before more are hurt.

 After Seattle Police officer Livia Lone finds evidence of a child pornography ring involving high officials in the government, she becomes a target. Livia and her boss believe the FBI is behind the attack and reach out to a former marine Dox. They quickly assemble a group to keep them safe and take down the threat. One of the main members of the group is John Rain, a retired specialist initially contacted to neutralize Livia. Also in the group are black ops soldiers Ben Treven, Daniel Larison and Colonel Scot Horton. Going across the country, the group fights to keep others safe and bring down the threat, even if it is at the highest levels of the government.

 Let me start this by saying it was a good read. The story matter was intense, and the characters were very well driven in their pursuit of stopping the villains to save the children being hurt. That being said, one thing about this book is there is A LOT going on. Not only in the number of characters to keep up with but also with the number of places they go and all that they must do to bring about some justice. I found it hard at times to keep up with who all was on what team and what exactly their role was. Aside from keeping up with that, the story was great. I enjoyed the way Livia’s background played into her passion for what she was doing and the fact that anyone helping her didn’t hesitate once they knew her mission and what she was fighting for. I found the relationships throughout very believable. These are characters that are thrown into difficult and stressful situations and have to have someone to rely on and have their back.

 One of the absolute best aspects of the book were the action scenes, especially towards the beginning with Livia and her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo moves she used in self-defense. Those scenes played out extremely well and I enjoyed reading them and felt as if I was there in the moment. I love when a scene plays out that way and really puts me in the room with the characters. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a good thriller with a heart at the center of the story and a lot of good versus evil. Readers need to be aware of some very harsh language throughout, so I wouldn’t recommend for a younger audience

 I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Study in Treason

study in treasonAuthor: Leonard Goldberg

Series: Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #2

Publisher: Minotaur

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

My interest in Sherlock Holmes has been renewed by this new series!

After a top-secret document outlining the treaty between England and France to stand against Germany disappears, Dr. John Watson is solicited to assist England in finding the document.  Dr. Watson agrees on one condition, that his son Dr. John Watson, Jr. and his wife Joanna assist in the investigation.  Joanna is the daughter of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler and she is just as astute as her father, if not more.  As they assist Scotland Yard in the investigation, evidence starts to point in the opposite direction of the investigation, which brings out more questions than answers.  As with her father, everything must be cut and dried with no middle ground.  With an apparent hurry up investigation, the trio attempt to work out the facts to solve the case and restore the document.

If you enjoyed Sherlock Holmes, then this new series is a must.  Told from the perspective of Dr. John Watson, Jr, a new mystery has surfaced that resembles the volumes of work that his father documented for Sherlock Holmes.  The story line is very interesting and told in a way that keeps the reader engaged.  Just as things seem to be wrapping up, a new curve is thrown into the mix that resets all the knowledge gathered so far.  Goldberg does a great job leading readers down the path, but keeping them right where he wants them.  Scotland Yard still bumbles a bit and is too hasty to wrap up investigations, but Joanna mimics her fathers’ antics from pacing to smoking while deep in thought.

Even though this is the second in a series, it easily reads as a standalone.  However, it garnered enough of my interest to go get the first book to fill in any blanks that I may not have noticed.  If you’re a fan of Holmes or just love a good mystery, give this a try!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions express within are my own.

Top Mystery Fiction

It’s that time of year again!  Time to share our most favorite reads out of several different categories.  First up this year is our picks for mystery fiction.

Dead Sea Rising1. Dead Sea Rising by Jerry Jenkins

The tension in this book really set the tone.  We couldn’t put it down from the time that we picked it up.  It’s hard to imagine follow up success after the Left Behind series, but Jenkins shows why he is still one of the top writers in his market.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Trial on Mount Koya2. Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann

You just can’t be a great mystery set in Japan 600 years ago.  With great continuing character development between a Japanese Samurai and a Portuguese Priest, this series continues to make our top pick each year.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

The Mystery of Three Quarters

3. The Mystery of the Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah.

Fans of Agatha Christie will love this series that has been picked up with one of Christie’s beloved characters, Hercule Poirot.  Readers will be trying to solve the riddle throughout the entire book.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit of the Fox4. The Spirit of the Fox by Matthew O’Connell

Another great mystery set in Japan.  When a young girl seems to be possessed by the fox goddess, she appears to be cleaning up after a family shunning years ago.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dangerous DUet5. A Dangerous Duet by Karen Odden

Quite possibly one of the best surprises of the year was this hidden gem.   Set in London’s Soho district, will a young promising piano player unravel a dangerous crime smuggling ring resulting in murders of people she knows?

Read the full review here.

 

Spirit of the Fox

Spirit of the FoxAuthor: Matthew O’Connel

Publisher: Station Square Media

Release Date: October 23, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Supernatural folklore twists make this a very compelling mystery.

It’s been nine years since Meiko Wright’s mother abandoned her and her father in San Diego and fled back to her native country of Japan. Since then she and her father have continued to live in San Diego through her teenage years and she has resented her mother ever since.  She blames her for all the missed first times that she should have had with a mother.  But now her father, an esteemed professor in folklore, has taken an assignment in Tokyo to allow Meiko to have some time with her mother to try to heal their relationship, even though Meiko wants nothing to do with it.  Even so, they begin a process of healing.

Meiko being half Japanese, decides to take in some of the tour scenes while in country. She decides to take a trip to Kyoto to see the temples and while at one of the most popular shrines, she is suddenly overcome and loses consciousness.  When she awakes, she has lost her memory and a priest vows to help her.  Since disappearing, both of her parents are worried about her.  When pictures of her surface with men no one knows who wind up committing suicide, she becomes a person of interest.  It becomes a race to see who can find Meiko before something worse becomes of her.

Interestingly, this is the fifth book that I’ve read this year set in Japan. More interestingly, they have all been set around murders.  This particular book was definitely intriguing.  The story of the fox spirit was interesting and how it has been in the Japanese folklore really brought it to life.  Couple this with finding a way to rebuild a damaged family brought the emotion aspect to the story as well.  The story is a bit predictable, but don’t let that take anything away.  It is very well written and worth reading.  There is some language and discussion of sex, but nothing too over the top.  I recommend this book to people who are interested in Japanese folklore or just love a good mystery.

I received a compliment copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

In Too Deep

In too deepAuthor: Lynn H. Blackburn

Series: Dive Team Investigations #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of the first Dive Team Investigations will be thrilled with this new installment. Adam and Sabrina’s story is so much better than I expected and I loved every single minute I got to spend with them.

After a car is found submerged in a lake the dive team is called in to recover the body. What they find is more than any of them expected: an encrypted laptop and a message linking the dead accountant and investigator Adam Campbell. Adam calls in his friend, Dr. Sabrina Fleming, a computer security and forensics expert, to help figure out what is on the laptop. With each layer they peel back, more about the case is revealed showing things are much more sinister than they originally thought. Their dead woman has information on a human trafficking ring that might involve some of Adam’s own family. There is more at stake here than solving a murder and Sabrina has to decide how much she is willing to risk to solve the case and maybe confront her feelings for Adam in the process.

Lynn H. Blackburn hit it out of the park with the first Dive Team book and the follow up is even better. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into Adam and Sabrina’s story as much as I did with Leigh and Ryan, but I am happy to report I fell more in love with the story of Adam and Sabrina. Something about the way they had known each other for so long and yet let this stressful situation bring them together at just the right moment felt right. The story was tight and the romance so real I felt like I was one of the characters cheering them on and in agony when they were in trouble. One aspect of a strong writer is the way they can weave the tension into the dramatic high paced scenes as well as any other. It doesn’t take a high speed car chase to move a story along or keep readers on the edge of their seat.  If it is done right, edge of the seat scenes can be between two people just talking or in need of help in some way. Blackburn did a fantastic job of bringing the tension at all the right moments. I was hooked from the very beginning and didn’t want the story to end at the last page. I can’t wait to see what book three will bring.  Even though this is the second in a series, it can easily be read as a standalone, but I would still recommend reading the whole series so you don’t miss out on an excellent story. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy romantic suspense with an element of faith.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.