The Last Widow

Last widow

Author: Karin Slaughter

Series: Will Trent #9

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A kidnapping, an explosion, and the threat of a biological weapon bring together a story that is intricately laid out and hard to put down.

 When a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is kidnapped in broad daylight from the parking lot of a shopping center, authorities search high and low for any clue as to who took her and why. Days and weeks go by with no sign of her and no ransom demand until bombs start going off in Atlanta’s busiest neighborhood as a statement and a distraction. As first responders rush to the scene, Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and his partner Sara Linton reach a car crash at the outskirts of the bomb radius. Not knowing they have just stumbled upon the bombers, Sara tries to help and ends up being kidnapped as well. Will works from the outside to get his partner back while Sara works from the inside to figure out who this group is and what they are really after before it is too late.

 First of all, I went into reading this book not realizing it was the ninth in the series. Not totally sure if that helped or hurt my take on the story. Maybe having a little backstory on Will and Sara might have helped my enjoyment, although I did get a lot out of the chemistry between the two characters. They had a great dynamic and I had no idea this was not their first book, but it does make sense the way they were written so well together. There was A LOT going on in this book and if readers aren’t careful, they will miss key elements to the story. That being said, I felt a good hundred pages could have been cut and the story wouldn’t have lacked anything. With so much going on, it was hard to follow at times, but I will say Slaughter did a great job with tension at critical moments. The last 50-75 pages really brought the emotion out and made me care about the characters when it counted. I have seen lots of mixed reviews on this title and agree with both sides There are lots of good points in the book, but it was a little slow at times. One of the best parts for me was the different points of view, this gave me as the reader more of the story to see and understand. There is a lot of harsh language throughout, and while it does fit with the characters and how they would respond to a situation, readers need to be aware before reading. I would recommend this to an audience who love thrillers, especially ones that deal with medical issues, bombings and radical groups.

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

The Girl Behind the Red Rope

Girl behind red rope

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Teaming up for the first time, father and daughter Ted and Rachelle Dekker deliver an intense and fascinating read that will leave fans thirsting for them to team up again and again and again.

 It has been over ten years since Grace and the rest of her community saw something that would forever change their lives. Since that time, they have lived within the confines of the red rope, a boundary that is supposed to keep them all save from the evil furies of the world. They live under strict rules put in place by Sylous, their leader who only shows himself when necessary and usually only to one in the community, Rose. After so many years, Grace and her brother Jamie wonder if it might be safe to venture outside the rope and see what is happening with the rest of the world. Jamie has gone a few times without any consequences and when they speak up to the community with their concerns, they are sent out further to see what happens. It only takes one night out for them to encounter the Fury and let the community know. While the community lets them return, they are now looked at in a different light. It doesn’t take Jamie long to repent and change to the ways of the community, but Grace has a harder time going back to believing so easily. With each passing day, the things Grace has been taught and believed for the past decade start to unfold before her eyes and she must decide if what she has always believed is still true or trust what she sees.

 Anyone that has ever read a Ted Dekker novel knows they are going to be in for a fantastic ride full of fantasy, thrills, emotions and allegorical underlying spiritual tones that can be interpreted in several ways. Dekker has always had a way of pulling readers in and giving them a story that is more than an escape. His newest novel is going to give readers an escape into this world and leave their minds churning long after they turn the last page. While this was a collaboration between him and his daughter, Rachelle Dekker, I found it to be another incredible Dekker novel, no matter it was written by two Dekkers. I can’t tell yet if that gave it strength or not. It is hard to say whose writing is where within the pages. As I have read Rachelle’s novels, I have noticed the influence of her father in her writing; they are good books, but I couldn’t really see her own individual distinct voice. I enjoyed her books and maybe with her style so similar to the Elder Dekker it enhanced the story to make it more than what it would have been without the two writing together. With the two Dekker’s combined, the story takes off and pulls the reader in with no chance of escaping until the story is over. I almost read this in one sitting, if I hadn’t had anything to do, I could have easily finished this in one sitting and I can’t say when the last time I sat with a book and wanted to finish like that was. The authors did a fantastic job of portraying these characters in a way that kept the reader from questioning their actions. The empathy used to reach an emotional level was stunning. I loved Grace and the way she kept her head and tried to solve the ridiculously hard puzzle life was putting in front of her. The evil she goes up against is written in a way we can all relate to in one form or another. I recommend this book to fans of Dekker and those that enjoy a great mystery/thriller. If you have read Ted Dekker before, you will see little snippets that relate to other books he has written, (not in actual characters or settings but similar themes). If you have never read a Dekker book this would be the perfect one to get you hooked.

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

One Final Breath

One final breathAuthor: Lynn Blackburn

Series: Dive Team Investigations #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Lynn Blackburn finishes up the Dive Team Investigations series with the very best yet! Fans of the series will have no choice but to fall in love with Gabe and Anissa’s story.

Anissa Bell, captain of the dive team investigators, has had a problem with Gabe Chavez since before he was on her team. He worked undercover and would only dive once or twice a year, not enough in her opinion to stay up to speed with the rest of the team. Anissa was a missionary kid growing up until she went to college and her best friend was murdered and the three-year-old child she was watching disappeared. From that moment on, she spent her time trying to solve the case leading her to be with the dive team and around Gabe. When an investigation surfaces into the death of a young boy on the lake, they must figure out how to put their issues with each other aside and work to solve the case.

With each book in this series I have seen Blackburn come alive in her writing. One Final Breath brings the best of the series and gives readers even more to love. The suspense is top notch, the romance is right on point and the story flows without even trying. Each character brings just the right amount of believability to the story to make it an easy enjoyable read. I loved everything about this series and am sad to see it come to an end, but happy to say it is a satisfying end. Gabe and Anissa have been mentioned in the other books but this one is devoted to them and their story, and oh what a story it is! Both have a past that wasn’t the easiest, but they use that past to fuel them going forward making them a great team. Each of the main characters from the previous books have a role here and it lets us see how those relationships have progressed as well. The ending was my favorite in every way. The suspense was at its peak, and the romance was there without getting in the way of the tension driving the story forward. This is by far Blackburn’s best novel to date, fans of hers will love the conclusion to this series. Readers that enjoy Lynnette Eason, Dani Pettrey and other Christian Romantic Suspense authors will want to add Lynn Blackburn to their list of go to authors. Even though this is the third in the series, it could be read as a stand-alone without feeling lost. This is one of those books I wish I could rate more than five stars. I highly recommend this to fans of romantic suspense and all those that enjoy a good clean, quick read.

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

Ford

FordAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: The Montana Marshalls #3

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third book in the Montana Marshalls lets readers glimpse into the life of Navy Seal Ford Marshall. Readers will love this strong courageous man that will stop at nothing to protect the ones he loves.

Ford Marshall went into the Navy to become a Seal and prove he was just as tough or tougher than his brothers, but when his twin sister RJ is in trouble, he must use every ounce of strength he has to not fall apart. The family finds out RJ has been accused of an international incident, but Ford won’t let anything stop him from getting to her. Knowing this isn’t something he can do on his own, he calls on the one person he knows will have his back, Petty Officer Scarlett Hathaway. Scarlett can help him get into the country and he wouldn’t mind one more mission with her before she leaves to be a Rescue Swimmer. If he is being honest with himself, what he really wants is to convince her to give the two of them a chance. Scarlett has complications of her own since her mother died and she has a little brother to take care of. Being single in the navy isn’t the best life for that and she is left with a tough decision to make. Thrown into the search for Ford’s sister, Scarlett puts aside her troubles and together they both must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice for love.

Ford is the third book in the Montana Marshalls series following Knox and Tate. Each of the Marshall men have their own strengths and special talents making them swoon worthy with Ford potentially being the most of all as a navy seal. He is strong, independent, capable and will stop at nothing when someone he cares about is in danger. The relationship between Ford and RJ was an interesting dynamic. Being twins, they have a special bond the other siblings don’t share, but that bond was damaged when they were young, and it still hasn’t been repaired. As a twin, I know how hard a strained relationship can be and the way Ford knew that his sister was in trouble and needed him is true of a twin relationship and the bond that can’t be broken. For me, this is not the best of the series but still a very enjoyable read. Fans of Warren’s books will surely enjoy the story. It read a little slower than the first two, maybe because of the setting and so much of it being in Russia just didn’t pull me in as much as her writing usually does. Even so, I was still able to get through the book quickly and can’t wait for the next in the series.

One thing about a Susan May Warren book is you know you are getting a good story that is filled with inspiration, romance, action, suspense and a good time. I recommend this to fans of her work and even those that are new to her writing will find the series enjoyable.

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

Vow of Justice

Vow of JusticeAuthor: Lynette Eason

Series: Blue Justice #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Rating: 5 Star

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

By far the best book I have read by Lynette Eason and easily one of the best I have read all year!

Linc St. John has had some tough cases being a special agent with the FBI, but nothing prepared him for the heartache off finding out Allison, the woman he loves, is dead. Torn between revenge and justice, Linc works every angle he can to track down the killers. In his search, he finds something he never expected to find, Allison is alive. Linc is greatly confused as to how she is alive and what it all means. With no time to find answers to his questions, he and Allison must work together to stop a killer from her past.

Vow of Justice is the fourth book in the Blue Justice series and easily the best. The St. John family is a great group of characters that have been developed beautifully throughout the series. Readers have been waiting a long time to read Linc’s story and it is well worth the wait. Lynette Eason has crafted her best story yet. The emotional connection I felt with the characters is what kept me plowing through the story at warp speed. I know this is Linc’s story but I have to say I fell in love with Allison, the empathy she showed for the others around her and the way her empathy was used as a weapon against her was brilliantly done. I absolutely loved that aspect of the story. The character development and story arc is one of the very best I have read all year. Readers will without a doubt love the action, suspense, romance and overall story of Vow of Justice.

I have so much more I want to say but can’t without giving more of the story away and it is too good to spoil anything. Even though this is the fourth in the series it can be read as a stand alone, reading the whole series gives the reader backstory that makes each installment more enjoyable but it isn’t necessary for new readers to still get a great read. Fans of Lynette Eason’s will love this latest release and readers looking for a new author to add to their shelves will not want to miss this one, I highly recommend Vow of Justice.

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

The Killing Tide

Killing tide.jpgAuthor: Dani Pettrey

Series: Coast Guardians #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In this fast paced and energetic thriller, Dani Pettrey delivers her best book yet!  Readers will not want to miss this one!

Finn Walker, special agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service, has spent years doing the job he loves, trying to save others.  But when a member of the Coast guard is found dead and another goes missing, he has his work cut out for him. With very few clues and even less to go on, Finn must stretch the limits of his investigative knowledge to solve the case. When his old flame, investigative reporter Gabby Rowley, comes back into town, it makes things even more complicated. To make matters worse, Gabby is in town because a ruthless crime boss she helped put away has put a price on her head. Gabby came home to wait until things blow over; she doesn’t want to put her family in jeopardy, so she stays in Finn’s guest house. Gabby can’t ignore her investigative instinct and works together with Finn to try to solve the case, stay alive, and keep her feelings for Finn under control.

Dani Pettrey set the bar pretty high with her Alaskan courage series. I was skeptical she could top it. I am pleased to say she blew me out of the water with The Killing Tide. This is a story fans will not want to miss. At first, I was a little unsure how I felt about Gabby but I quickly developed a strong connection with her and couldn’t deny my strong feelings for everything she went through. Her backstory and all that lead up to her becoming the person she is at this moment really made me root for her to succeed in all she attempted. Finn was an easy character for me to connect with. He left his feelings dangling from his sleeves and readers will find it hard to keep from connecting with him. I loved the ending and the way the suspense built up to a maximum at just the right moments. This is a perfect blend of romance and suspense to make an absolutely great story. This book is an exceptionally quick read, the story flows beautifully with short chapters and different point of views giving readers a full scope of how the story plays out. I highly recommend this to fans of Pettrey’s previous works as well as new readers to her, this will be a great place to start and get hooked on a wonderful new author.

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

Recursion

RecursionAuthor: Blake Crouch

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fast-paced, mind-bending thriller that could only come from the likes of Blake Crouch!

It’s 2007 and Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent with no apparent cure in sight.  Helena Smith’s mother is a victim of the disease and she has made it her life’s work to combat the disease with science.  As a researcher, she hasn’t made much progress, but all that changes one day when a stranger walks into her lab and offers her an open checkbook to build the contraption that she dreams of: a memory chair.  Now secluded on an abandoned oil rig that has been outfitted into a secret laboratory, Helena is making advancements on her chair light years ahead of where she was at Stanford.  Once her team finally manages to capture and recreate memories, Helena can’t wait to use it for her mother.  But the chair’s mysterious benefactor seems to have other plans for the chair’s use, plans that she never saw coming or thought possible.

Ten years later, New York City cop Barry Sutton is called to a potential suicide jumper.  As he tries to talk her off the ledge, she confesses that she has FMS or false memory syndrome.  Becoming more prevalent, people are stricken with a second set of false memories of a completely different life that they never lived.  In many cases, it drives the person crazy until they commit suicide to escape from the madness.  Although Barry tries to persuade her, he is unsuccessful, and she jumps to her death.  Experts aren’t sure how the disease is transmitted nor is there any known cure.  He only hopes that he hasn’t contracted it from this woman.  As Barry investigates what loose ends there are, he finds something that doesn’t add up.  What Barry doesn’t realize is that this investigation will set forth a series of events that will change the world as he knows it, and possibly several other alternate worlds too!

Only the mind of Blake Crouch could conjure up a thriller this mind-bending.  His previous novel Dark Matter was such an intense read that it stayed with me for days and I kept telling people about it.  This was just as intense and will be sure to make my top list for the year.  Crouch has a way of making his reader’s question what they think they know.  Sure, it’s science fiction, but just think about it if it were true.  Disrupting the space-time continuum would cause all out chaos.  Where his previous novel dealt with string theory, this one focus in on actually traveling back in time and the ramifications of even living the exact same life over again.  He makes theoretical physics fun to read about and will hopefully inspire some future minds to continue developing this type of science.  I also just learned that this is going to become a movie on Netflix in 2020, so I highly recommended getting your copy now so that you can digest this awesome read.

There is quite a bit of strong language throughout the book as well as implied sex scenes  that is more appropriate for mature audiences.

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

Never Look Back

Never look back

Author: Alison Gaylin

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: July 2, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fast paced, tightly woven, intricate thriller that will keep readers up at night with chills and thrills.

 In 1976, April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy set off on a thirteen day murder spree and became known as the Inland Empire Killers. They were both thought to have perished in a fire until decades later when April is recognized and a young podcast producer, Quentin, investigates. His family was directly impacted by the killings and he hopes finding closure will help him get past the demons that have haunted him for years. While he is investigating the killings, New York columnist Robin Diamond is trying to figure out if her husband is being faithful when Quentin calls her up asking about the Empire Killings. Shortly thereafter, her parents are attacked in their home making her wonder if anything she has ever been told is true.

 With the back and forth writing style between the present and past, the story is told in a way that gives readers a full understanding of what is happening and how things played out. I loved the letters April writes to her future daughter that tell of the past and how it relates to the present, it was a clever way to show all aspects of the story. There are a lot of characters that change names throughout the story which might throw some readers off, but if you pay close attention it shouldn’t be a problem.  This is not a book that can be skimmed or even taken lightly; it is detailed and so many parts wind together to make the story flow to the end that it is important readers understand they will need their full attention to the very end. Gabriel and April played out so well as well as many other characters that might not have had as big of a role, but each one was instrumental in bringing the story to where it needed to be by the last page. There are a lot of ways this could have played out and I am usually good at figuring out the antagonist or the twist before the end, but I am pleased to say I was surprised by a few points at the end, a job well done. There is a little bit of harsh language and the story content is for mature audiences only. This is a book that I recommend to fans of suspense thrillers and any one that has read previous works by Alison Gaylin, If this is your first Gaylin novel, it is a perfect one to dive into and enjoy.

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

The String

The StringAuthor: Caleb Breakey

Series: Deadly Games #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

It has been a long time since I have read a debut novel that reminded me of the writing of seasoned writers that is a thrilling, elaborate, intricately woven story and deeply twisted all at the same time.

A ruthless psychopath decides to play a game by choosing participants and threatening those closest to them if they don’t play. The Conductor has been adding knots to his string to play out his own little plot. Both students and staff from the university are involved and university cop Markus Haas is at the center. His girlfriend and her daughters are taken and used as leverage as the Conductor gives him assignments, each harder and potentially deadlier as the game progresses.

Steven James, Ted Dekker, and James Rubart, these are the names I go to when I know I am going to get top-notch edge of my seat thriller. Now I must add another name to the list: Caleb Breakey. The String is the best debut novel I have read in a very long time. The story starts with a bang and doesn’t let up. With so many characters tied up in the string, the motives and real bad guys can get a little confusing at times but the story itself pulls you in at such a pace there is no time to think until the last page. Markus is a strong protagonist against an equally strong antagonist with a story that readers can’t help but fall in love with. It really is hard to believe this is the first novel by Breakey.  The way he interwove the story with so many different characters was extremely well done and not something many others could have done to this level. The story is wrapped up to an extent but left open beautifully for the next in the series. I foresee potential for several in this series but only if Breakey is able to continue the story in a believable way and build these characters to make readers have an even stronger attachment to them. In a way it reminds me of Steven James’s Patrick Bowers series showing a very deep, tightly woven plot with characters that can take you on a thrill ride and save the day all while making readers fall in love with them. I love the fact that this is an edge of your seat thriller but also clean, no language and no excessive blood or violence. There is still plenty of thrill to keep readers turning the pages but in a way that shouldn’t turn away readers that don’t want any foul language or crazy. bloody scenes. I recommend this book to readers that are fans of Dekker, James and Rubart and might be looking for a new author to throw in the mix and keep them reading long into the night.

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

Cold Aim

Cold aim

Author: Janice Cantore

Series: Line of Duty #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 9, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third installment in the Line of Duty series gives readers the best yet with more drama, action, adventure and romance than anything Cantore has written to date!

 After a wildfire ravages part of Rogue Hollow, Police Chief Tess O’ Rourke tries to get her town back on its feet when the FBI shows up asking Tess to harbor a witness in a human trafficking case. Tess’s gut tells her that this isn’t the best idea, the town is still reeling from the last traumatic event and to put them in harm’s way again goes against her better judgment.  When Pastor Oliver Macpherson, the man she has been seeing, continues to be an example of showing compassion to those in need, Tess decides to help the young girl. This isn’t the first time Rogue Hollow has been home to sheltering a victim of human trafficking; unknown to anyone in town a woman has been keeping her own secrets for years and may prove vital in helping Tess with this request from the FBI. Tess must decide who she can trust and what the right thing to do is in order to keep everyone safe.

 Janice Cantore uses her years of experience with law enforcement to craft a wonderfully written tale that readers can both relate to and enjoy each character and the situations they tackle. Each book that Cantore writes gets better: better characterization, better story lines and better romance and action. I have enjoyed the story arc of Tess and the people of Rogue Hollow. Tess has evolved into a chief the town can trust after proving herself time and time again. She may have come into town as an outsider but now feels this is truly home and the people around her are family. Her relationship with Oliver has played out in a manner that feels real and timed at a good pace, it’s not rushed and doesn’t drag. Over the course of these novels Cantore has been able to develop these characters, even the minor roles into ones that readers are invested in and want to see pull through in the tough times. My one criticism for this book would be the villain, Ice. At times he was referred to as Ice and other times as Royal. Ice was the nickname he got, and I didn’t have a problem with that, I had a problem with the lack of consistency throughout, the name was switched sometimes within the same paragraph and that was confusing. Once the nickname was given I wish it would’ve stayed consistent. Other than that, the read was very enjoyable, and I can’t wait for Cantore’s next great adventure. I recommend this to fans of Cantore’s books as well as anyone that hasn’t read any of her books.  Even though this is the third in the series it could easily be read as a standalone.

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