The Last Agent

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #2

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: September 22, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The follow up to The Eighth Sister has Charles Jenkins sent back into the heart of Russia in more death-defying action that will leave readers on the edge of their seat and thirsting for more from this fantastic addition by Robert Dugoni!

After being tried for treason from his own country and found not guilty, Charles Jenkins has put the spy life behind him. That is until he learns that the one person most responsible for his safe return home now needs his help. Paulina Ponomayova,, who he thought sacrificed her life to ensure he returned home, is in the notorious Lefortovo Prison. Once Jenkins finds proof it really is her and she is alive, he sets out to return to Russia and contact the man who used to be his enemy and may now be his only ally in helping him find a way into the prison and save Paulina. Viktor Federov, a former Russion officer who led the search for Jenkins, may now be the only man he can trust. Together the two work to stay one step ahead of the authorities and get Paulina safely away without risking the lives of anyone else, or their own.

Robert Dugoni is a master storyteller. I don’t know of anyone else that could write a thriller set mostly in Russia and keep me intrigued. Usually not my kind of thing, a setting like that just doesn’t keep me engaged. Dugoni makes it more about the characters and finding that relationship instead of the setting. I was so deeply taken in by the characters and the mission Jenkins was on I forgot to care about anything else. While this is not my favorite by Dugoni, I did enjoy this second addition to this series. Charles is a good character, he’s a good guy and his drive to do what is right should inspire all readers to follow that path even though it might not be the easiest. He had to sacrifice a lot to follow his heart even after all he went through after his last visit to Russia.

One of my favorite things about reading a Robert Dugoni novel is it is so easy to do; the writing is so good it flows without interruption and unnecessary plot points that do nothing to drive the story forward. I did have a few moments that the excitement wasn’t as thrilling as the rest of the story. The story wraps up nicely but is also left open at the end for another Charles Jenkins novel to come our way and I, for one, will be putting it on my pre-order list. I would recommend it to readers that enjoy a great spy thriller with lots of twists and fast action. Even though it is the second in the series it could be read as a stand alone without the reader feeling too lost.

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

Lost Hills

  • Author: Lee Golberg
  • Series: Eve Ronin #1
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • Release Date: January 1, 2020
  • Rating: 4.5 Stars

A slow build to a solid story and a lead character that has so much more to offer than just one book, I can’t wait to see where Eve Ronin takes us next!

After a video surfaces of Deputy Eve Ronin taking down an abusive movie star, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department promotes her to detective and uses her positive press to help overshadow the scandal the department has been trying to outrun. Eve is the youngest female homicide detective and no one in the department is about to let her forget it. When she and her partner get a call to check a house that a neighbor says has blood splatter and a single mom and her two kids are missing, Eve knows this is her chance to prove she is more than just a positive press moment for the department. She has worked hard and now is the time to prove she has what it takes to be a detective. By pushing beyond what anyone else wants to, she is able to see more than the others working the case and find clues that lead her to help them find the bodies, hopefully before it is too late.

Lost Hills had a slow start; the story was good but didn’t pull me in right away. I stuck with it and am so glad I did. I have fallen in love with Eve Ronin, she reminds me of Tracy Crosswhite from Robert Dugoni, one of my very favorite female protagonists in any series. I really got to know Eve and follow along as she worked to get past the hardships placed in her way by being female and the way she rose through the ranks. Nothing that was put in front of her was enough to hold her back, she used it as a stepping stone to show that she was just as capable as any of the men she worked with. Even when those highest above her were only willing to use her as a T.V spot, she refused to let that be her only use in the department. Eve is a clever character that readers will have no choice but to like and cheer for her to find success. The secondary characters, the other men in the department and her family, bring just the right amount of humor, tension and drama to keep readers engaged throughout. It wasn’t until about the last two-thirds of the book that I really feel in love with the story and characters; from that moment on I was hooked and couldn’t wait to see how it played out. As the first in a new series I can’t wait to see what happens next. I would recommend this to readers that enjoy a great police procedural with plenty of suspense and a fabulous ending but don’t mind a little bit of harsh language. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Nine Elms

Nine ElmsAuthor: Robert Bryndza

Series: Kate Marshall Thriller #1

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: December 1, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intense psychological thriller that is twisty, dark and chilling with characters you will love to love and hate from beginning to end.

Kate Marshall was just getting started in her career as a police detective when she caught the famous Nine Elms serial Killer. Her victory is short lived as she loses her job over circumstances of the case and trial. Fifteen years later, she is still haunted by the events of that case and how it stays with her day after day. Now a lecturer at a small university, a copycat killer shows up bringing her past back to haunt her. With the help of her research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate digs deep into her past as an investigator to catch this new killer. Not only does Kate try and figure out who the copycat killer is, but she also must keep him from finishing the original killer’s plans: her as the final victim.

This book is exactly what it sets out to be: dark, twisty, deep, emotional and thrilling. It is most definitely a book for a mature audience as it contains a lot of harsh language and mature themes throughout. Kate Marshall is a protagonist readers will have an easy time cheering for and yearning to see her succeed. The trials she endures, not only professionally but also personally, are more than most would be able to handle, and yet she follows through on her promise to help others when it puts her own life at risk. She makes for such a strong protagonist and the story moves flawlessly between her point of view combined with that of the antagonist. I was gripped when we were in the point of view of both killers, both the original nine elms killer and the copycat; the way Bryndza portrayed the evil of these men kept me on the edge of my seat. This is the kind of psychological thriller that will keep readers guessing until the end if all will turn out as they hope. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy being on the edge of their seat but don’t mind the mature themes throughout, that was the only thing that took sometimes took me out of the story as the sexual language was a little more than I prefer.

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

The Girl Beneath the Sea

girl beneathAuthor: Andrew Mayne

Series: Underwater Investigation Unit #1

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: May 1, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With quick, witty characters and an ending that left me thirsting for more, I can’t wait to see what adventures await in the future for this group of characters!

Sloan McPherson has worked hard to overcome her family’s past as underwater treasure hunters and scammers. Even so, she hasn’t strayed far from the water and works for the police as a diver to recover evidence. While on a dive to find artifacts for her professor at the university where she is studying, she recovers a body dropped in the water while she is diving. When it is discovered she knows the dead woman and could unknowingly be connected to what happens, her colleagues are suspicious of her and keep an eye on her every move, along with the killer. While under watchful eyes, Sloan must turn to the only ally she can think of, the DEA agent who put her uncle in jail who she has loathed ever since. As they work together to uncover facts, it becomes clear that this goes deeper than either of them could have imagined. If they don’t discover the truth quickly, they might not make it to the surface before they run out of air.

Underwater Investigation Unit, also known as legal pirates, is such a great concept for this book. I loved Sloan and her desire to be more than what everyone saw her as because of her family’s past. She worked hard to show she is more than a scammer like her father and uncle, and even though she doesn’t want to see her father in that way, it’s what it is. But when she needs his help most, her father proves he loves her more than a treasure and wants to do right by her. The dynamic between Sloan and each of the other characters is crafted perfectly, her attitude switches between her father and her new partner, and again between her daughter and her ex. There is plenty of danger throughout and Sloan uses all she has learned to keep herself and those around her safe. I felt each moment she was being chased and with each terrifying heartbeat she has in danger, I felt it right there in the moment. I love when I can feel those moments while reading, it is rare and a beautiful thing while engaging in a story. One thing to note is that this story does have a fair bit of language that is not suitable for young readers and is intended for a mature audience. Readers that enjoy an engaging, dynamic, and entertaining story will not want to miss this one. I recommend The Girl Beneath the Sea to fans of thrillers and if you haven’t ever read anything by Andrew Mayne I recommend starting right here.

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

Airborne

airborneAuthor: DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: April 28, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A timely novel about a virus outbreak on a plane that threatens the lives of all aboard and puts the country on the edge of a terrorism outbreak. DiAnn Mills has outdone herself in her latest novel that readers will not want to miss!

FBI Agent Heather Lawrence has needed a vacation for a long time and when her marriage falls apart, she decides to take the vacation they never did. Only a few hours into her flight, she is awakened by a scream for help. Passengers begin showing signs of an unknown infection that spreads quickly and proves to be deadly. By the time the flight lands in New York, the passengers are quarantined at either a hospital for the sick or a secure facility for the ones showing no symptoms. Even though Heather and her husband are separated, she hasn’t wanted to tell him she is pregnant after he left her and said he never wanted to be a father since it would interfere with his medical aspirations. Dr. Chad Lawrence has tried his hardest to put everything he has into finding cures for horrific illnesses and now finds himself the prime suspect in this attack. Heather must decide if Chad is capable of something like this or if the man she married could really have changed so much and put her life in danger along with so many others. Time is not on her side as she searches to find the killer before anyone else falls ill.

DiAnn Mills has outdone herself. Airborne is by far the best book Mills has written and one of the very best I have read all year. It has been an incredibly long time since I have been sucked into the pages of a book unable to put it down until the final pages were finished. The first third of the book flew by as fast as if I were on the plane myself flying across the country. The middle took a little longer but only because I was concentrating so hard to figure out who the villain was. The research for this book shows on every page and the best part about it all is the fact that it isn’t boring. Detailed subject matter such as this it can get to be over the head of many readers with the small points that would turn it into a science class causing readers eyes would glaze over. Not here! DiAnn Mills kept me glued to the story with a vested interest in each of the characters, even the ones that didn’t have a lot of time in the story. I haven’t been so enthralled in a story in a very long time and love the way this one played out. I hate to even classify this one as romantic suspense because the romance played such a small part; this doesn’t need a classification in a genre, it is just a GOOD book to read and enjoy. Good luck to all other authors beating this one for my best of the year. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great read that will keep them on the edge of their seat and satisfied as the last page turns.

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

The Jerusalem Assassin

jerusalem assassinAuthor: Joel C. Rosenberg

Series: Marcus Ryker #3

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Marcus Ryker is back in another thrilling, action-packed novel that is sure to keep readers turning the pages!

Marcus Ryker has led anything but a normal life. He spent years in the secret service protecting the president. He was an accomplice for the assassination of the Russian president. He helped stop North Korean warheads from being deployed by the Iranians in the South China sea. Shouldn’t he take a break? Apparently not. As part of his deal to be allowed back into the US after the Russia incident, Marcus now works for the state department. President Andrew Clarke is set on starting a middle eastern peace summit in Jerusalem and Marcus couldn’t disagree more, but no one wants his opinion. He is placed on an advance team to promote the message to Muslim leaders prior to the president’s arrival. But a new terrorist organization known as Kairos is beginning to strike fear into the world. They take out one of the top leaders in a church shooting in Washington DC and then astound intelligence agencies when they manage to detonate a body cavity bomb on the steps of 10 Downing street. With time working against him, Marcus must work to find out who is behind this new organization before the world ends.

This has become one of my favorite series by Rosenberg. Each series has a unique set of characters with a very flawed protagonist who takes on multiple antagonists across several books. Marcus has had his share of trials and tribulations. Everyone around him seems to die including members of his own family. He perseveres through each trial, but he has to have help from friends and family. This book centered almost exclusively on Marcus the entire time. The previous two books had some other characters fleshed out more, but this one is mostly continued development on Marcus. I feel like there may be a fourth book based on the portion with the Russians in the earlier part of the book. At least I hope so!

I like that Marcus has a strong faith in this book. I also like that his character grows to realize that his life may finally be worth living after the death of his wife and son from the previous books. I hated that some of the characters from the previous books were killed off, but that is what keeps the momentum moving in the right direction with this type of book. It is good that there is a current events thriller series that is clean and fun to read at the same time.

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

Chasing the White Lion

white lionAuthor: James R. Hannibal

Series: Talia Inger #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With lots of action and gallivanting across the globe, Chasing the White Lion will leave readers on the edge of their seat!

Talia Inger has had to come to terms with the man that killed her father. As a CIA officer, Talia sees a lot and has learned to put up with a lot, which has helped her to be able to work with this man. With him and the help of his friend, Valkyrie, Talia is going to try to infiltrate the Jungle, a crowd sourced crime syndicate that is involved in trafficking of children. Each step Talia takes moves her closer to the top of the food chain in the Jungle and to the White Lion. With her team to watch her back, she goes full force into the Jungle to save lives and take down the White Lion.

The follow up to The Gryphon Heist picks up right where readers left off with Talia and her crew. The overall story is very enjoyable, but I have had a hard time connecting with the characters. I liked the story arc of Talia trying to rescue the abducted children. That particular part of the novel really pulled me in, as for the rest I just couldn’t connect and didn’t feel as if I had a vested interest in the characters. When Talia was working towards that goal, I could feel the passion coming from her and her crew. She had a really good dynamic with Val and the way they played off of each other helped to move the story along. I’m intrigued enough to continue with the series to find out who the ultimate “bad guy” is and what the end game will be. So much of the novel is spent in so many different settings the reader will feel like they are going on a trip across the world. This is one that readers will need to sit down and take their time with, not one to read if you are going to rush through and not pay close attention to detail. One of the things Hannibal is best at is the detail he puts into each scene; each change brings about a new picture in the mind of the reader, which I greatly enjoyed. Readers that love mystery thrillers will want to be sure and check this one out, after reading the first in the series.

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

Hide Away

Hide AwayAuthor: Jason Pinter

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: March 1, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Jason Pinter has just made his way to the top of my list with Hide Away, an action-packed thrill ride with one of the best protagonist characters I have read in a long time.

Rachel Marin is working her hardest to lead a normal life with her two children while trying to keep the rest of the world unaware of her deepest darkest secrets. When a violent crime shatters her life, she takes her children and changes all their identities to start a new life in a small town in Illinois. Even though she is trying to lead a normal life, trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes. Once in her new town, the previous mayor is discovered dead. At first it is considered a suicide until Rachel finds clues the department missed. She gets involved in the case deeper than intended and finds herself in danger. Can she help the detectives solve the case before it is too late? Or will her hide away no longer be a safe place?

Hide Away is easily one of the best books I have read all year. The action, drama and suspense were all top notch and exactly what a great suspense thriller is all about. I loved Rachel as the protagonist; she may have gone through a horrible ordeal, but she doesn’t let that define her and keep her down, she uses it to drive her and she becomes so much stronger because of it. She knows she must keep her children safe and there are a lot of monsters out in the world. The only way to keep her family safe is to be on the lookout for the monsters and stop them whenever possible. It could be argued that she puts herself and her kids in harm’s way at times, but everything she does is to protect them because she loves them so fiercely. Sometimes that does lead to reckless thinking, which can be dangerous, but her intentions are always good. I loved that the layout of the book and they way her past wasn’t given to us upfront, instead it was sprinkled throughout at just the right times. She might not have been a detective and the way she went about solving each piece of the puzzle could be seen as too convenient, but for me it played out just right as there was an explanation for every time she knew something and a reason she would be able to figure it out. It takes a very talented writer to be able to craft out a story that ties everything together so well and is also entertaining. This was the first book I have read by Jason Pinter but will certainly not be the last. I would even go so far as to say he ranks close to Robert Dugoni on my list of favorite suspense writers. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy an excellent suspense thriller but know that there will be a small amount of harsh language throughout.

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

A Cold Trail

A cold trailAuthor: Robert Dugoni

Series: Tracy Crosswhite #7

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Dugoni has done it again with the newest edition to his Traci Crosswhite series! Fans will not want to miss this latest thrill ride!

Tracy Crosswhite hasn’t been to her hometown of Cedar Grove since she came for the retrial of her sister’s murder. When her husband, Dan, wants to com back to vacation in his parents’ old house while their home in Seattle is getting remodeled, she thinks it might be a nice little rest for them and their new baby. Upon her arrival back in Cedar Grove, she remembers the memories of what the town means to her and the history she will never be able to escape. While Dan is representing a local merchant in town trying to keep his business, Tracy is asked by the local department to look into a new case that has ties to a decades old cold case. The more Tracy looks into the case, the more entangled it gets stirring up feelings of her own haunted past and the hard times Cedar Grove has had to endure. Things are not as simple as they once were for Tracy; now she has her baby to consider and how far she is willing to go to protect those she loves.

Robert Dugoni is being called by some as one of the best crime novelists in the market and for good reason. His Tracy Crosswhite series is by far one of my very favorites and this latest installment ranks right up there. It is going to be next to impossible for him to top the first in the series, which hasn’t happened yet, and I just don’t think any will ever beat it. That being said, this is an excellent addition to the series. I love seeing the dynamic of Tracy and Dan change with the addition of their baby, Tracy loves being a new mother but she can’t put her instincts and love of being a detective behind her. When she is asked to look into this case, it brings up all the old memories of what happened to her sister. If she can help bring closure to a family, then she has to go for it because she knows what it feels like to go for years wondering if you really know the truth or not. Dugoni has found a way to write characters that never make me question if they are doing the right thing; how he writes them is exactly how I picture them. I loved the addition of the Irish nanny, she had just the right amount of spunk to brighten the room in the tense moments. Even though this story is set in Cedar Grove, Dugoni has managed to bring in a few of our favorite characters from Seattle.

This may be the 7th in the Crosswhite series but I for one hope there are many more to come. If this is your first time to pick up a Dugoni book, it can be enjoyed without reading the others but I would highly recommend starting with the first in the series to know the full back-story with all of the characters to get the most enjoyment. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a great suspense thriller with great characters, a tight story, and an ending that will leave you thirsting for more.

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

Collision of Lies

Collision of LiiesAuthor: Tom Threadgill

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

One of the best thrillers I have read in a very long time. It’s hard to call a book unputdownable, but that perfectly describes Collision of Lies.

When detective Amara Alvarez overhears an argument between a couple on her day off, she feels compelled to see if she can help. She quickly discovers it is much more than a disagreement between a husband and wife. Their son was on a bus hit by a train three years ago. He and everyone onboard was killed and they have had to live with the loss for the past three years. That is until they received a text from someone claiming to be their son needing help. With these new clues, the authorities try to open the case without getting many others involved. If this was no accident, then whoever was behind it had to have help from people on the inside. Time is running out as Amara rushes to convince others of her theory and save the lives of as many as she can to reunite families with the ones they lost.

Tom Threadgill is a fresh new voice for me in suspense writing. Collision of Lies started with a bang only to pick up speed and not stop until the final pages. I loved so much about this book. The story was compelling, the characters were relatable and easy to like and cheer for, the pace was fantastic, and the overall plot was unique and exciting. I was surprised how well Threadgill wrote a female lead protagonist as he captured Amara beautifully. I felt like I was right there with her at the office or in the field trying to solve the crime. Her interactions with others played out seamlessly; it didn’t matter if she was having a family dinner or dealing with her boss at work. I believed every interaction and her behavior added up exactly how I pictured her in my mind. It is so hard in the age of movies, television, video games, apps and so forth to read something and be able to picture the scenes in your mind as vividly as I did here. Most of the time it is easier to watch something than read to get the mental image, but for those readers that love to see it play out in their minds, this book will be a welcome addition to their shelf. This is the first book I have read by Tom Threadgill but will for sure not be the last. I recommend this book to readers that love a great suspense read, but make sure you don’t have any plans for a few days because you will not want to put this one down.

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