DominicAuthor: Mark Pryor

Series: Hollow Man #2

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Not every main character is honorable. Sometimes, they’re just a psychopath!

Originally from England, Dominic has made quite a life for himself in Austin, Texas. He is a prosecutor with the district attorney’s office for Travis County and primarily works with juvenile cases.  He also is a local musician that plays at a lot of different scenes.  But only two people know that he is also a psychopath.  And the saying goes that three people can keep a secret when two of them are dead.  The two people are his special lady and her teenage brother, who also happens to be a psychopath.

When a cop starts poking around asking about Dominic’s involvement in a past murder investigation that left his roommate in prison, Dominic is afraid that his teenage protégé is going to do something stupid like kill her. So, when she is found dead, his thoughts naturally drift toward what must have happened and how this could all lead back to him.  With only himself in mind (he is a psychopath after all), Dominic begins the process to transfer all involvement of any of the crimes to someone else.

This is a very different, but interesting concept. I haven’t read Hollow Man, but don’t feel like I missed much, maybe just a little backstory.  I’ll probably go ahead and read it so that I can fill in some of the blanks.  Having the main character as a psychopath with no regard for human life is a little different from my normal reading genre.  However, it is interesting that the reader can still form a bond with him as a main character.  Its also told in an exciting way that makes the reader want to find out what he is planning.  Usually this would be told from the police procedural point of view, but this turns the tables in an effort to thwart the police from discovering the truth.  That in itself makes me want to continue with this series.  It also helps that I frequent Austin and I love it when scenes and settings can easily come to life for me because I’ve been to the locations that the author is describing.

There is some strong language used throughout the book, so I recommend this title for mature readers.

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

Beneath the Surface

Beneath the SurfaceAuthor: Lynn H. Blackburn

Series: Dive Team Investigations #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sizzling with tension that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and the skin tingle beneath the surface.

Leigh Weston needed a fresh start. After dealing with a stalker, she moved back home to Carrington, North Carolina and started working in the hospital emergency department. She thought all her troubles were behind her, but when her brakes fail and she crashes, she fears her past is catching up with her present.  Her friend from high school is now a homicide investigator and she turns to him for help.

Ryan Parker is good at what he does, especially working with the dive team.  When the team finds a body at the bottom of the lake Ryan starts investigating and ends up at Leigh’s front door. Her security footage might have caught something and he needs her help to get to the bottom of what is going on with not only the body but also who is trying to hurt Leigh.

Lynn H. Blackburn has just been added to my list of new favorite authors. Beneath the Surface is more than I expected.  Usually I enjoy seeing a character in distress but fighting back on their own with the help of someone else.  Here though, I loved the way Leigh was put in situations and the way the tension was played out.  I don’t want to say too much and give the good points away.  But I will say that the tension was tightest at all the right moments bringing the story to new levels and keeping the pages flying.  A few moments were a little slow but just when it would get slow Blackburn was able to bring it back in with no problem. I love the way the characters interacted with each other and even themselves.  At times, the characters thoughts were played out on the page making them relatable and the story believable. This was the first book I have read by Lynn H. Blackburn but will not be my last.

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

The Kremlin Conspiracy

Kremlin ConspiracyAuthor: Joel C. Rosenberg

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Could Rosenberg’s current event fiction be anymore prophetic?

Several apartment bombings in Russia throughout the late 1990s were attributed to Chechnyan rebels. Russian’s defense minister has sworn to protect the people of Russia and the tide seems to turn in his favor both in reduction of attacks and popular favor.  He soon gets elected the country’s new president and begins a reign that he believes will rebuild Russia from the devastation of the cold war to become the leading super power of the world.  With unlikely allies in Iran and North Korea, the president begins a masked message of peace while supplying the countries with means to produce nuclear weapons.  With ambition and power on the rise, does anybody have the guts to stop him?

Marcus Ryker has always dreamed of being a police officer and marrying his high school sweetheart Elena Garcia. An unfortunate family incident changes his outlook on life in several ways and Marcus joins up with the marines shortly after the events of 9/11.  After his stint in the marines, he begins the process of joining the secret service and eventually joins the president’s personal detail.  As Russia’s president begins to set events in motion, Marcus realizes that stakes have never been higher and the US and Russia will come to the brink of war if he doesn’t do something.  Everything he learned to protect his president will have to be used to take out theirs!

As usual, Rosenberg masterfully draws the reader in with the first paragraph and never lets up until the end, which only leaves you wanting more! The story line carefully reflects that of the rise of Putin from head of FSB to defense minister to being elected president of Russia.  Reading the book really jogged my memory back to when the apartment bombings were occurring in Russia and how Putin vowed to take out the terrorists, which eventually got him elected.  If you haven’t researched Putin, I highly recommended that you do so that you can do a compare/contrast to the story that Rosenberg has weaved together.

It’s often been said that Rosenberg writings are prophetic with current events. This one proved to be no exception for as I was reading this book, North Korea has announced they will cease nuclear weapons testing!  Could it be any mere coincidence?  Or are they doing exactly with Rosenberg laid out in this book for present day?  Only the reader can decide!

I always recommend his books for readers who love current events and a fantastic story! Pick up a copy of this book as soon as you can!

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

Exhibit Alexandra

Exhibit AAuthor: Natasha Bell

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Release Date: March 13, 2018

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intense, twist turning thriller that will take you for a ride though art!

Alexandra Southwood has gone missing. She was supposed to come home at night for her girls swimming lessons, but never showed up. Her husband Marc is going frantic, pacing the floor trying to get the police to start looking for her before she has been gone for 48 hours.  Finally they start looking for her and discover her bloody belongings by the river.  Everything points to a homicide investigation rather than a missing persons case, but Marc cannot let go that she may still be alive.  He hunts through all their personal belongings trying to find some sort of clue that would tell him where she is.  Marc should focus his attention on his daughters, but he is fixated on finding Alexandra.

Meanwhile, Alexandra is being held in a room against her will. A man shows her newsreels of Marc pleading help for finding Alexandra.  News clippings and press releases are left for her to view while she tortures herself wondering how her family is coping with her disappearance.  The man seems to have something in mind but will never tell her what it is.  Will she ever be free to see her family again?

This was a twisted story that was well told. From the beginning, the reader understands that Alexandra is being held against her will, but the truth will set readers spinning.  Told from Alexandra’s point of view, we have speculation of what Marc and the girls must be going through and how they are putting their life in order after Alexandra’s disappearance.  Each chapter is separated by a letter between Alexandra’s college roommate Amelia telling of how she misses Alexandra and how dull life  has become.  The book may be a little predictable for readers who enjoy mysteries, but it was still exciting to put the pieces together.

There is some strong foul language throughout the book that would be expected of the characters. Based on the content of the book, I recommend it for mature readers.

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

Worth Killing For

Work Killing ForAuthor: Jane Haseldine

Series: Julia Gooden Mystery #3

Publisher: Kensington Publishing

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When her past comes back to haunt her, Julia Gooden uses all she has learned as a reporter to solve a cold case that has been clinging to her for decades.

Julia Gooden is a crime reporter that just can’t let go of her past. Her parents neglected her and her siblings growing up and then left them for good when her brother disappeared.  Julia has tried and seemed to be succeeding in overcoming the odds of such a difficult childhood.  Her boyfriend, Ray Navarro is one of the best things in her life, along with her two boys and she wants to continue the streak of happiness she has found.  However, after three decades, ghosts from her past have come back to haunt her when she sees her father.  After so long, she wants to know what he is doing back in town and why he left in the first place.  She also has a feeling deep down that he was involved in whatever happened to her brother and if so needs to make him pay for taking him from her.  As Julia looks deeper into things, she starts to see a pattern for what is happening now and what happened thirty years ago, leading her to believe she may finally find out what happened to her brother all those years ago.

Even though this is the third in a series, it can totally be read as a stand-alone. I didn’t realize that when I started reading it and don’t think it would have made much of a difference had I read the first two in the series.  The characters were intriguing, even if they were a bit predictable at times.  The boyfriend being a cop makes the story flow with getting information for the case and Julia having a source for her stories but they do fit well together.  The different family dynamics were interesting, I enjoyed how it showed Julia with Ray and her boys as compared to how she was with her sister and father.  Families are like that, some people get along better than others and that’s just life, so I enjoyed how the author played the story out in those dynamics contrasting each other.  It is clear from the beginning of the novel that the current case ties in with what happened to Julia’s brother all those years ago setting the stage for a nonstop page turner.  I enjoyed the way things tied together with many of the different characters that if you told me at the beginning would end up this way I wouldn’t have believed you, but somehow it all worked out beautifully.  I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good mystery with clues throughout but the ending not given away until the very end.  There was just a bit of harsh language throughout so I don’t recommend if for younger readers.

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

The Man He Never Was

The man he never wasAuthor: James L. Rubart

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intensely intriguing story that will leave readers looking into their own dark sides wondering whether dark or light will win the ultimate battle.

We all have darkness inside of us just waiting to come out. Torin Daniels has been trying and failing all his life to control that darkness. Eight months ago, he vanished and his wife and kids decided to move on and find happiness without his darkness hanging over them. When he reappears without any memory of where he has been the last eight months, he is a different person.  His temper is gone and he feels like life is giving him a second chance.  It doesn’t take long for glimpses of his old self to begin reappearing and Torin does not want to be that man again.  He starts desperately searching for answers to where he has been and why whatever happened to quell his temper isn’t lasting and to find a permanent solution.  If he can truly be a changed man, there is the chance he can win his family back once and for all.

This is the second book I have read by Rubart and I went into it thinking there was no way it could be better than The Long Journey to Jake Palmer.  Boy was I wrong.  I remember reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I was younger and always enjoyed the story.  I was curious to see what kind of a spin Rubart was going to take on the story.  Going into the book, I knew there would be elements of faith and the supernatural, that’s just how Rubart writes and he does it so incredibly well.  Oddly enough, I have to say that the parts of the story that flowed most quickly were the most enjoyable for me happened to be the flashbacks to Torin’s childhood.  Usually flashbacks work the opposite, taking the reader out of the story and making it harder for the story to flow in its entirety.  There was just something about the way those scenes were written that kept the pages turning at breakneck speed.  The characters were set together just right for tension and believability.  It would have been hard to want to keep going if things didn’t play out in a way that seemed natural.  If you have read some of Rubart’s other books and enjoyed them, I am certain this one will be just as enjoyable, if not more so, for you as well.  I also recommend this to readers who haven’t read his works but are looking for a deep supernatural thriller that will look at the darkness inside us all and hopefully help us find a way to the light.

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

Not That I Could Tell

Not that I could tellAuthor: Jessica Strawser

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

DO NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!! Read until the very last chapter to see the right way a suspense novel should be played out.

What seems to be an innocent girls night out turns into something so much more. When the neighborhood moms gather at one of the houses to enjoy some wine and relax away for a few minutes, none of them imagine that by Monday morning one of them would be gone and the police would be involved.  Yellow Springs, Ohio is a small town that keeps everyone involved in everyone else’s lives in one way or another; so when Kristin and her twins disappear leaving her estranged husband behind, secrets start to turn up making everyone question what they thought to be true.  Her husband Paul is at the center of the investigation but when nothing turns up, the police seem to let the case go. Clara, their closest neighbor is pulled into the drama when the case dredges up memories of a past she has tried hard to leave behind.  Izzy, one of the newest neighbors in town isn’t sure what to think but also doesn’t have time to deal with too much drama when her own life is falling to shambles.  As more details turn up, everyone realizes things are not what they seem and everyone has their secrets, some more deadly than others.

I have to admit that part way through I was feeling a little disappointed with how the story was playing out. I thought the suspense could be played up a little more.  But just when I started to get disappointed, things turned around and I couldn’t put the book down.  This is the kind of book that if readers will be patient the pay off at the end will be worth every page.  I loved how things unfolded and the characters brought out the best, and worst, in each other.  You can really see the way they care for each other and used their own experiences to help one another.  I did not like Paul from the very beginning and am glad that Strawser let him play out the way that she did.  The dynamic between all the characters really was spot on; I didn’t feel that any of them acted out of character but instead played out the story deliberately and intentionally the way the story should unfold.  By the end I was taking the title of the book and rolling it around in my head with what different characters would say and it totally made sense for each and every one of them to be able to utter that sentiment and be truthful.  On the last few pages I had a smile on my face as I read the last scene unfold.  I am pleased to say that I highly recommend this book to any and all readers that are looking for a story that will keep them guessing and characters that are genuine and play out beautifully.  This will for sure be one of my top books of the year.

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