A Stranger at the Door

Author: Jason Pinter

Series: Rachel Marin Thriller #2

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Release Date: January 12, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Far better than the first in the series! Readers will not want to miss this spectacular thriller!

It has taken a long time for Rachel Marin to get to a good place. After years of hardships and very difficult situations, she is finally happy adapting to life as a single mom and working alongside the local police department. When one of her son’s teachers is murdered and she is called into help on the case, her perfect little world starts to crumble. After the investigation begins, she discovers an email the teacher sent to her shortly before he was killed. As she is working with the department to find those responsible, an old friend she never expected to see again shows up in her life and threatens to reveal all she knows of Rachel’s past. While she is trying to help determine who murdered her son’s teacher, he is being recruited by someone looking to use her son to keep her in line if she gets too close to discover the truth.

As I picked up this book to start reading it, I thought about the first in the series, Hide Away. It was good, but not that memorable and nothing I planned to really read again. So with that in mind, I decided to give the author another shot and I am sure glad I did. I flew through the pages of this story and loved every minute of it. I had such a connection to the characters and was pulled in quickly. The way Pinter used Rachel being a mother and willing to do whatever it took to protect her family coupled with the antagonists using her son against her was so beautifully written. As a mom, I was drawn into the story by this and couldn’t put it down. The plot was great, characters were engaging, and it is an overall great thriller.

For me, one of the best aspects was the last fifty or so pages, the way the story wrapped up played out exactly as it should, nothing felt forced or unbelievable. The characters had a very natural way of talking and reacting to whatever situation they encountered. Really, there isn’t much negative I can say about this other than I’m sad it’s over, I could have been happy reading more and more. Hopefully there will be another in the series coming out and another after that. There is some harsh language, violence, and sexual content that makes it for mature audiences only. With that being said I would recommend to those that enjoy a fast-paced thriller and a long weekend with nothing to do but sit and read. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Bone Canyon

Author: Lee Goldberg

Series: Eve Ronin #2

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Release Date: January 5, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Smart and cunning homicide detective Eve Ronin is back to solve another case and this one puts her up against the most dangerous odds she has faced!

Dealing with the aftermath of wildfires in the Santa Monica Mountains, homicide detective Eve Ronin and her partner are called when the remains of a woman are found. Eve is the youngest homicide detective in the Los Angeles county Sheriff’s Department and not many are happy with the way she got her position. Eve doesn’t let anyone’s opinion deter her from doing her job and solving the crimes in front of her. The remains turn out to be from a missing person case from over six years ago and each turn in the new case exposes more horrors and more bodies. Eve is now up against the most dangerous odds she has faced and isn’t sure who she can trust.

This is the second installment in the Eve Ronin series and am finding myself more and more in love with this character. She reminds me of Tracy Crosswhite by Robert Dugoni, and that’s a big comparison since that is my favorite series by one of my very favorite authors. More and more male authors are writing lead female detectives and doing a bang-up job of it. Eve is a tough, gritty and determined detective that isn’t afraid to do the hard things to solve a case. Even though she is up against a department that isn’t for her, she knows she is where she belongs and is willing to do what it takes to prove herself. I loved the way she took whatever is thrown at her and get right back up, but also doesn’t pretend to be superhuman and show no pain. The times when she is with her partner and they banter back and forth were perfect, along with the investigation moments with the anthropologist, Daniel. Something about the way those two relationships were written really made the story flow well. I am still not a fan of Eve’s mom, she just annoys me, which I think that is the way she is supposed to be written so in that sense it is a job well done. There is a fair amount of language and sex throughout, none of it graphic, but enough to make me say it is for a mature audience only. I would recommend this to readers that enjoy a fun suspense thriller that will take no time to breeze through.

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

2020 Top Suspense/Thriller

Another favorite genre of ours is suspense/thriller. Nothing like books that keep you up late at night trying to find out what is going to happen! There were several more fantastic authors this year that narrowing it down was almost impossible. Here are our top recommendations for the year!

Collision of Lies by TomThreadgill

Tom Threadgill is a fresh new voice in suspense writing. Collision of Lies started with a bang only to pick up speed and not stop until the final pages. Readers that love to see a book play out in their minds will find this a welcome addition to their shelf.

Read the full review.

A Cold Trail by Robert Dugoni

The top suspense/thriller list wouldn’t be complete with a new Tracy Crosswhite novel. As one of the best crime novelists in the market, Dugoni has crafted an awesome protagonist that readers can’t help but fall in love with as she moves across books. All seven books in this series are phenomenal and this is an excellent addition!

Read the full review.

Nine by Rachelle Dekker

This is the book we have been waiting for Rachelle Dekker to write: her own voice and her own story! We loved the story, the style and everything about it. The one thing we didn’t love was not having enough time to sit and read it all at once.

Read the full review.

The Jerusalem Assassin by Joel C. Rosenberg

This has become one of our 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.  This particular book focused on development of the main character, Marcus Ryker, and strengthening his faith. We can’t wait for the next book!

Read the full review.

Hide Away by Jason Pinter

The action, drama and suspense were all top notch and exactly what a great suspense thriller is all about. It takes a very talented writer to be able to craft out a story that ties everything together so well and is also entertaining.

Read the full review.

Fractured Tide

Author: Leslie Lutz

Publisher: Blink YA Fiction

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Not at all what I expected, but in the best of ways! Leslie Lutz has crafted a fun, chilling and engaging tale that will leave readers glued to the edge of their seats.

After her father is sent to prison, Sia ends up helping her mother run their scuba diving tours business. Still a teenager, she has taken on more responsibility than most her age. Together they go out and explore the reef and find secrets in sunken crafts. On their latest dive things don’t go as planned, a mysterious creature emerges from the deep, their boat sinks and Sia washes up on the shore of a deserted island with even more mystery. When she finds the other survivors from the boat, it is the first good sign since they started out that morning. The island isn’t what it seems and Sia’s best hope for finding answers are at the center of the island where the most danger is also. With their last hope fading and Sia looking to save herself and the others, they make their way through the jungle to hopefully find a way off the island and back to their families.

This was unlike any book I have read in a long time. The science fiction element to it was interesting and kept the story flowing quickly and fluidly. Writing this from Sia’s diary was interesting and unique. For a little while I wasn’t sure what to think of all that Sia was being put through. Even at the end, I had to scratch my head at the way it all played out. Without giving anything away, I will say I am still satisfied with the ending even with the questions I have. That’s a rare combination, to be satisfied and still have questions, not something that happens often and only a very talented author can do that with their writing and please the reader. Sia’s relationship with each of the other characters is what made the story work. She is a great protagonist and the story wouldn’t be the same with anyone else in that role, but I really liked the interactions with Sia and Sarah, their relationship was real and genuine. There weren’t any fake niceties between the two of them and every aspect of why they acted the way they did towards each other made perfect sense with the story. I love when a story unfolds as it should and nothing feels forced.  I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy a well-crafted science fiction thriller that will give you goose bumps and knowing the next book you pick up won’t be near as good.  

Outbreak

Author: Davis Bunn

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

It’s almost like this book was written as a precursor to COVID.

Avery Madison, biological researcher, is woken in the middle of the night by the CEO of his company and told to get on a flight to London which will then take him to west Africa.  Once there, he is aboard a research vessel and taken to specific coordinates to evaluate an event.  Suited up in a hazmat suit, Avery makes his way through the water when he discovers several fishing vessels with all the workers deceased.  He quickly realizes that something ecologically damaging has occurred and is moving throughout parts of Africa and could impact the United States once the hurricane season develops.  But there is someone who doesn’t want the world to know about what’s happening in Africa and will stop at nothing to make sure it stays quiet.

An airborne virus that strips an infected host’s immune system so that easily cured diseases can kill said person.  Sound familiar?  That is just want this book is about.  Bunn once again dives into a world of combining thrillers with science and scores another direct hit.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story and probably even more since COVID hit.  The race against the clock combined with unlikely characters thrown together to figure out the answer made for yet another spectacular story.  I love that a family was reconnected and forgiven as a result of this too.  It makes it that much more satisfying.

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.