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.

Cross Her Heart

Cross her heartAuthor: Sarah Pinborough

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Cross your heart and hope to die can be a very serious pact to some. Cross Her Heart shows just how dangerous breaking that kind of promise can be.

Lisa’s life was going great, things with her job have never been better, and although her relationship with her daughter Ava is not at its best, she wouldn’t trade it for the world. A new client at work has started showing interest in her and she wonders if maybe it is time to explore that part of her world she has shut off for so long. Secrets she has kept locked deep inside have kept her from venturing out and letting others in too close. Even her best friend Marilyn doesn’t know all her secrets. Things all come unhinged when Ava rescues a boy from drowning at the lake and they all get their picture in the news bringing her past to light. With her world crumbling and not knowing who she can trust, Lisa has to figure out who is behind the horrible events in her life and how she can stop them before Lisa and Ava pay the ultimate price.

This is the first Sarah Pinborough book I have read and I have to say I was most impressed with her character development and the way she kept the secrets hidden for so long into the story. I put the pieces of the puzzle together just before all was revealed, but that isn’t because it was easy to figure things out. I am just a huge fan of thrillers and pride myself on figuring things out and not getting surprised. I loved seeing things unfold and the back and forth dialogue to reveal the story little by little. A lot of time, the dialogue between the past and present can be confusing and pull readers from the story. It takes a very skilled writer to be able to pull that off and I am happy to say Pinborough is one of the best I have read at this. Lisa was a very complicated character, and with a past as complicated as hers, she is one that readers will enjoy getting to know. Ava is a typical teenager and was written as such. One of the nicest things about this novel was the fact that even the secondary characters were relevant at every moment they were written. The language and themes throughout make this for a mature audience only and did turn me off at times. Overall I recommend this for a mature audience that loves a psychological thriller.

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

For more information of this title, please check Harper Collins.

Top Suspense/Thriller for 2019

Quite possibly our favorite category and genre.  Who doesn’t love a good thrill ride?  This year’s top selections will keep you in suspense for the entire book!

 

the line between

 

1. The Line Between and A Single Light by Tosca Lee

Both of these books should be at the top of every thriller readers list!  Tosca Lee has become such a master connecting readers to her characters so that the suspense becomes personal.  Both books were published in 2019 and to get the full effect, readers will need to devour both!

Read the review of The Line Between here.

Read the review of A Single Light here.

 

 

single light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

persian

 

2. The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg

Rosenberg continues to dazzle us with his current event political thrillers that seem like they could come true tomorrow. The second book in this series continues the tension between the United States and Russia, but left us wondering how the third is going to wrap it up.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

Storm rising

 

3. Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig

Readers will stay engaged with this new series and fans of Kendig will be love that characters from the Tox files cross over.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

The String

 

4. The String by Caleb Breakey

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

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Never look back

 

5. Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

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.

Read the full review here.

The Gryphon Heist

Gryphon HeistAuthor: James R. Hannibal

Series: Talia Inger #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Readers are set up for a thrill ride full of suspense, danger, mystery and so many twists and turns they won’t be able to stop until the very last page!

After passing her final tests to become a CIA agent, Talia Inger gets assigned to a case she is less than thrilled about at first. She is assigned to work in the “Other” department. Her first assignment is working with Adam Tyler, a Moldovian executive, to retrieve his technology for their own defense. What seems like a simple task at first turns into the more than she could have bargained for when finds out who else is after the technology and what it is going to take to retrieve it. As the get closer to completing their mission, things get more complicated and Talia starts to wonder who she can trust and if she has been given all the information she needs to complete the mission and return home in one piece.

The Gryphon Heist is a novel full of so many things. That can be both good and bad. It is obvious that Hannibal did his research and knows his stuff, the plot would have been incredibly weak had he not, and this plot was anything but weak. The problem is there was so much going on it was a little difficult to keep up at times. Not only is the plot and storyline very intricate, there are also a lot of characters to keep up with. In my opinion, a few of the characters could have been cut without impacting the story. There were other chapters that just felt awkward and better left on the cutting room floor.  Those were the only items that took the book down a notch for me. When the tension picked up, it did so at warp speed. The last few chapters made the book, I’m talking unstoppable action that left me thirsting for me. The little tidbits about who might be the bad guy on the inside was played out so well I found myself smiling with the turn off each page. I’m so happy that this is the first in a series and we will get to see these characters further developed. I see so much potential for this series and the characters and will be chomping at the bit to get my hands on the next installment. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy the television show Alias and the Mission Impossible movie series type thrillers and a great read.

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

A Single Light

single lightAuthor: Tosca Lee

Series: The Line Between #2

Publisher: Howard Books

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Tosca Lee’s writing will have to clear their calendar of everything to devour A Single Light!  This is Thriller writing at its best!

It has been six months since Wynter Roth and Chase went underground to stay safe from the disease ravaging the country. Along with the sixty others underground, they wait for the day the door will be opened by Noah and the rest that are supposed to be waiting above ground to meet them. When messages from above stop coming months before they are supposed to be released, the fate of the world starts to seem grimmer than any of them could have imagined. As release day draws near, Wynter is eager to leave in order to find medicine for her very sick friend, Julie. As the doors open, Chase and Wynter find themselves in a world far worse off than they could have imagined. The vaccine they expected to be manufactured and passed around the country is nowhere in sight and those that survived are turning on each other in order to survive the war zones the cities have become. With each passing hour, Wynter finds herself losing hope that she can help her friend or if any of them can survive in this new world.

For me, topping The Line Between was going to be something almost impossible to do. Tosca knocked that first book out of the park. The characters and storyline grabbed me and wouldn’t let go, making me ache for more of this incredible story. By the time I got my hands on A Single Light, I had to pace myself, so I didn’t devour it too quickly. The story picks up where the first left off, Wynter and Chase in the silo waiting with the others for the day they can emerge into society. Instead of chapters, Lee uses days and hours as chapter headings and to show the passage of time. Instead of letting the time in the silo pass slowly and lose readers in the process, she skips over large portions of this time and gets to the really great twists and turns. There is so much embodied in the pages of this novel: fear, hope, love, deep longing to belong and help those we care about. Each emotion Wynter feels jumps off the page at me and griped me tightly. The connection between Wynter and Chase and how they came to be together is so well written and took me by surprise at times. If you are reading this and looking for a chance to put it down you will be disappointed, this is the kind of book that can be devoured in one sitting. I am wishing for time to go back and read it again and again. Tosca Lee has become one of the very best thriller writers in my opinion and readers can look forward to a fantastic story every time they pick up one of her books. At one point I thought I knew what was going to happen with the ending, but Lee took it in a slightly different direction, which was perfect for this story. I am trying to come up with something negative to say and am at a loss. I recommend this book to fans of Lee’s writing and those looking for an amazing story to pull them in and never let go. However, I would recommend reading The Line Between first.

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.