The Last Stone

By Mark Bowden

‘The Last Stone’ by Mark Bowden was actually my first time venturing into true crime- in book form at least. This is the story of the interrogation of a man who was a witness to the 1975 disappearance of the Lyons sisters.

On March 29, 1975, sisters Katherine and Sheila Lyons, age 10 and 12, vanished from a shopping mall in suburban Washington, D.C. As shock spread, then grief, a massive police effort found nothing. The investigation was shelved, and mystery endured.

Then, in 2013, a cold case squad detective found something he and a generation of detectives had missed. It pointed them toward a man named Lloyd Welch, then serving time for child molestation in Delaware.

As a cub reporter for a Baltimore newspaper, Mark Bowden covered the frantic first weeks of the story. In The Last Stone, he returns to write its ending.

This was a highly disturbing, yet fascinating read. It’s part criminal minds- as you hear the questioning of this disturbed man- and part police procedural. If you’re into true crime podcasts or YouTube, you will love this book.

Hidden Bodies (sequel to YOU)

By Caroline Kepnes

I was very excited to start this sequel to YOU. I may have amped myself up about this one. Although it started strong, the dialogue in Joe’s mind becomes repetitive and tired. This one is much more dirty and at times it feels like lazy writing not important to the plot.

I would give it 3 stars for its ability to keep you interested in the now campy vibes of this thriller. (There is a death of a character that was so ridiculous I had to re read the paragraph from disbelief). Overall it was still a satisfying October thriller. YOU was definitely something new and fresh and it is possible fans will love this one just as much- I was hoping for something as unsettling as the first.

Two Days Gone

By Randall Silvis

I’m going to start with the good:

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis starts with a gruesome murder of a best selling author’s entire family. But Thomas is nowhere to be found. Could he have done something like this when his life was so perfect?

The storyline is interesting and in the beginning holds your attention. It is a ‘by the book’ police procedural with a seasoned detective. The interviews with each of the people in Thomas’ life are done in a way that have you thinking each one might know more than they let on. I was more and more intrigued and found myself saying “wait maybe he did it” a bit too often.

And now the hard truth:
this was a boys club police drama where the VERY few woman characters were either portrayed as dumb, a victim, or a stripper. So heavily objectified and written as a useless annoyance to the men trying to protect them or use them. I typically love crime novels with male protagonists, but this felt like it was written by someone who either hates woman or has never spoken to one. It was so distracting by the middle of the story. The dialogue started to be so ‘cliche guy cop with a rough past’ that I wasn’t as excited for the truth to unfold. Much of this belongs in a 70’s cop drama. I can’t even imagine men enjoying this as I think most would find the protagonist lacking something original and they too would find the brief run ins with women so unusual.

Even with the great potential of a unique storyline, I personally cannot recommend this book as a must read mystery/crime. if you do decide to read this, caution on the first chapter as it is quite gruesome. You can easily skip it and start at chapter 2 not missing anything- you know the family was murdered by someone.

Magpie Murders

by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders is a classic nod to Victorian whodunnits, but Anthony Horowitz creates a creative whodunnit within a whodunnit.

When Alan’s book editor, Susan, receives his latest manuscript, in which his well known lead detective, Atticus Pünd, investigates a murder she has no reason to think it will be any different from the others. There will be dead bodies, a cast of intriguing suspects, and plenty of red herrings and clues. But the more Susan reads, the more she realizes that there’s another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript—one that will soon lead to murder.

As creative as this book tried to be, there were periods of tedious predictability. The characters were well developed and the book inside this mystery is very much like an Agatha Christie novel. However the story starts to drag and unlike a Christie novel, the reasons and explanations for this mystery are not quite as thought out. Overall it was a great throwback to mysteries of old. If you like Christie and don’t mind a bit of overcrowding with the characters as there are two stories essentially, the book you’re reading and the book inside the book the characters are reading, you will probably find this just fine for a rainy day TBR list.

The Nanny

By Gilly Macmillan

A slow burn that reaches a peak and then tumbles down the other side revealing and stitching up all the broken pieces of information you’ve gathered. The new release from Macmillan is just as amazing as her previous books.

The Nanny starts with a creative narrative hook moments after some sort of crime was committed. The setting is Lake Hall, a large English aristocratic home still fully staffed and home to the Holt family: Jocelyn, her mother and father.

The story bounces between present day and events in the 70’s and 80’s, piecing together the history of the Holt’s and Jocelyn’s nanny, Hannah. Hannah left Jocelyn one night abruptly and thirty years later, when Jocelyn returns to Lake Hall with her young daughter, she discovers things that change everything she thought she knew. Human remains are found in the estate’s lake… Perhaps Jocelyn’s troubled relationship with her mother is not the only thing from her past coming back to be resolved.

Gilly does such a great job keeping you guessing and this book in particular, with its many characters and multiple timelines, was planned and written beautifully. It really is a slow burn, but in the best way possible. Each chapter you’re biting your nails, thinking you have this all figured out. It is possible you can figure some of this out half way through, but it’s the brilliant character development and family drama that keeps this mystery flowing. You think you understand a character and then you learn something new. It was insane!

Lying In Wait

By Liz Nugent

Little late on posting my thoughts on ‘Lying in Wait’ by Liz Nugent. This thriller takes place in Dublin and introduces you to the dysfunctional drama following a family on page one.

Lydia Fitzsimons is the seemingly loving and perfect wife of a respected judge, and mother to her introverted and intelligent son, Lawrence. There is only one thing that could destroy their outwardly perfect life at their beautiful home, and Lawrence just discovered it.

Lydia states, “My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”

This was a brilliantly written suspense story with a drop of procedural crime and a whole lot of family drama that gives you the “walking on eggshells” feeling as you flip the page. The point-of-view narration helps you fill in backstories and start to connect with, and even hate, some of the characters. You know what the crime was, but you have no idea what will happen next.

4.5 stars

The Whisper Man

By Alex North

Can I give a book 6 stars? There was so much positive buzz about this book before I got my eyes on it, I was a bit worried that my expectations were too high. No worries, it lived up to it and then some. You don’t want to put it down, you get increasingly frustrated that you have to do normal everyday adult things instead of becoming a recluse until you finish the last page, and it keeps you guessing. This was a fantastic read.

You enter this book knowing a child has just gone missing and it is eerily similar to a group of kidnappings and murders from 20 years ago. At that time, a serial killer known as The Whisper Man had murdered several children and now sits behind bars serving his sentence. The detective that once caught the killer that darkened an entire town, is now standing in the middle of this new case and it forces memories, not all good, back to the front of his mind. Off in the distance, newly widowed Tom and his young son Jake move into Featherbank to try and jumpstart their new lives. They moved here because it was a good change, but it wasn’t all random or a coincidence. Soon Jake starts to hear whispers.

Why are you still sitting there? Go out and get this book!

The Owl Always Hunts at Night

By Samuel Bjork

Absolutely a page turner with an intricate plot.

The slight problems I had with this book were the obvious psychosis of those in charge or leading investigations (which I think is an overdone theme in crime books) and a little bit of an ‘all in the family’ moment when a detective’s daughter becomes entangled in the story.
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The overall writing style and ability to keep you interested and wondering was excellent and I am excited to read more from Bjork.

3.5 stars

This is Not Over

by Holly Brown

I am still a bit confused by this entire read. I’ve finished ‘This is Not Over’ by Holly Brown and have to say it was a very unique read, but not one I would categorize as a 4 or 5 star, must-have.

The start pulled me right in as it makes the reader a fly on the wall of a real housewives dispute over a vacation rental that is suppose to be a suspense novel. Suspense is not the genre I would have guessed for this one. Comedy or maybe just a drama. I know I was laughing in the beginning at how crazy the events unfolding were. I soon realized though, about 100 pages in, that this back and forth “how dare you, madam” theme was spiraling downwards. I will say it was a little fun to just see where it was going, but the over emotional and catty behavior by the two women got irritating for me. It read like a reality show in which the protagonists spill their drama filled thoughts to the the “tell all” camera… and the camera is you.

This will be a read for you if you enjoy drama novels or quirky and quick beach reads. I would recommend this to friends who enjoy the guilty pleasure of celebrity gossip or reality shows. I love my thriller and suspense genre so much that I think it just lost it for me. It was kind of crazy!

2 stars

Lethal White

by: Robert Galbraith

This almost 700 page behemoth carries on the story of Private Detective Cormoran Strike and his once office manager, now partner in training, Robin Ellacott.

This 4th installment to the crime series takes off where the third left off; a series of murders solved, Robin walking down the aisle to marry the pretentious Matthew, and Strike showing up late causing a bit of a commotion and helping an eruption come to the surface that was already beginning to boil over. Once life gets back to normal, an obviously unstable man shows up at the office babbling about a murder he witnessed years ago.

This book follows several possible mysteries and crimes throughout its long journey. This caused a bit of plateauing in the middle. Until the potential of several crimes or incidents circle back to the main problem at hand, the main attraction I had to the story was seeing Robin evolve. After the last book, I was worried she would be another female character forced to live a cliche and never reach her full potential. I see a great storyline for Robin in the next book!

3.5 stars