Category Archives: Suspense

Beneath the Waves (The Kira Hunter Novella, Book 1) by Nora Cabot

When a private investigator returns to her childhood home to make peace with her past, someone in town tries to prevent that from happening.

Kira Hunter was the sole survivor when the old boat that she and her classmates were holding their graduation party on overturned and sank in a sudden storm. She and her mother had fled the town to avoid the constant reminders immediately after and had never gone back until now, 20 years later. When an aunt left her the manor house just out of the town, Kira felt the time was right to return to Wayhill and face her memories and, perhaps, make some sense of what happened that tragic night when everyone, including her best friend, Zen, died. However, from the minute she hit town, she had the constant feeling that she was being watched, and then the notes started showing up.

The first note, left in plain sight on her bed at the manor when no one else was in the house, was a personal message written in Zen’s handwriting. Others followed and revealed details only Zen would know. Then there was the mysterious figure in black that she kept getting a glimpse of – was it just the handyman from next door? One thing was certain; someone didn’t like that she was back in town and meant to do something about it.

Beneath the Waves is the thrilling first book in a new series by author Nora Cabot. The main character, Akira ‘Kira’ Glory Hunter, a high school senior at the time of the accident, is now a grown woman with ten years’ experience as a private investigator under her belt. But with all the strange goings-on as she tries to get settled into her new home, her investigation into what happened at the graduation party gets sidelined. Kira returns home with a load of survivor’s guilt, and the shocking appearance of the messages, seeming to come from her deceased friend, really keep her off-balance for most of the story. However, when she finally shakes herself off and gets her mind set to find out who is doing this and why she settles down and acts like the successful investigator she is.

Supporting characters that added a lot to the story include Noah Price, the handyman from next door who is trying to escape his own past burdens. I enjoyed the interplay between the two and liked the resulting chemistry, slow-building and tantalizing. Although I didn’t care for Sheriff Matthews initially, he’s growing on me, and I liked how he seemed to appear to be more complex and competent as the book went on. Kira’s mother didn’t have a lot of ‘screen time,’ but what there was proved fun and, later, almost disastrous. I look forward to seeing more of all three of these characters in future ‘Kira’ books.

I thought the notes and insider messages were frightening, and the constant feeling that Kira was being watched, even in her own home, highly effective and sinister touches. The murder was as shocking as it was unexpected and really amped up the feeling of dread. There were clues to follow, and Kira unerringly starts with the most likely suspects to know what’s really going on in the small town. I thought the resolution was simple but made sense. The story leaves the reader with questions and unfinished business, which creates a “need to know what will happen next” and provides a good jumping-off point for the next book in the series.

I recommend BENEATH THE WAVES to readers that enjoy a mystery with a strong female protagonist, a PI mystery, and a story a bit darker than what a cozy would provide.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

It promised to be the poshest wedding of the season. The bride, Jules Keegan, is the founder of The Download, one of the hottest online magazines of the day. The groom, Will Slater, is the handsome and charismatic star of the successful television show, Survive the Night. On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, the nuptials are to be exchanged in front of 200 of their closest and dearest friends…or are they? Someone thinks the bride is making a terrible mistake.

What an enjoyable suspenseful story! Told in short chapters from the alternating viewpoints of different members of the wedding party or those closest to them, the story of the bride and groom and their families and friends is revealed much like a slow-burning fuse. It is an incredibly atmospheric telling with its setting on an abandoned island with a dire history, its luxuriously appointed ‘Folly,’ the crumbling ruins of the old church, treacherous bogs, and a black storm brewing in the near distance.  

As each character takes a turn at narrating, the author gives and leaves out just enough information to keep the reader in the dark or guessing but not connecting the dots too soon. I know I missed some clues along the way to the big reveal later on. One thing I experienced is some characters I didn’t care for at the start of the story, and ones I did, flip places in my emotions by the end. That change in attitude was entertaining in itself. But the end does come, and it is a doozy!

I recommend The Guest List for mystery and thriller readers that don’t mind that slow, inexorable burn to the exciting denouement.

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Splatter by E. Stuart Marlowe

British ex-pat, Jonathon Gale, has made a career in Hollywood as an envelope-pushing horror film director, and his current project, Incendiary, promises to be as on-the-edge as its predecessors. But before the first scene is even committed to film, weird things and tragic accidents begin to plague the production, and soon the rumor of the “curse” of Incendiary is born. With financial backers fading from the picture and accidents continuing to plague the cast, Jonathon realizes that he keeps running into this one particularly bitter and malevolent actress he had never chosen to cast in his films, at odd, random times and locations. Wondering if she may somehow be responsible for the troubles on and off the set, he decides to track her down for a confrontation. Pushing ahead with the wrap of the film within reach, the “curse” really starts to amp up.

This was a roller coaster of a read for me; I couldn’t put it down! Even though I started out disliking the main character, I changed my mind as the story flew by. His partners, cast, and crew were interesting individuals, all with their quirks and well-written personalities. The simple mentions of places in Hollywood and LA were fun, and I loved the horror film standards used, such as the cabin in the woods for the story’s climax and film’s resolution. The author and the “curse” throws everything at you!

I recommend this book as a fun take on the horror film genre, and I understand that there is a lot of realism in the depiction of the film industry for those interested in that. There is blood, gore, and adult situations, so this one is not for the kiddies.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Horror, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Zombies

Special Agent Francesca (Undercover FBI, #1) by Mimi Barbour

Special Agent Francesca

FBI Special Agent Francesca Donovan transfers to the Bureau’s Las Vegas office for a fresh start for her career. Her mother, Kathleen Donovan, a renowned Special Agent herself, had risen to the position of Special Assistant to the Director in New York, and had pretty much controlled her assignments up to now, and consequently, Frankie was really feeling the need to get out from under Mom’s influence and scrutiny, and make her own way.

Frankie and her mother have a real love-hate relationship. While each is all the other woman has ever had while Frankie was growing up, Frankie’s now a grown woman and is past ready to stretch her wings. Adding to the situation, Kathleen reveals that the father Frankie has never known anything about, and who knows nothing about her, actually lives in Las Vegas and is a Las Vegas police detective. Frankie determines her best course of action in the matter is to introduce herself to the man before they bump into each other professionally.

On her first night in Vegas, when she foils a strong-arm attempt against her hotel’s manager, she quickly finds herself up to her ears in an exciting and important joint FBI-Las Vegas PD undercover operation. The operation teams her up with hunky police psychologist, Sean Collins, the police chief’s best friend. The two must work to overcome some initial conflict and distrust but once they put aside their differences, they discover they are a lot more compatible than either would have expected, and sparks begin to fly.

This first book in the new Undercover FBI series by Mimi Barbour is a fun, action-packed story. While Frankie and Sean seemed to get together a little too quickly for my tastes, their coupling up was still romantic and sexy. Supporting characters such as Manuel the Taxi Driver, John Hampton, her father, and his entire family really added a lot of fun and emotion to the story. On top of that, Las Vegas is just such a great setting with so much variety available to put to use.

I would definitely be interested in reading more in this series, and the synopses of future books are quite tantalizing. I recommend this book for readers that enjoy romantic suspense and lighter mystery/thriller books.

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Authority (Southern Reach #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

Authority

 

Almost a cliffhanger ending!

So some of the members of the Expedition 12 team have appeared back at their homes, or in the biologist’s case – the empty lot she used to go to for solitude. The Psychologist who we learn was also the Director of the Southern Reach agency itself is not among the returned. In the absence of the Director, John “Control” Rodriguez, has been assigned to the agency as a “fixer.” He’s to find out what is going on at the Southern Reach and report back to a handler known as the “Voice” by a secret cellphone. The Assistant Director, Grace, and many of the other staff are understandably not welcoming. The Director seems to have been revered and many, Grace among them, are still waiting for her to return.

The members who have shown back up from Area X remember almost nothing about their time there. They do not know how they got out of Area X and back to their homes (or empty lots.) It’s all very mysterious, confusing, and then there are creepy staff members and strange shrines to who-knows-what in closets, drawers, and hidden rooms.

Book 2 quietly sneaks up on you as you try to unravel the secrets of Area X, the Southern Reach, and even Central. I kept listening and holding my breath for the next shoe to drop and when it does… the action doesn’t stop … only the narration. For now.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic, Horror, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Thriller

Sins of the Father (Land’s End #4) by S.W. Frontz

Sins

Working on a cold case of murder from 1989, Captain Robin Drexel of the Atlanta Police Department follows a lead to the tiny island of Land’s End, Virginia, and into the jurisdiction of her old Macon PD partner, Sheriff Andy Patrick. Land’s End is also where the victim of one of Robin’s cold cases, Mary Elizabeth Martin, was spirited away to hide out from her still-at-large attacker.

As Robin works the angles presented to her, she quickly assimilates into the island community thinking maybe this is where she’ll settle when she retires. (She’s got way more tenure at APD than she needs to call it done, and her rheumatoid arthritis has become a constant, painful companion.) On the island, she meets old friends and new as well as the handsome blue-eyed George that seems to so very, very familiar to her.

Meanwhile, a long-burning domestic abuse case on the island come to a head but even with the abuser out of the picture, tragic events continue to plague the victimized family with two women attacked, two twin sons murdered, and one young teenage daughter kidnapped.

Sins of the Father is the 4th book in the Land’s End series so there are a number of diverse plotlines in play left over from previous books going from the very start. I have not read the first three books but was able to get the gist of what was going on and enjoyed it. I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed the book even more if I’d read the earlier installments though. There are a lot of interesting characters to keep up with, all of whom add plenty to the ongoing story. The author gives some background information during the course of the book which helped to get me up to speed and there was a mix of flashbacks among the chapters that reinforced or clarified the back story.

This was an enjoyable book with a lot going on – mystery, romance, and a thriller all rolled into one. I look forward to getting into those earlier books and will be waiting for book 5 as well. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions and cliffhangers at this time.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Romantic Suspence, Suspense, Thriller

Babble (The Cosmic Conspiracy #1) by Orrin Jason Bradford

babble

Angela and Brian Cagle were happy. An unlikely match, they had worked hard to make their marriage work, and when Bobbie was born, their happiness just expanded.

As Bobbie grows, he begins to exhibit some unusual traits. As an infant and toddler, he doesn’t develop speech as expected but babbles in an extraordinary way that the members of the Cagles’ charismatic church family claim is “speaking in tongues.” But the babbling doesn’t fit the known patterns for it to be  glossolalia. Too, the boy doesn’t engage with others at all but has spells that come over him in which he repeatedly builds towers out of bits and pieces he finds at hand.

Against Brian’s wishes, Angie takes the boy to the nearby university medical research hospital to try and determine why their son is the way his is. But when Homeland Security takes an inexplicable interest in Bobbie, too, Angela grabs the boy and flees leaving Brian and everyone she knows and loves behind.

Now, after a decade on the run, they are closing in and Bobbie’s father is with them. As Bobbie approaches his sixteenth birthday, things are starting to come together, leading them to a mysterious location in the West Virginia mountains.

This story is definitely not over! The action was fast and tense and as much as Angie is in the dark about what is going on with her son, the reader is as well. Is the human race ready to evolve to a new level? Are aliens guiding our development? Is it God’s plan? The story is well written, entertaining, and fresh. Recommended for a variety of readers because this is a thriller, a mystery, and an epic scifi tale!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Uncategorized

The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak

In this, the second book of the Fairham Island series, the story focuses on the troubled Keith Lazarow, son of the matriarch of the island’s Coldiron family and brother to Maisey and Roxanne.  Fighting his addiction to cocaine, Keith left the island and his abusive mother’s influence and moved to LA five years prior to the start of the current tale. There, he was able to get clean and sober and build a successful life and career.

Josephine Coldiron Lazarow has been found in her Fairham Island home dead from an apparent suicide. Keith returns to his childhood home to wrap up his mother’s estate and is very skeptical of the local police chief’s and coroner’s determination of suicide. He and his sisters do not believe their strong-willed mother would ever take her own life. Their questions and his investigation into this mother’s death start the ball rolling on a speedway of a story.

With LOTS of plot twists and shocking revelations, the aptly titled The Secrets She Kept kept ME up and reading far into the night to find out what would happen next! Reading the first book in the series would be great but not necessary to understand what is going on with characters that were previously introduced in The Secret Sister. There is mystery and romance going on and underlying it all is the theme of forgiveness and healing.  I highly recommend this next installment in this series – a series that has just shot to the top of my “When Will the Next Book Come Out?!” list.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Romance, Romantic suspense, Suspense