REVIEW: ALL THE WRONG PLACES, BY JOY FIELDING

 

Online dating is risky—will that message be a sweet greeting or an unsolicited lewd photo? Will he be as handsome in real life as he is in his photos, or were they taken ten years and twenty pounds ago? And when he asks you to go home with him, how do you know it’s safe? The man calling himself “Mr. Right Now” in his profile knows that his perfect hair, winning smile, and charming banter put women at ease, silencing any doubts they might have about going back to his apartment. There, he has a special evening all planned out: steaks, wine, candlelight . . . and, by the end of the night, pain and a slow, agonizing death.

Driven to desperation—by divorce, boredom, infidelity, a beloved husband’s death—a young woman named Paige, her cousin and rival Heather, her best friend, Chloe, and her mother, Joan, all decide to try their hand at online dating. They each download an app, hoping to right-swipe their way to love and happiness.

But one of them unwittingly makes a date with the killer, starting the clock on a race to save her life.

 

My Thoughts: The four women navigating online dating in All the Wrong Places reminded me of how everything has changed for newly single women. My favorite characters were Paige and her mother Joan, while Heather was the least liked one.

Chloe is still married when the story begins, but her husband Matt has proven to be unfaithful and bordering on abusive.

In the alternating narratives, we follow along as the women explore the ups and downs of life in the New Millennium.

An anonymous voice reveals the thoughts and feelings of a serial killer, and as we watch him move toward each target, while reminiscing about his previous ones, we wonder which of our main characters will be stricken.

I liked that the characters felt so real, and that the serial killer aspects did not take over everything. There was plenty of story dealing with friendships, rivalries, and dating issues. The intensity ratcheted up at the end, once the serial killer zoomed in on his final victim. Who would it be? We think we know, but a last-minute switch changes everything and leaves some unanswered questions. A page turner that earned 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: IN HER BONES, BY KATE MORETTI

 

 

Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…

My Thoughts: I was immediately caught up in the story of Edie and her serial killer mother Lilith. How does a daughter escape the legacy of her mother’s sins?

I enjoyed seeing how Edie (known as Beckett) tried to overcome her obsessions, while also struggling to hold down a job, maintain normal relationships, and move beyond the past. But could she ever find any kind of normalcy?

Then when a murder turns everything upside down for her, and she is the prime suspect, she must go off the grid and try to solve the case on her own. In the process, she begins to learn more about her mother and about herself.

In Her Bones is told in alternating narratives: from Edie, Detective Gil Brandt, and then from the excerpts of a book based on the crimes. The anonymous author seems like an insider, because of the details he or she knows. I liked how Edie figured out who wrote the book…and confronted the author.

Despite my fascination, the book was a bit of a slog for me…and I was glad to put the gruesome details behind me. 4 stars.

***

REVIEW: PAPER GHOSTS, BY JULIA HEABERLIN

 

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life—since she was twelve years old—for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer who may or may not have dementia—and may or may not be a serial killer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

 

My Thoughts: From the beginning of Paper Ghosts, I thought of Grace’s plan as a journey that would surely end badly.

Carl’s behavior, the way he talked, the sense that something was very creepy and off about him…these aspects of him hovered overhead all the way through this story.

I was fascinated by Grace’s bold plan and how she was constantly changing her identity and her look, trying to fly beneath the radar. If anyone had known about her plan, other than those who helped her create her various personas, they would certainly have advised against it.

Grace thought she was in control, but it didn’t take long to see how Carl manipulated and controlled so many things, specifically the “conditions” he kept laying down for her. As if his cooperation was something she could earn with the lists of things he wanted from her.

Could Grace find the answers she was seeking? Would she manage to stay safe and alive until the road trip had ended? And what if everything turned out in unexpected ways that she didn’t see coming? A fascinating study that lagged for me sometimes, but heightened to an intensity near the end that kept me turning pages. 4.5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAY: EXCERPTING “X: KINSEY MILLHONE BOOK #24”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s feature is a book from an author I have enjoyed, and whose mystery series has brought to life one of my favorite heroines.  Sue Grafton’s latest is X (Kinsey Millhone Book #24).  I received my e-ARC from NetGalley:  release date – August 25, 2015.

 

 

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Intro:  In the Beginning:

Teddy Xanakis would have to steal the painting.  What other choice did she have?  She believed it was a Turner—a possibility she couldn’t confirm unless she shipped it to the Tate in London, where the Turner scholars, Evelyn Joll and Martin Butlin in particular, could make a judgment about its authenticity.  Unfortunately, the painting was currently in the basement of the house that was now solely in Ari’s name, where it had sat for years, unrecognized and unappreciated.  She might have blamed herself for the oversight, but why on earth would anyone expect to find a priceless painting in such homely company?

She and Ari had bought the house when they moved from Chicago to Santa Teresa, California.  The estate had been owned by the Carpenters, who passed it down from generation to generation until the last surviving family member died in 1981, having neglected to write a will.  The estate attorney had locked the doors and put the house up for sale.  Teddy and Ari had bought it fully equipped and fully furnished, right down to the rolls of toilet paper in the linen closet and three sets of sterling flatware in the silver vault.  The antiques, including several exquisite Persian carpets, were appraised as part of the purchase price, but in the process a small group of paintings had been overlooked.  The attorney had paid the taxes owed, handing the IRS and the State of California the hefty sums to which they were entitled.

***

Teaser:  (After the divorce)

Teddy made three trips to the house, thinking she could walk in casually and remove the painting without attracting notice.  Unfortunately, Ari had instructed the staff to usher her politely to the door, which is what they did.  Of one thing she was certain—she could not let Ari know of her interest in the seascape or her suspicions about its pedigree. (2%).

***

Blurb:  X:  The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.

X:
 The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.

X: 
The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.

Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.

***

I always eagerly await each new “alphabet book”…and I am as fond of the writing style and MC as I have ever been.  What do you think?  Do the excerpts pique your curiosity?  Does the blurb?

***

REVIEW: YOU CAN TRUST ME, BY SOPHIE MCKENZIE

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When Livy and Will Jackson attend a work-related party in Exeter one evening, Livy is anxious. She is reminded of six years previously, when Will cheated on her with a colleague named Catrina, who will probably be at this party.

So her anxiety intensifies, so much so that she ignores a text from her best friend Julia, pleading with her to call right away, that it is important.

She tries later, but doesn’t reach Julia. So when she and the kids, Hannah, 12, and Zack, 7, arrive the next day for their scheduled lunch, she is stunned and grief-stricken to discover Julia’s dead body. The whole thing reminds Livy of her sister Kara’s death years before. The unsolved murder has defined her and Julia’s lives for years since.

Why is everyone so eager to believe that Julia committed suicide? The note on the computer could have been planted, and nothing about suicide matches what Livy knows about her friend.

In the next few weeks, Livy connects with Julia’s boyfriend Damian Burton, and together they start following clues they hope will answer their questions, since both of them believe that Julia was murdered.

Why do the clues lead them to an agency called Honey Hearts, and a woman named Shannon? What, if anything, does Shannon know, and why has she disappeared?

Meanwhile, someone has told Livy that Will is cheating again, and as an additional stressor, Hannah is acting out in very obnoxious ways. How could Livy’s life have gone from bad to worse, and who can she believe?

You Can Trust Me: A Novel is alternately narrated in Livy’s voice and the voice of the unknown man, whose confessions ratchet him up to the level of a crazed serial killer. He sounds like someone they all know and possibly trust, so there are numerous red herrings along the way, making the reader suspect almost everyone. Could the killer be Julia’s weird twin Robbie? Or perhaps Will himself is the killer, since a damning item is discovered in his toolbox? Or maybe the killer is someone that nobody would suspect. I couldn’t wait to find out.

The settings in the English countryside, as well as the appealing beach communities near London, brought the reader into the world of the characters. I could visualize this story as a movie, one that would definitely keep me riveted. And, in the end, when the most unlikely of all persons turned out to be truly evil, I could not help but be amazed. Definitely a 5 star read for me.