REVIEW: UNDER A SILENT MOON, BY ELIZABETH HAYNES

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The first call they received was about a murder; the second one involved what might be suicide, but could be more. And both incidents were in Morden, where not many such events happen. Could the episodes be linked?

DI Louisa Smith (Lou), from the Briarstone station, is in charge of the team. The victims were Polly Leuchars and Barbara Fletcher-Norman, living on neighboring compounds.

Over the next few days, the team conducted interviews, gathered evidence, and just when they thought they had it figured out, a new discovery complicated it all. Would they now be back to Square One?

Immersed in the investigations and the detectives in charge, the reader soon learns that Lou and one of her team, Andy Hamilton, were once involved, and feelings between them now range from hostile to civil. Meanwhile, an analyst on the team, Jason Mercer, is now very much attracted to Lou, with the feelings being mutual. Will they act on their feelings? How will their relationship change the dynamics of the team?

But the most critical question is: who was Polly Leuchars, and how were her many casual relationships with both men and women connected to the murders? Polly worked as a groom at Hermitage Farm, owned by Nigel Maitland and his wife Felicity. The police have been watching Nigel for years for other crimes, none of which have led to charges. But they are alert.

Polly lived in a cottage on the farm, and seemed to be friends with Flora, the daughter of the Maitlands, who has her own flat…and a studio. She is an artist.

Meanwhile, at the Hayzelden Barn, where the Fletcher-Normans live in close proximity, Brian has been hospitalized for a heart attack he suffered on the crucial night. His daughter Taryn Lewis is estranged from him, but she could know many answers to the questions. Will she be cooperative? She is also friends with Flora…and knew Polly. Another critical question for the team: who is Suzanne Martin, and what, if anything, connects her to events? And how does she compromise one of the detectives on the team?

Such a complex mesh of relationships lead to numerous challenges in the investigations. More will be revealed as we move along, and the fun in Under a Silent Moon: A Novel (Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith Book 1) is trying to sort out the relationships while solving the crime(s).

While I enjoyed this story and could not stop reading, there were so many characters and there was so much complexity that I found it hard to keep them all straight. However, I liked the twists and turns, and I had most of it sorted out by the end. 4.0 stars.

REVIEW: TRUST NO ONE, BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ

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When Grace Elland discovers the body of her murdered boss, Sprague Witherspoon, in his bedroom, her life takes a dramatic turn backwards in time. The label on the vodka bottle found near him is a jolting reminder of her past and another murder she stumbled upon.

Sprague Witherspoon was a major leader in the motivational movement, and Grace was his chief marketing director. The one who created the cookbook, the blog, and the positive affirmations. The one who took his company over the top.

Grace and two co-workers, Millicent Chartwell and Kristy Forsyth, are now left with the challenge of finding new careers. But starting over will be difficult for Grace, as this new trauma forces her back into her traumatic past, where the nightmares began. And in the present, she is being stalked, apparently, beginning with a series of sinister e-mails coming from Sprague’s phone.

Could his daughter Nyla be responsible? Everyone knows she has a hateful attitude. Her fiancé is also someone Grace suspects. He clearly seems to be hanging around for Nyla’s inheritance.

Then Julius Arkwright, a very rich entrepreneur and connected to Grace’s friends Irene and Devlin Nakamura, comes into her orbit as a blind date. Will Julius step in and help Grace sort out the mystery? Will she be able to help him overcome his own dark past?

As everything escalates and the mystery thickens, Grace has to consider other possibilities, just when she and Julius might be taking their friendship to another level.

Trust No One was a riveting romantic suspense thriller that had me looking around every corner, and literally not trusting any of the characters. Even so, I was surprised by the ending. An enjoyable story that was slightly predictable, but definitely a read I recommend for fans of the author…and for romantic suspense stories. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: THE CORN MAIDEN (AND OTHER NIGHTMARES), BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

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In this short story collection of seven suspenseful tales, Joyce Carol Oates takes the reader along on various journeys into the psyche of evil, while also showing us the naivete and innocence of the victims in each piece.

In the opening title story, The Corn Maiden, we are greeted first with the oddly deranged voice of the thirteen-year-old perpetrator, Jude Trahern, a child of privilege and a fellow student, who has captured Marissa Bantry, eleven years old, whom she has dubbed “The Corn Maiden” because of her long silky blond hair. Under her thumb are two other girls, her assistants. But Jude is the Master Mind. Torture follows, and we then see what is happening outside the torture chamber: Marissa’s mother Leah, morose and concerned that she will be blamed for allowing her child to go home alone after school, and worries about how she will be perceived.

Another player in the tale is a male computer consultant, blamed by an anonymous eyewitness.

As readers, we can share the angst of the mother and the “innocent” suspect, knowing all the while who is behind the events. Why has Jude captured this sweet young girl? What is in it for her?

Like so many other stories by this author, evil seems to have no explanation, but the reader can speculate.

In Helping Hands, near the end of the collection, a shy middle-aged widow believes she has found potential companionship in the charity thrift shop where she takes some of her deceased husband’s effects, only to discover that she has sadly miscalculated the troubled young man who waits on her and seems so friendly and helpful.

As with many of her other short stories, I enjoyed the well-written prose, but I was happy to close the final page of The Corn Maiden, and told myself that I was relieved to be set free from them. Others might enjoy the macabre suspense, but for me, this one earned 3.5 stars.

SERENDIPTIOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — LIE STILL — SEPT. 13

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s featured book is an ARC in which I am deeply engrossed.  I have developed a crick in my neck from curling up and reading this one on and off throughout the day.  I only ever took breaks to watch a couple of TV shows.

The book is very suspenseful with lots of secrets revealing themselves slowly.  Lie Still, by Julia Heaberlin, starts out with a scene of violence that informs a lot of the story ahead.

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Beginning:  For me, the rape is a permanent fixture on the clock, like midnight.

A point of reference.

I was nineteen years and four days old.

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56:  “There is blood in my house.”  Lucinda’s lisp was a little hard to understand, but the word blood was unmistakable.  She popped the slip of paper in her mouth and began to chew like a bubble gum addict on cocaine.

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Amazon Blurb:  In the tradition of Lisa Unger’s Beautiful Lies and Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning comes a twisting, riveting novel of shifting trust and shattered lives. Lie Still delves deep into the heart of an opulent Southern town, where gossip is currency and secrets kill.

When Emily Page and her husband move from Manhattan to the wealthy enclave of Clairmont, Texas, she hopes she can finally escape her haunted past—and outrun the nameless stalker who has been taunting her for years. Pregnant with her first child, Emily just wants to start over. But as she is drawn into a nest of secretive Texas women—and into the unnerving company of their queen, Caroline Warwick—Emily finds that acceptance is a very dangerous game.

It isn’t long before Caroline mysteriously disappears and Emily is facing a rash of anonymous threats. Are they linked to the missing Caroline? Or to Emily’s terrifying encounter in college, years earlier? As the dark truth about Caroline emerges, Emily realizes that some secrets are impossible to hide—and that whoever came for Caroline is now coming for her.

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As evening approaches, I want to keep reading, because I don’t want to put this book down.  But I’m afraid to read this in the dark…lol.  And I’m afraid of women like these….

What are you sharing?

SERENDIPITOUS WEDNESDAYS: WAITING FOR “ALWAYS WATCHING” — FEB. 27

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.  This is our special day for serendipitous finds, or books that we might not have known about without this event.

My serendipitous moment today came when I happened upon an upcoming release by a favorite author, and now I am very excited!  Chevy Stevens has a book coming out on June 18:  Always Watching.

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Amazon Description: She helps people put their demons to rest.  But she has a few of her own…

In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.

When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood, and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island.  What happened to Nadine?  Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today?

And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most…and fight back.

Sometimes you can leave the past, but you can never escape. 

Told with the  trademark powerful storytelling that has had critics praising her work as “Gripping” (Kirkus), “Jaw-dropping” (Publishers Weekly) and “Crackling with suspense” (People magazine), ALWAYS WATCHING shows why Chevy Stevens is one of the most mesmerizing new talents of our day.

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I am now going to explore some blogs and see what other books I can add to my list!  Why don’t you come on by and take a peek here….

AN INTUITIVE & SERENDIPITOUS JOURNEY — A REVIEW

Tory Lake’s lovely Vermont home brings her much joy and serenity. And as a therapist, she doesn’t even have to leave her house; her home office, with a beautiful view, is the perfect place to see her clients.

But then something happens to destroy the peace and serenity in Tory’s world, and sends her life spinning out of control. A client’s crime and her subsequent threats against Tory’s son Jack lead to a tragic plunge into the lake.

Because the client is a Sheriff’s detective, Tory knew that reporting her wasn’t an option. Who would the authorities believe, Tory or one of their own?

When the car plunged into that lake, however, Tory had a strategy for escape. When she did manage to avoid notice after the plunge, she surreptitiously slipped away, changing her appearance and assuming another identity. She ends up in a small Oregon town on the opposite coast.

But dreams of betrayal and impending danger haunt Tory’s sleep, slowly converging upon a moment when she finally realizes what she must do. In the parallel world she dreams about, the great Maestro Puccini is fighting against dangers within his household. How will Puccini’s world and Tory’s converge and resonate at just the right time to save Tory and Jack?

And what does a glass butterfly paperweight symbolize in both Puccini’s and Tory’s worlds? How did a serendipitous community of acquaintances become just the support network she needs?

Throughout the pages of  The Glass Butterfly, I read with bated breath, feeling the lurking dangers, yet not knowing how or when they would present themselves. The characters seemed real and their issues were so palpable I felt as though they were part of my own life. I rooted for them all, even though, at times, I found the parallel universe of the Puccinis to be a distraction from the primary tale. In the end, however, I could see how the two worlds connected. Five stars.

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY — DEFENSIVE WOUNDS — SEPT. 7

 

Welcome to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

We join with others in the blogging community to share our thoughts about upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Today I found one by Lisa Black called Defensive Wounds, due out 9/27/11.

In this fourth novel in Lisa Black’s captivating suspense series, forensic investigator Theresa MacLean finds herself embroiled in a case in which everyone has a motive and everyone is a suspect—especially when high-powered defense attorneys start turning up dead.

When Marie Corrigan, a Cleveland defense attorney with a history of falsifying evidence and no shortage of enemies, is found dead in the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton, most people would agree that she had it coming. Forensic investigator Theresa MacLean is summoned to the crime scene by her daughter, Rachel, who is working the front desk. But even before Theresa enters the room, she knows that she’s walking into a forensic nightmare—for crime scenes at hotels, even the most luxurious, are teeming with trace evidence that has been left behind by innumerable guests and may or may not be related to the murder. But what Theresa finds is even worse than she imagined.

Given the positioning of Marie’s body, everyone assumes the same thing—that it’s a lovers’ tryst turned lethal. But large questions remain: How did the killer gain access to the room without anyone’s knowledge? And has the scene been staged for their benefit? The little evidence Theresa has is conflicting at best. What’s more, a legal convention at the hotel provides an endless list of suspects—and potential victims.

When two more bodies show up in quick succession, each in a similar state, Theresa’s investigation takes on a whole new urgency as she fears they may have a serial killer on their hands—a serial killer with a vendetta. But as she searches for the threads that tie the cases together, Theresa begins to suspect that she and her daughter are closer to danger than they realize. And a mother will stop at nothing to protect the life of her child.

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Sounds exciting to me…what do you think?  And what did you find to share with us today?