Category Archives: Thriller

Breaking Point: A Joe Pickett Novel (Joe Pickett Novels) by C.J. Box

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Breaking PointJoe Pickett, the Colorado game warden, always gets involved in situations that are not necessarily related to game warden work. And Breaking Point is one of those situations. In this instance a local man from the Saddlestring area where Joe lives has a nasty run-in with some EPA officials who basically come to run him off his property. The man, Butch Roberson, is defiant because (a) he was given no warning and (b) there does not appear to be a real reason for this to happen. One thing leads to another. The two EPA guys are shot and Butch is on the run up into the mountains.

The EPA brings in all sorts of governmental personnel to hunt him down and Joe happens to get called into the situation because of his game warden status. Joe immediately has problems with the two top EPA officials, especially the top one, who appear to be extremely arrogant and have no consideration at all for what Joe considers to be common citizens. Joe will work that part out later.

They basically take charge and begin an intensive manhunt for Butch that involves working all through the mountains. They also set up rewards that inspire three other individuals, locals known to Joe, to get involved in the hunt. These three folks basically have no hand in the game except that the leader of the trio is intent on getting the reward and also since he used to be the sheriff he wants to reinstate himself at the decimation of the present sheriff.

Dark Sacred Night (A Ballard and Bosch Novel) by Michael Connelly

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Dark Sacred NightRenee Ballard is a hot-shot detective, working night shift (known as the late show) in the LAPD. She is very good but sometimes oversteps her boundaries and gets into a hassle or two with her supervisor.

One evening while filling out a report at her somewhat tucked away desk, she notices a guy getting into the cabinets in the storage room for detective files. She does not recognize him to be one of the detectives. She stops him and is about to question him further when a supervisor comes in and recognizes them both. He introduces Renee to Harry Bosch, a retired cop who used to work out of this office but now freelances and does some work also for San Fernando Police Department.

After the two men leave Renee goes over to see what Bosch was looking at and finds it is a drawer full of old unsolved street crimes, mostly sex crimes. On questioning one of the sergeants she learns that Bosch is still trying to solve a nine year old case of a fifteen year old streetwalker who was found sexually mutilated and dead in an alley.

High Crimes: A Georgia Davis Novel of Suspense (The Georgia Davis PI Series Book 5)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

High CrimesAfter the 2016 election, America is a nation divided. The new president is a rash, outspoken individual who garnered support by refusing to follow normal presidential protocol. As a result, an active opposition movement is spreading across the country. It’s leader, Dena Baldwin, is scheduled to appear at a rally in Chicago. As Baldwin mounts the stage, gunshots ring out and panic ensues. An assassin has killed Baldwin. Local PI Georgia Davis is hired to try and determine the identity of the killer but it will be a daunting task. Baldwin had a large Facebook following and not all of them are genuine supporters of the Resistance movement. As Davis dives into the crime further, she begins to realize there is more to Baldwin than meets the eye.

I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I Know a SecretQuite a story again from Tess Gerritsen! Not only are there murders but gruesome acts after these murders! Hard to believe that people could be capable of taking out a dead person’s eyes nor could they be capable of shooting arrows into a dead man’s chest!

But that is what has happened and now Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, police detective of Boston PD and county medical examiner respectively, have quite a job! But first off the reader needs to realize that Jane’s mother is about to leave her unfaithful father after many years and also that Maura’s real mother who is locked up for many vicious crimes is bugging Maura over and over. Maura was raised by a different woman and her husband but Maura still feels something for her homicidal physical mother and has some feelings. Gerritsen brings personal events into her heroines!

Holy Ghost (A Virgil Flowers Novel) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Holy GhostWheatfield, Minnesota is hardly the place that you would expect a very interesting murder mystery to be written about. But that is exactly where John Sandford put Virgil Flowers to solve his next case. Seems as though someone has decided to shoot a long range rife at folks and in so doing several people have been wounded as they stood around the town center watching an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Some folks are not happy with the arrival of the apparition but others believe not only is it a good sign for their religion but it also is giving the town a boost as far as tourism, etc.

Once Virgil gets to town he gets pretty well introduced to all the main players in the town. Seems as though two guys, Skinner and Holland, own the most important place called Skinner & Holland, Eats & Souvenirs. Holland is also the mayor and though Skinner is just seventeen it appears he is an important person in the town (and with the ladies) mainly because of his intelligence which is extremely high.

Blood Relations by Edward Cohen and Kathy Cohen

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Blood RelationsA twisted legal thriller which satisfies with as much grit as it does with intrigue, Blood Relations by co-authors Kathy Cohen and Edward Cohen keeps you rapt and wound tight till its shocking ending.

Absolutely worth the read, this legal thriller brings readers to the hot and steamy locale of New Orleans, where behind the closed doors of the selective Cameron and Munger law firm, things turn out to be just as hot and even steamier. And when young Kyle Cameron accidentally discovers his father’s infidelitous relationship with sexy femme fatale co-worker, lawyer Laura Niles, he aims to entice his father’s love interest away. However, things take a turn for the horrific when Laura Niles is found murdered and Jake –Kyle’s father–winds up in the center of a circumstantial whirlwind of evidence that could destroy his career, marriage and even his life. Facing jail or execution, Jake has no choice but to trust his ne’er-do-well son and lawyer, Kyle, trying the case that would make or break him.

The Midnight Line: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Midnight LineJack Reacher, the former West Pointer and retired MP Major, Is off on another of his journeys. Since retiring from the service Reacher and his toothbrush have traveled all over the United States and he isn’t done yet. Yes that is right about his toothbrush. That is all he carries with him. He has no mechanical means of transportation like an automobile, no suitcase because he carries no clothes, and no, not even a telephone. It is just him and his toothbrush. Oh I almost forgot. He does carry a wallet so he can go to a bank on occasion and get a few dollars to spend. But other than that nothing!

He basically travels by use of his feet or a bus or his thumb. He normally walks or hitchhikes wherever he goes. And he does travel both north and south across the United States. This time after he left Milwaukee by bus he had gotten off at a rest stop and was just walking around when he passed a pawn shop. In the window was a class ring from West Point Class 2005. He was especially caught by the size because it was very small. When the proprietor at first declines to give him immediate information as to who left the ring, Reacher abruptly tells the bus driver to go on as he is going to dig deeper into this anomaly.

Fractured by Karin Slaughter

Reviewed by Allen Hott

FracturedQuite a story that illustrates not only how cops work but also how criminal minds work while they are plotting some of the terrible crimes that they perpetrate.

It begins with the Campano family being pretty well torn apart when the mother comes upon a crime scene and sees what she believes to be her daughter, Emma, in a horrible condition with a young man hovering over the girl. The mother, with tremendous force powered by her feelings for her daughter, overtakes the man and stabs him to death.

When the police come on the scene they find that the girl was not her daughter and the man was not the assailant! It turns out that the young man was a boyfriend of her daughter. He had earlier come into the house looking for the daughter, his girlfriend.

Game Piece by Alan Brenham

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Game PieceGame Piece is a gripping and heart-pounding thriller, which keeps readers glued to the pages right through to a spine-chilling conclusion. Short chapters give a fast-moving rhythm to the story line and add more excitement to this crime thriller without it feeling choppy or fragmented.

Barry Marshall, a police detective in Temple, Texas, is a self-described workaholic. When Marshall checks out an anonymous lead involving one of his open cases, he discovers a gruesome murder scene. This is only the beginning of a string of murders committed by a killer who appears to have a personal vendetta against Marshall for some inscrutable reason. The two men engage in a deadly cat-and-mouse game. As the game progresses, the stakes escalate for Barry with an unanticipated effect on his career and family. Can Barry end the perpetrator’s reign of terror before his convoluted scheme succeeds?

Trepidation and conflict have been ramped up by Alan Brenham’s excellent handling of not only the multiple points of view but also the transitions between point of view characters. The majority of the story is told from Barry’s viewpoint. However, the third-person point of view provides an added dimension to the story allowing readers to understand the thoughts and motivations of other characters who play an important role.

Murder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Manuscript for Murder

“What’s the most fun you’ve ever had killing someone?”

So opens Manuscript for Murder, the second Murder, She Wrote mystery to be penned by Jon Land and lofty forty-eighth overall, placing the series in rarified air indeed. And rightfully so, given Jessica Fletcher’s status as undeniably America’s most famous sleuth. While the fabulously successful television show starring Angela Lansbury is primarily to blame for that, Land seems determined to have the books leave their own indelible mark on pop culture.

And he takes a great step toward just that end with Manuscript for Murder, a tale that adds thriller elements to already savory mind snack mix that features a more sharply seasoned Jessica herself. She’s got a bit of an edge now and so does this scintillating series entry that bears some resemblance to Umberto Ecco’s The Name of the Rose and, especially, to the great Roman Polanski film The Ghost Writer.

That’s because Manuscript for Murder focuses on just that: a book that kills. Not literally, of course, but close enough given that anyone who reads the manuscript dies, including Jessica’s longtime publisher Lane Barfield who sees the book within a book as the next Da Vinci Code that can restore him to publishing relevance. Not being one to take the murder of friends lightly, Jessica takes up the case, only to find herself marked as the next victim.

Old-school fans of the book series might raise their eyebrows at the thought of incorporating such thrills and spills into the narrative. But Land doesn’t so much reinvent the cozy formula as tweak it a bit. Cabot Cove is still Cabot Cove and the tried and true cast of recurring characters are well represented from Sheriff Mort Metzger to Dr. Seth Hazlitt to private eye Harry McGraw. Land’s dialogue hums with more rapid and pointed exchanges, true more actually to the spirit of the television show than the voluminous series of books that predated his involvement.