Category Archives: Suspense

Run Away by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Simon Green has been searching for one of his children, Paige, who not only has become a runaway but also a severe drug user. On one of his searches in Central Park, Simon sees Paige and chases after her. However the young man with her steps in the way and she gets away. Simon knocks the man to the ground and then a group of young folk surround Simon. They hold him until the police come and arrest him.

After getting released he explains to his wife, Ingrid, what has happened and she pretty much tells him it is time to accept what is going on. She feels Simon is getting too involved in Paige’s disappearance. He doesn’t agree and just gets further and further into the search.

When he finds through a friend of his several of the drug sellers he does get Ingrid to go along and try to find if any of them know where Paige lives. This maneuver doesn’t turn out well as there is gun fire and Ingrid is very badly wounded by a gun shot.

Simon pretty much leaves Ingrid, who is hospitalized, under the watchful eye of her sister. He then is free to continue his search and find not only Paige but the one responsible for shooting Ingrid.

Now as the story goes along Coben brings in a group of Truth Seekers who are supposedly working to help and serve the needy and others like them. These folk are basically women who appear to be banded together for a reason other than working as saviors. That reason develops later on.

It turns out some of them have been involved over the years in helping unwed mothers give birth to children (strangely enough it turns out that for the most part children are boys and even more strangely related!).

Simon continues to work hard on his end and ends up getting help from some friends and those who work with him. But it just keeps getting more and more involved as there doesn’t seem to be an end to the chase.

In the meantime one of the women from the Truth Seeker group has bonded with a gentleman who is especially good with a gun. They begin working on a list of young men that they not only find but in most cases annihilate for what seems to be no real reason. Needless to say these two end up with Simon in their gunsights as he works to continue looking for Paige.

An interesting story with normal twists and turns in Coben’s way. Profanity and sexual items, as usual with Coben, are pretty much omitted. The ending does kind of baffle the readers. Just good writing with good dialogue and normal twisting and turning!!!

Gretchen: A Thriller by Shannon Kirk

Reviewed by Jim Eaton

At first, I had no idea what to make of this book. It seems in some sub-textual way to be a sort of treatise on coincidence (dare I say, a puzzle within a puzzle). I wasn’t sure to what degree the supernatural was going to play a role; I myself had never heard of any human being (outside of fantasy and sci-fi) having violet eyes. So I suppose you could say this book kept me very much off balance from the start. And it probably isn’t the sort of story I would typically read. Was it a thriller? A mystery? A puzzle in puzzle wrapped in coincidences? It took me more than a few chapters to try to hone in.

How to describe the book without betraying its plot? Hm. You’ve got a woman and a daughter on the run, moving from state to state, hiding from…we don’t know what. The mother won’t tell the daughter. But we do know this has been going on for about thirteen years, since the girl (Lucy) was two years old. I found it ever so slightly confusing that the mother would be worried about them being recognized if in fact the girl was two when they’d fled…but I surmised that the uniquely of the eyes was the root of the paranoia. Maybe. Maybe they were aliens or witches. You decide.

The Burning Man by Phillip Margolin

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Kind of a combination of lawyering, murdering, and many other things to keep the reader involved. Peter Hale is a young attorney who while working for his father kind of screws up a case. The attorney father heads up a prestigious firm and is so upset with his son’s mistake that he chases him from the firm. He does set Peter up, however, with a job as a public defender in a very small town working for a very small law firm. Peter is torn at first as to whether to even accept the job or get into a completely different field.

However when he gets to his new job and meets the owner/lawyer who he will be working for he is stupefied! It turns out the job he will be doing is as a criminal lawyer. He is used to working on business deals etc. not chasing down and defending people who broke the law by some criminal deed. However he takes on the challenge and strives to show his father he can do it.

Don’t Wake Up: A Novel by Liz Lawler

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Imagine waking up stripped of your clothes, strapped to an operating table, and threatened with unimaginable physical cruelty. This is what happens to Dr. Alex Taylor, who works at a hospital in Bath, England. After Alex’s terrifying experience, she is convinced that she was violated, however, no physical proof exists that supports her story. Alex’s life takes a downward spiral, as she tries to convince everyone the attack was real and not a delusion. She starts drinking too much. When a pregnant nurse dies, Alex is convinced the same person who tortured her is responsible. No one believes Alex’s allegation. It appears as if Alex needs psychological help, and deadly incidents involving her only make things worse. Relationships with her colleagues and boyfriend suffer, and Alex worries she is losing her grip on reality.

In Don’t Wake Up, Liz Lawler expertly utilizes multiple third person point of view. Lawler only switches character perspectives between chapters or scenes, and it is clear whose eyes readers are looking through. The majority of this engrossing story is told from Alex’s perspective, but readers are also shown the viewpoints of key characters and their reactions to Alex’s claim of an attack. The different viewpoints pull readers deeper into the heart of the story in which Lawler skillfully interweaves not only things such as criminal acts, police investigations, prejudice, disloyalty, jealousy, violence, and dedication but also the effects of psychological trauma, overindulgence in alcohol, and reliance on anxiety medication.

The Better Sister: A Novel by Alafair Burke

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

I really enjoyed reading this book. I’ve long since enjoyed her father’s mystery novels and Alafair measures up.

We first meet the younger sister Chloe who has the splashy life working for a popular magazine. Chloe is now married to Adam and they have a stepson Ethan; however, nothing is as it seems – the happy marriage is not so happy and the son is not a happy teen.

You Don’t Own Me (An Under Suspicion Novel) by Mary Higgins Clark

Reviewed by Allen Hott

You Don't Own MeThis is one in the series, Under Suspicion, written by Mary Higgins Clark and is a pretty good read overall. This is also my first read of any of Clark’s books.

Caroline Radcliffe is working as a nanny for Doctor Martin Bell and his wife, Kendra when she hears what she thinks to be fireworks being shot off outside as she watches over the two young Bell children. However as she goes out to check she finds the doctor shot to death in the driveway in his automobile.

Caroline runs into the house and tries to tell Kendra but Kendra is in one of her stupors or at least appears to be. Kendra has been suffering from some sort of postpartum depression for quite a while and she doesn’t always respond very quickly. The police are called and investigations are done but no one can be found to be responsible.

Five years later Kendra is doing much better and is taking care of the children with the help of Caroline. However the parents of Doctor Bell have never accepted the fact that (a) no one was found to be guilty and (b) they suspect Kendra of being involved plus they do not like having her take care of their grandchildren.

The Bell parents decide to contact Laurie Moran of a widely known television program called Under Suspicion. This program with Laurie and her staff do more in depth searching and investigating on cases that though worked on by law enforcement agencies they have never been solved. Laurie had looked into Martin Bell’s murder several years ago but really did not spend a lot of time with it nor did she find out anything of significant value. However now with the pressure of the Bells she agrees to take another in depth look at the situation.

Strong As Steel (Caitlin Strong Novels) by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Strong As SteelThe tenth time is clearly the charm for the in dominatable Jon Land whose decennial effort in his Caitlin Strong series, Strong as Steel, cements his Texas Ranger’s status as the best female protagonist in thriller fiction today and maybe ever.

The high-octane plot features the classic thriller staple of a long buried, and of course deadly, secret being unearthed, this time from the Texas desert. Caitlin’s father Jim Strong, apparently, was somehow involved in burying three shipping crates there twenty-five years before as part of a case he was working on. Indeed, a particular staple of this series is the seamless intermixing of the past and the present, with Caitlin picking up on a trail left by one of her ancestors. It was William Faulkner who said, “The past isn’t dead, it’s not even past.” Well, nothing describes Strong as Steel better than that, with “dead” being the operative word.

But Caitlin isn’t the only one on the trail of the contents of those three crates; far from it, in fact. Hot on their trail, and hers, is Molinari, an especially maniacal head of an especially fanatical band of religious zealots out to safeguard a two-thousand-year-old secret at all costs. Being once set ablaze by his enemies has left Molinari almost literally faceless and he has long pursued his quest with a degree of violence and rage befitting the grotesque he’s become.

Wrong Light (The Rick Cahill Series) by Matt Coyle

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

Wrong LightThis was my first Rick Cahill novel – I really like the character – he is a no nonsense PI.

Rick is hired by a local radio station to find out who is stalking their late-night talent via her call-in line. After Rick meets Naomi, he begins the process of finding her stalker – when it walks the Russian Mafia – pulling him in another direction.

While trying to work both cases, Rick spends many sleepless nights which leads to mistakes and death for others. Rick enlists his PI friend Moria to help with Naomi’s case while he pursues the other trying to tie all the trails together toward the final end pulling in favors from the police and FBI.

I really liked the fast pace of the book and waiting to find out if Rick could pull off working two unrelated cases at the same time – lots of story plot to hold your interest.

Splinter in the Blood: A Novel Blood (Carver and Lake) by Ashley Dyer

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Splinter in the BloodHave you ever noticed that murderers who have a touch of creativity in their killings seem to be remembered by a particular nickname making them more infamous? The Son of Sam, The Zodiac Killer, and Jack the Ripper are only a few with this notorious distinction. Add to this list now is The Thorn Killer who slowly poisons his victims from a poisonous ink tattooed to their bodies with thorns, instead of needles. This unusual technique creates the Splinter in the Blood.

Imagine a murder where the hunter becomes the hunted. That is Splinter in the Blood.

Detective Greg Carver is in the sitting room of his home. He has blood on him, obviously from being shot in the chest. His partner, Detective Sergeant Ruth Lake is holding a 1911 Colt pistol. She quickly places the gun, files, posters about The Thorn Killer grabbing anything connected with the case and carrying it to the trunk of her car. All evidence is always left at the police station, not at the lead detective’s home. As she wipes the house of fingerprints, she notices that there seems to be some movement from Greg’s eyes. Could he be alive?

What Remains of Her: A Novel by Eric Rickstad

Reviewed by Teri Davis

What Remains of HerWhen a mother and her daughter disappear, who is the likely suspect? Naturally, most law enforcement would accuse the husband. There is a catch, the husband is a professor of poetry at a local college and seems to sincerely miss both every second of every day. No clues, no evidence, the two seemed to have disappeared from the planet.

Jonah Blum sees his world ripped from him when his beautiful wife, Rebecca and his daughter, Sally vanish. A family of three become a lonesome one. The community along with the media, immediately throw guilty verdicts at Jonah, but there is no evidence, just circumstances.

Jonah’s long-time friends, Maurice immediately enlisted the help of his deputies in the search. Also, questioned was Sally’s best friend, Lucinda, who also happens to be Maurice’s daughter.

Jonah leaves his home and lives as a hermit. For a quarter of a century, life for him is simply survival in a cabin in the nearby woods.