Category Archives: Suspense

The Big Lie: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

It’s time for another Presidential election. A widely-supported, if controversial, incumbent is facing off against a younger, more liberal opponent. As has happened before too many times, the popular vote winner appears to be on the losing end. The final result won’t be known until the Electoral College meets. However, the votes of the electors are governed by a myriad of laws, allowing for the possibility of “faithless” electors. One such elector has just surfaced in Florida and hires Jack Swytek to defend her right to vote her conscience and her fitness to serve , as well as against murder charges. There is a lot more to this case than meets the eye and Swytek will have to pull out all the stops to succeed for his client.

Toward the Light by Bonnar Spring

Reviewed by James Eaton

This is a well-written book that, for the most part, impresses and engages, and here and there, strains credulity.

I suppose I’d also label it something of a slow burn, so as thrillers go, not substantially thrilling unless you put in the time. So put in the time. Patience rewards here.

Note: If you have seen and worshipped “The Princess Bride” as I have, you might need to take a pill to wipe Inigo Montoya from your memory banks, or you may find that wry swordsman haunting you, particularly at points in the story where I’m sure the writer of this novel did not envision invoking Mandy Patinkin.

Now that that’s out of the way, I will say that I, ultimately, enjoyed “Toward the Light.” The details, always in abundance, were essential to the illustration of the Guatemalan setting. I don’t feel, having just finished the book, that I’ve been to Guatemala, but I am quite sure the characters lived their lives and made their choices there, and that is what matters.

Tripwire (Jack Reacher, Book 3) by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A very typical Jack Reacher story by Lee Child and another good one at that! Reacher is the former military man who retired and has spent his life traveling the United States with no money in his pocket. He has a retirement account in the bank and draws out some cash as he needs it. But most of the time he works at odd jobs, picking up enough cash to pay for his room and something to eat as he travels.

He hitchhikes most of the time or sometimes rides a bus or even a train on extreme occasions. His claim to fame is that no matter where he goes he runs into some sort of crime and he usually solves it by himself. He is meaner than a one-eyed mountain lion and can pretty much whip any individual who thinks otherwise.

In Tripwire he though working in south Florida ends up again traveling pretty much all over the country. And he does it this time with a young lady named Jodie Garber. Jodie is the daughter of General Leon Garber who not only was Reacher’s commanding officer at one time but also his best friend and best life trainer that anyone could have. It turns out that Jodie who had an insatiable crush on Reacher years ago is looking for him to help her with a problem. Reacher was also somewhat infatuated with Jodie years ago but being she was the general’s daughter and fifteen years younger than Reacher he did not explore it.

The Precipice: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries Book 6) by Paul Doiron

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A very good read by Doiron using Mike Bowditch, a Maine game warden. Doiron uses Bowditch quite often probably because not only is he a Yale graduate living in Maine, he also is a Maine Registered Guide and lives on a lake in the area.

In The Precipice Bowditch gets very involved in hunting for two lost women who were supposed to be making the hike along the Appalachian Trail. They disappeared in the Hundred Mile Wilderness which is the most remote stretch of the AT. They had been seen in various spots along the trail but now have seemingly disappeared.

As Bowditch and others who travel this area many things can happen. There are some very steep hills that have to be gotten over and some of them have drop-offs that lead down to various types of water areas. Some believe they may have dropped into one of those and then drowned. But others feel some type of animal may have gotten to them. Strangely most feel they are out there and need help.

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.