Category Archives: Thriller

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.

The Summons by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This, without a doubt, is one of Grisham’s best books! A very well written story of Ray Atlee who is summoned to come back to his father’s home in Clanton Mississippi. His father, Judge Rueben Atlee, is one of the most well-known and highly regarded chancellors in the state. Although he and his two sons, Ray and Forrest, have never been very close the boys have always respected and responded to their father’s wishes. He has sent each of them a very official summons telling them what day and what time they are to be at the old homestead for a meeting.

Ray knows that his father is dying of cancer and fears that this may be the last meeting they will have. What he doesn’t know is what he finds out when he arrives. He goes into the house to find his father asleep (he thinks) on a couch so rather than wake him Ray sits outside on a porch for a bit. Finally when he does go in he touches his father’s hand and realizes that he is already dead! There doesn’t seem to be any criminal type cause of death. He has been taken away by the cancer and it occurred while he waited on his sons to arrive.

As has been somewhat typical for some time however Forrest doesn’t show up and Ray begins to look around the house to see if anything unusual is or has happened since his last visit. As it turns out, in one of the storage closets Ray finds among other things a cardboard box and when he opens it to see what is inside he finds stacks of hundred dollar bills. By a quick overview and observation it appears each box has over a hundred thousand dollars in it. And there are at least twenty of these green storage boxes in the closet! Where did this come from?

Ray also finds a newly written will which his father had just written and was laying on the table by his sofa. The will explained everything was to be handled through the courts and then divided between the two sons. Ray was to act as the executor of the estate. The will only mentions about six thousand dollars in the bank and has no mention of the money in the boxes.

Ray is at a loss as to what to do when Forrest finally does arrive. Forrest is a very addicted drug user who has wasted his money, his wife, and his life on drugs. Ray doesn’t mention to him about the boxes as the two sit and discuss how to handle their father’s funeral arrangement. After meeting with Harry Rex Vonner, an attorney and one of the Judge’s closest friends all arrangements are made and both Ray and Forrest go their separate ways just waiting for the funeral itself.

But from that moment on in the story Ray is saddled with not only the secret of the money but questions as to where it came from, who knows about it

if anyone, and what is going to happen to it. Basically Ray is the “unknown” guardian of the stash and he begins moving it around with him wherever he goes and wherever he stays. However, not too long after the funeral strange things begin to happen to Ray. Someone appears to be following him no matter where he is. And then when he does take the money in bags home with him, his home gets broken into. Shortly after he puts it into several storage units someone begins sending him pictures of the storage units!

How this is all grows into a really great story is one of Grisham’s best! The whole tale will keep any and all readers into the book right up to the end. Oh, yeah and even that may leave most of you stunned! It did me!

Redemption (Memory Man series Book 5) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

RedemptionAmos Decker, he who is long on memory and quick on solving crimes is at it again. This time he has returned to Burlington, Ohio where he used to live. He is there to visit the grave of his wife and of his daughter, who would have been fourteen this day. The two of them were murdered in their home some years ago when Amos worked in that city as a police officer.

While Amos is in the graveyard he is approached by a gentleman that at first is unrecognizable to Amos but then he realizes that it is Meryl Hawkins. Hawkins was put in jail back when Amos lived there. Amos built the case that Hawkins was convicted in and sent to jail for life. He has recently been released due to the fact that he has terminal cancer and the state turned him free to die on the outside. Amos talks with him and Hawkins claims again that he was innocent of the crime.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Running BlindJack Reacher at his best! Strangely enough it would seem that the traveling crime solver would be finished with his specialty. He just inherited a house from an old commanding officer of his who had taught him most of what Reacher knows about crime solving and living! It also turns out that after all the years they had worked together Reacher is now almost married to the old man’s daughter. But that may come later, who knows?

As usual however this story begins with a typical Reacher maneuver. He had just finished dinner at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan when he noticed two tough looking guys talking in a harsh way with the owner. They made some gestures that appeared to show they planned to do damage to his restaurant if he didn’t respond to them. Reacher talks to the owner and finds out the two are coming back in an hour to get his first payment for “security” from other gangs.

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.

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?

Edge: A Novel by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

EdgeQuite a bit of a different story overall and pretty good except that Corte, the hero, seems to be overly involved with game playing. And mostly board games as he is constantly referring to them or how they are played while he goes about his business.

Corte’s business is working as a undercover federal agent as a shepherd or guard over people who have been targeted by lifters. Lifters are criminals who hunt down (for a price) individuals, who one way or another, have become knowledgeable about a person’s indiscretions. The particular lifter in Edge is a gentleman named Henry Loving and Corte has seen how he works. Loving had recently killed Corte’s buddy and co-worker after using inhumane torture on the man.

Now it appears that Loving is after a D.C. cop named Ryan Kessler and it is up to Corte to protect Kessler and his family. This means he will take them often from one safe house to another and all the while protecting them and their whereabouts from Loving.

In Her Bones: A Novel by Kate Moretti

Reviewed by Allen Hott

In Her BonesThis is a very different book. Edie Beckett, the daughter of Lilith Wade, has a hard time understanding and accepting her mother’s killing instincts. Supposedly Lilith has killed as many as five different women and possibly more. She is now in prison on death row and Edie’s brain seems to be deteriorating every day because of the whole situation.

Edie can’t seem to get enough of the families that have been hurt by her mother’s actions. However as she begins getting closer to them (under pretenses of course) she discovers many things.

In most cases Edie pretty well stays away from too close a contact because she doesn’t want them to know who she is. She actually becomes so infatuated however with one of the men that she meets up with him and things go very far.

Other than that one Edie does seem to just hover in the background scoping the families out. And all the time Edie’s own brain appears to be getting more and more confused. She begins having problems staying in touch with her own brother with whom she has been very close her whole life.

Not too unusual is the breakup, however, as her brother is also having many problems with his own thinking and behaving. The two of them do remain somewhat close, in a strange way, up to the end when everything appears to be falling apart between them.

That breakup at first seems to be really bothering Edie but she not only moves on pretty much on her own but she seems to almost be getting better in some of her actions.

However when she does hook up with that one man from her mother’s past everything seems to not fall apart but actually blow up. And none of it is good for Edie.

Quite a book overall, that I attempted several times to put down and quit reading. Mainly because of all the different characters who kept popping up. Not only did they seem to appear for no reason but they also did not seem to fit in the part of the story where they appeared.

I am not sure that I would recommend this one but also not sure that I would degrade it. So much of it turned out very well in the end but it seems like there were lots of problems getting to that place. Give it a good read (don’t quit on it) and see what your thoughts are!

Vicious Circle by Wilbur Smith

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Vicious CircleA somewhat different book that holds your interest if parts of it don’t drive you away! Hector Cross lived a life of high risks and actual warfare and then he met and married Hazel Bannock. Hazel was the daughter of the founder of Bannock Oil which was one of the largest refinery type businesses in the English Empire. Hazel had previously lost a daughter from a previous marriage but was now pregnant with a daughter to be by Henry. All seemed to be going well until she was brutally murdered while out driving her Ferrari as Hector followed in his Land Rover.

He was able to get two of the criminals who were involved in Hazel’s shooting but one of them got away. This thus became his passion to find not only that one but the entire group that was behind this killing.