THROWBACK THURSDAY…AND THE WINNER IS…

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

THE WINNER OF LAST WEEK’S THROWBACK VOTE IS….

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Published Oct 1, 2002 by Harper

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars 

A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it’s only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer’s twisted work becomes clear.

 

 

 

 

******

Well, it was a close race but Blindsighted beat My Sister’s Grave by 3 votes last week! Thanks so much to everyone who voted, that was fun. I was a little nervous starting this one only for the fact that I know with Karin Slaughter there’s going to be graphic scenes, the question is…how much and will I have to read with one eye open?

I was immediately taken with the setting of the small Georgia town on a lake as well as with the main characters, Sara and Jeffrey. Sara is the town’s pediatrician as well as the coroner and I was curious to see how she juggled those two very different jobs. Turns out, a lot of her time is spent as the coroner and she doesn’t seem to sleep EVER! Jeffrey is Sara’s ex-husband and let’s just say there’s quite a bit of unfinished business between these two and I had a feeling this would make for an intriguing part of the storyline. Another main player is detective Lena Adams who’s sister has just been murdered. Despite feeling bad for Lena, I have to say…I didn’t like her very much.

Little by little the threads of the murder investigation are weaved and when another girl goes missing, the suspense is ratcheted up immensely.  I should note, there are several scenes of fairly graphic violence as well as rape but they are never gratuitous and the author keeps them pertinent to the storyline. There was so much I Iiked about this book, but one of the main things was the fact that I felt like I knew these characters. I know I said it before in my review of The Good Daughter but Karin Slaughter is a master at bringing her characters to life. The icing on the cake for me is always a really good mystery that allows me to put on my detective hat and Slaughter provided one in this novel. I do have to say that, in the end, my theory turned out to be correct but I really wasn’t all that bothered by being right as I enjoyed the puzzle game of seeing if I put the clues together correctly. Well, the good news is… I really enjoyed this book….the bad news (for me) is now I have to figure out how I’m going to squeeze in the rest of this series amongst my exploding Fall tbr!

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Noriko at Book Fiend

Amy at NovelGossip

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Caryl at Mrs Bloggs Books

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Annie at The Misstery

Speedy Reader

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My PICK this week is:

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Published Jan 2016 By Minotaur Books

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them.

But he’s no legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the off-the-books black box Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear.

Now, however, someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training. Someone who knows Orphan X. Someone who is getting closer and closer. And will exploit Evan’s weakness—his work as The Nowhere Man—to find him and eliminate him.

********

When I picked up the sequel to this book (The Nowhere Man) at the library the other day, I realized I haven’t featured this high impact fun action thriller on my Throwback Thursday. I’m not sure how this one slipped by me but now’s the time to spotlight it for sure. What’s unique about this thriller is the author took an idea…orphans recruited and trained to be assassins…and really put his own spin on it. Of course, right from the start I felt a connection to young Evan, the poor kid had no choice in the matter, and to say his childhood was like none other would be an understatement. When he breaks with the program and uses his assassin skills to help others in need, I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Not only did I really want to know more about Evan and find out if the new personal connections that were causing him great distress would materialize into something more, but when it becomes clear that someone is after him, the suspense was almost too much!  I highly recommend this one if you’re in the mood for an action packed thriller with substance that also features some pretty fun and creative uses of gadgets. I hope to share my thoughts on the sequel in the coming weeks as well!

HAPPY READING!

Everyone, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that SO many people are jumping on TBT every week! It’s so fun to read everyone’s picks and share all of these old favorites….your TBR may very well explode each week (mine sure does) but as we readers always say…what’s one more book…or 10!! Enjoy! 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Noriko at Book Fiend

Amy at NovelGossip

Holly at Dressed to Read

Claire at I’m a Coffeeholic Bookworm

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Amy at Book Snail Reviews

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Abby at Crime By The Book

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

 

 

REVIEW: THE GOOD DAUGHTER By Karin Slaughter

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Published Aug.8th, 2017 by William Morrow

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home.  And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

******

This book should really come with a warning…BEWARE…once you start reading this small town secret filled thriller, you will likely avoid your friends, family, exercise and oh yeah, sleep! I should know because I pretty much ignored everyone and stayed up until after 1:00am because I couldn’t possibly sleep without knowing how this puzzle turned out. I do have to say I was a little hesitant to start this because my last Slaughter book was Pretty Girls which I found just too violently graphic and all who know Karin’s wonderful writing know that she writes so realistically that it’s often hard to get those images out of your head. That’s not to say there isn’t violence in this story, there is, and quite a lot, so if you’re a reader that struggles with that you should take note.

If you haven’t read Karin Slaughter before I think this would be the absolute perfect book to pick up to experience a level of writing that is really so far above so many others in terms of characterization and making readers FEEL that they know these characters. In the beginning of this story we meet Samantha, her sister Charlotte and their parents, Gamma and Rusty Quinn, and within the first few pages I felt like they were real people and I was witnessing their conversations and their heartache over having to move because their home had been firebombed due to Rusty’s job as a defense lawyer in town. I mean, this is where I think Karin Slaughter is light years above other writers…how did she manage to make me feel SO invested in these people so quickly?? Sorry, I digress from my actual review….

The story is structured in such a way that we get to know the characters starting in 1989 in their small Pikeville, Ga town. Before this section closes Slaughter will have managed to toss in a twist that caused me to virtual buckle up for what I predicted was going to be a wild ride. The narration then shifts as we fast forward 28 years and Charlotte is now a defense attorney in the same building as Rusty (who’s still practicing) and trying to navigate the rocky waters of her marriage. I found Rusty to be an absolutely fascinating character. On the one hand, I felt like shaking him for being abrupt and emotionally unavailable for his daughter and on the other, I found him funny and witty. That’s top notch writing for you…characters who are FLAWED are characters we can relate to, root for, and mourn when we close the book and realize their story is over.

I haven’t even touched on the the crimes in the past and present and that’s because the less you know starting out as far as the plot, the more surprises you’ll get to experience!  To put it simply, there’s a devastating crime (home invasion) committed in 1989 and there’s an equally devastating one (school shooting) committed 28 years later; both occurring in Pikeville and both involving the Quinns. BUT, here’s what you need to remember…no matter how things appear on the surface, nothing is as it seems dear reader.  I felt my anxiety rising in so many places trying to figure out what happened, who might be involved, how does it all fit together…that I finally took the advice of my  friend Annie (The Misstery) who said…”don’t even try to figure it out!” So I’ll pass this good advice on to you…just sit back and enjoy being enthralled by some of the most gripping writing you’re likely to read all year. If you’re in the mood for a character driven story that includes plenty of mystery and quite a few thrills, I think you’ve found your next read!

Many thanks to William Morrow via Edelweiss for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review  

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: SAFE By Ryan Gattis

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Published Aug 1, 2017 by MCD

Ricky Mendoza Jr. (aka Ghost) is trying to make good. As a teenager, he was a ruthless gangbanger, addict, and killer until he got out and met Rose. As an adult, in recovery and working as a safecracker for the DEA, Ghost is determined to live “clean” to honor Rose’s memory—until he stumbles upon an opportunity to repay the debts of his past. All he has to do is crack a safe and steal drug money from under the noses of the gangs and the feds without getting caught. Or killed.

A propulsive, engaging thriller by a novelist whose writing David Mitchell called “audacious, unflinching and subversive,” Ryan Gattis’s Safe drives readers toward a shocking conclusion while exploring deeper questions about what it means to be “good.”

******

For some reason I’m finding this book hard to review. On the one hand, there is so much I liked about it and up until about 60%, I felt it was ticking along quite nicely. I loved that it started off with a safecracking scene and felt that until that point I was really invested in the story. After that, however,  it started to slip for me and by the end I feel like I had disconnected from the story just a little which is very strange considering how much I started off liking it.

The story starts off action packed as we are introduced to Ricky, aka Ghost, a safecracker who freelances for the DEA. He’s been called to a house of the DEA’s most recent drug bust and then left alone (yes alone!) to open the safe with instructions to call the DEA agent in charge after he gets it open. Here’s what’s so interesting about this scene….we learn from Ricky’s first person narration that in his past he was an addict and criminal who did some very bad things but for the past several years he’s tried to do right and now has a plan to really help some people who need it. His plan involves taking the cash in that safe and using it to help others in need.  And with this current safe, he hits the jackpot. Time is ticking though because the safe he has just cracked and the money he has stolen belongs to one of the biggest drug lords in LA and you just know things aren’t going to go well when he finds out his money is gone.

Here is where the story alternates narration and we then meet Rudy Reyes, aka Glasses, the top associate of the drug lord who’s safe Ricky just cracked. Glasses has his own story to tell and soon a very interesting tale is weaved that will connect him and Ricky in ways that ended up being very surprising and in several instances quite suspenseful. The author’s style certainly shines with his use of language and dialect for both of these characters.

On paper, this is the perfect story for me and I found the author’s writing to be so wonderfully authentic. The dialogue was perfect and I really felt the characters were unique and multi-dimensional. Where it started to go downhill for me is the repetitive number of times Ghost was driving in a car and playing various songs on the mix-tape that his past girlfriend, Rose (she had died), had made for him. As narrator, he would then reminesce about times together (in detail) and repeat over and over how much she meant to him. I got it, I really did but by about 65% I’d heard enough because what that effectively did was break up the pace of the story and cause me to become bored which isn’t at all how I felt starting out and during the safe cracking scenes. Couple this with an ending that I just don’t feel made sense for what we knew of the characters and I was left slightly disconnected.

Many thanks to MCD for my copy via Netgalley, I’m happy to provide an honest review 

 

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published Feb 2003 by Warner Books
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

Advertising director Charles Schine is just another New York commuter, regularly catching the 8.43 to work. But the day he misses his train is the day that changes his life. Catching the 9.05 instead, he can’t help but be drawn by the sight of the person opposite. Charles has never cheated on his wife in eighteen years of marriage. But then Charles has never met anyone like Lucinda Harris before. Charming, beautiful and a seductively good listener, Charles finds himself instantly attracted. And though Lucinda is married too, it is immediately apparent that the feeling is mutual. Their journeys into work become lunch dates, which become cocktails and eventually lead to a rented room in a seedy hotel. They both know the risks they are taking, but not in their worst nightmares could they foresee what is to follow. Suddenly their temptation turns horrifically sour, and their illicit liaison becomes caught up in something bigger, more dangerous, more brutally violent. Unable to talk to his partner or the police, Charles finds himself trapped in a world of dark conspiracy and psychological games. Somehow he’s got to find a way to fight back, or his entire life will be spectacularly derailed for good.

******
I read this one when it was published and I remember really loving it and thinking it seemed to fly under the reading radar of people.  Thinking about it now and re-reading the blurb, so many years later, I want to say it had a vibe similar to The Kind Worth Killing (Peter Swanson) if you’ve read that one. If you haven’t you’re in luck today and you get a two for one Throwback Recommendation because I highly recommend that as well:) When I’m going through my lists of old favorites, especially ones I read over 10 years ago, it’s very hard to remember plot details and I often just remember how I felt reading a certain book and what I remember about this is thinking that it was a fantastic THRILLER. Yes, there’s a psychological aspect to the story as far as games being played, manipulations, betrayals etc but it’s nicely wrapped up in a fast paced plot that keeps you on your toes. I’m SO glad I read this before the movie! In my opinion, the book is hands down WAY better than the movie, although I thought Clive Owen was great, Jennifer Aniston…not so much. If you’re looking for a good thriller that can easily be read in one sitting, give this a try.

**Stop back next week since I plan on having read (this weekend) a throwback from my current tbr so I can share up to date thoughts with you:)** 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

Cathy at Between the Lines

P Turners at The PTurnersbookblog

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Noriko at Book Fiend

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Amy at NovelGossip

Lynne at Fictionophile

HAPPY READING! 

REVIEW: THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER BY Karen Dionne

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Published June 13, 2017 By G.P. Putnam’s Sons

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

****** 

I was very intrigued by the premise of this book. I’m usually always on board for a good game of cat & mouse and this seemed like the ultimate game…daughter verses father. We are first introduced to Helena when she’s grown and the married mom to two little girls. When she hears on the news that the identity of a local prison escapee is her father, her carefully crafted life with her new identity and family explodes. Very quickly she decides she’s the only one who is cunning enough to track down and take on her father; after all, he taught her everything she knows about hunting and killing prey.

The narrative alternates between the present game of cat & mouse and Helena’s childhood , starting when she was born to a mother who was herself a young teenager. Her mother had been kidnapped by Helena’s father, who’s known as The Marsh King. There are very long, detailed descriptions of Helena’s growing up years in the wilderness with her father being the person she spent the most time with. Very long. Very detailed. While I appreciate the exceptional literary skills of the author in these sections, I found that my mind wandered and many times I found myself skimming through to get back to the present. Another reason I skimmed these past sections, and something I wish I would’ve known going in was the very graphic and for me disturbing scenes of hunting and killing many wilderness animals. I know many people hunt but for me, I just don’t have a desire to read scenes like that and that caused me to skip large portions of the text.  In the end, the back and forth of time frames led to a lack of the much needed suspense I was looking for in a book billed as a thriller. I’m very much in the minority in terms of this book not being for me so I’d urge you to try it for yourself and decide.

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published March 2010 By Dutton

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

17 year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, captain of the lacrosse team, headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before, and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.

Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission, to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate—and nationally televised—sting operations. Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.

******

As we can safely say summer has arrived, I thought what better author to feature as a summer TBT recommendation than Harlan Coben…you can pretty much be guaranteed a page turner when you dive into one of his books and Caught is another one of my favorites of his. This book was reminescent of the TV show To Catch a Predator…that show was creepy, disturbing, and hard to stop watching once you started as you wondered if the predator would fall for the trap the show’s producers set up. Harlan Coben masterfully takes that concept and expands on it with this story, adding a missing teenager along with a do gooding social worker (or is he?) and a reporter with a serious agenda. As I’ve mentioned before, one thing I love about Harlan Coben’s writing is that he takes everyday people and puts them in extraordinary situations, making you think over and over again…“what would I do?” For me, that makes his books so accessible and also the perfect choice for a summer read. If you’re looking for a book that’ll keep you guessing and swiftly turning those pages, I think Caught would be a fantastic choice!

Happy Reading! 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Cathy at Between the Lines Book Blog

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Nicki at The Secret Library

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

REVIEW: BURNTOWN By Jennifer McMahon

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Published April 25, 2017 by Doubleday Books

This fantastic cover accurately portrays many elements of this unputdownable novel! You might notice that there’s no blurb for this book and there’s a reason for that. I was truly shocked when I went to Goodreads to get the blurb for this review and read what was written for this book…it’s like a mini story FULL of spoilers so I beg you not to read it if you would at all like to read and enjoy this book! I’m so glad I didn’t read it before diving into this…to say my reading fun would’ve been spoiled is an understatement. I opened this one not even remembering what it was about because I received it so many months ago and I have to say it made for such an exciting, suspenseful read for me.

You may find my review a bit vague but once you read this I think you’ll appreciate that you went into it not really knowing all that much. When the story begins we first hear from young Miles, a ten year old quirky little boy, whose all decked out in his Robin Hood outfit and on a mission to frighten his mom into quitting smoking by replacing the tobacco in her cigarettes with gunpowder…just a small amount mind you. As Miles hides in the nearby brush to watch his mother’s reaction when she lights up, what he ends up seeing is a murder that will shake him to his core and turn his life completely upside down. This is one of the most surprising and creepiest opening scenes I’ve read in a long time…I was immediately hooked on this story!

Time doesn’t move slow in this novel and we are soon immersed in Miles’ life as a teenager then adult and we learn that he has possession of some very special papers his father left to him, specifically blueprints of a special phone that Thomas Edison was working on that enabled you to talk to the dead. Mile’s makes it his mission to build the machine so he can get an answer to a question that’s haunted him for many years.

Fast forward several years and Miles has his own family, a wife and two kids, and life is pretty good…that is, until the night of the Great Flood when the past rears its ugly head and murder once again turns Miles’ life inside out.

What follows the night of the Great Flood is a story filled with suspense, intrigue, and some of the quirkiest types of misfit characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in such a long time. In fact, the narration alternates between characters…there’s Necco, on the run from a past she slowly realizes was based on lies; Theo, a teenage girl who’s decisions in the name of love lead her down dangerous roads; Pru (my favorite character), an older school cafeteria worker who’s loneliness and obsession with the circus made for utterly fascinating reading; Fred, a wanna be private investigator, and the “fire eaters,” a group of homeless women with some pretty powerful visions. Throw in settings of old abandoned buildings, junkyards, and fireside campsites under the city bridge, add some paranormal elements and what you’ve got is a genre busting exceptional book that kept me up super late reading! Something to keep in mind…suspension of disbelief is needed in certain parts but I had absolutely no problem doing this, it actually increased my enjoyment. If you like mysteries and thrillers loaded with originality and memorable characters, I highly recommend Burntown.

Many thanks to Doubleday Books via Netgalley for my copy of Burntown. I’m happy to provide an honest review.

 

 

 

REVIEW: RAGDOLL By Daniel Cole

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Goodreads
Published April 4, 2017 by Ecco 

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move? 

******
 This is one fun serial killer read! You might think that’s not possible with a story about a serial killer who stitches together body parts of victims and then taunts the police with a kill list and a timeframe for 6 more murders, but believe me it is. This debut novel is creative, original and full of eyebrow raising moments…see how I avoided saying “twisty” because lately when I see that term I often think the opposite and I want you to realize this book REALLY delivers on surprises.  In fact, there are things that the killer pulls off in this book that left me thinking ‘wow.’

The story begins with an action packed prologue in which the Cremation Killer is on trial for burning alive several victims. William “Wolf” Fawkes, who’s hunted the Cremation Killer and is convinced of his guilt,  is in attendance in the courtroom and when the verdict is read…to say chaos ensues is an understatement.

Jump to 4 years later and things are very different. Wolf is called to the scene of a murder in which the victim(s) body parts have been stitched together to make a complete grotesque figure. This little discovery is soon followed by the killer releasing a kill list…the names of the next 6 victims and the date they will die. Can you say suspense? Wolf and his colleagues, Emily Baxter, Simmons, Finley, and Edmunds set out to find the victims and catch a killer with the clock literally ticking!

One of the very best aspects of this book is the dark humor blended within tremendously snappy, realistic dialogue.  So many of the exchanges between the characters made me laugh and then in the next instance I’d be holding my breath as one more victim’s time looked to be running out. Speaking of time running out, the story is told in straightforward narration (yes!) with short chapters broken up by date and time which contributed to the relentless pace. What I especially liked was that many of the chapters ended in mini-cliffhangers which ensured that I was staying up late for one more chapter.

As I keep saying, this book is pure fun, but if you’re a die hard stickler for complete police procedural realism you might have some issues throughout. I didn’t for one second mind suspending my disbelief in places but some might.  When all was said and done, I thought the ending was perfect for the story and I’ll be waiting with fingers crossed that we haven’t seen the last of these characters.

If you’re looking for a well-written, truly unique, out of the box serial killer mystery look no further than Ragdoll! I think it’s going to be a huge success

Many thanks to my friend Amy at NovelGossip for sending me a copy of this fun read!

BLOG TOUR AND REVIEW: DEADLY GAME By Matt Johnson

I’m thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Matt Johnson’s Deadly Game which is available now in the UK and June 1 for the US. It’s published by the wonderful Orenda Books

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BLURB

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered. Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate. 

REVIEW: 

This is my first experience with Matt Johnson’s writing and I have to say I’m very impressed. I had every intention of reading Wicked Game, the first book in the Robert Finley series, but time has gotten away from me, life has intervened as it often does and I just couldn’t get to it, unfortunately. I say that because if you have the time you should really start with book 1 as I’m positive you’d get an even better feel for the characters and the ongoing story arc of Robert as well as who’s who in M15 and M16. Also, there’s definitely spoilers involved in this book as to who the “bad” guys were in book 1 as well as who got killed etc. So, that begs the question…how did I do with jumping in with book 2?

In all honesty, it took me awhile, maybe 50 or so pages to get a handle on the storyline, characters, plot direction etc but that isn’t the fault of the author at all, it was simply a matter of me not having read book 1 and also trying to get my bearings on the many terms and positions of a criminal justice system in another country. There’s a lot to get a handle on as I thought the details involving M15, M16, SAS, Operation Cyclone, etc were heavy, yet completely authentic. Obviously, Matt Johnson’s background as an ex-cop and soldier play heavily in the plot and it was all the more realistic for it. At one point, it reminded me so much of an episode of Homeland that I realized I REALLY better pay careful attention to plot details or, as often happens to me when I’m watching Homeland, I’ll find myself completely lost.

I feel that the blurb does a good job of giving you an idea of the story so I’d like to talk about some of the story elements I thought worked so well to create this action thriller that I think will really appeal to fans of political jigsaw puzzles:

  • The characters – the author managed to create multidimensional, realistic characters, many of whom I liked (Robert, Kevin, Lynn, Jenny) and MANY I just had a suspicious feeling I couldn’t trust (Toni, Howard…well just about everyone else:)
  • The dialogue – Can I just say…excellent! I can’t imagine how hard it must be to create dialogue in a thriller that needs to instill a sense a urgency, fear, anger, all the while being completely realistic.
  • Narrative structure – The plot follows a fairly linear timeline (which I appreciate) starting in Romania in 1999 then continuing on in the early 2000s in London with action packed jumps to places like Egypt! It’s narrated for the most part by Robert with occasional chapters from other people’s perspectives which I thought worked perfectly to keep the pace flowing as well as keeping me on my toes as to who was (possibly) telling the truth or lying.
  • Relevant, disturbing storyline – I always appreciate when I can learn something as well as be entertained from a book I read and (sadly) I learned so much about sex trafficking I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading the book. So heartbreaking and anger producing and you just know when you’re reading that Matt Johnson knows what he’s writing about. I had no idea and it was shocking to say the least.

If you enjoy political action thrillers ala Homeland I think you’ll find much to enjoy in Matt Johnson’s Deadly Game

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About Matt Johnson: 

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result.

 

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