Book Review: Thriller & Suspense

Book Review: Dark Visions by Dan Alatorre (with Robbie Cheadle and others)

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Dark Visions: an anthology of 34 horror stories from 27 authors: Volume 2 (The Box Under The Bed)Dark Visions: an anthology of 34 horror stories from 27 authors: Volume 2 by Dan Alatorre (Author), Allison Maruska (Author), Jenifer Ruff (Author), Adele Marie Park (Author),

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Today launched an anthology of ~30 horror stories from multiple authors in a collection called Dark Visions, the second in the Box Under the Bed volume. Although it was edited / Arranged by Dan Alatorre, I was given a heads up by a blogger who I follow named Robbie Cheadle. Robbie and her son write children’s books for the Sir Chocolate series, which I’ve read and reviewed, as well as promoted on my blog — they are fantastic and deserve a lot of praise and attention. When Robbie mentioned she’d written a few darker stories, I jumped on it. I knew she’d written other works, but I wasn’t familiar with them. Now I am as she has two in this wonderful collection. As I skimmed the table of contents, I found 4 other authors who blog that I’ve followed over the last year. How fun is that!

I read all of the stories / poems. They range from 2 pages to about 20 pages, and the entire collection is probably around the 250 page mark. From light spooky stories to much darker, its range is strong and inviting. Nothing is so scary that you’ll run in fear, but there’s a lot beyond subtle to find tantalizing. I do like this type of fiction, so it was a good fit for me. There’s also hardly any gore (none I can actually remember, but taste in this subject can be subjective and personal). It’s more about pushing the envelope with the air of mystery, the hint of suspense, and the suggestion of something very bad or impacting occurring.

I won’t point out any favorites since there’s a lot to cover, but I will highlight Robbie’s pieces because I do think she deserves the attention. The first is called “The Haunting of William Cheadle” which makes you wonder… which family member is she trying to spook? An early line: ‘it’s sticky, like blood.’ There’s a housekeeper I pictured as a certain character from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca who keeps someone in line. It’s all covered in a fine dose of murky and sinister fog… which makes for a very eerie and cool story. The other, The Willow Tree, my favorite kind, involves a doctor… something found in a bag… the tree… and a lot more I can’t tell you! But it’s enough to make you want to read more from Cheadle in this genre.

So… if you’re looking for a few traditional and some non-traditional spooky stories, an opportunity to sample different writers and styles, or a collection of short works to read throughout the next few weeks when the nights get shorts and darker, the ghosts come out to haunt us, and the season turns rather chilly, you’ve found a great place to start!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: A Very Mersey Murder by Brian L. Porter

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A Very Mersey Murder (Mersey Murder Mysteries Book 5)A Very Mersey Murder by Brian L. Porter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One thing’s for sure, I’m a fan of mystery series. When I find a new one I like, such as the Mersey Murder Mysteries, I have to devour them all. I usually read in order, but I found this one after several books had been published, so now I’m backtracking to catch up before #6 comes out soon. Today, I’m reviewing A Very Mersey Murder by Brian L. Porter.

The series focuses on a core group of British policemen and policewomen who handle special crimes–usually ones with complexity and longevity. In this edition, the first series of crimes happen in 1966 when three women were brutally attacked and killed. We read in the first few chapters what happens to one of the victims after she leaves a pub to walk home in a very quiet town. It’s not so quiet anymore. Then we jump 39 years later to when the murders start happening again in the same exact method and order. If what happened in the past rings true again, the third victim will be a policewoman. Will one of our beloved Mersey heroines say a final goodbye? Add in a few chapters where someone in the current time frame has found the killer’s old journal… and shares a little about the creepy nut’s imagination and emotional state. Is it the killer reading from the journal, or just someone else who found it? You’ll never guess until the very end!

Of the three I’ve read, this is by far my favorite in the series. Porter adeptly creates a believable and charismatic set of characters who work together to solve major crimes. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they bond. But they always try to find the killer in as little time as possible. When we meet some of the victims and her friends, colleagues and acquaintances, we feel a connection to the story and the lives being impacted by the crime. Add in some side stories with adoption, illegitimate children, gender identity issues, unrequited love, and friendship, the entire book is so well-rounded, I found it hard to put down.

At times, Porter’s story is visceral and graphic, but also tasteful. Some readers may shy away from the gory details and delicate topics being covered, but if you can handle them, you’ll be thrilled with how this comes together. Just when you think you’ve figured out who the culprit could be 39 years ago and who it is today, you’re thrown another curveball. Up until the very end, you’re not sure if it’s the same person, two different relatives, a copycat, or just a random series of events. That’s good writing, plot development, and suspense!

I encourage everyone to read Porter’s books, but I must say… I’m old-school and traditional — read them in order so you can cherish and enjoy all the little nuggets along the way. It’s not necessary, as each is a standalone mystery novel, but you’ll get to know the characters even better if you see them age and understand their relationships. Regardless, they’re well-drawn, complicated, and full of life. You know their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Kudos to Porter for continuing to push his readers and deliver quality story with powerful messages and imagery. And if you just want a standalone murder mystery, this will still be a fantastic one to enjoy.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Suspects – A Northwest Murder Mystery by Ken Haynes

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I won Suspects: A Northwest Murder Mystery written in 2017 by Ted Haynes through a Goodreads Giveaway contest. It’s a mystery / suspense thriller written in a very methodical manner and focusing on different characters in alternating chapters.

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Candy’s husband is found nearly dead on their back porch. Friend and neighbor Dan had stopped by but he finds Ken with a wound and is uncertain how it happened. Hours later, Ken dies and both Candy and Dan are suspects. As chapters proceed, we hear from members of Dan’s family, the police, and a few other characters. Each character attempts to tell us what they know and clarify if they’re a suspect. Dan, a lawyer but not the criminal kinda, presents as many potential suspects as possible to clear both him and Candy of the crime. As the book progresses, we learn more about the deceased’s life and former family, as well as who actually killed him. There’s a small love/romance story woven in the pages, and there’s a good twist in the end, too.

This is written in a very different manner than I’m used to. It’s procedural, almost explained as someone thinks or talks. There’s narrative and dialog, as well as side stories about different things going on in everyone’s lives, but it’s an atypical read for me. That said, parts were fantastic. Others were a little light or weak for me. But on the whole, it deserves a solid 4 stars. I liked Dan and suspected him of being a misleading narrator, but in the end, I realized why he acted the way he did. I won’t give away if he’s the murderer or not, but he’s a likable guy.

I’m curious to see what else the author publishes and if it’s as procedural as this, meaning it’s his style, or this was done as a one-time style opportunity. I’m glad I took a chance. It has a lot of potential.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: River Bones by Mary Deal

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Author Mary Deal is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. River Bones is the third book I’ve read of hers, and it proves why she’s such a reachable and readable writer. As the first book in her Sara Mason series, River Bones is a fantastic debut offering strong characters, dastardly plots, beautiful scenery, and tangible imagery.

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Somewhere between a thriller and a classic murder mystery, it offers all the suspenseful and horrible actions of a twisted serial killer without a focus on detailed gore. There’s a fine balance in her words conjuring up just enough gruesome thoughts without actually reading about all the blood and torture. Don’t get me wrong… I love a good horror thriller, but if you’re looking for something in between, this is a great option.

Sara’s come home for the first time in about 25 years. Her family was killed in an awful car accident / drowning when she was a young girl. Raised by a distant relative or sorts, she stuck around long enough to grow up but then left the country. She’s called back for a few reasons and buys a large Victorian supposedly haunted. She meets a previous owner, connects with former classmates and begins to re-build a life. Then she starts finding the bodies. Each one is buried with a pet. What’s the significance? A serial killer’s past life seems to come spiraling back to town, but they’re all old murders. Until a new one occurs. Why? What has Sara unearthed and why is she his/her next victim?

What I like most about Deal’s work is how easy-to-read yet complex her novels are. The language and writing style is perfect, not simple but not overly flowery or excessive. She describes the scenes and characters with out to give you a good image, then moves on. Sometimes you learn about the town or the person’s past even though it’s not part of the actual mystery, but it adds to the creation of ambiance and setting without misguiding or boring you. It’s always a wonderful balance of drama and good story, dialog and narration, history and thought.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this novel was the character struck by lightning. He died for a minute but came back to life years ago. Something’s just still a little off with him. Enough to be the killer or a shining knight? I definitely recommend picking up any of the books I’ve read Deal has written, but I’ll be tackling a few more in the next couple of months, too. She’s been a great find and I look forward to hearing all about her next novel.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Weight of Shadows by Karl Holton

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To start with, isn’t the title fantastic? The cover also caught my eye, but once I read the description, I found myself more than intrigued. To end with, yep, it lived up to its hype. Kudos to the author for delivering a well-rounded, complex, and clever web of characters and multiple plots. It’s hard to categorize this in only one genre. There’s suspense and thrills… a bit of horror, fundamental crime detection, family drama, mystery, and international spy-like intrigue.

Holton’s created a strong plot that keeps readers wondering in the first third how it will all intersect. With around 20 characters sharing the spotlight, we grow quite curious who knows who, which one will die, who is being honest, and how it will surprise us. I like how it alternates across various parts of the world, but it also all takes place in less than a week — barely 5 days.

Starting with the first chapter when a serial killer scares the heck out of us… we really don’t know what she did to the detective until much later, and even then, I’m still guessing — just like that ending! Wow… a cliffhanger to keep us coming back for more. And that’s a good thing since there’s a second book in the series within the next year.

Between 4 and 4.5 stars! Big thanks to Holton for merging a lot of different styles and approaches in his debut work. It gives you a different sort of appeal not dissimilar to major international thrillers by famous authors we’ve seen and read before. I’m curious to take on the next one soon.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Mersey Killing by Brian L. Porter

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Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to download the fourth book in the Mersey Murder Mysteries by Brian L. Porter. I enjoyed the book a great deal, and so, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning of the series and read them in order, starting with A Mersey Killing: When Liverpool Rocked, And The Music Died. Porter has kicked off a fantastic collection of novels involving the various detectives and police beginning with Detective Inspector Andy Ross and Sergeant Izzie Drake. If you’re a fan of British crime fiction and methodical investigation, you’re sure to love these books.

In this series debut, a body is found in the Mersey River. It’s often difficult to obtain clues when the water can wash away evidence, but what about if the body has been there for over 35 years? Izzie and Ross have their work cut out for them, but as readers, we’re privileged to know a little bit more. Porter’s weaved alternating time periods in this story by showing us what happened in the past to a group of Liverpool musicians in the 1960s. As we get to know about 6 to 8 talents, we wonder… which one falls prey to a killer? As the story unfolds, we learn who it is, but there’s also someone else missing, too. Did they escape to America to form a band? Are they hiding out from someone dangerous? Izzie and Ross solve the case but not before tearing apart a family who’s been devastated one too many times in the past.

Porter’s a definite talent. While his books are mysteries with a touch of suspense, love and thrills, they often wisely focus on the relationships between characters as the catalyst to drive the story. Whether it’s getting to know the current day investigators, the past musicians, or who they’ve all become today, the plot and writing forces readers to care about what’s happening to everyone. We see them going thru their days on all levels — sometimes focused on the investigation, sometimes dealing with a personal issue. As the stories all begin to intersect, we begin to develop our own instincts as to who’s guilty of murder and who’s guilty of leading us astray.

Porter’s style is very strong, clear and direct. His main investigator team works with different departments to determine the murder weapon, to check passports from 35 years ago, and to learn how to interpret clues that no longer make sense. We see the leads meet with their colleagues and form their own opinions, but hold back a bit of reserve knowing they haven’t unearthed everything they still need to know. And when it all comes to a crashing finale, we worry whether the punishment fits the crime. That’s the sign of a good storyteller — to make us think critically.

Kudos to Porter for proving why building the right characters and setting can lead to a very promising and worthy book series. I’m looking forward to picking up the next one this fall… and getting invested in a series with 5 books already in the author’s pocket. I’m sure there will be more just as sure as I am that I’ll love them all!

 

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Escape into the Blue by Bibiana Krall

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I’m an ardent fan of suspense and multi-book series. When the debut novel, Escape into the Blue A suspense thriller, from the Sophia series published in 2015 by Bibiana Krall, crossed my desk, I needed to give it a chance. What an intense ride!

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The novel is a slow-burner until it’s NOT… Sophia is on a plane seemingly only to escape some drama going on in her life. She’s been hurt physically somehow, but also emotionally. We don’t know why. An escape into the blue sounds amazing, right? Unfortunately, this girl seems to be a magnet for trouble. When she arrives in her destination, things begin to get a little aggressive. It doesn’t happen right away, but by midway in the book, she’s become attached to a few men who aren’t very good for her. And by ‘aren’t very good,’ I mean…. does she want to live or die?

Anger, love, violence, threats, and so much more ensure in the coming days and weeks. Paradise is never quite paradise, it it? Krall is very talented in describing scenes and settings. You will feel like you’re there down to every small detail. Her vocabulary is top-notch and offers a wonderful approach to feeling words transcend off the page.

Her characters are flawed, and while I can’t say I particularly loved any of them, it’s only because so much dimension was added to them that it makes you really wonder… does this really happen to people? And if it does, how would you handle dealing with it? I’m sure the answer is yes… and it’s quite a difficult life. Sophia is a survivor, and knowing this was a series, I knew she’d make it out. But the harm that came with it… wow. Poor girl needs a break. Krall likes to torture but find redemption and safety. Good approach!

Kudos to Krall for showing how mastering the right words and descriptions can make the difference in a story. From the cover, you’ll think beauty and peace. From the action, you’ll be far from it. I’m curious to see what else might happen to this courageous and dynamic woman… but I guess we’ll have to wait until the next book is released. If you’re looking for a character and action-driven story, this is one to check out. You’ll feel surrounded exactly as Sophia is, but there are other points of view in the book to take notice of, too… so get ready for a wild ride… a few lessons in how to pack a punch into your words, and some unexpected consequences.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.