Murder

Book Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

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3 out of 5 stars to Hidden Bodies, the second book in a thriller and suspense series by Caroline Kepnes.

hidden

Last month, my buddy Medhat suggested a read of You, the first novel in the series. It was such a fantastic book, probably in my top 2 of 2017 to date, that I had to continue reading the series. I’ve heard rumors there will be a third book, but I’ve yet to see it confirmed. I need to check on that! I am also completely excited as Lifetime is turning the books into a television series. I can’t wait… but until then, let’s get on with the review of this second book. While I enjoyed several parts of it, it doesn’t hold a candle to the first book and I’ll explain why below.

Plot, Characters & Setting
When we left off at the end of [book:You|20821614], our protagonist/villain, Joe, completed his vicious cycle of crossing many lines and breaking tons of laws in NYC all in the name of love, also known to most people as stalking your prey. Yet he escaped without anyone knowing of his crimes and found himself falling in love with a new potential victim, Amy Adam. Joe begins trusting Amy, realizing she’s a much-improved version of his last girlfriend, Beck. Amy begins pushing him for a key to his bookstore, which we all know from reading the first book contains a few secrets Joe would prefer stay buried, like some bodies. He hides everything as much as he possibly can, caving in to his girlfriend in order to hold on to her. When he arrives for work a few days later, the place has been robbed and Amy is missing. Did she do it? Was she kidnapped as payback for his prior crimes? What does she know? You’ll find out… he finds a lead that shows she may be in Los Angeles. Joe quits his job and moves cross-country, where he meets an interesting cast of characters in his typical LA apartment. He negotiates/manipulates his way into working closely with a few Hollywood type agents and producers, finding himself falling in love with a new woman, coincidentally named Love.

Love is perfect for Joe. She adores him. And he soon forgets about Amy. All seems well for a short period of time. But he keeps worrying about the one piece of evidence of his former crimes back in Rhode Island… and it drives him nearly insane, especially when the case is re-opened. He knows he has to find a way to retrieve it without anyone seeing him in the victim’s house. Unfortunately, he’s distracted by Delilah, one of the women in his apartment complex who has the hots for him. And then there’s a cop who has taken a dislike to Joe, tailing him at different parts of the day while Joe is trying to tie up loose ends. But it’s when Love’s ex-boyfriend and her brother monopolize all of Love’s time, Joe goes off the rails. As he begins to unwind, adding more and more crimes to his list in order to cover up the past and protect himself from losing Love, Joe finds himself getting careless. It all comes crashing down in the last few chapters of the book, ending at a place where it’s very clear, a third book is necessary. Readers will not be OK with this ending, as it opens more holes than the one’s Joe’s already had to dig for each of his hidden bodies.

Approach & Style
Whereas in the first book, Joe talks to the readers almost as if they are Beck, it’s quite different in this second book. It’s still told in first person with the perspective only on Joe throughout the whole story; however, there’s no concept of “you” this time around. It works just as well, given the title is no longer “You,” which means alternative progression is an expected path.

I read a large-sized soft-cover book with ~430 pages. There are 56 chapters, so each one is less than 8 pages long on average. It took me 4 days over the course of a week, as I couldn’t read each day; in total, probably about 6 hours. Some sections are a bit slow-paced while others are ultimate page-turners where you probably skip every fifth word just to see more quickly what’s happening.

Strengths
Kepnes can certainly dream up extremely aggravating and realistic characters. Everyone she incorporates feels like someone I’ve met before, and at times, I wish I could be Joe and punish them for the things they say and do. But I’m a good guy and I don’t commit many crimes. I mean any crimes.

When she’s on point with a dramatic scene, the plot and action is amazing. A few scenes were just as good as the initial book, especially when Joe is dealing with Delilah and the cop. It’s almost like we never left the first book.

Love is a really multi-dimensional woman; she has moments of brilliance followed by sheer silliness. I want her to be with Joe, but sometimes, she seems too good for him.

The settings are crystal clear for the most part. I can always tell where we are and whether it’s gonna be a safe zone or all hands to the battle field.

Concerns
It was such a let-down from the first book. Joe became weak. I didn’t buy his drama. He seemed to cause problems for the sake of causing problems. He had the girl. But he let himself get caught up in other areas, ones that made him a true criminal and not a man in love. That’s where he becomes a bad stalker. In the first book, he loved the girl so much, you could see why he did the things he did. This time, I struggled connecting with his motivation. He became every other evil antagonist, rather than the guy you wanted to root for.

The ending gets closer to the original strength, but not all the way. I was pleasantly surprised when the last 100 or so pages took the story in quite a different and unexpected direction, but it wasn’t enough to turn the book around for me. If this were the only book I read, and I didn’t know much about the original plot, it wouldn’t have been a book I’d recommend to friends. And that’s sad because Joe is an amazing villain. I toyed with giving this less than 3 stars but I know that is mostly the disappointment in ruining a good character. It’s redeemable in a third book, so I will have faith things get better.

Final Thoughts
The story is still good. It’s got major problems with his constant quest for sex, which is just an overused plot component in this book. Pull that out. Take out the section where he turns into a whiny mess. And maybe give him a few more close calls, and we’re back in the game.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: A Likely Story

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A Likely Story3 out of 5 stars to A Likely Story, the 6th book in the “Library Lover’s Mystery” series, written in 2015 by Jenn McKinlay. A good continuance in the cozy series and a quick read. Basic, but fun. Fans will enjoy it, but seemed a tad bit shorter and less complex than usual. I’ve been reading lots of NetGalley approved thriller and suspense requests lately, which meant I needed something lighter for a few days. I’m a fan of Ms. McKinlay and had purchased a few of her books last month to insert between electronic-reads. It was time and I’d missed this series a bit. I am only 1 book behind now!



Plot, Characters & Setting


Lindsey, Briar Creek’s town librarian, has taken a boat with Sully, her on-again / off-again boyfriends, to drop some books off for the reclusive Rosen brothers. Stewart and Peter, in their 70s, have lived on a small island off shore for their whole lives, but rarely come off or let anyone else on. Lindsey is one of their exceptions in this small Connecticut town. When she arrives, Stewart doesn’t greet her at the dock and she’s forced to walk up to the house. Unfortunately, the pathway is always booby-trapped, so she and Sully have to be careful to avoid the traps the Rosens have set for all other guests. When they arrive, poor Peter Rosen has been shot dead and Stewart is missing. They notice the Rosen boat, which had been docked just outside, was now missing. Did Stewart kill his brother and run off, or did he escape from an unknown killer? The cops investigate. Lindsey tries to figure it out on her own, as usual.

Along the path, she meets an older woman determined to buy up all the houses on the surrounding islands. Lindsey wonders what’s lurking beneath the surface besides investment properties. She encounters two antique dealers from half way across the country, who claim to be there at Peter’s request to help sell some of the belongings. But Lindsey knows them as hoarders with money, so she isn’t buying it. As she investigates, her friends join in the fun and danger. Lindsey makes some enemies, but she’s asked to help by the lead cop who was injured in one of the booby traps. And as Lindsey’s searching the house, someone breaks in and captures Lindsey and Sully. Who is this person and what is going on in the Rosen household?

Lindsey of course solves the case, although she’s almost shot in this one. A few new family members show up, the mystery of the old houses on the island comes out and Lindsey makes a decision between Sully and Robbie, who is also back from NYC with some interesting news about changes going in on his life. What’s a girl to do? Besides help Beth through her new romance and Mary and Ian when something new pops up in their lives, too. All in good fun, Lindsey says… but she wants a break, too!



Approach & Style


I read the paperback version, which was about 300 pages long. It had some recipes, some commentary and a new short story from the author, which took up another 50 pages.

Similar to other books in the series, it’s narrated by a third person with perspective set only on Lindsey. Minimal violence. Nothing overtly sexual other than a little light kissing between some characters.

Took me less than 3 hours to read over the course of 2 days. Finished it more quickly than usual, probably due to it having less characters than previous ones.



Strengths


Lindsey is a likable protagonist. She’s not too simple or silly. She’s not too dramatic or controlling. She seems like your average everyday gal who gets thrust into murder. Between her friends and her colleagues at the library, you get a bunch of side-stories that always make you laugh and feel connected with her as a character. I enjoy her relationship with Milton, and in this book, things with Ms. Cole take a new turn. The plot of the mystery, once it unwinds, is good. It has some family drama and other connections to the past which were a nice highlight. There’s a suspenseful chase scene in the house with the criminal at one point where I kept turning the pages as I really thought Lindsey was either gonna catch him or get killed!



Concerns


Lindsey still seems caught up between Robbie and Sully. I’m a Robbie fan. But she’s leaning towards Sully in this one. And just as it appears she made a choice between them, news comes in at the end of the book which could change everything. I’d really like her to make a choice and stick with it for a few books, letting the other character go for a while, so we have an opportunity for a little change.

While the plot had some good parts to it, it seemed to grow more complicated only near the end. The first half of the book was very light and at times, I wasn’t very excited over what happened other than the fact one of the brothers was missing and could be alive/dead or the killer/victim. That kept me going, but I think the other characters should have been more prominent to make this more complex and intriguing.



Questions & Final Thoughts


It was a good read. Nothing extraordinary, nothing bad. I enjoyed it. I’ll keep reading the series. The 7th book has been out in hardback for a few months, but I’ll wait until November until the paperback release. Not in any rush. I may switch over to another of her series about hats and murders in London.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

View all my reviews

Review: No Turning Back

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No Turning Back4 out of 5 stars to No Turning Back, a thriller and suspense novel released on June 15, 2017 by Tracy Buchanan. Many thanks to the author and to the publisher, Crooked Lane (thanks, Sarah!) for suggesting this book and sending it to me. I enjoyed the read and am excited to draft this review.



Why This Book


I love thriller and suspense novels. I’ve been very active on Goodreads and NetGalley for the last 4 months. Suddenly, the publisher reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in reading an advanced copy of the book. I read the description, which sounded fantastic, and I quickly said “Yes, please. And keep ’em coming!”



Plot, Characters & Setting


Anna, a young woman in her late 20s, has been a stay-at-home mom for the last six months six giving birth to her daughter Joni. Anna and her husband Guy are in the middle of a divorce and she’s staying at a separate cottage on the beach near their hometown in England. After returning to work as a radio show host where she provides advice and talks about current events, Anna realizes things are starting to change around her more quickly than she can adapt to. Her mother has been quite distant since Anna’s father committed suicide more than a decade earlier. Her brother Leo has grown more arrogant and difficult. Anna really only has some friends and her grandmother to look out for her. As she’s walking on the beach with Joni in a carriage one evening, a 15-year-old boy runs at her with a knife, appearing to want to kill her. Anna defends herself and Joni, accidentally killing the teenager.

Given it’s a small town, news travels fast. She’s quickly revealed as the woman on the beach who killed the young kid. Some people applaud her for protecting herself from a supposed drug addict. Others claim she is a murderess. The victim’s family claim their son was a good boy and Anna was just being vicious. Soon after, the Ophelia Killer, who murdered 5 or 6 boys nearly 20 years earlier, sends Anna an email, claiming (s)he’s back and is upset that Anna killed the boy who escaped from the killer’s clutches. Anna’s father had been investigating the killer before committing suicide, and it brings up difficult memories for her to accept. The killer is now after Anna, who took away his/her latest victim.

Over the course of a month, Anna befriends Jamie, the young boy’s brother. She’s unsure if he wants to harm her because she killed his brother, or protect her from the killer. Tensions escalate. More boys go missing. The cops suspect Anna or the boy’s family of being involved, or even being the Ophelia Killer. As evidence begins to pile up against Anna, her husband takes their daughter away, leaving Anna alone and frightened. But that’s exactly what the killer wants, and as Anna begins to unravel, she starts putting the puzzle together and figures out that someone close to her or her family is behind everything. Anna figures out how to stand up for herself, turning to her mother, grandmother, brother, husband and friends, but realizes in the end, someone has betrayed her. Now where does she turn?



Approach & Style


I read a physical copy of the book over 3 days, and it was 275 pages long. The story is told in the third person and generally follows Anna’s perspective. There are 6 or 7 small chapters, noted in italics, as conversations between the killer and his/her partner, but there are no dates, so readers don’t know if this is from the Ophelia Killer in the past, the same killer in the current time or a new copy-cat.

Chapters are about 10 to 12 pages long, easy to finish a few within an hour. The voice is consistent and straightforward. There is a lot of dialogue to keep the action going. It jumps a few days at a time in order to move the plot along, which sometimes creates a few areas of concern / confusion as to what happened during those periods. Nothing too uncomfortable.



Strengths


Anna is drawn very well. For the most part, you see her as the victim. Every so often, she says or does things where you wonder if perhaps there is a little bit of darkness to her. She’s likable, but she’s done a few things of concerns in the past. Her job plays an important role in the story, and we learn just enough to keep us focused without feeling burdened by too many details.

Other characters are believable. Her grandmother is a strong ally with a little bit of history and drama of her own. Anna’s mother is a recluse and often seems like perhaps she should have been institutionalized after her husband’s suicide, given some of her behavior and treatment of her children. But this works to an advantage in the story, as it provides more suspense and eerie moments throughout the novel.

The story of the Ophelia Killer, when it finally comes together, is quite well-crafted. I believe the events. I understand why the killer wanted to kill. It makes sense why things happened 20 years ago and why they happened again now. And the connection between the young boys and the people involved in the crime is quite complex and intriguing.



Concerns


Anna spends a little too much time talking to her infant daughter. It certainly helps create the bond and shows the love Anna has for someone else. But it was a tad repetitive and directionless in parts of the plot. It provided some angst during the custody negotiations with her husband, but some of that time could have been used with other characters to amp up the drama surrounding the mystery identify of the killer(s).

I’m not sure the secondary characters were used as much as they should have been in order to provide a more clear picture of what happened to everyone in the past. I understand it needs to be kept vague to throw suspicion on several different people and across different angles, but at times, it felt like too much was missing in order to feel connected to them. Not enough to worry me, but had this been a little tighter, the book would have felt even stronger.

As I don’t want to give away any spoilers, the relationships between Anna and her family members cannot truly be discussed in detail here. There’s a giant cloud over some events that happened in the past, which is important to the current plot. It adds to the suspense and mystery, but when everything came to light, I sort of felt a little displeased with how many discrepancies there were in people’s view points. After 20 years, I think some of the pieces would have come out much sooner. You’ll know what I mean when you read the book, but if I say much more, it’ll start to cross into the spoiler zone. For this reason, I hesitated between a 3 and 4 rating; however, it did keep me interested and the final outcome changed a few times in the matter of a couple of chapters, not easy to do under most circumstances.



Author & Other Similar Books


It’s a bit like Lisa Jewell’s “I Found You” or Michele Campbell’s “It’s Always the Husband,” in that there are events from 20 years ago which have a direct impact on what is happening today, but it is also different in that this is a serial killer. The title “No Turning Back” is very important to the story for many of the characters.

I haven’t read anything else by the author, but based on this book, I would definitely read another of her books. I’m thinking of giving “My Sister’s Secret” a chance.



Questions & Final Thoughts


I enjoyed the book. It contains a good plot, strong characters and lots of mystery. It’s not crazy earth-shattering with the reveal, but it definitely makes you think about how well you really know someone. People do the strangest things, and this book capitalizes on the “what if” scenario by showing all the challenges, fears and ideas that pain and murder bring out in someone. What would make you kill someone else? What’s the line of defense between an accident and fate? Where does revenge seem appropriate? It’s a good mystery and page-turner without being an intense roller-coaster ride. You can put it down, but you won’t want to let it go for more than a day before you feel drawn back to it… so when you take this one on, plan a 3-day read. You’ll want some time in between to give some consideration to all the suspects. And if you do figure it out, you won’t figure out why on your own… so there’s still a lot to look forward to.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: The Zoo Story

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The Zoo Story
The Zoo Story by Edward Albee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Review


4 out of 5 stars to The Zoo Story, written in 1959 by Edward Albee. If you haven’t read this story, you’ve missed out on something intense and truly spellbinding. It’s a classic American play staged on Broadway (and other places), but so few have probably read it these days. The story is amazing and not what what anyone would expect from the title, of even in general. Two men sit on a bench in Central Park. Uppity business man taking a break from his day. A man approaches, appears a bit like a vagabond. He wants to talk. The business man wants to ignore him. The vagabond asks useless and painful questions. The business man wants to walk away, but the vagabond tickles him. A fight ensues. Something bad happens. One man runs away. The other reflects on what he’s learned.

What a commentary on society. Forget age, gender, race or class. It’s a story about how different personalities handle conflict or friendship. Do you get close or stay distant? Do you listen or talk? Do you ignore or immerse? And when something bad happens, what kind of character do you have? Do you stay or go? Do you deny or admit? All the choices we make in life. Wrapped up into a little old play so many of us haven’t actually read or seen.

So what are you waiting for? Sure, it’s not a suspense novel (which I love). It’s a not a page-turning thriller (which I love). But the dialog is on point. And it should be read. So go now.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: P is for Peril

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P is for Peril Book Review
4 out of 5 stars to P is for Peril, the 16th book in the “Kinsey Millhone” mystery series, written in 2000 by Sue Grafton. What’s Kinsey to do when she has the possibility of taking a case for a recently missing doctor who has two wives? OK, well, he did divorce the first wife. But she desperately wants to find him. His second wife, a former stripper, doesn’t seem to think he’s still alive. Kinsey takes the case, deals with both of them, and tries to find a way to stay out of the middle of it. Except, Tommy, a hot younger guy is chasing after Kinsey, wanting to get much closer to her. Does she want to? He is her junior by close to a decade. She also doesn’t date much. A treat for fans as we don’t often see her in romantic situations. As usual, all is not what it seems. Grafton adds on a few humorous layers in this one, and it’s always a strong mystery when there are two wives involved in the investigation — should you really trust what’s on the surface or does Kinsey need to dig much deeper to solve this one? Spoiler Alert – she solves the case… haha, I’m sure you knew that… and she’s still alive at the end to move on to Q is for Quarry, one of the strongest in the series.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: N is for Noose

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N is for Noose Book Review
3.5 out of 5 stars to N is for Noose, the 14th book in the “Kinsey Millhone” cozy mystery series, written in 1998 by Sue Grafton. When one of your own dies, it’s hard enough. But when his widow begs for you to help solve the case, as she doesn’t think her husband died of natural causes, you’re in a tough spot. Especially when you have a feeling something dangerous is going on, your first instincts are always right. But Kinsey takes the case and soon finds herself embroiled in a very scary investigation. A noose is not a good way to die, and as much as she doesn’t want to find out, she will come awfully close in this one. The series is still going strong. Kinsey learns a lot along this path, as well as how to hide from the rest of the town when you are trying to help them out… they don’t seem to like her, even though she was on the same side as the poor detective who just bit the dust. But she always makes it thru, as we wouldn’t have an “O” is for Outlaw if she didn’t, right? Another good one to read in the series.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Blacklist

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BlacklistBook Review
4 out of 5 stars to Blacklist, the 11th book in the “V.I. Warshawski” thriller and mystery series, written in 2004 by Sara Paretsky. What a fantastic book! It had everything from murder to corporate espionage to communism. Spanning a history of nearly 50 years, the story puts VI in the most scary of situations, and it allows Paretsky to truly tell a tale of remarkable prominence. There are so many connections and seedy things happening, you’re not sure how to begin figuring it out. Plus there are two cases she’s got going on at once. Will they intersect? Something tells me they will… they always do. But I’m not going to spoil it for you. They might not actually come together. The best part of this book is Paretsky’s unyielding way of telling the truth and the reality of what’s happening all around us. I’m about 6 books behind on this series, at least a decade or so, and I can’t wait to catch up this summer. She’s always a treat.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews