serial killer

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 Last Precinct

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The Last Precinct Book Review
4 out of 5 stars to The Last Precinct, the 11th book in the “Kay Scarpetta” mystery thriller series, written in 2000 by Patricia Cornwell. I really enjoyed this book as the complexity and the psychology of the killer was top-notch. Each chapter builds on the last, and in some ways, these books keep revisiting decisions and clues from previous book… so it gets quite explosive and intense. In this one, Scarpetta needs a break from the last case where she was battered and bruised. But when she relies on a friend to help, she learns the friend is part of a trial against Scarpetta, forced into it due to circumstances pointing to Scarpetta possibly going rogue. Jamie Berger, the DA gets more involved, and we start this love/hate relationship with all the characters. This is definitely not a stand-alone book to read, you need to have read the rest of the series. It has a lot of great plot twists and characters, but it also takes a lot of energy out of you to pay attention and believe what’s happening. I still liked it and was glad to see the growth in this one… tho it started to go down hill again afterwards in future books. If you enjoy the series, you will love this book. If not, don’t pick it up here!

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: Book of the Dead

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Book of the Dead Book Review
3+ of 5 stars for Book of the Dead, the 15th book in the “Kay Scarpetta” thriller series, written in 2007 by Patricia Cornwell. When I saw the title and read the description, I had very high expectations of this book. I really enjoy the series and hoped it would explore a bit of the occult side, perhaps venturing a little into historical Egyptian themes like the movie “The Mummy,” which I love. I won’t spoil anything, but it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Still a decent book in the series, and worth a read for a fan of Scarpetta, it was not without issues. Another psycho from Kay’s past pops up. Another weird murder with ties to a victim in Rome and a small boy in Charleston, South Carolina. Too many coincidences for me. That said, the detail is great. The investigation is strong. The mystery is OK. But it was too formulaic for me. Characters are always memorable, and Cornwell does a great job at showing the crazed personalities of these serial killers. Trying to come up with new material is not easy and I do give her credit. Has the usual cast of characters… not sure what I think of Benton anymore. I kinda want him to be written out… again… since he came back from the dead at one point. Sensing a theme? :O

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: Be My Killer

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Be My Killer3 out of 5 stars to Be My Killer, a mystery and thriller novel set to release on May 26th, 2017, by Richard Parker. It appears this is Parker’s first novel, and for a debut, he shows a lot of potential. I’m curious to see what else he publishes. On to the review…

Why This Book
NetGalley has become my new go-to for selection of ARCs to read and review. But this time, I happen to see this book on my friend Bentley’s list of Goodreads’ books, and I thought it sounded really interesting. I requested it via NetGalley and was awarded it that day. It was the next book on my list due to be published, which meant I had to squeeze it in this week. Oh, deadlines… Many thanks to the author, NetGalley and the publisher, Bookouture, for the advanced copy in lieu of a fair and honest review.

Overview of Story
A killer is on the loose, propelled by a new Twitter handle called “@BeMyKiller,” in which people can suggest names of who should be killed, as well as a witty response to taunt the killer into choosing them. It was only a fun game one man created, but someone took it to heart and killed 3 people in the exact manner suggested on Twitter. The families of the victims are out for blood, but the man who created the Twitter handle has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Enter Hazel, an indie film producer fresh off a prestigious award, looking for her next big break. She’s pulled together a crew to interview the family of the last victim, Meredith; however, Hazel is the only person who believes the same killer murdered all the victims, and possibly a 4th and a 5th, which the police are still investigating. As she heads to the sacred ground where Meredith was brutally murdered, Hazel interviews all the families, as well as the guy who created the Twitter handle. Things start getting out of control when people threaten to kill him, but along the path, people’s true personalities and hidden agendas begin coming to the surface. Over the course of 4 or 5 days, one by one, each member of the crew or victim’s families begin disappearing. The killer is knocking them off for some mysterious reasons. As the story comes to an end, there are only 4 or 5 people left and they begin to realize the others haven’t just disappeared (no bodies were ever found until the very end). It all comes to an explosive conclusion in the final chapters when the killer is revealed and Hazel takes a stand to save and protect those who still remain.

Approach & Style
The book is told in the past tense via an omniscient third party narrator, watching over each of the characters as they are brutally murdered. The point of view is consistent, but there is some mystery as you don’t always know which character is being tracked by the killer. Pronouns are often used in lieu of him or her, especially when the victim realizes they are about to die and knows who the killer is — the author doesn’t want to give it away, so “they” is quite frequent. It got a little confusing in the beginning, but then you realize you have to go with it, based on how the story is told. It takes place in a small New England town, though the murders happened all over the country, and possibly one in Europe.

I read this on my iPad Kindle reader. Chapters are very short, and even though the book is roughly 300 pages, there is a lot of white space on the screen due to the break in each of the scenes. As a result, it’s much shorter, and only took me about 4 hours to read over the course of 2 days.

Strengths
1. For a thriller novel, it’s full of suspense and the fear-factor. Given the way the story is told, and the writing style, it has the creep-factor. It almost feels like you are the camera person, following the people and watching the murders happen, but you can’t do anything about it. It’s also very descriptive and creative in the ways each of the characters die. I love me some horror, but this was very intricate. I felt the pain and shook / squirmed a few times, thinking about the vicious torture the attacker inflicted on “their” victims. Just to give you a flavor of the torture, one of the Twitter followers suggested her brother be killed, the brother responded “Sure, take a piece of me.” Well… the killer basically gutted him, chopped him up while he was still alive, into little pieces, and filmed the whole thing for the family to watch. What?????

2. I love when books kill characters one by one, keeping you guessing who is behind it the whole time. This book does well in that capacity. I also am fascinated by the premise of a Twitter stalker who kills people based on suggestions from various followers. It makes for a fun read and makes me a little leary to respond to people I don’t know on social media!

3. The characters are strong and real. I didn’t like many of them, mostly because they are all spineless jerks who hide behind the walls of the internet. The families of the victims also seemed to be using the death of their loved one as a way to help promote their own objectives. The film crew felt dirty and seedy, given what they were doing and how they treated each other, but it also felt a bit realistic in how this would play out — as far as the exploitation part.

Open Questions & Concerns
1. The cops seemed way too easy-going about the whole film production setting up in the murder spot. They were missing throughout most of the book, which felt too convenient just to keep the murders happening one by one.

2. I am not sure I believe the FBI couldn’t track the killer down through technology. I suppose the killer may not have had his/her own Twitter profiles, and looked at victims thru other means… but it felt like no one had a clue what was going on in that investigation.

3. I didn’t care for the ending. It was a surprise, and it made sense; however, it felt like it came a little too far from nowhere. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stop there. Key thing to convey is… if you want a truly tidied up, complex and shocking ending, this wasn’t it. It definitely was surprising, but I wanted more in terms of the “why.” It does make up for the disappointment in the reasoning with a fantastic hide and seek scene in an amusement park.

Author & Other Similar Books
Tough one… I think it’s the author’s first book, so not much to say here. I am in no way, shape or form comparing him or the book to Agatha Christie; however, the concept of “one by one they die” was very similar to her novel, And Then There Were None.

Final Thoughts
I liked the author’s style and the topics in the book. I wasn’t a fan of the pronoun usage and think there could have been a better method to accomplishing the mystery goal. Overall, I’d definitely try another book by the author as it had a good amount of suspense, some horrific gore and kept my attention the entire time.

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: Catching Fire

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Catching Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins   My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every so often, I select a Young Adult book to read. After I read the Hunger Games, I had to finish the trilogy… I mean, how could you not, right?

Let’s back up a bit… I love challenges. I am totally in my element watching serial killers on TV shows. (Umm… I didn’t mean that in a sociopath-kinda way… I just mean the thrill of trying to guess who the killer is and who’s gonna go next is the fun part… make believe… not real… I’m honestly not a serial killer… wait wouldn’t a serial killer say that… oh, I’m screwed here.)

And my favorite book of all time is “And Then There Were None.” But the first thing I saw was “Battle Royale” years ago… what an amazing movie. It’s total cheesy fun, but I could watch it anytime… ok, I’m off topic. The point is… there is something about knocking people off one by one until you’re left with only 1 possible person… and the winner is… THAT is a fun book.

So I had to read The Hunger Games. But OMG, when book 2 came out and Peeta and Katniss where back in the contest, I think I died and went to… not exactly heaven, as that would be WEIRD.

She’d already been through so much. And I couldn’t take the stress of guessing which character would go and in what horrific way. My reaction was like:

OK… now that the hysterics and humor are done… I really, really liked this book. And if it wasn’t already done in the first edition, I would have given this a 5… but I wasn’t keen on the ending and so I had to go with a 4 for this one.

I am normally a fan of the bad boy/girl winning the hero’s or heroine’s heart, and as much as the movies may have tried to change my mind… Peeta seemed destined to be with Katniss in the books. And I was good with that. We all need someone to bake for us, right?

Losing Mags and Rue was awful. But the imagination in these books is incredible. And the push/pull in every direction… so good. This is is how I felt:

I recommend reading the series. It may totally be commercial young adult fiction, but if it gets you to read, it’s a good thing. And it’s full of moral lessons and a challenge to think critically about life.

All around… I think it’s a must read!

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