Tag Archives: A Thriller

Obsession Most Fatal

A Fatal Obsession: A McCabe & Savage Thriller by James Hayman (Witness Impulse, $11.99, 368 pages)

a fatal obsession

A Fatal Obsession marks James Hayman’s sixth book in his McCabe & Savage series.  Once again, author Hayman provides his readers with a well-crafted thriller.  His mastery of language and plot lines smoothly intertwines the musings and actions of deranged killer Tyler Bradshaw with the advancement of the romantic relationship between Detective Sargent Michael McCabe and Investigator Maggie Savage, both of the Portland, Maine Police Department’s Crimes Against People unit.

Faithful readers of Hayman’s series will be sure to see the sharp contrast between a strong family that looks after its own and an abusive one that created a killing machine.  This time around McCabe employs his skill as a seasoned investigator and team builder to track down his brilliant, budding actress niece, Zoe McCabe, who has disappeared following the final performance of Othello at a New York City Lower East Side community theater.

The riveting prologue captures the reader’s attention and, if you’ll excuse the trite puns, sets the stage for a very bumpy ride.  McCabe and Savage complement each other’s styles in devising the hunt for Zoe.  Bradshaw cleverly demands unwavering attention through his brilliant deceptions as he spins a fantasy that escalates a killing spree of artistic young women.

Having nearly unlimited funds can lead to disaster.  Those who wish for such a life may not want to have paid the high price that cost Bradshaw a “normal” one.  Although he has a few redeeming qualities, they’re not enough by a large measure.

This is a highly recommended for mystery and thriller fans of all ages who enjoy reading stand-alones and series.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

A Fatal Obsession was released on August 21, 2018.

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Desert Kill

desert kill switch

Desert Kill Switch: Nostalgia City Mystery – Book #2 by Mark S. Bacon (Black Opal Books, $14.99, 286 pages)

In Desert Kill Switch, Lyle Deming, an ex-cop from Phoenix, serves as a security guard of sorts for Nostalgia City, a retro theme park that recreates small town life from the early 70s just outside of Reno.  Kate Sorenson is a marketing specialist who is in town on business related to Nostalgia City.

Lyle arrives on the scene of a brutal car accident in the desert, but by the time the police get to the scene the body is gone.  As the story unfolds, Kate is framed for the murder of Al Busick, a car dealer who puts hidden “kill switches” in cars as a means to collect money from customers who do not make their loan payments

Together, the ex-cop  and former female college basketball player go on a mission to solve the mystery, catch the true killer, and exonerate Kate.  It appears as if the motive has to do with a conspiracy to move a major music festival from Nostalgia City to Las Vegas.

The story hits the ground running and moves quickly, and the action and plot are solid from start to finish.  However, the character development is not as strong. For example, scenes with Kate’s current and soon-to-be ex-lover seem like they are included without much of a purpose.  (Desert Kill Switch is the second in the series of Nostalgia City novels, following Death in Nostalgia City.)  Perhaps some of those who read the initial book in the series will have a different opinion.

As Lyle and Kate take the law into their own hands, Lyle calls in favors from his former law enforcement partners, and Kate – who only masquerades as a journalist, morphs from a former athlete to Wonder Woman.

desert kill switch back

Desert Kill Switch is enjoyable but is, at 286 pages, a bit longer than necessary.  Not all of the many twists and turns work, and a brisker version of this thriller might have been just a touch more thrilling.  As it stands, this book is a solid, engaging read for those who enjoy this type of murder mystery.

Recommended.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Dave Moyer is a public school superintendent in Illinois who has never been to Reno, Nevada.

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Revolver

The Bullet PB

The Bullet: A Novel (Gallery Books, $16.00, 357 pages)

Caroline Cashion, an attractive middle-aged Georgetown professor, is happy in her solitude until she begins having pain in one of her hands. Medical tests reveal that she has a bullet lodged in her neck, near her brain. It turns out that she was adopted at the age of three, and that her parents were murdered at the same time she was shot. The bullet that hit Cashion failed to kill her because it passed through her mother’s body first. Shocked, Cashion is determined to find out what happened almost four decades ago and why.

Mary Louise Kelley’s second novel (Anonymous Sources) is quite engaging and told in true cinematic fashion. The story is based in the D.C.-area, with stops in Atlanta and Paris. I will guess that most readers will enjoy the read until about four-fifths of the way through the novel. And then it becomes problematic as Kelly has created a conclusion that’s a bit too clever – in the mode of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, and far too unlikely to occur in the real world. Cashion herself complains in the story about “…novels with bleak endings that drove you to despair.” The ending here drove me to a place called Disappointment. It’s not a pleasant stop.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book was released in trade paperback form on December 8, 2015.

A Thriller

Note: The hardbound release of The Bullet was labeled as A Thriller. The trade paper version is listed as A Novel, which appears to be more accurate.

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Time in a Bottle

Without Warning (Nook Book)

Without Warning: A Thriller by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur Books, $25.99, 295 pages)

It was hard for me to judge what the impact of the news would be once the public became aware of it. I wasn’t concerned that people would consider me a suspect in the killings; I was too well-known, and respected, for that to be a likely outcome. Besides, the circumstances of the capsule predictions were so bizarre as to make it even more improbable that I could be involved.

Maine Police Chief Jake Robbins is a widower whose wife was murdered by her former lover, the husband of an old high school sweetheart, Katie Sanford. Moreover, the town’s newspaper, The Wilton Journal, has been in Katie’s family for generations. That’s just for starters!

Wilton is a small Maine town where a recent flood caused by a hurricane has put the contents of a 50-year time capsule at risk of water damage. The time capsule is a local tradition sponsored by the Journal. Naturally, the right thing to do is to dig up the capsule and check for damage. It has been buried for four years. Inspection of the capsule’s contents produces a surprise. There’s an additional packet of papers which were not part of the original burial listing. The papers contain ominous predictions, some of which have come to pass.

Author Rosenfelt is so adept at spinning a tale that the reader is lulled into a sense of being on the scene and – contrary to the pace of a thriller, this one moves at a Maine small town speed. A third person narrator in some of the chapters offsets the narrative by Jake Robbins. Rosenfelt also sprinkles in an occasional peek into the mind of a very twisted person!

No need for spoiler alerts here! This reviewer wouldn’t dream of ruining such a well-crafted tale.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. Without Warning Audible Audio

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Coming Up Next…

Without Warning Rosenfelt

without-warning-by-david-rosenfelt

A review of Without Warning: A Thriller by David Rosenfelt.

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Off Leash

Two from David Rosenfelt.

Unleashed: An Andy Carpenter Mystery (Minotaur Books, $25.99, 308 pages)

Unleashed (nook book)

Morristown Municipal Airport is a designated relief airport for the New York area. That means it was built to serve as a place for planes to go when JFK, LaGuardia or Newark become overcrowded. Since I have never been at these airports when they’re not overcrowded, I’m surprised that Morristown Airport is so empty.

Criminal defense attorney Andy Carpenter is back for another episode of irreverant irony and sarcasm all in the pursuit of justice. Author Rosenfelt just keeps getting better and better. In this, the tenth of his Andy Carpenter series, the reader is treated to a caper wherein Sam Willis – Andy’s ever reliable accountant – is a featured character. So much so that Andy’s main client, Denise Price, stays in the background of the story until nearly 200 pages into the book when she slyly offers up Sam in her place as the murderer of her financier husband, Barry Price!

Shifts between the main narrative by Andy and another voice fill in the second evil plot layer that is growing in the background led by a shadowy figure named Carter. Andy and his trusty team of Laurie, Maurice, Willie and Sondra circle the wagons to protect their buddy, Sam.

Highly recommended.

Airight: A Thriller by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 295 pages; St. Martin’s Paperback, $7.99, 312 pages)

Airtight (nook book)

The day was already a month long, with no sign of ending any time soon.

Be ready for a tense and tightly crafted thriller. Airtight is clearly not an Andy Carpenter-type of story. The central character is Luke Somers, a police officer in a suburban town somewhere in New Jersey. Luke narrates the tale in the first person for many of the chapters while the remainder are presented through a third person narrator.

Underlying a terrific plot are the feelings of honor and duty held by Luke and his nemesis, Chris Gallagher. Each of them has a brother whom he holds dear to his heart. Luke’s brother, Bryan, is an investment banker married to a prosecuting attorney. Chris’ brother, Steven, is believed to have stabbed and killed a judge recently nominated to fill a federal appeals court seat.

Luke, acting in the line of duty, shoots Steven. In retaliation, Chris captures Bryan and holds him somewhere out of sight with just seven days worth of air to breathe and the ability to send text messages to Luke, who is frantically seeking to find him. Chris believes his brother – whom he raised himself – was not the prospective judge’s killer and demands that Luke find the real killer.

Rosenfelt provides many plot twists and a few red herrings to keep the reader involved and baffled as the action moves along toward a remarkable conclusion.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

Review copies were provided by the publisher.

David Rosenfelt is also the author of Leader of the Pack and Heart of a Killer.

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Damage Control

Gone Missing: A Thriller by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books, $14.99, 297 pages)

Gone Missing 2

“What kind of monster does that to a fifteen-year-old girl?” I whisper.

Shocking, that’s the best way to describe the opening chapters of this, the fourth book in an Amish Country series written by Linda Castillo. The narrator is Kate Burkholder, the chief of police of a town called Painters Mill. She also happens to be a former member of an Amish community. Burkholder is troubled and damaged by past problems, yet she seeks to assist others. Her town is located in the Ohio farmlands and the time of year when the mystery takes place is spring. Rumspringa is in full swing; although, this version is significantly tamer than the TV shows about Breaking Amish.

State Agent John Tomasetti with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation teams up with Chief Kate Burkholder when an Amish girl who is out walking along a country road goes missing while doing an errand for her family. A pool of blood and a satchel for carrying vegetables are all that they find by the side of the road. Although the scene is outside her jurisdiction, Burkholder is called in as a consultant because of her Amish roots.

Author Castillo enriches her tale with in depth descriptions and background information related to the Amish folks who farm in Ohio. The stark contrast between these people living their simple bucolic lifestyle and the festering evil that exists in their midst makes for a gruesome and engaging thriller. Castillo is adept at building tension that may compel some readers to stay up late to finish the book as did this reviewer.

Highly recommended.

Every Broken Trust: A Mystery by Linda Rodriguez (Minotaur Books, $25.99, 304 pages)

every broken trust

The chief of police in the next book is Skeet Bannion, a half-Cherokee woman, whose jurisdiction is the campus of Chouteau University which is located outside Kansas City, Missouri. There’s more to the job than just keeping a safe campus. Chief Bannion must participate in local politics and university affairs.

The story begins in a chatty bouncy manner as the chief expresses her dislike for hosting a welcoming party for the university’s new dean of the law school, as the growing guest list threatens to overwhelm her. It’s obvious that socializing with politicians and smarmy co-workers who have disillusioned her is bringing out the worst of her temper.

Once the stage is set and the character relationships are established, the story settles down. Of course the party includes drinking and at least one guest has one or two drinks too many. What follows is a post-party-murder after the drunk blurts out a scathing revelation that upsets the entire party. The body is found on university property which makes it Bannion’s task to catch the killer.

To complicate matters, Bannion is the guardian of a fifteen-year-old boy named Brian who is developing a friendship with the daughter of one of the smarmy politicos. Bannion is an evolving character and Rodriguez places her in situations that demand maturity and caring beyond the level Bannion has for her job.

Author Rodriguez is a Latina writer who brings a significant depth of understanding of the ways women and especially women of color are treated. The book is the second in her series featuring Skeet Bannion.

Well recommended.

Liars Anonymous: A Novel by Louise Ure (Minotaur Books, $14.99, 275 pages)

Liars Anonymous

He made sure there was no grime from the blast, then leaned back against the cab of my truck. “That’s the funny thing about the justice system. It makes no distinction between not guilty and innocent. I do.”

Shamus Award winner Louise Ure crafts an unusual mystery tale that is more suspense thriller than mystery. Her narrator, Jessica Damage, is a woman with a troubled past. Jessica works at a call center in Phoenix, Arizona for a service called “Hands On” that might as well be GM’s OnStar. An incoming call from a 2007 Cadillac Seville connects to her line. Jessica can’t help calling back after the call terminates abruptly even though the rules of her job make it technically illegal to eavesdrop when the call is reconnected.

Trouble finds Jessica daily as she searches for the answers to the questions sparked by the sounds she heard on the covert call. As Tucson is her hometown and two years earlier she was acquitted of a murder charge, her sleuthing actions take place all over the greater Tucson area.

Ms. Ure proves herself a true native by accurately telling the reader where Jessica is going and what she sees around town. This reviewer is quite familiar with Tucson and the descriptions were good enough to create a cinematic effect during the read. The characters’ deep feelings and crisp dialogue make Liars Annonymous a good read.

Well recommended.

“Louise Ure is an exciting new voice in the mystery field.” Laura Lippman

Review copies were received from the publisher.

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