thriller

Review of ‘Cause to Kill’

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Homicide Avery Black was once a promising criminal defense lawyer. When she got a client off who then went on to kill again, she was disgraced. She gave up her lucrative law career and became a police detective to try to redeem herself. Despite amassing a stellar record on the police force, she’s still not completely accepted by her colleagues. Even though they grudgingly acknowledge her brilliant mind, there is pushback when she’s included on a case involving the abduction and murder of girls from one of Boston’s prestigious universities.

In Cause to Kill by Blake Pierce Avery finally lands a case that can lead to her final redemption. But, she’s up against a killer who is every bit as smart and daring as she is. You’ll find yourself plunged into Avery’s murky world as she tries to get a step ahead of a killer who is brilliant and who always seems to be one step ahead of the law.

Despite an over-abundance of typos, this one’s a definite keeper for mystery/thriller fans.

I give it three and a half stars.

Review of ‘His First His Second’

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Detective Sergeant Alicia Friend is just too perky and irreverent to be a cop. And, in the bleakness of winter in the north of Britain, Detective Inspector Donald Murphy would rather have someone a bit more serious, even though he has to admit that Alicia is a cracker jack detective. Then, the bodies of young women start appearing, and Murphy realizes that they have a serial killer on the loose. When the father of a kidnap victim begins his own investigation that threatens to interfere with what the police are doing, it’s up to Alicia and her perky personality to keep things on track. Unfortunately, the killer begins to focus on her, and that’s when the tension really mounts.

His First His Second by A. D. Davies is a chilling tale, filled with dark secrets and obscure motivations that are so intertwined you’ll need Google Maps to sort them out. Kept me interested from start to finish.

Review of ‘Invitation to Die’

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When two missing women are found dead, one by a child in a popular Swan Boat in a park, the FBI Behavioral Unit calls in their favorite profiler, Tracy Wenn, to help them solve it before more women are murdered. When a third woman goes missing, Tracy feels that she’s closing in on identifying the killer, but she then becomes the next target. To add a complication to her life, her fiancé is suddenly experiencing second thoughts about her line of work.

Invitation to Die by Jaden Skye will pique your interest from the first page, keep you sniffing for clues throughout, and floor you with a surprising climax. Pulse-pounding suspense and intense emotional drama on almost every page.

I give this one four stars.

Review of ‘Disturb’

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The FDA sends Dr. Bill May to fast track approval of a new drug that supposedly eliminates the need to sleep. The problem is, though, N-SOM has some hidden, and extremely dangerous side effects. One of those effects, a psychotic killer, gets May and the daughter of the drug’s inventor in his sights. Can May survive long enough to make the dangers of N-SOM public? You’ll have to read Disturb by JA Konrath to find out.

A gripping medical thriller that will keep you awake—pun intended—and cause you to forever take the TV ads from big pharma with a large shaker of salt. This one is one of the author’s best to date.

I give it four and a half stars.

Review of ‘Absolution’

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Leine Basso, formerly a government assassin, has tried to distance herself from her former profession by applying her skills to aiding SHEN, an organization devoted to fighting human trafficking. But she is also obsessed with finding Salome, a freelance assassin whose skills match her own, but who prefers working on the dark side. When she gets news that Salome has resurfaced and is planning a new deadly operation, Leine once again severs ties, this time with SHEN, her daughter, April, and Santiago Jensen, the love of her life. Operating with former black ops colleagues, Leine moves from London to Los Angeles in an increasingly desperate search for the elusive Salome, both of them leaving a trail of bodies in their wakes.

 

Absolution by best-selling author D.V. Berkom is yet another spine-tingling thriller featuring one of the genre’s most exciting kick-ass female heroines. Page after page, the author builds the suspense to a fever pitch, as Leine realizes that Salome is manipulating her in an effort to kill her, and that she’s willing to go after those closest to Leine to achieve that goal.

 

This is a book you won’t be able to put down. I’ve read all of the Leine Basso series, and have to say, without hesitation or reservation, that this is the best of the best. It has everything a reader expects to find in a thriller, and more.

 

I received a complimentary review copy of this book, and I give it five stars. Read it, and you’ll immediately see why.

Review of ‘Frozen Statues: Perdition Games’

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Seven Canadian university freshmen disappear without a trace, but when police later discover two frozen corpses, carefully posed and their eyes replaced by black stones, PI Samantha McNamara knows in her heart that this is a copycat killer restaging murders by the deadly serial killer, Incubus, a man she helped put away for life when she was a member of the police force.

Determined to prove her theory right, she takes it to the police, but is told by her old boss to stay out of it. Never good at taking orders, and convinced that she’s right, she accepts an invitation from Incubus to visit him in prison. That visit sends her on a hunt, not just to find the Frozen Statue Killer and save the lives of the remaining students, but to exorcise her own demons from the fact that one of Incubus’s last victims was her older sister, Joyce. She knows that, somehow, Incubus holds the key to the current case, and she’s determined to track it to the end.

Frozen Statues: Perdition Games by L.E. Fraser is a chilling thriller that takes the reader deep inside the tormented minds of psychopaths who kill for pleasure and the thrill of the chase. A compelling read it shows the circles within circles of mental illness, sometimes merely socially inconvenient, but often, deadly. Not an easy book to read in one sitting, not only because it is long and complicated, but also because you’ll need to get away from it from time to time to remind yourself that, after all, it’s only fiction. But, is it. Studies have shown that the number of psychopaths and sociopaths in any population is far greater than we think, and even in a ‘polite’ society like Canada, darkness lurks around every corner.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Harm’s Way’

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Ben arranges a weekend outing to his family cabin in the woods of Vermont, involving several of his friends from school. An eclectic—nay, weird, group if there ever was one. The nerd with a catalogue of allergies, the gay kid, the token African-American, promiscuous twins, a goth with suicidal tendencies, a fat southern boy who finds it hard to adjust to life in the rural northeast, and a high school jock who is a closet gay, just to name a few.

Ben has neglected to tell his friends that the neighboring cabins are deserted because in each there has been an unsolved slaughter of eleven people, but when they find, upon arrival, the corpse of a young woman impaled on a newel on the front porch, he has to come clean. Now, rational people would’ve immediately turned around and headed back to civilization, but then we wouldn’t have a story, would we? They stay, and predictably, they begin dropping like flies, dispatched in bizarre and creative ways, one-by-one.

If you like your fiction dark, you’ll like Harm’s Way by Marc Richard. It reads like a parody of the movie parody of teen slasher flicks. The characters are credible, if not loveable, and the action, even that taking place in the characters’ minds, is somehow believable. This book takes a strong stomach to complete, but in the end, it was worth it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Fireplay’

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On patrol with the US Marines, Aussie reporter, Jack Emery, encounters a lone jihadist who attacks their convoy. Before he’s taken out, he talks of issues at a prison camp run by a marine unit. When Jack and his buddies arrive at the base, he uncovers a secret that many dangerous people are willing to go to any lengths—including killing him—to keep hidden.

Fireplay is a novella in the Jack Emery thriller series by Steve P. Vincent that moves at light speed from an explosive opening to an equally explosive conclusion. It explores official corruption and double-dealing but doesn’t scrimp on the hot action. I received a free copy of this book. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘No Place to Hide’

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The president of the United States authorized a bio attack on Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and now, as he’s about to leave office he decides that he must eliminate everyone who has knowledge of his action. One of those people, ex-navy SEAL Trace Austin, accidentally stumbled across the plans for the attack while he was in Florida with his wife and son and has created a fail-safe plan; he will keep the president’s secret as long as he and his wife are left alone. But now, someone is threatening their lives, so all bets are off. Trace must act to forestall the actions against him or die trying.

No Place to Hide by Steven M. Roth is a story that moves at a machine-gun pace, as shadowy groups act against Trace legally and financially. Action is non-stop, and the author spares no details in this byzantine tale of high-level corruption and evil.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. A solid four-star thriller.

Review of ‘The Mashego File’

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When a charred and mutilated corpse is found in the remains of a smoldering fire in a small community in Kwazulu-Natal, Detective Captain Nights Mashego, assigned to Durban North Police Agency is put on the case. Soon, another burned corpse is found in the same community, similarly abused. Mashego begins to suspect that he is seeking the same perpetrators but is unsure of their motives until he discovers a link between the victims and the step-son of a high-placed police official.

Mashego is then faced with a dilemma. With evidence of high-placed police corruption, can he identify with the vigilante justice being meted out, especially considering his own actions after his daughter was raped and murdered just a few years earlier. Torn between keeping his oath to enforce the law and his understanding of the frustration of people who feel they have no other recourse, he plows ahead.

The Mashego File by Ian Patrick is a chilling narrative of crime, punishment, and corruption at the highest levels, and the responses of people who have decided to draw a fiery line in the sand. The author has created a compelling story with flawed heroes and irredeemable villains that will keep you reading and wondering until the somewhat anticlimactic ending. Most of all, you will wonder—what next for Mashego?

This is a not-to-be-missed story. I give this one five stars!

Review of ‘Meltdown’

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Trace Crane, one of four control-room supervisors at the Bear Mountain Nuclear Energy Center in Buchanan, NY, just miles from NYC, is an overweight office drone who is daydreaming about an upcoming vacation with his wife, Avi, and daughter, Brooklyn, when the proverbial ‘it’ hits the fan. A massive earthquake disrupts a nearby fault line, causing a potential meltdown at the center. Trace is then faced with a choice, do all that he can to save the reactor, or get out and find his family. In the meantime, Avi, caught shopping when the quake hits, begins a frantic search for her daughter.

Meltdown by GP James is a riveting story of what happens when things get out of control at a nuclear power plant, threatening the environment and lives for miles around. The author doesn’t walk the reader through events, but runs at a break-neck pace, switching back and forth between Trace and Avi as he explores human reactions to a cataclysmic event.

This is a book that you won’t be able to put down once you start reading, and at the end, you’ll sigh, not from relief, but exhaustion. It has the technical details expertly woven in with the human dimension and will leave you wondering just how close to disaster we really are.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and honestly, I give it five stars for the sheer chutzpah.

Review of ‘Succubus

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An international thriller works when real events are seamlessly woven into the fictional narrative. In Succubus, former diplomatic security service agent Regis P. Sheehan does that.

Michael Medved, code name ‘Bear’, is tasked by the Org to exfiltrate a nuclear scientist who wants to defect out of North Korea. He teams up with a mixed force of South Korean agents and other specialists from the Org for what is an almost impossible task. All of this takes place in the tense post-9/11 atmosphere and the invasion of Iraq which resulted in the toppling and subsequent execution of Saddam Hussein, the machinations of North Korean diplomats in the smuggling of ‘super notes,’ exquisitely crafted counterfeit US one-hundred-dollar notes, and the cumbersome Washington bureaucracy.

Swiftly moving back and forth in time, and crossing two oceans, the story follows the team and its supporters as the dangerous mission unfolds.

A chilling story that reads like it was ripped from the day’s headlines, it is, in short, the kind of page-turner that international thriller fans will love. I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I give it four stars for a darned good first novel.

Review of ‘Dark Return’

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Having just completed a rescue mission for Stop Human Enslavement Now (SHEN), former assassin, Leine Basso, is asked to check up on a case of children missing from a refugee camp. On what she thinks will be a routine mission, she meets a street waif who has witnessed a murder and is being pursued by the killers and decides to help the young girl get to safety. The routine check at the camp turns into anything but, and Leine and her new charge find themselves on the run from a shadowy figure running a human trafficking ring with a deadly mission. They make a big mistake when they make a try for Leine—now, it’s her or them, and she has every intention of surviving.

Dark Return by D V Berkom is without doubt, the best Leine Basso thriller to date. Like its predecessors, it’s chocked full of blood-chilling action, and it skillfully merges two of the world’s greatest evils, human trafficking and terrorism, in a tale that will grab you by the short hairs and not let go.

Basso at her baddest—don’t miss it. I received a complimentary copy of this book.

I give this one a solid, resounding five stars.

Review of ‘Seattle Reign’

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Retired police detective turned private eye, Pat Ruger, is at a crossroads. He’s still getting over the murder of his fiancée, adjusting to his new girlfriend, and wondering what he’ll do with the rest of his life. When a local poet, a friend of his new flame, is murdered, she asks him to look into it. Like a firehouse dog at the sound of the alarm, he jumps to it. From Denver to Seattle, he finds more than the change in weather to be a bother, though, when he stumbles upon a North Korean plot to steal American art, and his protégé, Jake, is kidnapped by the art thieves.

Seattle Reign by Jack Huber is book number five in the Pat Ruger series, and, unfortunately for those of us who have come to love the slightly over-the-hill detective, reads like it’ll be the last. Non-stop action as Pat goes from dodging murderous North Koreans to saving a group of young girls from being sex-trafficked to rescuing Jake. Shorter than the previous books, it is nonetheless a good read, that will leave you satisfied that all is right with the world—except for the fact that it seems that Pat is getting out of the PI business. Oh, what will Pat Ruger fans do?

I received a free copy of this book, and give it four stars—mainly because there doesn’t appear to be a sequel in the works.

Review of ‘Behold Darkness’

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Businessman Nathan Serebus and his friend and attorney, Albin Conrad, while on a business trip to San Francisco, find themselves in the middle of a terrorist attack. But, this is no ordinary, garden variety terrorist attack; in this attack a contagion has been released that turns people into cannibals. In order to survive, and help humanity survive, Nathan must surrender part of his own humanity.

Behold Darkness by L.C. Champlin is not just another zombie apocalypse story, it’s more like a zombie apocalypse story on steroids. Filled with danger, dirty language, and dire situations, it has no heroes, just people doing what they have to do to survive. If you’re offended by off-color language and uncensored violence, you might want to give this book a pass. It’s definitely not for anyone with a weak constitution.

The characters, as unlovable as they are, are interesting, and the situations are intense. A good book for action junkies.

I received a free copy of this book. I give it three and a half stars for concept.

Review of ‘The Deepest Grave’

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DS Fiona Griffiths hasn’t had a murder case in over a year. Then, a local archaeologist is killed, beheaded, and the head is staged so that it’s staring at a fragment of Latin text. Fiona finds herself involved in a case that, in order to solve, she has to delve in battles that are centuries old, and grapple with the legend of Arthur and Camelot.

The Deepest Grave by Harry Bingham is an entertaining British crime thriller with elements of the supernatural and ancient history entwined most effectively with a contemporary crime story. Bingham presents us with a strong, yet flawed, female character who will attract and hold your interest page after page.

I give Bingham five stars for this one.

Review of ‘Turn or Burn’

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Burned out and suffering from PTSD, former Green Beret and security contractor, Harper Knox has retired to his parents’ farm to grow grapes and get his life back together. His old comrade, Ted, lures him back into the fold with an offer of a security job, protecting a scientist involved in a controversial AI conference in Seattle. A routine protection job turns deadly when Ted’s killed, along with the two assailants, former prostitutes with a strange symbol burned into their bodies.

Harper and Ted’s cousin, Italian mercenary, Francesca Daly, seeking answers, stumble into a plot that threatens more loss of life, including their own, while dealing with the sparks that fly between them.

Turn or Burn by Boo Walker is a chilling thriller that looks at domestic terrorism and dangerous religious fundamentalism in our midst, a phenomenon that is every bit as deadly as international terrorism, but often not acknowledged. Compelling, and believable, characters and spine-tingling action on every page. You can’t put it down.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Murder is the Only Option’

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When the manager of a homeless shelter is murdered, DCI Isaac Cook and his team are in search of Big Greg, a mysterious homeless man who doesn’t fit the normal pattern of a street person. When more people die, they learn that Big Greg has a secret and a mission, and the intelligence to pull it off right under their noses. To add to Cook’s misery, when a Member of Parliament becomes one of the killer’s victims, the pressure from above threatens to derail his investigation.

Murder is the Only Option by Phillip Strang is another offering in the DCI Cook series. Fascinating characters and convoluted plots, against the backdrop of a modest sized English city, will grab and hold your interest on every page.

Dat Isaac, he one sharp copper, mon! I received a free copy of this book, and I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Inside Moves’

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Best-selling novelist Gareth Wainwright is injured in a terrible auto crash. He wakes up at UCLA Medical Center with no memory of what happened, or who he is. Released from the hospital after a month, he begins the painful process of recovering his memory and his life. He’s learned his name, and that he has a wife—who he cannot remember—who was with him at the time of the crash, but who has now disappeared. Lacey Kinkaid Wainwright, Gareth’s new bride, is an attorney, who, after the crash, finds herself a prisoner of someone from her past, a past that she has kept hidden from Gareth.

Inside Moves by Walter Danley is a complex thriller that moves back and forth in time, and from place to place and character to character, as Lacey tries to survive her captor’s deadly intentions, while Gareth, his memory coming back in fits and starts, takes incredibly chances in his effort to find and rescue her.

This book has more threads than a knitting factory, with byzantine relationships and a complex set of plots that the author skillfully weaves together in a conclusion that, while not completely satisfying to the characters involved, will leave you with the feeling that you’ve been treated to a great story.

I received a free copy of this book, and I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Not Without Risk’

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Martin Bennett works behind the scenes for a property development scheme in Liverpool. A former climber, he’s overweight and out of shape, and has had a stroke. After seeing a doctor, he runs into an old mate, John Hardin, at the hospital. When he sees Hardin murdered on an escalator, and when he later learns that Hardin was involved with a drug gang and that his body was hastily cremated, he feels compelled to investigate.

In the process of digging into his friend’s murder, Bennett becomes involved with corrupt politicians, crooked cops, and a list of possible suspects a mile long. He forms a partnership with an out-of-favor aide of the crooked mayor, and a roller coaster of intrigue and danger puts both their lives at risk. The clock is ticking as they dig deeper and deeper into the mire of corruption, leading to a stunning climax. Nothing they do is without risk, and he is faced constantly with the question; is it worth it?

Not Without Risk by Pete Trewin is a bumpy read—not, though, in a negative sense. Through actions, dialogue, and well-placed flashbacks, the reader is introduced to an eclectic cast of characters and an exquisitely crafted plot that pulls you ever deeper into Bennett’s oddball existence, piquing your curiosity with every sentence.

I received a free copy of this book; a definite five-star read.