REVIEW: EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK & ALAFAIR BURKE

 

Laurie Moran’s professional life is a success—her television show Under Suspicion is a hit, both in the ratings and its record of solving cold cases. But her romantic break from former host Alex Buckley has left her with on-air talent she can’t stand—Ryan Nichols—and a sense of loneliness, despite her loving family.

Now Ryan has suggested a new case. Three years ago, Virginia Wakeling, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the museum’s most generous donors, was found in the snow, after being thrown from the museum’s roof on the night of its most celebrated fundraiser, the Met Gala. The leading suspect then and now is her much younger boyfriend and personal trainer, Ivan Gray.

Ivan runs a trendy, successful boutique gym called Punch—a business funded in no small part by the late Virginia—which happens to be the gym Ryan frequents. Laurie’s skepticism about the case is upended by a tip from her father’s NYPD connection, and soon Laurie realizes there are a bevy of suspects—including Virginia’s trusted inner circle.

As the Under Suspicion crew pries into the lives of a super wealthy real estate family with secrets to hide, danger mounts for several witnesses—and for Laurie.

My Thoughts: From the very first page of Every Breath You Take, I was drawn into the story of Virginia Wakeling, a wealthy woman who fell (or was pushed) from the roof of the Met during a celebrated fundraiser.

Her much younger boyfriend, Ivan Gray, was a major suspect of the family, but the police did not have enough evidence to charge him, and, in fact, the accusations of the family members were all they really had.

I enjoyed the way Laurie Moran handled the investigation, and even how she found a way to co-exist with Ryan, the egotistical new on-air talent. He so clearly believed in the innocence of his friend and trainer, Ivan, that Laurie feared his ability to remain objective. However, she gradually saw another side of him in his willingness to set those feelings aside in order to find the answers.

Laurie’s talent for following her instincts and the ability to pursue fresh angles made the story a great page-turner that kept me guessing. With each new revelation, the possibilities of finding the truth seemed to increase.

Would Laurie’s search for the truth put her own life in danger? Would an irate killer bring her to the brink of disaster? There were numerous red herrings until we unexpectedly saw who the killer had to be. Meanwhile, some new possibilities for her sidelined relationship with Alex kept me intrigued, just as the case started heating up. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE CINDERELLA MURDER, BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK & ALAFAIR BURKE

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This book was featured as my First Book of 2015, hosted by Book Journey.

 

Laurie Moran, TV producer of a new show, Under Suspicion, has plans to feature a twenty-year-old murder as the next installment in her series. The unsolved murder of Susan Dempsey, dubbed “The Cinderella Murder,” because her body was found with only one shoe next to it, has gleaned the interest of her boss at the studio as well. But only after she has done considerable pitching and with the promise that some of the more noteworthy participants will be available.

This was a Hollywood story, in a sense, since Susan was a student at UCLA and a budding actress, who on the night of the murder, was supposed to go to the home of Frank Parker, a director, for an audition. She was a no-show.

Why did Susan’s roommate Madison show up so quickly to take her place? And why had Susan’s body been found in Laurel Canyon Park, minutes from the director’s home, when her car was at the university?

As Laurie and her crew begin investigating the possibilities in preparation for the show, several more questions present themselves. What, if anything, connects Susan’s murder with a cult-like organization called Advocates for God, which has enlisted none other than Susan’s ex-boyfriend, Keith Ratner? How is the leader of that group, Martin Collins, involved in a secret that Nicole, one of Susan’s old roommates, has been keeping for many years?

The Cinderella Murder: An Under Suspicion Novel was more than a Hollywood story, as there were many references throughout to a highly successful technological company launched by a former student and friend of Susan’s, Dwight Cook, and their former professor, Richard Hathaway. How does this multimillionaire dollar company tie in to what happened to Susan?

Secrets seem to be coming out of the woodwork as we move quickly through the short, terse chapters that made this novel a true page-turner, with the stunning reveal building up with a heart-pounding intensity that literally made it impossible for me to stop reading. Recommended for all fans of the author and those who enjoy murder mysteries. 5.0 stars.

REVIEW: THE LAST WINTER OF DANI LANCING, BY P. D. VINER

17262454Twenty years have passed since that last hard winter of Dani Lancing’s life. The life that had been cut short by her brutal murder. The case is long cold, but the mourners are still haunted by not knowing what had happened to her, trying to piece together the few clues to discover the answers.

The parents, Jim and Patty, are each obsessed: Jim, haunted by fleeting images of Dani at various ages in her life, and seemingly, now, after her death; Patty is on a quest to find the murderer(s), even going to such extremes that now, twenty years later, when the police are reopening the case, she is determined to find her own answers. She doesn’t quite trust the police to find them. Patty and Jim have long since lost their connection to one another, their marriage destroyed.

DS Tom Bevan is the police detective assigned to the cold case. He was also Dani’s friend for years…and suffered from unrequited love.

Set in London and Durham, from the 1980s to 2010, the story jags back and forth through time, in a fractured fashion, revealing the The Last Winter of Dani Lancing: A Novel through the various voices of the characters, past and present. The answers do not come all at once, but in bits and pieces, and the stunning surprises at the end reveal a quagmire of corruption, vengeance, cover-ups, and flawed humanity. This is not a story for the faint of heart, as the human condition is exposed in its greatest darkness and frailty. It is definitely a twisted tale with much to ponder about the lengths to which people will go for those they love. It is also difficult to follow at times, with the peripatetic narrative, and some of the conclusions seem a bit incredible. But the reader will want answers, so the book is impossible to put down. 4.0 stars.