REVIEW: THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED, BY LISA JEWELL

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.

One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?

 

an interior journey thoughts

From the very first page of The Night She Disappeared, I was caught up in the mysterious events, narrated from the past and the present, offering bits and pieces of information with each step forward and backward. I especially liked learning how Kim and Sophie teamed up to find clues from social media sites.

What really happened on that summer evening when Talullah and Zach went missing? Did a group of friends who partied that night know more than they were sharing?

As I kept turning the pages, I had some thoughts about what might have happened, but in the end, I found the resolution to be unexpected.

I enjoyed figuring out the characters and their behavior, and definitely had mixed feelings about some of them. I loved the conclusion, which satisfactorily brought good things for some of them. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR, BY NICCI FRENCH

Who is more dangerous? An enemy, a friend, or a lover?

When Bonnie Graham arrives at her boyfriend’s apartment in London, she is horrified to discover a dead body in a pool of blood on the floor. But she doesn’t call the police. Bonnie hides the corpse and then carefully wipes away any evidence she was ever there.

Bonnie is a music teacher who spent a long, hot summer in London rehearsing with a band to play at a friend’s wedding. It was supposed to be fun, but the band members find the complicated knots of their friendships—some old, some new—unraveling as the days themselves unwind. What was meant to be a summer of happiness, love, and music turns deadly as lovers betray one another, passions turn murderous, and friendship itself becomes a crime.

Everyone tells lies. But is anyone prepared to tell the truth to uncover a murderer?

 

an interior journey thoughts

From the beginning of The Other Side of the Door, we are swept back and forth in time: “Before” narratives followed by “After.” We only slowly come to realize what has happened and how a dead body ended up in Liza’s flat.

I thought I had it figured out, but soon realized with each piece of information provided in the flashbacks that I had been wrong.

But who did kill the man found on the floor? For a while, we didn’t even know who that was. I liked the unveiling of moments, which piqued my interest and kept me reading. Then, with each new revelation, everything is seemingly tipped upside down once again. By the end, nothing seems sorted, but life goes on. 5 stars.

REVIEW: NOT A HAPPY FAMILY, BY SHARI LAPENA

Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there, and Fred and Sheila Merton certainly are rich. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered after a fraught Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of the siblings is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know.

 

Not a Happy Family drew me in immediately, with the vicious murder and the motives that could point to several different people, but the target seems to stay on the backs of the three adult children.

Between them, there are alibis that may or may not be valid, but an absence of real evidence to point to any one of them keeps the detectives circling the potential perpetrators. Soon the target shifts to others, as more and more people who had reason to want the Mertons dead show up, several of whom are about to inherit some amount of money from them.

In the end, I was stunned as the details of what actually happened fell into place, and I then realized that the answer was no big surprise. Definitely a five star read.

***

REVIEW: THE NEWCOMER, BY MARY KAY ANDREWS

In trouble and on the run…

After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”

With a trunkful of emotional baggage…

So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel.

The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling…

And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn—or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars?
With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.

 

an interior journey thoughts

The Newcomer gripped me emotionally from the very beginning. I loved getting to know all the intriguing characters that Letty met at the little Florida motel where she landed with her niece Maya. I couldn’t stop following her attempt to bring justice for her murdered sister Tanya, and I adored little Maya, who was cute and precocious.

The senior citizens who resided in the motel, some of them long term, added a special twist to a story that felt so real. I loved connecting with them, even the annoying ones.

Of course I kept rooting for the developing relationship between Joe and Letty, who didn’t appear to be a perfect match in the beginning, but who clicked before much time had gone by.

I also enjoyed watching Letty find her niche as she helped Ava run the motel, and I liked how she connected with Ava’s teenage daughter.

As I turned the final page, I wanted to keep going with these characters who had all found a place in Letty’s heart and in mine. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: YOU WILL REMEMBER ME, BY HANNAH MARY MCKINNON

Forget the truth.
Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.

 

 

an interior journey thoughts

As we begin the story of You Will Remember Me, we are immediately introduced to two men with mysterious and secret pasts. Jack Smith and Ash Bennett have lived very different lives. One disappears, leaving no trace, and the other wakes up with no memory.

It doesn’t take long to realize that there is more to each of their stories. But what has happened to them to cause a loss of their identities and their memories?

I liked Lily, who was in love with Jack, and felt wary of Maya Scott, who had her own agenda, in my opinion.

As the story circled back and forth between the past and the present, and as we watch the characters play out their plans, we begin to see that nothing good will come from at least one of the characters. I was cringing as I watched them but hoping that perhaps right would win after all.

But would it? In the end I was biting my nails, knowing that this story would probably not have a happy ending. Nevertheless, I loved discovering the truth and will definitely remember the characters long afterwards. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT, BY ELLE COSIMANO

 

 

Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.

When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation.

 
 
 

From the very first page of Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, I was hooked. On the characters, the fast-paced and intriguing plot, and the intensity I felt as I flipped the pages, racing toward the conclusion.

How could Finlay’s life right itself after she has inadvertently found herself caught up in a nefarious scheme that could land her in prison? How would she keep her ex-husband from winning custody of her children in a fight for them? Would she ever find enough money to have a normal life?

A cast of interesting and colorful characters, like Vero and Julian and Nick, added intrigue and smiles to the tale while my curiosity remained on high alert.

I couldn’t anticipate what would happen next, but I kept guessing. Hoping and wondering where the story would take us and if Finlay really would be “killing it” in the end. I loved this book! 5 stars.

 
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REVIEW: EVERY WAKING HOUR, BY JOANNA SCHAFFHAUSEN

 

After surviving a serial killer’s abduction as a young teenager, Ellery Hathaway is finally attempting a normal life. She has a new job as a rookie Boston detective and a fledgling relationship with Reed Markham, the FBI agent who rescued her years ago. But when a twelve-year-old girl disappears on Ellery’s watch, the troubling case opens deep wounds that never fully healed.

Chloe Lockhart walked away from a busy street fair and vanished into the crowd. Maybe she was fleeing the suffocating surveillance her parents put on her from the time she was born, or maybe the evil from her parents’ past finally caught up to her. For Chloe, as Ellery learns, is not the first child Teresa Lockhart has lost.

Ellery knows what it’s like to have the past stalk you, to hold your breath around every corner.

Sending one kidnapped girl to find another could be Chloe’s only hope or an unmitigated disaster that dooms them both. Ellery must untangle the labyrinth of secrets inside the Lockhart household — secrets that have already murdered one child. Each second that ticks by reminds her of her own lost hours, how close she came to death, and how near it still remains.

 
 
 

From the first moments of Every Waking Hour, we are thrust into Ellery Hathaway’s past as she tries to cobble together a life in the present.

Reed Markham, the FBI agent who rescued her years before, is now her lover, although they are trying to keep it off the radar.

Chloe’s disappearance awakens old memories for Ellery, but she is determined to use her own experiences to help find the girl.

As a Boston PD detective, Ellery is acutely aware of the pitfalls of using her own experience to work a case, but she could also be uniquely qualified to find the answers.

I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but the author has done a great job of filling in Ellery’s background.

As we follow the clues that lead to answers, we can’t help holding our breath as each moment passes. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next to Reed and Ellery. 4.5 stars.

 
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REVIEW: PIECE OF MY HEART, BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK/ALAFAIR BURKE

Television producer Laurie Moran and her fiancée, Alex Buckley, the former host of her investigative television show, are just days away from their mid-summer wedding, when things take a dark turn. Alex’s seven-year-old nephew, Johnny, vanishes from the beach. A search party begins and witnesses recall Johnny playing in the water and collecting shells behind the beach shack, but no one remembers seeing him after the morning. As the sun sets, Johnny’s skim board washes up to shore, and everyone realizes that he could be anywhere, even under water.

A ticking clock, a sinister stalker, and fresh romance combine in this exhilarating follow up to the bestselling You Don’t Own Me—another riveting page-turner from the “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and her dazzling partner-in-crime Alafair Burke.

 
 
 
 

Piece of My Heart is an intense thriller with red herrings and convoluted twists and turns that takes us on an enjoyable journey, loving the familiar characters and gasping at the unexpected events. Through this final tale in the series, we are offered a final glimpse of the characters and their history.

As my First Book of 2021, I was thrilled with the engaging tale, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

Laurie Moran and Alex Buckley are favorite characters, and I have followed every book in the Under Suspicion series, so I was especially eager to find out what we would discover along the way.

A missing boy, one with a complicated history, keeps the tale going and makes for an intense story, one that could ultimately be the centerpiece of one of Laurie’s TV productions.

A crime from the past woven into the story kept the reader drawn into the history of the television series. I was captivated to the very end, and award 5 stars to this book.

 
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FIRST BOOK OF 2021
 
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REVIEW: GOODNIGHT BEAUTIFUL, BY AIMEE MOLLOY

A handsome psychotherapist. His lonely wife. And in his home office ceiling, a vent …
You’d listen too, wouldn’t you? (You know you would.)Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York City and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown upstate. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele. Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.

Showcasing Molloy’s deft ability to subvert norms and culminating in the kind of stunning twist that is becoming her trademark, Goodnight Beautiful is a thrilling tale of domestic suspense that not only questions assumptions but defies expectations.

Alternating narrators take us through the pages of Goodnight Beautiful, and in the very beginning, I thought I had the identities of the narrators sorted. But I was wrong.

And then, when our protagonist Sam Statler disappears suddenly, I had my theories about that incident, too. I was wrong again.

Not wanting to introduce spoilers, I will admit that I was stunned about the identity of the first-person narrator, the landlord of the house where Sam has his office space. I did not learn this fact until more than halfway through the story.

What is going on? I was puzzled and intrigued…and the story gripped me at this point as I tried to guess what might happen next.

Twists and turns take us through some harrowing times for both Sam and Annie, and as we learn more about the darkest character, we can almost see the writing on the wall. But then, suddenly, things change and the characters we are rooting for have their happy ending. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45, BY LISA UNGER

Be careful to whom you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.
 
 
 
 


Our story begins after Selena discovers her husband’s latest infidelity via nanny cam. In an unexpected action, she shares her feelings with a woman she meets on her homeward commute in a situation that has a “stranger on the train” vibe. Afterwards, she asks herself why she would do that, but admits that she felt a unique connection to the woman. A good listener, perhaps?

As Confessions on the 7:45 unfolds, we learn, via alternating narrators, the secrets of several assorted characters, all of whom seem completely unrelated to one another. Along the way, we begin to suspect that these lives will eventually intersect, and as we start to piece the puzzle together, the odd connections begin to make sense.

I loved another surprising reveal at the end as the characters walked off into the “sunset” to a place familiar to Unger fans. A delightful and intense book that held me hostage throughout. 5 stars.
 
 
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