FIRST BOOK OF 2019: CONTINUING A TRADITION…

It is time to celebrate our First Book of the Year tradition, hosted by Sheila, at Book Journey.

I have participated since 2014, and have a page here dedicated to all of my First Books.

My pick for 2019 continues the series I started featuring in 2015, the Under Suspicion Novels, by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke:  You Don’t Own Me.

 

Here I am, holding my Kindle copy:

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:  When we last saw Laurie Moran, she had recently become engaged to her show’s former host, Alex Buckley. Since then, the two have been happily planning a summer wedding and honeymoon, preparing for Alex’s confirmation to a federal judicial appointment, and searching for the perfect New York City home for their new life together.

But then Laurie is approached by Robert and Cynthia Bell, parents of Dr. Martin Bell, a famously charming and talented physician who was shot dead as he pulled into the driveway of his Greenwich Village carriage house five years ago. The Bells are sure that Martin’s disgraced and erratic wife, Kendra, carried out the murder. Determined to prove Kendra’s guilt and win custody over their grandchildren, they plead with Laurie to feature their son’s case on “Under Suspicion,” ensuring her that Kendra is willing to cooperate.

Kendra has lived under a blanket of suspicion since Martin’s death, with the tabloid media depicting her as a secretive, mentally unstable gold-digger. Laurie’s show is a chance for her to clear her name. But unbeknownst to the Bells, Kendra has already refused once before to go forward with a re-investigation of her husband’s murder, and her statements to the contrary only add to the appearance of guilt.

But once Laurie dives into the case, she learns that Martin wasn’t the picture-perfect husband, father, and doctor he appeared to be and was carrying secrets of his own. And what does the web of lies ensnaring the Bell family have to do with a dangerous stranger, who gazes at Laurie from afar and thinks, She is actually quite a lovely girl, I’m sure she’s going to be missed…?

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I’ll be reading this book within the next two days, and will be back here to post my review.  I’d love to hear more about your first books.

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FIRST BOOK OF 2017: WE’RE “UNDER SUSPICION” HERE….

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Welcome to First Book of 2017!

 

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I have participated in this event since it began.  I have a page on this site where I showcase my previous Books of the Year, and as you can tell, there is a theme going in my recent features:  Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke, and the Under Suspicion novels, have been spotlighted for the past two years.

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In The Sleeping Beauty Killer, Book 3, we continue the story.

 

The third thrilling installment in the bestselling Under Suspicion series from #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke—television producer Laurie Moran puts everything on the line to help a woman she thinks was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Casey Carter was convicted of murdering her fiancé—famed philanthropist Hunter Raleigh III—fifteen years ago. And Casey claims—has always claimed—she’s innocent. Although she was charged and served out her sentence in prison, she is still living “under suspicion.” She hears whispers at the grocery store. She can’t get a job. Even her own mother treats her like she’s guilty. Her story attracts the attention of Laurie Moran and the Under Suspicion news team—it’s Casey’s last chance to finally clear her name, and Laurie pledges to exonerate her.

With Alex Buckley taking a break from the show—cooling his potential romance with Laurie—Under Suspicion introduces a new on-air host named Ryan Nichols, a young legal whiz with a Harvard Law degree, Supreme Court clerkship, experience as a federal prosecutor, and regular stints on the cable news circuit. He’s got a big reputation and the attitude to match it. Ryan has no problems with steering—and stealing—the show, and even tries to stop Laurie from taking on Casey’s case because he’s so certain she’s guilty.

An egomaniacal new co-host, a relentless gossip columnist who seems to have all the dirt (and a surprising informant), and Casey’s longstanding bad reputation: Laurie must face this and more to do what she believes is right, to once and for all prove Casey’s innocence—that is, if she’s innocent… The Sleeping Beauty Killer will keep you guessing until the very end.

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What is your feature/First Book of 2017?

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FROM THE INTERIOR: WAITING ON “EVIL NEVER DIES”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday, our special day for sharing upcoming book releases.  Hop on over to Breaking the Spine to find out what everyone else is excited about.

I am addicted to T. R. Ragan’s Lizzy Gardner series, with its gutsy heroine.  I also love the setting in Sacramento, CA, where I lived for several years.  Evil Never Dies is Book #6 in the series.  Release  Date:  8/4/15.

 

 

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Private investigator Lizzy Gardner believed in law and order once. But after losing a loved one to a killer and watching too many vicious predators game the system and walk free, she’s traded flawed justice for perfect vengeance.

Together with her tough and trusted assistants, Lizzy is tracking down a list of Sacramento’s worst offenders and dealing out the payback they deserve. But she may be lethally outmatched by a new criminal, a murderer the papers have dubbed the Sacramento Strangler. This ritualistic serial killer is dropping corpses and cryptic clues at a shocking rate—and he’s growing bolder and bloodier the longer he’s at large.

In the suspenseful finale to the Lizzy Gardner series, bestselling author T.R. Ragan’s gutsy heroine lashes out against the relentless onslaught of evil as she desperately fights to hang on to her own humanity.

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I still have some of the earlier books to finish, but I want to add this one as soon as possible.   What are you eagerly anticipating?

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REVIEW: THE CARRIER, BY SOPHIE HANNAH

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Gaby Struthers is waiting for her plane, the one that will return her home to England after a long day of business in Germany. But the plane has been delayed, and a horrific young woman is shrieking, sobbing, and carrying on, disturbing everyone around her. Unfortunately, this scene is just the beginning of what will be Gaby’s association with the young woman, Lauren Cookson, whose life is seemingly linked to hers in unexpected ways.

Thus begins the twisted tale, The Carrier (A Zailer & Waterhouse Mystery), another journey into a muddled murder with the usual suspects of quirky detectives trying to solve the case. There is Charlie Zailer, the most likeable of them all, in my opinion, but she, for some reason, has chosen to marry Simon Waterhouse, who is beyond neurotic…but also interesting. And smart.

Then there is their boss, Proust, whom everyone calls The Snowman.

Who was murdered? A woman named Francine Breary, and her husband Tim has confessed. But doesn’t know why he murdered her, supposedly.

The host of strange characters extends to those who have been like the cast of a weird play, surrounding Tim and Francine, all living in a posh house owned by Dan and Kerry Jose, who were investors in Gaby’s business years before. See, strange connections.

When the police, who are not satisfied with Tim’s confession, begin to question all of these people individually, they are even more puzzled. It is clear that everyone is lying…but why?

Soon we realize some of the connections, and why Gaby is central in much of what is happening. She has been in love with Tim for years…but he wouldn’t leave his wife, who has reportedly treated him horribly, and everyone else has been witness to it. He did leave once, but then returned when she had a stroke, which is her condition for a while prior to her death.

The story takes us through the mysterious case via alternating perspectives, and then occasionally we are offered a series of letters that, for me, were the one negative in it all. Written by each of those who lived with Tim and Francine, they were addressed to Francine herself, and then hidden in the mattress. It was obvious that she would never read the letters…and their presence in the story was confusing. There was a point near the end where they turned out to be somewhat helpful…but not in the way one would expect.

I had pretty much figured out who had actually killed Francine early on, but the whys and wherefores took a while to figure out. And throughout, Gaby continued to stand by Tim, but I could not understand why. In my opinion, he was beyond weird and not even a little bit appealing. But the story is a psychological study as well as a mystery, and as we ponder why any of the characters like or love each other, we are taken on an exploration that is both fascinating and puzzling. Except for the odd letters, I enjoyed the story enough to award four stars.

REVIEW: REAL MURDER (A LOVERS IN CRIME MYSTERY), BY LAUREN CARR

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When Police Detective Cameron Gates and her new husband Joshua Thornton, a prosecuting attorney, team up to solve a string of murders, including some cold cases from 1976 and 1996, they are stunned by the domino effect that seems to be in play.

The brutal murder of Dolly Houseman, an elderly woman who lives across the street, starts the chain of events, and as we meet the various players and realize the connections between them all, it is impossible to put Real Murder (A Lovers in Crime Mystery Book 2) down.

What was Dolly’s mysterious business, and how did her former life set her up as a target? What did Mike Gardner’s murder in 1996 have to do with events in the present, and to whom was he secretly connected?

For a while, it seemed as though none of the clues would lead to anyone, and then, almost as if it were planned out, everything started to come together. Could it have been a mysterious package containing tapes that helped them sort it all out?

As usual, Carr’s delightful and likable characters, including a couple of interesting pets, kept me reading and enjoying every moment. Set primarily in West Virginia, I loved the settings, as well as the plot that was twisted enough to keep me trying to figure things out. Definitely another five star read.

REVIEW: THE LADY WHO CRIED MURDER, BY LAUREN CARR

18629340Khloe Everest believes that she can create her own fame through various well-timed actions. So she takes a drastic step and fakes her own abduction. The aftermath was unexpected…and not in a good way.

Three years later, disowned by her mother, Khloe returns to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, after her mother’s sudden death. Holed up in her mother’s house, ready to make another play at notoriety with a stunning announcement, another unexpected event happens…her body is discovered in the house, stabbed to death and dismembered.

Mac Faraday, our resident rich man and detective, is on the case with his brother, David O’Callaghan, who is also the Chief of Police. But the victim’s notoriety, as well as the agendas of several politicians and so-called friends, cripple the investigation and make the path to solving the case very challenging. Plus…a few previous victims seem to be connected to this one, leading them to realize that they are in pursuit of a serial killer(s).

Will Mac and David find their killer(s), or will they soon discover that this case has disturbing and complex elements that will take them down many twisted pathways? Will justice be served, or will the bad guys win out once again?

I enjoyed how other familiar characters cropped up here and there, like Archie, Mac’s fiancee, and Chelsea, a former girlfriend of David’s, who is slowly moving closer to forgiving him for past misdeeds. And from another Lauren Carr series (Lovers in Crime), Cameron Gates and Joshua Thornton show up to assist with the case, as some of the previous victims lived in their jurisdictions. They brought something delightful to the canvas, as they are newlyweds, trying to carve out alone time, even in the midst of all the mystery.

There could not be a story set in Deep Creek Lake without Gnarly, Archie’s German Shepherd…and now that Chelsea is a resident, her dog Molly adds some fun to the mix. But when Cameron appears with her Maine Coon cat Irving…well, you can imagine the antics. I liked being able to laugh and smile in these light moments amidst all the frightening events.

The Lady Who Cried Murder: A Mac Faraday Mystery was another heart-stopping romp, and while the mystery and path to its solution were wonderful, I always love the characters as much as the suspense. Five stars.

A PROBING JOURNEY INTO A DISEASE-ADDLED BRAIN: A REVIEW

17171915A spine-chilling thriller, A Dark Mind (The Lizzy Gardner Series #3), opens with a scenario in which a Sacramento couple is attacked by unknown persons. It is 2007, and John and Rochelle are the victims in this case.

Fast forward to other scenarios involving couples over the years, including Maureen and Charles Baker, gone missing in 2012.

The author leads us back to snippets from the 2007 case periodically, hinting to the reader that there is something especially significant about this particular case. Nothing is quite what it seems.

Next we are introduced to Lizzy Gardner, a Private Investigator, who has just moved in with her boyfriend Jared Shayne, an FBI agent. He is working to catch a serial killer dubbed by the media as the Lovebird Killer: he lures in couples, then kidnaps and kills the woman, followed soon by the man. But his methods change. He appears to be a master of disguise, and as the agents learn more about him, they realize how much there is to learn. He has eluded them successfully for years.

How does Lizzy get involved in his pursuit? Coincidence, or the master plan of the killer? What begins as a routine case takes her right onto his path, and she and her two young assistants, Jessica and Hayley, stumble onto one clue after another.

But it will be many weeks before they put together all the pieces. Meanwhile, in an alternating perspective, we are privy to the killer’s disease-addled brain as he shares his delight in his games.

A fascinating foray into the creepy world of a serial killer, the story also reveals the personal tragedies of each of the characters, from Lizzy, who was herself a victim in a previous book; to Hayley, whose abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, led her to take dangerous actions. Hayley and Jessica, the young sleuths, are a character study all on their own. I enjoyed glimpsing behind the daily lives of each of them, understanding their many layers, and wanting to know more. I am sure there is another book in this series coming some day. I hope. Five stars.