Post Script: Notorious – Allison Brennan

Notorious

Allison Brennan

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250035059

 

 

Description:

New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan introduces an irrepressible heroine in her pulse-pounding new thriller Notorious, which Lisa Gardner says is, “Guaranteed to keep you up late at night.”

Maxine Revere has dedicated her life to investigating murders that the police have long since given up any hope of solving. A nationally renowned investigative reporter with her own TV show and a tough-as-nails reputation, Max tackles cold cases from across the country and every walk of life. But the one unsolved murder that still haunts her is a case from her own past.

When Max was a high school senior, one of her best friends was strangled and another, Kevin O’Neal, accused of the crime. To the disgrace of her wealthy family, Max stood by her friend, until she found out he lied about his alibi. Though his guilt was never proven, their relationship crumbled from the strain of too many secrets.

Now Max is home for Kevin’s funeral—after years of drug abuse, he committed suicide. She’s finally prepared to come to terms with the loss of his friendship, but she’s not prepared for Kevin’s sister to stubbornly insist that he didn’t kill himself. Or for an elderly couple to accost her at the airport, begging her to look into another murder at Max’s old high school. Max is more interested in the cold case at her alma mater than in digging around Kevin’s troubled life, but she agrees to do both. As Max uncovers dark secrets, she finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies that hit far too close to home. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that someone will do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

My View:

Initial impressions were deceiving; this narrative started more like a cosy, romantic mystery. I didn’t like the attention to class, money and “the right school” etc. however I continued on and soon discovered a heroine who was strong and passionate about her work and about discovering the truth. At this point the story became so much more interesting. At this point I too wanted to know the truth.

This is largely a story about lies, family and belonging.  Truth can be liberating or stifling.

I think this protagonist will be worth following in future novels as she develops and becomes familiar to the reader. An enjoyable read

Post Script: When Shadows Fall – J T Ellison

When Shadows Fall

J.T. Ellison

Harlequin

Harlequin MIRA

ISBN: 9780778316046

 

Description:

 

Dear Dr. Owens,

 

If you are reading this letter, I am dead and I would be most grateful if you could solve my murder…

 

Forensic pathologist Dr. Samantha Owens thought life was finally returning to normal after she suffered a terrible personal loss. Settling into her new job at Georgetown University, the illusion is shattered when she receives a disturbing letter from a dead man imploring her to solve his murder. There’s only one catch. Timothy Savage’s death was so obviously the suicide of a demented individual that the case has been closed.

 

When Sam learns Savage left a will requesting she autopsy his body, she feels compelled to look into the case. Sam’s own postmortem discovers clear signs that Savage was indeed murdered. And she finds DNA from a kidnapped child whose remains were recovered years earlier.

 

The investigation takes Sam into the shadows of a twenty-year-old mystery that must be solved to determine what really happened to Timothy Savage. Nothing about the case makes sense but it is clear someone is unwilling to let anyone, especially Samantha Owens, discover the truth.

 

My View:

The opening letter to Dr Owens sets the scene for a wonderfully plotted, intense and at times brutal journey directed by the deceased from the grave as he attempts to seek some sort of belated redemption for past sins. This is a great police and forensic procedural and I can see a great future for Dr Samantha Owens in future novels by this author. I think she will rival Tempe Brennan in her quest for truth on behalf of the dead.

 

This is the third book in the series yet despite not having read any of the others I was able to successfully negotiate the back story and immerse myself in this novel.  The characters were mostly endearing excepting the villains who were manipulated and violent and self-centred.  I think that the development of the villains in the piece was exceptional – not often in crime fiction do we get such a great understanding of the evilness within the narrative.  The character Timothy Savage is complicated walks a slippery trapeze between good and compromised. He clearly shows that we are all capable of bad judgements and mistakes; some mistakes having huge costs.

 

In all a fast paced enjoyable read that leaves me seeking previous work by this author.

Post Script: The Lost Girls – Wendy James

The Lost Girls

The Lost Girls

Wendy James

Michael Joseph

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9781921901058

 

Description:

From the bestselling author of The Mistake comes a hauntingly powerful story about families and secrets and the dark shadows cast by the past.

Curl Curl, Sydney, January 1978.

Angie’s a looker. Or she’s going to be. She’s only fourteen, but already, heads turn wherever she goes. Male heads, mainly . . .

Jane worships her older cousin Angie. She spends her summer vying for Angie’s attention. Then Angie is murdered. Jane and her family are shattered. They withdraw into themselves, casting a veil of silence over Angie’s death.

Thirty years later, a journalist arrives with questions about the tragic event. Jane is relieved to finally talk about her adored cousin. And so is her family. But whose version of Angie’s story – whose version of Angie herself – is the real one? And can past wrongs ever be made right?

The shocking truth of Angie’s last days will force Jane to question everything she once believed. Because nothing – not the past or even the present – is as she once imagined.

My View:

What an incredible talent this author has that she can take you back thirty odd years, to a time of innocence, to a time of discovery, a time of burgeoning sexual awakening that is the adolescent in the ‘70s.    With a stroke of a pen we are in that small country town, it is school holidays, we are watching TV; Sounds Unlimited, The Road Runner, Elvis re runs… going to the corner shop for mum and dad, happy to spend the change on lollies, listening to the radio, buying records of our favourite artists with Christmas money/pocket money, following our best friend and older cousin around, happy to be on the periphery of her golden aura.

But Angie is not content with hanging round with her younger cousin. She wants more; more admiration, more excitement, more experiences.  Life suddenly changes when Angie goes missing. Her death haunts her family for the next thirty odd years. Innocence is buried with Angie at the cemetery. Life is never the same.

This is a complex narrative that straddles the two time frames with ease – the settings and the stories of the past, 1978, the year Angie died and the present 2010 when the family are forced to relive, remember and recount the days surrounding the disappearance and the discovery of Angie’s dead body a few days later.  This is a story about memories, about families, about relationships, about how death and separation affects us and about the burden of secrets and lies that emotionally cripple a family until the truth is revealed. And a huge reveal it is.

James teases out the story using interviews, transcripts, multiple perspectives and recollections/memories – great devices to reveal the bigger picture.  Wendy James creates characters that are warm, that are flawed, that are passionate, that are real; I can recognise people I know in her characters. James asks the question – how far would you go to protect the ones you love?

Brilliant settings, engaging characters, a murder and a thirty year old mystery and wonderful storytelling this book has it all. 

Post Script: The Train Rider – Tony Cavanaugh

The Train Rider

Tony Cavanaugh

Hachette Australia

Hodder Australia

ISBN: 9780733630675

Description:

One man pushed Darian Richards to the edge. The man he couldn’t catch. The Train Rider.

As Victoria’s top homicide investigator, Darian Richards spent years catching killers. The crimes of passion, of anger, of revenge … they were easy. It was the monsters who were hard.

Someone was taking girls. At first he’d keep them a week then give them back. Darian warned that wouldn’t last. It didn’t. From then on, their bodies were never found. Girls kept disappearing. All they had in common was the fact they’d last been seen on a train.

The ever-rising list of the vanished broke Darian. Forced him to walk away. Now, retired, watching the Noosa River flow by, the nightmares had finally stopped. Darian was never going back.

Then three girls go missing from Queensland trains. Darian knows that the killer is playing him. He has a choice to make. But when the decision means a girl will die, there is no choice. He has to stop this man once and for all. Forever.

My View:

In this the 3rd novel in the Darian Richards series we learn a lot more about the person who is Darian – haunted by a murderer he could not catch, his present now embroiled in the residue  of  that  evil  that has followed him to his retirement by the river.  The same killer strikes again and this time it is personal, Darian is his target.  This is a great psychological thriller, the killer calmly plays a “catch me if you can” game with Darian, the stakes are high – the lives of innocent young girls and his relationship with Rose are at risk.

This is an engaging story with a voice that I found to be less intimidating than that of the villain in Promise, but don’t be misled the crimes committed by The Train Rider are as gruesome and as worrying as those in Promise but we are not privy to as much of the antagonist thoughts and so are spared some of the horror. This may make this easier reading for some.

A first rate psychological thriller, I look forward to the next chapter in this series.

Post Script: Night of Reunion – Michael Allegretto

Night of Reunion

Michael Allegretto

Open Road Integrated Media

MysteriousPress.com/Open Road

ISBN: 9781480462793

 

Description:

At Christmas, a psychotic killer returns to torment a happy family

 

After her release from the hospital, Christine drives straight to Colorado. The heat in her car is busted and her clothes are thin, but Christine doesn’t mind the chill. She is going to find Alex, and when she does, she will have vengeance to keep her warm. Years ago, after giving up her son for adoption, this delicate young beauty flew into a fit of jealous madness, killing her child and his new mother. The boy’s adoptive father, Alex, got away. He did not go far enough.

Living in Denver with his new wife and her six-year-old son, Alex is happy for the first time in years. When he learns of Christine’s release from the hospital, the police assure him that she won’t be allowed to harm his new family. But when strange things start happening around their rambling old house, Alex begins to fear that Christine is closer than he thinks.

 

 

My View:

Allegretto is the master of creating suspense and tension.  This novel starts of slowly, providing plenty of details of a cosy life, a happy family, a peaceful existence, and then it explodes with fear and apprehension. The reader sits in the background screaming – Get out! Get out of the house! What a great device to create tension – the reader is privileged with information about the villain; knows of her existences, her whereabouts, her plans, the cat and mouse games she is playing with the family. The reader knows where she is hiding. The family are oblivious. The tension just keeps ratcheting up. A great psychological drama unfolds.

Post Script: The Stolen Ones – Richard Montanari

The Stolen Ones

Richard Montanari

Mulholland Books

Mulholland Books

ISBN: 9780316244701

Description:

IN RICHARD MONTANARI’S CHILLING NEW SUSPENSE NOVEL, A SEALED-OFF NETWORK OF SECRET PASSAGES CONNECTS ALL OF PHILADELPHIA TO THE KILLER HIDDEN WITHIN.

 

 

Luther Wade grew up in Cold River, a warehouse for the criminally insane. Two decades ago the hospital closed it doors forever, but Luther never left. He wanders the catacombs beneath the city, channeling the violent dreams of Eduard Kross, Europe’s most prolific serial killer of the 20th century.

A two-year-old girl is found wandering the streets of Philadelphia in the middle of the night by detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. She does not speak, but she may hold the key to solving a string of murders committed in and around Priory Park.

As the detectives investigate, more bodies are found at Priory Park, and they’re drawn closer and closer to the doors of Luther’s devious maze and the dark secrets of Cold River.

 

My View:

When you pick up a book and begin reading you can pretty much tell immediately if that writer is skilled and proficient in his craft, Montanari is one such writer. Despite this being the 7th book in the series and having no previous knowledge of the author and this series I had no trouble at all in understanding where /how all the characters fit in and was able to start enjoying this read instantly.  This narrative is complex, intense and tension filled. The author is a great story teller – again his craft well honed; the words flow effortlessly, it reads effortlessly.

This is a complex story that revolves around snapshots of historical events and crimes of the past; it is a great meld of past and present and it is not long before the reader is enjoying a full album of memories and current events- all twisted and cruel. This is a unique and mesmerising script. This novel will keep you reading till the early hours of the morning…

Post Script: Love Story with Murders – Harry Bingham

Quirky protagonist with a sense of humour, intelligence and a mental illness – great read!

Love Story, With Murders

A Novel

Harry Bingham

Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell

Delacorte Press

ISBN: 9780345533760

 

Description:

 
 
D.C. Fiona Griffiths is facing the prospect of a dull weekend when the call comes in, something about illegal dumping in a Cardiff suburb. But when she arrives on the scene she finds, in a garage freezer, a severed human leg, complete with a pink suede high-heeled shoe.

South Wales police are able to ID the body part as that of a young woman who went missing five years earlier; a young woman who once made a living as an exotic dancer. All at once, Fiona’s job as a detective and her role as a loving daughter collide: Fiona’s father owns a Cardiff strip club and was once deeply involved in the local crime scene.

Still in recovery from a devastating psychotic breakdown, Fiona is wary of exploring a path that might end at her father’s door . . . yet her obsessive approach to criminal investigation leaves her no other option.

But Fiona’s specialty is not the living, it is the dead. And as she is just starting to get into the murdered girl’s head, a severed hand is found—and this one is male.

Soon, police are swamped with an increasing number of body parts found in and around suburban gardens, sheds, and garages. Media attention is intense, and investigators are working from a list of hundreds of persons of interest. When the department identifies the second victim, Fiona struggles to connect him with the dead stripper. What do the victims have in common? And why this macabre method of disposing the corpses?

The answers may be more than Fiona can handle. Because in order to solve the riddle of these hideous murders, D.C. Fiona Griffiths will have to delve into the mysteries of her past—and hope she comes out intact . . . and alive.

My View:

 I found this novel refreshing, intriguing and delightful to read. I enjoyed the quirky character that is DC Fiona Griffiths – her honest commentary, her sense of humour, her wit and attempts to stay “normal”. This protagonist will not be easy to forget –a  unique character that I enjoyed meeting in this the second Fiona Griffiths mystery which can most certainly be read as a standalone however I will be seeking out the first novel as I enjoyed this so much.

This is a police procedural with a difference; Fiona has her own unique methods of investigating, she likes to get a “feel” for the victims and their lives, she likes to get to know them and sometimes the dead communicate back to her, while she tries to stay grounded and in the present, a task she sometimes struggles with. I like this flawed unassuming hero, her idiosyncrasies and her attitude.

This story takes place in Wales – on icy roads, in rural back yards, in pole dancing clubs…and in the international world of commerce. The narrative weaves an intricate thread linking the deaths of three superficially unrelated victims; the jigsaw of data, of behaviours, of work, of leisure activities and Fiona’s instincts finally makes a complete picture that reveals all.  At no point did I guess what this picture would look like. A great read. This is an author I want to know more about.