Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September Issue part 4)


By Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi captures the essence of being a teenager so vividly. I felt as though I was one of the gang. Riding my bike, smoking cigarettes, and just hanging out was a way of life. “December Park” stirred up memories of a time when I thought that I was invincible, until the innocence of youth was shattered.

Harting Farms is a quiet community, going about its everyday life. Then the Piper came and children went missing. Angelo “Angie” Mazzone, Peter Galloway, Scott Steeple, and Michael Sugarland are a band of friends. More like brothers, they stick together. When they see the body of the dead girl, possibly the latest of the Piper’s victims, it brings the danger closer to home. Curfews are set, people are scared, and Angie’s father, a police detective, is at a loss.

When Adrian Gardiner moves in, it is Angie who accepts him into the gang first. His stature is the bullying size. He carries a backpack with the Incredible Hulk blazed on it. His mother bares a scary scar around her neck. But somehow, he fits in. The guys take him to their private place in Satan’s Forest. This is where they think, smoke pot, and contemplate all the important things in a boy’s life.

When Adrian tells the guys he has found a locket that he believes belongs to the dead girl, they decide to solve the mystery of the Piper on their own. In the meantime, life goes on. School, fights, and teenage pains, pushes the Piper to the back of everyone’s mind except Adrian. He becomes obsessed. When he goes missing, the guys must grow up quick, stow their fears, and save their friend, before the Piper can take him away, forever.

The surprising climactic ending will have the reader wondering what the Piper of their childhood was and can it still reach out and steal them away.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Craig Saunders

Craig Saunders has done a masterful job in creating a thrilling psychological horror novel.

Keane Reid has been running for seven years, ever since his wife, Teresa, was brutally murdered, but he still couldn’t outrun his wife’s voice. It spoke to him often, and he listened.

Keane was a crime scene photographer, now he’s a plumber. He’s called out to the King’s Arms pub. One of the toilets in the restroom was smashed and flooded the area. This isn’t a job he can fix. Just shut off the mains and let the pub’s insurance figure it out, so he thinks until he turns around and sees her nailed to the door. He doesn’t freak, he just stares. Her body is a grizzly display of violence. Then he sees it: a third eye carved into her forehead. Just like what was done to his wife, except this time, the eye opens and says his name. So he runs.

He thinks back about how he brought death home and the whole gruesome period. He remembers finding a missing photograph he took at a crime scene seven years ago, in his house, in his bed, next to his wife. Had the killer followed him?

Keane comes to terms that the maniac who killed his wife is back, but he must also come to terms with her death. If he can just stay in the darkness, he can defeat him. He knows this madman lurks in the shadows.

The thought-provoking ending will catch you like a flash bulb in your eyes and leave you unable to see straight for a while. The descent into one’s psyche is a hard pill to swallow. What you find may be more terrifying than you expect. They say everyone has skeletons in their closet. The part they leave out is that those skeletons have shadows. If the shadow of your skeleton ever decides to step out on its own, you may have to start running.

Reviewed by Leslie A. Borghini, author of “Angel Heat” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Kate Watterson

Detective Ellie MacIntosh is facing two extremely different cases this time around, and the suspense factor is off the charts!

A young man attempts to get out of a rain storm while out on the lake where he’s been fishing. While pulling the boat ashore, he just happens to fall into a shallow grave located on Ellie’s grandfather’s land. Strangeness erupts as her grandfather calls her instead of the local law to investigate. But not only is this out of Ellie’s jurisdiction, she is also put off by her grandfather’s attitude and thinks that he may just know far more than he’s letting on—including the identity of the victim. The second case is much closer to home for Ellie: a killer who just happens to be spending his time shooting cops in Milwaukee.

The two cases fill Ellie’s workload quite quickly, as she goes back and forth between a present-day menace and a body that was left on Grandpa’s farm several years ago. Working with a new partner doesn’t help as she investigates the first policeman’s death, and tries to figure out why the man’s wife and son were spared. The original thought is that this is an organized crime hit, but when the second cop is shot down in daylight as he was about to give a speeding ticket to a driver—the ‘serial cop killer’ theory rises to the top of their radar.

Ellie and new partner, Lt. Grasso, are asked to go on an undercover hunt to see if there is anyone on the force who cannot be trusted, as more and more interest is placed on the fact that due to various circumstances, a cop could just be the one killing his/her fellow brothers.

This is definitely a page-turner that readers will want to finish in one sitting. And although the characters are not new, these books are most definitely standalones that are packed with surprises for the thriller fan!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion



By Alexander Campion

Lovers of this terrific French mystery series will be thrilled with this new tale featuring Paris Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier, a young woman on the fast track to success in her field of police business.

Trying to get away from her overwhelming workload, Capucine goes on a well-deserved vacation in the form of a Mediterranean cruise. However, as anyone knows by now, the beautiful sunset is not all that is waiting on the horizon for Capucine—a murder is once again going to end up directly in her path. But before the hubbub begins, the cruise is the most relaxing vacation that Capucine has enjoyed in some time. Others accompanying her are Capucine’s husband Alexandre, her cousin Jacques, and her boss, Ines, along with Ines’s husband. Everyone is enjoying life!

But in the middle of the cruise, Nathalie, the cook aboard the yacht, is lost to the sea, either by accident or, more likely, by the hand of a murderer. It’s thought that a sudden storm is the culprit, until a bullet hole found in Nathalie’s jacket alters the minds of everyone. Apparently, Nathalie was fond of some of the men, particularly Serge who’s a member of the crew. She was not so fond of the women on board, however, but the feeling was most definitely mutual. When a bullet is discovered that matches the gun Capucine is carrying, the one who stands for justice suddenly finds the tables turned as she becomes the number one suspect in the vicious crime.

Capucine and Alexandre head to a friend’s estate instead of returning to Paris as they investigate the death. Capucine knows that if she’s arrested for murder, her life as she knows and loves it will be over in a flash. Searching among the idle, rich, and famous, Capucine must find a way to save herself.

A great mystery with glorious settings and a cast that is so diverse and talented, Agatha Christie would be proud!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion



By Pan Jenoff

One of the most imaginative writers once again delivers the harshest history in the most soft-spoken manner, bringing to life an unforgettable tale of romance and suspense.

For the Nowak twins, living in a very small community in rural Poland, WWII went from being a bit of gossip in the marketplace to absolute fear, watching their own citizens ripped from their homes in the middle of the night never to be seen again. Helena and Ruth Nowak are in charge of their siblings. With their father deceased and their mother living in a hospital with hardly any chance of survival, the girls work hard to make sure that the youngest siblings are taken care of.

One day a week Helena travels over the rugged mountain pass to visit their mother, and on one such visit hears the moaning of a wounded soldier hidden in the forest. Trying to keep his presence silent so the enemy will not discover him, Helena gets the man into an abandoned chapel and tends to his wounds. His name is Sam, and he’s an American paratrooper who escaped his plane before it crashed—a plane that carried important information that could help the resistance beat back the Germans.

Although a romance commences, Helena’s frightening choice to help Sam by finding the people living in the darkness who’re readying to take on Hitler, places her in terrifying places, with twists and turns that show the Reich in their most monstrous form. As the story progresses, Helena and Ruth must face their own issues of survival; locating passports to flee the country before it’s too late.

The author who stunned the world with “The Kommandant’s Girl” continues book after book to create in-depth characters with courage, bravery, and humanity. The plot is magnificent, and the ending is one that will not be forgotten for its power. A definite keeper!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Kay Hooper

There is one person who writes paranormal from a place so far above everyone else in the genre: Kay Hooper. Her Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series is incredible, and Kay ups her game—if that’s possible—with “Haunted.”

There is an aura that surrounds not only the characters and agents of SCU but also this book. Kay brings some familiar faces from the unit back together to solve some serial killings along the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas and Georgia. At the same time, a unit is dispatched to Sociable, a small mountain town in Georgia. The county sheriff, Trinity Nichols, calls Bishop for help after discovering the body of a murdered friend. A death that seems “off.”

In Sociable, we meet a close group of friends known as The Group. Almost all of them were born and raised in Sociable, and decided to either stay or move back. Their lives, hopes, and dreams are intertwined in Sociable. When members of The Group start dying by odd circumstances, Bishop’s team starts to put the pieces of a frightening puzzle together.

We get to tag along with the members of SCU as they use their intelligence and psychic abilities to try and unravel and capture the dark forces at play in Sociable and the Blue Ridge Mountains. In “Haunted,” three relationships in particular stand out: the relationship between SCU Agents Hollis and DeMarco, between Trinity and her dog, Braden, and one between the psychic abilities that the agents and the villains are adept at. This last relationship will shock and astound when you, along with the SCU, discover who or what is killing these people.

If you are a lover of paranormal suspense, “Haunted” and Kay Hooper are your Holy Grail. If you have shied away from it in the past thinking it is too ‘out there,’ this is the perfect time to dive in. Kay Hooper has raised the bar with “Haunted” to a height unreachable by authors with ‘normal’ abilities.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Faye Kellerman

Always fun to read, Faye Kellerman has written yet another page-turner featuring Decker and Lazarus, a ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ for the ages.

For many years, Peter Decker has been a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, and has witnessed more horrific acts than he can count. He and his wife, Rina, are now leaving the California sun and moving to upstate New York so they can be closer to their children, grandchildren, and a foster son.

Peter has taken a job working for the Greenbury Police Department that’s definitely not as exciting and nowhere near as dangerous as the LAPD. Rina is enchanted with the area and has fit right into their new town, although Peter is not too keen on his new partner, Tyler McAdams. Tyler is a trust fund baby, a Harvard graduate who makes sure everyone knows it, and has a bad attitude. The frosting on the cake is when Tyler starts calling this seasoned detective, ‘Old Man,’ which doesn’t make Peter too happy. However, when things change and the two detectives are finally called to a real crime, Peter is raring to go; he knows police procedure backwards and forwards, and Tyler definitely does not.

First, there has been a break-in at a local cemetery and two Tiffany panels have been replaced by forgeries. Then comes a murder at a local college where a coed is brutally killed and Peter feels as if he’s right back at home. He and Tyler head down the ivy-covered hallways, and on their way, they find secrets, unearth cold cases, and run into people who kill others…just for the fun of it. Peter’s job is no longer boring, and Tyler is soon grateful to be studying at the feet of a real policeman, changing his attitude completely. As Peter enlists his wife’s expert help, the group finds themselves attempting to stop a bloody rampage by an emotionless killer.

Another great Kellerman read with a full spectrum of action and surprises!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

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