Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 7)


By Lynette Eason

Opening with the featured character, Danielle Harding, readers watch as this strong woman makes a plan to take her son and run away from her bully of a husband in order to find safety. The escape will be extremely difficult, as her spouse makes sure to keep tabs on Danielle at all times.

Just when she’s about to flee, her husband sends his brother, Stuart, over to the house to pick something up from the safe…a safe that Danielle has already emptied out for her journey. Just missing a battle, Danielle drives away to pick up her deaf son. Danielle has an angel on her side, considering she manages to evade both her spouse and his brother. But irony strikes when, on the same day she runs, her husband is found murdered. Now, she immediately turns from an abused woman running for her very life, to a person who may be a cold-blooded murderer in many peoples’ eyes.

With hubby out of the picture, the level of danger grows even more intense for Danielle. Stuart is now her stalker, and will not rest until he destroys Danielle for taking the life of his brother. She must stay two steps ahead, but it seems no matter where she goes, Stuart or one of his cronies shows up.

Running out of choices, Danielle turns to Operation Refuge, a government program protecting the abused. Danielle is given a solemn promise by head man, Adam Buchanan, that he will keep her safe and stop Stuart’s gang from harming her. The odd part is, Danielle’s stalkers always seem to appear, leading her to believe that someone close to her is working for the enemy.

This author is definitely gifted at creating nail-biters that cause readers to sit on the edge of their chairs until the last page. The imagination, fast pace, creativity, plot, characters—she has them all. After this, race to the stores and look for her other titles as well. You will NOT be sorry!

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



By Blake Crouch

The abbies are coming through the gates in droves and nothing can be done to stop them.

“The Last Town,” the third and final book in the Wayward Pines series, is a stunning ending to an electrifying series by author Blake Crouch.

Wayward Pines…the last bastion of civilization. Four-hundred citizens find out the secret to their existence and the horrible truth of their situation: their lives in the hands of a madman. Their small paradise is about to be transformed into a Hell-on-Earth, so perilous, they will probably all die horrible deaths at the hands of the abbies—undead, zombie-like creatures with great strength and speed—that are now streaming into their town and eating their way through the populous. Previously held at bay by high, strong electrical fences, the gates are now open by their creator’s hand, and death is everywhere. Their only hope may be in the form of Ethan Burke, the ex-Secret Service agent turned sheriff of Wayward Pines.

Powerfully told with break-neck pacing, this story is all action and speed, while still having an economically descriptive way that puts Crouch ahead of the pack. The characters are humanly flawed, but each has a story to tell, which adds to the realization and unimaginable horror. Crouch’s writing style is wickedly appealing and makes the entire book unique and difficult to put down.

This book gave me enough background to understand the intent of the author and story, while not weighing me down with too much previous detail, a credit to Crouch’s storytelling moxie. The ability to bring a reading front and center in a story like this, with only a brief hint at previous installments is a feat most authors don’t master easily, but Crouch is on the mark.

An outstanding completion to a most awesome series, “The Last Town” will put you right in the middle of the grizzly action and absolute terror…and who would want to be anywhere else?

Reviewed by DJ Weaver (WebbWeaver Reviews) co-author of “Collecting Innocents” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Ken Kuhlken

Tom Hickey definitely lived an interesting life before finally becoming an LAPD detective. His father, Charlie, left Tom and his sister, Florence, with a very abusive mother when they were only children before vanishing into thin air. The siblings ran, leaving that terrible life behind.

Now 1936, Tom’s current job has him dealing with a police chief who’s a little on the shady side. But life turns odd when Bud Gallagher appears in Tom’s world and shows him a manuscript that was written by his long-disappeared father. This document is supposed to unveil the reason why Charlie left. You see, there are issues with this manuscript, especially seeing how a book written and published by another man is identical to what Charlie wrote. This apparent theft is all Tom needs to start looking for his father, determined to locate Charlie no matter what the cost.

Surprises come from everywhere. Tom uncovers news that the presumed dead gunman, Harry Longabaugh, more commonly known as ‘The Sundance Kid,’ perhaps had a hand in the killing of his father. As the past is unearthed, Tom discovers there’s much more to this incredible story, with everything from killing to kidnapping to theft and forgery, to be solved.

As Tom and his sister get closer to the truth about their father’s eventual demise, they accept help from an evangelist. And as they continue to dig deeper into whether or not an author had stolen their father’s manuscript and called it his own, amazing historical characters arrive on the scene: from Betty Weaver, who was head of a gangster group that included John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd; to the rich and powerful publisher, William Randolph Hearst.

This is an amazing mystery set in the age of the Great Depression that takes readers on a thrill ride. It is also the first in this author’s California Century Novels that will spotlight the danger and color of the 1900s.

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



By Harry Turtledove

This highly-anticipated final chapter in the War That Came Early series is truly a grand finale!

The unforgettable transformation of history is complete.… Germany invades Czechoslovakia in 1938, rather than Poland in ‘39. England and France ally with Nazi Germany in order to do battle with Communist Russia, and history gets even more unique. By the year 1943, Britain and France are facing Germany across the western front; in the east, the Russians are pushing the Germans back. The United States is having a bit of a dust up with Japan, and after the Battle of Midway, American paratroopers are left stranded, forbidden to leave Japan because of their active biological warfare campaign.

In Munster, Germany, a church elder protests against Nazi treatment of ‘faulty’ folks (not Jewish), which spawns war-weary Germans to revolt against the Blackshirts. It seems that Hitler’s Plan A was to win quickly, striking hard and fast against France. There didn’t seem to be a Plan B, and countries remain locked in strange alliances. The Nazis are using Hungarian and Romanian troops; and England, after all the doubts surrounding the mysterious death of Churchill, is fighting back in Europe and in the North Atlantic.

Jewish people are fighting on both sides, some in secret as they don German uniforms. There are new war tools coming to the forefront of military inventions, and Japan is planning an attack on Hawaii using biological bombs to drop on the island paradise. Then…Hitler declares war on America, which may be too late considering the Fatherland is breaking into pieces.

This crazy, non-conventional, alternate look at this time period is absolutely riveting. It’s a new ‘what if?’ leading readers to wonder how things could have been if Hitler had left Poland alone and the Japanese had focused on others, and not solely on America. Debates are more than interesting, and the details regarding military strategy are amazing to behold. Turtledove has produced a great ending to a great ride!

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



By Ellery Adams

Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Virginia is a unique community catering to book lovers of all genre—Storyton Village. At its heart is Storyton Hall, a five-star resort which provides a quiet place for book lovers who want to get away from it all and—what else?—read to their hearts’ content.

Storyton Hall has been in the Steward family for hundreds of years. In fact, the original building was brought to the U.S. back in the 1800s from England. The current manager is widowed Jane Steward, with the assistance of her Uncle Aloysius and Aunt Octavia. The Hall is facing a financial crisis, so Jane decides to host a Murder and Mayhem Week to provide mystery fans the opportunity to come together for some role-playing and fantasy crime-solving. And charge them a hefty price for the privilege.

The week gets off to a promising start, and Jane has devised an ingenious schedule of events to keep the guests intrigued, including a scavenger hunt. The prize for the hunt is a valuable mystery book. When the winner is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the book he won is missing, Jane realizes she’s dealing with more than she’d bargained for—one of her guests could be an actual murderer.

“Murder in the Mystery Suite” is a promising first entry in the new Book Retreat mystery series by New York Times best-selling author Ellery Adams. Adams knows how to weave a cozy tale with layers of surprises and a wonderful cast of likeable characters that will have her readers begging for more, and as soon as possible!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Class Reunions Can Be Murder” ■



By W.E.B. Griffin with William E. Butterworth IV

A thrilling new series entitled Clandestine Operations has begun, opening doors into special ops, investigating the path to the Cold War, and unveiling clandestine connections between Argentina and Germany during WWII.

In this, the first in the series, the year is 1945. The Nazi’s order the assassination of the President of Argentina, Jorge Frade. In addition, the bloody murder of two Nazi officers occur during a ‘top secret’ night beach landing that’s part of Operation Phoenix.

It seems this ‘mission gone wrong’ was a plan to free an Argentine crew from a Nazi ship, and the murder of the officers is wrapped around an extortion campaign—taking money from Jews in the Fatherland and arranging for their safe passage to Argentina in return while keeping the Reich in the dark.

Cletus Frade, the young son of the former Argentine President, has returned to his homeland to take over his late father’s estate. Cletus is an OSS agent; an organization of wartime spymasters that will eventually become the CIA after the war is over. Cletus meets Major Hans-Peter von Wachstein, a Nazi pilot working at the German Embassy, and they form a friendship: Hans-Peter relays embassy secrets to Cletus, while Cletus helps move Hans-Peter’s money and family to Argentina. Hans-Peter and his father strongly believe that the war is wrong and Germany has already lost.

As a result of this shady dealing, the evil Himmler starts an investigation to locate the embassy spy. And although Cletus protects Hans-Peter as best he can, they both must wait and watch as Juan Peron, a noted pro-Nazi, gains power in the country.

This incredible mix of intrigue, diplomacy and, of course, a bit of romance, is fantastic. The reader will note the horror of the war, along with the massive role intelligence agents played in the eventual victory.

In other words, when this story from a literary team that ignites suspense lovers everywhere comes to a close, readers will be panting for the next novel.

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



By Liz Marklund

In the newest book of Liza Marklund’s Annika Bengtzon series translated from Swedish, the intrepid investigative reporter is drawn to a case on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

As the story starts, Annika is still dealing with fallout from events in earlier books. Her husband has left her for another woman and they’re sharing custody of their children. Annika is using an apartment provided by one of her sources, since her own place was destroyed in an assassination attempt. Because of a police cover-up, the insurance company believes she’s responsible for the fire and refuses to pay for her loss. On top of everything else, a reshuffle of leadership at her paper has left her working for an inexperienced editor.

He assigns her to cover the deaths of a retired Swedish hockey star and his family during a robbery on the Costa del Sol. The thieves used gas to incapacitate the family—a common tactic there—but this time, the type of gas was lethal, killing the star, his wife, his mother-in-law, and their two children. When she gets to the scene, Annika finds that the star’s teenaged daughter by a previous marriage was in the house prior to the attack, but has now disappeared. When the Spanish police find two robbers dead in a truck filled with loot from the house, they close the case, but Annika wonders about evidence indicating a third person at the scene.

As she continues to investigate, she finds the crime involves people from earlier cases on which she’s reported—cases that put her in physical danger. It leads her to dig into the drug trade in an area that has been nicknamed “Costa del Cocaine.” But the key to the case lies on a farm fifty years in the past, where three girls—the Troll, the Princess, and the Angel—plotted to find their place in the sun.

Those who’ve read Marklund before will find “The Long Shadow” especially satisfying as it wraps up threads woven through her previous books.

Reviewed by David Ingram ■

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