Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 8)


By Wendy Corsi Staub

Another awesome Staub story that goes above and beyond the suspense/creepy factor!

Readers begin by meeting Meredith Heywood, a breast cancer survivor. A nice lady who keeps her strength and courage; she’s created a blog that will, hopefully, give other women a place to go where they can feel better and relate to someone who has gone through the same pain.

Some of these ladies become very fast friends, even though they’ve never met each other face-to-face. These new buddies are Landry Wells, Elena, Kay, and Jaycee. They, with the help of the internet, have become very close. At this time in their lives, discovering people who have been afflicted with the same medical condition and have lived to talk about it is a great consolation.

Sadly, Meredith is murdered! The murder scene, according to authorities, looks staged, and the police are not able to figure out if this was a random killing or a far more personal one. A bit later, the online group finally meet when they attend Meredith’s funeral. And when they come together, they want nothing more than to solve the crime that the police don’t seem to have any leads on or know where they should go next.

Landry suspects that Meredith’s death was not a random act and the killer might be hiding behind a screen name. She also thinks this someone might have hacked into their conversations, and either had something to prove, or vengeance to unleash.

Although the calamity and trauma that can come from the online world is not a new topic, this plot is extremely interesting because of the intelligence and sheer grit of the characters involved. With a motive and a killer that is unveiled over time, this fantastic wordsmith makes sure the story never stops for even a second, and that the creepiness factor never goes away. It’s not a surprise when Staub writes a truly unforgettable thriller, and her fans will definitely not be disappointed with this one!

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



By Ron Argo

In today’s day and age, we don’t think about the prejudices of races. Yes, there are some who do not get along with others, but we don’t worry about segregation and the beatings and killings associated with breaking the rules.

“The Sum of his Worth” takes the reader on a journey when blacks and whites wouldn’t think about mixing in the south. Even though laws were trying to be changed to overcome these prejudices, there are those in the Deep South that refused to consider blacks anything but dispensable. Lynching was part of life for the white man in Alabama and Georgia.

Sonny Poe—a sixteen-year-old—meets Dr. Joe, and they are two white guys in the heart of the south. Sonny already has friends from the neighboring town Ash, who are black. He doesn’t see a problem with it, but does understand how being seen with blacks could affect him and his friends. But Sonny is rebellious and refuses to treat blacks any differently than the whites and Dr. Joe is trying to change the way people think. And some people in the Alabama town consider that to be traitorous and go after both Sonny and Dr. Joe with killing on their minds. They group together the KKK and try to murder Sonny, Dr. Joe, and any black person who thinks about trying to rise above their unfortunate status. Will Sonny and Dr. Joe both die trying to do what’s right?

Argo has woven a story that unfortunately, was a little too close to the truth to think of as fiction. This well-written novel will have you gasping and flinching at the corruption and vileness. A very poignant novel, written in the voice of those of the 60s. Well done, Argo.

Reviewed by Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “The Other Side: Melinda’s Story,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

It’s always an adrenaline rush to hear that Rollins has another book on the shelves. But with this, the start of a brand new series by Rollins and writing collaborator Blackwood, fans will not only experience a ‘rush’ they will be jumping for joy!

U.S. Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his partner—an extremely intelligent Belgian Shepherd named Kane—have just signed on with Sigma Force. This is a very ‘hush, hush’ unit working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Their job is to smuggle Abram Bukolov out of Russia. Bukolov is a pharmacological expert and he needs to flee his country because of a secret he owns: the key to a highly infectious life form called LUCA that can literally destroy plant life.

General Artur Khazin of the Russian Military Intelligence Department has hired mercenary, Felice Nilsson, to prevent Mr. Bukolov’s escape. This General is looking to utilize LUCA to create an extremely powerful biological weapon.

As the action races from Russia into South Africa, Tucker and Kane attempt to find the ‘kill switch’ for this particular plant that apparently grows somewhere near the region of Namibia—the only biological species that can shut LUCA down. As the partners work to retrieve the plant and get Bukolov to the U.S., someone is telling the Russians where they are by keeping an eye on every move the partners make.

As the clock ticks down (much like 24), Tucker and Kane do their best to achieve success, while working to discover who the mole is in their organization before the entire world ends up to be only a memory.

A truly exciting start to what should be an incredible series, Tucker Wayne is a perfect action hero and canine Kane, shines as the only one Tucker can trust. Rollins’s collaborator on this series, Blackwood, has worked with both Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, and has proven to be a military suspense master right along with the rest of them. Everyone will love it!

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



By Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco

From the unique title to the cool cover, this book has it all.

Alanis McLachlan is on her way to Arizona in order to claim an inheritance left to her by her mother—a woman she hasn’t seen or spoken to in twenty years. The prize, so to speak, that she now possesses is a small shop that Alanis never knew existed, where her mother ran a tarot card reading business.

Not knowing what to do with the shop, Alanis decides she will keep the place open temporarily while she attempts to figure out who is responsible for her mother’s demise; she knows something just doesn’t add up, and she won’t stop until she finds out what really happened, and why. Mom wasn’t a princess or an angel, so Alanis has her work cut out for her. Seems that Mom was a great con artist, and Alanis thinks she may just have tried to swindle the wrong person…and ended up paying for it.

With the help of an extremely good-looking cop, and her mom’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis bones up on her tarot skills, and runs the business by faking her way through readings to win the confidence of her mother’s clients. But as she begins, Alanis starts to believe that all the answers she’s looking for are in the cards.

The cop assures Alanis that her mom was killed by a burglar, but as Alanis moves forward, she finds other suspects, and asks the law to give her the names of three people who had filed complaints against her mom. Not only does she find these complaints are valid, but Alanis also discovers that some of the townspeople are running scams all their own.

This is a fun read and, (just a little tip), this author also penned “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls,” which will give readers an idea of how amazing and creative this tale is. A+ across the board!

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



By Cathi Stoler

The famous Strip is being lit up even more, as a new casino opens in Las Vegas. The new owner of this lavish hotel/casino called January, is Jimmy Scanlon, who is considered by most to be the best of the best. Jimmy is also a longtime friend of PI Helen McCorkendale, who is all set to attend the grand opening.

When the festivities come to an end, Helen returns to her home and business in New York and asks a friend of hers, Laurel Imperiole—an editor at ‘Women Now’—to run a contest in the magazine that would give the winner a weekend at January as the grand prize. The winner, Dawn Chapman, is a jewelry store employee from Cincinnati who actually refuses the trip at first, before being persuaded by Laurel to accept.

To say the least, Dawn is dazzled by the grandeur of the hotel. But during her visit, the annual meeting of the International Diamond Dealers is being hosted at the casino. Circumstances make Dawn uncomfortable with staying, but Jimmy pays a visit to her room and encourages her to go to the Saturday afternoon pool party, offering to send her home on his jet the following day. Sadly, Dawn should have gone with her first instinct, as she is found by the pool murdered with poison, which turns out to be a very odd combination that includes diamond dust in the mixture. It seems Dawn was not who she pretended to be, and Helen and Laurel begin doing all they can to clear their friend, Jimmy, off the suspect list by solving the odd crime before it’s too late.

The scenes in this book are colorful, taking place in Las Vegas and New York. Yet when the changes occur, the writer does it so easily that readers have no problem following the tale as they ‘view’ both locales leading up to a super-terrific ending. Enjoy!

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



By Tom Harper

If you like Indiana Jones movies, or the Tallent & Lowery series, you will love this! High action, ancient artifacts, full-on entertainment…this is a historical thrill ride you will never forget.

Beginning in Athens in the year 389 BC, readers meet up with one of the most beloved thinkers of all time, Plato, who is heading to Italy seeking to be initiated into the Orphic mysteries—the secrets to the Underworld that only the gods know about…until now.

In the present, archaeologist Lily Barnes, is working on a dig in Italy when she stumbles across a gold tablet. On it is engraved a message that holds secrets of the afterlife, including the directions, supposedly, to the pathway to Hell. Lily and two of her colleagues are quickly asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and the strange treasure is locked up in a safe. But when Lily’s husband, Jonah, joins her at the site, he finds that his beloved wife—and the tablet—have disappeared into thin air.

The history and mystery move forward like a bullet out of a gun. Involved are wicked Greek billionaires with fancy yachts, as well as a slew of strange messages and flashbacks that bring the secrets of a previous era back to life. The story of Lily brings her through the same waters that Plato once traveled, searching caves that were actually carved by ocean waves long ago. Will the pathway to Hell actually be discovered? Well…when following in the footsteps of Plato, you just never know.

The storylines are very clear, allowing the reader never to get confused or mixed up with character, plot, or time period. The research of ancient Greece is stunning and in-depth, and the marvelous characters, both present day and long ago, are enticing. Plato’s views were altered on this journey, and the fun and sometimes terrifying moments revealed will satisfy one and all. You will be salivating over this one, so enjoy!

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



By Luke Delaney

The awesome cover alone will spark the imagination and cause the blood to run cold when it comes to this second killer novel featuring Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan.

To begin with, Thomas Keller is looking for a woman named Sam. This search is all about emotion; Thomas is in love with Sam and wants desperately to find her in order to keep her from harm. The only trouble is, he keeps finding women who look a whole lot like her; women who are also, as far as he’s concerned, pretending to be her. Well, as all serial killers know, this is a situation where Thomas is left no choice. He has to dispose of the ‘fakers’ so he can locate the ‘real’ Sam because he knows she needs to be saved.

Into this mental mix walks Detective Inspector Sean Corrigan. He seems to have a nifty sort of gift for delving into the brains of psychos, and this is yet another killer he is about to follow through a maze of death. When a lady by the name of Louise Russell comes up missing, Sean is determined to locate this latest crazy before the woman, like others before her, turns up dead. Closer and closer Sean gets with the help, or hindrance, of a criminal psychologist and team members from the police force who, most of the time, don’t know what they are talking about.

One of those true killer thrillers, Luke Delaney has offered up a creep fest that readers love to sink their teeth into. So intriguing, this is one quick read filled with everything from the hero to the dark and disturbing. In addition, readers may just look at people they’ve known for years in a different light, and make sure to bolt their doors before retiring for the evening. This type of crime fiction is beloved; the type that fans will not put down for fear they’ll miss something. A definite keeper!

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



By Emily Arsenault

This is the story of the Battle family. What you would call a very dysfunctional clan, the Battles dwell in Thompsonville, Massachusetts, living quiet, boring lives. However, when a cold-blooded murder happens too close to home, this dysfunctional family literally becomes their last name—battling to save one of their own from the cellblock.

It’s Theresa Battle who is having a difficult time. She’s been struggling to write a dissertation she may never finish, the way she’s going. Theresa has just offered to dog-sit for her brother’s girlfriend, Kim Graber, who is a local waitress. Theresa already has a houseful of pets, but doing this chore will not be a problem. Her daily routine includes her job, which is copywriting for a local candle making company. Not the most exciting existence, but Theresa has always stated that the Battles are used to disappointment. Especially when it comes to her brother Jeff. To Theresa, he is the absolute definition of a loser. But she must ask herself if the loser that annoys her so much could actually be a murderer.

When Kim Graber’s body is discovered, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that points straight to Jeff as being the killer, and he is thrown in jail and immediately charged. Although the Battles aren’t exactly buddies, they are blood. Using everything she can find to prove her brother’s innocence, Theresa listens to Kim’s coworkers and unravels a great many mysteries. As Theresa moves forward, her gut instinct seems to be correct. Blaming her brother was too quick an answer, and as Theresa digs, she unearths the fact that Kim was trying to discredit a local ‘big wig’ that she shared a history with, as well as many other suspects with some seriously dark secrets.

This book is filled with humor, which is somewhat unusual in a mystery/thriller, but a great thing to behold. The dialogue is very smartly written, and the plot is one you will stick to until the very end.

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

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