Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine


By Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner never disappoints. When it comes to the psychological thriller, she is most definitely among ‘the best of the best.’

Sgt. Foster and Tessa Leoni return to work the case of Nicole Frank; a woman who has barely survived a terrible accident. Listening to the story and collecting the facts, Foster and Leoni hear all about the car flying, the free-fall commencing, and the auto plowing into the ground front-end first. It’s an actual miracle that Nicole is alive, seeing as how there is no earthly chance that she could have survived the crash, pulled her broken body up a steep embankment in the dark of night, in the rain…to find help. However, she has done just that. But as she is put into an ambulance, she screams out that “Vero” is missing. Authorities get in gear, bringing in the search dogs to find the missing child.

Upon waking, Nicole has no memory of the accident, the rescuers, or her husband, who is called to the hospital bringing with him new information that confuses the investigators even more. According to Nicole’s husband, Thomas, she has suffered more than a few knocks on the head, and there is no child by the name of Vero. In fact, they have no children at all. Foster, the lead officer, and P.I. Leoni, give up the search for an invisible child, and allow the search team to go home.

But things are just not sitting right for them; fact and fiction begin to overlap. There seems to be an answer for everything they ask, from the brain injuries that Nicole received to her odd behavior to dreams she’s having that actually convince Nicole that she’s someone else. Foster and Leoni throw themselves headfirst into the case and check out the woman’s past; a past that doesn’t exist.

This book is an absolute treasure. Gardner, once again, has woven an incredible mystery that fans will remember for a long time to come.

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



By Patricia Gussin

This book is the fourth and, sadly, the end of the Laura Nelson series that has been so incredible to read. This is the tale that shows Laura in a far different setting than when readers were first introduced to the woman who had a tragic accident that ended her surgical career. Laura was devastated when her future was erased so quickly, yet she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and took a position as the V.P. of Research at a huge pharmaceutical company where she’s currently working to finalize the approval of the company’s latest drug.

But as Laura works to get this new drug on the market, Jake Harter, an employee of the FDA, is working just as diligently to get the drug turned down. Seems Jake has become obsessed with a lovely Iraqi scientist, Adawia Abdul, who discovered the drug. When the approval comes through, she’ll collect a huge bonus and move straight back to Iraq. There she will replace her very ill father who’s the lead scientist in Saddam Hussein’s bio-weapons program.

Let’s just say that Saddam’s men are working to get Dr. Abdul back to Iraq immediately. And with Harter trying to stall the drug and Laura bent on stopping him, this is one fight to the finish where the losers could very well end up dead. Laura’s own predecessor at the pharmaceutical company, as well as Harter’s wife, are already pushing up daisies, which means these two are very high on the hit list.

This fascinating series has the reader chomping at the bit for yet another piece of the puzzle every single time one of the books comes to an end. The writing, the characters, the plot—everything is so well done. Patricia Gussin will continue to gift fans with another amazing tale very soon. But Laura Nelson, her relentless determination, and heroine status will be missed.

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



By C.S. Challinor

C.S. Challinor is the author of the detective series, Rex Graves. Her latest book “Murder at Midnight” is the sixth book in the series. “Murder at Midnight” takes place on New Year’s Eve at Gleneagle Lodge, at a party hosted by Rex and his fiancée, Helen d’Arcy. When a couple, Ken and Catriona Fraser, are found murdered, Rex doesn’t have a lack of suspects. In true who-dun-it form, C.S. is able to weave a tale in which everyone attending had means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime. Rex is put to the test in order to solve a crime that happened right under his nose and at a party he hosted.

“Murder at Midnight” will delight all cozy and Agatha Christie fans. C.S. creates devilishly complex characters keeping the reader on edge until the final page. Readers will think they have the mystery all figured out, but C.S. doesn’t make it that easy. Fans will soon see that C.S., while using a retro mystery style, puts a modern twist on the crimes and characters giving a fresh new look into the who-dun-it recipe. “Murder at Midnight” could easily be considered C.S.’s best work to date and Rex Graves most challenging crime to solve, if he even can.

Reviewed by John Raab  ■



By Tess Gerritsen

The familiar and much beloved Rizzoli and Isles are back, and Gerritsen once again does not disappoint her fans who wait to see what this duo will get into next.

This time around, the well-known homicide detective, along with the medical examiner, are in their Boston home and called to a crime scene that looks a great deal like it should be placed in Yellowstone. In other words, with the claw marks found on the body, a wolf fighting a bear would be more apropos for what they see. In addition, the victim bearing the wounds is a big-game hunter by the name of Leon Gott. A taxidermist as well, it looks a great deal like the big game turned on him. But a canine can’t be blamed…

Isles, the M.E., finds herself particularly concerned, believing that this killer is experienced. This is not the first murder by these evil hands, and she believes it will definitely not be the last. This scene ends up to be a perfect match to a slew of homicides that remain unsolved, and have taken place across the country in wilderness locales. Isles is also well aware of a tale from Africa—where a group of tourists ended up having a cold, heartless murderer in their midst.

As Rizzoli and Isles realize that this same murderer may just be the one who has entered their beloved Boston, the team go into overdrive. The plan is to use the ‘one who got away’ in order to bring the killer to justice, but the would-be victim who once survived this madness may not want to play along.

Not a surprise that this pair became a TV show, Rizzoli and Isles have a way of drawing a reader in so they can be a part of their unique and thrilling cases. Gerritsen knows her characters, her fans, and how to write an incredible suspense.

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



By Andy Siegel

The author of this suspenseful, witty character named Tug Wyler, who is making his second appearance in print, is a man who really knows his subject inside and out, producing another tale that’s a real gem.

Tug Wyler is an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice. Cookie is a dancer who works at Jingles Dance Bonanza Club and is a very popular entertainer. When Tug meets Cookie she’s just come back to work at the club after a long absence; she was hurt when she slipped on a banana peel during her dancing act (no, not kidding) and she is about to settle her lawsuit for much less money than Tug thinks she should get.

As an exotic dancer, the accident left Cookie with injuries that negatively affect her work, and Tug observes her dancing as she struggles to move while wearing a neck brace. She even tries not to kick too high in order to not reinjure herself in the process. Cookie is most definitely in need of a good lawyer, so Tug takes her case to get her a far better settlement.

Now, Tug is a good lawyer and he believes that Cookie is the unsuspecting victim of a surgeon who has made massive mistakes while working on Cookie’s spine. As Tug searches for justice for Cookie, including getting her medical bills paid and a fair amount of money so she can give up her current career, Tug finds the case to be far more difficult than he originally thought. Some very sinister forces are at work in this situation that will cause trouble for Tug, Cookie, and anyone else who seems to get in their way.

A very good read that builds up to the ultimate verdict in Cookie’s case. This author has an incredibly dry sense of humor and delivers perfectly timed wit to the suspenseful prose.

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



By Karen MacInerney

Natalie Barnes, the owner of the Gray Whale Inn located on Cranberry Island in Maine, is looking forward to her marriage and to running her business. What she doesn’t expect is heading out to pick blueberries for her dessert menu one day and discovering a skiff on the water with a dead body in it.

Natalie, being a little on the nosy side, takes a piece of paper out of the dead man’s hand; a note that allows her to see two clues outside the house the man lived in that the police don’t know about. Nosiness is a gift for Natalie; when she wants to know the answer to a question she butts right into the conversations going on, even when talking to the police, a suspect, or anyone else she wants to. In other words, Natalie may be a small business owner, but the spark of the sleuth definitely resides in her soul. Perhaps that’s even the way interrogations go in Maine.

Natalie’s mother-in-law-to-be is staying and helping at the Inn, and there are two guests joining them at this time. One is a mystery novelist, and another is a woman intent on searching for her family history on the island. All this togetherness is quickly outdone by the murder of the young man in the skiff. And as things progress, the police and Natalie find out that there are drugs being taken out of a place called Smuggler’s Cove, and that the murder victim was connected to all the sales, taking the easy money that the drugs provided.

Natalie is hysterical and this book is an absolute gem. The wedding of the main characters and the food that no one will be able to stop talking about, is a pleasure to read. And if the Grey Whale really did decorate the coast of Maine, this would be one great vacation spot for lovers of the cozy mystery to visit and enjoy.

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



By Jenn McKinlay

Scarlett Parker and her cousin, Vivian Tremont, partners in a fashionable London hat shop, Mim’s Whims, are excited when bride-to-be Ariana Jackson visits the shop carrying her mother’s bridal hat. The hat was created by the cousins’ grandmother, the original Mim, many years ago. Ariana wants to wear the hat on her wedding day, and hires Vivian and Scarlett to restore the hat to its former glory.

Scarlett, who handles the business side of the hat shop, drops by Ariana’s office to confirm the restoration design before the work begins, and discovers Ariana standing over the body of her dead boss. Ariana, naturally hysterical, insists to Scarlett that she knows nothing about his untimely—and very messy—demise. But the police investigation contradicts that. It seems that the lovely Ariana and her boss, a lawyer for the rich and famous, were recently involved in a very intimate relationship, and there are photos to prove it. Photos that Ariana is desperate to suppress. The road to the altar for this bride is bumpier than most, leading not to a church, but to a jail cell on a murder charge.

Scarlett and Vivian believe in Ariana’s innocence, despite the overwhelming evidence against her. And, despite warnings from the police, decide to investigate and nail the real killer before Ariana is wearing prison garb permanently.

“At the Drop of a Hat” is the third in Jenn McKinlay’s Hat Shop series. It’s a cozy mystery at its best.

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine  ■



By Alex Kava

This book is a different series involving Ryder Creed—an old friend from Kava’s Maggie O’Dell books.

A U.S. Marine, Ryder is now a trainer of search and rescue dogs and still teaming up with Maggie. Ryder and his dogs, as you might expect, have made national headlines after working together to unveil and solve some pretty harsh crimes. For example, Ryder and his canines were the catalyst for intercepting drug shipments smuggled through Atlanta’s major airport, and because of their diligence are now coming to the attention of some not so nice folks.

When Ryder and his company of dogs are called to conduct a search on a commercial fishing boat, they discover a secret compartment that does not hold drugs. Instead, they uncover human cargo being shipped into the United States by a Columbian drug cartel. Ryder has quite an issue on his hands, and even chooses to aid one of the cartel’s drug carriers in her escape—a fourteen-year-old girl that reminds him of the disappearance of his younger sister.

In the meantime, Maggie O’Dell, FBI Agent, is looking into a series of murders where the victims were tortured, killed, and thrown into the Potomac River. Maggie is fairly certain that she knows where her investigation is going, but her higher-ups in the FBI are dragging their feet. When she discovers a list of potential victims with Ryder’s name on it, she shoots into overdrive. Unfortunately, the cartel has already sent someone to destroy Creed and everyone close to him. But when it comes to Ryder, he and his dogs may just have something special in mind to surprise the Columbians.

Both storylines are terrifically written and the reader will hang on every word. Not only is the suspense first-rate, but the relationship of Ryder with his dogs as they depend on each other for protection will send folks straight to their local shelter to get one of their very own.

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

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