Book reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine


By Henry Turner

If you grew up in a small town, you knew someone like Billy. He was the kid who always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Remember him? He was the one who came from the broken family. The one who kids his own age picked on and adults ignored. They even avoided eye contact with him, if possible. If his name came up in conversation, the word trouble was soon to follow, and everyone would nod. Remember him now?

Well, Henry Turner remembers that kid, and he has written a stunning portrayal of him. The local police are always watching him, mistrusting him, and giving him accusatory glances, just because he’s “that kid.” Billy is always in trouble, but never really does anything wrong. Well, he does borrow another boy’s bike for late night joy rides, but he returns it. He does break into abandoned homes and people’s garages, but he’s just curious and wants to look around.

So what is he to do when he sees something off? When he sees a strange man in a dark, abandoned house. What is he to do when a boy his age is reported missing and he finds the body? He can’t go to the police; they don’t like him and will think he killed the boy. When other boys are reported missing, he knows he has to figure out what’s going on. He needs to try and find the killer.

Henry Turner weaves this plot with other subplots into a tapestry that shows the true meaning of family and friendship. “Ask the Dark” will keep you up late at night and make you rethink that kid you thought you knew.

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



By Jeffery Deaver

“Solitude Creek” is the latest and long awaited next book in the Kathryn Dance series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver. “Solitude Creek” takes readers on a ride of extreme intensity.

The book starts out on the Monterey Peninsula of California, within a small concert venue. When screams of “fire” are heard, the crowd instantly begins to panic. In the aftermath a half dozen people are killed and several others are seriously injured only to find out that there was no fire. This was a plot masterminded by a man obsessed with preying on people’s fears. Now, Kathryn Dance is called upon to find him before he is able to attack again, this time with far greater casualties.

Deaver is a master at setting a scene and exploring the psychological effects with his characters and readers. Fans of Lincoln Rhyme will devour this book in one sitting. Deaver is already considered one of the best thriller storytellers of our time, and “Solitude Creek” could cement his status at the top of that list. This book is a must-have for all thriller/suspense readers.

Reviewed by John Raab 



By Iris Johansen

This is an intriguing new book, the third in a trilogy from the fantastic author, Johansen, featuring CIA Operative Catherine Ling.

There are three victims right off the bat in this tale, offered up on the first few pages. These folks just happen to be from Catherine’s past; Olena Petrov in Russia, Robert Jantzen in Chile, and Slantkey, a man who helped Catherine find her child. These three people were murdered, and all were found with gold dog tags with Catherine’s name imprinted on them.

When her old friend and teacher, Hu Chang, comes to her, Catherine realizes that only two people could be behind this hunt to kill all her friends, and finds that one of them is already dead. The suspect still alive is Santos, a homicidal killer from Venezuela that was released from prison just recently. It is not implausible that he would come after Catherine once he disposed of all the people she cared about, seeing as that Catherine was responsible for the death of his wife.

Hurrying as fast as possible, Catherine gets in touch with her best buddies and warns them that their lives are in serious danger. But instead of worrying, they all want to come and take care of her. There is Erin, a prize-winning journalist that Catherine saved from a warlord in Tibet; Kelly, a teenage genius that Catherine saved in Colombia, and others. With their support, Catherine is now on the warpath and won’t stop until she has Santos’s hide.

Many back stories are presented in this book so that readers will be able to learn of the operative’s famous saves, and the suspense builds to a conclusion that is shocking, to say the least. What began with “What Doesn’t Kill You” in 2012, and moved on to “Live to See Tomorrow” in 2014, Johansen has proved that Catherine is one deadly CIA agent who may just ‘appear’ in the future at some point if an interesting crime occurs.

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



By Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought us Sherlock Holmes and then Agatha Christie introduced the world to Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple; now, since the TV show first aired in 1984 we have Jessica Fletcher, the bestselling mystery writer turned detective. Author Donald Bain releases the next book in the series, “Killer in the Kitchen,” and it’s a perfect fit.

A young married couple, Brad and Marcie, with the help of Brad’s mother, are finally able to live their dream by opening a restaurant called the Leg & Claw. However, trouble starts right away when award-winning and famous Chef Gerard “Pepe” LeBeouf decides to open a restaurant next door. Tensions build as Brad and Gerard face off with the openings of both their restaurants happening at the same time. When Gerard is then found killed in his own kitchen, the suspects are many, but Brad heads the list.

Jessica thinks that there is far more to the mystery than jumping to the conclusion that Brad is the killer. But Brad and Marcie don’t make things easy by holding a secret that could destroy them both. Once Jessica starts to dive into the life of Chef LeBeouf, she realizes that the killer could have an entirely different motive.

“Killer in the Kitchen” is an exciting mystery that leaves the reader changing their mind with each page as to who the killer is. Bain does an excellent job of staying true to the characters that we have grown to love. All mystery fans need to make sure that the adventures of Jessica Fletcher are listed as a top read with each release.

Reviewed by John Raab 



By Catriona McPherson

Keiko Nishisato has traveled from Tokyo to Edinburgh, Scotland, in order to further her education at the University. She is looking forward to a busy life in Edinburgh, attaining some friends and being granted a wise adviser that will help her through the difficult time of obtaining a Ph.D.

Instead of these lovely dreams coming true, her adviser turns out to be completely uninterested in her path in life and has no desire to help her get there. Her fellow students are cold as can be, and she has oddly received funding from a mysterious company called the Painchton Traders, who have arranged for free accommodations for Keiko above a butcher shop located in the tiny town of Painchton. Although the latter seems like good news, it is a really, really long bus ride in order to reach the University.

Enter the Poole family, a widow and her two sons who own the butcher shop. One son, Malcolm, is obsessed with the shop, while Murray, the other son, is a classic motorcycle fan who returned to the shop only after his father died. Keiko makes friends with a young mother, Fancy Clark, who recently returned to the village, and Murray, who helps her exercise in his thrown-together gym. Keiko soon learns the story of three young women who vanished from the village. And believing that she has fallen over a mystery that may help her gain that precious Ph.D., she works with the villagers who gather some thoughts, clues, and answer questions for Keiko, who is slowly unveiling a horrible secret that should have been left alone.

Although a bit slow in places, the mystery opens up eventually and the suspense grows as Keiko forges ahead in a world that may send her home in a body bag.

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



By Bruce DeSilva

From Rhode Island’s budget crisis to a Governor that is truly a character one will never forget, (AKA: Attila the Nun), every word in this great plot is more than entertaining.

The Governor’s plan to legalize gambling had unexpected results, coming in the form of Organized Crime, and many others who might have a lot to lose if sports gambling became legal, including the sports professionals, themselves. On the other side of the proverbial coin are the ones who have something to gain if the law goes through; people who could bring lots and lots of money to the state and be able to perhaps turn that cash into power that would allow professional gamblers to buy votes in the state’s legislative body.

Liam Mulligan is an investigative reporter for The Providence Dispatch, a paper that has been taken over by a large group whose goal is profits, profits, and more profits. These folks just want to produce a newspaper where the only investigative reporting by Liam will be used to fill up empty spaces between pages and pages of ads. Mulligan is a former Pulitzer winner and doesn’t go along with this type of deal. He wants to dig deeper into this new piece of legislation, so he begins to work off the clock. Soon a state legislator turns up dead, an out of state crook gets shot, and the crook’s cash-filled briefcase goes missing, which leaves a target on Mulligan’s own back.

The character of Liam is going into his fourth book in this series, but this is most definitely a stand-alone novel that can be read by suspense lovers out there who may have somehow missed the first brilliant books by this author. A quick and compelling story of murder, ethics, and very tough decisions for local law and government to make, this is a powerful crime story with fantastic plotting.

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



By Rhys Bowen

Just in time for basketball’s March Madness season and St. Patrick’s Day, St. Martin’s Publishing has released the second in Rhys Bowen’s wonderful Molly Murphy mystery series, “Death of Riley,” in paperback format.

The book (and the series) is set at the end of the nineteenth century, and Molly has recently escaped her personal troubles in Ireland and fled to New York City. There she’s met and fallen in love with handsome police captain, Daniel Sullivan. Needing to earn a living, and not cut out to be a servant or a lady’s companion because of her often tart tongue, the resourceful Molly decides to become a private investigator, offering her services to Paddy Riley, a tough old Cockney (despite his Irish last name) who specializes in divorce work. With a little persuasion, he agrees to take Molly on as his apprentice. Although Paddy’s idea of “apprentice” seems to consist of Molly’s cleaning the office and keeping it tidy, she decides to make the best of it.

All is going well until Molly arrives at work one morning and finds Paddy dying from a bullet wound in his abdomen. The police officer in charge of the case seems unmotivated to find Paddy’s murderer. So Molly decides to tackle the job herself, a journey which leads her through the back alleys of Manhattan, into the bars and lounges of the city’s literary scene, and to a surprise meeting with anarchist Emma Goldman.

“Death of Riley” weaves authentic historical events into a well-plotted and suspenseful mystery with a delightful protagonist whom readers will love. And speaking of love—what about Molly’s on-again, off-again romance with the dashing Captain Sullivan? Ah, for that information, check out the whole series!

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



By Philip Donlay

In the new thriller from Philip Donlay, his hero, Donovan Nash, must race to save one of his closest friends from both Central American kidnappers and a volcano that’s ready to explode. At the same time, he’s forced to re-examine the event that made him leave his previous life behind and take on the Nash identity.

Stephanie VanGelder and her father, William, had become a surrogate family for Nash when he lost his own mother and father in a shipwreck. Now Stephanie, a world-class photographer who was documenting the impending eruption of a Guatemalan volcano, has been kidnapped in the forest outside Guatemala City. But was she the target or just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Nash has been in seclusion in Montana following his most recent adventure, but when his ex-wife, Dr. Lauren McKenna, sends a message about Stephanie’s kidnapping, he leaves immediately. For Nash, the case echoes the kidnapping and murder years earlier of his first love, Meredith Barnes. In the fallout of her murder, Nash faked his death to put an end to his former life as Robert Huntington, the rich and brash CEO of his family’s oil company, and reinvented himself as Donovan Nash, head of Eco-Watch, a non-profit scientific research group championing the ecological work to which Meredith had dedicated her life.

In Guatemala, Nash discovers Stephanie’s kidnapping is part of a spider web of deceit that may involve people he’s trusted. Complicating everything is a mysterious woman who may also be the target of the kidnappers. At the same time, Lauren turns to a former adversary for help to investigate threads that lead from Guatemala back to powerful people in the United States.

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