Book Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

I was a huge fan of B.A. Paris’ “Behind Closed Doors” and was anxious to read her next release.

THE BREAKDOWN was a letdown for me. I did finish reading it and was pleasantly surprised by a tiny plot twist in the ending, but the main character’s overall responses and reactions to what was happening to her were repetitive and wore very thin by halfway through the book. I believe I would have enjoyed it more if it had been a tighter plot and novella length.

The story is told by Cass, who returns home on stormy night via a road through the woods. She almost wrecks avoiding a car pulled to the side. She stops, but when the driver doesn’t come to her car, she continues home and forgets about it. She is later horrified to realize the woman in the car was a new friend that was murdered sometime later that night in her car. She is wracked with guilt and tells no one, not her husband or best friend, who worked with the murdered woman.

The reader also learns that Cass has been forgetting small things and is worried that she may be experiencing early onset dementia like her mother. This makes Cass a possible unreliable narrator. As she becomes more afraid and paranoid some of her reactions are just not believable. This is when I would have liked less Cass and fewer pages.

I finished to see if my assumptions were correct and they were. There are not that many characters in the story, so it is not hard to figure out, especially if you read a lot of this type of book. As stated earlier, there is a small plot twist at the end that did surprise me, but there is a lot of emotional drama to get through for the surprise. This was just an average thriller for me.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Weave a Murderous Web by Anne Rothman-Hicks, Ken Hicks

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

WEAVE A MURDEROUS WEB by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks is a fast paced thriller full of duplicity and a twisted murder mystery featuring a strong, smart-mouthed female protagonist who narrates the story. Even though the main character is a lawyer and it begins with a custody case, it is not a legal thriller set in a courtroom. This book is the second in the Jane Larson series, but it is easily read as a standalone.

Jane Larson is an intense litigator for a major New York City law firm who does not like to lose. An associate in her firm asks Jane for her assistance for a friend in a simple divorce and custody case. The case turns out to be anything, but simple. Jane’s client, Gail Hollings is only interested in how much money her ex is hiding from her. The associate, Francine is more of a mother to Courtney than Jane’s client. The ex is a slimy attorney with mob associates and dealing drugs on the side until he turns up dead.

Jane finds that every person involved in this case has a secret or motive to hide and they all could be the killer. As she delves deeper, her friends and enemies warn her to get out, but Jane just has to figure out what is really happening and why. It could cost her more than just the case.

Jane is an intelligent, witty and dogged main character. Even after several attempts on her life, she just has to find the answers to what is really happening. The plot is fast paced and full of twists and red herrings. The only problem I had with this story was the number of characters involved. They all seem important, but you also need to keep a score card to keep all of their relationships straight. Other than that small point, I would definitely recommend this to all who love a strong female protagonist and/or a tightly woven thriller.

Book Review: Smokescreen by Khaled Talib

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

SMOKESCREEN by Khaled Talib is a fast-paced political espionage thriller set on the beautiful island of Singapore that has you second guessing every characters’ motives and actions as you race to the climax and conclusion. Smokescreen is also an apt title for this debut novel.

Jethro Westrope, also known as Jet West, is a feature writer for Singapore’s leading lifestyle magazine, Society. He leads a very public and pampered life which makes him an easy scapegoat in a high stakes political assassination plot. The Israelis and Palestinians are brokering for a permanent peace in Singapore and Jet is to be used as a pawn and framed as the assassin of the Israeli Prime Minister. The plot has major worldwide political ramifications that not only effect the two major players, but also the U.S. and Singapore.

Jet is pulled into the twisted plot when he is framed for the murder of a beautiful woman who tried to warn him of what was planned. As he tries to clear his name and find out who is responsible, Jet seeks the help of Nicole Wong, a senior prosecutor on the island and also a friend of the murdered girl. Neither knows who they can believe or completely trust as they weave through a twisted web of spies, double agents, and patriots to get to the truth and clear Jet’s name.

This thriller was tightly plotted with action, several dead bodies, revelations of deceit and twists that I can’t reveal due to spoilers throughout. You have to keep close tabs on all the players and their motives. The politics are thought provoking and the author handles the information sparingly with no preaching or information dump. Jet is an interesting and sympathetic lead character. The other characters are all well fleshed out and intriguing as you try to figure out if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

This is a debut thriller that delivers and will have you coming back for more from this author!

Book Review: Don’t Say A Word by A.L. Bird

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

A psychological suspense with not one, but two big plot twists which had me unable to put this book down until the very last page. DON’T SAY A WORD by A.L. Bird was an intense read.

(To avoid spoilers, this is a limited review.)

Jen Sutton is a lawyer who lives and breathes for her son, Josh. Over-protective to the extreme, but what is a mother to do when their lives are built on a lie? Jen’s past life is slowly revealed through internal dialogues and rants. Her reasons for her secretive life become increasingly clear as the psychological tension ramps up to a plot twist that took me completely by surprise.

Clear time for this one!

The true character of each character was revealed at the same pace as the plot, slowly working up to a break-neck pace. Every character had secrets and/or ulterior motives. The character development kept me reading even while some plotline developments in the story were a little unbelievable at times. For me, at times the writing feels somewhat choppy, but it also mirrors Jen’s internal panic and disintegration to a degree. The ending was a well written tie up of all the plot points and characters.

Thanks so much to Harper Collins UK HQ Digital and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Only the Lucky by Linda Castillo

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

ONLY THE LUCKY (Kate Burkholder, #8.5) by Linda Castillo is a novella that lets you return to Painters Mill for a short period of time between full length novels and reconnect with the characters you love in this series.

It is Friday the 13th in Painters Mill and even though Chief of Police Kate Burkholder does not believe in superstitions the problems just keep on coming. Kate learns of a huge outdoor ‘rager’ on an abandoned farm, the town is having a complete power outage until morning and the department receives a 911 call about an unresponsive Amish teen found by her boyfriend in the barn at the party.

This novella is only 56 pages long. It is an entertaining story that assumes you are already familiar with the main series characters. The crime was easily solved, but still a good read. I will always pick up a novella or book by this author in this series to check out how my favorite characters are doing.

Book Review: Exodus ’95 by Kfir Luzzatto

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

EXODUS ’95 by Kfir Luzzatto is a fast paced adventure thriller with a unique character twist and intriguing treasure hunt for Moses’ staff.

Claire Williams is a graphic designer that has always had to work hard to survive. When she befriends a dying, elderly man named Jack, she learns he is an ex-KGB agent who claims to have hidden the staff belonging to Moses’ from the Bible. He wants to give her the information on where and how to locate it with the hope that she can sell it to get money for a better life, but Jack has his own ulterior motives for giving Claire this information.

Dan Ze’evi is an Israeli engineer who is paired with Claire due to information he has on the location of the staff that he doesn’t realize he has in his memory. The two are bribed and blackmailed on their journey by a Russian oligarch who wants the power of the staff. They are also being chased by an Egyptian oligarch, who wants the staff destroyed, not recovered. Dan and Claire are running all over the world as it seems everyone wants the staff for their own reasons. Twist and turns I was not expecting kept popping up and made it a fun adventure that had me continually turning the pages.

The book is an easy read and I am sure you will enjoy the world-wide adventure if you can suspend realistic belief at times, which I don’t mind doing. I gave it the 3.5 star rating and would have liked to have given it more, but I felt the characters, except for Dan Ze’evi were two dimensional and stereotypical. The unique character twist belongs to Claire, but I can’t say more without it being a spoiler. Even with this twist, I just could never warm to her character. I also felt the romance was forced and unbelievable. The plot is full of potential, unique and is a fun adventure read.

Thank you to PINE TEN  and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for and honest review.