Book Review: The Saboteur by Andrew Gross

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

THE SABOTEUR by Andrew Gross is an intense historical fiction based on the true life stories of the Norwegian Freedom Fighters assigned the seemingly impossible task of destroying the Nazis’ supply of heavy water before it could be used to produce an atomic bomb.

Kurt Nordstrum was an engineering student in Oslo in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. His whole life changes as he fights with his friends in the Norwegian resistance. The friendships, bravery and strength of these men and women is highlighted in this story.

Dieter Lund is a Captain in the Quisling, which is an arm of the Gestapo made up of Norwegian collaborators. Kurt and Dieter attended school together in their small hometown. With the murder of another Quisling onboard a ferry, the long resentment and envy that Dieter feels towards Kurt manifests itself and the chase is on. Good versus evil, protagonist versus antagonist.

In 1943, Kurt and his highly trained fellow Norwegian teammates are parachuted back into Norway from England for the specific purpose of destroying a heavily fortified hydro plant’s capability of producing heavy water and destroying any already produced. They must also stop any from leaving Norway and making it to Germany.

Between the seemingly impossible missions that this team takes on and the continual chase of the Quisling it was hard to put this book down.  The tragedies and triumphs of ordinary people during a horrific world war are highlighted in this book. As the author notes in the end, this story is based on real people, which makes it all the more amazing.

*(I want to make one personal comment on this book and other reviews I have read. I agree with everyone that this author’s previous book “The One Man” was an exceptional historical thriller. I feel that any comparisons to this book though short changes this book. This book is based on true people and is a historical fiction novel. Yes, it has thrills and suspense throughout, but there is a difference between the two types of books. I did not compare the two when I rated my review.)

Thank you very much to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC.

Book Review: A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Paul Cleave is now on my MUST READ list and I feel he should be on every fan of thrillers book shelves, too!

I read “Trust No One” and loved it, so I was very happy to get this ARC of his new book. Now I can add A KILLER HARVEST to this year’s list of my favorite books. I am in love with this author’s writing, plotting and pacing. When you think you are at the climax or you have everything figured out Mr. Cleave continually throws another plot twist, big or small, into the mix which makes you even more anxious and desperate to continue reading.

Joshua Logan believes he is cursed. He was born blind and lost his biological parents at a young age. He was taken in by his uncle and aunt, who he now calls mom and dad, but he can never take his happiness for granted.

While investigating a suspect believed to be a serial killer, Joshua’s detective father is killed. His partner kills the killer, but the curse has struck again. Joshua’s dad left a specific request in his will. If he was ever killed, his eyes would go to Joshua for a transplant and a chance at sight. As the donated eyes are transported to Joshua’s operating room, there is a mishap and Joshua receives one of his father’s eyes and one of the serial killer’s eyes which were also taken for donation.

After the surgery, Joshua begins to have strange and disturbing dreams. Sometimes he feels like he is seeing his father’s death from his father’s perspective and sometimes from the killer’s. He is also able to identify people that he has never seen before. As Joshua tries to deal with all the changes in his life, the serial killer’s accomplice is out to avenge his friend’s death. Joshua and all those close to him are in danger.

You may believe that you know how this will end from the brief summary above and past thriller plots, but in the hands of this author, you are so wrong! I could not stop thinking about this book when I had to put it down and could not wait to get back to it. Mr. Cleave knows how to masterfully take the reader on a journey that makes the unbelievable possible. I definitely need to start working my way through this author’s past catalogue. I highly recommend this book to all and especially those who love older Dean Koontz and Stephen King works that take a normal situation and twist it.

Thank you so much to Atria Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure!

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.