Book Review: Trust No One by Paul Cleave

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

TRUST NO ONE by Paul Cleave is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that has the reader and the crime writer narrator continually trying to decide what is reality and what is fiction.
Jerry Grey is a fictional crime writer who uses the pseudonym of Henry Cutter for his novels and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 49. He begins to keep a “Madness Journal” to follow his progression into Alzheimer’s, but he still is not sure if he can trust what seems real or what are remembered parts of his works of fiction caused by his disease. He confesses to crimes he has written about in his published novels to the police. At first, no one believes his confessions that they perceive to be caused by the dementia progressing in his mind, but dead bodies are turning up and the evidence is mounting against him.

Paul Cleave has written a thriller that makes you question everything you read and question all the characters’ motives. You cannot make any conclusions due to the unreliability of the protagonist as storyteller and yet the plot progresses forward at a faster and faster pace. Every scene and character are important. If you love this book as much as I did, wait until you read the ending. I believe it is perfect for the story, but your emotions are going to be all over the place and it can be debated endlessly. Fantastic book!

Book Review: Serenity Stalked by Craig A. Hart

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Another fast paced thriller featuring Shelby Alexander from Craig A. Hart. Yes, please!

SERENITY STALKED (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 2) has everything you want in an action packed, short, intense and tightly plotted thriller. In this second book, a serial killer has made his way to small town Serenity to make an anonymous kill and move on, until he sees Carly.

Shelby’s girlfriend, Carly asks him to deliver a message to an ex-boyfriend to quit texting her. The message is delivered, but then the ex-boyfriend, his wife and baby are all found murdered the next day. Shelby is seen leaving the home and an anonymous caller tells Sheriff Wilkes he can find the knife that killed them in Shelby’s storage shed. Since no love is lost between these two, Wilkes is ready to lock Shelby up.

True crime writer, Quinn Edwards warns Shelby of his impending arrest and tells him to get lost and she will help with the case. Believe her or not, Shelby goes, but Carly won’t leave with him and this is just what the killer is waiting for.

This is a quick read that you will want to finish in one sitting. As with Mr. Hart’s first Shelby book, all of the characters are fully fleshed. Shelby is a great lead character with wisdom, strength he has realized is changing with his age and his own moral code. I am looking forward to many more adventures featuring Shelby.

Book Review: Retribution by Shana Figueroa

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is only the second book in this series and it is already one of my “must read” urban fantasy series! RETRIBUTION (Valentine Shepherd #2) by Shana Figueroa gave me complex characters, a plot that continues to surprise and kick-butt action. This second book, while still having smokin’ hot sex scenes, is more focused on the world-building and plot.

At the end of the first book, P.I. Valentine Shepherd walks away from her relationship with Max Carressa. Val can see the future, but it is usually only death and destruction outcomes that she sees. She has tried to change the future and has managed a very few times to accomplish it, but usually the worst outcome occurs. She has seen their future and rather than try to change it, she walks away.

Six months has passed. Val has a new case of a girl who has disappeared. As she follows leads on the girl, Val is abducted and remembers nothing that happened to her for 12 hours. When she tries to piece together what happened, she finds two uploads on the internet of the missing girl and herself, unconscious and being sexually abused. Now all Val wants is revenge and she needs Max’s connections and help.

Max has tried to move on and has become engaged and adopted a dog to try and get the normal life he has always craved, but he is hiding an Oxy addiction that he is using to bury his real feelings. When Val calls, he knows he will do anything to help her, no matter the cost.

The first third of the book, I was so involved with Val and Max’s pain and self-destruction. They were both hurting so desperately and wouldn’t admit it to each other. The main plot of the book, a mad scientist with psychic abilities who wants to experiment on Val and Max is resolved, but you still have the overarching series story of the cabal that wants Val and Max together to steal their future child.

The secondary characters are just as complex and you never know if they are helping or hurting Val and Max or strictly out for their own gain. The plot twists and weaves all of these characters into an intense story that moves at a fast pace throughout. I love this series and cannot wait for the next book!

Thanks very much to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Tinderbox by Rachel Grant

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Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Rachel Grant’s Evidence series is a must read for me; smart, intelligent and smokin’ hot romance. When I found out she is starting a new series, I did a happy dance and then was so excited to find out I would be getting an early copy. TINDERBOX (Flashpoint Series, #1) by Rachel Grant is everything I expect in a Romantic suspense and more!

Dr. Morgan Adler is an archeologist working under contract to the Djibouti government in the Horn of Africa. As she works to clear the way for a new railroad, she and her team uncover a fossil skeleton that could be the find of a lifetime. The problem is that a warlord wants it also, and Morgan. She makes a run from her site to the American military base, Camp Citron, for help.

Based on a tip, Master Sergeant Pax Blanchard, a Green Beret based out of Camp Citron is ordered to intercept Morgan and stop her from getting to the base. They find a bomb under her car about to blow and Pax saves her life as she fights to save some fossils in her car. This is the first of many combustible situations between Pax and Morgan.

Morgan is a kick-butt heroine with a body like a centerfold, a foul mouth, and a PhD. She has a huge chip on her shoulder growing up with a General for a father, who she feels, he thinks she has never be good enough. Pax is completely focused on his military career after being burned young in a short-lived marriage to another General’s daughter. He wants nothing to do with any relationship and especially not with this General’s daughter. They are too hot for each other and there is no keeping their sexual tension from catching fire.

The plot takes off like a shot right from the first chapter and never lets up. Ms. Grant always teaches me new and interesting information in her books without slowing the pace. This new book has a warlord who wants to be a king, sex slave trade, corrupt and loyal politicians, and the U.S. and China working behind the scenes for control of this tinderbox of a country.

The twists and turns of the plot had me continually surprised and I just could not put this book down. The romance is hot, hot, hot. I highly recommend this book!

Book Review: Roots of Murder by R. Jean Reid

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

ROOTS OF MURDER by R. Jean Reid is a mystery that is both thought provoking and powerful.

I had a hard time putting this story down and it lingered in my mind when I was not reading. It starts out a little slow, but there is a lot of history to incorporate and it picks up speed very quickly with a suspenseful climax. Although fictional, this story covers very real topics regarding race relations, social injustice, poverty and voting rights in the South during the 1960’s and today.

Nell McGraw is trying to deal with her grief and that of her two children as they go on after the loss of Thom, Nell’s husband. She takes over running Thom’s weekly local paper, the Pelican Bay Crier in Mississippi by herself now instead of as a couple. Nell gets a call that human bones have been found in the park and they appear to be about 50 years old. This discovery leads Nell and her coworkers at the paper to go on a search to identify the bones and to find out why they were buried there.

While Nell and her coworkers try to discover the mystery surrounding the bones, Nell is dealing with the backlash from a local family trying to get her to quit prosecuting the drunk who caused the accident that killed her husband. The paper is covering the race for mayor and also trying to unravel a past scheme to steal the valuable property of poor black residents through property tax fraud. The author weaves this web of several storylines, past and present, into an amazing story.

I really want this book to be the start of a series and I checked online and it seems there will be a second book featuring Nell in June of 2017. Nell is such a strong female lead with her own problems to conquer and a wonderful cast of secondary characters. I felt this book was especially poignant considering the current state of affairs in our country. I did not want this book to end!

Book Review: Unpunished by Lisa Black

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

UNPUNISHED is the second book in Lisa Black’s Gardiner and Renner series and it really brings Maggie and Jack into focus as fully developed characters to follow. The plot of this book can be read as a standalone, but the first book “That Darkness” should be read before this to understand the complicated history and stand-off between these two.

Forensic investigator, Maggie Gardiner is called to an apparent suicide of the copy editor of the Cleveland Herald, the struggling daily newspaper. Maggie notices an inconsistency and realizes that this suicide is really murder. Jack and his partner, Riley are assigned the case and already at the scene.

Homicide Detective Jack Renner is a serial killer. If the courts cannot keep the worst of the worst locked up and away from innocent citizens, Jack personally takes care of them —permanently. Maggie is the only one who has been smart enough to figure out his secret. Their truce has held so far, but Maggie still has her doubts about him stopping his personal form of justice.

As another body of a Herald worker is found, Maggie and Jack have to work together to find the killer and figure out what is going on at the Herald.

This book gives a lot of information on the current state of print media in this country. Maggie takes us through the interesting steps of the forensics of the case which I am sure are realistic since that is Ms. Black’s specialty. The plot is fast paced and interesting throughout. Ms. Black has really breathed life into Maggie in this book. That was my only problem with the first book in this series and I am very happy with Maggie’s character development.

Maggie and Jack are great characters and I am looking forward to many more books in this series!

Thank you very much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was great!