Book Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea


RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I have seriously been blown away by this book. I enjoyed Summit Lake by this author, but this story was even better.

THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by Charlie Donlea had me tangled up in plot twists and turns that left me completely surprised at the climax of the plot. I knew the answer, no I didn’t. I knew the answer, no I didn’t. I could NOT put this book down!

The majority of the story is told in the present with Livia Cutty, a fellow in forensic pathology wondering if her missing sister will ever appear on her autopsy table and Megan McDonald, the girl who got away, when both Megan and Nicole Cutty disappeared one summer night. Both are searching for the truth of the girls’ disappearance for differing reasons. Their search is intertwined with flashbacks to the months and days before the abduction and the story of Megan and Nicole’s summer after their senior year in high school.

These characters where all realistic and unforgettable. Livia is an intelligent and driven character. Her career is as important to her as her drive to find out what happened to her sister. She does not throw it away, but uses it in her search. I loved her use of kickboxing for stress relief. Megan was not the same girl she was before her abduction and she still doesn’t remember everything from the two weeks she was gone. Mr. Donlea did a great job of showing her before and after and the psychological changes. Nicole was a teen in rebellion and it took so little to tip her over into even darker things. Someone who she thought understood her, changed her whole world in one night.

This was a well written suspense with a plot that keeps you on your toes. This book will definitely be a recommendation read to all my suspense loving friends.

Thanks so much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for and honest review. I loved it!

Book Review: The Thing Speaks For Itself by A.S.A. Durphy

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

THE THING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF by A.S.A. Durphy is a unique thriller, gritty detective mystery and a psychological journey all rolled into one page-turning unstoppable read. Serious, violent and comedic all intertwined with characters that stick with you.

Gracie Stratis has moved on from the mayor’s office to training for the Diplomatic Security Service to fulfill her need to travel the world. When her current diplomatic security detail gets attacked, Gracie is seriously wounded and almost dies. She returns to her home in Oakland for months of rehab and recovery. Gracie believes in just pushing through and while this may help with her physical recovery, it leads to some interesting moments in her mental recovery.

Gracie’s family consists of her younger brother and three of his friends. They all grew up together and are all happy that even under the terrible circumstances that Gracie is home. When one of their group goes missing, Gracie is determined to find him.

As Gracie digs deeper into the disappearance, she discovers deception from those she trusted. She is pitted against a corrupt corporation, bribery of government officials and a security team willing to do anything for money. All she has is her skills, with a recovering and still untrustworthy mind and body, a private detective hired by the missing friend’s parents and her ragtag group of a family.

I love a strong female lead. Gracie just doesn’t investigate, she throws in a figurative grenade to see what happens and moves forward from there, no matter the devastation to herself. All of the characters are fully fleshed out and make the story come alive. This story is written in a fast paced format that has each family member narrating at different times throughout the story. This style is a little different, but the story and action pull you in and make the narration changes interesting rather than annoying. I am definitely looking forward to reading more about Gracie and her future adventures.

Book Review: Last Breath by Robert Brynzda

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Robert Brynzda and his amazing character, DCI Erika Foster, have given me a gripping and thrilling, British police procedural read once again! This fourth book is even stronger than the first and just as additive.

LAST BREATH (Detective Erika Foster, #4) starts off with a beautiful young girl found dead in a dumpster in London. Erika is with Peterson when he gets the call and decides to ride along to the scene. She wants in on the case, but her nemesis Stark is now Superintendent of the Murder Investigative Team and sends her on her way.

Erika is on desk duty, which she hates, but she just cannot keep her mouth silent when dealing with superiors. As she languishes, she applies to return to the Murder Investigative Team, but it does not look good until there is a medical emergency and she gets her chance to once again lead her previous team of detectives. With all of her experience, Erika connects this case to a previous unsolved case. As a third girl is reported missing, it becomes apparent that the team is chasing a serial killer who seems to disappear leaving no clues.

The killer is unveiled early on in this book by Mr. Brynzda. We get to look into his mind and life as Erika and her team try to stop him. It adds nail-biting tension as we watch him kidnap another victim and he begins to devolve with Erika and her team on his trail.

Erika is so complex, hard on the outside, but vulnerable. Her character has had to deal with loss, guilt, and moving forward emotionally while dealing with her ups and downs on the police force. The secondary characters all have unique personalities that add depth to each book. The fast paced plot keeps you reading and turning the pages. This is a series that I feel needs to be read in order and since it is on book #4, you better get busy!

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

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

A present day family tragedy, a twenty-year-old unsolved death and an environment that can go up in flames with one spark all ramp up the tension, anger, suspicion, danger and suspense in Jane Harper’s debut novel THE DRY.

Twenty years ago Aaron Falk and his father were run out of their home and off their farm in Kiewarra, a small farming community in Australia. Ellie Deacon was found drowned and even though it was ruled a suicide, Aaron was rumored to be involved in her death. His best friend Luke Hadler gave him an alibi, but his name was found on a note in the dead girl’s room. Aaron never wants to return to the community.

A call from Luke’s father brings Aaron, who is now a Federal Police investigator in Melbourne, back to Kiewarra for the funeral of Luke, his wife and small son. Everyone believes the pressures of the drought made Luke snap and kill his family before killing himself, but Luke’s parents just can’t believe it and ask Aaron to look into it for them. The local policeman, Sergeant Raco is new to the area and he is having some doubts with the ruling of murder-suicide himself. Aaron and Raco start to look more closely at the case and start to uncover buried secrets and lies.

Many in the community still believe Aaron lied about is alibi and the same forces that chased him before are back to pressure him into leaving again. He is harassed constantly again, which leaves him looking at the same foes as before and it could be clouding his judgement and perspective on the current case. Are the two, past and present cases connected or is it just coincidence? Aaron and Raco work together to find the truth before the town ignites.

This book was so well written, I find it extremely hard to believe it is a debut book. Ms. Harper gives the reader not one, but two intriguing mysteries that intertwine throughout the book with well-placed flashbacks that never interrupt the story’s narrative. All of the characters are complex and fully fleshed. The pressures of a farming community on the edge due to an extended drought makes the environment as important as any character. This book is a must read for lovers of mystery/suspense books!

Book Review: The Girl In the Maze by R.K. Jackson

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

THE GIRL IN THE MAZE is the debut book by R.K. Jackson featuring Martha Covington. This book was an enjoyable mix of thriller and mystery with a little psychic/seer thrown in on a Georgia coast island.

The island and its inhabitants are descendants of plantation slaves who are self-sustaining and still follow their old religion and belief system. Martha is out of inhouse treatment for schizophrenia suffered during college and is working an internship for the historical society to interview and write a book on the GeeChee people of Shell Heap Island as a test to see if she can maintain a normal life and return to college for journalism.

There is a battle between the town council and the GeeChee for control of development on their island which leads to dirty money, corruption and murder. Martha is caught in the middle and doesn’t know if her disease is taking over again or if voices and visions she begins to hear and see are due to being more, like Lady Albertha, an old seer in the GeeChee community.

Martha is a wonderful character. She is brilliant, driven, and at the same time doubts herself due to her illness. The plot flows with many rich characters and twists. The writing is very descriptive and you feel immersed in the small Georgia town, the island and traveling in the marshes. I am looking forward to reading more about Martha and where the author takes her.

Book Review: The Girl At the Bar by Nicholas Nash

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I absolutely love when I try a new author with no expectations and am completely absorbed into the story. THE GIRL AT THE BAR by Nicolas Nash is one of those mystery/thrillers that are rich in backgrounds, technical information and clues without bogging down the pace and keeps you guessing until the end.

Dr. Rebecca Chase is a brilliant cancer researcher in New York City for a medical conference. The night before she is to present, she meets Ragnar Johnson at her hotel bar. She leaves to go to his place for a one night stand. When Ragnar wakes up the next morning, she is gone, not just from his apartment, but she has completely disappeared.

No one knows why she would disappear. Her research has placed her in the middle of a high-stakes battle between two mega pharma companies. Her personal life is a mess, but she is not the type of person to just walk away from her life’s work and career. After her disappearance, others associated with her start to be killed and there are so many different motives and agendas, you don’t know who to trust.

Ragnar is a brilliant out of work trader with social and psychiatric problems. Even though he knows he looks to be the prime suspect in Rebecca’s disappearance, he can’t stay uninvolved. He and his tech expert/hacker friend, Eddie chase clues. As he works the case, he is being followed by Raoul Perez who heads up security for Atticus Biopharma and was a NYC detective previously. You also have a competent team of detectives, Timothy and Roberta, who we follow as they work the case.

During the story, you are introduced to an entity that just calls itself “the void”. It is never completely satisfied or filled for long. You realize this is the mind of the kidnapper/killer and the way it describes itself is extremely chilling.

There are so many characters that have a variety of motives that I was continually changing my mind on who was the guilty party and why. Even with all the moving parts, I was never confused on who was who. All of the characters were so interesting and realistic that I just had to keep turning the pages. I love this type of mystery as it takes you step by step and lets you think and discover along with the detectives and Ragnar. Please note: There is a moment of graphic violence in the climax of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel and will be looking for more from this author.

Thanks very much to Fireflies Publishing LLC and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure.