Tag Archives: suspense fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR List

19 Sep

Can you believe that in two days it will be Fall?! Here in middle Georgia the department stores are sporting Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decor for sale, but the temperatures are hovering in the Summer-range, so Fall doesn’t seem that imminent. But what is imminent is my Fall TBR list (or pile!). The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are asking bloggers to share what they will be reading in the next few months, and I am always eager to oblige. I have a wide variety of reading ahead of me — historical, romance, contemporary, mystery/suspense, and interestingly enough, a couple of Christmas novels! So without further ado, my Fall TBR List!

Top Ten Books on My TBR List

The Case of The Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin

Charming The Troublemaker by Pepper Basham

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport

Deeds of Darkness by Mel Starr

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells 

Lydia by Diana Wallis Taylor

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

What are you reading this Fall?

 

 

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Mini-Review: The Knight

8 Sep

A unique clue is left for FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers at the scene of a ritual murder: a tape recording predicting Bowers’ own next move. At a subsequent murder, Bowers uncovers something else: an ancient manuscript being used as a template for the crimes. And the more he deciphers the codes of the text, the more he fears how it will end. Because Bowers isn’t closing in on the killer at all. The killer is closing in on him . . . .

 

 

 

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book The Bishop their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing”. Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game”. And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you”.

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking book on the art of fiction writing, Story Trumps Structure, won a Storytelling World award. Widely-recognized for his story crafting expertise, he has twice served as a Master CraftFest instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.

My Impressions:

The Knight is the third book in Steven James’ Bowers Files series. James has created another thrilling, chilling, and definitely creepy novel for those who are not faint of heart. I grimaced and cringed at some of the scenes. While it certainly can be read as a standalone, I would suggest reading the series in order. James slowly develops his characters and their relationships as the series progresses. There are also references to past and future cases that won’t spoil things for the reader, but can be used as clues for each subsequent book. The Knight uses a medieval classic as its basis for the crimes, making the perpetrator a very intelligent and sophisticated villain. Patrick is again up to the challenge despite very personal attacks. I never once guessed just who the bad guy was; it caught me completely unaware. This novel is masterful in its plotting and characterization, and one of James’ best.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Back to School Reading (For Mom!)

22 Aug

Top 10 Tuesday is back this week with reading lists for school days. I went back and forth on what to post this week. I debated sharing historical fiction, doing a “Don’t Know Much” post, etc. But because I was a slacker this weekend (I relaxed at our north Georgia cabin for total eclipse viewing), I decided to go with light and easy — Reading for The Car Line. My kids are all grown now, but I remember the many minutes, adding up to hours, that I spent sitting in car pick up lines or at the orthodontist or at ball practices. For times like those you need a book that will hold your attention, is entertaining, and is a quick read. This list contains something for everyone — history, mystery, suspense, and romance. I hope you enjoy these books as much I did! And because I was an English major, not a math major, you get 11 books!

And if you are looking for other great reading lists, check out Green Mockingbird and Reading Is My Superpower.

 

Top Car Line Books

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Moving Target by Lynette Gentry

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

True to You by Becky Wade

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green

What are you reading now that the kids are back in school?

Audiobook Review: The Bishop

16 Aug

FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers’s cutting-edge 21st-century geospatial investigative techniques and impeccable logic have helped him track some of the country’s most grisly killers. But those skills are pushed to the limit in this new installment of the highly-acclaimed, award-winning The Bowers Files series. This time it’s a congressman’s daughter who is found dead even as her killers launch a spree of perfect murders in the Northeast. 
 With nothing to link the crimes to each other, Agent Bowers faces his most difficult case yet — even as his personal life begins to crumble around him.Known for his intricately woven, masterfully plotted novels of high-octane action and spine-tingling suspense, Steven James delivers once again. 

The Bishop is a gripping, adrenaline-laced story for readers who are tired of timid thrillers. Strap on your seatbelt and get ready for a wild ride. The game is on.
Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book The Bishop their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing”. Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game”. And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you”.

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking book on the art of fiction writing, Story Trumps Structure, won a Storytelling World award. Widely-recognized for his story crafting expertise, he has twice served as a Master CraftFest instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.

My Impressions:

I have been binge-listening to audiobooks featuring FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers. In The Bishop, Patrick and Tessa are spending the summer in the D.C. area as Patrick is teaching at Quantico. Of course, Patrick cannot go anywhere without being pulled into an investigation. The horrific murder at a primate research center is just the beginning of an intense killing spree. Familiar characters are on board to get the crimes solved, but the perpetrators are in this for personal reasons, making the stakes life and death for all the characters.

The Bishop is another creepy, creepy story. James adds just enough detail to let the reader’s imagination take flight. The result is especially chilling. Patrick Bowers is a complex character, with many flaws, but also with deep love and loyalty. His personal life is as interesting as the gruesome cases he investigates. Tessa, Patrick’s step-daughter, is the character that contemplates the spiritual aspects within the novel. The Bishop focuses on man’s free will versus instinct. Tessa’s investigation of evolutionary theories and moral arguments is a great counterpoint to the crimes detailed within the book.

While The Bishop may not be for everyone (especially those with queasy stomachs), it is a thrill ride. Great writing, compelling characters, and thought-provoking themes make this one a perfect choice for those looking for a suspense-filled thriller. Note: The Bishop is the 4th book in the series, but can be read as a standalone.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Audiobook Review: The Rook

3 Aug

An arsonist has struck a top-secret research facility at a key US naval base. But it’s not just a random terrorist attack. These people were after something specific. When Special Agent Patrick Bowers is called in to investigate, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue and deception. With his own criminology research being turned against him and one of the world’s most deadly devices missing, Bowers is caught up in a race against time to stop an international assassin before it’s too late.

Full of fast-paced action and mind-bending plot twists, The Rook is an adrenaline-laced page-turner that will keep readers up all night. Book 2 in the Bowers Files, this riveting look into the criminal mind is the perfect follow-up to James’s well-reviewed The Pawn.

 

 

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book The Bishop their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing”. Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game”. And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you”.

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking book on the art of fiction writing, Story Trumps Structure, won a Storytelling World award. Widely-recognized for his story crafting expertise, he has twice served as a Master CraftFest instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.

My Impressions:

Years ago my book club read Steven James’ first novel, The Pawn. We had varied opinions — scary, creepy, nightmare-inducing . . . . Some did not even finish it because it was too intense. I had forgotten all that when I chose the audiobook of The Rook, the second in the Bowers Files series, for my daily walks. While it didn’t produce bad dreams, it was scary, creepy, chilling, and perhaps a bit too real. I really liked it. It made me think. However, if you are the least bit squeamish or have trouble with disturbing images, then this one is definitely not for you. But if you like a thriller with twists and turns and some seriously disturbed bad guys, then I recommend it.

Patrick Bowers is a Special Agent for the FBI. Not a profiler, he is an expert at identifying where serial offenders are apt to strike leading to the discovery of their identities. Called in to help with a serial arsonist case in San Diego, he gets more than he bargins for. A sinister weapon is being developed, and there are lots of people who would like to get their hands on it. Add the life and death implications of the case to a tenuous relationship with his sullen, stubborn, and vegan stepdaughter, and Patrick may just be in over his head.

While The Rook is a masterfully plotted thriller sure to induce gasps and grimaces and keep you up way too late at night, the characters are what I loved. Patrick is at once caring and compassionate and dogged and determined. He has trouble with authority, but is on the side of the good guys. Tessa, Patrick’s 16-year old stepdaughter struggles with her place in Patrick’s life following the death of her mother. Tessa and Agent/profiler Lien-hua Jiang show the personal side of Patrick, giving the reader a balanced view. The Rook is Christian Fiction, but it does not have an overt spiritual message. Tessa and Lien-hua discuss faith and Patrick wrestles with the nature of evil, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. And perhaps that is enough. I did like Patrick’s realization of the nature of evil — “We are all monsters, all of us. But we were made to be so much more.” The narrator does an excellent job, making this audiobook easy to listen to, even with the times I had to cringe.

For edge of your seat thrills, The Rook is a recommended read (or listen).

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Unusual Crime-Solving Professions

1 Aug

IYears ago I read G.K. Chesterton’s collection of short stories entitled The Club of Queer Trades. It was fun reading. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

(For Amazon) British writers have long enjoyed inventing preposterous clubs with eccentric members, unusual qualifications for membership and zany rules of behavior. The brilliant and gifted G. K. Chesterton was no exception, and the entertaining short stories in this volume revolve around just such an institution. In The Club of Queer Trades, candidates qualify for admission by creating a thoroughly original profession and proving they can make a living from it.

Six marvelously funny episodes with improbable plots are made especially pleasurable through Chesterton’s vivid descriptions of late Victorian London, sly pokes at the legal system, and a characteristic gift for delicious nonsense. In each story, a bizarre crime — such as kidnapping of a respected clergyman in “The Awful Reason of the Vicar’s Visit” — seems in the process of being committed. Actually, the events are all frenzied activities traceable to club members or would-be members. Here are intriguing tales of a little old lady imprisoned in a gloomy private dungeon; of prim and proper matrons bent on committing evil deeds; of a former British army officer and his extremely unusual residence; and a host of other incredible characters and situations.

This book got me thinking of all the mystery and suspense I read, and the many jobs the main characters have. There are plenty of FBI agents, US Marshals, and other law enforcement types, plus doctors, lawyers, PIs, bodyguards, etc., who get in on the action. But what about the unassuming amateurs or even the little known professionals that solve crimes, at least fictional crimes? So for this Top Ten Tuesday I’ve compiled a list of my own queer trades.

Top Crime-Solving Professions

 

Advice Columnist — Josephine Tulip (Mindy Starns Clark)

Josephine Tulip is definitely a smart chick, a twenty-first century female MacGyver who writes a helpful hints column and solves mysteries in her spare time. Her best friend, Danny, is a talented photographer who longs to succeed in his career…perhaps a cover photo on National Geographic?

When Jo’s next-door neighbor is accused of murder, Jo realizes the police have the wrong suspect. As she and Danny analyze clues, follow up on leads, and fall in and out of trouble, she recovers from a broken heart and he discovers that he has feelings for her. Will Danny have the courage to reveal them, or will he continue to hide them behind a façade of friendship?

Bailiff — Hugh de Singleton (Mel Starr)

Some valuable books have been stolen from Master John Wyclif, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh’s investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh’s pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to his pursuit of Kate?

One of the stolen books turns up alongside the drowned body of a poor Oxford scholar. Another accident? Hugh certainly doesn’t think so, but it will take all of his surgeon’s skills to prove.

Church Secretary — Cindy Preston (Debbie Viguie)

Cindy and Jeremiah come from two different worlds, even though they work right next door to each other. Cindy is a strong Christian who lives a normal but somewhat dull life, working as a church secretary. Jeremiah is a Reformed rabbi with a mysterious past full of danger and excitement. But one eventful Easter/Passover week, the two find themselves working together to solve a murder and stop a serial killer from striking again. Solving the mystery should put an end to their alliance, but the church secretary and the rabbi quickly find themselves enmeshed in another mystery. Soon the two form a friendly alliance and friendship, exploring personal history and faith and growing closer with each passing adventure. Despite their differences Cindy and Jeremiah find a lot of common ground.

Crime Scene Cleaner — Gabby St. Claire (Christy Barritt)

Gabby St. Claire dropped out of school on her way to completing a degree in forensic science. Instead, she did the next best thing: she started her own crime scene cleaning business. When a routine cleaning job uncovers a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes that the wrong person is in jail. But the owner of the weapon is willing to do anything to keep Gabby quiet. With the help of her neighbor, Riley Thomas, Gabby plays detective. But can Riley help her before another murder occurs?

 

 

English Teacher — Amelia Prentice (E. E. Kennedy)

Amelia Prentice, a forty-something high school English teacher comfortable in her predictable routine, regains consciousness after tripping over the corpse of a former student in the safest of places, the public library. Returning to the classroom, she tries to pretend nothing happened. But when it becomes obvious that the victim’s death wasn’t an accident and she is now a murder suspect, she realizes that her cozy small-town life in New York’s Adirondack region will never be the same.
 
Crazy things begin to happen: The victim’s mother disappears. Amelia’s friend Lily is thrown overboard from the Lake Champlain ferryboat. A mysterious millionaire from Montreal seems determined to buy Amelia’s house. The school nurse is viciously attacked by a student. Amelia’s old beau Gil suddenly seems determined to rekindle their romance. Amelia is carjacked, and of course, there’s the Lake Champlain Monster . . . 
 
It will take all Amelia’s wisdom, humor, and faith to figure out what’s going on and embrace the new life that lies ahead. If she survives.

Forensic Artist — Gwen Marcy (Carrie Stuart Parks)

In 1857, a wagon train in Utah was assaulted by a group of militant Mormons calling themselves the Avenging Angels. One hundred and forty people were murdered, including unarmed men, women, and children. The Mountain Meadows Massacre remains controversial to this day–but the truth may be written on the skulls of the victims.
When renowned forensic artist Gwen Marcey is recruited to reconstruct the faces of recently unearthed victims at Mountain Meadows, she isn’t expecting more than an interesting gig . . . and a break from her own hectic life.

But when Gwen stumbles on the ritualized murder of a young college student, her work on the massacre takes on a terrifying new aspect, and research quickly becomes a race against modern-day fundamentalist terror.
As evidence of a cover-up mounts–a cover-up spanning the entire history of the Mormon church–Gwen finds herself in the crosshairs of a secret society bent on fulfilling prophecy and revenging old wrongs.

Can a forensic artist reconstruct two centuries of suppressed history . . . before it repeats itself?

In A Cry from the Dust, Carrie Stuart Parks utilizes her own background as a celebrated, FBI-trained forensic artist to blend fact and fiction into a stunning mystery.

Housewife — Tess Spenser (Heather Day Gilbert)

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her. But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox — a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting — Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer…or the next victim might be Tess herself. Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

Limo Driver — Andi McConnell (Lorena McCourtney)

Downsized from her job.
Dumped by her boyfriend.
Depressed about that upcoming 6-0 birthday.
Not a good week for Andi McConnell.

But now there’s good news: She’s just inherited a limousine, a long, sleek, black limousine, from an eccentric uncle.

There’s also bad news: The dead body that soon turns up in the trunk. And Andi is the top suspect in the murder.

Enter Keegan “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, former TV detective, very interested in the case – and in Andi. As they work together to solve the crime, a big question looms: when the bullets start flying, are the windows in Andi’s limo really bullet proof?

Night Watchman — Ray Quinn (Mark Mynhier)

Eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough, quick-witted Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game–until a barrage of bullets ended his career…and his partner’ s life.

Now medically retired with a painful handicap, Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, Ray takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case — to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.

Ray reluctantly pulls the threads of this supposedly dead-end case only to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it threatens to turn the Orlando political landscape upside down and transform old friends into new enemies. As Ray chases down leads and interrogates suspects, someone is watching his every move, someone determined to keep him from ever finding out the truth — at any cost.

Nun — Sister Evangeline Devine (Lynne Hinton)

Sister Eve knows God moves in mysterious ways. And Eve adores a good mystery. Especially a murder.

Two decades into her calling at a New Mexico monastery, Sister Evangeline Divine breaks her daily routine when a police officer appears, carrying a message from her father. Sister Eve is no stranger to the law, having grown up with a police captain turned private detective. She’s seen her fair share of crime―and knows a thing or two about solving mysteries.

But when Captain Jackson Divine needs her to return home and help him recover from surgery, Sister Eve finds herself taking on his latest case.

A Hollywood director has disappeared, and the sultry starlet he’s been running around with isn’t talking. When the missing man turns up dead, Captain Divine’s case escalates into a full-blown murder case, and Sister Eve’s crime-solving instincts kick in with an almost God-given grace.

Soon Sister Eve finds herself soul-searching every step of the way: How can she choose between the vocation in her heart and the job in her blood?

Recovery Specialist — Landry Parker and Nickolai Baptiste (Robin Caroll)

Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident — to help her ailing father. Now that she’s on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and he’s good at his job — maybe even the best.
           
A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver’s Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden. Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there’s someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.

Can Landry and Nickolai work together despite their distrust of each other to save the legend before more innocent lives are lost? Will they find the real treasure isn’t the gold, but something more valuable . . . true love and understanding?

What do you do?

Could you solve mysteries too?

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — The End of Summer TBR List

25 Jul

The past week has been crazy. My husband had a routine medical procedure that has proven anything but. A promised one day recuperation has stretched into a week. We are hoping and praying for the best, but the two weeks that are left before a return to the doctor seem more like a year away instead. All this to say that I would appreciate your prayers for my husband’s healing and patience for the both of us. 😉

Because of the stress and worry of the past few days, I am taking the easy way out this week and posting my TBR list for the rest of the Summer. Which books will you be reading?

 

End of Summer TBR List

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Cardiac Event by Richard Mabry

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

 

What’s on your TBR List?