Review: <i>Trace</i> by Archer Mayor Review: Trace by Archer Mayor Kristin Centorcelli Read Kristin Centorcelli's review! Discount: <i>The Beautiful Mystery</i> by Louise Penny Discount: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny Crime HQ Get a digital copy for only $2.99 through October! <i>Hello Again</i>: Excerpt Hello Again: Excerpt Brenda Novak The second book in the Dr. Evelyn Talbot series. <i>If You Knew My Sister</i>: Excerpt If You Knew My Sister: Excerpt Michelle Adams A debut novel of psychological suspense.
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September 25, 2017
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Showing posts by: Kristin Centorcelli click to see Kristin Centorcelli's profile
Sep 25 2017 3:00pm

Review: Trace by Archer Mayor

Trace by Archer MayorTrace by Archer Mayor is the 28th book in the Joe Gunther series (available September 26, 2017).

I confess that this is my first Joe Gunther novel, and the series is 28 books in, so there’s a lot of rich history that I’ve missed in the series. That said, Archer Mayor makes it shockingly easy to get comfortable in Joe’s world without a ton of exposition loading down the narrative. At 28 books in, that’s no easy feat. You know these characters have a ton of history, but it’s like settling in with family—rife with conflict but infused with an unmistakable undercurrent of warmth.

Joe is the head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation—they’re specialists called in by other departments when they need help. “They were to assist and fade away, leaving the limelight to others.” He’s got a crack team reporting to him too. He’ll need them to be on the ball because his mother is ill and he must accompany her to a care facility until she gets better. It could be weeks, or it could be months. Samantha Martens is in charge while he’s gone, and she’s a little unsure of herself—especially since her fellow cop and difficult significant other, Willy Kunkle, is surely going to chafe having to answer to her.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Trace...]

Sep 20 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille is a blistering new novel featuring an exciting new character—U.S. Army combat veteran Daniel “Mac” MacCormick, now a charter boat captain, who is about to set sail on his most dangerous cruise.

All 35-year-old Army vet Daniel “Mac” MacCormick wants to do is take out fishing groups on his charter boat, The Maine, make a little money, and enjoy the Key West sunsets. When he’s approached with a job by a lawyer named Carlos Macia, known for being heavily involved with anti-Castro groups, he’s admittedly a little suspicious.

“I’m interested in chartering your boat for a cruise to Cuba.”

I didn’t respond.

“There is a fishing tournament, sailing from here to Havana in a few weeks.”

“Does the Cuban Navy know about this?”

He smiled. “This is an authorized event, of course—the Pescando Por la Paz.” He reminded me, “We are normalizing relations. The Cuban Thaw.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Cuban Affair...]

Sep 19 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen is the seventh book in the Department Q series.

Carl Mørck, the crotchety-but-very-skilled homicide detective whose Copenhagen-based Department Q is relegated to the basement, is back in the seventh installment of Adler-Olsen’s unusual series. I’ll admit, when I read the first book, The Keeper of Lost Causes, I wasn’t sure if Carl was for me. He ticks a lot of my boxes, though. I like my detectives cranky with a genuinely good heart buried underneath all that rough and tumble, but he’s missing some of the existential angst that I love so much. But … that’s ok. I fell in love with Carl and his Middle Eastern “assistant” Assad, who serves up a coffee concoction that will knock your socks off and is so much more than he seems. His background still isn’t clear seven books in, although he seems well-versed in the more darker arts of policing, much to Carl’s frequent chagrin. 

For those new to the series, Department Q is basically the department’s cold-case crew, formed as a way for Carl’s (former) boss to relegate him to the basement while showing the brass they could get things done. It was formed after a shooting that killed a member of Carl’s team and paralyzed another—he’s now living with Carl—and Carl was a right mess after that. But it’s been nine years, and a LOT has happened. 

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Scarred Woman...]

Sep 11 2017 12:00pm

Review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld is a haunting, richly atmospheric, and deeply suspenseful novel about an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl.

When I read Rene Denfeld's first novel, The Enchanted, I was blown away. She has a talent for portraying damaged people in a way that inspires empathy—even in people that are guilty of terrible things—and this is a theme that also runs through the exquisite The Child Finder. Naomi finds missing children, and she’s good at it. After all, she’s a lost child herself.

In Naomi’s earliest memory she had been running naked across a strawberry field at night towards a fire crackling at the edge of the woods. A group of migrants were in a clearing, a wet baby against a lap. A voice like a ghost came from the smoky campfire:

Dear God, look at that. Come here, honey.

Someone was wrapping her in a soft blanket, wiping her face with a warm, soothing cloth.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Child Finder...]

Sep 5 2017 1:00pm

Review: House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson

House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson is an unnerving novel of domestic suspense (available September 8, 2017).

Many have fudged a bit on their resume to get a good job, but Ali McGovern takes it to a higher level when she applies for a position as a beautician and art therapist at Howell Hall, a psychiatric institution. She is a beautician. In fact, she once owned her own thriving salon. But after her husband Marco’s restaurant crashed and burned (metaphorically), taking Ali’s salon down with it, the couple and their sullen teen son, Angelo, have moved to a—shall we say—less ostentatious home in a decidedly downscale neighborhood compared to where they were. It’s an adjustment, and it was a rather public fall. It seems like the neighbors are just waiting for them to mess up, and Ali figures that probably won’t be too hard. In her eyes, she doesn’t have a whole lot to lose.

Working my way round the back of Auchencairn, old ladies frowning through their nets to see who it was, I decided to do something only poor people do.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of House. Tree. Person....]

Aug 22 2017 2:00pm

Review: The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker

The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker follows a P.I. who must hunt down a soldier who is damaged by war, dangerous, and on the run.

Full disclosure: I’m a huge, huge fan of T. Jefferson Parker’s work. I remember reading Where Serpents Lie and thinking “This is what suspense can be?” The Blue Hour is also a favorite—one of the best cop stories (with a heartbreaking romance to boot) that I’ve ever read. Then, on to the distinct border noir of his Charlie Hood series, which combines complex themes of crime and family (or what makes a family) laced with a literary mysticism that seems as natural a part of the landscape as does the hoods and cops that make up the cast. The Room of White Fire is no exception to Parker’s history of excellence, and it introduces a new character to fall in love with. 

In it, we meet Roland Ford—ex-cop, ex-Marine, pilot, current PI, and widower of nearly three years. When he’s offered a job to find 28-year-old Clay Hickman, it seems straightforward at first. Clay has “escaped” from Arcadia, a mental health facility that looks more like a spa than a hospital, and Ford is told that he is erratic and possibly dangerous. His doctor, Paige Hulet, is desperate to get him back before he hurts himself or others. As for getting off the grounds, Clay talked a 19-year-old woman named Sequoia into helping him dig out under the perimeter fence. Ford tries to get an idea of Clay’s mindset:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Room of White Fire...]

Aug 14 2017 11:00am

Review: Without Fear or Favor by Robert K. Tanenbaum

Without Fear or Favor by Robert K. Tanenbaum is the 29th Butch Karp-Marlene Ciampi thriller, where Butch Karp and his wife Marlene Ciampi must stop a radical organization of armed militants bent on the cold-blooded murder of uniformed on-duty police officers (available August 15, 2017).

This is the 29th book in Robert K. Tanenbaum’s series featuring New York County DA “Butch” Karp, but it’s my first, and he pretty much throws you into the thick of things right off the bat. Readers will recognize the timeliness of the plot right away: New York is in the grip of racial tensions between police and citizens, and the shooting of a black teen by an Asian officer has citizens on the verge of rioting.

The city is waiting to hear if Butch will bring charges, and he announces at a public press conference that they haven’t made a decision yet. It goes terribly wrong. A gunman who gained a foothold as an unpaid intern to a has-been journalist uses his easy in to make good on a terrible plan. 

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Without Fear or Favor...]

Aug 11 2017 3:00pm

Review: Bibliomysteries, Edited by Otto Penzler

Bibliomysteries, edited by Otto Penzler, is a specially commissioned anthology featuring original stories by the mystery genre’s most distinguished authors: John Connolly, Ken Bruen, Loren D. Estleman, Nelson DeMille, Anne Perry, Jeffery Deaver, C. J. Box, Thomas H. Cook, Laura Lippman, and more!

I always know that when I’ve got a book with Otto Penzler’s name on it, I’m in for a treat, and Bibliomysteries is no exception. Besides, mysteries? With books at their center? I’m in!

This volume contains 15 stories by some of my favorite authors, including John Connolly and Nelson DeMille. It also included a few that I’ve never read before, which served as fantastic introductions to their work. These are meaty tales with a literary bent, and there’s something for everyone, bibliophiles and casual readers alike. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here, but you’ll want to thoroughly explore the entire collection.

I admit I started in the back of the book with Connolly’s Edgar Award-winning “The Caxton Library & Book Depository.” Shame on me for not having read this one yet, although it was on my radar because of the Edgar win, an award it certainly deserves.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Bibliomysteries...]

Aug 10 2017 12:00pm

Review: Ordeal by Jorn Lier Horst

Ordeal by Jorn Lier HorsTense and suspenseful, the only reason to stop racing through the pages of Jorn Lier Horst's Ordeal will be to pause for a quick glance over your shoulder.

When Frank Mandt’s granddaughter, Sofie Lund, inherits his house after his death, she’s hesitant to claim anything that belonged to him. But, she’s the only one supporting her one-year-old daughter, Maja, so she decides to take the house, hoping they can make a go of it. Mandt died after falling down the steps of his basement and was evidently there for three days or so before the body was found. Mandt was known as the Smuggler King and was thought to have turned from booze to drugs in recent years.

Meanwhile, Larvik, Norway-based Chief Inspector William Wisting is afraid the case of missing taxi driver Jens Hummel has grown cold. But when his taxi turns up in a barn on land owned by the late Frank Mandt with blood in the trunk and no signs of Jens, it looks like Wisting’s team might have a murder case on their hands.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Ordeal...]

Aug 5 2017 3:00pm

Review: Crime Scene by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

A former star athlete turned deputy coroner is drawn into a brutal, complicated murder in Crime Scene, a psychological thriller by father/son writing duo Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman.

When Deputy Coroner (and former basketball star) Clay Edison heads out to a Berkeley death scene, he figures it's a routine call. Seventy-five-year-old Walter Rennert has fallen down the stairs of his beautiful home. 

The foyer was a double-high oval, open at the long ends to a dining room and a den. Expansive but spare: the furniture consisted of a single high-backed chair and a console table with a tray, over which an oxidized mirror hung askew. At the back, a staircase curved up toward a spidery iron chandelier.

No rug to cushion the impact of flesh on tile.

No sign of disturbance, just the body, facedown.

I could imagine Tatiana’s shock.

I smelled coffee.

Walter Renner was dressed in a navy-blue bathrobe, fraying at the hem. His feet were bare. Medium height. High side of average, weight-wise. His left arm was curled beneath his torso. His right elbow crooked skyward, as though he’d tried to slow his descent. I’d seen plenty of other bodies similarly positioned, which made it hard not to jump to an immediate conclusion.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Crime Scene...]

Aug 3 2017 2:00pm

Review: Safe by Ryan Gattis

Safe by Ryan GattisSafe by Ryan Gattis is a gritty, fast-paced thriller that hurtles readers toward a shocking conclusion that asks the toughest question of all: How far would you go to protect the ones you love?

Former addict Ricky Mendoza, Jr., aka “Ghost,” is a safecracker. He’s a good one too, working for the DEA and other law enforcement for over ten years since he got clean. He’s also trusted by them, and he’s about to violate that trust in the biggest way possible.

I’m feeling it. Adrenaline burning in me like getting tattooed on the inside. That’s how I know I’m still taking the money. As much as I can get away with.

I kneel back down at the safe, and pull cash out by the fistful. There’s a problem, though, as I’m laying it out, and I feel a knot getting tight inside me. This isn’t small bills from a street slinging. It’s not a mess of tens and twenties or wadded-up fives pressed flat from junkies. It’s all fucking hundreds. Too neat.

Safe guts never look like this, all clean.

This is good news, but it’s also very bad news.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Safe...]

Jul 27 2017 2:00pm

Review: Every Day Above Ground by Glen Erik Hamilton

Every Day Above Ground by Glen Erik Hamilton is the third Van Shaw novel, where a favor for a dying ex-con turns into a violent battle against a mysterious enemy for Van Shaw.

Former Army Ranger Van Shaw is working part-time jobs and barely making ends meet. It doesn’t help that he’ll need a sizable chunk of change to rebuild the home he inherited from his thief grandfather that was devastated by fire. When an old friend of his grandfather’s—the diminutive Mickey O’Hasson, who has just gotten out of prison—approaches him about a job, he’s reluctant. Safe cracker skills aside, Van has been working on staying on the straight and narrow—as well as combating the PTSD he suffers from—and it the job sounds too good to be true.

O’Hasson claims there’s a safe full of gold bars in a building that’s about to be demolished, and it’s theirs for the taking, but he needs Van’s skills. Van, with all the expenses hanging over his head, agrees. At first, it seems like things will go off without a hitch. In fact, they actually do find a safe under the floor of an office, just like O’Hasson claimed, and it’s here that Van’s safecracking skills come in:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Every Day Above Ground...]

Jul 25 2017 1:00pm

Review: Paradise Valley by C. J. Box

Paradise Valley by C. J. Box Paradise Valley by C. J. Box is the fourth and final book in the Highway Quartet (available July 25, 2017).

Take a visual tour of Paradise Valley with GIFnotes!

Cassie Dewell is the chief investigator for the Bakken County Police Department in Grimstad, North Dakota, and she has been on the job for three years. In fact, she used to work at the Sheriff’s Department in Helena, Montana, but Sheriff Jon Kirkbride lured her away with a commitment to stay with him until his retirement—now only three and a half months away. She’s also been chasing a serial killer dubbed The Lizard King (named for the truck stop prostitutes, or “lot lizards,” that he kidnaps and kills) for almost four years, and she’s convinced that they’re close to an arrest. The sting operation she’s set up will surely catch him. Unfortunately, she’s got County Attorney Avery Tibbs looking over her shoulder and demanding every detail:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Paradise Valley...]

Jul 21 2017 1:00pm

Review: LoveMurder by Saul Black

LoveMurder by Saul Black is the second book in the Valerie Hart series, where the San Diego homicide detective must enlist the help of the very serial killer she helped put away (available July 25, 2017). 

Katherine Glass is one of the evilest, most diabolical serial killers that San Diego Homicide Detective Valerie Hart has ever put behind bars—but she didn’t work alone. She had a lover who they called the Man in the Mask (he always wore a mask and never revealed his face). Together with Katherine, the two tortured, raped, and murdered at least six women, maybe more. Although Katherine Glass has been in jail for 6 years, her partner has remained free. And as far as law enforcement knows, he’s been quiet … until now. When the violated body of Elizabeth Lambert is found, a note is found with her, and it’s addressed directly to Valerie:

Dear Valerie,

Katherine Glass stays in prison, more people die. You know who I am, but I’ve left you Danielle’s ring by way of substantiation. They’ll get fair warning, as Elizabeth did. (Look carefully, please.) No videos yet, but there will be. This one is just to open the channel. You’ve been waiting for this. More to follow.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of LoveMurder...]

Jul 20 2017 1:00pm

Review: Incarnate by Josh Stolberg

In Incarnate by Josh Stolberg, an ambitious and sharp-witted clinical psychiatrist turns detective when one of her patients comes under investigation for a series of brutal murders—is she a psychopath or a victim herself? (Available July 25, 2017.)

Psychiatric resident Kim Patterson is really good at what she does, but that didn’t keep her from getting fired from her job in San Diego. Thankfully, she was given a second chance at Jarvis Regional Hospital in the tiny town of Jarvis, Alaska. She’s chafing under the scrutiny of her supervisors—one of which, Dr. Kyle Berman, she’s having an affair with—and things don’t get any easier when 19-year-old Scarlett Hascall comes in with her boss from the fast food place she works at. She supposedly flung a fryer at his face but has no memory of actually doing the deed. When Kim starts asking questions, Scarlett acts strangely, setting off alarms for Kim.

“Something I’m a little confused about,” Kim said cautiously, scooting her own chair close so that she was knee to knee with Scarlett. “You don’t seem too surprised by Darren’s accusations. Most people, they get accused of something like that, they’re likely to fly off the handle. Or at least make it clear that they weren’t involved.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Incarnate...]

Jul 11 2017 2:00pm

Review: Dark Saturday by Nicci French

Dark Saturday by Nicci French is the sixth Frieda Klein novel—an electrifying, sophisticated psychological thriller about past crimes and present dangers (available July 11, 2017).

London-based psychotherapist Frieda Klein has all but sworn off working with the police, and her friends and family have encouraged it as well. It’s put her and others in danger, and she’s determined that no one else will get hurt. Unfortunately, her instincts—and now her circumstance—seem determined to keep her involved. When she’s contacted by a man named Walter Levin, she’s sure he’ll ask for a favor. After all, she owes him one. And he does:

“Good,” said Levin. “We’ve finally got to that. It’s really very simple. We just want you to go and talk to someone, then tell us what you think.”

“I think I’m here under false pretenses,” said Frieda. "I’ve no special skills. I’m not a detective. I’m not an interrogator.”

“The woman in question is clinically insane,” said Levin. “That’s not a comment. That’s her diagnosis. We sent someone to interview her.”

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Dark Saturday...]

Jul 10 2017 5:00pm

Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

My Sisters Bones by Nuala Ellwood is a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother's death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria? (Available July 11, 2017.)

To say that the relationship between sisters Kate and Sally is fractured is putting it mildly, and they couldn’t be more different. Kate is a renowned war reporter and only feels truly at home overseas amidst the rubble and conflict in Syria and Iraq. Sally, on the other hand, is a bitter alcoholic that can barely function in daily life.

When their mother dies, it’s Sally’s husband, Paul, that takes care of most of the arrangements. He meets up with Kate—who just returned to seaside Herne Bay in Kent from Syria—to finalize their mother’s affairs and sell their childhood home, where she’ll stay temporarily. Kate is carrying a dark secret though, and it’s manifesting itself in horrible ways, especially when she goes to sleep:

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of My Sister's Bones...]

Jul 6 2017 12:00pm

Review: Every Deadly Kiss by Steven James

Every Deadly Kiss by Steven James is the 10th book in the Bowers Files, where FBI special agent Patrick Bowers grapples with a baffling series of murders in Detroit—and discovers a terror plot with roots that stretch back centuries.

Read an excerpt from Every Deadly Kiss!

Every Deadly Kiss is the 10th book to feature FBI Agent Patrick Bowers, and the series shows no signs of slowing down. Patrick’s new relationship with Christie is on the rocks, but he’s got to get to Detroit to consult on a new case: a killer seems to be on the loose, and Pat, as an environmental criminologist, has some special skills that can be put to use.

Since I was an environmental criminologist and the lead geospatial investigator in the Bureau, it was becoming more and more common for me to consult with other Field Offices and law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

In a nutshell, my approach had to do with studying the timing, location, and progression of serial offenses rather than looking for means, motive, and opportunity. The process grew out of research dealing with how people perceive and process their surroundings and then make rational choices that lead them to engage in criminal acts.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of Every Deadly Kiss...]

Jun 29 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne

The Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne follows Solomon Creed, the enigmatic hero introduced in The Searcher, who must stop a killer tied to a conspiracy stretching back over generations to the dying days of World War II.

The Boy Who Saw picks up shortly after the explosive events of 2015’s The Searcher, featuring the mysterious Solomon Creed, who doesn’t remember who he is or where he comes from. He’s now in France, bearing a white jacket with his name sewn into it, and he sets off to find Josef Engel, who made the jacket. But Joseph can offer him no answers; he has been brutally tortured and murdered, with a Star of David carved into his chest. When Commandant Benoit Amand comes upon the scene of the crime, Solomon presents an odd tableau:

Amand began to rehearse the conversation he would have with Josef’s next of kin, wondering how he could translate all this into quiet words of condolence.

[Read Kristen Centorcelli's review of The Boy Who Saw...]

Jun 27 2017 1:00pm

Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

The Child by Fiona Barton is a brand new novel of twisting psychological suspense from the author of the New York Times bestseller The Widow.

It’s always refreshing to see a woman in her 50s portrayed as wonderfully as Fiona Barton portrays journalist Kate Waters. Kate has a definite Mary Tyler Moore vibe going on, if you zipped her forward to 2012. When she catches wind of a baby’s skeleton that’s been found at a construction site, her ears perk up immediately:

Kate Waters loved a needle-in-a-haystack job. The glint of something in the dark. Something to absorb her totally. Something to sink her teeth into. Something to get her out of the office.

She’s determined to sink her teeth into a new story, a juicy one, and she squeezes everything she can out of the little bit of information she has.

[Read Kristin Centorcelli's review of The Child...]