Category Archives: Thriller

Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware by Cristyn West

Plain JanePlain Jane by Cristyn West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Detective Nicole Usher is desperate. A serial killer is stalking women and has killed over a dozen. These women are special to the killer but Nicole and the rest of her department cannot determine why and have no way of stopping the killings. The killer likes brunettes. Plain, shy and unassuming brunettes are stalked then mutilated for a trophy the killer covets.
No one can know the mind of a killer, unless you are a genius profiler with a talent for doing just that.
Nicole knows that Kent Harbinger can help catch the killer and despite a tragic history she shares with him, she calls him to help.
Kent Harbinger seems as twisted as the killers he catches and although he is ranked as one of the top FBI profilers, his unconventional techniques have rewarded him a long-term stay at an asylum.
His presence in the investigation creates pain for Nicole and resentment in Nicole’s partner and lover but despite this she knows there is no other way.
Kent is the key character in this story despite the fact that Nicole is written in as the protagonist. His method of hunting the same victims as the killer helps him to guess the next target but he seems as mad as the killer. Stealing whatever he needs, breaking into buildings and stalking women are only some of the acts Kent commits during the investigation and Nicole is left to answer for him to her captain and partner. Kent seems to have no conscience and treats Nicole with apathy to the point that the reader cannot fathom a previous romantic relationship between the two.
I hated him and wavered on whether to give this story a three of four star rating. The author pushes the envelope on what the reader will accept in a main character who is supposedly on the side of good and I struggled with this.
Then I remembered something important. The best thing an author has ever done for me as a reader was to make me feel. To create emotion, good or bad, as I immerse myself in their creation. I was immersed in Plain Jane. I wanted the characters to do MY will and when they didn’t the author forced me to understand why. What does it take to get into the mind of a killer? What must you become if you want to catch what most don’t understand?
Ms. West caught me off-guard and that doesn’t happen to me often.

If you enjoyed Silence of the Lambs or the work of Jeffrey Deaver, you will enjoy Plain Jane.

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Grace Doll by Jennifer Laurens

Grace DollGrace Doll by Jennifer Laurens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved that Grace Doll opened in a 1949 Hollywood setting. The glamour of celebrities at the time seems haunting as you look back and was a perfect background for this haunting story.
Grace Doll is at the height of her star power and overwhelmingly unhappy. The opening hints at something more than a jaded starlet and gives the reader a palpable sense of darkness in Grace’s thoughts as she and her Producer/Husband enter Grauman’s Chinese Theater for her new movie.
Grace is performing from the beginning; smile, wave, shine, sizzle. Inside she is in obvious torment and I was anxious to learn why.
Rufus B. Solomon is propelling Grace through the hysterical crowd of fans and paparazzi, while looking like her protector, he pulls and pushes at her, controlling her physical movement with a dashing smile and an order not heard by anyone but Grace. “Sizzle, darling. Sizzle.” The scene is decidedly creepy. A glimpse of wrongness in the glitz of a Hollywood movie premier and you feel it in your gut.
Having discovered the young, 13yr old Grace on a boardwalk with her family, Rufus easily convinces her parents to make a deal with the devil. Promising riches and fame if they allow Grace to accompany him to Hollywood. Faking a birth certificate to make Grace appear older, Rufus begins to take complete control of her life in everyday possible eventually making her into the hottest actress of 1949 and his puppet. Abuse, kidnapping, obsession, and murder mark the beginning chapters of Grace Doll and when his obsession with her is at it’s peak, Rufus subjects Grace to an experimental treatment that guarantees her immortal beauty and a way he can control her forever.
As a rescue attempt to free her from Rufus goes horribly wrong Grace is forced to remain in hiding, forever young, for several decades until her secret is discovered and with the help of an old friends grandson resolves to end the nightmare Rufus began 60 years ago.

What an amazing premise. Jennifer Laurens captivates her audience with her brilliant manipulation of emotion and atmosphere. I enjoyed this story and wish I could see it on the big screen.

Book Summary:Grace Doll had everything a girl could want: Fame. Fortune. Beauty.

Everything except, of course, her freedom. So when a powerful movie producer forces an experimental treatment on Grace–one that’s purported to make beauty immortal–she stages her own death to escape him.

With the help of trusted friends, Grace slips into hiding. She’s forever flawless, forever young and forever pursued by her past.

But when a stranger arrives on her doorstep, holding the key to a life she thought she’d left behind, Grace must decide between the safety she’s known… and embracing the role she was born to play.

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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller


The Boat by Christine Dougherty

The BoatThe Boat by Christine Dougherty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Boat by Christine Dougherty is definitely not your average zombie story, although it has zombies. It isn’t your average Post-Apocalyptic story, yet there is a plague that causes death and zombies, creating a Post-Apocalyptic environment. Which also makes a great setting for a Survivalist story, though not your……wait for it….average Survivalist story.
See, Christine just doesn’t do average, ever, and decided to write a fast-moving, horrific, nail-biting, zombie plague story of survival set two months after the aforementioned apocalyptic event. With a twist.
A really bad twist.
I am not surprised. I met Christine last year when she asked if I would review her novel The Devil Stood Up. As most of you know, I love me some good Horror and was thrilled to accept a copy for review. I eat Horror and Suspense for breakfast, one awesome reviewer on GoodReads, Stephen,…, asked me in a round about way, what kind of book would actually scare me. I really didn’t have an answer, until Christine Dougherty. Turns out I couldn’t finish The Devil Stood Up. It disturbed the hell out of me and I had to put it down. For the first time ever I had to write an author and humbly apologize for being a wimp and not finishing their book. The writing was excellent but you couldn’t make me pick it up again.
Instead of throwing rocks and laughing at me, Christine apologized and even asked for another review on her Urban Fantasy novel
Born Lucky (The JD Chronicles). I loved it.
I love the versatility Christine brings to the table. The Boat isn’t overwhelmingly scary but it is very good and original and I urge lovers of Horror, Suspense and Urban Fantasy to check out this exciting author!

Book Summary:At the end of the world, the undead aren’t the greatest threat to those who have survived.

A deadly plague brought on by an experimental AIDS drug called Lazarus sweeps the country. Lazarus, named so because it brings patients back from the brink of death, has the unfortunate side effect of bringing the dead back to life. A handful of survivors have made their way to water where the walking dead–called ‘sinkers’–are less of a threat. These battered and traumatized survivors have colonized a super yacht (Flyboy), a tugboat (Big Daddy), and a weekender yacht (Barbra’s Bay Breeze). As they wait for more survivors and organize a voyage south to a warm climate, they unintentionally bring aboard a monster who might be the end to them all.

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Bitten (A Lauren Westlake Mystery) by Dan O’Brien

BittenBitten by Dan O’Brien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lauren Westlake is an F.B.I. agent who becomes enthralled by a cold case she discovers. Dating back a century there have been several violent murders in different places of the country. What ties them together with an impossible timeline is the fact that all the victims are torn and shredded in the same manner by, seemingly, the same weapon.

It had been speculated that these were some sort of animal attack but as Lauren reviews the cases she is intrigued by the hints of a supernatural cause.

Using a vacation as an excuse to investigate on her own she travels to Locke, Minnesota where the latest victim has been found.

Here is the book summary:A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined F.B.I Agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could have imagined.

This did not turn out to be your typical werewolf story. Elements of horror, police procedural and Urban Fantasy give Bitten a wide appeal.

I enjoyed the relationship Lauren strikes up with the small-town Sheriff and his officers. As the story progressed I was unsure of how things were going to turn out and, indeed, I was surprised by the turn of events.

I had a hard time reconciling the smart and savvy F.B.I. agent Lauren with the scattered Lauren that meets Dominic, a mysterious new-comer to Locke. Though it is most likely meant to portray an attraction between Lauren and Dominic and her feeling that there was something off about him, it was unclear and stood out for me. I also wanted a bit more character development. More meat on the secondary characters as well. (No pun intended.) Other than that I did enjoy the story and I see a huge potential for future Lauren Westlake novels.

I am looking forward to more from Dan O’Brien in this series.

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Born Lucky, The JD Chronicles by Christine Dougherty

Born Lucky (The JD Chronicles) Born Lucky (The JD Chronicles) by Christine Dougherty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christine Dougherty was born to write.

In previous works Christine has tackled Horror, Speculative Fiction, and Mystery. In Born Lucky, Urban Fantasy and Suspense . She does each one of these very, very well. Her writing easily pulls her reader in to the story she is weaving and compells us to continue to turn page after page until the story is told.

In Born Lucky the author introduces us to a unique and likeable character; JD.

As a young boy, JD receives a gift and a curse in the form of psychic abilities.

One form that manifests is the ability to hold a newspaper article and receive a vision of the events described in the article. This also poses a risk in that JD suffers physically some of what the subject of the article suffers. This can injure or kill him and it, as well as other abilities, causes him to retreat from society at a very young age.

His choice of refuge? A secluded mental hospital.

Nora, an administrator in the hospital who understands why JD is really there just cant help slipping these articles to JD when she thinks he can help. This is how his adventures in Born Lucky begin.

Here is th book summary from the author: At three days old, JD was blown clear of the explosion that killed his mysterious parents and set him on a path of uneasy discovery. A reluctant psychic, JD chooses to live in the safe world of a mental institution, unable to control the things he ‘sees’…sometimes with unwelcome, and even dangerous, consequences.

Join JD as he tries to help find a young couple who go missing in the forbidding Pine Barrens of South Jersey.

I liked JD a lot. He is unsure of himself and afraid of the world outside of the institution. Cynical yet vulnerable, he starts off somewhat cowardly once he is pressured in to helping find two missing teens but starts to feel things differently as he connects to a park ranger and starts to see the small world he has created for himself. You still like him but even better, you like how his character grows. By the end of Born Lucky, I loved JD and as a bonus found the secondary characters in the story just as likeable.

I truly hope Christine publishes another JD book soon. The combined elements of suspense, horror, humor and realistic human emotion really hooked me. I foresee a successful, enjoyable series that will draw the attention of readers who enjoy many types of genres.

I recommend this to Horror, Suspense, and Urban Fantasy lovers!

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Steez by Raymond Embrack

SteezSteez by Raymond Embrack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The action in this book is a lot of fun. Steez is the first book I’ve read from author Raymond Embrack and I am planning on checking out more!
Here is the book summary:Gemma Steez is the first female quarterback in pro football. Some call her the Kim Kardashian of sports. Some see a target. A walking nightmare called Red Candy has a plan to take Steez for millions then “bathe in her blood.” With her is an ex-mercenary and a psycho for hire. Add paparazzi TV, a cult of celebrity stalkers, a Mexican cartel out for payback, and a bad girl past that’s come back for her head. But Steez is no soft target. Steez is where style meets badass.

The character of Steez is interesting and dynamic although you don’t really get a look at how she goes from a young and troubled girl to a celebrity football player. I still liked her.
The villains were the real stand outs in this story, Red Candy is a truly evil character and her ex-hitman boyfriend is a freak. Their relationship adds a lot to the stories’ intensity. They hire a psycho to stalk Steez and pretty much terrorize her in the most brutal of ways but he doesn’t live up to the level of messed-up that Red candy does so well. As for the rest of the secondary characters, I didn’t get much of a feel for them. They felt like background noise.

What kept this from a 4 star rating was the confusing rhythm of the dialog between Steez and her assistant and boyfriend in the beginning. That and some descriptions of L.A. used when describing Steez’s lifestyle were somewhat futuristic sounding and at first I started thinking this was set in the near future but this cleared up for me eventually.

All-in-all, I truly liked this story. It became a fast action romp and I couldn’t put it down. I have a feeling Mr.Embrack’s other books will appeal as well and I look forward to the next one.

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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Thriller


ARC Twisted Vengeance by Jeff Bennington

4 Stars!

Another great Thriller from Jeff Bennington!

The first book I read from Jeff was Reunion and It is one of my favorites. I love his type of scary! Paranormal, evil, invisible and uncontrollable. Twisted Vengeance does not disappoint!

Here is the book summary: Detective Rick Burns’ life is falling apart. His four-year old son is dead, his brother butchered, he’s in love with the one woman he can’t have and he’s investigating a slew of unsolved murders of violent, domestic abusers.

When a mysterious boy enters his life, things only get worse.

The boy knows the victims. He knows about Rick’s fears. And he knows about Debil, the serial killer with a lust for death.

Determined to help the detective find the perpetrator, the boy ushers Rick into a nightmarish chase where reality and the supernatural are blurred, nearly costing him his life, his love, and his reputation in a storm of domestic vengeance that is so twisted you won’t be able to stop reading until you discover the awful truth. 

Twisted Vengeance opens in the midst of an investigation in to some very horrific murders. Detective Rick Burns  is already on the case and called in to the newest crime scene.

There is no tough-cop morgue humor going on here. This murder is heinous and all investigators on scene are having a hell of a time coping. Especially Rick.

Rick has seen and experienced a lot of tragedy in his life. From witnessing the death of his mother as a toddler, losing a child and the loss of a brother whom he looked up to he has seen it all. Or so he thought. He considers his brother to have been an excellent detective and struggles with comparing himself to his brothers image.

When a young boy mysteriously shows up and starts leading Rick to new crime scenes, he starts to question his own sanity.

I have to say again, I really like Jeff’s idea of scary. It suits me. Nothing is more frightening than an evil you can’t explain. Serial killers and monsters, while intrinsically unexplainable, can be categorized and usually killed. You can’t kill a force of evil. *shudder* And while, in movies, you can get a Priest or a scientist or the Ghost Busters to save your butt, Jeff doesn’t provide that kind of warm and fuzzy fix in his stories. I’m glad because it takes an awful lot to creep me out.

The so-called ‘victims’ at the crime scene are abusers and leave no room for sympathy but an officer of the law must remain impartial and even though you want to tell Rick to stop wandering off alone following a creepy kid to God knows where, you can’t and therefore you are stuck along for the ride.

Twisted Vengeance will be ready for release soon and I highly recommend it. Nothing says Halloween like a good scarin’ and Jeff Bennington will bring it!

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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in ARC, Horror, Look at this!, Review, Thriller


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