No Turning Back: A Novel
Anna Graves has just returned back to work as a radio presenter after having her first child. One day while on a walk with her daughter at the beach, a young boy in a crazed state attacks her with a knife. She defends herself and her daughter, but the boy dies from his injuries. She knows it was self-defense; however, everyone starts turning against her, and her life begins to fall apart. Things start to get really bad when she starts receiving emails from the Ophelia Killer, a serial killer active twenty years ago, and when more boys start dying. Anna realizes there’s No Turning Back as she must figure out the truth before she’s arrested for murder.
This was a great book, full of twists and turns. I loved that as you get toward the end, you begin to suspect who the killer is, but you really don’t want it to be true, so you start hoping it’s someone else. Being a mother myself, reading this book was like some of my worst nightmares come true. It was entertaining, though, and did not disappoint.
Crooked Lane Books
The Schwarzschild Radius
After four months of dead-end searches, eighteen-year-old Rachel Wallen decides to take matters in her own hands to find her adopted sister, Olivia, who suddenly vanished out of thin air. Rachel heads to the homeless shelter, where Olivia used to be a volunteer counselor, and is admitted under a pseudonym in the hope that she can gain leads. A staff member shares disturbing news that Olivia had been making porn flicks just before she vanished. Even more disturbing, Rachel learns that Olivia has a twin, Achara, who is living in Thailand and trapped in the sex trade. Discovering the instant messages between the twins on Olivia’s PC, Rachel assumes Olivia’s identity to continue the conversation since she realizes that Olivia is Achara’s only means of escape. While Olivia apparently took care of Achara’s passport prior to her disappearance, Achara needs more than $2000 to get Achara to New York. Rachel’s decision to take a job at a local adult emporium to obtain fast cash leads her not only closer to solving Olivia’s whereabouts, but also into a deadly snare.
Rising and award winning author Gustavo Florentin has pulled out all the literary stops to create his second novel. Florentin’s third person narrative is a combination of well-developed characters, nonstop conflicts, and rich contrast. Florentin’s use of irony, undoubtedly, is a key literary tool that is prevalent throughout his plot. Good examples are found in his characters, such as Rachel and Father Massey. Rachel, who is a highly intelligent Ivy League student, acts like she left her brains behind when she decides to work in the sex industry. And then there is Father Massey whose life is not as holy as one expects. Florentin has a whole slew of characters, many who take on supporting roles and are deftly interwoven in scenes that alternate from chapter to chapter. Scenes shift between Rachel’s sleuthing, her communication with Achara via the internet, Fr. Massey and his dastardly deeds, Detective McKenna’s investigation, the enslaved Olivia, and the infamous Webmaster, just to name a few.
Amid the alternating character scenes that are filled with constant un-clichéd twists, Florentin incorporates a plethora of red herrings a lineup of sleazy characters to throw readers off from zeroing in on the story’s main antagonist. While readers are madly trying to figure out who the real culprit is, Florentin makes sure to keep his themes alive. Certainly the heaviest theme not only centers on the sex trade, but on the pervasive sadomasochistic culture that accompanies this industry. A second theme focuses on family dynamics, such as Rachel’s opinion of her parents and how she thinks they shower more love and attention to Olivia than Rachel. Another example is Detective McKenna whose ardent search to find and return Olivia to her heart sickened parents is a constant reminder of his strained relationship with his estranged daughter.
A great read, which is guaranteed to win an award, The Schwarzschild Radius is a top-rate thriller that is not only gripping and fast paced, but also a superb blend of crime with a touch of sci-fi.
Finding Claire Fletcher
On the day that Detective Connor Parks has jeopardized his career for killing a man, he meets Claire Fletcher in a bar and spends one night with her, catching a glimpse of the girl she once was. Trouble is Claire Fletcher is no longer that girl. When she vanishes from his bed leaving an address, he tries to follow up for a chance to re-encounter this intriguing woman only to discover shocking news. The enigmatic Claire has been missing for years. As his work life disintegrates he sets out to solve the mystery of her disappearance. Claire becomes as ethereal to Parks as the ghost of whom she used to be is to Claire herself due to the man who has unmade her.
Returning to the living hell that is her new life, Claire is overcome with guilt for endangering the man who has woken a part of herself she had thought was long since dead. The question is how will she find the resolve to ensure no one else loses their life in her name?
From the opening first person narration of the mystery woman herself, or a version of her, the question hooks are planted that lead us into the story which is really four separate story lines cleverly shuffled. As each one ends on a crisis point or question we alternate to the next which deftly pulls us along as we search for the next big reveal. Major questions demand answers. Why isnt the most obvious and simple solution to Claires dilemma possible?
We follow Parks quest to find Claire from his third person narration as he weathers the situation with his career. Intermingled with all this we become a party to Claires current life as well as the history of her past which has led to now, when she still was wholly Claire Fletcher.
This gripping tale of psychological abuse is realistic and well-written. At times, I felt my breath become tight as I empathized with Claires ordeal, which is a testament to the books inherent craft. Clearly much research on trauma had been undertaken to underpin the heroines motivations. Dark it may be, but not gratuitous. Part way through however I became disappointed when Id thought Id figured out who Claires abuser was, but I had just been led into a skillful trap by this talented author who had sent me off down a blind alley, laying a trail of pseudo clues that had me fixing on how smart I was.
I finished the book and remained in the world Lisa Regan had created for a while. Its always a good sign when a story lingers. Its even better when you discover an author you enjoy and want to hear more from then find out there are several other works to encounter.
Strong Light of Day (Caitlin Strong Novels)
Fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is back in her seventh novel to face a Cold War era problem first faced by her father while he served as a Ranger himself. One of the few female leads in the thriller category, Caitlin has boots that few others can fill.
In Strong Light of Day, Caitlin finds herself investigating thirty missing high-school kids on a field trip, including the son of her romantic partner. Caitlin and Cort Masters have developed a good relationship, even though their fathers were on opposite sides of the law, and she sees herself as a mother to his two boys. Additionally, she’s managing a case of dead cattle that were cleaned to the bone by whatever killed them. As the story progresses both Caitlin and reader learn more about her father, and a previous case involving Russians during the Cold War that’s coming back as a renewed attempt by particular segments of the current Russian government to devastate the US in a terrorist attack.
Caitlin’s personal connection to her current cases add to the pressure she faces in trying to juggle apparently competing issues, and today’s current issues with Russia make this a timely story. As the ongoing back story of her father, Jim Strong, and Boone Masters, Cort’s father, is teased out, the reader gets a deeper appreciation for just what made Caitlin the Ranger she is today.
Land is an experienced and skilled author who keeps finding new highs to reach, and Caitlin Strong is at her best in Strong Light of Day. The previous books are not required to enjoy Strong Light of Day, but any new reader does themselves a disservice if they don’t add them to their to-be-read pile.
The Odd Fellows Society
The Odd Fellows Society is one book not to be missed. When left an urgent message by his friend and colleague, Jasper, Father Santiago Torres agrees to meet him, but is left stood up by his friend and the new owner of a chicken bestowed upon him by an insistent Chinese woman. It is only later that Santiago learns that his friend did not stand him up, but that Jasper has died of an apparent suicide. Grief-stricken by the death of his friend, Santiago feels that it was not a suicide that killed Jasper and that there is more to his death than meets the eye. When he begins receiving cryptic messages from The Odd Fellows Society, he is led on a scavenger hunt that takes him through the monuments and mysteries of Washington, DC. Santiago believes these clues are being sent to him so that he can find the final copy of Jaspers thesis that apparently holds valuable information. With the help of his friend Abigail, Santiago follows the clues given to him by The Odd Fellows Society and uncovers information that goes back centuries. He also uncovers another secret society, called the Stewards, that may or may not still exist. The more he learns on his hunt helps him on his quest, but also begins to put himself and those closest to him in danger. Reluctant to accept help or heed the warnings of many, including his brother Nico, who is in the FBI, Santiago continues to follow the messages from The Odd Fellows Society. Relentless in his search, even as his job and life are on the line, Santiago knows that he must solve the clues for his friend and the greater good. Whether he will be able to do this and end up alive is uncertain at every turn.
C.G. Barrett has created an amazing book that combines so many genres it should have one of its own. The Odd Fellows Society is a mystery, a thriller, a romance, a treasure hunt, an adventure, historical fiction, and full of suspense at every turn. Barretts ability to combine all of these genres creates a book that truly keeps you guessing until the very end. There are times that you think you have it figured out and then he throws a curve ball, leaving readers reeling as to what just happened. Not only is the storyline strong and consistent throughout the book, the characters are all very well thought-out and written. You can tell that each character has a purpose and, while you may not know what it is right away, you know you need to remember them.
This book was exciting and thoroughly enjoyable to read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a book that keeps you engaged.
Energy Dependence Day
Energy Dependence Day by Christian F. Burton is a complex, complicated labyrinthine, and yet wildly intriguing, read that weaves a magnitude of hot topics. Mr. Burton engages his readers into a realm where politics, religion, and social issues takes precedence in the molding of ones thinking and upbringing. Mr. Burton showcases an in-depth tale of different motivations for ones decision and the onset ramifications it sets forth.
In this novel, Mr. Burton takes his readers down a rabbit hole of some sort where readers are immersed with the raw and gritty tale of real life for the people living in a country where politics, social injustices, and religion are highly regarded. This novel is somewhat an in your face literary piece that exposes the ugly facets of the world. It reveals the side where money, politics, war, humanity, and social issues are an everyday reality. It is a world where, basically, we are defined by wealth and social standing. And in such, Mr. Burton exposes and weaves another layer of one hot issue that cannot be contained. Terrorism.
The issue of terrorism and its breeding ground is such a hot topic, and so Mr. Burton does not sweep this issue under the rug. Instead, he allows his readers to come face-to-face with this important social issue. Not only does Mr. Burton weave that element of terrorism, but he also incorporates the reality of social inequality of women in the Middle East.
In the backdrops of two different political and social views, Mr. Burton allows readers to see and feel both sides of the story. This is a novel that allows you to see two different perspectives from the eyes of two men. One has lived with brutality, terrorism, poverty, and social injustice, and the other has lived a life to serve and protect his country. Mr. Burton pieces together a puzzle of some sort to give a raw, gritty, emotional, and thought-provoking literary tale. My only concern about this book was it was quite lengthy and had too many character names, which did cause some confusion at times. But overall, this novel was bold, provocative, and riveting. It pushes readers out of their comfort zone to see the real and gritty side of the world we live in.