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Category Archives: Murder

If I’m Found, by Terri Blackstock 

You know that point when you get to almost the end of a book and you must keep turning pages at the speed of an airplane? That’s this book. Actually, it’s this series. (Please read If I Run before this one. While some things wrap up at the end of the individual books, you’ll miss out on the heart of the main story, because it goes way beyond these individual titles.)

If I’m Found follows Casey’s continuing flight for her life after being accused of murdering her friend. It finds her where the first book has left her… wondering where she can go that she’ll be safe for a little while. 

One of the discussion questions Terri Blackstock has included at the back of this book is, “What is the key thing about this book that will stay with you?” Discussion questions in books are kind of a hit or miss thing for me, but I really appreciated this one. The key thing that will stay with me from this book? Its emphasis on light. In the midst of so much darkness, it would be easy for Casey to focus on that, to only see the darkness of the evil surrounding her. But she sees a glimmer of light every now and then, a little reminder that she can still have hope. She is trying so desperately to embrace the fact that, though evil may put up a good facade and it may be spreading its lies, it will not win. Not in the end. 

I really contemplated what food could correlate with this book, and.. you know those energy cookie bites that are all over pinterest? Yeah.. that’s what I have to go with. This is such an energetic book. So fast-paced that sometimes you’re not sure you’re actually sitting still.

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The Illusionist’s Apprentice, by Kristy Cambron

This Jazz Age story sparkling with enchanting descriptions and believable characters makes my heart smile. 

The Illusionist’s Apprentice has many dark places… but at each turn and shadow, there lives the promise of light and the reminder that darkness and evil cannot win. In spite of brushes with death and hatred, main characters Wren and Elliott are determined to keep a hold on hope.

Rooted in history, well-researched truth mingles with fiction. Though the majority of the book takes place in the late 1920s, there are flashbacks of sorts throughout, giving us as readers bits of backstory. I at first thought I wanted more of that background early on… but as I really delved into the heart of the story, I changed my mind. Each look back gives a very timely peek into Wren’s locked-tight past, each glimpsing a little deeper than we’d seen before — until we really understand this complex young woman who is as adept an illusionist off the stage as she is on it. 

Kristy Cambron did an excellent job with this latest release, and I very much recommend it. 

I want to compare this one to vanilla bean scones. There is much assuredness of hand-in-hand in this book, of “I’ll be right here no matter what”, and of hope anchored in the midst of life’s storms… and there is such comfort in that. Vanilla bean scones just seem to speak of that kind of familiarity and constantness to me that I found in these pages, so they seem to fit well. 

 

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The Pawn, by Steven James 

This one was a reread for me, and I have to say that it was just as good my second time through.

Steven James is one of the most talented storytellers I’ve ever encountered within the pages of a book. In-depth characters, twisty plots, complex storytelling.. all of these are major qualities in Steven James’ writing. It’s so so good. He knows how to truly captivate his readers and relate to them. Even as he writes about an FBI detective tracking serial killers.

I love that he doesn’t shy away from asking hard questions. Rather, he tackles them head-on. Many topics addressed are far from being black and white.. I really appreciate that he has the courage and takes the initiative to write these subjects and questions into his books.

The Pawn is the fast-paced story of Patrick Bowers as he sets out to catch a bad guy.. a really bad guy who thinks of the graphic murders he’s so intricately linked together as a game. Between all the dead ends Patrick faces with the case and the brick walls he finds himself up against with his teenage stepdaughter, he begins to realize that maybe he doesn’t quite have life figured out as well as he’d once thought.

This book is like a bag of barbecue potato chips. Quite addictive. Much like you find yourself reaching for another chip again and again, this tale and its intensity keep you turning page after page.

* Although the first published Patrick Bowers novel, I highly recommend reading the prequels prior to this so you get the big picture and the full effect of the mystery. I didn’t have that luxury since I read this one way before the prequels existed, but this time around I’m enjoying the opportunity to read them chronologically.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in Fiction, Murder, Steven James, Suspense

 

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The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Rachel McMillan 

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder is a delightfully charming introduction to Canadian detectives Jemima Watts and Merinda Herringford. Having decided that they are to be female Sherlock Holmes-esque sleuths, Merinda takes it upon herself to advertise in a low-budget newspaper and post a sign in their window, and Jem has not much choice but to go along with her friend’s scheme. The two young lady detectives find themselves caught up in the investigation of a young woman’s murder and are determined to stop at nothing to keep the killer from continuing his rampage through early-1900s Toronto.

Full of mystery with just enough romance to flutter hearts, this debut novel from Rachel McMillan is sure to capture readers’ attention and spark their imaginations. Love at first sight is how I have to describe my reaction to this cover.. and every single detail about the book was everything I wanted it to be.. and more — from the characters who wanted to skip & twirl off the pages to the uniquely imaginative descriptions and the adorable storyline. (I would be remiss if I neglected to mention Ms. McMillan’s use of footnotes.. They made me smile more than I can say.)

This darling book is, to me, everything that a nice steaming cup of tea is, with a freshly baked cookie on the side. It’s comfortable and a happy place to be.

 

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Every Crooked Path, by Steven James 

*Please make sure to read this post to the end.

Stunned. That’s what this book did to me. It stunned me. And it made my heart ache.

Every Crooked Path is the most difficult Steven James book I’ve read. Judging from the author’s note in the first pages, it’s also the hardest one he’s ever written. The fact that it is an almost 600-page book dealing with crimes involving child predators makes it naturally very hard to read, and yet Steven James said that while he had an incredibly hard time writing it, he knew it needed to be written. And honestly, it needs to be read. We live in a world filled with increasing evil, and it’s just all too easy to ignore that in favor of living in bliss. But it doesn’t work that way.

As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

And that, I believe, is why this book needed to be written and why it needs to be read. We just can’t afford to ignore the evil surrounding us. This world cannot survive us living in blindness to evil.

Every Crooked Path tells the story of FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers as he’s on the path of child abductors, molesters, killers. It seems that the more he discovers in this case, the less he actually knows… because things keep getting more complex. Trusting people becomes a deadly risk.

On a lighter note, Patrick spends his free time getting to know Christie and her daughter, Tessa… which I really liked. It added another dimension to this story that I hadn’t realized was coming, as (prior to beginning reading) I had thought this book was chronologically taking place closer to the time Opening Moves ended.

Having pondered for the past several days, I’ve decided to compare this one with vegetables being eaten by a child. The stereotypical picture. They don’t want to eat their vegetables… and yet they need to.

There was one word in this book that I didn’t expect to find in a Steven James book; I think it’s a reflection of how intense this kind of crime is, how it rips at our hearts and tears up everything inside us knowing that this stuff is happening. 

Honestly, this is a very good book; it’s just difficult to read. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.

 

If I Run, by Terri Blackstock 

Before sharing my review of If I Run, my first (?!) Terri Blackstock book, I need you to know a couple of things. First, I strongly urge you to not begin reading this right before you go to sleep, especially if you are working the next day… because you won’t be able to set it down and sleep. Your eyelids may be closed, but you will refuse to let the book go until your next reading opportunity. And second… I don’t read a lot of books written in present tense. Sometimes I have trouble getting into them, for whatever reason. But this book.. it works, and frankly I don’t believe it would be as good if it weren’t written in first person, present tense. That makes this book. Because of the way the book is written, I’ve decided to mimic this in my review. While I know this isn’t typical, rather than review as a reader, I’m going to become Casey and then Dylan, the main characters in this story.

* * * * * * * * * * *
As a 20-something wanted for murder, I’m on the run. It doesn’t even matter that I didn’t do it, I’ve got to hide, or I’m dead too. Being careful to avoid leaving a trail, I put to use all the crime stories I’ve read and watched.

My past terrifies me, both in my dreams and in my waking hours. It’s impossible to put it out of my mind, and this creates a barrier around me. I crawl into the shell of who I’ve become and rarely let anyone inside.

I’m a people lover though, and I have a hard time setting that aside to blend in with the background. Helping others is who I am. Is being available and doing what I believe is right worth risking being discovered?

They are lurking around every corner, I just know it. Still, I have to find someplace where I can get a job and save some money.

* * * * * * * * * * *

As a veteran trying to live past PTSD and the nightmares that plague me, I question if my being hired to track down Casey is wise. Maybe I am more dangerous than helpful. What if I snap?

Following a girl who’s as smart as Casey obviously means learning to think like she thinks, and that means untangling the twisted bits of evidence and truths that surround my childhood best friend’s murder.

There’s so much that doesn’t make sense in this investigation, the facts just don’t mesh. Is this girl on the run as terrible as I am told? Nothing seems consistent with that. Not her friends, not her social media, nothing.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Be aware that this is the first book in a trilogy. While some issues are resolved by the end of the book, others are not, and that’s not a bad thing. It creates an anticipation for the next installment in this story that wouldn’t be possible without this kind of ending.

I think I will describe this book as a pepper. The taste and spice will stay with you. Even after it’s over, you’ll still be contemplating.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Murder, PTSD, Suspense, Terri Blackstock