Monday, April 30, 2018

The Dry

Book: The Dry
Series: Aaron Falk #1
Author: Jane Harper

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.-Goodreads

Review: All of my Goodreads friends rated this book 5/5 stars and I fully expected to love it. I really wanted to love it. It starts with a bang-a mother and her child are murdered while her baby daughter cries in the next room. The husband is found a few miles away, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Aaron Falk, a federal agent who specializes in financial crimes, comes home for the funeral as the man who supposedly killed his family and then himself was Aaron's childhood best friend. Aaron himself left town in a hurry almost 20 years ago and people haven't forgotten what happened. 

This had all the right ingredients-a gruesome crime, a mysterious event that happened years ago, a small Australian town that seemed depressing in every facet imaginable. What didn't work for me was Aaron Falk himself. He was so boring-I really can't even describe to you what he looks like (other than he's pale, I imagined an almost albino) or even describe his personality. Because almost the entire book is told from his perspective (with some odd flashbacks to the past) this book had no heart or life to it. Boring, boring, boring. 

Grade: 2/5

Say You're Sorry

Book: Say You're Sorry
Series: Morgan Dane #1
Author: Melinda Leigh

After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.-Goodreads

Review: Morgan, a single mom of 3 young girls, is ready to take a job in the prosecutors office when her babysitter is viciously murdered. Even more shocking-her next door neighbor is arrested for the crime. Believing he is innocent, Morgan partners with her old high school friend, private investigator Lance Kruger, to defend Nick and find the killer. 

The author let's us know almost immediately that Nick isn't the killer. I wish we (the reader) were left trying to decide his guilt or innocence, knowing he wasn't guilty really dulled my enjoyment with this one. I also had a hard time visualizing Morgan and Lance as actual people-there interactions didn't seem authentic. 

Grade: 2/5


Book: Poisonfeather
Series: Gibson Vaughn #2
Author: Matthew Fitzsimmons

When jailed billionaire Charles Merrick hints publicly that he has stashed a fortune in an offshore cache, a school of sharks converges upon his release from federal prison.

Among his swindled victims is Judge Hammond Birk, the man who saved Gibson Vaughn’s life when he was a troubled teenager. Now Gibson intends to repay that debt by recovering Merrick’s victims’ money.

But Gibson isn’t the only one on the trail of the hidden fortune.

The promise of billions has drawn a horde of ruthless treasure hunters, including an edgy ex-con, a female bartender with a mysterious history, a Chinese spy with a passion for fly-fishing, and a veritable army of hardened mercenaries. To stay ahead of the sharks and win justice for his mentor, Gibson will need all his formidable skills. But at the end of the road, he’ll still have to face “Poisonfeather”—a geopolitical secret that just might get Gibson killed…or worse.-Goodreads

Review: Gibson Vaughn is out of a job again. When he's offered a chance to help the judge who gave him a second chance years ago, he decides he has to get involved. 

Unlike the previous installment, I didn't care for the side characters this time around and I wasn't as invested in the story. Overall, it was an okay read. 

Grade: 2.5/5

The Short Drop

Book: The Short Drop
Series: Gibson Vaughn #1
Author: Matthew Fitzsimmons

A decade ago, fourteen-year-old Suzanne Lombard, the daughter of Benjamin Lombard—then a senator, now a powerful vice president running for the presidency—disappeared in the most sensational missing-person case in the nation’s history. Still unsolved, the mystery remains a national obsession.

For legendary hacker and marine Gibson Vaughn, the case is personal—Suzanne Lombard had been like a sister to him. On the tenth anniversary of her disappearance, the former head of Benjamin Lombard’s security asks for Gibson’s help in a covert investigation of the case, with new evidence in hand.

Haunted by tragic memories, he jumps at the chance to uncover what happened all those years ago. Using his military and technical prowess, he soon discovers multiple conspiracies surrounding the Lombard family—and he encounters powerful, ruthless political players who will do anything to silence him and his team. With new information surfacing that could threaten Lombard’s bid for the presidency, Gibson must stay one step ahead as he navigates a dangerous web to get to the truth.-Goodreads

Review: When Gibson Vaughn is offered a job from an old foe to research the disappearance of his childhood best friend, he finds things are more complicated than he ever thought. This was a surprisingly fun read. Fast paced, interesting characters and an interesting case.  

Grade: 4/5

Absolutely Almost

Book: Absolutely Almost
Author: Lisa Graff

Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he's not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself.

A perfect companion to Lisa Graff's National Book Award-nominated A Tangle of Knots, this novel explores a similar theme in a realistic contemporary world where kids will easily be able to relate their own struggles to Albie's. Great for fans of Rebecca Stead's Liar and Spy, RJ Palacio's Wonder and Cynthia Lord's Rules.-Goodreads

Review: I had the pleasure of running my 4th grade daughter's book club last week and this was the book they were reading. I think my biggest challenge reading books written about kids that are the same age as my own children is that I'm critical of how the children are portrayed. While Albie is a 5th grader, he is written more like a 2nd or 3rd grader. That being said, as a parent, I really felt bad for Albie. He was neglected by his parents and they removed the only adult he really bonded with, his babysitter Calista (I loved her, she was the best character in the book). As a child, I would have probably enjoyed this more and felt a kinship with Albie. 

Grade: 3/5


Book: Broken
Series: Will Trent #4
Author: Karin Slaughter

When Special Agent Will Trent arrives in Grant County, he finds a police department determined to protect its own and far too many unanswered questions about a prisoner's death. He doesn't understand why Officer Lena Adams is hiding secrets from him. He doesn't understand her role in the death of Grant County's popular police chief. He doesn't understand why that man's widow, Dr. Sara Linton, needs him now more than ever to help her crack this case.
While the police force investigates the murder of a young woman pulled from a frigid lake, Trent investigates the police force, putting pressure on Adams just when she's already about to crack. Caught between two complicated and determined women, trying to understand Linton's passionate distrust of Adams, the facts surrounding Chief Tolliver's death, and the complexities of this insular town, Trent will unleash a case filled with explosive secrets--and encounter a thin blue line that could be murderous if crossed. -Goodreads
Review: Sara Linton is visiting her parents in Grant County when a college student is pulled from the lake. She's been murdered. A local boy is quickly arrested and confesses, then commits suicide in jail. Sara doesn't believe he's guilty and calls in a favor to Amanda and requests a more detailed investigation. Will Trent arrives and is on the case. 

While I love the murder investigations in this series, my favorite part of the series is the partnership of Will and Faith. Faith spent the majority of the book in Atlanta waiting for the birth of her baby, so all we got was a few phone calls. This book seemed to progress the relationship of Will and Sara while they worked together to solve the case. The case itself was okay, not as interesting as the previous installments. 

Grade: 3/5


Book: Undone
Series: Will Trent #3
Author: Karin Slaughter

When a tortured young woman enters the trauma center of an Atlanta hospital, Dr. Sara Linton is thrust into a desperate police investigation with Special Agent Will Trent and his partner, Faith Mitchell. Though guarding their own wounds and their own secrets, Sara, Will, and Faith find that they are all that stand between a madman and his next victim.-Goodreads
Review: I absolutely loved this. An elderly couple is driving home when they accidentally hit a woman in the road. She's rushed to the ER where Will and Faith happen to be. Before long, they realize women are being kidnapped. Can they figure out who the culprit is before there are victims?

In Slaughter style, this was dark, gritty, disturbing and oh so good. I continue to love Will and Faith as partners and I'm interested to see how Sara will tie into Will's life. 

Grade: 5/5


Book: Fractured
Series: Will Trent #2
Author: Karin Slaughter

With its gracious homes and tree-lined streets, Ansley Park is one of Atlanta's most desirable neighborhoods. But in one gleaming mansion, in a teenager's lavish bedroom, a girl has been savagely murdered. And in the hallway, her horrified mother stands amid shattered glass, having killed her daughter's attacker with her bare hands.

Detective Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is here only to do a political favor; the murder site belongs to the Atlanta police. But Trent soon sees something that the cops are missing, something in the trail of blood, in a matrix of forensic evidence, and in the eyes of the shell-shocked mother. Within minutes, Trent is taking over the case -- and adding another one to it. He is sure that another teenage girl is missing, and that a killer is on the loose.

Armed with only fleeting clues, teamed with a female cop who has her own personal reasons for hating him, Trent has enemies all around him -- and a gnawing feeling that this case, which started in the best of homes, is cutting quick and deep through the ruins of perfect lives broken wide-open: where human demons emerge with a vengeance. -Goodreads

Review: I read the first book in this series 3 years ago and finally got back to it. I initially wasn't 'feeling' GBI Agent Will Trent but he really grew on me during this installment. I love how Slaughter slowly gives us details about his background and childhood. He's awkward and doesn't present as law enforcement but there are reasons why. His boss, Amanda, is a total ball-buster and I am loving Will's new partner, Faith Mitchell.

Overall, really liked this. I will definitely continue with the series.  

Grade: 4/5

The People vs. Alex Cross

Book: The People vs. Alex Cross
Series: Alex Cross #25
Author: James Patterson

This time it's Alex Cross on trial.

Alex Cross is on the wrong side of the law. Serving a suspension from the force while he awaits trial for murder, Cross has been branded as a trigger-happy cop, another bad apple walking the streets with a gun, an accusation that Cross will do anything to refute. To make himself feel useful again, Cross opens a counseling office in the basement of his home. When his former partner Sampson shows up needing his help, Cross jumps at the chance, even if it may end up costing him what's left of his career. When a string of young, blonde women go missing, the investigation leads Cross and Sampson to the most depraved, darkest corners of the internet. Struggling to prove his own innocence and uncover the truth lurking online, Cross must risk everything to save his most at-risk patient of all...himself. -Goodreads

Review: Several blonde women have been kidnapped. Alex Cross is investigating the case while he himself is on trial. Oddly, I thought this trial would take center stage in this installment, but it was the secondary plot. Overall, quick read that was enjoyable. 

Grade: 3/5

Close to Home

Book: Close to Home
Series: DI Adam Fawley #1
Author: Cara Hunter

They know who did it. Perhaps not consciously. Perhaps not yet. But they know.

When eight-year-old Daisy Mason vanishes from her family’s Oxford home during a costume party, Detective Inspector Adam Fawley knows that nine times out of ten, the offender is someone close to home. And Daisy’s family is certainly strange—her mother is obsessed with keeping up appearances, while her father is cold and defensive under questioning. And then there’s Daisy’s little brother, so withdrawn and uncommunicative . . .

DI Fawley works against the clock to find any trace of the little girl, but it’s as if she disappeared into thin air—no one saw anything; no one knows anything. But everyone has an opinion, and everyone, it seems, has a secret to conceal.-Goodreads

Review: I’m going to say this now, before we get started. You won’t like it, but trust me, I’ve done this more times than I care to punish myself remembering. In a case like this - a kid - nine times out of ten it’s someone close to home.

Eight-year old Daisy Mason is missing. Was she kidnapped? Killed? How could a child disappear from a party at her own house without anyone seeing anything? DI Adam Fawley is the lead investigator and researching every lead with his team.

I thought this was well written, engaging and a disturbing case study about what happens behind closed doors. I was immediately engrossed in the case and couldn't put it down. I loved the writing style. We saw the perspective of a few of the detectives in the present, social media reaction to the case (Facebook and Twitter) as well as sections written in the past leading up to the event. I will definitely continue with the series.

Grade: 5/5