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All Book Reviews by Genre: Thrillers/Suspense

L.A. Mental
McMahon, Neil
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In L.A. Mental, after a freak incident with his brother Nick, Tom Crandall investigates his bizarre breakdown and discovers something gigantic.
He may be in over his head. I really liked the mystery that kept me intrigued throughout the novel. I didn't like how confusing it was, although every few chapters the book explains what is going on and helps you understand. I pick this book because I wanted something to keep me on the end of my chair, and while I was mildly interested this wasn't a book I just could not put down.
Mostly this book was completely predictable but it did throw in a few surprising twist and turns. I could partly relate to Tom because i don't have the best relationship with my siblings just like him. This book was an okay book definitely not my favorite but I would recommend.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls
Weingarten, Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarton, June, a high school junior, investigates the mysterious "suicide" of her ex-best friend, Delia.
Throughout the book she discovers new mysteries and experiences betrayal and numbness. Her character develops quickly to adapt to what events occur. I liked how the book connects with June's feelings about the events, and describes them in detail, like any good book should. I did not like how the author only included two point of views, I would like to read what the other characters thought about and how they reacted in their thoughts. I pick this book because I wanted a mystery novel and the title as well as the cover piqued my interest immediately. Suicide note from beautiful girls had surprising moments, that made me think 'wow, I can't believe that just happened' but it had moments where I could predict what was going to happen.
I could semi relate to June, she as well as I have lost a best friend. I would say this isn't the best book I've read this year, but it is up there with a good story plot.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.
The Girl Before
Delaney, J.P.
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Would you like to read a book about psychopathic men exploiting vulnerable women? Well then, do I have the book for you!

After having a stillborn child, Jane needs a new start. What better way to start over than in a new apartment? One Folgate Street has weird rules to be sure, but the minimalist life style required by the owner actually sounds like the perfect way to reinvent herself. But after she moves in, Jane learns that a previous tenant, Emma Matthews, was murdered in the apartment. As Jane learns more about Emma, she finds that they have much in common - and that she might be the apartment's next victim. The Girl Before goes back and forth between Jane and Emma's stories.

This was...not good. The beginning of the book was intriguing, and until about 1/3 of the way through, I was thinking it'd be a 2-3 star read for me. And then, like a conversation with a stranger or a first date, the book took an unfortunate turn. This was, sadly, to be the first of many unfortunate turns. Ultimately, I finished the book as it truly is an easy read - there was almost no imagery or description, you spend most of the time in the main characters' heads or watching them do incredibly stupid things (have these women never heard of a hotel?). Oh, and as is often the case in these domestic thrillers, the characters were all extremely unlikable.

This genre is pretty hit or miss for me (for example, I liked Gone Girl but HATED Girl on the Train), and The Girl Before was no exception - I found it to be kind of terrible. It's apparently being made into a movie, and I think with some plot/character changes, it may be more successful in that format. Stay away from the book unless you just can't get enough of psychological thrillers. 1 star - I did not like it.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Trespasser
French, Tana
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the early hours of the morning, a man places a phone call to the local police station reporting that a woman has fallen down and hit her head in her living room. He asks for an ambulance to be sent but hangs up before the officer receiving the call can ask any more questions. When the first responders arrive at the scene, they find a young woman lying against the fireplace, dead. Junior Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran are assigned to the case, but as they dig into the facts they start to suspect that there’s more to it than a simple domestic dispute. Try as they might, though, every new lead seems to dry up when they look into it. And it isn’t just the case that’s causing problems; everything seems to be going wrong in Conway’s life. She’s being relentlessly hazed by the other detectives on the squad; her relationship with her friends is deteriorating between the long hours and her own depression; and no matter how high their clearance rate is, neither she nor Steve are having any decent cases thrown their way. Conway is tough as nails and dedicated to her job, but the animosity of the rest of the squad and the constant scut work are starting to make her doubt her career path. This case seems like their best chance to get back on track and finally win some respect -- provided they can prove that there’s more to it than meets the eye.

This is the most recent entry in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series. If you're not familiar with the series, I'll say that, while each book can be read as a stand-alone without issue, there are some recurring characters that make it rewarding to read them in order. The lead in this book, Antoinette Conway, was first introduced in the preceding book, The Secret Place, and her partner, Steve, started out as a minor character in Broken Harbor. All of French’s books are excellent character portraits, so it’s rewarding to get to see the same individuals first from an outside perspective and then from within their own head, but you won’t miss anything plot-wise by skipping them. The Trespasser centers around the idea of fantasy: the stories we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better, the stories we tell to other people to make them act the way we want them to, and the devastating effects it can have when those fantasies finally collapse. That applies as much to the detectives as it does to the victim, and so we get a nice mix of personal drama with our protagonists and the more straightforward investigation of the murder. I loved Conway as a character in The Secret Place, so I enjoyed getting to see things from her own perspective in this book. What I like about French’s books is that they have more going on than just the ‘whodunnit’. The mystery is always interesting to me, but what really shines is her portrayal of the characters and the setting: Dublin really comes alive for you in her books, and the characters feel like they could walk off the page.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
113 Minutes
Patterson, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I was very curious to try one of James Patterson's Bookshots. He called them a pulse pounding thriller from beginning to end. I will say it lived up to the billing! I was immediately into the story and kept wondering what was going to happen next. 113 Minutes started off with a teenage boy dying from an overdose from crystal meth. Then there is a bank robbery, a heist of over a million dollars at a country club, and then a shootout with the Feds! Whew!!! I really enjoyed this one and can't wait to read more Bookshots!

Reviewer's Name: Melissa M.
One Mile Under
Gross, Andrew
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Colorado is the setting for best-selling author Andrew Gross’ thriller, One Mile Under. From the Roaring Fork River, which starts at the Continental Divide and runs through Aspen to Glenwood Springs, to the state’s eastern plains, the central theme of the book is water.

After being summoned by his god-daughter, a rafting guide, to investigate a suspicious white water kayaking death, security specialist Ty Hauch joins Danielle Whalen in search of clues to the fatality on the Roaring Fork.

The investigation leads to Weld County, where water is every bit as important to farmers and ranchers as it is to the outdoor recreation industry in the mountains, and there is one more player in this adventure - the oil and gas industry. As Ty and Dani soon find out, extracting ore from far beneath the earth’s surface involves water…and lots of it.

The controversial process is commonly known as “fracking”, an issue that is a hot topic in Colorado today. One Mile Under is fast-paced, educational and a really good read.

Reviewer's Name: Susan
Before the Fall
Hawley, Noah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Adult Fiction. Martha's Vineyard on a foggy summer night. A private jet carrying eleven people takes off for New York. Eighteen minutes later it disappears from radar. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs, a 40-something artist, and the four-year-old son of the wealthy David Bateman, the chairman of ALC News. How did this happen? A terrorist attack? Why was this has-been painter aboard this flight? The chapters highlight the backgrounds of each of the passengers, the pilot, co-pilot, the flight attendant and Bateman's Israeli bodyguard, guiding us toward the solution of this sad ending to so many lives. This author is also a screenwriter for Lies and Alibis, My Generation and The Unusuals, as well as a writer and produces for the series Bones.

Reviewer's Name: Vickie Sherwood
Broken Monsters
Beukes, Lauren
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Broken Monsters is a thriller set in Detroit in which a detective investigates a serial killer who murders people with a nail gun and then attempts to meld their bodies with those of animals -- or at least, that's how it starts out. The chapters rotate between the perspectives of Gabriella Versado, the detective investigating the case; Layla, her teenage daughter (currently embroiled in a plot to lure out and expose pedophiles); Jonno, a journalist who quit his job and moved to Detroit to reinvent himself by reporting on their art scene; TK, a homeless man working to protect his friends and community; and our serial killer, who finds himself infected by a dream that seems to have the power to rewrite reality itself. While it initially seems like a pretty standard thriller, the murders quickly veer off into the realm of the supernatural. The book is a bit uneven as a result, ending up as a mix of magical undertones plus serial killer crime investigation plus family drama that never quite came together for me. The writing wasn't amazing by any means, but it got the job done, and the plot managed to keep me turning pages. Despite having heard some rave reviews from others, I wasn't wowed by it, but if you're a fan of horror/thrillers this is definitely unique.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
The Transmigration of Bodies
Herrera, Yuri
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Redeemer has an unusual profession: he's a "fixer," paid to calm tempers and smooth over the difficult situations that arise in the criminal underworld of the unnamed Mexican city where he lives. Armed only with a gift for talking his way out of difficult situations, he works as a sort of middle man. When our story starts, an outbreak of a new strain of flu has led to a state of emergency. The bodies are piling up, people are panicking, and most of the city is locking themselves up at home to let the illness run its course. The Redeemer would gladly join them, but duty calls. In the middle of all this, two feuding crime families have, through a strange series of coincidences, ended up with the corpses of the other's child (you might be getting some Romeo and Juliet vibes at this point). It's The Redeemer's job to set things right before more violence breaks out.

This book has been out for a while but was just recently translated into English. It's more of a novella -- just 100 pages long -- but I enjoyed the read and felt that it wrapped everything up in a satisfying way. The characters are interesting and well-drawn even in such a short space, and there was a good balance of humor and more sad, reflective moments as we move back and forth between The Redeemer's attempts to seduce his neighbor ("Three Times Blonde") and his investigation of the children's deaths. I would recommend this to lovers of noir, but I think it has a broader appeal as well.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Arrowood
McHugh, Laura
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Arden Arrowood learns that she has been willed her grandparents' grand house "Arrowood" along the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. She lived there until she was eight years old, when her two-year-old twin sisters disappeared. Arden, now an adult, has been haunted by their disappearance, since she was supposed to be watching them. Three men help or hinder her return: Ben Ferris, who was her childhood best friend next door; Josh Kyle, the founder of the website called Midwest Mysteries, who asks her help as he writes about her sisters; and Dick Heany, the caretaker of Arrowood, who claims he knew her parents. An engrossing read!

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
The Lost Girls
Young, Heather
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The summer of 1935 was one of unexpected changes for the Evans family at their house on the lake. The 15-year-old eldest sister defies their father and 12-year-old Lucy to make her own way. And, 6-year-old pampered Emily disappears. 60 years later, Lucy details that devastating summer in a journal, which she wills to her grandniece Justine, along with the lake house and a healthy investment portfolio. Justine grabs this opportunity to leave her unsettling live-in situation. She and her two daughters drive from California to the remote Minnesota lake. The chapters alternate between Lucy's journal entries and Justine's dilemmas: her mother arrives wanting money; her ex-boyfriend shows up; and her older daughter Melissa seems more and more drawn into Emily's story. An intense read.

Reviewer's Name: Vickie S.
Nothing Short of Dying
Storey, Erik
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book has recommendations from heavy hitters like Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver that make it sound like the greatest thriller they've ever read. I picked it up based on a good review and the Colorado setting, which I usually enjoy. Disappointing all the way around. Generic tough guy antics and prose that fails to capture the feel of Colorado's high country do not add up to the second coming of Elmore Leonard. And this guy's a native, so we can't blame it on the out of state writer doing it by the numbers. For a much better written crime story with a Colorado setting, read The Painter by Peter Heller.

Reviewer's Name: Alan
End of Watch
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This final book of the Bill Hodges Trilogy finds retired police detective, Bill Hodges, investigating a string of suicides involving survivors of the Mercedes Massacre. Along with his private investigation agency, Finders Keepers, and his partner, Holly Gibney, Bill must figure out why survivors who have spent the past five years rebuilding their lives suddenly decide to commit suicide. The only item that seems to connect the individuals is that they have all received a free handheld video game called a “Zappit”. Are the video games consoles really hypnotizing users and telling them to do something they would not normally do? Why does it only affect certain users? With the help of Holly, the tech wizard of the duo, Bill races to find answers before a suicide epidemic ensues. In classic Stephen King style, this crime thriller pits good versus evil and includes an element of supernatural suspense that makes the story even more engaging.
Once again, King takes current events and imagines a “what if” scenario that plays on some of our worst fears. King’s character development and storytelling style quickly pulls readers into the book and carries them through to the last page. Don’t let the pink and blue fish on the cover fool you. This book has some twisted, creepy characters and gore filled scenes that may be unnerving to some readers. As a life-long King fan, I found it hard to put it down. To get maximum enjoyment of the book, I suggest starting at the beginning of the trilogy with Mr. Mercedes and continuing on into Finders Keepers before diving into End of Watch.

Reviewer's Name: Melanie
We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When I found this book, the title instantly spoke to me. I couldn't stop reading it from the first paragraph. It's powerful and quirky at the same time. There was never a sentence where I got distracted by the outside world, because the words drew me in, every second. I love this book.

Reviewer's Name: Zoe
Traitor
Pausewang, Gudrun
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For my review I read the book Traitor by Gunrun Pausewang. Traitor was set in Nazi Germany and is in the perspective of a young girl who hides a Russian who at the time was an enemy of Germany. In the beginning this book was not my favorite, but it grew on me so I kept reading. The one thing I did not like about this book was the ending because it was really sad. I also liked the ending because it was new and most books have happy endings, but it was still really sad and I wish the book had not ended that way.
Reviewer Grade:8

Reviewer's Name: Paige C.
Awards:
A Criminal Magic
Kelly, Lee
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After the 18th amendment passed, magic became illegal. Shine, an addictive hallucinogen created as a by-product of sorcery, is the main reason behind the prohibition. So, of course, a seedy underworld of gangsters trafficking in shine immediately springs up, and it is embroiled in this underworld that our two main protagonists, Joan and Alex, accidentally and not-so-accidentally find themselves. As they are both sorcerers, Joan and Alex must figure out how to use their sorcery to survive the crime syndicate and it's machinations.

This is a fun fantasy read that is fairly original in it's premise and setting, with likable and believable characters. The premise does most of the heavy lifting, as gangs set in the 1920s trafficking magic gives Kelly lot to work with. She doesn't disappoint. The gangsters are pretty fearsome and the body count ratchets up quickly. The pacing is tight, and the magic is both deadly and beautiful. Joan is a performer, and the descriptions of the performances themselves are somewhat bewitching.

I did have a few problems with the book. First, while the two main characters were fleshed out and developed, almost none of the other characters got any development, and those that did were then basically ignored for the rest of the book. So when the secondary characters started dying, I didn't really care all that much. And then there's the relationship between Joan and Alex. I didn't mind it at first, but it did that thing that relationships in books often do of getting too serious too fast. It's not instalove, but it's instalove's cousin or something. I also felt that aspects of the 20s were wasted on this book - I wanted more flappers, insane clothing, and awesome music. We really only got the gangsters and the cigarette smoking.

For all it's problems, this fantasy novel was ultimately a great read. The ending was pitch perfect, and left the door open for a sequel. I'd recommend it to light fantasy readers looking for something without a ton of substance that is endlessly entertaining and a little different. I'd probably give it something like 3.5 stars, but since that's not an option, we'll go with 4. I quite liked it.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Archangel Project
Graham, C.S.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

An exhilarating novel that puts you directly into the shoes of young October Guinness in a race against time and a fight against the government. When a man named Lance Palmer comes to October in her small New Orleans abode, she expects he's a good guy with his claim of being with the FBI, but she couldn't be more wrong. With motivation and determination, Lance Palmer and his crew will do anything to get rid of October because of her unique talent that could potentially leak extremely confidential information regarding the well being of the globe. Will she be able to ever live a normal life again? Will she ever outrun her past? With the help of ex-special ops and CIA agent, Jax Alexander, she just might. With gripping current events and a sense of constant danger, this book is extremely eye-opening and thrilling.
Reviewers Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Logan H.
And Then There Were None
Agatha, Christie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The name Agatha Christie is synonymous with unique and puzzling mysteries, but And Then There Were None is definitely one of her best. The plot is simple enough: ten people are invited to an island, stranded there, and then accused of a murder. And then one by one each person begins to die just like the people in the old nursery rhyme “Ten Little Soldier Boys.” However, the reader is kept in the dark as to who the murderer is until the very end, and the end is not at all what the reader might have expected. The plot moves along fairly quickly, but it doesn’t get confusing. The characters are fully sketched out which helps to make the story somewhat believable. The best thing about this book is that it is not at all cheesy; it is gripping and just frightening enough to make the reader want to finish the book before they turn out the lights at night.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Grace O.
The Crooked House
Kent, Christobel
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

This was a very disappointing read. The novel follows Alison, who was the sole survivor of the massacre of her family when she was a teenager. She has since moved to London, changed her name, and tried to put her past behind her, but a wedding invitation from her boyfriend’s ex draws her back to the community she thought she’d left behind. The book came well-recommended, and I went into it expecting a better story than the one I got. This was sold to me as a psychological thriller that follows Alison’s attempt to investigate the massacre, which had been treated as a murder-suicide committed by her father. Unfortunately, the characterization was clumsy, the writing was poor, and the ending, without spoiling anything, was badly explained and unsatisfying. I came to hate every character in the book, and by the end of it I was reading out of a sense of obligation rather than any actual interest in the plot (if you’re paying any attention, you’ll figure the ‘mystery’ out an agonizingly long time before our oblivious protagonist catches on).

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Book Review: Guilty Wives
Patterson, James
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I started out highly annoyed by this book. It seemed so formulaic. But then the main character took off running, so to say. I found myself riveted by her ability to survive, stay true to herself, and uncover the truth. But then I ended up annoyed again by the formulaic ending. It was the opposite of a crap sandwich.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn

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