What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti – a Review

What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti – a Review

 

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Description:
“Guilty people keep secrets.”

Isabelle Austen returns to her hometown on a small, isolated Pacific Northwest island to take over the family tourism business after the death of her mother, a disapproving parent and a hard woman to love. Feeling lost, Isabelle is also struggling with a recent divorce and wondering if she’ll ever come into her own. Then her life takes a surprising turn: The mysterious Henry North arrives on Parrish Island, steps off a seaplane, and changes Isabelle’s world forever. From the beginning, their relationship is heady and intense—then Isabelle learns of Henry’s disturbing past, involving the death of a fiancée and the disappearance of a wife. Suddenly Isabelle is caught between love and suspicion, paranoia and passion, as she searches for the truth she may not want to find—and is swept into a dangerous game she may not survive.

 

 

Review:

What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti is a Psychological thriller. I enjoyed the story line, but I also had mixed feelings about this book, which I will go more into later in this review.

Isabelle Austen has recently returned home to Parrish Island after the death of her mother.  She takes over the family seaplane travel business; and seems content being back and spending time with her friends including Jane, Joe, Eddie. One day, a tourist arrives on the island and almost immediately, both Isabelle and Henry, the tourist have a strong attraction.  Isabelle is a divorcee, and finds Henry, charming, handsome and extremely easy going.  They both are falling love with each other, and Isabelle moves in with Henry, but soon her world is about to change. 

In a short time, the local police warn her of his past, two deceased or missing wife/fiancée.  Isabelle knows Henry, and refuses to believe those lies.  Her friends strongly advise her not to become serious. Henry tells Isabelle about the first wife, who died in a fall and the missing fiancée.  He swears that he is innocent of any wrongdoing, and professes his love to her, which she accepts. Soon Isabelle starts receiving packages from an unknown source, forcing her to begin her own research into the women in Henry’s lives, the investigations.

Throughout the story, we also get the pov of another character named M. Weary, who was a friend to the missing fiancée, and who privately keeps an eye on Henry, on the internet and other means to watch for him to find another woman. Weary is obsessed with Henry and concern for his new lady, Isabelle. 

What follows is an exciting tense adventure where Isabelle, despite warnings from her friends, continues to believe in Henry.  The packages she receives makes her take further steps to find out the truth, which will put her life in danger. What will Isabelle do?   Who does she believe?

My mixed feelings:  I thought the beginning was nice, with a slow build romance. Then for a period I thought the story was slow & a bit redundant with switching focus on Isabelle and Weary.  Once we enter the halfway point or beyond, the story picks up drastically and it becomes an exciting thriller. I loved the intense last ¼ of the book, which had major surprises that I did not expect.  Overall, this was a very good psychological thriller.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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Remnants by Carolyn Arnold – a Review

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold – a Review

 

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Description:
All that remains are whispers of the past…

When multiple body parts are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, local law enforcement calls in FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team to investigate. But with the remains pointing to three separate victims, this isn’t proving to be an open-and-shut case.

With no quick means of identifying the deceased, building a profile of this serial killer is more challenging than usual. How are these targets being selected? Why are their limbs being severed and their bodies mutilated? And what is it about them that is triggering this person to murder?

The questions compound as the body count continues to rise, and when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found, the case takes an even darker turn. But this is only the beginning, and these new leads draw the FBI into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though: The killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…

 

Review:

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold is the 6th book in her Brandon Fisher FBI series.  The FBI team of Jack, Brandon, Paige and Zach are sent to Savannah, Georgia on what will be a very difficult case of floating body parts found in the river by a plantation.  Jack is the leader of this team, and Brandon has now escalated to being full agent, having finished his probationary period.

As we have come to know about this series, the cases are usually violent, squeamish and at times difficult for the agents, especially Brandon.  I like the team, but I still do not like Brandon that much, as I look at Jack as the one who pulls them together.  I do like Paige and Zach.

When the story started, we saw someone drug  a man in the men’s room of a mall, and kidnap him.   The body parts discovered is from different people, some perhaps there for a long time.  During the investigation, Paige and Zach will question those who found the parts, while Jack and Brandon will question others.  Clues are difficult to come by, and the body parts continue to surface, which leads the team to believe that a serial killer is on the loose.  From various conditions of the body, such as blue paint, and heart extractions, it will lead them to suspect that the killer (s) is performing some kind of Mayan cult sacrifice.  Nadia, who is an analyst from Quantico, is able to use her special skills to generate a list of missing people within a radius from Savannah for them to work with.  Other clues are found that makes a local resident a suspect and the race is on to find the culprit, which begins to show that perhaps there is more than one person involved.  There are some twists and surprises and the suspense becomes very exciting and tense. 

This series is always intense, and exciting, as Arnold is an expert in police procedurals and writing amazing crime stories.  However, that being said, I found it difficult to read some parts where the killer was torturing the victim.  Remnants is an intense mystery, with an excellent FBI team, and if you enjoy murder, bad villains and exciting stories, you should be reading this series.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy supplied for review

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Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen – a Review

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen – a Review

 

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Description:
No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

 

 

Review:

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen is a psychological thriller.  I had mixed feelings about this book, which I will explain a bit later in this review.  The premise of the story was a good one, which catches your attention from the start.

Hannah Moore has just received good news on her job, with a promotion possibly upcoming.  She buys a bottle of wine to celebrate the wonderful news with her boyfriend, Matt.   When she arrives home after being away for a couple of days, she is shocked at what she sees.  Matt is gone, and everything in the house that they shared is missing, and replaced with all her old stuff before he moved in with her; even her computer emails &  phone messages, etc were erased.  It was just like Matt never existed; which was a great start to this story.  Needless to say, Hannah was upset, not knowing why Matt left.

We get to meet Hannah’s friends Kate and James, who are the ones she goes to for help.  Both of them try to understand why Matt would have left, asking Hannah questions about them having problems.  Hannah insists nothing was wrong. It is here the story escalates to Hannah spending all her free time trying to find Matt, which will affect her job, which begins to suffer.  Hannah becomes obsessed with researching on the computer, calling his old job or friends to no avail.  A short time later, she begins to get texts on her phone from a strange number “I am Home now”, which leads her to believe Matt is coming home.  He didn’t, but someone was coming to her house leaving hints.   As we get to the last 1/3 of the book, things change drastically, with multiple twists; which was exciting.

Now for my mixed feelings:  Once I was ¼ into the book, I did not like Hannah; not at all.  She was obnoxious, obsessive, hysterical, nasty at times and totally a disaster. At first I understood her boyfriend left her, but she was an adult (30’s) who after the initial shock, should have moved on. If he didn’t want her to find him, that should have been enough.  She didn’t even care or do anything on her job; she treated her friends bitterly.  It got to the point that I couldn’t stand her, and this went on for too long. When we got to the twist, which was sort of a surprise,  her behavior was that of a wacky crazy women. Then as things come to a climax (no spoilers), we get some more answers and twists; but the epilogue ending left me with a bitter taste.

This book was promising, the writing was good, a good thriller storyline, with some surprises and at times exciting.  But I could not sympathize with the lead character, to the point of disliking her so much, it affected my take on the book. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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I See You by Clare Mackintosh – a Review

I See You by Clare Mackintosh – a Review

 

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Description
You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make

Review:

I See You by Clare Mackintosh is another wonderful exciting psychological thriller.  I loved Mackintosh’s debut novel, I Let You Go, and could not wait to see what she had for us next.   I See You is a different type of read, but equally fascinating.  The story does fluctuate between the two female leads.  There are also the occasional thoughts of a third party, presumed to be the person behind everything.

Zoe Walker hates her commute to work, but she has a good job and needs the money.  One day, looking at the newspaper adverts, she sees a picture that looks like her, with a dating site. When Zoe shows it to her family (daughter, son and boyfriend), they tell her it’s just probably a look alike, as the picture was grainy. A few days later, she sees a picture for the same site, with a different woman; but a short time later she will find out that the woman in the ad was murdered.   Zoe begins to worry that she has become someone’s target, and she begins to look over her shoulder often.  No one believes her when she tries to tell the cops about the advert

Kelly Swift is a cop, who has been regulated to the BTP Dip squad.  Kelly was a good detective in the Sexual Offense Unit, until 4 years ago, when she attacked a rape suspect.  Kelly’s sister had been raped, and the offender was never found, and to this day, Kelly can’t stop thinking about it.   When she gets a call from Zoe Walker about her fears, Kelly starts to investigate.  She tries to talk to the Detective in charge about some of her findings, and that Zoe Walker might be right, those adverts might be behind the murder and another robbery.  When she gets no satisfaction from the Detective, she goes to her commanding officer to request a transfer, and is given 3 months to work on the Investigation Unit. 

Zoe’s fears are real, and it begins to affect her life and work.  Everyone thinks she is worrying for no reason, and when she is “rescued” by a man who seems to pop up often, she goes to Kelly for help.  This will lead to an exciting police procedural trying to find that man, and the site that doesn’t exist; except it really does for those who will pay exorbitant prices to find all information about the lady in the advert, including their daily route to and from work.  What makes this a bit creepy and chilling is that in real life, with cameras everywhere, internet which watches your moves, and those who can easily hack your computer and follow you.  It is a scary thought.

Kelly and her new boss, Nick begin to tie things together, including a rape, which will lead to more clues. There were a number of unforeseen twists and turns that had me holding my breath in fear, as we realized how close things were to Zoe.  What follows is a scary pulse pounding exciting race to find the culprit, before Zoe’s life is in danger.  The ending was so tense, as we watched Kelly and the detectives discover the truth; but will they be able to save Zoe and her daughter, Katie?  I See You had a wild action filled ending that was a gripping thriller chiller. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – a Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – a Review

 

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Description:
“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”
 
After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.
 
Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
 
As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Review:

Did you wake up screaming?…Was it a nightmare?”

 “Did you wake up screaming? Was it a nightmare?”
 I shook my head, confused and a little scared.  “No.”
“Then it was nothing like that.”

Nightmares are the least of concerns; losing sleep a luxury in comparison to the knowledge, and experience, of surviving in the house Roanoke built.  Amy Engel crafts a book equal parts compelling and disturbing.  The Roanoke Girls details a family dynamic, a cycle of abuse without limit or censure, until one resolves to face the demons and expose the plague.  This story is cringe-worthy, but so artfully written, you’ll feel its haunting beauty.   

“My head knows this place is no good for me, but my stupid, traitorous heart sings HOME.

Lane Roanoke is going back home to Kansas.  Only, you’re not supposed to go home again, right?  Or does Oz always welcome you back?  Trust me when I say Roanoke is light years away from fantasy.  When Lane’s cousin, Allegra, goes missing, Granddad summons Lane home.  Ten years ago, Lane ran away from Roanoke, vowing to stay away from her cryptic family.  But guilt, its “dirty fingers under [her] skin” have forced Lane to return.  Only Allegra could revive Lane enough to revisit this hell.  Allegra, the rebellious, reckless, spirited cousin whose mysterious disappearance reopens wounds and shines a light on silent, insidious corruption.

Don’t think me dramatic, but I don’t think I can say much more.  Amy Engel parses out pivotal memories that stem from a malignant root, but the identity isn’t the most startling.  To quote Ms. Engel, “it’s the WHY of it” that brings the story to full culmination. You will hear varying degrees of blame, tainted versions every one, but “life picks away at all of us, backs us into corners we never anticipated.  Turns us into people we never thought we’d become.”  A riveting story of innocence lost.

The Roanoke Girls were born into an underbelly of family taboo cloaked in dark seduction and heartbreaking complacency.  Amy Engel weaves in light and hope in the most desperate of times.  I told her The Roanoke Girls was memorable, but now I can honestly add recommendable.  

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

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Secret Stalker by Lena Diaz – a Review

Secret Stalker by Lena Diaz – a Review

 

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Description:
A SWAT officer must protect the woman who broke his heart 

Years ago, detective and part-time SWAT officer Max Remington proposed to the woman he loved. Her response? To flee town—and Max’s life—under a cloud of suspicion. Folks said Bexley Kane killed the man “allegedly” stalking her and got away with murder. Now Bex is back in Destiny, Tennessee, but their tense reunion is cut short when bullets start flying, and this time, they’re aimed at her. As Max fights to keep Bex safe, he’s also fighting to protect his heart. Can they unravel the secrets of the past in time to save each other? Or will Bex’s final secret destroy them both?

 

Review:

How many times have we attempted to do the right thing only to still cause heartache or grief, regardless of the best intentions? Too many to count – me, too. But when love is on the line, doesn’t it behoove you to listen to your heart, since it’s the one in need of healing? Max and Bex are flung into a hostile situation, which they handle admirably, but their 10 year separation reopens gaping wounds and wreaks havoc anew.

Bex was supposed to go unnoticed in Destiny, settle her mom’s estate and escape unscathed, but small towns have the uncanny ability of drawing attention to one of their own. Max, detective and SWAT member, is just as crazed by Bex’s unexpected presence, but two attempted threats on her life demands his professionalism (and is more dangerous to her health) than facing their failed past. Secret Stalker is book 2 in Lena Diaz‘s Tennessee SWAT series. Max was the stud in the background of book 1 (Mountain Witness available here), so jumping into his story has been deliciously anticipated.

“It was as if the universe was against her, throwing obstacles in her path to keep her from leaving.”

As if threats upon her life aren’t escalating, the death of a high school classmate haunts Bex (and the town). Destiny is small-town charming, but it has a long, unforgiving memory and Bex being back home stirs up several troubling emotions in lots of complicated people.

Bex is being harassed and Max, as a detective, is following the case closely. Closer because of his prior relationship with Bex. While the investigation unfolded, obstruction of justice nagged at me. To quote the book’s synopsis, Bex flees town “under a cloud of suspicion”. It seems unlikely that a key figure would disappear without serious repercussions. Well, attempts on Bex’s life certainly qualify, don’t they? It’s collusion at worst then. Max is brave and aware of the larger legal picture; aware that connecting the dots is the only way to secure Bex’s complete exoneration. His heart and feelings for Bex blur the lines of job execution.

Second chance romance is one of my favorite tropes, the heartfelt pleading, even the thrill of the head-turning chase, but Max and Bex didn’t sizzle from the onset. Oh, their bodies reacted out of proximity and space (working together doesn’t diminish attraction), but this low simmer allowed Ms. Diaz to fully flesh out her characters and develop plotlines, so who’s really complaining? The steam gradually ensued and it was a perfect union.

The pacing of the story was a bit unusual this time around. Learning the details of Bex’s “silent stalker” so late into the story felt like the build-up of animosity came too late? I wanted to rail against this guy from the beginning! Alas, interesting twists enhanced the resolution. I was banking on one suspect, but Ms. Diaz veered and spun my theory into another. Really enjoyed the action-laden finale!

Lena Diaz continues to expand on her wonderful Tennessee SWAT series with Secret Stalker. Do not miss this or her next!

Review by Carmen

Copy supplied for review

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Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb – a Review

Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb – a Review

 

Echoes in Death
In Death series – Book #44
by J.D. Robb
Release Date: February 7, 2017

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Description:
As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”…

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

 

Review:

Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb is the 44th book in her fantastic In Death series.  I am an In-Death fanatic, having read every single book and novella in this series.  I have never been disappointed, each and everytime; which proves what a great author J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) is that she can keep us anxiously waiting for our next Eve Dallas fix.  As I have said before, Eve and Roarke are the best couple in the literary world and Robb/Roberts does this amazingly so well, without all the erotic sexual scenes, which seems to become the norm in romance.   The story is always on the forefront, and we still get our romance and deep love from this wonderful couple.  Ok, I guess I need to stop gushing.  Let’s discuss Echoes in Death.

Echoes in Death starts at 2am with Eve & Roarke on their way home from attending another gala that Eve so hates and she can’t wait to take off her shoes. But fate steps in, as it usually does with Eve, when they see a naked woman walking in front of their car on the icy streets; the woman is in shock, and is bloodied.  They rush her to the hospital, and when Eve tries to talk to her, the woman, Daphne Strazza, mutters about being attacked by the devil.  The doctors tell Eve that Daphne has been brutally beaten, raped multiple times, and is now totally traumatized.

Eve goes to the Strazza home with Roarke to look for Daphne’s husband, Doctor Anthony Strazza, whom they find dead.  The house was in shambles, with blood everywhere.  Once the house is secured, Peabody and McNab are called to help with the  investigation at the murder scene.  Eve surmises early on that with Daphne’s constant muttering of the Devil, it means that someone was dressed to look like that.

At the headquarters, the team will investigate any like types of crimes, and discover similarities in recent cases  that matched the same type of home invasion crimes of a  husband and wife, with various getups such as Dracula or a Ghoul.  This was the start of a fantastic story that will also hit close to home for Eve, as further investigation shows that Dr. Strazza abused his wife, bringing forward her own memories from her father’s abuse as a child. 

When the team begins to put pieces together to find a pattern, another murder of a husband and wife occurs, showing that the murderer is upping his game.  What follows is an exciting, tense race to find the killer before he strikes again.

Make no mistake, when you read an In- Death book the murders and murderer (‘s) are very violent. Our Eve is a hard as nails, tough murder cop, who will do anything it takes to bring the murderer to justice.  In between the tension of the case, there are always so many things that release the tension and make you love this series even more.   The secondary characters in this series are the best anywhere; such as Peabody, Mira, McNab, Summerset, Galahad, Baxter, Trueheart, and the entire police team that have become part of each new book.  Of course, Eve and Roarke are the main characters, but the others working with them make this a joy to read each and every time.  I love the banter between them, especially Peabody or Roarke with Eve.  I also adore her cat Galahad.  Over the years, this has become a wonderful ensemble to support Eve, and we didn’t even see Nadine or Mavis in this book. To tell too much more would be spoilers.

J.D. Robb once again gives us another fantastic edge of your seat thriller that was non-stop action, from start to finish.  The last quarter of the book, as Eve sets a trap for the murderer was sensational, and there were also some surprises.  I tried to read this book a little slower so that I can savior every moment, but I find it hard to do, since I want to know what happens.  So I end up the next day, going back and rereading a large majority of it. I will never have enough of this series; Eve and Roarke; and the entire In-Death team.   

Reviewed by Barb

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At Close Range by Laura Griffin – Review & Giveaway

At Close Range by Laura Griffin – Review & Giveaway

 

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At Close Range
Tracers series – Book #11
by Laura Griffin
Release Date: January 31, 2017

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Description:
When a lakeside tryst ends in a double murder, police detective Daniele Harper arrives on the scene determined to get answers. Clues are everywhere, but nothing adds up. Dani turns to the Delphi Center crime lab for help, but soon regrets it when her secret attraction to their chief firearms examiner threatens to distract her from the most important case of her career.

As a ballistics expert and former Navy SEAL, Scott Black knows firearms, and he knows he can help Dani unravel her case. Scott has managed to hide his interest in his best friend’s younger sister for years, but when her investigation brings them together, the sparks between them quickly get out of control. Scott resolves to keep his hands off Dani and his eyes on the goal—identifying a killer. But when that killer zeroes in on Dani, all bets are off. There isn’t a line Scott won’t cross to convince Dani to trust him so that he can help her take down a ruthless murderer who has her in his sights.

 

Review:

At Close Range by Laura Griffin is the 11th book in her fantastic Tracers series.  This series reads very well as a standalone, though in each book you get to see glimpses of some of the previous characters, especially those from Delphi Center.  One of those characters, Scott Black, who is a ballistics expert for Delphi, is the hero in this book.  Daniele (Dani) Harper is our heroine, and she is a local detective.  Dani knows Scott very well, as he is her brother’s best friend.  She has always had a crush on him, but he has never shown any interest.  

At Close Range begins with a double murder of a man and woman, who were in their car, in what was to be a romantic encounter.  When Dani arrives at the gruesome scene, she takes control, and eventually she will become the lead detective in the murder case.  Scott is also on the scene, representing Delphi, as he looks for ballistics clues.  A short time later, during their investigation, the murder weapon is discovered, and Scott fingerprints are all over the gun.  Needless to say, he is now a suspect.  Dani, now in control, has to prove that Scott couldn’t have done this, and together with Ric and other detectives they begin to discover there is a frame up and conspiracy.  But who and why is the major mystery that takes us on an exciting suspenseful wild adventure, which will have so many twists and turns.  There is no way we could figure out who is behind this, at least not until we reach the end of this fabulous story.

Dani is very good at her job, and besides her detectives, she works well with the many workers that work at Delphi.  A few times we worry, since Dani finds herself in a few dangerous life threatening situations.  When she is finally able to clear Scott, he will go out of his way to work with her, and also help protect her.  Within the mystery, a romance will develop between Scott and Dani.  He has been attracted to her, but because she is the younger sister of his friend, he has always stepped away.  But now with them working so closely together, the chemistry between them heats up. 

There were so many twists and revelations along the way that saying anything more would be spoilers.  What follows is an amazing intense mystery that has you on the edge throughout the entire book.  What also makes this series so great is all wonderful dynamics of the Delphi Center (Tracers) that give us a look at the different ways to look for clues.  Laura Griffin does such an amazing job detailing all the aspects of looking for various things found at a murder scene….truly awesome.   If you enjoy a true murder mystery, with lots of action, suspense, intense situations and a touch of romance, then you should be reading the Tracers series. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

 

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Laura’s publisher is offering a paper copy of AT CLOSE RANGE to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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