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Monday, October 24, 2016

Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge

Genre: A Detective Helen Grace Thriller
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: October 2015

My apologies for the gap between reviews. After trying to find a solid replacement for the client who decided to quit the world of SEO and web analytics, I ended up taking a job outside the home. It's been a new experience trying to balance my remaining writing clients, book reviewing, and adjusting to a commute and training.

In Pop Goes the Weasel, Helen Grace is back. This time, she's up against a sadistic killer who literally tears her victim's hearts out and then leaves them for the victim's loved ones to find. It all starts with a happily married family man who's found in an area where prostitutes are known to work. No one can figure out why he was there or why he was killed.

For Helen Grace, it's clear the killer is angry. Until she can figure out why, she'll struggle to find the killer before another victim is found.

Once again, M.J. Arlidge draws you in and holds you captive in a twisted murder case. It's said in the description that the killings are reverse Jack the Ripper, and I'd say that's a fair take on these killings. They are pretty brutal and graphic at times.

Charlie's back after her loss and she and Helen are definitely having issues. This adds a dynamic layer to the personal relationships. I've always been a fan of Charlie's, but I also enjoy Helen, and I was eager to see how it played out.

I do really enjoy the Helen Grace series. It has the gritty detail and brash attitudes that I enjoy in the crime series The Fall that stars Gillian Anderson. If you enjoy that show, you're going to love M.J. Arlidge's series.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Beautiful Maids All in a Row by Jennifer Harlow

Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Publisher: Alibi
Release Date: October 11, 2016

Dr. Iris Ballard gave up her life as a forensic psychologist after tragic events ended her husband's life. When a woman she knows disappears, Iris can't help but let her former partner, FBI Special Agent Luke Hudson, draw her back in. Someone is brutally raping, torturing, and killing woman, and Iris has the skill it's going to take to catch the sadistic madman known as the Woodsman.

Iris is quick to figure out the killer's identity, but catching a powerful man proves difficult, especially when she's still haunted by her own demons. She'll do everything it takes, but he's just as determined to use her past to destroy her.

I did find myself drawn into Iris's story. She hides from her past with a bottle, a house in the middle of nowhere, and her German Shepherd. That she so easily gave them all up when Luke came calling seemed odd, but I moved on from that and let myself get absorbed in the story.

Iris is a smart cookie, but the killer is an equal match. He bugged me, but then he also came off as very convincing. Was it coincidence that the killer was buddies with Donald Trump? Not sure, but it did get me to snicker a few times.

In the end, this is a solid suspense/mystery. I'm curious to see where Iris goes from here, so I definitely got drawn in and want more.

Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

Genre: Short Stories
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: October 18, 2016

A few years ago, Jojo Moyes skyrocketed on my favorite author list. Paris for One and Other Stories is uniquely different. There are some romance stories, some that feel like she's been spying on me, and a few that simply surprised me with unexpected twists.

1. Paris for One shares the tale of Nell. She and her boyfriend should be in Paris together, but he ditched her. Now this shy traveler must figure a way to get through a trip to Paris on her own.

2. Between the Tweets is a humorous tale of a TV celebrity who finds himself accused of having an affair. The online accusation isn't going away, so he hires an investigator to get to the bottom of it.

3. Love in the Afternoon finds Sara and Doug taking a surprise anniversary trip. After more than a decade of marriage, their marriage has become a little stagnant and Sara isn't sure what to make of her husband's "surprise" getaway.

4. A Bird in the Hand introduces Simon and Beth. They head off to a party that Beth isn't looking forward to. Things get worse when she bumps into an old flame at the party.

5. Crocodile Shoes introduces Sam, a working woman whose husband lost his job. He's been lax at finding a new one, and Sam's tired of it. When someone swaps their gym bag for hers, she never expects the surprise in that bag will change her life.

6. Hold Ups involves a robbery at a jewelry store. Things certainly do not end up as expected.

7. In Last Year's Coat, Evie desperately needs a new winter coat, but layoffs and stagnant salaries make it impossible. She has her eye on a dream coat, but she needs a miracle to happen if she's to afford it.

8. Thirteen Days with John C involves a lost cell phone, some sexy messages, and one bored wife who is about to experience the unexpected.

9. The Christmas List shares Chrissie's tale. Her mother-in-law is coming and Chrissie's husband decided it's up to Chrissie to find the picky things his mom wants.

Paris for One and Other Stories does a great job at mixing up settings, topics, and character ages. I loved many stories and found a few others felt a little too true. When I hit the name "Farnsworth" in one of the stories, I snickered thinking the author definitely tapped into my mind.

Some stories bring a tear to your eye, some make you laugh, and all make me feeling very lucky that I got to read this solid collection.