A DISAPPEARANCE, A SERIES OF ARSON FIRES, & SUSPENSE — A REVIEW

San Francisco Police Detective Lindsay Boxer and her Women’s Murder Club friends are back with another mystery that had this reader staying up late and rapidly turning pages.

It all begins with the mysterious disappearance of the ex-governor’s teenage son, and then spins off into a series of mysterious arson fires of luxurious Bay Area homes, leaving the owners dead. Evidence seemingly leads nowhere.

Meanwhile, lurking in the background, two young men who call themselves Hawk and Pidge are orchestrating devastation everywhere they go.

But who are these young men? What, if anything, do they have to do with these events? Are they also connected to the disappearance of young Michael Campion? And what does Junie Moon have to do with any of it?

Just when I thought I’d seen enough to reach some conclusions, the writers threw a curve ball at the end.

I’m a big fan of Lindsay Boxer and her gal pals. In 7th Heaven (The Women’s Murder Club), we also meet her partner Rich Conklin and her boyfriend Joe. There could be some future twists and turns. I can’t wait for the next book. Four stars.

A FICTIONALIZED VERSION…

In this exciting book, Black Water (Contemporary Fiction, Plume), we glimpse events that culminated in a disastrous leap into the black waters surrounding an island in Maine. It is a fictionalized version of an episode well-known to Americans who followed the frightening and horrifying plunge that turned a politician’s world upside down.

Joyce Carol Oates has created a tradition of taking real-life events and turning them into fiction. In the process, she adds insights that surface from behind the familiar news stories and creates questions about what might have happened.

In this particular story, we follow a young girl, Kelly Kelleher, who is wide-eyed with admiration for the charismatic Senator. They leave a party to rush to the ferry, and along the way, the car crashes through the guard rail and into the waters.

What sets this story apart is the back and forth meanderings of the girl’s mind as she recalls how she came to meet the Senator, moments they shared, her dreams for future events…all flashing “before her eyes” in a slow-motion kind of way.

I kept thinking maybe this story would turn out differently, just like when we watch a movie over and over, hoping for that happily-ever-after. But the conclusions we can draw are really all about those thoughts and feelings that flow like a slideshow of episodes and memories.

A DARK AND TWISTED TALE

When a loyal husband and father searches through his wife’s personal computer files and papers, he is trying to find evidence of her innocence in the case against her. A case that has resulted in her conviction for the murder of her alleged serial-killer patient and his wife.

So what is the story of Dr. Susie Harriot, and will Lachlan Harriot find what he needs for her appeal?

Sorting through the morass of these files, however, will lead Lachlan to unexpected secrets, twisted truths, and will finally convince him that he did not know his wife at all.

Throughout this story, I found that the best part was not knowing who to believe and untangling the many-faceted aspects of the case.

An intense psychological thriller, Deception : A Novel kept me tuned in until the surprising end, which is why I gave it five stars.

THE RIPPLING EFFECT OF FAMILY SECRETS — “The Genius”

When Ethan Muller, a struggling art dealer, stumbles upon a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a slum building vacated abruptly by an elderly tenant, he almost cannot believe his good luck. The treasure trove of stunning art work is sure to put Ethan in the forefront of the art scene.

But what does anyone know about Victor Cracke, except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged.

Soon Ethan is caught up in the middle of a mystery, aided by a retired police detective, yet before he can make any significant progress at all, the ailing man who was helping him dies. His daughter picks up the search, with Ethan, but their quest for the whereabouts and history of Cracke and the mysterious life he led, take them into some very strange places.

Meanwhile, the author presents an “interlude” of stories set from the eighteen-hundreds onward, as he weaves in a mysterious subplot about the Muller family that gradually becomes more and more relevant as the secrets are unveiled.

Throughout this tale, too, we are gifted with glimpses of the cutthroat art scene and how the players twist and turn, from clamoring for the work of the hungry artists to lambasting them when the tides turn.

The Genius kept me guessing all the way through until, finally, we have that “a-ha!” moment when everything starts to make sense.

I am giving this book five stars for the clever plot, the intriguing presentation, and this author’s unique voice.

ADRENALINE-PACKED RACE — A Review of “Run for Your Life”

When Michael Bennett, NYPD Detective and single father, takes on the task of hunting down a calculating murderer who calls himself The Teacher, he enters a speed-charged, adrenaline-packed race to save the lives of potential victims through the city.

What does The Teacher want? Why is he picking off powerful and arrogant people throughout the city?

Meanwhile, Mike’s kids are falling victim, one by one, to a virulent flu strain, making his days and nights some of the most challenging of his life.

Rushing through the pages, wondering about the identity and motivations of this sadistic killer, I could not stop moving forward until, finally, the answers began unfolding.

James Patterson’s Run for Your Life, co-authored by Michael Ledwidge, culminates with a spell-binding conclusion.

Now I feel exhausted, as if I, too, was chasing the killer. I think that is what makes Patterson’s stories so completely engaging—he brings the reader right into the action with him.

This novel did not hold the same thrill for me as the Women’s Murder Club or the Alex Cross books, but it did earn four stars from me.