REVIEW: LIE BESIDE ME, BY GYTHA LODGE

 

Louise wakes up. Her head aches, her mouth is dry, her memory is fuzzy—but she suspects she’s done something bad.

She rolls over toward her husband, Niall. The man who, until recently, made her feel loved.

But it’s not Niall lying beside her. In fact, she’s never seen this man before.

And he’s not breathing. . . .

As Louise desperately struggles to piece her memories back together, it’s clear to Jonah Sheens and his team that she is their prime suspect—though they soon find she’s not the only one with something to hide.

Did she do it? And, if not, can they catch the real killer before they strike again?
 
 
 
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An intense mystery that pulled numerous characters into the mix, Lie Beside Me kept me rapidly turning pages.

Louise was a major player who told her side of the story to us, even as other characters revealed what they saw of her and how they imagined that events would unfold.

I liked how the numerous police officers showed us their thoughts and actions on the case while also revealing their personal issues and relationships, all of which gave us a chance to know them all and even guess what they might do next.

In the end, I was still surprised by how the case was wrapped up, even as we seemingly watched and listened to everything happening as we went along. A great story that was layered and fascinating and earned 4.5 stars.
 
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REVIEW: SUCH A QUIET PLACE, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

Welcome to Hollow’s Edge, where you can find secrets, scandal, and a suspected killer—all on one street.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truetts’ murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

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When Ruby comes back to Hollow’s Edge after she is released, her conviction overturned, she blithely moves back into the house with Harper. Suddenly Harper is afraid and uncertain, wondering what Ruby plans to do. Soon strange events are happening, as neighbors try to cover their own involvement in her conviction, keeping their eyes on Ruby and what she might do next.

A community board that spotlights the thoughts of the neighbors keeps them all focused on covering up secrets while sharing ideas that only heighten their paranoia about Ruby who might be uncovering what they all might have done to put her behind bars in the first place.

When another death occurs, Harper pushes hard to uncover the truth, and the neighbors all become their own worst enemies. Such a Quiet Place is a book that kept me turning pages and earned 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS, BY DAVID BELL

After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.

There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.

Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma—admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.

This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia—and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.
 
 
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From the very first moments of Kill All Your Darlings, we are caught up in a twisted thriller that begins with a plagiarized novel and ends with murder.

The twists and turns really ramp up when Madeline comes back after being gone (and presumed dead) for two years.

The story sweeps back and forth in time and between characters as we are offered several perspectives on events. Just when the reader begins to suspect one person of a murder that has been featured in the book, we see numerous other possibilities.

Sexual harassment is an ongoing theme as some of the professors behave inappropriately with their students. But would any of them commit murder to keep that secret? Or is everything part of the plagiarism plot? In the end, we discover a less likely suspect who actually seems more so once we peel back the layers. A book that kept me turning pages and held me hostage throughout. 5 stars.
 
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REVIEW: THE THERAPIST, BY B.A. PARIS

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

curl up and read thoughts

 

We are introduced to The Therapist with a narrative from the past involving a therapist having a session with someone.

We begin to believe that the therapist from the past might be the murdered character Nina Maxwell, who lived in the house now occupied by Leo and Alice, but are we wrong about that?

As we follow Alice’s quest to help a P.I. figure out who really murdered Nina, we begin to doubt everyone who lives in The Circle…except the one we should be adding to our list of suspects.

A twisted tale that carries us along to an intense ending that earned 5 stars for me.

***The ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

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REVIEW: HER DARK LIES, BY J. T. ELLISON

 

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…

 

 

curl up and read thoughts

Claire Hunter is the first-person narrator of Her Dark Lies for most of the story. But an unknown alternate narrator keeps us on our toes as we try to figure out the secrets each of the characters is keeping.

First, we are not completely sure that Jack isn’t hiding important events, and even each of his family members are suspect.

Strange events keep unfolding in the week before the wedding, and suddenly people begin dying, one by one.

Twists and turns kept me turning the pages as I tried to decide who and what to believe. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: GUILT BY ASSOCIATION, BY MARCIA CLARK

Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city’s most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family.

But she can’t stop herself from digging deeper into Jake’s death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation—and her life—to find the truth.

With her tremendous expertise in the nuances of L.A. courts and crime, and with a vibrant ensemble cast of characters, Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action in a debut thriller that marks the launch of a major new figure on the crime-writing scene.

 
 
 
 

From the first pages of Guilt by Association, we are drawn into the world of Rachel Knight, a young prosecutor. I liked how the author took us through her days, sharing details that let us into that world. I also enjoyed her personal details, like the fact that she lives in a residential hotel that has a posh ambience. Clearly, she enjoys the good things in life, and the ease that hotel living offers. But she isn’t averse to getting down to the nitty gritty of life on the streets, where she makes the discoveries needed to solve cases.

So when Rachel starts pulling the threads that will unravel a case she is working, she is persistent enough to follow whatever she finds along the way until she has managed to piece together a whole series of cases. The end results were so much more than she could have imagined, and I really loved seeing how she did it all. 4.5 stars.

 
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REVIEW: THE ARRANGEMENT, BY ROBYN HARDING

 

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

 
 
 

From the beginning of The Arrangement, a sense of doom clouds the relationship between Nat and Gabe. What had started out as a financial matter between them becomes so much more. Especially for Nat. But for Gabe, there is an element of coldness and calculation, and I had fears that grave disaster would come for them.

Could their relationship turn into a loving one or would they each come to regret what they had started?

Unexpected twists kept me turning the pages, wondering what would happen next. A sense of darkness hovered as I kept moving toward what could only be a nightmare conclusion. Stunning events kept the pace intense throughout. 5 stars.

 
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REVIEW: CLEAR MY NAME, BY PAULA DALY

When Carrie was accused of brutally murdering her husband’s lover, she denied it. She denied it again when they found her blood inside his house, again when they put her in front of a jury, and again when they sent her to prison. Now she’s three years into her fifteen-year sentence, gradually losing hope and separated from her pregnant daughter, but she is still maintaining her innocence.

Tess is the only paid employee of Innocence UK, a charity that helps clear people wrongfully convicted of crimes, and which accepts Carrie’s case. But can she trust Carrie? Tess is no starry-eyed recent grad―her assumption is that “they’re all lying.”

Meanwhile, Tess is also paired with Avril, a naïve young investigator-in-training, with the hope that by mentoring her, she can eventually double the group’s investigative workload. But Tess unexpectedly bolts when she’s tipped off to a witness that could possibly prove Carrie didn’t commit the crime. While Tess and Avril work the case, re-interviewing witnesses and testing assumptions made at the time of the arrest, the tension ratchets up in both the case and Tess’s personal life.

As we follow along with investigator Tess and her colleague Avril, in Clear My Name, we are taken back and forth in time to sort through the events of a murder and hopefully discover clues that will help them overturn the case against Carrie Kamara, who is in prison for the offense and suffering losses in her life because of it.

I liked Tess, who pushes hard to find what she needs to accomplish the task, even though her own past and some of her losses will suddenly insert themselves into her investigation and make her job more painful.

Just when we think Tess and her colleague have uncovered an important clue, another obstacle will appear until it sometimes seems like an impossible task to clear their client.

The intensity of their actions kept me glued to the book, hoping that they would find what they need to solve the case, even as they occasionally stepped into the path of potentially dangerous individuals.

Finally, after the case has concluded, something totally unexpected changes the course of Tess’s life forever.

I love this author’s books, so I knew I had to rapidly turn the pages until the end. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THREE PERFECT LIARS, BY HEIDI PERKS

Laura has returned to work at Morris and Wood after her maternity leave, only to discover that the woman she brought in to cover for her isn’t planning on going anywhere. Despite her close relationship with the agency’s powerful CEO, Harry Wood, she feels sidelined—and outmaneuvered—as she struggles to balance the twin demands of work and motherhood.

Mia was only supposed to be a temporary hire at Morris and Wood, but she’s managed to make herself indispensable to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Laura. If people only knew why she was so desperate to keep her job, they might not want her to stay.

Janie gave up everything to support her husband and the successful agency he runs. But she has her own dark secret to protect…and will go to any lengths to keep it safe.


As I followed along with the alternating narratives in Three Perfect Liars, I was drawn in by each of the women. I could easily see each point of view, so that I knew I would have to choose one of them by the end of the story.Or were they all equally compelling?

The story also takes us to occasional interviews with investigators, who are trying to determine the cause of a massive fire that takes out the company at the center of the tale. Back and forth we go as the timeline carries us along for a ride.

As much as I wanted to find the answers to each woman’s secrets, the story plodded along with few hints until we approached the final denouement. Who would come out the winner, or would there be none? Who started the fire and whose body was discovered? 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THIS IS HOW I LIED, BY HEATHER GUDENKAUF

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.


From the beginning of This Is How I Lied, I was rooting for Maggie, even though there were moments along the way when she seemed to be culpable of something. Perhaps not what she thinks she has done, but at the very least, she has kept dark secrets.

Then there is Nola, and she presented as a monstrous person from the beginning. At the very least, crazy. She always seemed to be lurking, and that habit led her to listen in on conversations and present distorted truths to Maggie and others.

The story was told by multiple narrators that swept back and forth in time, and through this device, we ultimately learn the truth of what happened to Eve. 4.5 stars.

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