Review: The Silent Corner

The Silent Corner
The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I rate this book 3.5 stars. Thank you to the author (Dean Koontz), publisher, and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy of The Silent Corner.

Let me first start by saying I have never read a Dean Koontz book before. I am not sure how I managed to do this after years of reading mysteries, working in a bookstore, and working as an intern for a literary agent, but somehow I never touched one of his books. This genre is one of my favorites, so when the opportunity to read a free ARC of Koontz’s arose, I jumped at it.

The premise of The Silent Corner intrigued me; a woman (Jane Hawk), who works for the CIA, discovers her husband committed suicide, and she is left to pick up the pieces. Her husband gave no indication that he was depressed or suicidal. His suicide note is also very odd, so, in what initially appears to be anger and denial over the death (a normal reaction for a grieving spouse), Jane begins to investigate suicide rates in the U.S.

Her research leads her to some shocking findings, ones that she cannot ignore as a CIA agent. In order to understand why suicide rates among seemingly normal, well-adjusted people are increasing, Jane goes on a journey to uncover a vast conspiracy involving biotech corporations and CEOs. She leaves her 7 year old son in the hands of U.S. military vets who she trusts, and takes off on a daring adventure with a bizarre, colorful cast of characters.

I loved the plot and the inventiveness of it, which deserves all of the 3.5 stars I gave this book. However, the characters really disappointed me. Speaking as a highly educated woman, I found Jane annoying and one-dimensional. There wasn’t any nuance to her, nor any second thoughts on her part about leaving her only child (and remaining family member) to pursue some conspiracy theory. I was also irritated by the author’s (and Jane’s) jabs at liberals, not just because I am a liberal, but because it seems untrue to her character. If she’s smart enough to work her way up the chain of command at the CIA, then I would expect her world to be less black and white. I truly felt like the author struggled to free himself from the constraints of his worldwide, and that unfortunately limited his ability to dive into the world of a deeply wounded and highly educated woman. I felt like his voice overpowered Jane’s, which was disappointing because the plot was so promising.

The world of this book is one where there is clearly good and evil, of right and wrong, and perhaps that’s what made me trudge through most of it. If anyone works as a political strategist or analyst for a year or so, they’ll quickly realize that this is not the world we inhabit; it is a world of many, many decades ago.

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Review: Everything but the Truth

Everything but the Truth
Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to Gillian McAllister, the publisher, and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy of Everything but the Truth. I rated this book a solid 3.5 stars.

A suspicious email. A name change. Whispered conversations. This is what the narrator of Everything but the Truth experiences concerning her partner, Jack, who comes into her life suddenly. She finds herself pregnant with his child almost immediately, and soon she starts to wonder just what she has gotten herself (and her unborn child) into.

This book wasn’t chilling or a psychological thriller as advertised. I would call it adult fiction, but certainly not a thriller. It also moved really slowly, and could have used some really good editing to make for a quicker, more entertaining read. All this being said, the author is a good writer and is able to construct interesting characters. I liked the moral of the story: that everyone has secrets, and that we can make mistakes and yet still be good people. However, it took forever to get there and by that point, I didn’t care all too much. I just wanted to be done with the book.

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Review: The Stranger Inside

The Stranger Inside
The Stranger Inside by Jennifer Jaynes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to Jennifer Jaynes, Thomas & Mercer, and Netgalley for an advanced reader copy of The Stranger Inside. Here is my honest review of it.

I give this book 3.5 stars because I really liked the character development, atmosphere, and overall plot of the book. The lead character, Diane, is a mystery writer trying to rebuild after her husband commits suicide, leaving her and her two teenage/young adult children alone. Diane has done fairly well at rebuilding her life, finding comfort in volunteering, writing, and being a mother. Her college age daughter, however, struggles with anger and resentment, and finds that remaking her life has not been as easy for her.

In the middle of this, several college age women have been kidnapped and killed by a young male in Diane’s new town. Diane becomes entwined in the murders when the killer begins calling into the help center at which she works. All the men in her life seem suspect in the book, making it difficult to tease out who is the killer.

I won’t spoil the book, but I eventually figured out who the killer was before it was announced in the book. That didn’t shock me. What shocked me is how the characters acted at the end of the book, and the decisions they made seem so very out of character for all of them. The ending is really what made this a 3.5 star book, because I did not think the last 20% of the book seemed realistic and true to the characters.

That being said, it was well written and I got through it quickly. It was enjoyable read, but the plot left me desiring more.

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Review: That Last Weekend: A Novel of Suspense

That Last Weekend: A Novel of Suspense
That Last Weekend: A Novel of Suspense by Laura DiSilverio

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you to Laura DiSilverio, Midnight Ink, and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy of this suspenseful book! Here is my unbiased review of it.

I am a fan of Agatha Christie mysteries, and “That Last Weekend” reminded me of an updated version of Christie’s works (in absolutely the best way possible). A group of women who went college together have regularly celebrated women’s getaways at a beautiful and haunting old castle. Ten years ago, their getaway trip turned nearly deadly when one of the women pushed her friend off the balcony, paralyzing her friend, Evangeline, for the rest of her life. The police investigate but are unable to determine which of the friends pushed Evangeline.

The novel picks up ten years after this horrendous event. The women receive an anonymous invitation for another weekend at the castle, and all feel torn about returning to a place with such emotional baggage. Reluctantly, they all show up at the castle, only to find that they are once again suspects in what is now a murder investigation.

I loved this book’s twists and turns. I also liked that any one of the women there had reason to hate Evangeline, which kept me reading until the very last page. I loved the ambiance and setting of the book, too; the castle had a mysterious, dated quality to it, and the author’s descriptions of the setting made the book and its atmosphere come to life for me.

It is a short, a fun, quick mystery that will keep you turning the pages!

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Review: The Ridge

The Ridge
The Ridge by John Rector

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you to John Rector, Thomas & Mercer, and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy of The Ridge in exchange for an unbiased review.

This is the sort of genre I eat up in a day. I read this book in less than 24 hours time, mainly because I wanted to know what was going on in the The Ridge’s spooky neighborhood. Megan, the lead character, and her husband, Tyler, move into a planned community far from the bustling city of Chicago that Megan adores. To avoid spoiling the plot, a bizarre encounter with a neighbor leaves Megan questioning her own sanity and wondering if there is something a bit “off” about the people living in The Ridge.

Megan tells Tyler about the encounter, and, rather than trusting his wife’s instincts, quickly dismisses her. Lacking Tyler’s trust and support, Megan feels alone and isolated in the picture perfect world of suburbia. She makes two friends in whom she can confide, and soon finds that perhaps what happened between her and her neighborhood might be indicative of something insidious taking place in The Ridge.

I won’t say that a lot of the ideas or concepts in The Ridge are new or innovative, but John Rector is a good storyteller. You will not be disappointed in the book if you like thrillers. If anything, you may spend the whole night reading it to find out what is really going on in The Ridge!

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