Florida State Police Agent, Amy Larson, never expected the sight she was about to see on the edge of the Everglades. Just off a remote road, but not far enough away that someone won’t see the horrible crime that has been committed and left for them to find.
This is some gory stuff going on here and it has the look of someone who has killed before. When the FBI jumps in with a similar case, we meet Agent Hunter Forrest. Yes, that is the name. He somehow has a lot of information on local cults and how they work and as we find out he also knows how to escape them.
There are plenty of suspicious characters. And none of them tell the entire truth, which leads one to think there is someone on the inside who they are all afraid of. But we never get enough information on that which could have been good.
This was not my favorite work by Graham. I didn’t feel I knew Amy at all and Hunter Forrest? That was predictable. What should have been a timely and thrilling story fell flat for me.
A serial killer and his copycat are locked in a violent game of cat and mouse. Can DI Anjelica Henley stop them before it’s too late?
DI Anjelica Henley is back on active duty with the SCU. She has no idea what she will face when called out to a crime scene.
By the river, dismembered body parts are washing up. While the crime has all of the marks of a serial killer she locked up not that long ago, she knows he is still in strict lockdown. Right?
The Jigsaw Killer. A total sociopath. No remorse, no second thoughts, just monstrous acts against people that would send the strongest of cops running.
When Anjelica can’t find answers she goes to the source. Peter Olivier. The Jigsaw Killer. Who also tried to kill her. He isn’t happy someone is copying his crimes. Not at all happy. Which is very scary for some people.
Horror at its finest! Hope to hear more about this!
A Sneak Peek:
‘How long have we got until the tide comes in?’ Henley was facing the river watching the small waves crashing against the derelict pier. She checked her watch. Nearly two hours had passed since the first 999 call.
‘I checked online, and high tide is at 9.55 a.m.’ Ramouter replied as he stepped around a half-submerged car tire, his eyes glazed with anxiety. ‘Low tide was at 3.15. Sunrise was at 6.32. A three-hour window for someone to dump whoever this is and hope that someone would find it before the tide comes in?’
‘Maybe,’ Henley acknowledged. ‘But for all we know it could have been dumped after sunrise or was dumped earlier upstream before being washed up here.’ She inspected the glass façade of the Borthwick Wharf, empty commercial spaces and work units that opened to the terrace and lacked security cameras. Henley doubted that the local council would have extended their own CCTV cameras to this part of the street. They had been neglecting this part of Deptford for as long as she could remember.
‘Has it been touched?’ Henley asked Anthony who had appeared at her side.
‘As far as I’m aware, it’s in situ. It wasn’t touched by the woman who found it. Matei, your builder, said that he hadn’t touched the legs but unhelpfully, it’s covered in his vomit. I had a quick look at the arms that were found downstream before I came here. From the looks of things, the treasure hunters may have prodded around a bit.’
‘There’s always one.’
The wind dropped and the air softly crackled with the electricity generated from the substation nearby.
‘We’re isolating the recovery of evidence to the direct path from the alleyway to the torso,’ said Anthony. ‘I doubt very much that whoever it was sat here and had a coffee afterwards.’
‘They may not have had a coffee, but if we go with Ramouter’s theory and the body parts have been dumped then whoever it was certainly knows the river,’ Henley replied. ‘We’ll let you get on. Ramouter and I are going to take a walk.’
‘Where are we going?’ asked Ramouter.
‘To meet Eastwood.’
‘And you want to walk it?’
Henley did her best to push aside her frustration when Ramouter pulled out his phone. ‘Google maps says that Greenwich pier is almost a mile away,’ he said.
‘Your body-part dumper isn’t the only one who knows the river,’ Anthony shouted out as Henley began to walk determinedly along the riverbank.
The gold scepters on the twin domed roofs of the Old Royal Naval College pierced the cloudless sky. The bare masts of the restored Cutty Sark completed the historical panoramic view that Greenwich was known for. It was a resplendent, whitewashed version of history that contrasted with the sewage that washed ashore. Henley stopped walking when she realized that she could no longer hear the sounds of Ramouter’s leather soles slipping on wet pebbles.
‘Where are you from?’ Henley asked, waiting for Ramouter to take off his jacket and loosen his tie. She moved closer towards the moss-covered river wall as the tide began to encroach.
‘Born in West Bromwich. Moved to Bradford when I was twelve.’ Ramouter tried to brush off the bits of mud that had stuck to his trousers, but they only smeared more. ‘Lots of moors, no rivers. Surely it would have been quicker in the car.’
‘This is quicker. Unless you fancy sitting in traffic for the next half hour while they raise the Creek Road Bridge.’
‘You know this area well?’
Henley ignored the question. She didn’t see the point in telling him that she could have walked this path with her eyes closed. That this small part of South-East London was ingrained in her. ‘Whoever dumped the torso would have taken this route. It doesn’t make any sense to come down here, go back up to the street level and then drive up to Watergate Street. Out of sight, below street level. Lighting would have been minimal.’
‘Body parts are heavy though,’ Ramouter tried to quicken his step to catch up with Henley. ‘The human head weighs at least eight pounds.’
‘I know.’ Henley pulled out her mobile phone, which had started to ring. She saw who it was and ignored the call.
‘Head, torso, arms, legs. That’s at least six individual body parts.’
‘I know that also. So, tell me, what point are you making?’ Henley waited for Ramouter to reach her before maneuvering him towards the river wall as though she was chaperoning a child.
‘I’m just saying that that’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying around at three in morning.’ Ramouter paused and placed his hand against the wall, trying to catch his breath.
Henley didn’t openly express her agreement. She fished out a black hair band from her jacket pocket and pulled her thick black curls into a ponytail. She had forgotten how much energy it took to walk across the gradient slope of the riverbank. Worse, she felt mentally unprepared for the job ahead, with a trainee struggling behind her who had no idea this was her first time as senior investigator in almost a year.
‘It’s a bit grim, isn’t it?’ DC Roxanne Eastwood shouted out as Henley finally reached the first crime scene. ‘Morning, Ramouter. Not a bad gig for your first day.’
Henley had always thought that Eastwood actually looked and carried herself like a detective. Now, Eastwood was poised on the riverbank, the sleeves of her jacket rolled up with her notebook in her hand. She had come prepared for the river and was wearing a pair of jeans and trainers that had seen better days.
‘Morning, Eastie. How does it feel to be out of the office?’ Henley asked, her eyes drifting to a crime scene investigator who was putting an arm into a black bag.
‘I should be asking you that,’ said Eastwood, with a look of concern.
Henley silently appreciated the empathy and placed her hand on Eastwood’s shoulder.
‘But since you asked, it’s bloody terrible. I think I’ve got sunburn.’ Eastwood rubbed a hand over her reddening forehead. ‘Forensics are going to be wrapping up in a bit. Not that there’s much for them to do. Bag it and tag it.’
‘Where’s Mr Thomas?’
‘Ah, our illustrious treasure hunter. Last time I saw him he was heading towards the shops. Said that he needed to get some water for his dog.’ Eastwood shook her head, obviously not believing a word of it. ‘I’ve got an officer keeping an eye on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d already uploaded pictures of his find onto Instagram.’
‘I want him taken back to the station. Ramouter can take another statement from him.’ Henley said it purposely so that Ramouter would sense she was in control. ‘If he’s like most mudlarkers, he would have been out here first thing this morning waiting for the tide to go out. Where exactly were the arms found?’
‘Just over there.’ Eastwood pulled down her sunglasses and pointed towards the foamed waves created by a passing river bus. The tide had already come in where X had once marked the spot. A sense of urgency filled the air as the river regained its territory.
‘Did he say anything else?’
‘Only that he found the second arm about three feet away from the first.’
‘It’s a sick trail of breadcrumbs,’ said Henley.
‘You’re telling me and before you ask about CCTV, there’re loads of cameras—’
‘But none aimed at this part of the river.’
Henley’s mobile phone began to ring. She pulled it out and answered. After a quick chat, she ended the call.
‘That was Dr Linh Choi. You wouldn’t have met her yet but she’s our go-to forensic pathologist. She’s just arrived,’ Henley explained to Ramouter. She wiped away the sweat from the back of her neck.
‘So, we’ve got two arms, both legs and a torso,’ said Ramouter. ‘Where’s the head?’
Good question. Henley thought of the places between the two locations. A primary school, two nurseries and an adventure playground among the flats and houses. The last thing she needed was to find a head in the kids’ sandpit.
‘Can I have a quick look?’ Henley asked the assistant from Anthony’s CSI team, who had just bagged up the arm and was scribbling in her notebook.
‘Sure.’ The assistant unzipped the bag and pushed the plastic apart.
‘Fuck,’ Henley said under her breath. Her heartbeat quickened, her stomach flipped.
‘Oh,’ said Ramouter as he peered over Henley’s shoulder. One arm was covered with gravel. Slivers of seaweed criss-crossed old scars. The second arm. Slender wrist, the ring finger slightly longer than the index, broken fingernails. Black skin. Henley could hear Pellacia’s words from earlier ringing in her ears.
‘Too early to say if it belongs to the same victim or if it’s more than just one.’
‘Call DSI Pellacia,’ Henley told Ramouter. ‘Tell him that we’ve got two possible murder victims.’
NetGalley/ March 16th, 2021 by Hanover Square Press
Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, The Unwilling combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in New York Times bestselling author John Hart’s singular style.
This book had a little bit of everything in it. The Vietnam War, family secrets, misunderstandings,coming of age,gun running and even murder.
Gibson is the youngest of three brothers. His brothers Robert and Jason are twins. Robert and Jason both were drafted in the war and only one comes home. It’s not the one their mother wanted to come home and now Gibson is on lockdown. His mother controls his entire life. And isn’t about to let him get mixed up with Jason.
Jason wants a relationship with Gibson, but has no idea how to go about it. So they go behind their parents backs. Gibson is drawn to Jason and is determined to find out all he can about him. Spending an entire day with him and two young ladies seems like a good way however, one of whom is certifiable crazy. The day goes from bad to worse when the pass a prison bus and Tyra literally shows her bum. One person on the bus however, recognizes Jason and knows who will pay for that information.
Soon after Tyra is savagely murdered. And I do mean Savagely. There is nothing spared here. Jason is immediately a suspect and Gibson is under suspicion as well.
His brother does have a dark side and when he is caught with a lot of cash and weapons, he goes back to jail.
While he is there things become much clearer. There is a puppet master behind all of this and Jason will get out of jail when X says he can.
This was so twisty and insane I do hope there will be a follow up!
NetGalley/ February 2nd, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press
The Only Good Indians is the story of four American Indian men.
Something very disturbing happened to them when they were much younger. Something that haunts them to this day and puts them in danger of being killed by some entity bent on having revenge for the act they committed.
I am very familiar with the North Dakota reservations and the treatment of the Native Americans there. These men left their culture and lives behind to try and escape the bleakness of life on the rez.
This is a story of cultures lost, guilt, shame, and violence. It was at times difficult to read, but I did.
At times I was lost. At times I was terrified. And in the end, I cried.
NetGalley/ July 14th, 2020 by Gallery / Saga Press
It’s 1991 and Heather, her best friend Becca and their two other friends are obsessed with serial killers, and all things macabre.
Becca is the storyteller of the group and comes up with some seriously scary tales. But the one keeps coming back. The Red Lady. Once a witch murdered by her own town while not one of her friends speaks up for her. Revenge quickly follows with the entire town dying.
Becca believes the story and even makes a believer out of Rachel and Gia, the other girls in the Dead Girls Club. But Heather is sure there is no such thing. Until something happens and she begins to doubt herself and Becca.
With Becca believing all she needs is her best friends help her to prove the Red Lady is real, Heather swears to help her. And then Becca is dead and Heather will never be the same.
Fast forward 30 years and strange things are happening. Heather is sure she is being followed. When half of a BFF necklace shows up in the mail, Heather is sure of one thing. Someone knows what she did. Someone knows she killed her best friend and now they are coming for her.
This was a ghost story in the best way! A group of young girls, obsessed with Stephen King and Ted Bundy equally, mess with magic and a long-dead witch when the real horror is much closer and alive than they know.
I love a good ghost tale! And this one I read in 3 hours even eating dinner while reading. I had to know what was real and what wasn’t. And I never saw that ending coming at all! I suspected everyone and all for good reasons, but wow, that ending!
NetGalley/December 10th, 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
In this last of the 4MK thriller trilogy, Barker ramps up the suspense and twists better than Houdini!
If you haven’t read the first two books, I would suggest you read them. Reading Barker is like trying to solve a Rubick’s Cube blindfolded.
Poor Sam is coming undone. He’s having lapses in his memory. He’s obsessed with the man who killed his wife. Only now Bishop is turning himself in and telling an elaborate tale putting the blame squarely on Sam. It looks convincing to everyone, including his bosses.
With a hospital full of people with a mystery illness that Bishop says is SARS, with Sam and Bishop, accounted for people are still dying. There is no way Bishop is running this alone.
As the FBI and local Metro team up, you really can’t believe a single person in this book. Everyone has dirty little secrets and someone is out to even the score for the awful things that happened in childhood.
This has been one of my favorite horror reads. Gory, full of morally bankrupt adults and torture, I did not do anything until I was finished. And that ending was perfect for the trilogy. I loved every twisty, gory moment!
Job well done! What’s Next???
NetGalley/August 27th, 2019 by Hampton Creek Press
London seems to be falling. As planes fall from the sky and fog brings the plague while the city of London is underwater from flooding brought about by the dam destroyed by the plane that fell from the sky during the fog. Bodies are piling up and people are properly horrified and terrified.
As one country blames the other and events unfold that appear to be signs of the end times. But outside of London, a local priest has heard an unsettling confession from one of his altar boys. It would seem that at the last funeral not only did the incense smell off, but he knows he heard a thump coming from inside the coffin.
Julia has given an interview about the Almanac of Forbidden Wisdom. A supposed book of magic and power that was produced in the sixteenth century by the leading occultists. It has the ability to bring about the end of the world. It also has all the spells of these experts inside. But magic isn’t free. There is always a cost. And for 14-year-old Dawn, who has found the book in her great-grandfather’s attic it may be the last thing she reads. She is a scary teenager!
In a race against time Julia, Paul and the priest will risk everything to find the book and put it back where it belongs.
All of the horror and apocalyptic events were wickedly good! Dawn has absolutely no sense of right and wrong and while I may have thought once or twice about shoving my brother in the closet, I did not choose to kill him and then reanimate him.
Things were brought to a fast conclusion in this one and the ending left me hopeful there will be another!
If Dexter and Hannibal Lector had a love child it would be Timothy Blake.
We first met Blake in Hangman. He was working with the FBI and really liked Thistle, his handler. Attracted to her but afraid he may end up eating her, Blake left the job and ended up working for a crime boss disposing of bodies. The perfect job for him, right?
This one begins with Blake waiting impatiently in the middle of nowhere for a body drop off. Only things go wrong quickly and Blake ends up being called in again by Thistle and the FBI to track down a missing man. Blake is more than ready to help. Especially as the man is currently awaiting dethawing in his freezer.
But then another man goes missing. And on and on and on.
It seems there is a serial killer on the loose! As he and Thistle work together to find the killer, his actual boss is getting a bit uncomfortable with him working with the FBI and Blake may be the next body found. And as Thistle begins to thaw a bit toward him, she also has the best shot at discovering what he does and who he is.
This is some gruesome reading! And I will be reading the next one just as fast!
NetGalley/ Harlequin Hanover June 04,2019
What has a neck but no head?
If Charlie Warner wants you dead, first she steals your shoes.
Not in person. She has people all over Houston.
One of them is James Tyrrell, a pudgy guy with Coke-bottle glasses and scar tissue on his arm where the number 88 used to be. A coded white-supremacist tattoo—H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. The 88 means Heil Hitler. “I’m no Nazi,” I heard him say once. “But if you want to survive Huntsville prison, you gotta pick a team.”
Tyrrell will open your front door with a police-issue lock-release gun and go to your bedroom wearing latex gloves and a hairnet. He’ll steal your most expensive pair of shoes. Usually black, always shiny—the kind you might wear to a funeral. He’ll take some socks, too, but won’t touch anything else on his way out.
Two more guys will drive a white van with stolen plates to wherever it is you work. Their names are Jordan Francis and Theo Sariklis. They both have thick necks, square jaws, and crew cuts. It took me a while to tell them apart. Sariklis is the one with the drooping eyelid and the Ramones shirt. He’s been working for Warner longer than me. Francis is new—just moved here from San Jose, California. He’s the one who cracks jokes. Even in winter, he wears a wife-beater to show off his biceps. He might go to the gym after killing you.
Francis will park the van next to the driver’s side of your car. Sariklis will open the sliding door on the side of the van and wait.
You’ll walk out of the office and approach your car. When you go to open the door, Francis will grab you and drag you into the van. It takes seconds. He’s had plenty of practice—in San Jose he worked for one of the Sureño gangs. You won’t even have time to scream before Francis shuts the van door.
You’ll know who they work for. Warner doesn’t target bystanders. They’re here because you stole from her, or lied to her, or informed on her. Or maybe you didn’t pay your tab at one of her businesses. An underground casino, a bordello, a drug den.
They’ll ask you questions. The first few are a test; they already know the answers. If you lie, Francis will hold you down, while Sariklis forces a water bottle into your mouth and pinches your nose shut so it feels like drowning. They do it like that because they’re still in the parking lot. There aren’t many quiet ways to torture someone.
Just when it feels like you’re gonna die, Sariklis will take the bottle out. You’ll throw up. Then Sariklis will ask you some more questions. The real ones. Whatever Warner needs to know. Who have you told? What are their names? Where do they live? Show us the messages.
The final question is always about the PIN for your bank account. You’ll answer that one gladly. You’ll think it means they only want money. You’ll think they’re going to let you go.
After you give them your PIN, Sariklis will stick the bottle back in your mouth. This time he won’t let up. He’ll drown you, right there in the parking lot. Three minutes until your heart gives up, four until brain death.
Francis will stay in the van with your body while Sariklis takes your car, your phone and your wallet to an ATM. He’ll withdraw as much as he can, then drive to a secluded stretch of beach in Galveston.
There he’ll meet Tyrrell, who has your shoes. Sariklis will place your shoes side by side on the sand, your wallet and keys tucked inside like frightened mice. Tyrrell will do a factory reset on your phone, switch it off and hurl it into the sea. They’ll abandon your car on the side of the road, within sight of the gray ocean, and take Tyrrell’s car back to Warner’s office to give her the cash.
I’ve only been to Warner’s office once, and I had a bag on my head for the whole journey. But I was memorizing the turns, and counting the seconds. Afterward, I got them to drop me off someplace else, and I memorized that journey, too. Later I looked at a map and narrowed it down to four city blocks near Market Square Park.
They usually take you on a Friday. If you live alone, you may not be reported missing until Monday. The police will find your car and shoes around Wednesday. Some of them will say you drowned accidentally while swimming. Others will suggest that it was suicide. The shoes are too classy for a normal swim, they’ll say, and there’s no towel. Plus, your bathing suit is still at your home.
Because of the ATM withdrawal, still, others will say that you faked your death. You did have some powerful enemies, after all. Your missing phone lends credence to this theory. But anyone who suspects Warner will be smart enough not to say so.
All this is assuming you’re one of the lucky ones, and Warner doesn’t want the credit for your death. Sometimes she kills someone to send a message. No stolen shoes, no water bottle. The body turns up in dozens of pieces, each removed from a living person.
Once upon a time, Warner’s men would have just thrown your body into the ocean. The water in your lungs would make sense on the autopsy report. But the bruising around your lips and wrists, plus the damage to your gums, might raise some eyebrows. Now they have a better way.
While Sariklis and Tyrrell bring the cash to Warner’s office, Francis will take the van onto State Highway 12, alone. Your body will be in the back under a sheet, slowly going cold. Francis will drive through the dark, watching the buildings disappear and the trees get taller and taller.
Then he’ll see a beat-up Toyota Corolla parked on the shoulder, miles from anywhere. He’ll pull over. Despite what he’s seen and done, he’ll shudder before he gets out of the car.
Then he’ll slide open the van door, and give your body to me.
Kathy is back and this time she is sent to evaluate the strange behavior of an inmate at the Connecticut-Newlyn Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Henry, the patient/inmate believes he can open doors to another dimension. A dimension of dark and evil things called Tulpas.
Kathy knows how serious this is. Some of the people she works for would love to have the ability that Henry has. To use as a weapon. She believes that Henry has not only created these things but has unleashed them already. Henry had a lot of reasons to want to crawl into his head and let the Tulpas handle the bad stuff, but now that they have had a taste of freedom and know what they are capable of, they want to be real. In any shape or form and they are deadly.
Kathy will have to work with the only person she knows who is an occult expert. Her brother. Oh, and yes he lives next to Henry in the Insane Asylum.
This was a fast-paced, edge of your seat, bite your fingernails down to nothing thrill ride of gore! And as soon as it was over I wanted more.
NetGalley/ May 7th 2019 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
The chills started early in this wickedly clever ghost story. The woods of Vermont are where Helen and Nate have decided to build their dream home. Leaving behind their teaching positions in Connecticut and taking a giant leap of faith in their own abilities and knowledge. Helen’s father was in building and she is no stranger to building sites. There is even an abandoned trailer on the property next to a bog where they can live while they build a home.
But not everyone wants them there. The last woman who built her home here was hung as a witch and her daughter never found. As a history teacher, Helen is intrigued and soon obsessed with Hattie Breckenridge and her story. And when she begins scouting supplies for their home, she finds a beam made from the tree they hung Hattie from and brings it home. Along with Hattie. And she needs help. But will helping her endanger Helen and Nate?
Is Hattie’s family cursed to all die violent deaths? Maybe a twelve-year-old girl holds the key to this mystery or maybe she will be the next to die.
This author never disappoints me. I was prepared to be scared out of my mind by the cover. And I was not disappointed. I also will not be taking walks in the woods anytime soon!