SUCH A PRETTY SMILE by KRISTI DEMEESTER

Such a Pretty Smile

I finished this book in one sitting. With the lights on and the doors locked.

This is for all the women who don’t want to sit still and look pretty. For the women and girls who have been patronized and marginalized by men.

Told by two rather unreliable narrators. Caroline and her daughter Lila. In 2004 Caroline is living in New Orleans. Girls have been disappearing and the bodies are found mutilated with horrific bites and scratches that leave the media calling the killer The Cur. All are young girls who won’t sit still and look pretty. The ones who refuse to be put in a box. They are opinionated and will not conform to what society wants them to be.

Caroline is having a hard time sleeping. She hears packs of dogs everywhere and loses time. Her fiance’ is also an artist and rather a jerk. Caroline has begun sculpting and the sculptures are disturbing but also gallery-worthy. With her father who is dying and a husband who is a narcissist, she has a lot of stress. Her doctor is patronizing and tells her to take a pill and it will be fine. It is not fine. Not fine at all.

Jump to 2019 and Caroline and her daughter Lila are living close to Atlanta where Caroline is now teaching and sculpting. But she is still haunted by whatever is in her past. And now girls are disappearing and found dead in the same manner as before.

Lila is hiding who and what she is from everyone. Her father and his wife in New Orleans, the school psychologist, and her mother. She feels like there is something inside of her, snarling and begging to be let out, but when she does, it backfires horribly.

I am not going any further with this story because you really need to experience it for yourself. Let me just say it has been a long time since I was this terrified for an entire book!

I can’t wait to see what comes next for this author. Look out, Stephen King!

NetGalley/ January 18th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press





RECKLESS GIRLS by RACHEL HAWKINS

Reckless Girls

Remember The Wife Upstairs? Well, Ms. Hawkins is back with another movie worthy book!

It took me a bit to warm up to Lux and Nico. Okay, I never liked Nico. Lux was a very sympathetic character. So let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Lux has spent a few years caring for her dying mother. Her parents divorced long ago and her father found a new family. She has a lot of bad energy about that. After her mother dies, she is adrift. Having nothing and no prospects,she is at her lowest when she meets Nico.

Nico is a rich and troubled playboy who is about surface deep. When he asks Lux to go to Maui with him aboard his boat she jumps at the chance. And you just know she should not do this.

,In Maui Nico is approached by two young women who offer a lot of money to be taken to Meroe Island. Yes, it is as creepy as the name implies. Supposedly used during WWII and the subject of a lot of suspicious stories, this island is anything but inviting.

But they could use the money to repair the boat and the girls, who say they are college friends, seem friendly, so on they go.

On arrival they find they aren’t alone. Meet Eliza and her boyfriend,Jake. They have a beautiful boat and plenty of booze and food. Very quickly they become close. Until someone else arrives and threatens to break up their idyllic vacation. And when he and his boat disappear they are relieved. And that is when everything goes awry.

Everyone here has secrets. Some deadly. No one is really who they say they are. And some of them are more than willing to kill to keep them.

This was a twisty, mind screw! And I loved every page of it!

NetGalley/January 4th, 2022 by St. Martin’s

THE SORORITY MURDER by ALLISON BRENNAN

The Sorority Murder

A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions. 

Lucas Vega seems to be a bit obsessed with the death of sorority girl, Candace Swain. Candace was at a party one night and nowhere the next. And while her body was found two weeks later, it was discovered she didn’t drown in the lake she was found in. And she had been alive quite a bit of time.

Now Lucas is creating a podcast for his capstone project and re-opening the case and asking for people to call in with anything they remember about that night. Lucas has a bit more insight into the case as he worked in the medical examiner’s office and knows some unreleased information. But the cops aren’t listening and the Sorority has closed ranks. Threatening any member who talks to him.

When his advisor introduces him to Regan Merritt, a former US Marshall and a mother who recently had her child murdered. She isn’t home to help anyone but herself. However, something about Lucas and his podcast captures her attention. She agrees to be interviewed and review the case.

Then people start dying. Someone is desperately trying to cover something up. And when tips begin coming in they know they have something. Especially when a caller ends up dead. The cops seem to be sketchy as well. With the help of Regan, Lucas may be able to share his own secret and help figure out who is killing people and why?

I enjoyed the way we would hear Rachel’s voice in her journal. There was just enough there to make you wonder. I made a lot of wrong guesses and would never have guessed that ending. What a fresh and twisty new murder mystery to solve.

It kept me up way past my bedtime!

NetGalley/December 28th, 2021 by MIRA





 

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR by ELLY GRIFFITHS

The Midnight Hour (Brighton Mysteries)

The Brighton Mysteries

Elly Griffiths is also the author of the Dr. Ruth Galloway series,which is one of my favorites.

It’s 1965 in Brighton. Emma and Sam have set up their Detective Agency and have their first big case. Impresario Bert Billington is found dead. When the results return and they learn he was poisoned, his wife, Verity Malone, who was also a theater performer, hires Emma and Sam to find out who did this and keep her name out of it.

Lucky for Emma they have Max Mephisto on the inside to push for information. Interestingly he is in town filming Dracula along with Verity’s son, Seth.

There were so many people who looked guilty! You could tell they were all hiding something, but does that something have anything to do with the case? I am most definitely happy I was not an adult woman in the ’60s. I remember my mother reading The Feminine Mystique and finding it and reading it myself. I didn’t understand most of it,but I knew I did not want to be one of those wives.

I especially enjoyed when Emma would just pop her little boy on her hip and go interview suspects. Although eventually Edgar stepped up and pulled some weight.

I also enjoyed seeing Meg become bolder.

This is Cozy with a Bite! And I loved it!

NetGalley/ November 2nd, 2021 Mariner (formerly HMH)









UNSAFE HAVEN by LUCY BURDETTE

Unsafe Haven

A chance meeting on the New York subway leads to the destinies of two very different women becoming intertwined with terrifying consequences in this nerve-jangling thriller.

Addie is sixteen, pregnant, and trying to escape a situation that unfortunately a lot of runaway girls are tricked into. Trying desperately to get to what she thinks is her savior, Rafe. And as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, she’s about to give birth in the subway toilets.

Terrified and not knowing what to do she stumbles out to the subway platform with baby and placenta wrapped in a coat.

Elizabeth Brown should be getting married but that isn’t happening now. Time to go home to lick her wounds and return wedding gifts. As she walks up from the subway a young girl runs to her and thrusts the baby into Elizabeth’s arms with just a whispered,” I can’t take care of her” and then runs.

Elizabeth is a med student and to say she is shocked is an understatement. She finds a phone number in the pocket of the coat and calls it. Something she will soon come to regret. Addie isn’t running from one person, they all want that baby and murder may be the way to get her.

This was an excellent transition from Burdette’s cozy mysteries! She has amped up the suspense and left us biting our fingernails and reading past our bedtimes! Well worth it!

NetGalley/December 7th, 2021 by Severn House Publishers

Personally, I am a big fan of Lucy’s Key West Food Critic Cozy Mystery Series. Who knew she had a darker side? Very well done and I hope we see more!


NO SHADOW WITHOUT LIGHT by LUKE GRACIAS

No Shadow Without Light

The long-awaited sequel to The Devil’s Prayer.

On 06/06/06, the world’s population crossed 6.66 billion. Any further increase could only occur at the cost of other species and future generations.

The rise of the population has reached critical mass. This in turn has triggered the Devil’s Game. A hunt around the world for twelve missing pages of the Devil’s Bible which holds the Devil’s Prayer.

It is a game with very real consequences. Jess Russo, daughter of Denise and sister to Siobhan, is also the daughter of the devil. After her mother’s murder, the hunt began for the pages she had stolen. Every time Jess releases a page chaos ensues. This is a real game of good versus evil.

Siobhan is in a race with her sister to find the pages and release them before mankind disappears. And while she and a lot of very interesting characters are on the hunt, someone is hunting her.

This one had everything. Templars, Doomsday Chest, and tombs of Amir Temur and all the way to Wuhan.

I had to read this slowly. There was a lot to digest and think about. To be honest I’m still thinking about it. The end was a total surprise.

A very timely read and I would highly recommend it!


NetGalley/October 4th ,2021 by Authors Upfront


THE DARK HOURS by MICHAEL CONNELLY

The Dark Hours (Renée Ballard, #4; Harry Bosch Universe, #35)

Ballard and Bosch Novel

It’s New Year’s Eve and LAPD Detective Renee Ballard is sitting under an overpass waiting for the traditional rain of bullets at the stroke of midnight. Paired with another female officer on loan from the Hollywood sex crimes unit. They are trying to catch a duo of rapists before they strike again. Only Lisa seems more interested in her boyfriend.

At midnight someone is using the noise and confusion to murder a former gang member gone straight. Called out Renee goes to the scene. This isn’t a case of bullets raining down. This shot came from close up. And the bullet leads her to one of Bosch’s cases.

As they team up to find a killer, the killer is making plans for them.

Who doesn’t love Bosch? And Connelley kept it very real. With everything from Black Lives Matter to defunding the police and the pandemic as well. There is a lot of distrust of the police by the community and he gives us all of that. We get a lot of Ballard and she really won me over in this one.

Suspenseful and solid all the way!

NetGalley/November 9th, 2021 by Little, Brown and Company

THE PLAYING FIELDS by STELLA CAMERON

An Alex Duggins Cotswolds Mystery

When two bodies are discovered within six weeks of one another, it would appear that a serial killer is at large in the sleepy Cotswold village of Folly.

DCI Dan O’Reilly is settling in to his new home with boxes still unpacked when a body is found on the old playing fields near the cricket club. The scene looks staged but no one saw or heard anything. Six weeks later another body is discovered in the tithe barn, which is used for plays now. This body is staged as well. It would seem a serial killer is at work.

In due course his investigation lands him at Alex’s pub, the Black Dog. Dan makes it clear to her and her partner, veterinarian, Tony, that he does not want them involved in his case. But have we ever known Alex to keep her cute little nose out of things?

Alex is the person everyone confides in when they don’t want to go to the police themselves. This time she may be on her own as Tony has just received an e-mail from his dead wife. Yes, a dead wife.

So, instead of finalizing their wedding plans, they are investigating murders and ignoring the dead wife.

When Tony himself becomes a victim, Alex forgets her promise to Dan and heads right into the killer’s lair.

This one had some seriously creepy characters in it. It’s always a mystery with this good series!

NetGalley/ Canongate/Severn  November 2nd ,2021 

THE MOTHER NEXT DOOR by TARA LASKOWSKI

The Mother Next Door

Big Little Lies has nothing on The Ivy Five. These women are pros. The only thing is they are now one short of five. What happened to the other member? Stay tuned.

Every year the Ivy Five have their annual block party on Halloween. Ivy Woods Drive is the place to be. The perfect cul-de-sac for the perfect families who live there. The envy of the town. But not for one person. This person knows their secrets and is about to spill them all.

When Theresa moves into the exclusive street, she is eager to fit in. To be accepted by these perfect women and their perfect lives. She finds herself volunteering or everything and soon she is one of them.

Then the threats begin. Secrets run deep in this town and especially in this group. They’ve done some pretty awful things and now someone is threatening to out them all. But who is it? Could it be the new girl?

While they all rush to cover their own backsides, Theresa has secrets of her own. Secrets that will intersect with the Ivy Five and may blow up all of their lives.

These were just despicable women. Which is a compliment. They were so horrible that you had to keep going to see who did what to whom and why!

This is a really good domestic suspense tale and I’m glad I read it!

NetGalley/October 12th, 2021 by Graydon House

LAST GIRL GHOSTED by LISA UNGER

Last Girl Ghosted: The latest gripping psychological thriller from international bestseller Lisa Unger!

Always a wild, dark ride with Ms. Unger. The Blurb:

Secrets, obsession and vengeance converge in this riveting thriller about an online dating match turned deadly cat-and-mouse game, from the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions on the 7:45.

Think twice before you swipe.

Dating Apps. The new thing in hunting victims. Pressured into at least trying one, Wren, decides to at least meet the guy. He’s a mysterious guy who is into the same things she is. Or so he says. The date goes so well she is excited about seeing him again. There is just this connection there. Or so she thought. Now, he’s just gone.

Did she scare him off? Was she too forward? The things we all think when we are being ignored.

Wren isn’t one to let things go so she starts digging. And she isn’t the only one who fell for his lines. But these girls are missing. And her digging is making people uncomfortable. But she has her own secrets and now he knows at least one. And that could be very bad for Wren.

Dark, Disturbing, and Believable! What could be more terrifying than knowing this is happening every day? Well Done!

NetGalley/ October 5th, 2021 Harlequin Park Row