Tag Archive | Mystery

In The Dark by Loreth Anne White

In The Dark

Title: In The Dark
Author: Loreth Anne White
Publication Date: December 1, 2019
Publisher: Montlake

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The promise of a luxury vacation at a secluded wilderness spa has brought together eight lucky guests. But nothing is what they were led to believe. As a fierce storm barrels down and all contact with the outside is cut off, the guests fear that it’s not a getaway. It’s a trap.

Each one has a secret. Each one has something to hide. And now, as darkness closes in, they all have something to fear—including one another.

Alerted to the vanished party of strangers, homicide cop Mason Deniaud and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton must brave the brutal elements of the mountains to find them. But even Mason and Callie have no idea how precious time is. Because the clock is ticking, and one by one, the guests of Forest Shadow Lodge are being hunted. For them, surviving becomes part of a diabolical game.

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Excerpt:

“The gas stove and the gas water heaters work,” Nathan said. “And there’s plumbing.” He turned his back on them and busied himself taking mugs out of the cupboard in an exaggerated fashion. His heart hammered in his chest. Sweat prickled across his lip.

“And there’s tea, coffee, tins of tuna, and soup,” Steven said as he hurriedly opened more cupboards.

Bart frowned. “Well, at least we won’t go hungry.” He made for the living area, paused. “I found a path. It looks like it leads around to the other bay, but it was getting too dark to follow without a flashlight.”

“Do you think it might lead to the real lodge?” Steven asked.

Nathan blinked. It was like the doctor was reaching for straws by asking—as if hoping, still, that their pilot had just made some terrible screwup with the GPS coordinates.

Bart said, “We can check again in the morning to see if—”

“There is no real lodge.” Jackie appeared in the doorway that led from the great room into the kitchen.

They all turned to look at the solid woman with intense eyes.

“This is no mistake,” she said curtly. “This is a con, some sick game.”

“What do you mean?” Bart asked.

“Did you guys not see the plaque outside, next to the front door? This place is called Forest Shadow Lodge. As in Forest Shadow Wilderness Resort & Spa. Here, look at this.” She pulled a brochure from her pocket and smoothed it out on the kitchen island.

“I printed it off the website before I left home.” She jabbed a photo of the luxury lodge. “It’s fake. It’s photoshopped, because it’s using the same location. See this bay here? And the shape of this one here? This mountain? This is how the terrain looked from the air. It’s this spot, but someone has photoshopped the spa into the location. They’ve erased parts of the forest, added cabins and trails, plus interior shots from some other spa and lodges.” She met their gazes. “This whole thing was faked from the get-go. We were lured here. All of us. And now we’re trapped.”

A sinister cold seemed to enter the kitchen. A shutter banged upstairs, and wind whistled. Mist, cloying and wet, pressed up against the windows. It grew darker inside.

“Why?” Bart asked, still holding his wood.

“God knows.” Jackie dragged her hand over her hair. “But right now, we’re stuck. We’ve been baited and lured into some weird kind of wilderness prison.”

“We are not trapped.” Stella entered the kitchen. “We have a plane. And you guys have a pilot—me. We have fuel. We—”

“We have no bloody radio!” Jackie snapped, whirling round to face Stella, her eyes furious.

“What?” said Steven.

“That’s right,” Jackie said. “Go on, tell them, Stella.”

Stella’s gray eyes flashed, shooting daggers at Jackie.

“Go on. Tell them. The radio is broken. Sabotaged, wires cut.”

“But I heard you speaking to your dispatch on the radio,” Nathan said.

“But it wasn’t working, was it, Stella?” Jackie said. “Your dispatch couldn’t hear you, could they? No one even knows where we are, do they?”

Stella’s features went tight.

“So when were you going to tell us this, Stella?” Steven asked.

“I didn’t want to say right away. Fear, worry, is not a good thing when—”

“When what? Jesus. Who are you to decide what’s right and wrong for us to know?” Steven barked. “You’re just the pilot, not the boss of our lives, for Chrissakes.”

“There’s a chance I could fix it in the morning. If I can—if it’s an easy fix—you’d never have to have known about it.”

“So you thought you’d play God?” Steven snapped. “Because we would all panic.” He wagged jazz hands at the sides of his face.

“And you’re not panicking?” she said.

Silence swelled in the kitchen. It felt for a bizarre moment as though the house was listening. Alive. Hostile. Nathan felt hairs rise along his arms. He was sensitive to these things. He could feel trees in the forest watching and listening to him.

 

My Review:

With shades of the Agatha Christie mystery, And Then There Were None, this was an enjoyable read.

When a group of people, each with their own secret, are lured to a secluded ‘holiday resort’, you know the outcome isn’t going to be good.

This book jumps between the events at the resort, where the guests are targeted, and become distrustful of each other, not knowing who’s behind their predicament, or who will be next to die, and the law enforcement/search and rescue team who are trying to find the missing group.

In The Dark is a compelling, fast paced mystery that kept me guessing.

 

About the Author:

LorethAnneWhiteLoreth Anne White is a bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the recipient of the Overall 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall. In addition, she’s a Booksellers’ Best finalist and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner. A former journalist who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. When Loreth isn’t writing, you will find her skiing, biking, or hiking the trails with her dog (a.k.a. the Black Beast) or open-water swimming. She calls this work, because that’s when the best ideas come.

 
Q&A with Loreth Anne White

1. You are very well known for your romantic suspense tales, but your new title, In The Dark, is all about mystery — a real whodunit! Tell us a bit about the story.

I like to think there is still a strong echo of my earlier romantic suspense books that ripples through In The Dark. Yes, it’s a locked-room mystery/thriller — wilderness style, but the mystery narrative is wrapped inside a romantic suspense-style narrative that follows a budding friendship between Detective Mason Deniaud and Search & Rescue manager Callie Sutton who must not only piece together what happened as they hunt for survivors, but also must race against time to save who might be left. The story leaves off with a promise of more ahead in the relationship between Callie and Mason, so my roots are still showing, I hope.

2. Your story definitely has shades of Agatha Christie as well as a nod or two to Stephen King. Did these authors act as inspirations for this book?

In The Dark is not only a homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, but Christie’s story becomes a plot device, a psychological tool that the villain uses to instill fear in the victims trapped in the lodge because the victims know what transpired in the book, and they anticipate the same will happen to them.

And yes, a teensy nod to master of atmosphere and horror, Stephen King’sThe Shining where characters are trapped in a remote and snowbound hotel and become mercy to the psychological horror that descends on them.

3. A rural, isolated lodge is always a great place to start a suspenseful novel. How exactly did your characters all come to be at Forest Shadow Lodge?

The characters are invited for an all-expenses stay at the brand new, high-end, fly-in wilderness lodge and spa. They are lured by an offer to enjoy a ‘soft opening’, so to speak, where they can assess the accommodation and potentially negotiate lucrative contracts with the new lodge owners. Each guest runs a business that would be suitable for such an establishment. Each is excited by a possible lucrative contract. But not all is quite what meets the eye, of course.

4. Your story is told from multiple points-of-view as you take deep dives into the characters’ lives and histories. Does everyone have something to hide?

Don’t we all have something to hide? My characters in this book certainly do. Some of their secrets are more powerful than others.

5. Mason and Callie are two of the law enforcement responders that are trying to piece together exactly what happened at The Lodge. Tell us more about these characters and what makes them so good at what they do.

Mason Deniaud was a top homicide detective before relocating to the remote north for personal reasons. He lost a young son and a wife and he’s searching for a way to live, or exist, if not heal. Callie Sutton is a young mother who is single, but also isn’t because her husband lies in hospital and is brain dead. Her husband is there, but he also isn’t there for Callie and her young son. Like Mason, she’s in limbo, a place where she can’t move forward, or back. It’s through this they find a bond. And the search for the missing lodge party pushes them together.

6. In The Dark is a pivotal novel in your career. What does it have in common with your previous writing and how is it different? How does this inform your next steps as a writer?

Pivotal sounds cool. I’ll take it! Thank you. But yes In The Dark is a bit of a departure from my previous romantic suspense books. If readers enjoy it, however, and if my publisher remains happy, I’d like to keep growing in this direction. But I do think my crime stories will always revolve around strong women, or women who might be victims to start with, but who find agency and take back their lives and become strong and survive through the arc of a story. (As with my forthcoming work In The Deep). I do love to include a relationship element in my crime novels, but bonding with a potential love interest comes out of the personal growth of the protagonist. I like to tell—and read—stories of women who find ways to rescue themselves.

 

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Saturday Spotlight

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Mortom by Erik Therme

MortomAndy Crowl barely knew his recently deceased cousin, Craig Moore, so he’s especially surprised to be named as the sole beneficiary in Craig’s will. Not that there’s much to inherit: just an empty bank account and a run-down house.

Once Andy arrives in the town of Mortom, however, he’s drawn into his puzzle-obsessed cousin’s true legacy: a twisted and ominous treasure hunt. Beckoned by macabre clues of dead rats and cemetery keys, Andy jumps into the game, hoping to discover untold wealth. But unsavory secrets—and unanswered questions about Craig’s untimely demise—arise at every turn, leading Andy to wonder if he’s playing the game…or if the game is playing him.

Something’s rotten in Mortom. And this dead man’s game might not be all that Andy is doomed to lose.

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My Review:

Puzzle enthusiast, Andy Crowl, is in Mortom, with his sister, Katie, to settle his cousin, Craig’s, estate, of which he is the sole beneficiary. Andy is disappointed to find the estate consists of an empty bank account and a rundown house.

The dead rat Andy finds under the fridge, with a note and a key in its mouth sends Andy on a treasure hunt, that he hopes will lead to his cousin’s riches. The clues aren’t easy to solve, but Andy is determined to figure it out, no matter what.

The characters in this book are all flawed, without many redeeming qualities, and the relationships between them are strained. I found it hard to care about any of them, except for Craig’s young friend, Debbie.

However, the mystery, suspense and twists in the story kept me turning the pages to discover, along with Andy, what ‘prize’ Craig had left at the end of the trail.

All in all, Motom was an intriguing and interesting read.

( I received a complimentary copy of the book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.)

 

The Author:

Erik ThermeErik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty-eight places in the world that UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

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Autumn/Halloween Countdown Blitz 2019

Day 9

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Death at the Dakota by Marni Graff

A Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery

 
Day 9 ACB CoverNurse Trudy Genova is making plans to take her relationship to NYPD detective Ned O’Malley to the next level, when she lands a gig as medical consultant on a film shoot at the famed Dakota apartment building in Manhattan, which John Lennon once called home. Then star Monica Kiley goes missing, a cast member turns up dead, and it appears Trudy might be next. Meanwhile Ned tackles a mysterious murder case in which the victim is burned beyond recognition. When his investigations lead him back to the Dakota, Trudy finds herself wondering: how can she fall in love if she can’t even survive?

Readers of Death Unscripted, the first book in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series, will find the same pleasures in this sequel: fast pacing, engaging characters, twists and turns on the way to a satisfying close. From the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries, this second series is a winner. Once again M.K. Graff reveals her talents in crafting this delightful mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.

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Part procedural, part cozy, Death at the Dakota is a well-crafted and highly entertaining mystery.
Bruce Robert Coffin, #1 bestselling author of the Detective Byron mysteries.

I fell in love — not only with co-protagonists, Trudy and Ned, the richly detailed and historic setting of The Dakota, and the unique cast of characters, but with the unusual plot of Death at the Dakota.
Sherry Harris, Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries

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Day 9 ACB Author

 

Marni Graff writes two award-winning mystery series: The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. She teaches writing workshops and mentors the Writers Read program, and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press.

Graff also writes the crime review blog Auntie M Writes.

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Top Ten List:

  • My dogs, Radar, a 10 yr old Italian Spinone and our new Aussie Doodle puppy, Seamus
  • Mysteries to read, esp. a series
  • Pizza, well done with pepperoni
  • Vodka gimlet, heavy on the lime juice
  • Black and White movies from the 30-40s, esp Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn
  • The hour before sunset when everything it lit with a subtle glow
  • The UK; a real Anglophile for travel
  • New York City
  • Crisp new stationary
  • Clean sheets

 

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Autumn/Halloween Countdown Blitz 2019

Day 2

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Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

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There is a hidden treasure in the grand old mansion on Piccadilly Street, in a place called London, but not the real London of English fame. There’s also a lot of mystery and a murder that’s been unsolved for decades. But it’s the treasure that captures Mary’s interest.

Mary lives in this house along with her family, her Brownie friends and a ghost. When the ghost reveals her secret about the hidden treasure, there’s no stopping Mary, her Brownie friends, or her enemies from searching for this treasure.

Why the intrigue? Apparently there’s a little bit of magic connected to this treasure. And so the adventure begins. Who will find the treasure first?

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Day 2 ACB AuthorAn avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion.

Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story.

Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including King Henry’s Choice (Clean Reads 2019), Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure (Telltale Publishing 2019), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books.

A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and her books, short stories, and articles are receiving considerable attention.

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Top Ten List:

1 – I have a very special muse – my dog, Duke. I take pleasure in our daily walks and the inspiration he provides me on these walks.

2 – I love to cross-stitch. Mostly small projects, as I need the creative release after working on my long writing projects.

3 – I love to read – a day without reading is like a day without sunshine.

4 – I enjoy baking and browsing cookbooks.

5 – I used to ride horses and will occasionally enjoy a trail ride with my daughter.

6 – When my children were young, we learned Highland dancing together.

7 – An ideal outing for me is either a bookstore (new or used) or a garden center – or, better yet, both.

8 – I spend most of the spring, summer and fall in my garden – at least, when I’m not writing.

9 – I enjoy sharing creative ideas with fellow writers and artists. Networking is always good for the soul as well as the creative muse.

10 – I really did grow up in a haunted house.

 

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Saturday Spotlight

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The Case of The Lonesome Lushington by T.G. Campbell

(Bow Street Society #2)

Lonesome LushingtonIn this sequel to The Case of The Curious Client the Bow Street Society are privately commissioned to investigate the murder of a woman whose mutilated body was discovered in the doorway of the London Crystal Palace Bazaar on Oxford Street. Scandal, lies, intrigue, and murder all await the Society as they explore the consumerist hub of the Victorian Era & its surrounding areas, glimpse the upper classes’ sordid underbelly, and make a shocking discovery no one could’ve predicted…

The Bow Street Society is a fictional group of amateur detectives operating in London in 1896. Each of its civilian members has been enlisted for their unique skill or exceptional knowledge in a particular field. This ensures the Society may work to solve cases on the behalf of their clients regardless of their client’s social class or wealth; cases that the police either can’t or won’t investigate. From an Artist to an Illusionist, from a Hansom Cabman to a Fashion Journalist, the Bow Street Society is justice by all and for all.

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My Review:

For the second book of the series, I once again joined Rebecca Trent and some Bow Street Society members as they are commissioned by Mrs Dianna Suggitt to investigate the murder of her sister, Maryanna Roberts, a fallen woman.

As the society narrow down the list of suspects, while trying not to antagonise the police, who don’t approve of them investigating the crime, another murder takes place.

As with the previous book, The Case of the Curious Client, this was a compelling read with a fascinating plot. I enjoyed getting to know the familiar characters better and meeting the new ones.

The author’s attention to detail transported me once more to 1890’s London and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

 

About The Author:

6af07c396b9dfcfbc82b1406bbcc4cf5Tahnee Georgina (T.G.) Campbell wrote her first crime fiction story at the age of sixteen as a gift for her best friend. At only 40 pages long it fell considerably short of a “novel” but it marked the beginning of a creative journey that would eventually spawn the first of the Bow Street Society mystery novels; The Case of the Curious Client. During that time she attended the University of Winchester where she acquired her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Studies and wrote a dissertation on the social and cultural importance of the works of Agatha Christie.

She also became a volunteer member of staff on an international text-based gaming website where she was responsible for creating, and facilitating, storyline-games in a Victorian Era setting. The historical content of the reference pages for this setting were therefore researched, collated, and maintained by her.

It was as part of her work for this site that she came up with the idea of The Bow Street Society. Though The Case of the Curious Client is a project independent from the website the time she spent as a member of staff there helped her better understand character formation/evolution, effective use of description, and clue-puzzle mystery plot mechanics.

More recently, she attended her very first book signing event in the form of the UK Indie Lit Fest in Bradford on the 28th July 2018. She’s currently planning a schedule of similar events in 2019, to give her readers even more opportunities to meet her and have their Bow Street Society books signed. The second and third instalments of the Bow Street Society mysteries The Case of The Lonesome Lushington and The Case of The Spectral Shot are on sale now. There are also two published volumes of the Bow Street Society Casebook: The Case of The Shrinking Shopkeeper & Other Stories and The Case of The Peculiar Portrait & Other Stories. T.G. Campbell also writes monthly features for Fresh Lifestyle Magazine and releases new Casebook short stories in the monthly Gaslight Gazette. The fourth Bow Street Society mystery is due to be released in 2019.

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The Other Side of the Streets by Maria Gibbs

The Other Side of the Streets

Children from the Streets #3

 
The Other Side of the StreetsRio, Brasil has always been split in half.

Marcos Martinez is from the half where homelessness and poverty is the norm. The son of a man who lived on the streets until he was adopted at the age of twelve, Marcos has made it his mission to defy the norm and make something of his life.

Gio Silvas knows only the lifestyle of the other side. A billionaire’s son, he’s a selfish, weak, narcissistic bully who thrives on hedonism, vibrant carnivals, and untold wealth—a lifestyle where the word “no” is not part of his vocabulary.

When Gio falls for Marcos’ twin sister Caro, a hard life lesson is heading his way. Will he see the error of his ways and change, or will his love for Caro push him and her family past the point of no return?

Familiar characters await, along with new, to both entrance and appall in this third installment of the Children from the Streets series. Come. It’s time. Carnival is upon us.

Are you ready to return to the streets?

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My Review:

Another emotional story in the Children from the Streets series.

The boys from the first book, have grown up and now have children of their own. Marcos and Caro are one set of Pedro and Alea Martinez’ twin children, and in this book, we follow their heartbreaking and tragic story, as their father’s time on the streets as a child continues to affect the next generation.

I am loving this series, inspired by real-life events, it’s an informative and very emotional read.

I would advise you to read the first two books, A Boy from the Streets and Sins of the Father, before opening this one.

 
Meet The Author:

Maria GibbsI started reading and writing from an early age, it has always been my passion and my escape. There are so many worlds out there to discover and to create. I write in many genres, my mind is alive with thoughts and ideas so I allow them free release on paper. If I were to sum up what the common denominator is between my books, I would have to say they tug at the heartstrings – in the main. My reader’s tell me I’ve reduced them to tears. Inspiration comes in many forms and I grab it with greedy hands. I am predominantly a pantser, planning only when needed.

I work full-time but my dream is to be able to make a living from writing and be able to give my undivided time to releasing all the books that are floating around in my over-active brain.

When I’m not writing, I like reading, crafting, running, listening to music or riding my motorbike.

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Saturday Spotlight

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Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd

strangers-she-knows-by-christina-dodd-coverI have three deadly problems:

1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer.
2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.
3. My new daughter is growing up too fast–and she’s in the line of fire.

Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family…. Or does it? Family time becomes terror-time, and at last, alone, Kellen faces a killer playing a cruel game. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.

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My Review:

This, the third and final book of the Cape Charade series, works well as a standalone book as there is enough information for you to understand some of what has gone before. That being said I’m sure that reading the first two, would’ve given me more insight into the characters, their relationships and the circumstances leading up to the events in this book.

Max, Kellen and Rae Di Luca flee to a remote island to avoid being caught and killed by Mara Phillipi, a psychopath from a previous book, who has escaped from prison. They take with them a cook and their dog, Luna. The only other inhabitants on the almost deserted island are a husband and wife team of caretakers, and a friendly ‘ghost’.

With no way of communication with the outside world, apart from the radio in the helicopter they arrived in, it takes a while for the family to settle into their more relaxed way of life. They pass the time by exploring the island on bikes, and by reading the journal of one of the islands previous residents.

Mara finds them, wrecks the helicopter and drugs Rae, who Max has to take off the island in a small boat during a storm, leaving Kellen on the island to deal with the killer. The final showdown between the two women is tense and terrifying, with Kellen being at a disadvantage as she’s still recovering from brain surgery.

The book is a thrill ride, packed with action, suspense, and mystery. I’ve added the first two books of the series to my to-read list.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.)

 

 

About The Author:

strangers-she-knows-by-christina-dodd-authorNew York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.

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