Girl in Snow

I really love Netgalley, but I’m just really bad at making the books I get from them a priority. When I got Girl in Snow from them a couple of years ago, I had every intention of reading it quickly, but it just got buried under all my other books. But when I saw I needed a book with a weather element in the title, Girl in Snow jumped right into that slot. And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I’m very particular about mystery/thriller books because so many of them are poorly written. I’m always nervous when I start a book by an unfamiliar author, but wow this was a great one. I’m so happy to report that this was a very well-written, interesting book.

The story is told from three perspectives, all third-person narrator, but from that particular character’s point-of-view. We meet Cameron, an outcast with a rough family story who draws amazing portraits, but who also has a secret. Next is Jade, also an outcast with a rough family, but much angrier about it. Finally is Russ, the police detective tied to the case in an unusual way. At the center of the story is beautiful Lucinda, who is found murdered one morning on the playground of a sleepy Colorado town. It’s likely Russ didn’t do it, considering he didn’t even know her, but Cameron and Jade are on the fringes of suspects because they lived near Lucinda and both knew her. Equally a suspect is Lucinda’s ex-boyfriend, Zap.

I’m really not sure if this book fits into the adult or young adult category, but no matter, because it’s great. I really didn’t know which character murdered Lucinda until the reveal, but the murderer wasn’t just thrown in as a random person never mentioned in the book (like a drifter), so the rationale was explained and legitimate. This book was a quick little read with great, clever language, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

 

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The Collector Trilogy

I’ve been hearing about this series for quite some time. Several friends have recommended them as “can’t put down” thrillers. And as much as I did want to keep reading to see what happened, I didn’t love the writing style of this author. I felt like a lot had been left unsaid, causing me to reread more than I usually do, especially for a thriller, which is usually a fairly easy-to-follow genre, even with the given plot twists.

The first book, The Butterfly Garden, starts with a girl named Maya discussing the past few years of her life. She was kidnapped and forced to live in a hidden garden with several other beautiful girls. They all are tattooed with giant butterflies on their backs and given new names.  However, when they hit 21, they are killed and preserved in resin. Maya realizes, given the number of butterflies already preserved, that the Gardener has been doing this for a long time. Because the book starts with her speaking to the FBI, you know Maya and others have escaped, but *how* that happens is told over the course of the book. The book isn’t graphic, but it is disturbing, so be warned.

The second book follows the FBI team again with a series of killings. Every spring, a girl is murdered, placed in a church, surrounded by flowers. Priya’s sister was one of the murdered girls. And now, several years later, Priya is receiving flowers on her porch. Maya and another butterfly (who will remain nameless to avoid spoilers) are mentioned in this book several times, as well. The FBI team has taken Priya on as a little sister of sorts, and take her situation very seriously, trying to determine if the flower-sender is the killer or just another crazy person who is obsessed with the case.

The last book, The Summer Children, again features the FBI team, namely the female member, in a string of murders. The parents of abused children are being murdered and the children left on the FBI team member’s doorstep. This book was the best well-written, in my opinion, and I was really sucked into figuring out who was behind the murders. Unlike the second book, I had no idea who it was until quite some time through the story.

As for the writing style, I’m sure it’s just my personal preference, but I felt like the author’s editor was a little too enthusiastic with the red-lining because there were scenes that were just not explained well, as if the reader had prior knowledge of the situation when, in reality, that wasn’t the case. I kept rereading to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Overall, the books are interesting enough for me to have kept reading, and when the fourth comes out this spring, I will for sure check it out. That FBI has grown on me, and I want to visit them again.

In the Woods

I’ve heard of the Dublin Murder Squad books for awhile now and have been meaning to read them for awhile. I finally sat down and made a point to read the first one, In the Woods. I like a good thriller/murder mystery, and was really pleased with how well done this one is. It seems like most thrillers are cheap, predictable, and churned out so quickly that much thought isn’t put into craft. However, there were some really great passages in this book that made the reading experience much more enjoyable than the average thriller.

Det. Rob Ryan is a member of the Dublin Murder Squad, meaning his job is to investigate murders. His partner, Cassie, is like a sister and together, they make a great team. However, Rob’s secret has the ability to hinder his perspective. When he was a kid, three kids went into the woods to play, and only one, Rob, came out. The other two have never been found and Rob doesn’t remember much. He now goes by his middle name, went to boarding school and acquired a different accent, so he flies under the radar and no one, save Cassie, knows his story.

Their newest case is the death of a 12 year old girl whose body is found near the woods were Rob was found. His memories are triggered, and he wonders if the two situations are connected. The book is full of several twists and turns, some of them I saw coming, but most I didn’t, and by the end, I was reading as quickly as I could to see who killed the young girl and whether or not Rob was able to put all the pieces of his own childhood together. There are several other books in the series, all are spin offs of the previous one, and I can’t wait to delve back into this series.

The Life We Bury

Finding a book I haven’t read shouldn’t be that hard, but when the librarian tried to give me recommendations, she went with the most popular books as of late, all of which I have read. For the 2017 book challenge, I have to read a book recommended by a librarian, so I approached the desk with my query. She recommended The Nightingale, Gillian Flynn books, The Girl on the Train, etc. Check. Check. Check. So, she went to Amazon to look for books that are similar to these and came up with The Life We Bury. So, not officially librarian recommended, but I’m sticking with it.

Joe Talbert is a college kid with the assigned task of writing an older person’s biography. He has no one in his life that fits this bill, so he heads to a local assisted living facility and finds Carl Iverson. Carl has been let out of prison because he’s dying of cancer. And, even though he was convicted of rape and murder, letting him out to die seemed to be the right thing to do. Unlike the other residents, Carl is fully lucid each day and is willing to tell his story. Joe isn’t really sure he even wants to hear this story, but the assignment is pressing. Joe lives two hours away from home, leaving behind an alcoholic mother and an autistic brother. As his mother pulls him back home for various reasons, we see Joe as a caring, protective brother. One night Joe has to bring his brother back home with him, to his tiny apartment, and runs into a neighbor, Lila, who is great with his brother and ends up getting sucked into Carl’s story as well.

Of course, being a thriller, there are twists and turns. Did Carl really commit this horrible crime? If not, who did? Carl has a very mysterious past, going all the way to Vietnam, and he has never been the same since. But has whatever happened in the past affected him so greatly that he would rape and murder a teenage girl? I felt like Joe’s brother was more of a catalyst to get Joe and Lila together rather than an actual important part of the story. But that might just me being overly critical. I really did enjoy the author, Allen Eskens’, writing style. I wouldn’t say the plot was predictable, but writing an original thriller is hard to do these days. However, his writing was really great. Sadly, I returned the book to the library already, or I would type up a few phrases that stood out. My apologies. But I have looked up his other works on Amazon and hope to read some of them soon.

Ink and Bone

Thank you Netgalley for another great title! I have been a bit discouraged with the thrillers I’ve read lately. They seem to be lacking some unique quality, jump the shark at some point in a very unsuccessful way, or are just plain boring. Thankfully, Ink and Bone was one worth reading!

When doing a little background research, I discovered that the setting of this story, The Hollows, NY is a fictional town, but there is a town called the Hollow (formerly named Allentown) that was founded by two families that has only recently become slightly modernized, think indoor plumbing a few years ago, but no telephones, and the residents live in near isolation. Here’s a link the Hollow to a NY Times article about the town. In the book, however, the town is a tourist trap with abandoned mines nearby, and the mountain folk aren’t as isolated as you would think. Interesting tie to real life, however.

The main character, Finley, can see and communicate with the dead. A little girl goes missing and, as a last resort, Finley is asked to help find her. The police have no leads, the parents are desperate, and Finley has been hearing a mysterious noise that leads her to the grieving family. I’m not one who believe in this kind of stuff, however, that didn’t really matter in this novel. I took it as a work of fiction from beginning to end and the author did a great job of creating a character to relate to. Finley struggles with her ability. She wants to help families, but she wants to be a normal person, too. She is a college student, with a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, a mother who doesn’t understand her, and a grandmother who shares her abilities.

The story is told in multiple perspectives, which is interesting, but a bit hard to follow at times because it takes a few sentences of a new chapter to realize who the narrator is. However, because this is from Netgalley and isn’t an official published copy, maybe some clarification was added to the final version. It’s certainly not a reason to avoid this book, though.

Overall, really great thriller. Goodreads has it listed as horror, but it’s really not. It’s more of a mystery/thriller, and a great one at that!

Murder in Missoula

Here’s another book I got from Netgalley. I tend to select thrillers because I really do enjoy a good mystery, but this one left me wanting a bit more.

This story isn’t exactly a mystery, because you know who the killer is almost from the beginning. Instead, you are trying to see if the killer will be caught, who will figure out the killer’s identity, are there others involved, will an innocent person be arrested, and so on. I won’t tell you if any of the above questions are answered, though, but I will say the book does have a resolution. Whether it was an appealing one is left up to the reader.

My biggest issue with this book was the lack of emotion from any characters. A woman is murdered and her best friend just drinks a lot of wine as a result. I understand trying to drown your sorrows, but no tears? No sadness? It just seemed really strange to me. The main character, who is involved with the murdered woman, just needs to find the killer. He doesn’t show much sadness for the death, either. This was just really bizarre to me. Maybe I’m being too particular, but the characters just seemed really flat.

Overall, this was a pretty easy read, but not one that left me with tingles or anything. It was just a mediocre story.

No One Knows

I managed to get a lot of thrillers from Netgalley, including this one. I like a good mystery, especially one that is unique, has a great plot twist, or leaves me thinking. And up until the last few pages, I was ready to give this book four stars. However, the forced plot twist at the end dropped it to two stars. I was really disappointed by the time the book was over.

Without giving too much away, the main character, Aubrey, is mourning the death of her husband. He went missing five years ago and, since so much time has passed, he has been declared dead. Aubrey has spent much of this time either incarcerated, drunk, or barely hanging on. She was suspected of her husband’s murder, given the amount of blood found in their home, but was found not guilty due to the lack of evidence. She drank a lot just to numb the pain. But after hitting rock bottom, she cleaned herself up, got a teaching job, and is putting her life back together. Until a man, looking much like her husband, enters her life.

I really was okay with the majority of this book. Is he dead? Did she do it? Did his mother, due to inherit a lot of money? Did his jailbird father? What about his mystery man who seems to know a lot about Aubrey? All of this, thankfully, is resolved by the end of the book, and there are a few plot twists along the way, but the final one just did me in. It was so unbelievable completely out of the realm of possibility given the rest of the book, that it just infuriated me. I have pretty high standards when it comes to plot twists. Even if I see them coming, that’s fine, but it has to be plausible. That’s my one requirement, and this book failed it, miserably.