And There He Kept Her, by Joshua Moehling

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Joshua Moehling, andPoisoned Pen Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

New to the work of Joshua Moehling, I thought that this book would make for an interesting read. I was pleasantly surprised as to how smoothly things went, with a dark thriller that carried me through to the final page and left me wanting more. Moehling does well to paint a sinister picture with this story and has me wondering if I ought to return to explore more of his work in the months to come.

When two teens target a house in a remote community, they are hoping to score something to help with their drug high. Little do they know what awaits them there, or that the proprietor has a plan of his own. Wanting to keep the past hidden, Emmett Burr will stop at nothing to silence the teens and keep the past cemented there.

Ben Packard hopes a fresh start in Sandy Lake, Minnesota will help his demeanour. Working as a sheriff’s deputy, Packard hopes to bring security to the community and rewrite his own personal narrative. Leading the investigation to to the two missing teens, Packard is prepared to pull out all the stops and show how effective he can be. With few clues and leads drying up faster than he can process them, Packard will have to rely on his gut and intuition, which is anything but stellar.

As the story reaches its climax, those involved show how a spine-chilling tale can truly grip everyone. A mystery and thriller like no other, Moehling shows that he has what it takes to stand next to others in the genre and make himself known. Easily the best thriller I have read in a while by an author worth of more attention.

Joshua Moehling may not have been on my radar before, but this novel has surely made me take note. I enjoyed the perspexctive he offers throughout and the dedication to the genre exhibited in the story. An eerie tale with some strong character development, Moehling taps into the inner soul of both character and reader, offering a story that will make people take note and want to know more.

While it would be easy to focus all my attention on Ben Packard, I found that there were a handful of great characters who emerged throughout the reading experience. There is a little backstory involved, as well as some great development, all of which feeds into the larger =narrative to keep the story moving, Moehling does well to proponent the reader with something worth their time, without bemoaning too much of the personal lives of the characters involved. I am eager to see how he addresses his characters in other publications, as I was left feeling as though it was a unique approach to much of what I have read lately.

The key to a great story is pulling the reader in from the opening pages. I was hooked before things got too far along and could not get enough. The narrative clipped along and left me fully engaged by the first few chapters, though I was able to steer my way through the plot with some ease. Great characters, developed effectively, kept me on track and the twists came just as I needed them. I am eager to see what else is out there by Joshua Moehling and how this compares to it. Hoping others will discover and devour this book as well, allowing the conversation to grow swiftly.

Kudos, Mr. Moehling, for a great piece. I am pleased to have stumbled upon it and cannot wait for more!

Backstory, by William L. Myers Jr.

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, William L. Myers Jr., andOceanview Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Happy to read another book by William L. Myers Jr., I turned to this standalone, which packs just as much punch as his Philadelphia legal thrillers. Myers shows that he is versatile in his writing and grips the reader from the opening pages with this story that has a number of twists to keep things on point. Fans of his series will see some of the same spark in this piece, which will surely solidify their admiration for William L. Myers Jr.

It is all a blur to Jackson Robert Hunter, but when he opens his eyes outside a bar, all he has to show for it is a sore head and no memory. He’s soon told that his wife has committed suicide, but Hunter has an inkling that it was staged as part of a murder plot, with the killer still out there. He’s determined to find out who was behind this and ensure justice is served.

As he begins to investigate, Hunter realises that his amnesia has been cover something even more problematic, namely his own sordid past. His marital history is anything but pristine, with betrayal towards his wife and a lover he left hanging on at least one occasion. Broken hearts are only part of the issue, as there are a number of dirty cops who turned the other way, ready to exact their own revenge on him. Could his wife’s murder be the cost of it all?

From a small community in Kansas, Hunter finds himself in various parts of the US, discovering family secrets he did not know existed. His hopes of tracking down the killer is mired in his own dark past and those who remember all too well what he did to them. His chase intensifies as he realises that he is also trying to piece together his own life, which is anything but reputable. Myers offers another winner that is sure to keep the reader flipping pages well into the night.

There is something about Myers’ writing that pulls me in every time. His direct approach and wonderful storytelling makes for a great reading experience, no matter the topic at hand. A clear cut narrative offers the reader something wonderful to use as a guide and provides ample time to get excited about the experience until the final page turn, when all comes crashing together. Whether this is a deviation from his Philadelphia series or the start of something new, I am eager to see what else Myers has to offer in the coming years.

Jackson Robert Hunter is a wonderful character whose life is full of gaps, primarily related to the amnesia he suffered when his wife died. He progresses throughout the book, offering both personal backstory and some development in the hunt for his wife’s killer, providing the reader something of a larger picture. Hunter’s struggles are real, though he does not know them all, leaving him to meander through a darkness he cannot easily navigate. Myers effectively creates and dismantles his protagonist throughout the story, leaving the reader to judge what sort of man they have before them.

I have always enjoyed William L. Myers Jr. for his writing and the spin he places on his stories. While I am used to something highly legal in nature, this was a great move away from it, offering the reader a different flavouring. A strong narrative is complemented by great characters and a stirring plot. The chapters are succinct enough for the reader to want to push through, though also offer the chance to take a momentary rest. Myers spins a tale like few others I have known and makes the reading experience enjoyable. I am eager to see what he has next on his publication radar, hoping it will be just as enticing.

Kudos, Mr. Myers, for another great piece. You shine like few in the genre.

Snowstorm in August, by Marshall Karp

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Marshall Karp, and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

While I have read a bunch of his collaborative work, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to see what Marshall Karp can do on his own. This piece is intense and full of great character development, making the experience one that I hope to repeat again soon. Touching on a number of pertinent issues with enough action to keep things moving, Karp shows that he has what it takes to stand on his own and impact the genre quite effectively.

A freak snowstorm in August is all New York City needs. When Central Park is transformed into a winter wonderland, many wonder if it is an environmental situation. However, as people begin to suffer the consequences of the falling flakes, it’s soon revealed that this ‘snow’ is actually uncut cocaine, falling from the sky. Thousands die or are seriously injured and someone will have to pay.

Trying to untangle it all is left at the feet of Danny Corcoran, whose time as a captain in the NYPD recently came to an abrupt halt. With a handful of other retired cops, Corcoran is being anonymously funded to get to the heart of the matter and solve it before anyone else gets hurt. It turns out that Joaquín Alboroto, a powerful drug load feared around the world, is responsible for the carnage and will stop at nothing to keep it going, as long as those who stand in his way refuse to bow down.

While Corcoran and his team work as many angles as possible, the truth behind Alboroto’s plan comes to fruition. It will take ruthless behaviour and strategic planning to bring the kingpin down, but Corcoran has nothing to lose. He’s ready for a fight and this is sure to be one that will only end when someone’s body is gathering dust on the ground. Karp’s intense thriller kept me hooked until the final page turn.

While I discovered the work of Marshall Karp reading the James Patterson NYPD Red series, I could tell that there was something there worth exploring. Karp is one of the few collaborators whose work I have never had issues reading and actually come to enjoy when I see publication dates approaching. His book had all the elements needed for a great thriller and added some grit to the mix, making it even better. A strong narrative and substantial character development kept me hoping for a great story, which came in time. I can only hope that there are more books in this vein for me to enjoy before too long.

Danny Corcoran proved to be an entertaining protagonist throughout the. reading journey. Not only does he have the gumption needed to be a great investigator, but the personal side of his life is on full offer. Corcoran offers an intuitive approach to the investigation and provides the reader with a great adventure throughout while also providing some emotional insight, both into a past with his wife, as well as with some familial issues that prove to be an interesting sub-plot. I would be interested in seeing more of Danny Corcoran, should the chance arise.

Marshal Karp is truly a talented author in his own regard. His writing is crisp and style is just what I would expect in this genre. A well-paced narrative offers the reader the necessary roadmap to successfully make their way through everything taking place, with a handful of strong characters to offer intrigue and keep things interesting. Short chapters propel the book forward and permit the reader to feel as though they could easily devour the book in a sitting or two. I am eager to see if this was a standalone or if Karp will be back with more Corcoran. It is sure to attract many readers, such as myself, who have never read any of Karp’s own books.

Kudos, Mr. Karp, for a great novel. Now that I know you can spin a formidable tale, I will be adding you to my radar.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/snowstorm-in-august/

Beneath Cruel Waters, by Jon Bassoff

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jon Bassoff, and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Never one to shy away from adding new authors to my radar, I willingly agreed to try this book by Jon Bassoff. A psychological thriller like no other, Bassoff weaves a tale that is sure to capture the reader’s attention from the opening pages. Holt Davidson thought that he left his hometown in the rearview mirror, but receives a startling call one day. His mother has committed suicide, forcing Holt to make his way back to Colorado. What he finds is a collection of items that opens up a world of pain for Holt, as well as a pile of questions, some of which include his institutionalised sister. What follows is a secret that Holt may have wished he’d never tried to solve. Bassoff does well to keep the reader intrigued throughout, proving that he has something worth noticing.

While Holt Davidson has made a name for himself, he’s not returned to Thompsonville, Colorado, for years. All that changes when he learns that his mother committed suicide. Holt returns, in hopes of attending the funeral and making a quick exit back to Kansas, but that’s not in the cards. Instead, a night in his family home turns up some new mysteries.

Holt finds himself trying to make peace with his mother and the childhood he fled. When he finds a gun, a gory photograph, and a love letter from someone he does not know, the mystery only thickens. Holt will have to piece it all together, in hopes of learning what his mother did all those years ago.

If this were not enough, the mystery extends to Holt’s sister, who has been institutionalised for years. What role might she have played in the mystery and could sue hold additional clues as to what Holt has stumbled upon? Dark secrets re-emerge at the worst possible times, forcing Holt Davidson to face them before returning to his life in the Midwest. A great story that keeps the reader guessing until the final page turn.

While I love all things psych thriller, not all books are able to capture the essence of a chilling tale. Jon Bassoff does well to present his story in a straightforward fashion, while keeping the reader on their toes throughout the process. A strong underlying story is complemented by decent writing that adds the addictive factor many seek in books within the genre. While I was not as gobsmacked as many others who appear to have reviewed it, I can see strong writing abilities emerging throughout the reading journey.

Holt Davidson proves to be a worthwhile protagonist, holding his own as his life is turned upside down. He’s fairly level headed from start to finish, taking only a little time to appear shocked and in awe, particularly when things take turns he could not have predicted. Holt appears unsure how to handle much f what he learns, particularly when his memory of his childhood is fogged by a certain belief system. Bassoff does well to keep the reader wondering about this man and how his past collides with the present he thought he knew, keeping the narrative strong and the character development ever-present.

The sign of a great writer is one who can capture the reader’s attention from the early pages and hold it throughout. Bassoff does that here with a strong narrative style that does not stop, irrespective of what is going on around him. With strong characters and the ability to have them weather different timelines in the narrative, these individuals pop and come to life throughout the reading experience. Bassoff knows his craft and presents it well. Leaving me wondering things on numerous occasions. While I was not as stunned by what I read as many others, I appreciate the strength of the author’s ability and will look to see what else he has out there for me to try in the coming months.

Kudos, Mr. Bassoff, for a great piece that piqued my interest from the opening pages.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/beneath-cruel-waters/

The Rising Tide, by Sam Lloyd

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Sam Lloyd, and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Happy to finds new authors to enjoy, I turned to this piece by Sam Lloyd, as the dust jacket blurb caught my attention. Lloyd tells a gripping tale that is sure to make the reader take notice. While living in a seaside town, Lucy soon discovers that her family yachts is missing, as is her husband. When the boat is located, it’s empty and there’s no sign of her husband either. Thus begins a series of events that not only forces Lucy to take notice, but also leaves a chill running down her spine. How quickly things can change, changing a bucolic town to a place of worry. Lloyd weaves quite the tale and forces the reader to take note throughout this mysterious story.

Lucy is living the life that she always wanted on the Devon Coast, with a family that she loves and all the dreams she’s ever hoped to acquire.All comes crashing down and changes in the blink of an eye one day, forcing Lucy to rethink everything she thought that she knew.

A hard knock at the door changes it forever, when Lucy’s alerted that the family yacht has been recovered out in the water. There’s no trace of her husband, which sends Lucy into a fit of panic. However, it all comes into perspective soon thereafter and Lucy is forced to wonder whether her husband may have orchestrated something as part of a larger plan, one that she was not privy to at any point.

When the rescue mission begins, Lucy has high hopes that it will come to provide answers quickly and everything will prove to be a major mistake. However, a horrible storm blows in and Lucy discovers something that changes her mind in an instant. Still, she has hopes that it is all a bad dream, one from which she can wake soon and hit the rest button, once at for all. However, there is that lingering feeling in the back of her mind that emerges, leaving Lucy to ponder if she might be the one being played in all this. A chilling tale that proves Sam Lloyd has what it takes to develop a great thriller for readers to enjoy.

I’ve had a mix of success and disappointment when it comes to new writers over the past while. Even as some praise the work of a writer, I feel as though I might have missed the mark and am left to scratch my head. While I did enjoy Sam Lloyd’s piece, I am left feeling as though everyone else got something that I could not find, at least based on the reviews I have seen. Lloyd knows how to tell a story and keeps the reader in the middle, but it was not as impactful as I would have liked.

Lucy remains a wonderful protagonist, at the centre of the entire piece. Her early revelations of having the ‘perfect life’ left her vulnerable throughout the piece, something Lloyd uses to his advantage in the writing process. There is a grittiness to her, especially as the story unfolds, leaving Lucy one who refuses to stand down or deny what’s going on. She needs answers and will stop at nothing to get them, even as she is deceived with every step she takes. It is surely Lloyd’s superior abilities that puts all this on display for the reader to synthesise.

Thrillers are sometimes the hardest novel for me to enjoy, as I need a hook from the early stages to pull me into the middle. Many authors prefer the slow reveal, which may work for some, but I am overly fickle when it comes to narrative development. Lloyd does well to set the scene in this book, offering the reader something they can enjoy, while also keeping it innocent for the early pages of the book. A handful of well-developed characters keep the reader learning on a constant basis and forces the reader to attach early on. The plot was sound and kept me wanting to know more, even if things did not go in the direction I had hoped most of the time. I am curious to see how Sam Lloyd writes its other parameters and so I think that it might bode well to give the other novel out there a chance to see how it stands up to this one. All in good time.

Kudos, Mr. Lloyd, for a decent piece of writing. I am happy so many found it so impactful and wonder if I am the anomaly here.

Murder in the Neighborhood, by Ellen J. Green

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ellen J. Green, and Thread for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always curious about the world of true crime, I eagerly chose this book to enjoy. The story appeared straightforward and the premise clear, which only made it all the most intriguing to me. One hot, September morning in 1949, a young man walks along the main strip in East Camden, New Jersey and begins firing. Where the smoke settles, thirteen people are dead. While the shooter did not deny committing the crime, there’s a concern of mental illness, which forces the authorities to undertake significant testing. What follows is the story of the shooting, its aftermath, and a deeper exploration of what might have happened to lead a “quiet man” to commit such a horrific crime. Ellen J. Green does a masterful job at storytelling in this piece.

It was a muggy morning, that September 6, 1949, when Raymond Havens headed out to get a haircut. Little did he know, his life would change forever that day. While walking up the main road in East Camden, New Jersey, Havens heard shots and soon saw Howard Unruh wielding a gun and shooting indiscriminately. Blood flowed and bodies fell, leaving thirteen people dead after Unruh’s twelve-minute spree. This was the first recorded mass shooting in the United States and the authorities were baffled.

Unruh did not deny the shooting, allowing himself to be taken into custody. However, with the electric chair as a looming possibility, everyone wanted to make sure that things were clear, sending Unruh for evaluation to ensure he was fit to stand trial. All the while, young Raymond began piecing things together for himself, wondering if there were more to the story than a war vet who lost his way.

As the story progresses, the reader receives insight into the life of Howard Unruh, as well as the connection that he had with his family. His time in Europe was surely trying on him, as was the struggles he faced afterwards when he returned stateside. Deep psychological analyses helped professionals see a darker side to Unruh, one that few knew about, but which turned to fodder for the press and local gossip circles.

Raymond offers his own views on the shooting, having witnessed it, as well as some of the encounters he had with Unruh leading up to the day. Together, it may create a more comprehensive narrative as to why a twenty-eight year old man would turn from docile into someone filled with rage. The truth reveals much and paints quite a complicated picture of this small, coastal town. Ellen J. Green does a wonderful job with this piece, pulling the reader in from the opening pages.

While true crime is not my go-to genre, I do enjoy treating myself on occasion. I enjoy learning more about the crimes, the background, and the thought of the killer as they prepare for the event. Ellen J. Green did a wonderful job of telling this story, the first documented mass shooting spree in US history. She looks at the event from a number of angles and pulls on details that help shape the narrative in interesting ways. The writing is clear and flows well, keeping the reader a part of the action all the way through.

Green focuses her attention on Howard Unruh and Raymond Havens throughout the piece, though there are many others whose appearance helps shape the narrative. These two offer insights in the shooting itself, its backstory, and even the fallout thereafter. Green uses them and their views primarily to cobble things together for the curious reader. That said, she was a great job of providing needed backstory on the victims as well and how townsfolk handled the news and scandal of such a crime in their own backyards.

Green’s depiction of events in 1949 is not only clear, but also helps develop a wonderful foundation for the rest of the novel. Working with primary sources and small-town newspapers, she pieces the crime together, offering the reader some insights throughout the narrative. A well-paced story, told from a few angles, makes things come to life and provides the reader with the needed insight to come to some of their pwn conclusions as well. Exploring the lives of many, victims and townsfolk alike, helps breathe a realism into the piece that makes the reader want to delve a little deeper. While there were no major mysteries surrounding the shootings, it is the secret life that came to be discovered that makes this book all the more suspenseful. I will have to look into reading more that Green has to offer, when time permits.

Kudos, Madam Green, for a great piece you said was recounted to you by a family members all those years ago. You did it justice and I cannot wit to do some of my own research on the subject.

Cold Snap (Arliss Cutter #4), by Marc Cameron

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Marc Cameron, and Kensington Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always a fan of Marc Cameron’s writing, I was pleased to get my hands on his latest in the Arliss Cutter series, set up in Alaska. When random body parts begin to appear on the shore, there is talk that a serial killer may be lurking in the shadows. While working as a US Marshal up in Alaska, Arliss Cutter agrees to help with the case, only to be pulled away for a random prisoner transport up in a rural part of the state. What follows is a harrowing hunt for a killer, and a transport that goes horribly wrong. Cameron dazzles again with his writing and keeps the reader on their toes throughout.

The move from Florida to Alaska is one that Arliss Cutter has never regretted, particularly as it has helped his family out a great deal. Still, there are days that he cannot help but wonder if the cold climate is worth the risk. As a US Marshal, he’s never bored, as the work is ever-evolving and he never knows what to expect.

When body parts begin to turn up on the shore, Cutter is stymied, as well as the local Anchorage Police. Alongside his partner, Lola Teariki, Cutter tries to lend a hand while the locals follow up on some leads. It would seem that the killer is targeting women who work as prostitutes, capturing them when no one would notice. Still, some others cannot help but mention the siting of a ‘Tall Man’, but the information appears to lead nowhere at all.

While Lola works closely with the Anchorage Police, Cutter is called away on a prisoner transport in the northern part of the state. Ready and armed for most anything, he heads out to bring a group of men back to Anchorage. During the flight back, the plane encounters some trouble and lands in the middle of nowhere, leaving Cutter and a few others to try surviving with some ruthless criminals. As temperatures drop and the wildlife in the region come out to scavenge, Cutter and the others will have to survive long enough for someone to rescue them, whenever that might be. A killer on the loose who dismembers victims with ease, a plane stranded in the middle of nowhere… there’s no telling what might happen. Marc Cameron keeps the tension high throughout this fourth novel in the series.

Marc Cameron has always impressed with his writing, mixing grit and determination with the uniqueness of rural Alaska. Using the US Marshals angle, Cameron is able to effectively explore the excitement of prisoner hunts with usual criminal activity that requires daily attention. A strong narrative and great characters, with some building sub-plots, Cameron impresses series fans with this piece, which pushes the story to a new level of excitement. By the end, there is a definite push for how the series might conclude, or move in new directions.

Arliss Cutter has evolved a great deal throughout the series, though much of it is in the form of character development, rather than backstory. Having moved to Alaska to help his sister-in-law after the death of his brother, Arliss plays a dual role as US Marshal and quasi-parent, though he does not wish to accentuate the latter. Convinced that he can find out what happened to his brother, who appears to have committed suicide, Arliss works hard to represent the Marshals and liaise with some of the local law enforcement entities around the state. Where things will go in the coming novels is anyone’s guess, but I am eager to see what Cameron has in store for his protagonist.

While crime thrillers can become quite repetitive, Marc Cameron has found the recipe to stand out. It could be the way he handles the ‘hunt for the killer’, or even that the Alaskan backdrop makes the story come to life, but whatever it is, Cameron has mastered it. His detailed narrative allows the reader to feel as though they are in the middle of the action, which takes things into the coldest parts of the state as well. Well-paced and full of action, the narrative pushes things along well, using characters to keep the story intriguing at evert page turn. A few strong plot lines push the story along effectively and permits the reader to remain engaged as truths come to light slowly, but consistently. While I am unsure where things are headed with this series, Cameron offers some breadcrumbs in the final chapter of the book, which could move the novels in a different ‘hunt for the truth’ direction.

Kudos, Mr. Cameron, for another winner. I hope others discover this series and find the same engaging nature in your writing.

Anatomy of Torture, by Ron E. Hassner

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ron E. Hassner, and Cornell University Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always one to keep my brain sharp with some academic reading, I turned to this analysis by Ron E. Hassner. While talk of torture and ‘enhanced interrogation’ were buzz words a few decades ago, the topic can still bring out many opinions on both sides of the argument. Does it work? How effective is it? When (if ever) should it be used to garner needed information? Hassner tackles these and many other questions, while also exploring the ethics of torture and its analysis in this concise book that is full of information and opportunities for the reader to learn.

From the outset, Hassner explains that not much is known about modern torture, mostly because it is not documented publicly. Surely, the Americans used it quite significantly after September 11, 2001, but they used euphemisms and kept specifics locked away in classified documents, making any analysis all but impossible. Hassner also explores that different sources offer greatly varied answers when it comes to certain people who were detained, including types, frequency, and intensity of torture. Therefore, any analysis of modern torture is impossible and leaves the door wide open for speculative answers, which is not Hassner’s intention.

Instead, the book examines some of the torture that history has provided with a great deal of documentation. Hassner focuses his attention on the Spanish Inquisition, which used torture quite extensively and over a long period of time. There are also a great number of resources readily available to the curious academic that discuss torture of all kinds and its effectiveness. Hassner uses this for the foundation of his tome and explores how it brought about results, but not in the same way US sources cite torture is used.

The attentive reader will see that Hassner divides torture not only by the time period within the Inquisition, but also types of torture used. It was primarily used to extract information, not pigeonhole individuals who were of a different religious belief. Use of secondary information was key to corroborate views before torture might have been considered, rather than relying on pain to lead towards truth telling. In fact, Hassner explicitly mentions throughout that extreme pain was likely not an effective type of torture, as it would have the recipient say whatever was needed to stop the agony, rather than revealing needed truths.

After a few case studies and analysis, Hassner turns to the ethics of torture and reporting it in a modern, academic fashion. While there have been groups who have used torture for long periods, many sought to scare populations, rather than extract key pieces of information from specific people. This is key to better understanding the process and how torture can only be as effective as its application. Use it too broadly and it becomes moot, though some regimes seem not to mind the stick over the carrot approach.

Ron E. Hassner provides the reader with a strong and well-paced book on torture, exemplifying its effective use, as well las its key downfalls. He uses strong examples, both modern and historical, to support his arguments, but chooses to remain as neutral as possible on the subject, so that the reader can come up with some of their own conclusions. The chapters were full of information, both prose and tabular, allowing for effective and comprehensive understanding of everything on the subject matter. While some of it did get a little deeper than I would have expected (or, at times,could synthesise), I thoroughly enjoyed learning and took much away from this short tome. While I may not be rushing out to read a great deal else on the subject, it has piqued my interest to see what others say on the topic and how they contrast with the work Hassner presented here.

Kudos, Mr. Hassner, for a wonderful chance to better understand theins and out of torture, as well as how history has taught us its uses and downfalls.

Redemption, by Mike Lawson

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mike Lawson, Grove Atlantic and Atlantic Monthly Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Long a fan of Mike Lawson and his writing, I was eager to get my hands on his latest book. A standalone, rather than his long-running Joe DeMarco series, I wondered how Lawson would handle this chance to step away from the world of politics and ‘fixing’. Jamison Maddox had it all in the world of finance, but got a little greedy and it almost cost him everything. When he receives a random invite to join a company in the middle of nowhere, he is leery, but accepts the offer. What follows is a job where he does odd research for his boss, without knowing much of anything, nor is he allowed to share with anyone. After falling for someone in town and agreeing to flee, Maddox risks it all, his life included, to stay one step ahead of his crooked employer and those sent to find him. Lawson does a magnificent job with this standalone and offers the reader a real treat in his latest novel.

Jamison Maddox lived the high life of finance in New York, all before it came crashing down and he faced jail time. Able to weasel his way out of prison, Maddox seeks a new life to reinvent himself. When he is approached to join an elusive company in Redemption, Illinois, he reluctantly agrees. It is only then that he realises that this is not your usual company.

Tasked with completing research without asking questions about clients or colleagues, Maddox begins to wonder if everything is entirely above board. Still, he does the work asked of him, though he soon finds himself drawn to his colleague, Gillian Jamison, who happens to be the wife of his immediate superior. Together, they agree that something is off and they can no longer stay in Redemption, worried that they might get caught up in a web of lies and illegal activity.

While many would think leaving a job would be the end of it, Maddox and Gillian soon learn that the work they did was part of a larger criminal scheme, and death is the only way to ensure their silence. While they remain on the lam, both must dodge those sent to terminate them once and for all. Unsure who he can trust, Jamison Maddox tries to find safety and must devise a plan to share what he knows before he, or his family, face the ultimate consequence. Mike Lawson does a fabulous job spinning this tale and it is sure to keep the reader up well into the night.

I have long enjoyed the Joe DeMarco series that Mike Lawson has been developing for many years. Still, it was nice to get out of that framework for a new and unique thriller by the author. Lawson has invested a great deal of time and effort into making this as strong as his series work, succeeding in ways I could not imagine. A strong story with well-established characters, Lawson offers the reader a gem in this piece, which is sure to make a mark within the genre!

Jamison Maddox might not be entirely unique as a character, but his impact is seen throughout this story. His backstory is developed in the early part of the novel, which sets the stage for some great advancements. Lawson develops his protagonist well, without going over the top. There is much to the man and his skills, but also some of the weaknesses work well to establish relatable flaws. Maddox assumes the role of hero, whistleblower, and man on the run in equal measure throughout, while also falling into the odd trap when blinded by lust. Lawson has done well with him, as well as many of the other key characters in this piece.

Authors who are well-established can sometimes rest on their laurels and use fame to push them forward, Mike Lawson does not do that, choosing to keep reinventing himself with ease novel he releases. This was another winner, with a great narrative that flowed throughout the ups and downs of the story. Developing some key characters helped set the foundation for a strong story and permitted key plot lines to push the novel in various directions. Mike Lawson has something for everyone in this piece, which takes the reader on an adventure like no other. Those who love his series work will likely also enjoy this piece, which has some of the same high-impact action throughout its pages.

Kudos, Mr. Lawson, for another great novel. I can only hope others will see what I did and grab this book when time permits.

One for Sorrow (DI Callanach #7), by Helen Sarah Fields

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Helen Fields, and Avon Books UK for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Helen Fields returns with another great police procedural that pulls the reader into the middle of a chilling investigation with horrible outcomes. No one is safe and many characters in the series find themselves inadvertently in the crosshairs. After a tragic crime leaves DCI Ava Turner gutted, she has a hard time moving on. However, Turner forced to keep working as she tries to locate a bomber who appears keen to kill as many as possible with highly devastating weaponry. DCI Turner and her right-hand man, DI Luc Callanach, will have to crack the code before it’s too late, or face more bodies. Fields does a masterful job at pulling the reader into this fast paced thriller.

DCI Ava Turner has always considered herself one who can separate work from personal life, no matter how closely run. However, when a bomb explodes in the morgue and the chief pathologist is killed, DCI Turner has second thoughts. A life-long friend is dead and the bomb used was embedded inside a corpse ready for autopsy. When the call comes in to Police Scotland about another bomb set to go off, it’s a race to the scene.

While Turner and DI Luc Callanach prepare to handle the situation, a bomb inside a pregnant woman explodes, killing many of the emergency attendants in the area, including one of Turner’s team. This only spirals her deeper into despair with no leads to work the case and superiors ready to send her packing.

In a flashback sequence, a young woman begins a relationship with an elusive man, one who has been able to sweep her off her feet. When a video emerges to show that she was raped, an event she does not remember, things take a turn and the suspect goes on the defensive. With little hard evidence to tie him to the assault, he walks free, but there is a great deal of animosity towards Liam Cook.

As the bombings continue, DI Callanach tries to get inside the murderer’s head to see what they might use as motivation to commit these acts. It’s a dark and sinister pathway, one that is filled with twists. However, the truth is out there, with an explosive (pardon the pun) ending that ties it all together. Helen Fields has done so well with this series, keeping fans on the edge of their seat!

Helen Fields created this series with a great spin on it, using DI Luc Callanach to offset the typical Scottish flavour of the police procedural. She’s been able to effectively work through a number of issues, using the Scottish Frenchman effectively while pairing him alongside DCI Ava Turner, a one-time equal who has risen the ranks. The story turns more towards Turner and her personal angst with what is going on, while layering two time periods and crimes that are seemingly unrelated. With great plot building and decent characters that series fans have come to enjoy, Fields keeps the reader enthused and entertained without hesitation.

While much of the series has worked through the relationship, professional and personal, that DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have forged, it takes a backburner to some of the inner struggles that these murders have created. DCI Turner has been personally impacted by the bombings and is trying to piece her lifer together because of it, making little headway. Her issues are compounded when she has to function and lead, as well as keep her personal life in balance,. DI Callanach does play a role in this one, though it appears to be more secondary, at least for most of the novel. Still, there is something series fans will enjoy, should they pay close attention to what Fields is offering.

While police procedurals are plentiful, the genre is always looking for a unique take or interpretation. Fields has used Luc Callanach as her niche, embedding his French upbringing into every situation. Fields has tackled many topics within the book, using her narrative to push the story along effectively. The plots, while seemingly independent, have some threads left hanging for the reader to tie off, though it may take some attentive reading to do so. The two timelines work well in this piece, allowing the reader to appear as though there are two sets of crimes taking place throughout. While Fields has presented some great standalone thrillers, this series is where she blossoms and I cannot wait to see what’s next and how it will work with a broken and troubled DCI Turner!

Kudos, Madam Fields, for another series success! I hope others find it as exciting as I have.