An Equal Justice by Chad Zunker

An Equal Justice by Chad Zunker

Published: November 2019 – Thomas & Mercer

Book provided by the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:

An ambitious Stanford graduate, David Adams has begun a fast-track career at Austin’s most prestigious law firm. It’s a personal victory for the rising superstar—a satisfying reversal from his impoverished and despairing childhood. Now he has the life he’s always wanted: an extravagant salary, a high-rise condo, a luxury SUV, and no limit to how far he can go in the eyes of the top partners.

But after the shocking suicide of a fellow associate—one who, in his final hours, offered David an ominous warning—he feels the pull of powerful forces behind the corporation’s enviable trappings. The suicide leads unexpectedly to David’s discovery of a secret enclave of the city’s homeless, where he can’t help but feel an affinity to these outcast souls. Nor can he ignore the feeling that they hold the key to the truth behind a dark conspiracy.

When one of his new street friends is murdered, David’s clear doubts about his employer start shifting into a dark reality. Now torn between two worlds, David must surrender all that he’s achieved to fight for a larger cause of justice—and become his firm’s most dangerous acquisition. (publisher)

My take: David Adams thinks he’s found his dream job. He’s fresh out of law school attorney and star of the group of new hires at the prestigious Austin law firm. He works long hours and finds time to acquire a beautiful girl friend, a high-end vehicle, and a luxury condo. Things are falling into place. And then strange things begin to happen forcing David down an unexpected path as he is pulled into the world of his new friend, Benny.

I thought An Equal Justice seemed like one of those puzzles you have to keep turning to get the moveable parts into a neat cube – except the parts were turning themselves and keeping David wondering what the heck is going on here? Some of the parts are attorneys at the high-powered law firm, homeless people, and a blackmail scheme. I really liked the short chapters that kept me turning the pages to get to the exciting end and had me looking forward to the next book in the David Adams series.


About the author:

Chad Zunker is the author of the bestselling Sam Callahan thriller series: The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, and Hunt the Lion. He studied journalism at the University of Texas, where he was also on the football team. He has worked for some of the country’s most powerful law firms and also has invented baby products that are sold all over the world. He lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their three daughters and is hard at work on the next David Adams legal thriller. For more information on the author and his writing, visit http://www.chadzunker.com.


 

Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins

Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins

Published:  April 2019 – Thomas & Mercer

Review galley courtesy of the publisher, NetGalley, Little Bird Publicity

Description:  It’s never too late for revenge in this thrilling novel by New York Times bestselling and award-winning crime master Max Allan Collins.

In a small Midwest town, twenty-eight-year-old Krista Larson has made her mark as the youngest female police chief in the country. She’s learned from the best: her father, Keith, a decorated former detective. But as accustomed as they are to the relative quiet of their idyllic tourist town, things quickly turn with Krista’s ten-year high school reunion.

With the out-of-towners holed up in a lakefront lodge, it doesn’t take long to stir up old grudges and resentments. Now a successful TV host, Astrid Lund, voted the “Girl Most Likely to Succeed”—and then some—is back in town. Her reputation as a dogged reporter has made the stunning blonde famous. Her reputation among her former classmates and rivals has made her infamous. Astrid’s list of enemies is a long one. And as the reunion begins, so does a triple murder investigation.

Krista and her father are following leads and opening long-locked doors from their hometown to the Florida suburbs to Chicago’s underworld. They just never imagined what would be revealed: the secrets and scandals of Krista’s own past. (publisher)

My take:  If you’ve attended a high school reunion you probably hope that people will remember only the good times. What happens when someone assumes some bad times might come to mind? Well, in the case of the Galena HS ten-year reunion someone is very worried and takes matters in hand to make sure certain events will not be topics of conversation. Before the reunion ends there will have been three murders for the new police chief, a reunion attendee herself, to solve.

While this genre isn’t my usual fare I like to dip into it occasionally. Girl Most Likely was especially interesting to me because I know the area where most of the novel takes place. I enjoyed the young female small town police chief’s perspective as well as her relationship with her recently widowed and retired detective father. I would read a series with those two as stars! Although I didn’t figure out the murderer I liked trying to sift through all the red herrings you’d expect to find at a high school reunion and I’m glad I gave this book a try.


About the author:

Max Allan Collins was named a Grand Master in 2017 by the Mystery Writers of America. He has earned an unprecedented twenty-three Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award nominations, winning two for his Nathan Heller novels. That series also earned Collins the PWA Hammer Award for making a major contribution to the private-eye genre. He received the PWA Eye Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. His other books include the New York Times bestseller Saving Private Ryan and the USA Today bestselling CSI series. His graphic novel Road to Perdition is the basis of the Academy Award–winning Tom Hanks film, and is followed by two acclaimed prose sequels and several more graphic novels in the same series. His other comics credits include the syndicated strip Dick Tracy, Wild Dog, Batman, and his own Ms. Tree. Collins is also a screenwriter, playwright, and a leading indie filmmaker in his native Iowa, where he lives with his wife, writer Barbara Collins; as “Barbara Allan,” they have collaborated on fourteen novels. For more information, visit http://www.maxallancollins.com.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green

Description:

When family secrets are unearthed, a woman’s past can become a dangerous place to hide…

After the death of her adoptive mother, Ava Saunders comes upon a peculiar photograph, sealed and hidden away in a crawl space. The photo shows a shuttered, ramshackle house on top of a steep hill. On the back, a puzzling inscription: Destiny calls us.

Ava is certain that it’s a clue to her elusive past. Twenty-three years ago, she’d been found wrapped in a yellow blanket in the narthex of the Holy Saviour Catholic Church—and rescued—or so she’d been told. Her mother claimed there was no more to the story, so the questions of her abandonment were left unanswered. For Ava, now is the time to find the roots of her mother’s lies. It begins with the house itself—once the scene of a brutal double murder.

When Ava enlists the help of the two people closest to her, a police detective and her best friend, she fears that investigating her past could be a fatal mistake. Someone is following them there. And what’s been buried in Ava’s nightmares isn’t just a crime. It’s a holy conspiracy.


About the author:

Ellen J. Green was born and raised in Upstate New York. She moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University, where she earned her degrees in psychology. She has worked in a maximum security correctional facility in the psychiatric ward for fifteen years. She also holds an MFA degree in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. The author of The Book of James, Ms. Green lives in southern New Jersey with her two children.


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Cold Harbor by Matthew FitzSimmons

Description:

A Wall Street Journal bestselling series.

After a period of brutal isolation in a CIA black-site prison, former Marine and gifted hacker Gibson Vaughn is free—but with no idea where he was or how much time he’s lost. Struggling to maintain his grip on reality, he races to return to the life he left behind. Angry and disoriented, his thoughts turn to vengeance and the man responsible for his rendition. But Gibson’s drive for retribution and the ghosts of his violent past plunge him back into a world he wants only to escape.

As old enemies and once-trusted allies resurface, the architects of a murderous conspiracy will beat a sinister path to Gibson’s doorstep. In discovering the shocking truth about those he thought he knew best, only one thing is certain: those responsible must be made to answer…and pay.


About the author:

Matthew FitzSimmons is the author of the bestselling Gibson Vaughn series, which includes The Short Drop and Poisonfeather. Born in Illinois and raised in London, England, he now lives in Washington, DC, where he taught English literature and theater at a private high school for more than a decade.


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Next of Kin by James Tucker

Description:

A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.


About the author:

James Tucker has worked as an attorney at an international law firm and is currently an executive managing real estate strategy at a Fortune 50 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by the crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his writing. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and was one of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family. Next of Kin is his first novel.


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

The Lucky Ones
A Novel
by Mark Edwards
Thomas & Mercer • June 15, 2017 • Price: $15.95 Trade Paperback Original
 380 pages
ISBN: 978-1477848272
*
ABOUT THE LUCKY ONES
When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realizes she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.
A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorizing his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.
But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.
Happiness…and death.

Photo Mark Earthy
http://www.earthyphotography.co.uk
This image is protected by Copyright

MARK EDWARDS writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.
His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date.
Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.


Praise for The Lucky Ones:

“Chilling, fast-paced, and unpredictable. I couldn’t put it down!” —Robert Bryndza, author of THE GIRL IN THE ICE
“Another gripping read from Mark Edwards.” —Howard Linskey, author of NO NAME LANE
“Tight plot, engaging characters, beautifully drawn setting.…Another compulsive domestic noir from the British Linwood Barclay.” —Ed James, author of THE HOPE THAT KILLS
“Another compellingly twisty read from Mark Edwards. They just get better and better.” —Sibel Hodge, author of DUPLICITY

“A terrific, tense read with a great twist.”  —Sarah Lotz, author of THE THREE


An Excerpt from The Lucky Ones
Even though it was a secluded spot and rain seemed unlikely, a tent had been erected over the corpse. Treading carefully on the stepping plates put down to preserve any important evidence, Imogen entered the tent, with just Emma behind her.
The woman was lying on her back, arms by her side, legs together, as if she were already in her coffin. As Pete had said, her eyes gazed sightlessly at the canvas overhead.
Scene of Crime Officers moved around the victim, taking pictures.
Imogen crouched beside the body. As with the others, there was no blood, no marks on the throat, no obvious signs of violence. The woman was in her late forties or early fifties, white, with mid-length brown hair that looked like it had been recently highlighted. Average weight, about five foot seven. Lightly made up, though the mascara around her eyes had smeared. She was a good-looking woman, well-groomed and wearing casual but expensive clothes: a pair of designer jeans and a light cashmere sweater. She wore white pumps on her feet. And Pete was right: she appeared to be smiling, her lips curled upwards at each corner.
Just like the others.
She wished she could roll up the woman’s sleeve to check for what she was sure would be there, but she didn’t want to risk incurring the wrath of Karen Lamb or do anything that would jeopardise this investigation.
She got to her feet, taking another look at the body and the grass around her.
‘No drag marks,’ she said. ‘She was carried here. And no sign of a syringe of any other drugs paraphernalia. Just like the others.’
She left the tent, Emma at her heels, and turned slowly in a circle, scanning the perimeter. To the west and north, open countryside stretched as far as the eye could see. To the east, Imogen could see the town, and to the south, the streets where most of Much Wenlock’s inhabitants lived, the houses a mix of new and old. Could the killer live there, within spitting distance of this place? It seemed unlikely. The three victims had been found at spots spread out across the country. There was nothing to suggest he was leaving them in his own backyard.
‘He can’t have carried her too far, not unless he’s incredibly strong,’ Imogen said. ‘He must have parked somewhere nearby before entering the site.’
She closed her eyes and tried to picture it: the man she’d spent so many hours thinking about over the past few months, carrying this woman – like a groom carrying his bride over the threshold? Or over his shoulder? So far, they hadn’t found signs of entry at any of the three scenes. It was as if he’d swooped down from the sky and placed his victims gently on the ground before taking off again.
Her phone rang. She took the call, then turned back to Emma.
‘That was the station. A guy in Ludlow’s reported his wife missing. Five seven, brown hair with blonde highlights. He described her jewelry, too. It matches. Her name’s Fiona Redbridge.’
She stepped back through the opening of the tent, hoping Karen would get here quickly so they could at least close the poor woman’s eyes. Once more, she crouched beside the body, wishing again that she could roll up the sleeve of that blouse and check for the needle mark she was certain would be there.
Rising and leaving the tent, Imogen stopped as a movement in the middle distance caught her eye. Someone was standing in the field, just beyond the perimeter of the Priory. A man, dressed in black, too far away to make out his features. When she took a few steps towards him, he turned and began hurriedly walking away. Imogen approached one of the younger officers with orders to pursue him, but before she’d even finished speaking the man had vanished, as if he’d melted into thin air.

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner

Description: 

Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?


About the author:

Adam Mitzner is a practicing attorney in a Manhattan law firm and the author of several acclaimed novels.  Suspense Magazine named A Conflict of Interest one of the best books of 2012, and in 2014, the American Bar Association nominated A Case of Redemption for a Silver Gavel Award. He and his family live in New York City.

http://www.adammitzner.com


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The Ridge by John Rector

  • Title:  The Ridge
  • Author:  John Rector
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  284
  • Published:  April 2017 – Thomas & Mercer
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  With its manicured lawns, pastel houses, and quiet, tree-lined streets, Willow Ridge seems to be the perfect place for Megan and Tyler Stokes to start a new chapter in their lives together. But soon after settling in, Megan begins to notice cracks in the neighborhood’s bright suburban facade—cracks that reveal a darker secret hidden just beneath the surface.

After an angry encounter with a neighbor takes a horrifying turn, Megan’s waking nightmare truly begins—growing ever more chilling and bizarre with each shocking twist. Suddenly forced to question everything around her, Megan finds herself trapped between the specter of madness and the shadow of something far worse. Her only hope is to expose the community’s pretty lies and discover the truth about what is really going on in Willow Ridge—a truth so devastating that her life will never be the same. (publisher)

My take:  While thrillers aren’t my go-to genre I was intrigued by the blurb and thought it would be a good read for my vacation. My instincts proved correct. The Ridge was a fast-paced novel that had me remembering The Stepford Wives (was even joked about by a couple of characters).

There’s something different about the town of Willow Ridge. When Megan and her husband move there for his job she can’t wait to move back to Chicago. But she agrees to give it a year. When she begins to notice odd things about her neighbors she may not be able to keep her promise. I couldn’t blame her!

I won’t share any more except to say if you like a short mystery/thriller with light sci-fi overtones you’ll want to look for The Ridge. It was a perfect poolside read.


About the author:

John Rector is the bestselling author of the novels The Ridge, The Cold Kiss, The Grove, Already Gone, Out of the Black, and Ruthless. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and has won several awards, including the International Thriller Award for his novella, Lost Things.

He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.