Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

  • Title:  Best Day Ever
  • Author:  Kaira Rouda
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  September 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; Wunderkind PR

Description:  Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life. (publisher)

My take:  Paul is a confident and successful man. He has life figured out and knows he deserves all he has, and more. He’s planned a weekend away with his wife, Mia. She needs a nice getaway – she’s been sick lately with a mystery illness that countless doctors haven’t been able to figure out. He’s certain this vacation is exactly what she needs. It will all start with the best day ever. But what happens when Paul’s plan doesn’t go the way he intends? Kaira Rouda’s novel takes the reader inside the mind of Paul. It’s creepy and disturbing and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I had an idea where everything was heading – and I was right. It was a departure from my usual reads and I enjoyed it. I loved discovering the significance of the eye-catching cover as well. Yes, a creepy good afternoon of reading about someone’s best day ever.


 Check out my Spotlight post for more information about BEST DAY EVER


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Working Fire by Emily Bleeker

  • Title:  Working Fire
  • Author:  Emily Bleeker
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  August 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again.

Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie. (publisher)

My take:  Working Fire is the story of Ellie and Amelia, two sisters who live in the same small town where they grew up and share taking care of their father. Amelia is married and the mother of two young daughters. Ellie is single and works as a paramedic, having left medical school to help care for her former fire chief dad when he had a stroke. The sisters are very close and would do anything for each other. Ellie worships Amelia and her husband and their daughters. Amelia is a harried mom trying to keep everything going in her family. There’s a stress that’s growing in her marriage making her uncomfortable but not enough to share those thoughts with anyone, including her sister. How will she manage when she discovers what exactly is at the root of the stress. Working Fire is told from the two sisters’ perspectives – one from a current perspective and the other is a few weeks previous. That helped to reveal the story and how events played out in a way that kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed that aspect and yet felt rather ambivalent about the last few pages. I’m wondering if there could be a sequel planned. Or maybe it’s just how real life is for the rest of us – not neatly wrapped up. I look forward to reading more from Emily Bleeker.


About the author:

Emily Bleeker is a former educator who learned to love writing while teaching a writer’s workshop. After surviving a battle with a rare form of cancer, she finally found the courage to share her stories, starting with her debut novel, Wreckage, followed by the Wall Street Journal bestseller When I’m Gone. Emily currently lives with her family in suburban Chicago. Connect with her or request a Skype visit with your book club at http://www.emilybleeker.com.


 

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.

US Giveaway
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Giveaway ends on August 3, 2017


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.


 

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

  • Title:  One Perfect Lie
  • Author:  Lisa Scottoline
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  April 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them. 

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.  (publisher)

My take:  One Perfect Lie is the first of Lisa Scottoline’s books I’ve read. It would be a perfect beach/pool read or one to read on a plane (I read it in a day). It could be described a few ways but I’ll stick with a suburban crime page-turner that picks up more steam with almost every turn of the page. One Perfect Lie is filled with characters who certainly can’t be trusted and then a few chapters later you’re not so sure. I enjoyed the twists that kept me guessing. The dramatic scene near the end played out in my mind’s eye as if on a jumbo screen. I loved that. Not wanting to risk a spoiler, I’ll stop here – except to say I look forward to reading more of Lisa Scottoline’s books.


LISA SCOTTOLINE is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of twenty-eight novels. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, she has been published in thirty-five countries, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film. Lisa also writes a weekly column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and those stories have been adapted into a series of bestselling memoirs, the first of which is entitled Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog. Lisa lives on a Pennsylvania farm with an array of disobedient pets. Visit Lisa at www.Scottoline.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @LisaScottoline


Praise for ONE PERFECT LIE

“Entertaining…This fast-paced read culminates in a daring chase that would play well on the big screen.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Readers can be assured that the author nails the high school milieu, from athletic rivalries to sexting, and…they’re in for one thrilling ride on the roller coaster” Kirkus Reviews

“Scottoline keeps the pace relentless as she drops a looming threat into the heart of an idyllic suburban community, causing readers to hold their breath in anticipation.” Booklist


 

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

  • i-see-youTitle:  I See You
  • Author:  Clare Mackintosh
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…
 
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. 
 
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 
 
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…  (publisher)

My take:  The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book.

I agree with the Advance Praise below. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.



Advance praise for I SEE YOU:

A deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”—Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Wonderfully sinister. Had me looking over my shoulder.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow

 “Mackintosh scripts a hair-raising ride all the scarier because its premise—that our predictable routines make us easy targets—is sadly so plausible.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[T]he steadily thickening paranoia will leave readers questioning their comfortable routines…a well-crafted blend of calculated malevolence, cunning plot twists, and redemption that will appeal to fans of Sophie Hannah, Ruth Rendell, and Ruth Ware.”Booklist, starred review

 Packed with suspense, twists, and turns[Mackintosh’s] meticulous detail to investigative accuracy and talent in weaving a thrilling tale set her work apart from others in the field.”Kirkus


 

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

  • behind closed doors (SMP 8:9)Title:  Behind Closed Doors
  • Author:  B.A. Paris
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  August 2016 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Perhaps it’s simply true love?

Now, picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie??  (publisher)

My take:  Not wanting to reveal more than the description I’ll keep this brief. I don’t like feeling anxious and that’s exactly how I felt while reading Behind Closed Doors. That said, I couldn’t stop reading this novel.  B.A. Paris’ debut novel is addictive like no other book I’ve read this summer.

Alternating chapters between Past and Present was a good way to reveal the story of Grace and Jack. Paris drew me into this story with a seemingly normal scene then quickly grabbed me with a 180° turn. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was interested to learn that the author was inspired to write this novel when she suspected a friend was caught up in a situation with very little control. That led Paris to imagine Grace’s predicament.

I found Behind Closed Doors to be well-paced and suspenseful and I read with a figurative hand over my eyes. I think fans of psychological thrillers will gobble it up. I read it in two days and felt satisfied as I turned the last page. I’m not surprised that movie rights have already been sold in the US.


About the Author: B.A. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and worked in London for three years before moving to Paris, where she worked in corporate banking and as a trader in an international bank. After the birth of her first daughter, she became a stay-at-home mother and went on to have another three daughters. She spent four years in the Netherlands, where her fifth daughter was born. Returning to France, she decided to re-train as an English teacher and worked for some years in an international school and then at the Université de Marne la Vallée, teaching English to Architecture students. In 2009 she set up a language school with her husband and now teaches Business English in Paris.