Sunday, January 26, 2020

John Rader (John Rader Thrillers, #1) by Ian Quarry

John Rader (John Rader Thrillers Book 1)John Rader by Ian Quarry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He comes to behind the wheel of a wrecked Porsche which is nose down a snowy slope head first against a tree. The blonde woman in the passenger seat is dead from a gunshot wound, and he cannot remember a thing – about himself, about her, about anything. He climbs out of the wreckage and makes his way to a roadway and a truck ride to the address he finds on the ID in his wallet.

And so begins the exciting and desperate story of John Rader. As Rader follows the clues to his identity, familiar places and familiar faces fill in the past he’s lost and gives him a direction to gain justice for the dead woman he left behind in the car.

At first, the story seems clouded with confusion right along with the main character but much of that clears up as John follows his leads, and I felt this really set up an uneasy, and at times, desperate atmosphere. And since John is not quite himself, the bad guys have a difficult time tracking him down to finish the job that began in the Porsche and got Miranda, his companion and love interest, killed. There is a wide cast of characters presented in the book: villains, henchmen, crooked cops, a prostitute with tragic backstory. The reader doesn’t get a full, complete picture of who John Rader is in this first book, but for me, it was enough of a reveal to enjoy it and look forward to the next book in this new thriller series, John Rader Thrillers.

I recommend this book for mystery/thriller readers that don’t mind an overt lack of back story information and those that like stories with an organized crime plot. I liked it!

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Monday, January 20, 2020

First Stone (The Stepping Stone Cycle - Season 1, Episode 1) by Gary Ballard

First StoneFirst Stone by Gary Ballard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a particularly brutal case, forensic psychologist, Dr. Jack Carter, takes a much needed vacation with his wife, Sarah, up the east coast into Maine. A month later, Jack is found, catatonic, standing on the side of the road and there is sign of Sarah. Sometime later, he regains consciousness in the Meridian Mental Health Institute in Meridian, Connecticut, with no memory of what had happened nor where Sarah is. The police believe he’s killed her and is faking amnesia, but there’s no evidence to confirm she’s even dead. He spends the next year and a half there recuperating and in treatment, and when he’s finally cleared for release, he returns to his and Sarah’s home to try and pick up where his life left off and to search for his missing wife.

A former work connection in the FBI, Special Agent Bill West, has been assigned Sarah’s case however, it has come to a standstill for lack of any additional leads. But when a new case which has a possible connection to her disappearance comes to his attention, he contacts Jack to join him in the investigation. The mutilated corpses of a number of women have been found in an old shack up in the mountains of West Virginia and the guy all the evidence points to claims he also killed Sarah and wants to talk to Jack. But when Bill and Jack travel to meet the killer, he changes his story. He claims he is innocent of the murders and has never heard of Sarah or Jack. As Bill follows up on any leads he can from the crime scene, Jack begins interviews with the accused to determine his fitness to stand trial, and things get more bizarre as every day goes by.

What a great start to the mysterious Stepping Stone Cycle series by Gary Ballard. The story held my attention from start to finish and now I have to read more! Jack is a likeable but tragic figure and his FBI pal, Bill West, is as comfortable as a real friend. The story is not a straight up mystery either. There are spooky, paranormal, horror goings-on as well. I recommend this story to mystery readers looking for something out of the traditional “serial killer” genre that don’t mind paranormal/horror aspects. Good story!

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Special Agent Francesca (Undercover FBI, #1) by Mimi Barbour

Special Agent Francesca (Undercover FBI #1)Special Agent Francesca by Mimi Barbour
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FBI Special Agent Francesca Donovan transfers to the Bureau’s Las Vegas office for a fresh start for her career. Her mother, Kathleen Donovan, a renowned Special Agent herself, had risen to the position of Special Assistant to the Director in New York, and had pretty much controlled her assignments up to now, and consequently, Frankie was really feeling the need to get out from under Mom’s influence and scrutiny, and make her own way.

Frankie and her mother have a real love-hate relationship. While each is all the other woman has ever had while Frankie was growing up, Frankie’s now a grown woman and is past ready to stretch her wings. Adding to the situation, Kathleen reveals that the father Frankie has never known anything about, and who knows nothing about her, actually lives in Las Vegas and is a Las Vegas police detective. Frankie determines her best course of action in the matter is to introduce herself to the man before they bump into each other professionally.

On her first night in Vegas, when she foils a strong-arm attempt against her hotel’s manager, she quickly finds herself up to her ears in an exciting and important joint FBI-Las Vegas PD undercover operation. The operation teams her up with hunky police psychologist, Sean Collins, the police chief’s best friend. The two must work to overcome some initial conflict and distrust but once they put aside their differences, they discover they are a lot more compatible than either would have expected, and sparks begin to fly.

This first book in the new Undercover FBI series by Mimi Barbour is a fun, action-packed story. While Frankie and Sean seemed to get together a little too quickly for my tastes, their coupling up was still romantic and sexy. Supporting characters such as Manuel the Taxi Driver, John Hampton, her father, and his entire family really added a lot of fun and emotion to the story. On top of that, Las Vegas is just such a great setting with so much variety available to put to use.

I would definitely be interested in reading more in this series, and the synopses of future books are quite tantalizing. I recommend this book for readers that enjoy romantic suspense and lighter mystery/thriller books.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Tristan's Choice (The Darkest Day, #2) by Danielle Forrest

Tristan's Choice (The Darkest Day, #2)Tristan's Choice by Danielle Forrest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After making it safely through the Orleans sabotaged diplomatic mission to meet with the first-ever extraterrestrials, Captain Tristan Faulk, Pilot Mila Dragomirov, and Kyle Avery have returned Earthside and have remained friends. In fact, Mila has moved in with Tristan but maintained an uneasy, platonic relationship. Both want more, but Mila cannot fathom a future together because of the country’s suspicious regard of shifters and her masquerade as best friend, May Trace.

While Kyle works to uncover and capture those behind the Orleans mission failure, Mila tries to come to terms with how to deal with both May’s family (who do not know that May is actually dead) and her own (who have no idea why their daughter disappeared without a trace so many years ago.

Captain Faulk receives orders to try again to get the Earth’s delegation to a meeting with the newly encountered aliens, the Incirrina. With Mila and Kyle as his only crew on a small shuttle, he successfully get the diplomats to Earth’s moon and the Kennedy Moon Station where they can finally begin negotiations to learn about each other and help each other out. However, all is not as it appears in the Earth legate and the aliens and Earthlings must work together against a new and powerful common enemy.

After waiting for what felt like a year until this second book in The Darkest Day series came out (it wasn’t that long really), it arrived and I could not put it down. This was one of those books where any interruption to reading it annoyed me to no end! I have so enjoyed this series. I’ve bonded with these characters; they feel like friends. The main characters have a lot going on in their private lives besides the main story thread I’ve outlined above and I look forward to some resolution for them. And now, the wait begins again. This author seems to write exactly to my taste and I look forward to more from her in the future.

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