Category Archives: Suspense

Review: Deadlock by James Byrne

Title: Deadlock by James Byrne
Dez Limerick Book Two
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 359 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


In this sequel to the highly praised The Gatekeeper, Dez Limerick, one of the best new thriller heroes returns.

Desmond Aloysius Limerick (“Dez” to his friends and close personal enemies) is a man with a shadowy past, certain useful hard-won skills, and, if one digs deep enough, a reputation as a good man to have at your back. Now retired from his previous life, Dez is just a bloke with a winning smile, a bass guitar, and bullet wounds that paint a road map of past lives.

Jaleh Swann, a business journalist hot on the trail of an auditor who was mugged and killed, lands in the hospital just one day after her Portland apartment is ransacked. When Jaleh’s sister, Raziah, reaches out to an old friend for help, Dez has no choice but to answer. The Swann sisters have been pulled into a dizzying web of cover-ups and danger. At the center lies an insidious Oregon-based tech corporation, Clockjack, which has enough money and hired guns to silence just about anyone—including this rag-tag trio. Luckily, Dez’s speciality is not just to open doors, but keep them open—and protect those working to expose Clockjack’s secrets.

More stands in the way of the truth than just one corporation. When hired thugs come to the finish the job and attack the Swann sisters at the hospital, Dez does what he does best. Now, the two captured men (and the corpse Dez left behind) attract the attention of not just Clockjack, but of the Portland police, the D.E.A, and the U.S. Marshalls. Dez and the Swann sisters are on the run from powers beyond their control and means. Outnumbered, under resourced and outgunned, Dez must use all his skills to keep his friends safe and stand up to corporate conniving. After all, the one thing Clockjack didn’t count on? A good man with a simple job to do.


Deadlock by James Byrne is an edge of the seat, suspense-laden thriller.

Dez Limerick is unique, likeable, and very easy to under estimate. He is charming but deadly and fiercely loyal with a strong moral compass. But Dez will do whatever it takes to protect his friends and by extension, their family.

When his friend, singer Raziah Swann, asks him to protect her sister, Laleh, Dez moves quickly to help them.  In order to ensure the sisters’ safety, he must figure out why Laleh has become a target. His quest for answers takes him to Clockjack Solutions, a tech company that, on the surface, seems on the up and up. However, appearances can be deceiving and Dez comes up against ruthless people who will do anything and everything to protect their shocking plans.

Deadlock is an adrenaline-filled mystery that moves at a blistering pace. Dez is a larger-than-life hero that is very easy root for. The storyline is well-developed with breath-taking twists and turns. With a jaw-dropping epilogue, James Byrne brings this second installment in the Dez Limerick series to a very intriguing conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Deadlock, Dez Limerick Series, Jack Byrne, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Thriller

Review: I Did It For You by Amy Engel

Title: I Did It For You by Amy Engel
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


A twisty thriller from the beloved author of The Familiar Dark, in which a woman returns to the town where her sister was murdered and finds a presumed copycat on the loose

It’s been fourteen years since Greer Dunning’s older sister, Eliza, was murdered, and Greer’s family has never been the same. And now there’s been a similar killing in Greer’s small Kansas hometown. A copycat, according to the authorities, but Greer is convinced there is more to the story. That Eliza’s murderer had help all those years ago.

So Greer returns home after more than a decade away, desperate to answer the questions that have haunted her for years. And in her drive to uncover the truth, she forms a bond with the unlikeliest of allies. One that puts her in grave danger, as almost everyone in her small town becomes a suspect.

At once a riveting mystery and a deep exploration of guilt, loss, and the ways in which a violent murder transforms both the family of the victim and the family of the killer, I Did It For You will keep readers captivated through the very last page.


I Did It For You by Amy Engel is a compelling mystery about copycat murders.

After learning about the new murders, Greer Dunning returns to her small hometown in Kansas. She immediately reconnects with her childhood friends Ryan and Cassie. But Greer does not make much headway in trying to repair her fractured relationship with her parents. She also pairs up with an unlikely person as she tries to find the connection between her sister Eliza’s and the present day murders.

With plenty of tension, this atmospheric mystery is fast-paced with well-drawn characters. Greer remains haunted by her sister’s death and being home provides her the opportunity to search for answers. Despite the murders, she is a little reckless and takes unnecessary risks. Greer also unearths stunning secrets that leave her wondering whom she can trust. The shocking dénouement is full of unexpected twists and turns. The conclusion of this suspense-laden mystery is somewhat bittersweet.

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Filed under Amy Engel, Dutton, I Did It for You, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Mystery Monday Review: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano

Title: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 447 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


On a creepy island where everyone has a strange obsession with the year 1994, a newcomer arrives, hoping to learn the truth about her son’s death—but finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the bizarrely insular community and their complicated rules…

Clifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son’s bedroom, she’s perplexed. She’s never heard of it before, but soon learns it’s a tiny island off Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, 200 miles from Willow’s home. Why would her son write this on his floor? Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.

After a few days on Clifford, Willow realizes: This place is not normal. Everyone seems to be stuck in a particular day in 1994: They wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: Close your curtains at night.

High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island’s twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She’s been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? Lily is determined to prove that the islanders’ beliefs are a sham. But are they?

Five weeks after Willow arrives on the island, she disappears. Willow’s brother, Harper, comes to Clifford searching for his sister, and when he learns the truth—that this island is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined—he is determined to blow the whole thing open.


Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano is a suspenseful debut.

Harper’s search for his missing sister Willow on isolated Clifford Island drives this fast-paced mystery. Clifford Island’s small population is not exactly helpful as Harper tries to not only find Willow but understand what drew her there in the first place. The cast of eclectic islanders do not want visitors and they do not have an online footprint. The storyline is cleverly written with the chapters alternating between text messages, interviews, Willow’s letters, and various characters’ perspectives.

A deliciously eerie mystery with supernatural elements and a chilling conclusion.

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Filed under Dead Eleven, Dutton, Jimmy Juliano, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Supernatural Elements, Suspense

Review: Windfall by Wendy Corsi Staub

Title: Windfall by Wendy Corsi Staub
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 333 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher (GoodReads Win)


In this newest suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub, three friends’ lives terrifyingly unravel when they win a billion-dollar lottery jackpot—and one goes missing. Perfect for fans of novels like Taylor Adams’ No Exit and The Club by Ellery Lloyd.

It was the girls’ weekend they’d never forget.

J.J., Molly, and Leila had once been inseparable, but it’s been a long time since college, and life—not to mention distance—have disrupted the former roommates’ friendship. When the three reunite for a birthday weekend in Las Vegas, the lottery ticket they buy on a whim has the winning numbers—giving them a billion-dollar windfall. Shell-shocked, they turn to Shea Daniels, a “sudden wealth manager,” who promises to guide them through the pitfalls of having more money than they’d ever imagined.

It was the girls’ weekend they’d live to regret.

The trio travels to a secluded California mansion, where Shea and her staff cater to their every whim, promising to teach them to navigate their newfound wealthy lifestyles with ease. The house is luxurious beyond their wildest dreams—and purportedly cursed, the last place a missing movie star was seen alive. Their weekend turns to terror when they discover they are trapped—roads blocked and communication disrupted by the wildfires raging around them. And when history repeats itself and one of them disappears—the one who’s holding the billion-dollar ticket—the others must face the fact that either their friend has betrayed them…or a predator is lurking.


Windfall by Wendy Corsi Staub is a tension-filled mystery.

Three college roommates who were once inseparable reunite in Las Vegas to celebrate their fortieth birthdays. They also go in together and purchase a lottery ticket that ends up being the winning ticket. Leila contacts her friends, J.J. and Molly, after hiring Shea Daniels to help them navigate their billion-dollar win.

Shea hosts them at her cliffside mansion, Windfall, but Santa Ana winds and huge wildfires cast an eerie pall over what should a celebration of their newfound wealth. After one of the friends vanishes without a trace, the other two realize they really do not know one another any longer. With the incessant winds blowing and smoke becoming heavier, will they uncover their friend’s fate before it is too late?

Windfall has a troubled history and the still unsolved disappearance of the previous owner, actress Chantal Charbonneau, remains a subject of speculation. Listening to a recent podcast about Chantal proves to be unsettling. Suspicions plague them. Uncertainty about who can be trusted continues to grow.  Patchy cellphone service cuts them off from the rest of the world. Can they escape before falling victim to Windfall’s curse?

Windfall is a riveting mystery that is incredibly atmospheric. The characters are complex and vividly drawn. The excerpts from the podcast ratchet up the suspense. With secrets galore, the storyline is fast-paced and edgy. Wendy Corsi Staub keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

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Filed under Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Wendy Corsi Staub, William Morrow Paperbacks, Windfall

Review: First Born by Will Dean

Title: First Born by Will Dean
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Thriller
Length: 365 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


From the acclaimed author of The Last Thing to Burn, a psychological thriller about the dark secrets that emerge when a woman’s twin sister is murdered, with his signature “intense, gripping, taut, terrifying, moving, and brilliant” (Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author) prose.

Sisters. Soulmates. Strangers.

Molly Raven lives a quiet, structured life in London, finding comfort in security and routine. Her identical twin Katie, living in New York, is the exact opposite: outgoing, spontaneous, and adventurous.

But when Molly hears that Katie has died, possibly murdered, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. As terrifying as it is, she knows she must travel across the ocean and find out what happened. But as she tracks her twin’s final movements, cracks begin to emerge, and she slowly realizes her sister was not who she thought she was and there’s a dangerous web of deceit surrounding the two of them.


First Born by Will Dean is a deliciously diabolical domestic thriller.

Molly and Katie Raven are twins but they are nothing alike. Molly is stricken with anxiety and sticks close to home. Katie is self-assurred, popular and venturesome. However, Molly and her parents are still shocked when she announces she is moving to the US to finish her degree. The twin’s parents are visiting their daughter in New York, when they discover her lifeless body inside her apartment. Molly musters up the courage to fly to the US to support her parents and find out what happened to Katie. She uncovers stunning information about her sister but will she unravel the truth about her death?

First Born is a devilishly clever psychological thriller that is incredibly fast-paced. Molly is way out of her comfort zone in New York, but she has to uncover the truth about Katie’s death. She unearths startling information about her twin and she does not hesitate to take her suspicions to the police.  The storyline is engaging and the mystery’s setting is well detailed and easy to visualize. With absolutely jaw-dropping twists and mind-blowing turns, Will Dean brings this mesmerizing domestic thriller to an eye-popping conclusion. HIGHLY recommend!

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Contemporary, First Born, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Will Dean

Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Title: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Suspense
Length: 334 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a thrilling YA novel about trying to right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.

Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known—until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice—go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.


Daughter by Kate McLaughlin is a brilliantly clever young adult novel.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlet Murphy is an excellent student who chafes against her mom Gina’s strict rules.  Scarlet suffers from anxiety and sometimes turns to unhealthy ways to manage it. But when the FBI shows up on their doorstep, her typical worries fly in the face of discovering the truth her mother has been keeping from her. Scarlet is the daughter of prolific serial killer Jeffrey Lake and her mom was married to him while he was actively kidnapping and murdering young women. Lake has been on death row for several years and now that he is dying, he will only reveal the names and locations of his other victims to Scarlet. Wrestling with her conscience, Scarlet decides to meet with him so the families of the victims can put their loved ones to rest. But does Lake have any intention of living up to his end of their bargain?

Scarlet’s horrifying visits with her father are juxtaposed against her introduction to grandparents and other family members. Despite her anger at her mother for keeping her past a secret, she relies on Gina’s support after Lake’s vile revelations. Scarlet is grateful for her new friendships with FBI Agent Andy Logan’s kids, Darcy and Luke. Agent Logan also gives her advice that help provide a new perspective on the secrets she has recently learned.

Daughter is an engrossing young adult that is very suspenseful. Scarlet grows and evolves throughout her sometimes-contentious meetings with Lake. She is also more understanding of her mother’s past behavior while also being a little angry about Gina’s deception. Lake is a thoroughly reprehensible man who is not to be trusted under any circumstances. Kate McLaughlin brings this thought-provoking novel to an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion. Recommended for older teen and adult readers.

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Filed under Contemporary, Daughter, Kate McLaughlin, Rated B, Review, Suspense, Wednesday Books, Young Adult