Hangman by Daniel Cole

Hangman (Fawkes and Baxter #2) Published: July 24th, 2018

Publisher: Ecco

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 373

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Buy: Amazon 

Rating: 4/5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

How do you catch a killer who’s already dead?

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.


 

Note: So this has been sitting in my draft folder since I finished the book in September. Nice job Stephanie, nice job. 

Hangman by Daniel Cole is the follow-up to Ragdoll and takes place 18 months after the bizarre series of murders. I like to keep my reviews simple and without to many details as to avoid spoilers. However, to be safe, if you have not read the first book then skip ahead or better yet, just put off reading this review until you have.

This book takes place in London and New York as a pattern begins to emerge between gruesome murders happening in both cities.

Baxter is asked to travel to NYC to help the FBI and NYPD track down the person responsible for the murders which leave behind bodies scarred with the words “PUPPET” and “BAIT”. She is teamed up with Rouche and Curtis from the FBI and they struggle to work together as a team and to get any closer to answers. After a catastrophic failure to prevent an attack that makes the body count jump to a staggering amount, Baxter returns to London to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen there.

The pacing of this book was much slower than the first and gave off less ‘Seven’ vibes that I had loved so much, but I still enjoyed it. It’s another compelling read for those of us who enjoy things more twisted and don’t mind bodies piling up. I still don’t love Baxter but I really love her friendship with Edmunds! Edmunds is my favorite character and would love to see book three follow him as a lead detective, if he ever gets the balls to quit Fraud and return to homicide…he’s brilliant and fascinating.

Speaking of book three, I was quite pleased to find out that Daniel Cole is working on a third book! I’m really looking forward to see where Cole takes the characters next. Who brings back, who he doesn’t…I can’t wait!

Thank you again to Ecco books for sending me a copy of this book! I truly appreciate it and can’t wait to see what Cole delivers next.

Happy Reading!

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The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We ToldPublished: October 9, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Format: Paperback

Pages: 336

Genre: Thriller

Buy: Amazon

Rating: 3/5

I received a copy from the Publisher through a Goodreads Giveaway that I had won. 

When Clara’s boyfriend, Luke, disappears, everyone believes that he’s left her, but Clara thinks she knows the truth. Recent evidence suggests that Luke had a stalker, and Clara worries that he’s been kidnapped. Then Luke’s older sister, Emma, who vanished twenty years ago, suddenly reappears.

Emma wants to help Clara with her search for Luke, but she refuses to talk about what happened — even though it nearly destroyed her family when she vanished. And the deeper Clara digs into Luke’s mysterious disappearance, the more convinced she is that the two incidents are connected. 


I love dark, psychological thrillers so I was pretty excited when I received a copy of this in the mail. Camilla Way is a ‘new-to-me’ author so I wasn’t sure what to expect having not read her previous novel, Watching Edie. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the kind of fast read that’s impossible to put down.

Clara is hanging out at the flat she shares with her boyfriend Luke Lawson, waiting for him to return home from work, but he isn’t responding to her texts. When she notices that he’s left his phone at home, she checks to see if he’s contacted her through email. She notices that he has emailed her, telling her he’d be home at his normal time.

As the time passes and a heavy feeling grows, Clara contacts Luke’s family, friends, and the police. Upon some digging of her own she discovers that Luke had a stalker, and a darker past that Luke had never mentioned. Luke’s sister Emily disappeared when he was just a kid, and the family completely erased her from their life. As if she never existed at all. Soon the police investigation gains nationwide appeal and Luke’s sister, Emily, reaches out to Clara eager to assist with the search but unwilling to see her family.

The only reason why I didn’t give this four or five stars is because the plot itself is nothing new or unique to the world of thrillers, however, it’s cleverly written and very entertaining. The cast of characters are all really unlikable as well and there’s so much deceit flying about it makes your head spin! Nonetheless, this novel is worthy of adding to your TBR pile for a quiet night on the couch and a cocktail.

Have you read Watching Edie or The Lies We Told? What’s the best thriller you’ve read recently? Tell me in the comments!

Happy Reading!

 

 

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Ragdoll (Fawkes and Baxter, #1)Published: April 4th, 2017

Publisher: Ecco

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 374

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Buy: Amazon | Book Outlet

Rating: 4.5/5

One body. Six Victims.

William Fawkes, a controversial detective known as The Wolf, has just been reinstated to his post after months of psychological assessment following allegations of a shocking assault. A veteran of the force, Fawkes thinks he’s seen it all. That is, until his former partner and friend, Detective Emily Baxter, calls him to a crime scene and leads him to a career-defining cadaver: the dismembered parts of six victims sewn together like  a puppet –  a corpse that becomes known in the press as the “ragdoll”.

Fawkes is tasked with identifying the six victims, but that gets dicey when his reporter ex-wife anonymously receives photographs from the crime scene, along with a list of six names, and the dates on which the Ragdoll Killer plans to murder them. The final name on the list is Fawkes. Baxter and her trainee partner, Alex Edmunds, hone in on figuring out what links the victims together before the killer strikes again. 

But for Fawkes, seeing his name on the list sparks a dark memory, and he fears that the catalyst for these killings has more to do with him – and his past – than anyone realizes. 


Have you ever watched the movie Se7en by David Fincher? It features Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as the two detectives and Kevin Spacey played the psycho mastermind behind the seven deadly sin killings? Anyway, it’s one of my favorite movies and Ragdoll by Daniel Cole draws a lot of parallels to it in such an awesome way.

Detective William Fawkes is recently brought back onto the force after almost losing everything after he knocked out a high-profile suspect at the end of his trial when he was found ‘not-guilty’. The case nearly destroyed him and he served time in a psych ward only to be release when that same ‘innocent’ suspect killed again and Fawkes was vindicated.

Fawkes and his former partner Baxter are called onto the scene of a most gruesome crime – a body comprised of sewn together body parts hanging from the ceiling. The head belonging to the same man that Fawkes leveled in the courtroom.

To add icing to the cake, Fawkes’ TV journalist ex-wife gets involved when she receives a package containing photographs of the body and a list of the next victims, which includes Fawkes himself.

Phew this book. So much drama and craziness, it really is a thrilling ride! There’s also this strange sexual tension between Baxter and Fawkes that leaves you wondering if you should be routing for the two of them or not. Even his ex-wife believed the two were having an affair which played a big part in the falling apart of their marriage. Generally I don’t find that there’s room for romantic relationships in books like these but Cole does it really well (it’s subtle) and to me, it really helps you get to know the characters. They feel more human.

So there’s this personal drama that sort of unfolds between the lines of the gruesome Ragdoll case, which begins to play out like a bad reality show thanks to the ex-wife who uses it to leverage her career. It’s a race against the clock, and the media, for the team to figure out how these victims are connected and track down the killer before Fawkes becomes the final victim.

Oh and that ending! Wow!

This book is fast-paced, full of great characters and even some British dark humor for good mix. I really enjoyed this book and rated it a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I can’t wait to start reading the second book in the Fawkes and Baxter series which supposedly picks up right where Ragdoll leaves off.

Happy Reading!

 

The Body Counter by Anne Frasier

The Body Counter (Detective Jude Fontaine Mysteries, #2)Published: June 12, 2018

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Format: Kindle Edition

Pages: 297

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 4/5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Months after discovering the mastermind behind her own kidnapping, Detective Jude Fontaine is dealing with the past the only way she knows how: by returning to every dark corner of it. But it’s a new, escalating series of mass slaying that has become her latest obsession at Homicide.

At first, Jude and her partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, can see no pattern to the seemingly random methods, the crime scenes, or the victims – until they’re approached by a brilliantly compulsive math professor. He believes that the madman’s next move is not incalculable; in fact, it’s all part of a sequential and ingenious numerical riddle. His theory is adding up. The body count is rising.

But when the latest victim is found in Jude’s apartment, the puzzle comes with a personal twist that’s going to test the breaking point of her already-fragile state of mind. For all she knows, her number may be up.


I really love the Jude Fontaine series!

These are fast past, gritty, dark, solid mysteries and I highly recommend them if you want a quick thriller that sucks you in and takes you for a ride. But make sure you read The Body Reader first before you even think of touching this one. Our lead Detective won’t make as much sense if you don’t, I can assure you.

Jude and her partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, are damaged and broken: Jude is still trying to figure out how to live a normal life after being held captive in a basement for three years and Uriah is dealing with the guilt and torment of his late wife’s suicide. Together, their partnership just works and they’ve now been assigned to a series of gruesome murders that they soon begin to realize, hold a disturbing pattern.

There are no clues and no rhyme or reason for the killings. They have nothing until a seemingly nutty math professor comes to them with an idea: he believes the killer is following the Fibonacci Series, a series of number in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers i.e. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5…

This book doesn’t pack as much of an emotional punch as the first book did, but it still delivers in suspenseful twists and thrills which is what we all really come for when we sit down with a good thriller right?

We do get more of the relationship between Jude and Uriah and how they work together. Their relationship is fragile but both depend on the other in way that has me really routing for the two of them.

The murders are much more grisly and disturbing and I was so hooked on it. A long slow clap for Ms Frasier because I just enjoyed this plot so much.

I can’t wait to see what Frasier comes out with next in this series – she’s definitely one of my top ‘must read’ authors and this series has easily become one of my favorites!

 

Somebody’s Daughter by David Bell

Somebody's DaughterPublished: July 10th, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Format: eBook

Pages: 448

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

Rating: 4/5

When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife, Erica, shows up on his doorstep pleading for help, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Erica’s nine-year-old daughter is missing – and Michael is the father. Unable to quickly determine if Erica is telling the truth, and unwilling to leave the little girl’s fate to chance, Michael has no choice but to follow the elusive trail of the child he has always wanted and never knew he had.

But finding Felicity comes at a price – the closer Michael gets to the truth, the further into jeopardy his marriage falls and the faster his family begins to unravel. As lies that span a decade bubble to the surface and the window for Felicity’s safe return closes, Michael will have just a few short days to decide who can be trusted and who is hiding the truth.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This is the kind of book you pick up when you have a whole afternoon or evening to read completely uninterrupted because once you start, you’re not going to want to put it down. The chapters are short and leave you with a sense of urgency to keep going which makes this a quick read.

The story is told from multiple perspectives: Michael (the potential baby-daddy), his current wife Angela, and Detective Erin Griffin (who sadly felt a little under developed as a character). Multiple POV’s can sometimes be difficult to follow and/or be a little distracting but I felt it was really done well here. Kudos to Bell.

Given the speed of the book, the characters aren’t overly deep but that didn’t really bother me here. The story was so gripping and interesting that I just wanted to know what was happening. The only character that I felt totally disconnected from was Detective Griffin, I even wanted to skim over her parts at times because she just wasn’t very interesting.

As a whole though, this book was a really fun read and the perfect summer thriller! Not every book has to be super deep with over developed characters. Sometimes we just want a show-gun plot that keeps us burning for more and that’s exactly what this book delivers!

 

 

 

 

 

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Providence

Published: June 19th, 2018

Publisher: LENNY

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 384

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 3/5

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he’s suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and “fit in” with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity – but he’s soon being tracked by a detective fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters’ lives togehter in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

Let me start by just saying that this book is not anything like You or Hidden Bodies. If you go into this book expecting Joe, or a character like him, and the darkness that surrounds his identity then you will be very disapointed. This book is completely unique and goes in a very different direction.

The thing I’ve come to really love about Caroline Kepnes is her writing style and her strength in character building and her witty humor. She’s really quite magnificent and even though this particular story was not my favorite, it was still enjoyable to read.

Here’s what I loved about it:

  • I  loved the H.P. Lovecraft inspiration. I wouldn’t say that I’m a die hard fan, but I have read a lot of his work, including The Dunwich Horror, and even recently wrote a paper for a class I was taking. So I have an ‘appreciation’ for his writing and I think Caroline Kepnes did an amazing job with her take on The Dunwich Horror and her ability to make it current. And Providence, RI really is Lovecraft obsessed since it was of course, his favorite place in all off New England.
  • There were also a lot of North Shore references (North of Boston for those not familiar with the area) that I just loved because of course, I’m a North Shore gal myself. It was fun to read a story and have places you frequent mentioned.

Everything else was just…meh.

The main characters are of course Jon, the boy who is kidpnapped and returns as a man with uncontrollable powers. Chloe, the girl who loves him but now must mourn the loss of her best friend and has trouble finding herself without him. Then later on in the story we have Eggs, a dogged detective, and his wife Lo. Eggs has a son with a serious disability that means having to live outside of the home. He never visits him and mourns the loss of the normal father/son relationship he so desired to have. He distracts himself by trying to find out what’s happening with a string of deaths that are eerily similar.

I liked Chloe the least. Actually, I couldn’t stand Chloe. She is annoying, self-deprecating, and pathetic. Ugh.

Jon I sympathized with, I mean the poor guy was kidnapped and held for years in a medically induced coma and when he wakes up, he’s so different. Dangerously different. I craved more history of what Jon experienced. What happened to him? How did he get these powers? Will he find a way to fix himself? I found myself rooting for him, to find his place in life and find a way to live a normal life.

The story was to much about love and love lost and for me. I’m not a ‘love story’ kind of girl and so I really craved a lot more from this one. I didn’t finish it feeling satisfied which is why I gave this one three out of five stars.

Rest assured that I still love Caroline Kepnes and highly anticipate what she has up her sleeve next! I just hope it involves a lot more violent obsession! (don’t judge)

Note: I also listened to the audio version which was fantastically narrated and really made the characters come alive!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You by Caroline Kepnes

You (You, #1)

Released: September 30th, 2014

Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio

Format: Audiobook

Narrated by: Santino Fontana

Genre: Thiller, Fiction

Rating: 9/10

“When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight – the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joes transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way – even if it means murder.”

I realize I am late to the party when it comes to the story of Joe and Beck but let me tell you, it was worth the wait! An online friend recomended Caroline Kepnes books to me and insisted that the audio version of You was an incredible place to start, so I dived in. I re-started my Audible account souly so I could downlook this book and listen. Best decision ever made.

Here’s the thing, I love a good crazy serial-killer. I especially love it when the story is written from their warped perspective. With that being said, this book is not for everyone: it’s extremely sexual, violent and most likely, very offensive to some. I, however, am not ‘everyone’.

There aren’t a lot of Guinevere Becks in the world – just the one. The first thing I had to find was your home and the Internet was designed with love in mind. It gave me so much of you, Beck.

One of the things that makes this book especially chilling is the realization that in today’s digital and social media crazed society, you can really find anything out about anyone. Honestly, you’ll want to re-evaluate your digital footprint in a hot minute after reading this.

Our sinister-yet-sexy Joe Goldberg is looking for love. He loves to read and is disengaged from modern technology. He’s pretentious and, even though he’s a highschool drop-out, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room. So when a woman walks into his bookstore and they begin to flirt, he does what any man looking for love would do – he googles her name from her credit card.

He begins to stalk her Twitter, Facebook, and Google Maps. He knows her address, her friends and her plans and where she’ll be and with whom. He knows where she went to college and her job. He knows she’s a writer and can read everything she’s written. He can access hundreds of pictures and knows her favorite movies and the books that she loves. And he knows all about her favorite green pillow.

::shudder::

This was real. I press my thumb into the wet ink of your receipt and the ink of Guinevere Beck stains my skin.

Somehow Caroline Kepnes makes you LOVE Joe. I was pulled in by him, completely captivated by him. The audiobook is narrated by Santino Fontana and he really makes Joe come alive. I don’t think that I can ever hear is voice and not think of Joe, in fact, I would happily listen to Fontana read to me all night long if I could. Kepnes pulls you so deep into the mind of Joe that, as disturbing as his behaviour is, there are moments where he becomes sympathetic. He is sensitive and charasmatic and something about him makes you want to love him like he loves Beck.

I just can’t recomend this book enough. Kepnes has earned a spot among my favorite authors and You has earned a place among the few books that I would read again and again. If you can handle the darkness of Joe’s mind, then run and get yourself a copy. Or rather, download the audio and listen the to soothing voice of Fontana (but make sure you have your headphones) and let your imagination go.

The problem with books is that they end. They seduce you. They spread their legs to you and pull you inside. And you go deep and leave your possessions and your ties to the world at the door and you like it inside and you don’t want for your possessions or your ties and then, the book evaporates.”