by Marie Sutro Book 1 of the Kate Barnes police procedural series
Police detective Kate Barnes is becoming a criminal profiler with the help and insight of her mentors. When Kate’s young protégé is brutally murdered in a ghastly public display, Kate discovers she is central to the murderer’s plan, and vows to capture the perpetrator. Soon, it’s clear the murderer is the infamous Tower Torturer, a serial killer known for his medieval-style cruelty, who has emerged after years of inactivity. But why now? And why is he interested in Kate? She struggles to get ahead of the monster, but he is two steps out of reach, taunting her throughout the complex, twisted plot. Kate is horrified and darkly attracted to this case, which stretches her abilities to their limits and causes her to step up to a new level of police detecting. Dark Associations has been compared to the Silence of the Lambs for its psychological suspense and sheer creepiness. I couldn’t put the book down. The story is grisly, the plot relentless and the characterization of Kate is deep. Marie Sutro’s 2017 series debut, Dark Associations
, is an excellent entree to the Kate Barnes series. Although late to the party, I’m anticipating reading more of these frightening, compelling thrillers. #2, Dark Obsessions is already on my TBR pile.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Stories of Family
by Aletheia Morden
“From the English countryside to San Francisco and Venice Beach, California, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea contains stories of the ups and downs of family life, plus a little murder.” is the message on the back cover, that doesn’t quite capture the droll, ironic, sometimes disturbing, yet always surprising nature of the nine stories in this slim volume. I laughed. I cried. I thought about my own familial experiences, and above all, I stayed up way too late reading! My favorite story, “The Queen of Tonga.”
Lying Crying Dying
by Dominic Martell
Dubbed “the thriller nouveau,” Martell’s first in a post-cold war series written in the 1990s, is a masterpiece of intention, angst, danger and dark action. Antihero Pascal, marked for his selling out his comrades in a 1980s radical group is trying to atone for past sins. He lives alone hand-to-mouth, flophouse to cheap hotel to back alley taverns in Barcelona, hiding. When he thinks he might have escaped his past, ex-lover Katixa with a suitcase of cash stolen from a political kidnapping in hand, turns up. She’s looking for away out of Spain and Pascal can’t resist her. On the run, Pascal hones his old skills to survive as betrayal dodges their steps and he realizes everything is a lie. Tension runs high throughout. Tightly crafted to put the reader into Pascal’s mind, I couldn’t help but experience the action in a visceral way. As dark as this story is, I cared about Pascal. I wanted him to triumph. Not only did I visit parts of Barcelona no tourist ever sees, but I was introduced to the familiar streets of Barri Gótic, anew—narrow, winding, dark-shadowed and suspicious. Some have criticized the writing style as ponderous for its deep characterization. I found the exploration of morality juxtaposed against Pascal’s passion and the violence of this fictional world to be superb—it’s what elevates Lying Crying Dying above a straight spy thriller. If you love suspense, getting into the character’s heads, travel, and the post-cold war spy genre of novel, read this book!
For the Birds
by Crissi Langwell
I’d never heard of a ‘second chance romance’ before, being mostly a crime fiction reader, but For the Birds by Crissi Langwell has made me a convert. How could a second chance at lost love not be entertaining? This book does not disappoint! From the darling cover designed by the author herself, to the make-you-laugh-and-cry story, to the surprise twists throughout, and the warm, engaging prose I was riveted. Cricket has been pining for her lost love, Sonny, for a year since he took a job in another state. Now he’s back and the two are tasked to organize an anniversary party for Sonny’s new boss. Cricket can’t let him know she still cares. Meanwhile Cricket’s sister has sent her an exotic bird before turning up injured. Cricket is pried out of her closed-down life to deal with the obnoxious pet, a hurting sister and keeping herself from losing her tattered heart all over again—all while she goes on her own journey of self-discovery. Cricket is a great character, one I think many of us will find inside of ourselves. I commend author Langwell for her wonderful humor, great dialog and beautifully written passages. If this is what today’s romance books are like, I want more!
Blanket A Papa Tell Me a Book series Book 2
by Ron Kinscherf illustrated by FolksnFables
Ron Kinscherf has created a wonderful concept with his Papa Tell Me a Book series. I’ve just read Blanket and am thoroughly charmed. Little David doesn’t nap anymore, he “rests,” but not before he asks his grandfather to ‘tell him a book’ and picks a theme. This one is a blue blanket that has been handed down through the ages. Of course, David falls asleep during the story and dreams. He’s got quite an imagination spinning out of a blanket into dragons, monkeys and crocodiles. The illustrations from FolksnFables are delightful. This series, written for children aged baby to seven years, is a perfect introduction to books, storytelling and reading. The language is simple and by seven a child could read it to himself. In my book, entertainment and learning are the perfect combo! Kudos to author Ron Kinscherf for giving Papi and Grana a new book to share with our little fellow.