Categories
Fiction Mysteries Suspense

The Comfort of Distance by Ryburn Dobbs (Book Thoughts)

I was invited to read The Comfort of Distance by Ryburn Dobbs and am leaving a voluntary review. My devices struggle with the PDF format so I ended up finding the book on Kindle Unlimited and read the edition provided there. **See disclaimer at the end**

This book spans a few genres. It is more about forensic anthropology and detective work than it is a police procedural, with some mystery and suspense elements too.  The characters alluded to but didn’t say “Bones”. Check this one out if you like Bones, with a socially awkward and overly introspective anthropologist that reminded me a lot of Detective Monk in many ways.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Comfort of Distance
  • Series: The Sebastien Grey Novels – #1
  • Author: Ryburn Dobbs
  • Publisher & Release: Dandiprat Press, October, 2020
  • Length: 276 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ for fans of the genre

Here’s the summary from Am*zon:

Someone, or some thing, is leaving bodies in the Black Hills.

Forensic science meets literary fiction in this captivating police procedural. Deep in the forests of the Black Hills, human remains are being discovered – one bit at a time. Rumors of a rogue man-eating mountain lion are spreading through the county and panic is starting to swell. Sgt. Hank LeGris of the Custer County Sheriff’s Office is feeling the pressure; he needs to find out who the dead are, and how they got that way. Hank suspects that the bodies are the result of a more sinister predator. But in order to solve the mystery, he will have to reach back into his own dysfunctional family history and pull in the only person who can get to the bottom of these strange cases – his estranged and disordered brother, the brilliant forensic anthropologist Dr. Sebastien Grey.

When Sebastien arrives in the Black Hills, he takes his brother, and Detective Tiffany Reese, on a whirlwind tour of forensic thinking and deductive reasoning, not only solving the mystery of the human remains, but the murder of a local thug as well. In the process, Sebastien himself is forever transformed by his own success and by the charm and kindness of the lovely Detective Reese: “One day I hope you give yourself permission to be different, Sebastien. You’ll be happier.”

The Comfort of Distance is equal parts forensic mystery, police procedure and character study, with dashes of comedy and romance thrown in. Readers will be cheering at the end and ready for more

The prologue and initial scenes definitely had me interested in The Comfort of Distance.  Someone is brutalized and left for dead, and shortly after we meet the main cast of characters.

When the book introduced Sebastien Grey as a disordered person in therapy, I honestly rolled my eyes because so many detective novels take that route to show them getting their career back on track. Thankfully Dobbs took a different route and simply used that introduction to, well, introduce the character and his quirks.

The book quickly redeemed itself with interesting detective work, good characters, and multiple plotlines to keep things fresh and moving forward.

Grey turned into an interesting character that it is easy to root for.  I feel like he snapped right out of a lot of his problems (taking prescriptions inappropriately, etc) pretty quickly while on the case, which showed that his brain maybe just needed a little occupation than it was getting in California? I’m not sure what to make of Dr Grey’s character arc but he definitely ended up in a good place and I was happy for him.

I’m kind of wondering if Sebastien wasn’t slightly based off the fashion designer by the same name.

The other characters are likeable too, with good dialogue and banter and teamwork.  There is some family drama between the brothers which I hope gets more exposure in future novels.  One character had a lot of antipathy towards Sebastien at first that seemed to magically resolve, and I needed more background into the whole family conflict.

Also there were a ton of names and different storylines thrown out in the first few chapters.  Most of them came together well by the end but I thought there were a few loose ends too.  My last gripe is that the KU version did have a few – as in probably fewer than one per chapter – editorial issues, which did not detract too much.

The setting was well described in terms of weather, terrain, local mood and atmosphere, but I had a hard time pinning down the mood of the entire book.  I had Monk in my mind and read the book through a lighter, slightly more humorous lens than a serious detective novel or police procedural. That said, I think the book shined the most when Sebastien was doing his forensic magic.  It was interesting and showed that he really does have a great mind in there.

I haven’t gotten to do a OneReadingNurse medical disclaimer© in a while, but I would like to point out that Buspar \ buspirone and similarly Wellbutrin \ buproprion are long acting medications and have absolutely no indication or supportive data for as needed use. Please use these medications as prescribed by a physician.

Anyway, overall, I didn’t LOVE this book but definitely want to read the next one to see how Sebastien fares moving forward! I would recommend this for fans of forensic and detective novels like the Temperance Brennan and Eve Duncan series!


**Disclaimer: I do not normally take review requests for books that are available on KU. My normal policy for KU available books is, if interested, to mark them as want-to-read and then check it out IF/WHEN time allows. I missed this and it happens

Categories
audiobooks Suspense Thrillers

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker (audio/book review)

I officially no longer have rhyme or reason when picking my next audiobook 😂 

I found The Priest’s Graveyard through a Search for books narrated by Rebecca Soler, who is probably my favorite female narrator.  I have a few books by Dekker but not this one.  I do usually love vigilante thrillers too and Dekker has an absolutely fascinating upbringing and tendency to write on the spiritual side, so, let’s see how this one worked out for me

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Priest’s Graveyard
  • Series: Danny Hansen #1
  • Author: Ted Dekker
  • Publisher & Release: Center Street, 2011
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐ if you like psychological and vigilante thrillers that stay fairly clean

On the audio: about 10.5 hours from Hachette audio, narrated by Rebecca Soler and Henry Leyva 

Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:

Two abandoned souls are on the hunt for one powerful man. Soon, their paths will cross and lead to one twisted fate.

Danny Hansen is a Bosnian immigrant who came to America with hopes of escaping haunted memories of a tragic war that took his mother’s life. Now he’s a priest incensed by the powerful among us who manipulate the law for their own gain, uncaring of the shattered lives they leave behind. It is his duty to show them the error of their ways, even if he must put them in the grave.

Renee Gilmore is the frail and helpless victim of one such powerful man. Having escaped his clutches, she now lives only to satisfy justice by destroying him, regardless of whom she must become in that pursuit.

But when Danny and Renee’s paths become inexorably entangled things go very, very badly and neither of them may make it out of this hunt alive.

So this is a pretty character based thriller, let’s start there. I liked Danny and what he was doing, I liked the brutal backstory of how he got from Bosnia to California and became the man he is today, both priest and calculated killer.  I also liked how Henry Leyva narrated him with the thick but understandable accent 

I even liked Renee at first. She seemed like someone who had made some bad choices and was able to rebound from them. The two characters seemed like a decent team, and of course Rebecca Soler can do no wrong and she was Renee’s voice.

Pause the thought on the characters –

Action wise, this is definitely a suspense novel at times and thriller at others.  Although the book was not exceptionally exciting, it had its moments of action and reckoning that kept me interested through out.

My favorite part was all moral debating that Danny did on how he justifies being a monster.  It was interesting too to see the symbols in names and other small spiritual elements that Dekker out into the story.  He doesn’t preach at all but there’s a small undercurrent of spirituality that would be concurrent with Danny as a priest.

So… How did this go from five stars to three stars? It got predictable. If I can predict something, it’s super predictable.  That isn’t the main issue though.

Towards the end, Dekker completely lost me on the “romantic” element. I’m just absolutely not believing that Danny would fall for an addlepated and traumatized drug addict (in recovery) who is frankly batshit crazy, unless Danny is batshit crazy too. Renee became annoying as hell, jeopardized their missions, put them both in danger, and was just bluntly an idiot.  Danny’s flawed judgement is about as bad as hers is if he wants to “love” her, and Renee literally just falls in with whatever man is in front of her. As soon as Dekker started portraying that idiot (with a long history of bad life decisions) as some kind of precious flower, he lost me.

The Priest’s Graveyard has a good premise, good action, good vigilante debates, and good audio, but it felt short overall for me mostly because of the improbable relationship that formed, even if the premise was an interesting psychological element.

A lot of people really liked this book and I would definitely recommend trying it if you like vigilante books.

Categories
Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

Locust Lane by Stephen Amidon (ARC Review)

Thank you so much to Celadon Books for my super early copy of Locust Lane by Stephen Amidon!  This is the first time I’ve been sent a first round survey ARC so that’s super exciting.  Book received for free in exchange for an honest review and early feedback.

I’m not sure about the etiquette for extremely early reviews but I think it’s better to just post it now while I’m still thinking about the book and help to put it on people’s winter radar.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Locust Lane
  • Author: Stephen Amidon
  • Publisher & Release: Celadon Books, 01/17/23
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Rate & Recommend:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of domestic suspense, mystery

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

For fans of Mystic River by Dennis Lehane and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Stephen Amidon’s Locust Lane is a taut and utterly propulsive story about the search for justice and the fault lines of power and influence in a seemingly idyllic town. Can anyone be trusted?

On the surface, Emerson, Massachusetts, is just like any other affluent New England suburb. But when a young woman is found dead in the nicest part of town, the powerful neighbors close ranks to keep their families safe. In this searing novel, Eden Perry’s death kicks off an investigation into the three teenagers who were partying with her that night, each a suspect. Hannah, a sweet girl with an unstable history. Jack, the popular kid with a mean streak. Christopher, an outsider desperate to fit in. Their parents, each with motivations of their own, only complicate the picture: they will do anything to protect their children, even at the others’ expense.

With a brilliantly woven, intricately crafted plot that gathers momentum on every page, this is superb storytelling told in terse prose—a dynamic read that is both intensely gripping and deeply affecting.

I am constantly impressed with the books coming out of Celadon.  Regardless of the genre they tend to be on the literary side and very well around. It’s a bit difficult to classify this novel but it’s a mystery and it’s suspenseful and there’s a lot of small community he-said-she-said in the process of finding justice for the murder victim.

Locust Lane is told from the alternating viewpoints of I believe five different people in the community. It was a bit difficult to keep the storyline and voices straight at first which is the main reason why I docked a star.  The characters are explored more deeply than I usually find in thrillers, which serves to show how the people from different backgrounds fit into the wealthy and privileged area.

When the girl is found murdered, the detectives immediately zero in on the teen who is a foreigner. We watch the wealthy and powerful members of the community band together to cover up the indiscretions of the other teens while the mother of the victim and a less than credible witness go about trying to expose the actual murderer.

It was interesting to watch the details come out.  Woven throughout the murder mystery are themes of disturbed youth, alcoholism, grief, coping with various upbringings, tough parenting challenges, wealth and power. A big part of it is seeing how different characters handle similar challenges such as the loss of a child or being reliant on someone else’s money.

And of course the mystery itself – this is a compulsive read and I was definitely never bored reading it. I picked the wrong suspect for the crime but that’s nothing new. I would definitely recommend this one for people who like mystery and suspense and exploring different character backgrounds.

Locust Lane is out in January, keep it on your radar!

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson (Book Thoughts)

I won a copy of Mother May I  in a Bookstagram giveaway when it was first published and finally got around to reading it! Coincidentally the paperback just released and there is a book tour going on so definitely check that out if you’re interested!

This is a terrifying domestic suspense novel in which a baby is abducted, and then a battle of which female character is the craziest ensues.  That’s my one sentence summary anyway 😂

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Mother May I
  • Author: Joshilyn Jackson
  • Publisher & Release: William Morris, April 2021
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of that domestic suspense / thriller genre!

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

The New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Never Have I Ever returns with an even more addictive novel of domestic suspense in which a mother must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her child and the life she loves—an unforgettable tale of power, privilege, lies, revenge, and the choices we make, ones that transform our lives in unforeseen ways.

Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected that fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of.

Until the day she awakens and sees someone peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daugh­ters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price.

Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?

The trophy wife of a rich lawyer, Bree decides to follow the kidnapper’s demands instead of going to the police. When she discovers that the kidnapper is also a mother, things get both weird and more interesting as we learn why the old woman would want to harm a innocent child.  Who is she really targeting?

Through stories and flashbacks we learn about Bree, her husband, their history and family.  There are a few sultry parts with mild adult content.

Seeing as the backstory related to the plot and didn’t slow things down too much, I didn’t hate it.

The book also raises an interesting debate about sexual assault and power in the context of race and class, and the influence of money and privilege in general. A poor girl with no resources might be derailed, while the rich male students involved aren’t so much as chastised. So, does one event (in which the girl initiated it and brought the drugs) make the men criminals? Do they deserve to be persecuted in the future?  I have mixed thoughts on these situations, like wtf is the girl thinking vs wtf are any of them thinking. Jackson definitely succeeded in provoking thought around these different characters from different backgrounds and I found it quite interesting

I also think Jackson provided a rare accurate description of a resuscitation effort and the violence of the encounter, right down to pretty much how the person’s body looks. This is something that most authors gloss over but I loved how it added a measure of finality to the sequence of events.

Character wise … I definitely liked pretty much all of the side characters (Marshal, Gabriela,0 the kids, Marshal again), more than Bree and Trey.  There were a lot of complicated feelings going around in the book and to emphasize how I feel about Trey, I was pretty satisfied by the ending of the book.

I guessed parts of the outcome but not all!

Definitely one to check out if you like thrillers, suspense, morality, family drama, moms in momma bear mode

Categories
Adventure audiobooks Suspense Thrillers

The Pursuit (Book Thoughts) by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

I decided to finish out the Lee Goldberg portion of the Fox and O’Hare series and was not disappointed.  Book 4 – The Scam – was my least favorite in the series and I almost didn’t read The Pursuit but now I’m glad I did.

The action was back.  The heist and con were dangerous, exciting, and interesting, and the bad guy was actually pretty dark in how he treated his employees (and was planning on killing tons of Americans).

A new character was introduced, if anyone remembers the robbery that the team accidentally botched in The Chase – the leader is brought back as a sewer expert.  Oh my gosh he had me cracking up with laughter because he took himself so seriously, but he did his job.  It was also nice to drop back in on Montreal, one of my favorite cities!

The regular team is back as well, Willie and Boyd and the crew.  We finally see some chemistry and action between Kate O’hare and Fox too, which *even I* was ready for at this point.  I’m glad Jake (her dad) approves too.  I’m also glad that he got to pass his love for rocket launchers onto Willie!

The characters carry these books for sure even when all else fails.  Jake always manages to bring in some amazing old military buddies and the entire team has great chemistry at this point. I always say there is banter for days but it’s true!.  There’s a new office assistant type character as well that I think was a Goldberg addition 😂

I think what finally set this one apart was the ultimate danger and complexity of the con – I do love medical things and the bio terror / terrorism angle was something new for the series. Also it seemed like a lot of bad guys got shot and killed – and the FBI was like GUYS YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN! 

Overall: if you think there’s a book 3-4 slump, I would keep reading for this one.  You can always check out the audio as well, Scott Brick can do no wrong and delivers a solid no frills narration with plenty of vocal variety!

Categories
audiobooks Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

Before I Go To Sleep (Book Thoughts) by S.J. Watson

Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson is a slightly older (2011) psychological thriller & suspense novel.  It is probably the book that kicked off the more recent popularity of the ‘amnesia trope’ as I have seen many books peg themselves as ‘for fans of…’ this one.

Between that and the fact that I wanted to watch the movie, I bumped this one up on my backlist!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Before I Go To Sleep
  • Author: SJ Watson
  • Publisher & Release: HarperCollins, June 2011
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ by nature slightly repetitive, but still a good domestic psychological suspense

Here is the synopsis via GoodReads:.

Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.

Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.

Christine wakes up every day and has no idea about … Anything. Where is she? Who is this stranger in het bed? Why is she 47 now?

Every day, her husband reorients her and then heads odd to work.  She is contacted by, and then begins to work with a new doctor, in secret, and starts writing down daily events and what her husband tells her.  Things get even weirder when she realizes the strange man – her husband apparently – lies to her.

The game for the reader becomes trying to decide if Ben is lying because he is sick of living day in day out with an amnesiac?  Are the memories of losing a son too painful for him? Is Christine just paranoid? Or… Is it something more sinister.  Also, where does this new Dr – Dr. Nash – fit into everything?

While the book is by nature very repetitive at first, it got definitively creepy and more thrilling towards the end. I guessed the ‘who’ but not the ‘why’ at all, and the WHY is definitely the grabbing point.  The last 25% was very exciting and for me that made up for the slower start.

The psychology was pretty cool too, I enjoyed reading about different types of amnesia and the therapy, and then seeing the figurative walls coming down.

That ending though, that ending 😂

I would recommend this one for fans of domestic thrillers and a man writing hilarious descriptions of a weiner. Oh yes – after the third time a penis was described as “comical”, I had to butt out and see if the author was a man or woman.  Not to say that as a woman, I don’t tend to find penises comical – but this was definitely a man writing the sexy scenes 😂

A note on the audio: If anyone is an audio fan, I think Orlagh Cassidy was a properly confused and then horrified sounding narrator.  Christine spent most of her time either confused, scared, hopeful or hopeless, and Cassidy conveyed that all very well.  I loved her accent and also think that the audio would make this book more enjoyable for those who (like me) tend to lose focus with repetitive text.  It runs 11hours 32 minutes from HarperAudio and I obtained my copy through Libby!

Categories
Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

My Wife Is Missing (ARC Review) by DJ Palmer

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for the free early copy of My Wife Is Missing by DJ Palmer! All opinions are my own.

Holy crap friends, do you ever find it hard to talk about books without giving anything away?? This is one of those books where the less you know going in, the better!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: My Wife Is Missing
  • Author: DJ Palmer
  • Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, 05/10/22
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ I enjoyed this one!

Blurb from Amazon –

When a woman disappears with her two children, one husband will do anything to find them–even confront the secrets of his own past–in D. J. Palmer’s My Wife Is Missing, a twisty thriller from the author of The New Husband

(The synopsis is way too long so I wrote my own)! My Wife is Missing is another super twisty thriller from DJ Palmer. Michael and Natalie are on a family a trip to NYC. Michael goes to get pizza then returns to their hotel room to find his family missing. According to some video footage, it appears they all left willingly.

Michael thinks he knows why she ran and is determined to find his family, without revealing any of his personal history to the cops or the detective who seems intent on following.  Michael might have a dark past but Natalie has insomnia, and could be a danger to the kids….

My thoughts: I liked this one! I was never bored and DJ Palmer knows how to keep me guessing. I liked the alternating points of view between the husband and wife and having to guess which direction the book would go.

This was a fast paced read with plenty of surprising reveals, a dark history to unravel, and multiple characters to dislike.  Palmer is also notorious for big old “wtf” endings.

I think if it wasn’t quite so much right at the end, I would have easily 5 starred this one.  I had the same issue with The New Husband, although I want to stress that DJ Palmer is still an auto read author me at this point.

Definitely recommend this one for fans of twisty domestic thrillers that will keep you guessing til the end. The book is out 5/10!

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

Near Dark (book thoughts) by Brad Thor

I love books with international spy intrigue.  I have wanted to try a Brad Thor thriller and Near Dark was available.

I swear I am 100% impulse reading – not even mood – just pure impulse reading this month.  I saw the famous French cathedral on the cover and said “ok, that will be cool”!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Near Dark
  • Series: Scot Harvath #19
  • Author: Brad Thor
  • Publisher & Release: Atria, July 2020
  • Length: 349 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⚡ I’m willing to talk but it didn’t work as a standalone

Here’s the synopsis:

Scot Harvath returns in the newest thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor.

The world’s largest bounty has just been placed upon America’s top spy. His only hope for survival is to outwit, outrun, and outlast his enemies long enough to get to the truth.

But for Scot Harvath to accomplish his most dangerous mission ever—one that has already claimed the lives of the people closest to him, including his new wife—he’s going to need help—a lot of it.

Not knowing whom he can trust, Harvath finds an unlikely ally in Norwegian intelligence operative Sølvi Kolstad. Just as smart, just as deadly, and just as determined, she not only has the skills, but also the broken, troubled past to match Harvath’s own.

– from GoodReads

So who put a 100 million dollar bounty and a pool of assassins after Harvath?

I have heard that the Scot Harvath books are excellent international spy thrillers.  Unfortunately Near Dark is #19 in the series  and while usually these types of books can be read as standalones, this one just didn’t work.

It is based very heavily on the events of the past few books, with TONS of recap. I think if I had read the prior books, the recap would be boring, and since I hadn’t, I had no clue what they were talking about.  Also since I don’t know the characters that had died, all the grief and past recollections didn’t affect me.

Having read a few other reviews from long time series readers, I’m not too far off the mark there. Either way there was tons of intrigue and I think it would be worth trying prior novels in the series.

It also took a long time for Harvath to do anything exciting since he spent much of the book reeling from prior events and in hiding.

Once the action got going it does seem like Thor can write a good spy thriller. I liked Harvath and Sorvi, the Norwegian spy. These characters just kick ass and have some Bond-like qualities and sometimes that’s what books need.  I liked that he went there with the torture and murders too. 

My favorite side character was Nicholas the dwarf.  A real dwarf isn’t something I see often in books and he was hilarious plus a brilliant hacker.  Would love to go back and read the history there.

In short … I would start back at the beginning  and try the first book in the series before judging too harshly. The recapped action sounded awesome but I can’t recommend these as standalones based off Near Dark.

Categories
audiobooks Mysteries Suspense Thrillers

The Guest List (book thoughts) by Lucy Foley

I am about to dive back into another fantasy and sci-fi binge.  While I love reading indie, it’s been fun to try a few new and different popular authors this month, the last of them being Lucy Foley.

I see her novels on Bookstagram FREQUENTLY and figured I should give her a shot, even if her name makes me giggle as a nurse 😂

Anyway – Libby had The Guest List available and I tend to LOVE full cast audiobooks.  I don’t think I could have finished if it was a book – the atmosphere and location worked but the format and story was rough for me

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Guest List
  • Author: Lucy Foley
  • Publisher & Release: William Morrow, June 2020
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐ for fans of the mystery genre

Here’s the synopsis:

wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner  – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I can definitely see where critics were comparing this to a Christie novel but it was very hard for me to not know the crime or victim up front. I’ve been spoiled by modern thrillers where, when it’s relevant, we almost always know who the victim is.  How am I supposed to guess who did it or why if I don’t know what I’m guessing at?

There was so much back story about the couple and the husband’s Uni and wedding plans and etc etc. These aren’t things I typically care to read about so I was honestly pretty bored. She kept hinting at some obviously dark events in the past – at least the reveals were pretty entertaining but the hints were so vague.

The best part was probably the descriptions of the island and the haunted atmosphere in Aoife’s chapters, but even that could have been amped up more. Irish folklore and legends always have a place in stories, and a few were mentioned in name only.

I think if we had known who died earlier on it would have been a lot more interesting.  The family drama was kind of entertaining but at the same time I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

Regarding the audio! I liked the female narrators but the men left something to be desired. Some of the female narrators really did not do convincing men either. I definitely didn’t like the present tense chapters where eventually the crime was narrated.

If you like this closed door mystery genre of books, I could still recommend this one, although I’ve read many better ones (personal opinion) recently that kept me on my toes and got exciting much sooner.

Categories
Fiction Suspense Thrillers

The Favor (ARC Review) by Nora Murphy

Thank you so much to Minotaur Books for the free digital advanced copy of The Favor by Nora Murphy! All opinions are my own

I have mixed but overwhelmingly positive feelings about this book. It is a gripping domestic thriller that I read in two sittings. The author is a lawyer who has worked with survivors of intimate partner violence and it’s obvious she knows what she is writing about. My only issue was with one of the points of view that just didn’t ring true.  I would definitely recommend The Favor to anyone who enjoys a fast paced stressful domestic thriller.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Favor
  • Series: N/a
  • Author: Nora Murphy
  • Publisher & Release: Minotaur Books, 05/31/22
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ yes for fans of domestic thrillers

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

A gripping debut domestic suspense novel, The Favor explores with compassion and depth what can happen when women pushed to the limit take matters into their own hands.

Staying is dangerous. Leaving could be worse.

Leah and McKenna have never met, though they have parallel lives.

They don’t—ever—find themselves in the same train carriage or meet accidentally at the gym or the coffee shop. They don’t—ever—discuss their problems and find common ground. They don’t—ever—acknowledge to each other that although their lives have all the trappings of success, wealth and happiness, they are, in fact, trapped.

Because Leah understands that what’s inside a home can be more dangerous than what’s outside. Driving past McKenna’s house one night, she sees what she knows only too well herself from her own marriage: McKenna’s “perfect” husband is not what he seems. She decides to keep an eye out for McKenna, until one night, she intervenes.

Leah and McKenna have never met. But they will

This is a shorter and very fast paced read that will be perfect for summer reading.  Like I said I read it in two sittings and have no regrets.

Both of the women have a present tense point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed their narratives and was just downright scared for them the whole time in the current storyline. As the author writes in the afterword,  IPV occurs among white collar professionals and it is just terrible how these things can happen even to well educated women like Leah and McKenna. They are respectively a lawyer and doctor. There was a second timeline that started when Leah got married and worked towards present day events, showing how things devolved once the husband got control

Once a crime occured and the third voice is introduced, I unfortunately thought the detective’s POV detracted from the book. The whole side storyline involving his partner showed that some people don’t escape the violence and may have helped to toggle his understanding of events. It generally felt distracting though. The detective felt like a very cookie cutter character and even just with some of the generic investigator lines that he said it was difficult to feel anything for him. I also think that due to the nature of the crime in the novel there would be no way that he could start to close the case so early. The social pressure would be unbelievable, heck maybe I’ve read too many procedurals but it seems like some special crime crew would get involved if he wanted to close the case. What happened definitely works for the book but it just didn’t feel real at all

The only other silly thing was that one of the women mentioned the importance of financial independence, well before the control and coercion started, but then didn’t hesitate to transfer all of her funds into a joint account when she got married. All of your funds – hello that’s not maintaining your independence! Good advice there for women to absolutely not do that and maintain a portion of their own finances. It was also shown that some banking related things can be subverted with forged signatures, but I thought banks required most of those forms to be signed in person?

Don’t mind me please I am just splitting hairs now. These things absolutely worked in the scope of the novel. The Favor is a thrilling, suspenseful, quick read and contains a list of resources for suspected abuse at the end as well as a thoughtful afterword which I think added a lot to the novel.  One good thing that the detective character accomplished was identifying signs that IPV may be happening to somebody, as in, what does it look like to people in their social circle?

Breakneck pace, suspense, danger, women you’ll care about, and I think the tough topics were handled well and without judgement.

Definitely do pick this one up if it sounds up your alley, these characters have a heck of a story. Out in May!