Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lisa Scottoline - Daddy's Girl

Natalie Greco loves being a law professor, even though she can't keep her students from cruising during class and secretly feels like Faculty Comic Relief. She loves her family, too, but as a bookworm, doesn't quite fit into the cult of Greco football, headed by her father, the team captain. The one person she feels most connected to is her colleague, Angus Holt, a guy with a brilliant mind, a great sense of humor, a gorgeous facade, and a penchant for helping those less fortunate.
When he talks Natalie into teaching a class at a local prison, her comfortably imperfect world turns upside down.

A violent prison riot breaks out during the class, and in the chaos, Nat rushes to help a grievously injured prison guard. Before he die, he asks her to deliver a cryptic message with his last words: "Tell my wife it's under the floor."

The dying declaration plunges Nat into a nightmare. Suddenly, the girl who has always followed the letter of the law finds herself suspected of a brutal murder and encounters threats to her life around every curve. Now not only are the cops after her, bur ruthless killers are desperate to keep her from exposing their secret. In the meantime, she gets dangerously close to Angus, whose warmth, strength, and ponytail shake her dedication to her safe boyfriend.

With her love life in jeopardy, her career in the balance, and her life on the line, Nat must rely on her resources, her intelligence, and her courage. Forced into hiding to stay alive, she sets out to safe herself by deciphering the puzzle behind the dead guards last words... and learns the secret to the greatest puzzle of all - herself.


The books description is quite accurate so there isn't much to add.
Halfway through the last third of the book it lost my interest. I was interested in the ending but wasn't at all excited during the whole book and didn't expect too much.
In the end I was surprised to find a twist there but that's all about it.
The characters, even the main character Nat Greco, who should be at least some sort of likeable, fell too flat which is very unfortunate because the whole book surrounds around her and her feelings for her family, boyfriend, the new man in her life and the current situation. It feels like closing the book and forgetting about her and the whole story.

Something cozy for days when you don't have anything else on your shelf.

Visit Lisa Scottoline.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 13, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060833149
ISBN-13: 978-0060833145

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bruce Elliot - Death Rites

A woman's nightmare
Nigth after night, Michelle Ransom is trapped in a terrifying dreamworld where the faceless bodies of murdered woman haunt her, drawing her ever closer to the edge of madness. Is it all in her mind ... or all too real ?

A cop's redemption
Since his wife's death, grief and alcohol have slowly consumed LAPD detective Amiel "Touch" Benson. Until a chance meeting with Michelle Ransom reminds him what he once was and what he once had.

A killer's ritual
When Michelle's visions come to life in very real and very disturbing crime scenes, Benson is forced to consider the impossible. Is Michelle truly psychic ? Or is she a suspect ?
Either way, Benson must risk everything to find out. Because the final ritual has already begun.


Sometime after Benson's wife death we find Benson in disturbing condition: grief and alcohol made him unreliable not really a pleasure to work with. His true friend and partner Amanda still on his side to hide his flaws but getting annoyed by his overall appearance and work attitude.
Their new case needs a leading detective and Benson still is the best. Surprisingly his old high school sweetheart Michelle Ransom seems to be somehow involved as she comes forward confessing about her dreams of dead girls, locations and the victims cry for help.

Is she truly a psychic or is she the crazy killer on an Egyptian trip who lately killed three girls by mummification or is someone playing a dangerous game and Michelle became the psychic receiver ?
Time pressures when her beautiful daughter Jana is abducted and together the team has to find the girl before she becomes the next victim of the Mummykiller.


I was a little bit disappointed by the second novel in this "series" which hasn't been continued since 2002. Compared to Still Life, the first novel, the characters, especially Amanda's felt a little bit flat this time but she's still sticking to her unloved husband, secretly wondering if things couldn't be better for her if she wouldn't work together with Benson, the man she secretly desires. She considers herself his friend and vice versa.

Benson is a wreck but when he notices how important a clear head and good work in this case becomes to him as a detective and personally he soon pulls himself together
becoming the detective he was.

Overall I liked it, the plot was nicely exercised but something was missing I couldn't quite fathom. It might be the feeling of reading a book that was made for TV instead of a novel.


Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Onyx (February 1, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451410335
ISBN-13: 978-0451410337

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bruce Elliot - Still Life

The line between artistic vision and insanity has been violently crossed. Mutilated bodies are being discovered almost daily-their gruesome remains meticulously arranged into grotesque shapes and forms.

Detective Amiel "Touch" Benson wants to stop him. To do so, he will have to work with the one person whom the artist confides in-radio psychologist Teri Fields, whose show the killer calls to let Benson know where the next corpse is located. They must race against time, for true art waits for no one-and there is a master at work.

His canvas: the city of Los Angeles.
His inspiration: the dying screams of his victims.
His passion: to create a masterpiece of death no one will ever forget.


When the famous The Dr. Teri Fields Show airs as usual everyone considered the last evenings call a huge prank announcing he's killed someone.
Very soon the listeners learn it was no prank at all.
A beautiful young girl has been found dead in her apartment. Her angelic features only disturbed through a fine cut through her throat, posing like an angel on her bed in clean sheets. Entering her bathroom detectives find a gruesome scenery of blood and stench. The victim has been drained of blood and was cleaned afterwards.

Detective Amiel ("Touch") Benson and his partner Amanda Blaine work the case and their first response is talking to the radio shows host Dr. Teri Fields who seems mighty disturbed by the last nights call and it's trueness.

The crimes scene otherwise seems clean except for some dust left by a drawing pen. The two detectives are clueless that they are in for a ride into the world of art and a disturbed killer artist meticulously working his scene.


Our protagonists are very likeable and human. Amiel, nickmaned Touch, is married to Liz, who suffers from bipolar disorder. They are still married but separated. Touch can't let go of her but secretly desires his beautiful partner Amanda who carries a package of her own. She is married to a man she loves but doesn't fulfill her needs.
They work together, dream of each other but they don't touch each other.
They both are very human, especially Touch who cares for his wife who rewards him with sugar but mostly vinegar.
When Touch meets the hypnotizing Dr. Fields he fells for her hard enough to almost screw up the whole investigation, Amanda's and his own career.
Their flaws make you want to read and learn more of them. Especially how their life went after the book.

Still Life is the first book in what was thought to be a series but unfortunately there has only been a second book since 2002 named Death Rites.


Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Onyx (May 8, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451409841
ISBN-13: 978-0451409843

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bill Floyd - The Killer's Wife

Six years after Nina Mosley discovered evidence linking her husband, Randy, to a string of murders across the country, she's finally settling into a new life with their seven-year-old son, Hayden, in Cary, N.C. Now calling herself Leigh Wren, Nina hopes that she's heard the last of her ex-husband, who's on death row in California. But when the father of one of Randy's victims tracks her down and exposes her identity, Nina knows her troubles are far from over. As friends shun her, Nina struggles to come to terms with her past. When Hayden's life is suddenly put in jeopardy, Nina must revisit Randy's crimes and uncover who's continuing his killing spree before it's too late.


Leigh Wren and her seven year old boy Hayden found a new life far away from their past, mostly Leigh's past. Leigh, who's former name was Nina Mosley, helped in the conviction of her ex-husband who killed nearly 12 known victims over the span of a decade and now is awaiting his execution on death row.
Living with suspicions and hidden fear buried deep inside her, she lived a life of questions without answers until her husband Randy got careless coming home with bruises and blood on his closes. Willing to finally share what he does he leaves the key to his shed where Nina discovers the necessary evidence for a conviction. Randy confessed on all accounts.

Now, six years later, she still lives a self-encapsulated life but gets along well with Hayden and her new career when she is approached by the father of one of Randy's victim. It is Charles Pritchett who came to expose her and her hiding place, to get justice and have people known who she is. In his eyes Nina's innocence was never cleared to his satisfaction.

The media frenzy begins and in the midst of it little Hayden is abducted and his teacher killed and mutilated frighteningly similar to Randy's victims.

The police has two instant subjects: Randy himself, who had strange letter conversations from death row and Charles Pritchett who threatened Nina and her child.


The Killer's Wife is Bill Floyd's debut novel which seems to be pieced together a little awkwardly but still entertaining.The reader learns about Nina's past and her current life as Leigh Wren but the shifting between past and present didn't make the cut for me. For the thriller reader there aren't much new additions or insights in a killers psyche.

Plot and writing style appear to be pretty basic but not boring. A fast read for the weekend. I'd read a next novel.


Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur (March 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312373392
ISBN-13: 978-0312373399

Friday, October 17, 2008

Brent Morgan - The Bell Witch - An American Haunting

The Bell Witch took up residence with John Bell's family in 1818. It was a cruel and noisy spirit, given to rapping and gnawing sounds before it found its voices.
With these voices and its supernatural acts, the Bell Witch tormented the Bell family. This extraordinary book recounts the only documented case in U. S. history when a spirit actually caused a man's death.

The local schoolteacher, Richard Powell, witnessed the strange events and recorded them for his daughter. His astonishing manuscript fell into the hands of novelist Brent Monahan, who has prepared the book for publication. Members of the Bell family have previously provided information on this fascinating case, but this book recounts the tale with novelistic vigor and verve. It is truly chilling.


The Bell Witch is a tale that allegedly happened in 1817/1818. The family Bell tormented by an evil spirit causing noises, pushing, slapping and cursing the family, especially John Bell, the father, and his daughter Betsy, eventually causing John Bell's death.

The way it is with tales over time things get messed up, a lot is added or worsened and so it seems exactly that happened with the Bell Witt Haunting.
There were several reasons why I couldn't finish the book:
First and foremost it couldn't keep up my interest. Although the author tried to stay factual it pretty much stayed too factual without creating the necessary atmosphere for the reader.
The things he writes about sound all too fictitious and it is hard to really be believed.

In the end the book feels like a tale - fairy that is.

Visit Brent Monahan.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (June 19, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312262922
ISBN-13: 978-0312262921

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cody McFadyen - The Darker Side (Smoky Barrett Series, Book 3)

Everyone has a secret they don't dare tell anyone.

He'll kill you for yours.

A lie, a long-ago affair, a dark desire - everyone has secrets they take to the grave. No one knew that better than FBI special agent Smoky Barrett. But what secret was a very young woman keeping that led to her very public murder ?
And what kind of killer was so driven and so brazenly daring that he'd take her life on a commercial airliner thirty thousand feed in midair, a killer so accomplished that he'd leave only a small souvenir behind ?

These are the questions that bring Smoky and her handpicked team of experienced manhunters from L. A. to the autumn chill of Washington, D. C., by order of the FBI director himself - and special request of a high-pwred grieving D. C. mother.

As a mother, Smoky knows the pain of losing a child - it nearly killed her once before. As a cop with her own twisted past, she takes every murder personally, which is both her greatest strength and her only weakness.
Brilliant, merciless, righteous, the killer Smoky is hunting this time is on his own personal mission, whose cost in innocent human lives he's only begun to collect.
For in his eyes no on is innocent; everyone harbors a secret sin, including Smoky Barrett.

Soon Smoky will have to confront a flawless killer who knows her flaws with murderous intimacy.


In this third novel Smoky Barrett and her team are summoned to Virginia, near Washington, D. C. to investigate the murder of Lisa Reid, born Dexter Reid, the almost transgendered son of Texas congressman Dillon Reid who's talked to be the next president of the United States. The victim was killed during a flight in mid air, the heart punctuated and a little cross with the number 143 stuck into the puncture wound.

When a second victim is found the team knows Reid's death wasn't necessaryly an act against the congressman but rather something the deceased had in common with the new victim. The M. O. similar to Read's, the new victims cross carries the number 142.
Is it possible there was a killer flying under the radar for years who killed 143 people ?

The team struggles to paint a picture of the person they are searching when online videos appear about the killing of Lisa Reid and all the other victims. They all had something in common: They sinned in their life. Homosexuality, sex, drugs, alcohol, infidelity, no sin is forgiven and The Preacher is going to get them.

Smoky's only way to find the perp is to figure out how he learned about his victims sins and the race against time begins with the announcement the next victim will be a child.


Although this novel can't keep up with the last two books, it keeps a lot of info about the characters in McFadyen's series. Revealing their secrets, flaws and feelings. Smoky's struggle to allow herself to be happy in her now since two years lasting relationsship with Tommy, James's gayness, Alan's alcohol abuse and Callie's Vicodin addiction and even Kirby, who's been introduced in the second books and seems to have become a part of the family has to reveal one of her secrets at the end.
They are a family kept together by shattered dreams, loss and eyes that saw too much.

The whole book seems to evolve slowly but is non the less enjoyable to read and learn about the characters. I really liked it and it was about time to learn a bit more.

Visit Cody McFadyen.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam (September 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553806947
ISBN-13: 978-0553806946

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cody McFadyen - The Face of Death (Smoky Barrett Series, Book 2)

"I want to talk to Smoky Barrett or I kill myself."

The girl is sixteen, at the scene of a grisly triple homicide, and has a gun to her head. She claims "the Stranger" killed her adoptive family, that he's been following her all her life, killing everyone she ever loved, and that no one believes her.

No one has. Until now.

Special Agent Smoky Barrett is head of the violent crime unit in Los Angeles, the part of the FBI reserved for tracking down the worst of the worst. Her team has been handpicked from among the nation's elite law enforcement specialists and they are as obsessed and relentless as the psychos they hunt; they'll have to be o deal with this case.

For another vicious double homicide reveals a killer embarked on a dark crusade of trauma and death; an "artist" who's molding sixteen-year-old Sarah into the perfect victim - and the ultimate weapon- But Smoky Barrett has another, more personal reason for catching The Stranger - an adopted daughter and a new life that are worth protecting at any cost.

This time Smoky is going to have to put it all on the line. Because The Stranger is all too real, all too close, and all too relentless. And when he finally shows his face, if she's not ready to confront her worst fear, Smoky won't have time to do anything but die.


Smoky Barrett and her team are the best of the best the FBI has to offer. They are the Violent Crime Unit. Minddivers skilled in diving into the minds of psychopaths.
Together with her adoptive daughter Bonnie, who lost her mother, Smoky's best friend, through the hands of a serial killer, they both begin to feel happy again. Embracing their new life, allowing themselves to be happy.

When Smoky receives a phone call she is needed at a triple homicide crime scene it seems odd that a girl is standing there holding a gun to her head demanding to speak to Smoky.
Her story: A stranger killed her new adoptive family. He took everything she ever cared for and everybody who every care for her including her parents 10 years ago and no one every believed her that she had to witness her parents death and two of her Foster families death.
The team soon learns the girl is speaking the truth and the investigation begins.

Up against a killer who seems disorganized but isn't, who is up to date what they do, they discover a cobweb of manipulate, threatened people around Sarah Langstorm. People who haven't spoken up for years to safe their lifes and the lifes of those they love.
The killer's goal is revenge, ruin the life of Sarah Langstorm, make her what he has become, shattered and crazy. The clues the team finds seems to be placed years in advance by this killer and nothing they find seems to be real or lead them further away.


When I read the first book Shadow Man in this series I knew I found a writer wholly satisfying me as the reader. I didn't expect to find a writer who gets to me emotionally - again.
I thought the little girl tied to her dead mother in book one got to me and there can't be any more more shocking until I read this book and dove into the strong emotions of a 16year-old recounting the story of her life, the witness of her parents murder in detail and those of her Foster families. I was wrong.
McFadyen is a genius who makes you feel for every single victim in his book. He makes you care, putting intensity in his books that create goosebumps and touches the heart. When I read the diary Sarah had written for Smoky I literally felt the terror but also felt the little happy things in her life shortly before they got taken away from her.

Overall there are a lot of characters coming into the book, playing an important role in what happened to Sarah and I absolutely admire that there is not a single loose end in end. I wonder if the book was written backwards and how the author made it to create a story such tight it takes your breath away.
I read an article in which McFadyen mentioned he didn't want anyone to read it and get away unscathed and for me, he archived this goal.

McFadyen is a huge dog lover and surprised me in mentioning his own dogs under different names, but with the same nickname "Black Forces of Destruction", two black Labrador Retrievers. I smiled because I remember reading about his two black Labs on his webpage and I clearly remembered this nickname and the reason why they are named like this.

McFadyen feels near, his book doesn't leave you, you should be afraid of what's coming next and you will have problems to find books that reach the same level.

Visit Cody McFadyen.

Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
Publisher: Bantam (July 29, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553589946
ISBN-13: 978-0553589948