Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

Truth Seeker

A dead child.
A girl locked away for his murder.
A mysterious gift.

Locked up for the murder of a boy she tried to save, eighteen year old Aleeta Veritras is determined to bring the real killer to justice.

Except, no one believes she didn’t do it. No one believes the strange gift she claims helped her find the boy. And no one believes that last night, locked in her cell, she glimpsed the killer again for the first time in three years.

But the more she digs, the more she finds herself tangled in lies. And there are those who will kill to keep the truth hidden.

“Truth Seeker” is a crime/thriller with a hint of the paranormal.

 

Link.

Writing this book was a long journey. I wrote the first draft all the way back in 2012. I used it in one of the editing courses I completed, filling it full of red pen for months before ripping it all apart, writing three separate outlines before finding the right one. Then it was time to start the real work! I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. Then the red pen came out again.

Three years after writing the first word it’s as ready as it’ll ever be.

When I wrote this I was going through a hard time. I was applying for job after job and getting nowhere. I had a lot to offer. A lot of tenacity, a lot of dedication and skill. I was frustrated. Once, I applied to a post where I knew someone in the company. They told me they had to stand up for me in order for me to get it. Why? What was so terrible about me that I kept on getting turned down?

I’m autistic.

Now I can’t be sure that was the problem every time, but in that case it definitely was. And from the amount of times I’d be turned down for not answering a question in a straight forward manner, or ‘not being the right fit’ I guess my autism was seen as a bigger problem than I’ve ever considered it to be. I declared my autism, I’d be turned down. I didn’t declare it, I’d be turned down (it can be pretty obvious in stressful situations like interviews). I made it to interview level for medical school two years in a row. At every school I failed the interview due mostly to poor ‘non verbal communication skills.’

I was angry. I wanted to prove myself to the world, and at every turn got held back. So I wrote this book.

Aleeta has a gift. That gift has the power to do great things. And there’s nothing Aleeta wants more than to do great things with this gift. Sounds simple, right? Sounds like the basis for any good superhero.

But life isn’t simple. More often life will look at what you can’t do instead of what you can. It will jump to blame and be slow to reward. And somehow through all that you need to stay open to the possibility that things will change. That the dream you’re holding will come true.

Aleeta’s struggle has more guns and missing children than mine did, but looking back a lot of my feelings echoed in her. Along with some of the realizations I came to at the time.  In case you missed it, here’s the link again.

Coming up soon are lots of short stories and some more books in the Crystal Wolves stories. Here’s the link to the first in that series.

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I’ve read quite a bit of Lehane’s work recently. Some I’ve liked more than others, but there hasn’t been a book I’ve hated. This one is no exception, although I did find myself expecting more of it than I got.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book. It’s five stars for me, no question. I think I just loved the movie so much that this book had impossible standards to live up to when I already knew the twist. Teaches me to watch the film before I read the book.

Despite that I enjoyed the journey even when I knew the destination. I felt the book delved a little deeper into the great friendship that develops between Teddy and Chuck. That was one of my favourite parts, along with the wonderfully winding journey Lehane leads you on to through this book. For anyone that hasn’t seen the movie though, it will be the twist that takes center stage. I remember being blown away by it.

Before I go any further, here’s the blurb:

The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new -partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple-murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades–with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.

We’ve got an isolated island, creepy mental hospital setting, a big mystery that gets even bigger, secret codes, and a hurricane. Awesome, right? All of this takes place in the cold war which adds an extra layer of suspicion over everything. This book isn’t confusing to understand, but you need to wait around until the end to get it. Things get very confusing before they get clarified, but as always Lehane leaves clues, so if you’re watching closely you might see some things that point you toward where the book is going.

For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21686.Shutter_Island?from_search=true

For my reviews on the previous books in the series go to:

Book 1: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/book-review-wednesday-virals-4-stars/

Book 2: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/book-review-we…rals-2-4-stars/

Book 2.5: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/book-review-we…ok-2-5-5-stars/

 

I feel like the series has grown up in this book. It’s a little more serious. As serious as a series can be when the main characters get infected with a virus that gives them superpowers, find pirate treasure, and stumble into a crazy murderer’s elaborate game all in less than a year!

So, Hi takes up geocaching, which is where people bury things for others to find. The cache contains a puzzle that they solve to get to the next cache. This is where things stop being a game. It contains a fake bomb, and a warning from the gamemaster that if they stop playing his game then he’ll explode a real one.

People die in this book. In the previous books there’ve been a lot of close calls, and we’ve had some mentioned murders, and a couple dead bodies that died long ago. In this one we see a recent death that the kids might’ve been able to stop, and that hits them hard.

This book is a lot darker than the previous two. The boys aren’t following around a head-strong Tory who’s determined to solve a mystery for whatever reason. They’re being dragged around by a madman who for once might be cleverer than them. It’s a nice change that adds some variety into the series.

It may just be me, but the characters seem to have more even roles in this book. Instead of Tory doing most of the work, everyone chips in to save the day. Tory’s dad even shows up to provide a heroic moment. I think that was one of my very favorite parts.

And for once there isn’t a picture perfect happy ending. Most things are wrapped up, but there’s a twist that I didn’t expect that really tugged at my heart strings and showed me how fond I’ve become of these characters.

I won’t lie to you. This isn’t the best written series, but they are addicting. The characters aren’t as fleshed out as they could be, but they’re funny and kindhearted. The puzzles are fun (though as with the previous book some are so simple I was wondering how they couldn’t get them.) The plots, while not deep, are enjoyable and filled with action. I’m definitely hanging around for the next book.

For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7744611-code

 

For my reviews on the previous Virals books go to:

Book 1: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/book-review-wednesday-virals-4-stars/

Book 2: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/book-review-we…rals-2-4-stars/

This one is a short story. Only 80 pages. It took a while to get into for me, because the other books have only had Tory’s POV, and this one gets into all the Virals heads. This doesn’t mean it was bad. On the contrary, it was neat to see what they were thinking, especially Ben. It did take a few chapters to get used to it though.

We also get to see Temperance. She is one smart lady. All the adults in the previous books have been pretty clueless about what’s going on with the kids, but if anyone’s likely to work it out, it’ll be her. Good thing she’s not around often.

So, there’s been a break in at Loggerhead. Of course that means headstrong Tory HAS to sneak in and try to crack the case. She didn’t need to. Her Aunt Tempe is there for a visit and plans to do her own investigation. And it’s not like they can tell everyone they solved the case. Maybe it’s the thrill of solving the puzzle, or maybe she just wanted to be sure the thief wouldn’t get away with it. Either way, I wouldn’t want to be her friend and get dragged along on all these dangerous missions. They were in a crime scene that was just about to be searched! What if the wrong person noticed some evidence they left behind and accused them of the break in?

I enjoy these books, but sometimes they annoy me. It’s like part of me goes ‘cool, another law broken. Excitement!’ And another part of me wants to yell at them to ‘stop. Think about what they’re doing. Make a smart choice.’

Overall this book won me over. Five stars. It’s a fun little tale. The plot is simple, but with only 80 pages it had to be. I prefer sticking to Tory’s POV for the novels, but for this shorter story it was interesting to see how everyone’s thought processes worked. Tempe was a cool addition.

If you’ve enjoyed the other Viral books then check this one out. It’s worth a read. Word of warning though: if you haven’t read the previous books you’ll be hopelessly lost, so check out them first.

For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17472970-shift

My review of Virals 1: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/book-review-wednesday-virals-4-stars/

I’m a fan of Kathy Reichs Temperance Brennan series, which is how I got into these younger books. They’re a lot of fun, but they are definitely aimed at a younger age group, so be warned. They remind me a lot of the Famous Five series I used to love as a kid. Teenagers get involved in crazy adventures, and somehow make it out to save the day. Totally unrealistic, but fun!

While the book starts with a recap, you’re still going be pretty confused if you haven’t read the first book. Check out the above link if you want to read what I thought of that one. The characters are fun. The main character Tory is a bit of a Mary Sue at times. That can get a little annoying. But at least she has agency. Sure, she’s suspiciously good at a lot of stuff for a teenager, and seems too sure of herself at times, but she is definitely not a damsel in distress.

So I wouldn’t call her a total Mary Sure. Others will have different definitions, but to me a true Mary Sue is someone who everyone loves even when they don’t lift a finger or do anything worthwhile in the story. Of course if they had to diffuse a bomb they magically could because they’re perfect, but for most of the story they’re sitting around doing nothing and getting fawned over.

Tory just has a few minor traits of Mary Sue. Her skill set seems a bit too advanced, which wouldn’t bother me if she also had some weaknesses pointed out. She definitely isn’t fawned over by everyone, but has a couple boys besotted with her with little reason given.  Thankfully she does make occasional mistakes, and has earned the loyalty her friends show her. Overall she’s pretty badass, and I only point out this occasional annoyance I have with the character in case some of you coming from book one have noticed this and hoped she’d get better in book two. Nope, sorry. Not in book two. On the plus side, she keeps the cool parts of her personality as well as the annoying parts.

Book two can be summed up in five words: Totally awesome, and totally unrealistic.

We’re searching for pirate treasure in this book guys. Pirate treasure!!! There’s puzzles to work out. Some easy enough that I was shaking my head at the book going ‘seriously guys, use those genius brains,’ and some hard enough that I had to wait for the explanation like a good little reader.

Why pirate treasure, you ask? Well, if they don’t get serious money soon the logger institute is going to shut down, their parents will be out of jobs, and the virals will be strewn far and wide across america. Tory hears of a pirate treasure people have been searching for hundreds of years without any luck. She decides this is it. Instant pay day.

Oh Tory. If you came to live in the real world, you would be so disappointed.

Though, to be fair they do have their work cut out for them. Other people are after the treasure too, and those people have guns. It’s a fun ride if you don’t expect too much realism.

For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8709640-seizure

 

I didn’t like this book as much as the first in the series: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/book-review-wednesday-dresden-files-storm-front-5-stars/ but it still kept me entertained.

Our favorite wizard detective consultant meets werewolves in this book. I really like the thought put into the werewolves. There are several different types, a nod to varying lore of werewolf like creatures around the world. Of course the original lore can be flimsy and variable, so the author Jim Butcher has thought carefully about how to fit together the pieces into his own lore. It works well.

The wolves range from scary to downright terrifying (you’ll know that one when you come across it). We meet a few different types of wolves in this book. Every one of them seemed to be there for a reason, so it didn’t feel too crowded, and the interactions and comparisons between the types was interesting.

As usual the plot revolved around solving a mystery. People are getting killed around town, and Dresden and kickass detective Murphy are the only ones who seem to have any kind of clue who or what is doing the killings. Only problem is Murphy is in hot water with internal affairs due to the events of the last book, so she, and thus Dresden aren’t supposed to get involved.

Overall I loved the book. The plot felt a little off rhythm at times, but I think overall it worked out. Reading it, I was worried as there were some very cool high action scenes that built for a while and were just wonderful. I worried the finale might pale in comparison, but the ending was satisfying.

The characters were great. Murphy is definitely one of my favs. Their relationship goes through some development in this book, leading on from events in the last book. I like that the author isn’t afraid to play with his characters, to explore and change them.

The only thing that stopped this from being five stars for me is that Dresden’s magic seemed overly convenient. Now, I don’t mind him being powerful if it sticks to the limitations the author made clear in the first book. Most importantly, if he uses his power, he can tap himself out and need to recharge.

Most of the time the author seemed to follow that rule. Dresden did get weaker after using his power a lot, but there was at least one scene where he was struggling and going ‘I’m tapped out,’ and then boom, he was Mr impressive and powerful again. Maybe I missed an explanation, but that part knocked me out of the story with a raised eyebrow.

Summary: Good book. If you liked the first one then check it out. If you haven’t read the first one, then read it! That one was a definite five stars.

If you want to read more reviews on his book, follow the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91477.Fool_Moon

 

Here’s the blurb:

While investigating the brutal murders committed by a mysterious serial killer known only as “Raithe,” bookish LAPD Detective Sarah Milton is unprepared to have her entire world turned upside down. Innate powers to see the dead, lying dormant since her mother’s murder, have reawakened in her after a near-fatal shooting. Along for the ride is Sarah’s irrepressible thirteen-year-old childhood “imaginary friend,” Anna Nigma, a most atypical poltergeist. Amid fears for her sanity, Sarah must come to grips with the realization that her reality is now a mix of the natural and supernatural, where powerful, ancient mystic symbols can grant amazing powers over life and death, and paranormal influence extends even into her current murder investigation. Forced to hide her abilities from everyone, Sarah, aided by her spectral friend, has no choice but to bring Raithe to justice on her own, before the sinister forces behind his murder spree claim yet another victim.

Wow is what I thought. I was given a copy to read and review, so since I didn’t go out and get this from a best seller list I was open to the possibility that I might not like this book.

Wrong. I loved it. About the only complaint I had was a minor thing about possibly too much telling rather than showing at the start, and the motivation for the murders seeming obvious to me, but I think those are my quirks. I’m the sort that can tell a twist is coming a mile away, and that in no way stopped me from enjoying it. I’m also an author in the middle of taking an editing class, so I see holes in everything.

Saying that, this book had very few holes. I loved the relationship between Sarah and Anna, and was on the edge of my seat when I knew Anna was about to make her appearance. It was a nice mystery story-line, decent amount of twists, nice action, good thread of romance that didn’t take away from the main plot, and most of all great humor. I definitely saw the influence of Joss Wheldon in play, but again the humor was played right, not taking away from tension when it needed to be tense.

The descriptions were very vivid. I found myself halfway through thinking this would make a great movie because I could see it so clearly in my head. Not sure if that will happen since movies out lately seem to pick the most angst ridden books, but we can hope. Maybe a tv series. It has that sort of vibe.

Anyway. The major problem I had with this book I noticed a third of the way through (but I’m sure I just didn’t notice it earlier), I couldn’t put it down. I had work to do. I had sleep to do, but no, I wanted to see what happened next. What funny thing would Anna do next? Would Sarah’s coworkers find out? What trouble is Sarah going to land herself into next time?

Then it was over, gone, but unlike other books I wasn’t overwhelmed with sadness because the author was nice enough to give a satisfying conclusion. That said, I do want to read the next one and I will be looking out for what the author writes next.

Seriously, check this one out. It’s by an indie author and only has 36 ratings on goodreads. That’s a tragedy for such an great thriller / humor novel. More people need to read this book and spread the word! It’s just so funny and awesome, and everything I could wish a book to be.

Here’s the link to other reviews on this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17450007-reading-the-dead

Another Dennis Lehane. Love this guy.

This one was harder to read than my previous one of his: ‘A drink before the war.’ They both deal with difficult topics, but this one seemed to go deeper. I don’t think it was any more graphic, but as a lot of the book was based around one event that tied the three main characters together: one of them getting abducted and abused as a child, and this character was a pov character, it went deeper into the psychology.

Here’s the blurb:

Reluctantly, Sean Devine confronts the world of violence and pain when his childhood friend’s daughter is murdered and the investigation brings him face-to-face with a vigilante killer and a man with a dangerous secret.

I’m not sure that blurb does the best job describing it. Mystic River is a mystery. Most of it revolves around Jimmy’s, Sean’s childhood friend’s daughter being murdered. Sean is detective in the case and sets out to find out who did it. And then there’s Dave, the friend abducted while they were playing. He came home the night Jimmy’s daughter was murdered covered in blood.

I guessed all the twists before they came about, but that didn’t stop it from being a good read, even if I puzzled out who did it a short way through the book. Lehane gives enough clues for the reader to be able to work things out before the conclusion, and while I prefer being shocked, I didn’t mind that. Sure, the puzzle was interesting while it lasted, but it was still rewarding to see the characters find their way to the truth.

Disclaimer here: I’m told I’m unusually good at puzzling out who done its, so the twists may not be as obvious as they appeared to me, and even if they are, it’s nice sometimes for the reader to feel cleverer than the characters.

Lehane’s writing was great. Don’t expect the humor you get in his Kenzie and Gennaro series, but you still get the emotional poignancy. Even though I knew the twists were coming, they still wacked a emotional punch.

Everything wrapped up pretty neatly by the end, even if some bits were so darn sad. All in all, I’d say this was a good read. If you liked the film, read it. If you like mysteries, read it. I think the only people I’d warn not to read this are those who only like ‘happy, happy, rainbows’ books. This is not one of those.

For more reviews on this book see: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21671.Mystic_River

 

I’ve found a new favorite author: Dennis Lehane. That’s how much I liked this book.

Here’s the blurb:

Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro know their home, rough neighborhoods of South Boston. Their first PI job seems simple – find Jenna, a black cleaner, and confidential state documents she stole. Extortion, assassination, and child prostitution extend from the ghetto to the government. The worst atrocities are closest to home, and committed in the name of love.

This is the first book in a series I’m eager to read the rest of. Lehane doesn’t shirk from tough topics, something I learned reading mystic river, which I’ll write a review on eventually. Considering that, it was surprising how much humor there was in this book.

Patrick, our narrator, is full of snark. But when things get serious, he gets serious too. That about sums up the book. There are lines that made me laugh out loud, lines that made me want to cry, and even lines that were so insightful they made me look at the world a different way.

I went into this steeling myself against the difficult topics like child prostitution I knew would be brought up, but they didn’t appear until a good chunk of the way into the book which I thought was a good move. It let me get to know the characters a bit more before you get the punch in the gut that brings that topic into play. So if you’re a bit afraid of the entire book being full of that issue, don’t. When it comes up it does get a bit graphic, but it doesn’t appear until a good third of the way in, and I think was treated respectfully.

The thing I loved most about this book was the relationship between Patrick and Angie. They were just so close, like finishing sentences type of close. They seemed to know each other better than they knew themselves. There’s one moment when they get in an argument, and Angie knows just what to say to poke the deepest most vulnerable part of Patrick, and Patrick immediately does the same to her. And then a couple minutes later they brush it all away and are best friends again. To me, that’s the definition of true friendship. You know each other inside and out, including the parts you don’t want to admit. No one can destroy you as easily as your best friend can, and sometimes you fight, but you always make up again.

And I can’t write a review on this book without mentioning Bubba. He’s been their friend for a long, long time, and he hates just about everyone but them. He was awesome, just about the cutest giant gun toting psychopath ever. There were times when I honestly didn’t know whether to grin at his loyalty to his friends, or be very, very afraid.

The plot was good. Twisty enough to be enjoyable. There was at least one big twist in there I didn’t see coming, which is always a neat thing. Not anything that made me throw up my hands and go ‘oh my god,’ but a decent amount of twists.

My opinion: if you like mysteries, try this one. I loved it so much I’m thinking of buying the next one, even though I have over a hundred books I already have access to that I really should read first.

Link to more reviews on this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21685.A_Drink_Before_the_War