Next Victim

Next Victim (Abby Sinclair and Tess McCallum Series #2) by Michael Prescott

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I picked this book up at a library book sale. I never realized that it was part of a series until I was going to post the book review on here. It is weird because the first book The Shadow Hunter, has nothing to do with Tess McCallum but featured Abby Sinclair.

Hmm…

And in this book there is no Abby Sinclair. I’m not sure why it is called the Abby Sinclair and Tess McCallum Series. Maybe they meet up later in the series?

Plot Synopsis:

FBI Agent Tess McCallum has been searching for  a serial killer for years. Barely anything is known about him other than the brand of duct tape he uses, the knife, etc. No one knows his name or anything else, just that he refers to himself as Mobius.

After he murdered her boyfriend, Tess became more determined than ever to get him. She goes after every lead and every person who has a ghost of a resemblance.

Meanwhile, Amanda Pierce is on the run from the federal government. She was working for a company that was creating a chemical weapon for the military. She has stolen it and was in the middle of trying to sell it, when she crossed paths with Mobius.

Now they are on a race against time as they have to find Mobius before he unleashes this chemical and kills millions.

But one thing is in their favor. When they were close to grabbing Mobius he slipped through them but left a very important clue behind. But will this clue be enough to find him? Or will al be lost?

I wonder…

Thoughts After Reading:

So when I first read this book I wanted to be a behavioral scientist and work for the FBI. I read this and was jazzed.

However, after I read the first book I reread this one and didn’t like it as much. This time it felt formulaic and predictable. In this book Tess had a personal connection to a death by the killer and was trying to hunt him down-proving herself and making up for the past-just like Abby.

Hmm…

The killer identity is a twist and it turns out to be someone they know professionally.

It gave me mixed feelings as it was a good thriller but was also…old hat.

It’s possible that Prescott might have done that to build a shared history for when they team up later. I’m not sure, but I’ll find out. When I start reading a series, I always finish it.

Eventually…

For more from Abby Sinclair and Tess McCallum Series, go to The Shadow Hunter

For more FBI Agent mysteries, go to Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla

For more serial killers, go to Candy from a Stranger

 

The October Game

original

“The October Game” from Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury

*Contains Spoliers*

Thoughts Before Reading:

Long After Midnight is a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury. While most of his work is science fiction, every now and then he writes something we can post on this blog. Originally I was just going to post something tomorrow, but thought hey what the heck! Why not post on Halloween? Espechially as I have one creepy and spooky story for you all.

witch

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Mich wants his wife dead.

gunshooting

But he doesn’t want to shoot her, it is not the right way to do it. She must be in agony, it must take time.

halloween-michael-myers-gif

It is Halloween night, Mich’s least favorite time of the year.

PumpkinHalloween

That night they are having a Halloween party and his wife, Louisa is getting everything ready from treats to games.

She flits around from room to room always leaving the room that Mich enters. Mich thinks of it as a game, following and asking for things but all the while thinking about killing her.

She finally locks herself in the bathroom and Mich cannot follow.

His daughter Marion approaches him, dressed as a skeleton. To further his anger, Louise had never wanted a child, but became pregnant with a girl. A girl that looked nothing like Mich and only like Louise, growning up following in her ways. And afterwards she could have no more. No child that looks like Mich. No son.

It's not fair.

It’s not fair.

Divorce wouldn’t hurt her,she would be free to marry someone else. No the only thing to really hurt her would be to get rid of Marion!

you're evil

That’s it Mich has decided to take her child away from her.

perfectplan

By 10 the party is winding down. Apples bobbed, the donkey’s tail pinned, the bottle spun, musical chairs completed, etc.

1920sparty

Mich is in the center of it all, playing along with the kids all the parents commenting on him.

wow

It was then time to go down to the cellar for the Haunted House.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Mich has the room pitch black. The witch is dead he says. She has been killed and here is the knife that she was killed with. And passes it around.

stabknife

He says the witch is dead and this is her head passing it on.

creepyew

One of the kids calls out that they know what this is all about.

gotthis

Chicken skin is used for skin, clay mold for the head, grapes for eyes, noodles for innards, etc. They tell him to shush and continue listening.

Mich then says, the witch came to harm  and this is her arm, passing it around. The witch is cut apart this is her heart.

clockwork_heart

And on it goes with each item being passed from person to person.

creepytumblr_mvlf7wEoGk1qcwyxho1_500

Some of the kids freak out and call to their parents, with them calming him. Louise calls to Marion, don’t be afraid it is all okay. But Marion doesn’t say anything.

That'sOdd

She’s calls out to her, but still no answer.

somethingisnotright0

Mich tells her to calm down that all is fine. But Louise continues to call out for her and everyone looking.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

One parent says to turn on the lights, and a boy goes upstairs to look.  Louise cries out while the items stop being passed along the room.

And then someone turns on the light.

scream

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Thoughts After Reading:

So in case you didn’t get it, he killed her. He killed his daughter.

Uh-oh-dexter-9352138-275-155

And passed around her body parts.

ouch-gif

I know, what a psychopath.

It is a creepy story, well-written, and incredibly sad.

feelspain

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

For more mystery reviews, check out The Murder at the Vicarage

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Whatever you do, I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween.

Sugar Cookie Murder

Ready for our next Christmas mystery in our Christmas countdown?!

christmas-bells

I give you:

Sugar Cookie Murder

Sugar Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #6) by Joanne Fluke

So like that other Hannah Swensen holiday mystery, Candy for Christmas, I didn’t like this one. This book cemented my dislike for the Hannah Swensen Holiday Mysteries.

IDon'tlikeit

Why you may ask? Well I’ll tell you.

So this book has an interesting premise. In Lake Eden it is the annual Christmas buffet.

christmastree

This year things are a bit different as they are running the final test of the Lake Eden recipes for the Lake Eden Holiday Buffet Cookbook.

joker-yum

Recently divorced Martin Dubinski just got married in Las Vegas and to a Vegas showgirl type woman, Brandi; all about the fur, glitter, and lack of manners.

showgirls

Many people dislike her; including the former Mrs. Shirley Dubinski who wants Martin back and Martin’s mother Babs.

Not-Good

In other news, Hannah main rival for Mike’s affections, Shawna Lee Quinn is on her way out of town. Great news for Hannah, but also sad as Mike is taking her to the airport and will be missing out on most of the great party.

poutsad

Meanwhile, Hannah is not very happy about the romance between her mother Delores, and some Englishman, Winthrop the III.

2013-11-27-bradpitt friends ugh slap face stupid

Part of her doesn’t like her mom moving on, while the other half doesn’t trust him.

Things seem to be going great at the Christmas buffet. Music, dancing, Mike and Norman; but then Delores’ donated antique knife is stolen.

What?

Hannah searches everywhere, and finds it. In Brandi’s dead body.

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

Whoever killed her returned to the community center; and with the storm ranging outside it is up to them to find the killer before they strike again!

theGamesAfoot-680x383

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Thoughts After Reading:

While the premise sounds good; killer in a locked building and they have to figure it out before they strike again, but it just falls flat.

horrible

The mystery’s resolution was seriously lacking.

And I seriously believe this book was just an avenue to promote her holiday recipes, a trap every one of her “holiday tales” seems to fall into. I give it zero stars.

thumbsdown

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Fudge Cupcake Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Sinister Sprinkles

For more reviews, go to Fudge Cupcake Murder

The Emperor’s Edge

Emperor'sEdge

The Emperor’s Edge (The Emperor’s Edge #1) by Lindsay Buroker

So this mystery is a little different as it is a fantasy novel. Yep, it has wizards, mystical creatures, and magic.

I-Love-Magic

Sword fights, questing, overcoming obstacles!

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-i-will-conquer-all-tomorrow-ab53d3

Plus a mystery to boot? What more could you want?

loveitSupernatural

Anyways so the book begins with our heroine, Amaranthe Lokdon. Amaranthe is a female police officer, which is highly unusual. The empire had just recently allowed women into those positions, but unfortunately for Amaranthe they aren’t promoting them any time soon.

well that's just great anchorman

Just because she’s a woman they won’t let her move on, but her slovenly and always late partner gets bumped up.

life'snotfairPrincessBride

Anyways, Amaranthe is an amazing police woman. She may be small, but manages to hold her own against criminals; whether it is with her blade or subduing them by knocking a shelf of coffee canisters on them.

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-i-will-conquer-all-tomorrow-ab53d3

One night Amaranthe notices a lot of smoke, which means fire. Her partner wants to just hang out and leave what isn’t their beat alone, but with Amaranthe’s urging they head down to the area. There they spot a merchant being robbed, of which Amaranthe single-handedly is able to stop.

It’s only after she has gotten everything sorted out that she realizes the emperor is there.

mysteriousSuspiciousit'syou

It turns out he was in the area for an inspection of the troops, but took refuge in the shop because of the fire. The young emperor, a boy still really, thanks the police, most ardently Amaranthe.

howyoudoing

He has to continue on his way, while Amaranthe and her partner head over to the place of the fire. The area held a large kiln, the whole building was set on fire with people inside it. Amaranthe finds this strange as the bodies were outside the kiln instead of placed inside, which would make more sense for destroying bodies. In fact, Amaranthe finds the whole thing suspicious.

strange-things-are-afoot-at-the-circle-k-bill-and-ted-gif1

Her partner believes that the killer was the assassin, Sicarius. Sicarius was almost a legend with the vast numbers of people he has killed. Except for the fact that he is very real, and currently in town.

Crap

But while everyone is eager to believe that is true, that it is Sicarius’ work, Amaranthe finds it hard to believe. Why would a trained assassin choose that way to murder people? It doesn’t seem right.

Somethings-fishy-here-GIF

She also finds a lot of strange broken pieces of pottery.

somethingisnotright0

But before she can investigate further, she is sent on her way as the detective team comes in.

When she gets back to headquarters she finds out that the Commander of the Armies, Hollowcrest wants to see her. He is the highest ranking official in the empire, the man in charge until the Prince is old enough to be King. This is a BIG deal.

Uh-oh-dexter-9352138-275-155

She goes to see him and finds out that he has read everything in her file, and most likely knows more about her life than she does. She was attending the women’s business school, but didn’t finish as her father became sick and died. She didn’t have enough to continue her final year, so instead lied about her age and joined the police force.

After Hollowcrest’s sneering at her decisions, Amaranthe tells him that she wanted more than to make money, she wants to serve the empire. In fact her dream is to become the first female chief.

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-i-will-conquer-all-tomorrow-ab53d3

Hollowcrest offers her an assignment, that if completed would grant her the promotion she desires.

Only one problem. She has to kill Sicarius.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Yes the famed assassin. The assassin who has killed over 300 soldiers, over 200 police officers, half a dozen patriarchs from the warrior caste, etc…the list goes on and on.

And Amaranthe has to kill him.

thisisbad

In fact, Hollowcrest wants Amaranthe to seduce Sicarius and kill him.

Now there are several problems with this. 1) HE’S AN ASSASSIN! I’m sure he has been trained to ignore the wiles of women. I mean come on, that’s the stupidest way I have ever heard someone suggest to take down an assassin!

2) Amaranthe doesn’t flirt. Amaranthe is always too busy and too much of a no-nonsense girl to do that. But what else can she do? Orders are orders.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

As she is heading out and contemplating what craphole her life has just been thrown into, who does she run in to but the emperor.

BigBangTheoryMyliferightnow

The emperor is ecstatic to see her and asks her a ton of questions about what’s she’s up to. Amaranthe tells him that she was just placed on a mission, when she is interrupted by him. The emperor gives her a bracelet for luck and then shows her his designs and plans to include art and science wings at the university. He babbles on for a while and then asks more about her mission. Before Amaranthe call say anything else, the two are interrupted by Hollowcrest.

Hollowcrest sends the emperor on his way, as they have plenty of work, and then remarks to a guard to make sure the emperor receives his “tea” as he is too “perky”.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Emperor Sespian returns to his rooms and spends a few minutes discussing his behavior with Amaranthe with his cat. He feels a bit foolish, but you know crushes can do that to people. His ramblings are interrupted by the coming of his daily cup of tea, the only thing stopping his intense headaches and seeming to keep him alive.

Uh-oh-dexter-9352138-275-155

Or is it?

Back with Amaranthe, she has decided to approach one of her acquaintances from school, Misty Masters. Now Misty was the leader of the gang Panthers, owns a very prosperous casino, and had underworld contacts. Amaranthe concocts a story about having a dark, illegal business and needing protection to smuggle goods. She asks Mitsy to pass along a message to Sicarius for her, requesting him as an employee. Mitsy agrees, for the price of a favor.

IDon'tlikeit

That night Amaranthe heads to the meeting spot, where Amaranthe is supposed to offer employment, but in reality murder the assassin.

IDon'tlikeit

He arrives as silent as a cat, with Amaranthe being scared witless. She tells him her concocted story, but Sicarius immediately knows she is lying. Sicarius then takes off. Before Sicarius is gone, she notices the mud on his boots is the same distinctive mud from the area where the fire was. Amaranthe decides that must be where he is staying and heads out there.

Amaranthe goes to the area and starts searching for Sicarius, all the while debating the issue of murdering him in her head. On one hand the emperor has a huge bounty on Sicarius’ head and has killed a lot of people. But on the other hand, he knew she was lying and let her live. Maybe he isn’t all bad? Kill him and be a murderer? Or kill him and have gained a position she rightfully earned?

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

As she is setting up a crossbow and lying in wait to kill him, somebody grabs her neck from behind. Sicarius. Amaranthe knows there is nothing she can do, but still raises her arms to protect her. But to her surprise Sicarius stops.

What?

He dumps her on the ground and questions her instead. He grills her as to who sent her and why, asking what she did to anger Hollowcrest.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

What? Why would you ask me that,? Amaranthe asks only for Sicarius to tell her how easily he could have killed her a long time ago. Amaranthe asks him why he stopped, but Sicaris refuses to answer. Amaranthe runs through what could have happened to change his mind, remembering that he stopped when she put her arm up. The arm connected to the wrist that is wearing the emperor’s bracelet.

But the emperor? Doesn’t the emperor hate him? Doesn’t Sicarius want to assassinate the emperor?

urkelgif interesting hmm

Amaranthe asks Sicarius but he tells her he has no intention of killing the emperor. She asks him how he found her and he tells her he has been following her after their previous encounter.

Sicarius is going to leave but Amaranthe stops him. Amaranthe finds the whole exchange the night before odd, especially the remarks about tea. Could it be used to dull the mind? Poison him? Make him more easily controlled? She shares her fears with Sicarius, and her hopes to investigate. Sicarius tells her that her days are numbered. Hollowcrest wants her dead if he sent her to see him, and its only a matter of time until he murders her some other way.

Crap

Amaranthe then does the only thing she can. She asks Sicarius for help. Sicarius pulls out his famous black dagger and hands it to her. He tells her it will be the only way she’ll get in as Hollowcrest will be surprised she accomplished her mission. He warns her that she will most likely not make it back out, but the best thing to do is find the secret passages in the dungeons that will lead her out.

Amaranthe goes to see Hollowcrest, and under much scruntity by his guards is able to make it in. While Amaranthe is waiting for Hollowcrest to join her in his office, she decides to do a little straightening as her OCD is kicking in. While fixing a book she discovers a note:

Hollowcrest, you said the emperor was under your control. Your puppet has’t made any of the changes we-

But the sound of footsteps stopping Amaranthe from reading anymore.

Hollowcrest asks her for details, but Amaranthe counters with questions of her own, as why he would send her. When he refuses to answer, Amaranthe tells him the truth, that Sicarius agreed to hand over the knife.

Hollowcrest is furious that she seduced him too. The “too” bothering Amaranthe as she has no clue what he is talking about. Apparently the emperor was smitten with her, and Hollowcrest couldn’t allow Amaranthe to have a crack at the throne.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

Amaranthe denies it and tries to get Hollowcrest to understand how insane he sounds, but Hollowcrest continues, even going as far and yelling at how unfair it is that this boy is ruling instead of him.

They are both interrupted by the emperor, Hollowcrest yelling treason and trying to have Amaranthe murdered. Amaranthe jumps out the window trying to escape.

run-away_monty-python

Unfortunately, Hollowcrest’s men find her and throw her in the dungeon, telling the prince she died in the fall. There Amaranthe discovers that Hollowcrest has ordered that all prisoners be experimented on in order to find better vaccinations to combat diseases. The guards infect her with deadly venom and leave her in her cell. Amaranthe decides to finish the note she nicked earlier from Hollowcrest’s office.

Hollowcrest, you said the emperor was under your control. Your puppet has’t made any of the changes we discussed, primarily to exempt key businesses from taxes in order to foster growth. Forge also demands a voice in the government. The empire is a defunct warrior aristocracy out of touch with the modern world. Your recalcitrance forces us to make threats. If the emperor does not pass the laws we have requested, he will be eliminated during his birthday celebration. The people will not accept you as a ruler. Since Sespian is the only Savarsin left who claims royal blood through both paternal and maternal lines, he is the only legitimate heir. His death will create civil war, giving us the opportunity to back a more amenable project. How do we go forward? The choice is yours. -Forge

Amaranthe knows she must escape and warn Sicarius or else the emperor will die. She can’t get out of her cell, but she does manage to reach the cabinet with the deadly insects, releasing them when the guards return.

takethat

After a very long process and her infection making her delirious, she is able to get out of the dungeon, via the hidden passages, and find her way to the meeting spot. Then the world goes black.

Amaranthe wakes up and discovers Sicarius. Apparently he couldn’t understand her so he brought her to shaman to heal her, and then a warehouse. Amaranthe is astounded he found a magical healer, as it is illegal to deal with magic in the empire. Amaranthe tells Sicarius everything, along with the fact that she has a plan.

Amaranthe has decided the best way to go, in rooting out the emperor’s enemies, is create counterfeit money. With that influx in the market, Forge’s fortunes would become meaningless and Hollowcrest will have to deal with panicked citizens. It was the best way to get both parties to meet with her.

Amaranthe, to Sicarius’ doubt, sets off to gather a team. She first recruits “Books”, an ex professor and currently an alcoholic, whose son was killed by Hollowcrest. She only went to him for advice, but is able to win him over for help.

When running away from enforcers, as she now is a fugitive with a price on her head, she ducks into the nearest shop, it being one for procuring male escorts.

Somethings-fishy-here-GIF

While waiting them out, she spots a very handsome man, Maldynado, and comes up with the idea that by having him, he’ll be able to get the supplies needed for free. She strikes a deal with him that if her man bests him in a duel, he’ll have to give her two weeks of free service. He agrees, and with Sicarius’ win they have a new recruit.

tcomejoinus

Later she spots a boy reciving a public flogging for having been practicing magic. She offers him Sicarius’ protection for his employment.

With the crew in place Amaranthe sets off to put her plan into motion, but there is still so much she doesn’t know. Can she trust all these men? Will she be able to save the emperor? Will she ever find out Sicarius backstory? What is his connection to Sespian? And many more.

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Thoughts After Reading:

I got this book on BookBub for free and wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but when I read it I LOVED it!!

cluelesstravistwothumbsup!

The characters were great and the dialogue hilarious. It was a like a magical Oceans 11 or something. I say you should check it out.

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

For more book reviews, go to Knit, Purl, Die.