The Man Next Door

“The Man Next Door” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Mr. Mensch just finished with one of his “guests” and is looking for a new “visitor” to join him. Mr. Mensch inherited millions from his penny-pinching, miserly father. He has moved around the country and had many “visitors” stay with him in his basement or secret rooms.

This is not good

He’s been looking at his neighbor Bree Matthews, watching her. He knows that choosing her would be dangerous, police would come-but he can’t get her out of his head. She had been remodeling her townhouse next door and had a leak destroy everything. She came over enraged and yelling that the contractor told her it was his fault-he had a leak pouring onto her roof. Mensch just told her calmly to get another contractor take a look-its not his fault. While he was calm on the inside, a fire was growing inside him. He wanted her.

The next day, Bree came to apologize and admit she was wrong. She had another contractor view and it turns out the original contractor cut a lot of corners. Mensch accepted her apology and couldn’t deny it. She was to be his next visitor.

That night he went to work, cutting out the stone in the basement that connects the two houses, his plan to get in and get Bree.

Bree has been having a bad weekend. She had her beautiful home decorated and destroyed by shoddy work. She is taking the contractor to court, which caused a fight and break up with her boyfriend Kevin Carter, as he felt she should just accept the settlement. She had to spend their planned Friday night alone, leave the office early Saturday because she has a cold, and spent all Sunday in bed miserable. Now she is heading to court and is woken early because of a strange grinding noise from next door. Ugh!

She doesn’t know how much worse her life is about to get as that noise marks Mensch’s entrance. He breaks in, drugs her up-makes it look as if she was abducted on her way home Friday night, and imprisons her in her basement. Will she make it out okay, or face the same fate as his previous’ visitors?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was so engrossing that I read faster and faster until I reached the conclusion. I had to know if she survived or ended up dead in the river.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

For more books with kidnapping, go to The Secret Adversary

For more serial killers, go to The House on Foster Hill

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The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

This story is told in twi different times, with two different points of view:

Present Time:

Kaine Prescott has lost her husband and has a stalker. She tried to get the police to investigate both more thoroughly, but both have come to dead ends.

After two years, she moved to Wisconsin and bought a house, sight unseen, in her late grandpa’s hometown.

As she fixes the house up, she discovers a dark history and secret surrounding it, connected to a long ago mystery. As Kaine continues investigating will she find the answers or succumb to a past and present killer?

Past:

Ivy Thorpe assists her father, the town doctor, in trying to exhume and discover what caused the death of the bodies the police find. The House on Foster Hill has always held bad memories for Ivy, but with the discovery of a dead woman’s body, a baby, and possible serial killer. Will Ivy outsmart the killer, or will she be the next in his deadly list.

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

It was good with great characters but the present day reveal was disappointing.

I expected more from the novel than the obvious and chunkily thrown in villain.

I really enjoyed how the author switched back and forth between the ’60s with Ivy and the present day with Kaine. This back and forth was extremely interesting, captured your attention, and made you want to find out what happened next.

For more serial killers, go to Real Murders

For more stalkers, go to Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got Nobody

Real Murders

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mystery #1) by Charlaine Harris

So you all know how much I love book sales.

Part of the fun is the mystery that you never know what you are going to find at a sale.

So one book sale I went to, it was the last day and they were trying to unload everything. It was a dollar a bag so I filled mine up with anything I found that sparked my interest.

I can’t help it, it is an addiction.

This one struck my eye as it was a mystery, involved a serial killer, and copying “real murders”.

This was during my “I want to be a behavioral scientist” phase, before Criminal Minds came out, and I would read anything on the subject. So this idea of someone copying real murders seemed like a hit idea to me.

I enjoyed the book so much, that I read it at least four times a year. The story is great, the characters fun, the mystery just perfect. It is a fantastic read and so engrossing! I just couldn’t put it down.

I was shocked when I discovered that this was the same Harris that wrote the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. I never would have made that connection as this isn’t as sex generated or full of supernatural characters.

And with Hallmark turning this book into a film, one that I can review for Horrorfest if I desire, what better time to choose to review this book?

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Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is in her late twenties and lives a pretty quiet life in Lawrenceton, Georgia. She works as manager for her mother’s condos and as a librarian.

Her best friend moved away recently, and she isn’t seeing anyone romantically. The only other thing she is really involved in, is the club Real Murders.

A year ago there was a book signing of a true crime novel and several people from Lawrenceton traveled to the city to attend. When they realized they all shared an interest in true crime they created a group that meets once a month to discuss past crimes, try to figure out unsolved cases, and learn about police work or the criminal mind. Each time they meet, a different person has a chance to create a program and share with the group.

Their group consists of Roe: Jane Engle, retired school librarian and substitute, specializing in Victorian murders, particularly Madeline Smith; LeMaster Cane, African-American and interested in the racial killings of the ’60s and ’70s, especially the Zebra murders and Jones-Piagentini shootings; John Queensland, Roe’s mother’s boyfriend, an expert on Lizzie Borden; Sally Allison, newspaper reporter; Perry Allison, Sally’s son, is not quite all there and shows an unhealthy interest in the Hillside Stranglers and the Green River killer; Gifford Doakes and his friend (boyfriend?) Reynaldo, who likes massacres such as St. Valentine’s Day or the Holocaust; Detective Arthur Smith, interested in studying old crimes and seeing how police worked the case; Bankston Waites and his girlfriend Melanie; Benjamin Greer, guy who has tried everything to “belong”; Gerald Wright and his jealous wife Mamie.

Tonight is Roe’s night to share and she is covering the Wallace case from the 1930s, where William Herbert Wallace was convicted for killing his wife Julia. She is a little nervous and heads over slightly early. This month Mamie is the opener of the VFW hall they rent, followed by Sally who is in charge of refreshments. When Roe gets there she looks around for the others, but instead receives a phone call asking to speak to Julia Wallace.

Roe can’t find Mamie, but runs into Sally. As more people arrive, Roe finds it even odder they haven’t found Mamie in the building.

Surprisingly Elizabeth Ann “Lizanne” Buckley, the most beautiful and easily bored woman in town, comes to the meeting and brings Robin Crusoe, mystery writer.

Roe can’t brush off Mamie’s disappearance and starts searching the building for her. As she looks, she comes across her dead body.

Roe goes into shock over seeing her that way, but notices  the similarities between this and the Wallace case. So eerily similar that someone must have copied it and arranged the body.

Everyone is subjected to long questioning, with Detective Arthur Smith making plans to meet with Roe the next day and get more information on the Wallace case.

The next day comes and Roe is finally able to give the talk she practiced.

Wallace Herbert Wallace was a Liverpool insurance salesman (like Gerald), and married with no children (just like the Wrights). Wallace had a regular schedule for collecting insurance payments from subscribers to his company and he bring the money home on Tuesdays. Wallace played chess and was entered in the tournament at his local club. There was a chart on the wall detailing when each person would play, one anybody could see.

Wallace didn’t have a phone at home and received a message from another member who had taken a call from a “Qualtrough” to meet him at his house the next evening.

Now the call came when Wallace wasn’t at the club so he could have left it himself at a phone booth down the way. He talks about the message with his friends at the club; is he puzzled or just trying to instill the message in other’s minds?

The next night, Wallace goes out to meet Qualtrough. Qualtrough left the address Menlove Gardens East, but no such place exists. Wallace asks many people for help, even a policeman. Is he set on getting the new client or is he just trying to create an alibi?

Wallace returns home but his key won’t work. Julia has bolted the front door for some reason and won’t answer any knocks on the door. A couple who lives next door hears him as he heads in the back to get into the house; Wallace and the couple enter the house and see things out of place.

The box where the insurance money is usually held has been rifled. Wallace checks the house and finds his wife in the parlor, a room rarely used. Julia is lying in front of the gas fire with a raincoat under her, and she has been beaten to death brutally, but not raped; just like Mamie.

There was no real case against Wallace, just a lot of circumstantial evidence and pressure to arrest the killer.

Roe is absolutely disgusted with this killer. They killed Mamie not because she was Mamie or they had an issue with her; something that would be partially understood psychologically, but only because she was an insurance salesman’s wife and childless.

And who will be next and which criminal will they be following next? Jack the Ripper? Ed Gein? The Blackburn Baby Killer?

Later Roe heads to the store and right into Robin Crusoe. Robin is interested in the case, and wants to know more, along with getting away from his disheveled house. While he is there a package comes to Roe, but it is actually for her mother, Aida Teagarden, and sent by Roe’s father. Roe lets her know and she comes right over.  The package is Mrs. See’s chocolate, her favorite!

But it is a bit odd that Roe’s father, Aida’s ex, would send her chocolate; and even stranger that it took six days to get from the city, an hour away.

Aida opens up the container and picks up a caramel filled one, when Roe notices that there is a puncture underneath.

Oh no!

She stops her mom and they look at all the cream filled ones. They all have punctures.

Arthur and his partner, Detective Lynn Ligget, come to question the group about the event and later it is revealed that the chocolates were poisoned. This murder copies the Botkin Case, as it appears someone is trying to kill all those in the group, or their family, copying real murders.

What?!

Aurora calls a meeting of Real Murders to see if they can figure out who the killer might be, who dislikes any of them? But no one is helpful and the group disbands.

Unfortunately that does not stop the killing, as Benjamin Greer’s boss, potential mayoral candidate is killed in the bathtub, the same way as Marat during the French Revolution.

Who’s next?

Meanwhile, amidst the killings, Roe has struck the interest of Robin and Arthur. Both men she finds very attractive, and who will win out as the series progresses? (For me I like Robin. Arthur is too egotistical and just expects her to go along with him even though he doesn’t really ask her like he should.)

Nah, he’s not a good guy.

But Roe has more on her mind than love, what murder will be copied next and which of her friends will be the next victim?

Thoughts After Reading:

I won’t reveal any more as the ending is great. You will definitely have to check this book out for yourself. What a twist!

The other thing I like about this is that it isn’t gruesome but very intellectual, with all the past true crime that was researched, it is just fascinating to boot.

Read it today!

For more librarian sleuth mysteries, go to Death Threads

For more serial killers, go to Next Victim

For more true crime, go to The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

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

 

Candy from a Stranger

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Candy from a Stranger by Daryl Buckner

I received this book free from Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

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Ben Cain has his Phd in psychology and teaches at the community college in a town where he can do the teaching he loves, but take off and go fishing on the weekends. Him and his family live an ideal life.

That all changes when his eight-year old boy disappears on his way to the park. Being unable to cope without having the answers, without having his son; Cain sets off to find the person who took him and make him pay.

Sadly, the police have no leads. After investigating whether or not Cain actually murdered his own child they have come up empty.

Cain will not let it go, even though his wife has left him and returned to Washington to her parents. Cain instead launches his own investigation, believing that this is a serial kidnapper/killer and starts searching to see what other children fit this profile.

He starts tracking down families and going out to question them; when he ends up being in the places as the abductions happen. And the number one suspect for the Police and FBI.

Cain has a suspect based on the food wrappers, and starts searching for the guy, trying to follow him and find more information on him.

But this doesn’t deter Cain as he finds a boy that fits the profile and moves next door watching and stalking him, in order to protect him and catch the killer, along with hoping to discover the truth about what happened to his son.

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I liked the idea of the tale of the missing child being told from a father’s point of view as that is not something really seen. However, I did not enjoy this book.

I felt the character was hard to connect to as they appeared so distraught that they had behavior that was really out there. From a character view it was well-done, from being the narrator of the story it made it difficult to read.

I also dislike that the author reveals who the kidnapper is so early on in the book, along with the way they portray police.

For more mysteries featuring disappearances, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more mysteries featuring kidnapping, go to Iced

For more serial killers, go to Psycho

For more not-in-a-series-mysteries, go to The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

In other news this is my 300th post

To go to the 200th post, go to The Murders in Rue Morgue

Psycho

Psycho

Psycho (Psycho #1) by Robert Bloch

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and one of my favorite films is Psycho (1960).

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I could go on and on about it, but my sister blog, janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com, already reviewed it.

 So as I had become obsessed with Psycho, when I spotted the book Psycho II at a book sale I bought it.

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I had never read Psycho, but if the movie was that fantastic, then I thought the book must be and the sequel.

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I did not like the sequel. To me it was not a good book at all. And ten years later I decided it was time to try and actually read the first novel that the film is based on. Now this won’t be a comparison, as that is a job for my sister blog fromprinttoscreen.wordpress.com

So here we are with Psycho.

The book was written in 1959 and is based on the Ed Gein serial killer (although Bloch claims to have written it without knowing anything about the case). The point of the novel was that an insane serial killer could live next door, and be overlooked even in a small-town.

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Plot Synopsis:

So the book starts off with Norman Bates, a 40-year old man who lives with his mother.

Yeah something’s not right with this situation.

Their property is massive and includes a huge farmhouse for the two of them, and then a motel lower down the hill.

Norman has an unhappy life with his mother, being the one to take care of her, while she is sick, abusive, and not fun to be around. The only bright spot for Norman is his books, through them he is able to escape his everyday existence.

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So Norman is having a regular day, when he hears a sound that means someone is there to check in.

We then switch to Mary Crane (Marion in the film). Mary Crane has not lived the life she wished for. She was planning to go to college but canceled that when her father died in a car accident and she decided to help at home. Her boyfriend left her when he was sent by the army to Hawaii, where he met another girl. Then her mom became sick and Mary paid for Lila’s, her sister, education. She works at Lowery’s real estate office as a secretary but that is not what she wants. She wants to be married with children.

After her mother’s death and the sale of the house, they had some extra money and Lilia convinced Mary to go on a cruise. There she met Sam Loomis, a divorced hardware store owner who inherited his father’s business and his debt. The two fell in love, but Sam doesn’t want to be married now. He wants to wait a few years until the fiances are better. Mary doesn’t like it, but decides to wait.

How she feels inside.

When a buyer walked in and bought his daughter her dream house for $40,000 in cash; Mary just snapped and stole it instead of depositing it like she was supposed to.

She travels to Sam, but decides to stop for the night instead of coming right over. Her stop? The Bates Motel.

Norman seems sweet and tells Mary that he will make them a snack. They do and talk about their issues.

Now here is what I thought was slightly weird. Norman in the film was adorable, kind-hearted looking, and like a cute little boy. I could see talking to him as he seemed safe, and in need of a friend. In this he is a bit creepy. 40-year old man with his mom, I don’t think so.

Mary decides that her plan is a horrible one and is planning to return to Fort Worth, TX. Before she leaves, she decides to take a shower, to wash off her sins.

While in the shower she is attacked and killed.

Norman has been drinking, and is depressed at their conversation as he knows that Mary is right. His life is hard and unpleasant and he should do something about it. He also has a thing for Marion and wants to be with her.

I hate my life!

Norman discovers Mary’s dead body and figures that his mother is the one behind the attack. He then cleans up the mess, tossing everything in Mary’s car; and all that into the swamp.

Sam is writing a letter to Mary, when Lila shows up on his doorstep! She comes to him looking for Mary, relating what happened and how Mary is missing. She is followed by Lowery’s private investigator Arbogast.

Hearing this news about Mary, Sam starts having second thoughts about the marriage wondering how he fell for such a woman. And does he know her as well as he thought he did?

Arbogast traces the steps of where Mary could have gone and discovers the forgotten drive that leads to the Bates Motel.

He questions Norman and asks to talk to his mother. He lets Sam and Lila know, asking them to wait for his next call. Norman reluctantly agrees to Arbogast meeting the mother,but when Norman’s mother meets Arbogast she slices his throat. Another body for the swamp.

Norman knows more will be coming, and against his nother’s wishes, he hides her in the fruit cellar.

Sam and Lila have been waiting for Arbogast but no call comes. Lila becomes worried and impatient and the two go to the Sheriff to ask for his help. There they find out that Norman’s mother is dead and buried.

If she is dead then who is in the house?

What?

The Sheriff complies with their request and heads out to question Norman. When he returns he lets the two know that Arbogast isn’t there, the mother isn’t there, and Mary isn’t there. he believes that Arbogast took off for Chicago and just forgot to call.

Lilia doesn’t believe in that and tells Sam she is heading out to the motel.

Lila and Sam pretend to be a couple traveling, but Norman knows something is up; especially with Lila looking so much like Mary.

The Sam and Lila split up and start investigating. Mary heads to the house while Sam decides to distract Norman. It works for a while but Norman knocks Sam out and heads to the house after Lila.

Sam wakes up when the Sheriff finds him. He received a call about Arbogast that made him suspicious and he came out here to look for Sam and Lila. They both hear Lila screaming and head up to the house.

Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t like it.

Well first of all, I didn’t like Sam. He was much better in the film. Book Sam doesn’t defend her or think about helping her; but wonder if he was just taken in by a cold stone criminal. To me, I don’t think he really loves her as he continues to talk himself out of the relationship.

Marion isn’t as endearing as all she wants is to find a handsome, rich man to marry and improver her life. She meets Sam, who later she is upset to discover is not wealthy but won this cruise, and just as on hold as she. She wants to marry anyhow, but Sam refuses and asks her to wait.Mary seemed fueled by money rather than her love in trying to catch a husband and escape out of her life.

Ugh

Norman wasn’t as good as in the film. Book Norman is a 40 year old man who lives with his mother. He has been controlled by her (and abused in every way). He is overweight, impotent, intellectual on his own (but falls apart in front of mother or others), passive, and dreams of a better life (living the lives of the books he reads.) Even though he is an adult he still acts like a child, being controlled and dictated by his Mother.

To me I thought Norman in the book was good, but to be honest if I stayed at a hotel with this guy I wouldn’t spend time having sandwiches with him. I don’t know of I would even want to rent a room from him as he just sets off my creepo meter. The way he acts and talks I would keep my distance.

While the book was good it can not compare to the visuals of the film. I mean the way it was shot, the actor’s performances, they just brought the text to life in an astounding way. It was just amazing, all the right actors and director at just the right time. There is a reason why this movie became so iconic and why directors, writers, and actors are constantly trying to copy it.

For more on Psycho, go to The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower

For more serial killers, go to Dying for a Date

For more private investigators, go to The Red Headed League

Dying for a Date

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Dying for a Date (Laurel McKay Mysteries #1)

Laurel McKay is a divorced mom of two. Laurel had been with her husband since high school and after his betrayal of leaving her for another woman, Laurel has found it difficult to trust or date again.

However, her best friend Liz convinced her try her hand at a matchmaking site, The Love Club, and get out there again.

Tonight is her first date. She heads out to the restaurant and meets up with Garrett, an accountant. He seems nice, although a little boring. Afterwards, Garrett walks Laurel to her car only for her to discover she left the keys and cell phone in the car.

She asks Garrett to borrow his phone, heading to his car. After she makes her call, Garrett attacks her, and Laurel grabs the first thing she can-his cell phone-and pops him in the nose.

Laurel leaves and heads back into the restaurant to await AAA, all the while bemoaning her date and feeling as if she never wants to date again.

She stops at a McDonalds for a coffee and heads home for the night. The next day she heads to the headquarters of The Love Club to let them know about Garrett. When she talks to the secretary she discovers that Garrett was murdered the night before, from being hit in the head.

Seriously?

Laurel is positive that her wap in the nose could not have killed him, but that doesn’t stop her from becoming a suspect.

Because she was his last date, and last planned meeting, Laurel has to come down for questioning. There she meets Detective Hunter; a very attractive, single dad, who’s daughter happened to have a scuffle with her son at their last soccer game. A very embarrassing moment as Laurel fought with him during that game, and now she has to hope he believes in her innocence.

Detective Hunter has an open mind and warns Laurel that she could have been killed and might still be on the hit list. Detective Bradford, Hunter’s partner, on the other hand, thinks Laurel is a stone cold killer and is set to prove it.

Laurel never wants to date again through The Love Club, but she has paid for the service and had already requested a few more dates. She decides to have a lunch date with a doctor named Jeremy. Jeremy is sweet, a tad bland, but Laurel decides to agree to another date to give him a chance.

Barbara Bingham, Laurel’s mother, is constantly trying to set her up with different guys. This time is no different as she has an agent from her company, Peter, is who she thinks is perfect for her daughter. When Laurel goes to pick her son up from his time with grandma, she meets Peter and sees that he is kind and sweetly entertaining her son.

Hmm…

Laurel’s ex comes back into the picture unexpectedly, and upsets everything. He tries to hint that they should get back together (as if) and tells her she needs to stop dating. Weird.

Laurel goes shopping for her upcoming date and prepares for it. Jeremy takes her to one of the fanciest restaurants and orders Dom Perignon champagne. They begin talking, when Jeremy gets a call. He leaves to answer it.

Laurel sits waiting, drinking, to pass the time. Every time she takes a drink, the waiter refills.  Soon Laurel is starting to feel a little sick and heads to the restrooms, stopping outside and spotting two gentlemen, one who looks like Jeremy. She then heads to the bathroom, pulling herself together and nodding off.

When she wakes she returns to her table only to see that the room is pretty deserted and everyone is occupied by the windows overlooking the river. When she questions what has happened it appears that someone drowned in the river. Laurel tries to find Jeremy, thinking that he might be down trying to help out. As she tries to find out more information she runs into Detective Hunter.

He questions what she is doing there and she tells him about her date and how he disappeared. She tells him that she won’t be seeing his rude self anymore in the future. Detective Hunter agrees, as Jeremy is dead.

Yes Laurel has had not one date die, but two. This puts her high on the suspect list, even though there is no clear motive. With Detective Bradford set on pinning the murders on her and Detective Hunter having no other options but to look at her as number one suspect.

Laurel decides to take matters into her own hands. She recruits her mother, best friend Liz, and coworker Stan to follow, research, and track down the killer before she finds herself wearing prison stripes.

So who could the killer be? Is it someone who doesn’t want Laurel to date? Such as her husband who was heard saying that he would kill anyone who was with her? Plus he as a contractor, so he has access to the weapons that killed the men.

Could it be her boss Earl? He is interested in her as more than just an employee and hates the fact that she is dating. To add to his creepy interest, he also has a file on Jeremy.

Hmm…

Could it be Jeremy’s partner in the practice? He is harsh, rude, and has a gambling addiction; embezzling funds from the company. Did he kill Jeremy to keep him from finding out?

Then Peter asks Laurel out. Is it safe for them? Or will there be a third dead body?

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***Spoiler Alert***

Thoughts After Reading;

I thought it was it was cute and a good mystery. I had narrowed it down to two suspects, and while I guessed correctly who the real killer was there were several twists and turns which delighted me.

The only thing I didn’t like was that the author described every article of clothing that her main character wore, which I thought drew one out of the story.

I also didn’t like how the detectives focused solely on her as it seemed she had a good alibi. I mean with Garrett, there is the restaurant workers, AAA, McDonalds, etc; and with Jeremy the waiter and the women who came into the bathroom.

I really liked the conclusion. I thought the way they wrote Laurel’s mom saving the day was fun and just a great ending to the story.

For more mysteries with Serial Killers, go to Miss Polly Had a Dolly

For more mysteries with blind dates, go to Sunset Reads: William & Cristina

For more mystery reviews, go to The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower

Miss Polly Had a Dolly

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Miss Polly Had a Dolly (Emma Frost #2) by Willow Rose

Thoughts Before Reading:

This was the first of the Emma Frost mysteries I ever read. While I enjoyed it, it is not for the faint of heart. Rose can write a strong story, but she can go way out there and deep down dark.

The format of these mysteries has to do with two to three story lines, that all connect at the end and provide the solution to the mystery. One has to do with the people involved or victims of the mystery; and the other Emma Frost and her family.

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So this title comes from the nursery rhyme, Miss Polly Had a Dolly.

Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick.
So she called for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick.
The doctor came with his bag and his hat
And he knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat.
He looked at the dolly and he shook his head
And he said “Miss Polly, put her straight to bed!”
He wrote on a paper for some pills, pills, pills
“I’ll be back in the morning with my bill, bill, bill.”

The story begins in 1997 with Miss Polly and her little girl Nina. Six-year-old Nina is a beautiful blonde child, perfect. Her mother loves to dress her up like a doll and implements all kinds of rules to make sure she stays “perfect”.

This day Nina is not happy going to the park in her frou frou dress. She doesn’t like wearing them and wants to dress in pants like the other normal children but her mom won’t let her.

They are at the park and Nina is having a horrible time when she sees an ice cream truck. She goes up to it and is convinced to get inside. And when she is inside, there is no ice-cream.

In modern times of 2013, Emma Frost is at the signing of her newest book Itsy Bitsy Spider, all about the cannibal serial killer who turned out to be related to Emma. (I don’t want to spoil everything so check out my review, or read it yourself).

Life for Emma is going well as all is normal (although a few people are angry about the story coming out). Her father though has a surprise for her, a new girlfriend, Helle.

Meanwhile, the island of Fanø has been picked as the next place for the TV program, Shooting Star, the Danish version of American Idol or the X Factor. The host is Patrick an eccentric, out there type of guy. While he is a prima donna-interesting and stylish; he is also a serial killer, sewing doll bows into his kills. And he has just found his newest victim.

Emma is having a hard time coming to term with her father’s new girlfriend, Helle, who owns a doll shop. Even though her mother left a long time ago and she knows that they won’t get back together, it feels weird to her having him date. What makes it even more awkward, is when Emma asks Helle about her family, it turns out that her daughter went missing years ago. She was a beautiful blonde six-year old, playing at the park and said to have wandered off into the ocean.

Hmm…

Back in 1997, Miss Polly was distracted by a another parent talking to her. She finally is able to cut the conversation short, but her daughter is gone! She searches everywhere, but all she can find is her daughter’s dolly, Miss Jasmine.

In 2o13, Emma and Sophie are excited for Shooting Star. Two of Sophie’s kids are going to try out for the show, while Emma’s daughter Maya has been given permission to hang out around the set.

Meanwhile, Josephine Glydenstjerne, blonde, beautiful, and six years old; daughter of the Count and Countess of Denmark has finally managed to sneak away from her governess to go past the park to the beach. There she meets a lady with a dog. Besides the dog, the lady has a doll named Miss Jasmine. She invites Josephine to come to her place to see her other dolls that she makes, and Josephine decides to go.

Uh-oh

Back in 1997, Nina is thrown into a brothel. She has been caught up in a prostitution ring that takes blonde, beautiful children from Denmark and sends them to Eastern Europe to where they are in high demand. She lives her life there, depressed and confused thinking she was given up by her mother.  But when a friend is murdered in a sex act; Nina kills the man and decides to get out; making anyone who stands in her way pay for it. She grows to enjoy killing as it gives her power and control.

In 2013, Emma discovers that numerous blonde, six-year old children have disappeared from the ’90s- late 2000s. Most people thought they just wandered off to the ocean and drowned., but Emma can’t help wondering if there might be something else to it?

Meanwhile in her hacking, she discovers that the police are searching for the “Bowtie Serial Killer”. They believe the killer to be connected with the show, Shooting Stars, as the killings occur in areas where the show is taking auditions. Whether crew or a crazy fan, they are searching into who it could be.

I wonder…

Josephine has found herself in a Buffalo Bill-esque situation. Although instead of wanting her skin to make a suit, the lady who kidnapped her wants to use her to make a doll and add it to her collection.

Emma sets out to try and figure out who the killer is and whether it might be connected to the missing children. However, she unwittingly allows her daughter to attend the Shooting Star tryouts on her own. Maya just barely manages to miss being a bow tie victim the fist time, but then is invited backstage the next night for a close encounter with Patrick.

Nooo!

Patrick goes to Helle’s doll shop and attacks her, but is interrupted just in time. When they take Helle to the hospital, Emma knows she is connected to the mystery, but which one? Could she be the missing link that ties the disappearing girls and the bow tie killer? But then Helle lost her own child?

I wonder…

How does it connect? How will it end? Read to find out.

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Thoughts After Reading:

This book is probably the best written of her books in this series. There were a lot of twists and turns, and every time you think you had it figured out there was a new surprise.

Some parts were a little more graphic then I would like but that seems to be how Scandinavians like to write.

And not only was it a talented psychological thriller, but it also had a political agenda. I had never heard of the slave trade in Europe other than those who try to emigrate to America. But in here, Rose brings your attention to the sex slave trade throughout Europe, a very sad thing that more people need to pay attention to and try to change.

For more Emma Frost mysteries, go to The Itsy Bitsy Spider

For more mysteries with a serial killer, go to The Final Seven

For more characters fighting to save people from sex slavery, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For more mysteries, go to Whistling in the Dark

The Final Seven

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The Final Seven (The Lightkeepers #1) by Erica Spindler

Detective Michealea “Mikki” “Mad Dog” “Double D” Dare has worked hard to reach where she is.

gotthis

And now she has some green guy who is the FBI’s lapdog being promoted to detective and given to be her partner. Her mission, be a good cop and protect this new detective at all costs.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Detective Zach Harris has special abilities. He can read energy off of others, touch objects to see what others are feeling or pick up memories, and has the ability to charm and persuade anyone.

psychpsychicvision

He had been living off his abilities, using them to get whatever he wants, when an FBI agent approached him and asked him to participate in their experimental program.

whynot

These two couldn’t be more different, but are pushed together as the case they are on is terrifying. The first Saturday in July, a coed is kidnapped with the number 7 carved into the door. The next week it continues. They have to track this guy down before he finishes whatever his master plan may be.

Not-Good

While they search for the truth, it turns out there is more to this FBI agent that found Zach and an explanation to his abilities, more sensational than Zach could have ever imagined.

WHAT!

WHAT!

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was good, but I read the second book, Triple Six, first and liked it better as the characters were more developed and settled in with each other.

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But this still was a great book, and set up the introductions as to who the characters are and their mission.

startrekletsgetstarted

The ending was fantastic. Spindler is a talented writer and has a skill for creating a powerful thriller and wonderful characters.

cluelesstravistwothumbsup!

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For more serial killers, go to Sleeping Beauty

For more FBI, go to Ashes to Ashes

Sleeping Beauty

sleepingbeauty

I’m not talking about that Sleeping Beauty. I’m talking about this one:

sleepingbeauty

Sleeping Beauty by Phillip Margolin

Lawyer Miles Van Meter is on a book tour to promote his bestseller, Sleeping Beauty, a true crime account of the attack on his twin sister Casey that left her in a coma.

Aw...

Aw…

As Miles begins discussing the case, talking about everything that happened, little does he know that afterwards; something extremely important to the case will be revealed.

unsolvedmystery

We travel to six years earlier and to an event that would change the course of someone’s life forever.

suspense

Ashley is seventeen years old, soccer star, and just your average girl next door. After winning the state championship, her best friend decides to stay the night. But what should have been a fun time with friends turns out to be night filled with horror.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

But somebody else decides to crash the party.

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A serial killer kills Ashley’s father, along with raping and murdering Tanya. After taking care of Tanya the serial killer does something completely unusual, takes a break and eats some cake left out downstairs.

chocolatecake

How weird is that? Does killing activate his sweet tooth? Is he so confident in his success he can just break to celebrate?

HMMM

While he is occupied, Ashley is able to escape.

run-away_monty-python

After the ordeal, Ashley is ready to give up on everything. That is, until she and her mother receive an invitation and scholarship for the prestigious private school, Oregon Academy. They decide the best thing for everyone is a new start, and accept. There they meet Casey Van Meter who shows them the school and introduces the pair to their onsite writer, Joshua Maxfield. Ashley’s mother, Terri, decides to stay on for the summer to attend Joshua’s writing class while Ashley helps out in the summer soccer camp.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

Terri attends the writing class and becomes horrified when she hears Maxfield read a story that is full of details of her daughter’s case, including the part about eating sweets which was never publicized.

thenannygasp

Terri notifies the police and starts researching into Maxfield. When Terri discusses it with Casey, Casey rebuffs her; only to call Terri later and stranglely, ask to meet up at the boathouse to reveal some information.

Very fishy

Very fishy

Later that same night, Ashley is walking around when she has the misfortune to hear screams and discover her mother’s and Casey’s stabbed bodies.

luke-noooo-o

She also sees Maxfield with a knife.

AAAAHHHHH

While a huge manhunt after Maxfield commences, once again Ashley flees for her life.

runaway

Within this story are a lot of twists and turns, secret adoptions, revealed identities, psychotic killers, and more.

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts After Reading:

I HATED this book.

Hate him.

The plot wasn’t bad but the way it was told was horrible.

IDon'tlikeit

It keeps going back and forth in time which is so confusing and makes it so hard to focus on what was happening and when it happened.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

At times I thought it was boring and a bit too unbelievable. Really stretching it there.

no-way-gif-gifs

I thought that the end twist was good, but the path wasn’t done well. It was just too confusing and made the book horrible to me.

thumbsdown

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For more stand alone mysteries, go to Ticker

For more serial killers, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more mysteries, go to A Murder in Mohair

The Alchemy of Murder

The Alchemy of Murder

The Alchemy of Murder (Nellie Bly #1) by Carol McCleary

So this is a historical fiction mystery, with the main character being based on the real life reporter Nellie Bly.

Nellie_Bly_2

The year is 1889. The place, Paris France;  the capital of Europe. Paris is hosting the World’s Fair, having unveiled the Eiffel Tower, (at the time thought ugly but then became a permanent part of the skyline and one of the biggest tourist destinations.)

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But while people are celebrating man’s accomplishments, a serial killer stalks the area and a plague is striking Parisians by the thousands.

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Nellie Bly is convinced that both the killings and the epidemic are connected. She travels down to Paris to hunt this killer, “The Alchemist” as she calls him.

gotthis

Along her search, she enlists the help of Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, and Louis Pasteur.

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Thoughts after Reading:

I bought this book a couple of years ago as the synopsis intrigued me. Historical fiction, mystery, some of my favorite literary writers. I thought it would be like Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder: A Mystery, but this book was horrible.

IDon'tlikeit

I know it is supposed to be in the Victorian era, but having your main character be cold and emotionless isn’t endearing to the reader. It was horrible to get into and boring. I need my character to have character.

murdershewrotecharactermostimportant

Not only was Nelly bland, but she seemed so out of tune with her time period, not that she was from the future or past, but just as if she didn’t belong.

Not-Good

For me it fell flat.

horrible

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For more historical fiction mysteries, go to The Harlot’s Tale

For more books featuring investigative reporters, go to A Change of Fortune