Watch Me by Jody Gehrman


Watch Me by Jody Gehrman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (308 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

For fans of dark and twisty psychological thrillers, Watch Me is a riveting novel of suspense about how far obsession can go.

Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.

Except one.

Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.

As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?

A gripping novel exploring intense obsession and illicit attraction, Jody Gehrman introduces a world where what you desire most may be the most dangerous thing of all.

I hadn’t read a psychological thriller in what seemed like forever and had high hopes for this one. I liked the opening of the story which is told in two points of view, Kate and Sam, first person, present tense narration which seems to be the norm now. Having said that, with this immediacy I felt I should have connected with one of these characters…I was hoping it would be Kate as she was the one being stalked, but I just couldn’t.

The story line is great, college professor being stalked by student who seems to come more unhinged as the story progresses. However, I couldn’t feel as scared for Kate as I’d like to because I just didn’t like or really feel like I was worried what might happen to her. Sometimes she came across as someone who you couldn’t believe is mature enough to be a professor. Other times, other than the literary connection between Sam and Kate, I couldn’t see why he was so obsessed with her.

Having said that, some of the dialogue is dazzling and their inner thoughts sometimes funny, especially in the opening chapters. The pacing is fast and I think this is a story that you really need to stick with because it’s thrill and creepy factor does pick up toward the second half of the book.

I know I’m a reader who likes to really connect with a character and that’s probably the reason this book didn’t resonate with me but it might for you, especially if you prefer plot driven books.

Angelica by Clabe Polk


Angelica by Clabe Polk
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full length (400 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

A long time ago, Angelica Vicetti did some very bad things with some very bad men. Now she’s built a new life for her family, far from Las Vegas. Now it’s all about to come crashing down. Angelica Vicetti of Las Vegas has become Angela Cassetta of Poplar Bluffs, just outside Atlanta, Georgia. She’s built a successful real estate agency, and the son she rescued from Vegas when he was a youngster is now a high school baseball star and destined for great things. But the mob bosses in Vegas who forced her underground haven’t forgotten about her. A string of hit men come to town to kill her, but each time she saves herself and her son, with the help of her friends and Mike Eiser, a local Sheriff’s detective who has seen far worse. Then things get even more complicated, when one of the hit men changes his mind and becomes strangely important to Angela in a whole new way … and a team of Federal agents come to town and ratchet up the odds. Suddenly, sleepy little Poplar Bluffs is awash in blood. Angelica will have to take it all the way to the edge and beyond – into murder, kidnapping, and lying to the Feds – to save herself and her son. But … can she survive the fight for her family’s freedom?

Did you ever think you’d like to run away and start all over? What if it became a reality, a frightening one?

Angelica, the title of this book, is the lead character in this series written by Polk titled “The Detective Mike Eisner Series”. She really got swept into the wrong crowd of people and while you might think that’s each individuals own business, it’s different when you have a child.

This is a really good storyline; lots of action and action written so that you can “see” it; in other words so that you can follow and understand. Truly Crime Fiction involving a lot of mob type characters and also the best cop of course…Detective Mike Eisner and his soon to be wife. At least all of the couples around are hoping they will tie the knot. It was very amazing to me that Polk could involve so many of the good guys and the bad guys in this story, and yet make them be very clear to the reader. When an author is good at writing dialog it is quite an accomplishment and I think that is the key here. I think this author happens to be very good at writing dialog and without our realizing it, a good book and a good story has passed and we’re sad it’s the last page.

This is listed in his book as the 4th book in the “Detective Mike Eisner Series”. There are 5 titles in the series in his book. Let’s hope Clabe Polk is working on number 6.

Doubly-Dead Angel Thief by Marc Whelchel


Doubly-Dead Angel Thief by Marc Whelchel
Publisher: Open Books
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full length (243 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Meet V.C. Almond, Mastermind Sleuth, Jack of Some Trades, and the Delmar Loop’s Private Investigator Ordinaire.

V.C. Almond’s life is in the gutter. Divorced and broke, he’s living in a rat trap apartment above the loudest punk music venue in the Delmar Loop. Worse, his dear friend Jake Kennedy, son of crime boss Big Jamie Kennedy, has just committed suicide.

The night of Jake’s funeral, V.C. returns home to find a surprise on his floor: Jake’s freshly murdered, bullet-riddled body. Soon realizing Jake’s double death appears destined to go unsolved, V.C. reluctantly agrees to help private detective Aldous Lewie crack the case.

Stumbling upon the body of a man who’s supposed to already be dead is just the first leg of V.C.’s journey down the rabbit hole.

A funny, sarcastic somewhat whimsical book

Very witty dialog coming out of funny, odd, one-of-a-kind characters. Nothing like having a friend die and then having him die again. Must be where the “doubly” in the title comes from.

I did think the story jumped around a little and the excerpts throughout the book made it a little hard to follow. But this is an eccentric type of story. You have to like the sort of nutty (or crazy) characters with their sarcastic and dry humor. The author has built his story line around a quick, back and forth dialog. I think this is something that is possibly enjoyed more by a specific type of reader. There are some off-color words in this story. Somehow it was not offensive to me. The language fits the funny characters and the dialog. It seems as if I’ve used every possible word to describe Whelchel’s characters but oddly enough, he did a wonderful job of developing them. I think that’s why they are so memorable to me. While this may be as I mentioned a little hard to follow, it is an interesting storyline. A sort of slap stick comedy in a noir mystery.

If slap-stick comedy is your thing, this is even a more modern use of it in a dialog. This is pulled together in a good storyline in a mystery that seems to move very quickly. Definitely worth reading.

Last Resort by Amber Malloy


Last Resort by Amber Malloy
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (173 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

African American socialite and bestselling crime writer Cayden Young returns to her high school stomping grounds to solve a cold case. Unfortunately, her hot business partner is in her way. In love since high school, they couldn’t work out their rich-girl, poor-boy differences. While she attempts to put the past to rest, she ends up unearthing a more than a decade-old secret that could get her killed.

Former Marine Levi Scott is ready to take over his family’s resort fulltime. The only problem is he needs to buy out his partner, who he happens to be in love with. Always on unsure footing with the wealthy beauty, he is determined to get her out of his life for once and all, and decides the best way to do so is offering to help her solve a thirteen-year-old cold case. Soon, they figure out the murderer may still reside in their posh resort town … and Cayden could be next on their list.

Intriguing mystery, amazing chemistry and awesome characters make this story a pleasure to read.

I like Cayden. Yes, she’s a rich girl, but she’s not snobby or annoying about it. She’s a strong, confident woman, and I liked her take charge attitude throughout the story. Levi was interesting, too. Yes, this is the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the rich girl, but despite the old trope, the author makes it interesting. They have some awesome scenes together and I love their snappy dialogue. They’re both well rounded and real. And, boy oh boy, do they have sparks! Hot, hot, hot! Be prepared for some smoking hot fun between the sheets in this one! I really liked them together, so while there’s plenty of sex, it’s meaningful and helps to advance their relationship and not just there for titillation.

The mystery is well written, too, and kept me guessing. I do have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of the time jumps in here and honestly, they are the only reason this didn’t get a 5 star rating. They would jerk me out of where I was in the story and each time, it took me awhile to get back into it.

No complaints about the author’s overall skill. This is a good book and I can easily recommend it, especially to fans of the genre.

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Fire on the Mountain by Clabe Polk


Fire on the Mountain by Clabe Polk
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (265 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

The Havens, a family with roots growing deep in the muck of Southern mountain bootlegging have progressed from selling illicit corn whiskey through marijuana farming to (in the current generation) methamphetamine production. A set of triplets; Jack, a meth producer and wife of Susan, Jason, another meth producer, who hooks Susan to infuriate Jack, and Jake, a local handyman who creates unholy alliances against Jack and Jason…and a father playing each against the other for his own profit, combine to light a fuse destined to blow the Haven family apart. Two murder investigations; one by Detective Mike Eiser, and one by a detective in a neighboring county, coupled with a DEA clandestine drug lab investigation combine to pressure the Havens. Susan’s in the middle. Is she a victim? Is she a survivor? Or is Susan the flame that ignites the powder keg to blow the Haven family apart?

Bootleggers changing with the times, running drugs and keeping it in the family.

I really enjoyed this mystery. I liked the storyline starting with the history of the Haven family all the way back as bootleggers mixed in with the modern day cops. I really liked the cop Mike Eisner, the lead character in this series of books. This is true Crime Fiction in some ways. There is a lot of dialog; all interesting and easy to follow.

I did some research because you would think from the dialog that the author had experience in police work. He did not but he sure writers with a comfortable dialog that makes you feel as if you are right in the car with your partner or in the office with your boss. He also writes a lot of light and fun dialog between couples; lightning up or giving an additional hue to the story. His characters are all well-developed and there are quite a few in the story to be able to define to we readers. I think it is his excellent way of handling dialog. It gives us the flavor of each person therefore defining them in our minds.

In his book it lists this as the last of the series. It also lists 5 titles in this series, “Detective Mike Eisner Series”. It can easily be read out of order but don’t if you don’t have to, I bet they are all as good as this one.

Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green


Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (321 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

When family secrets are unearthed, a woman’s past can become a dangerous place to hide…

After the death of her adoptive mother, Ava Saunders comes upon a peculiar photograph, sealed and hidden away in a crawl space. The photo shows a shuttered, ramshackle house on top of a steep hill. On the back, a puzzling inscription: Destiny calls us.

Ava is certain that it’s a clue to her elusive past. Twenty-three years ago, she’d been found wrapped in a yellow blanket in the narthex of the Holy Saviour Catholic Church—and rescued—or so she’d been told. Her mother claimed there was no more to the story, so the questions of her abandonment were left unanswered. For Ava, now is the time to find the roots of her mother’s lies. It begins with the house itself—once the scene of a brutal double murder.

When Ava enlists the help of the two people closest to her, a police detective and her best friend, she fears that investigating her past could be a fatal mistake. Someone is following them there. And what’s been buried in Ava’s nightmares isn’t just a crime. It’s a holy conspiracy.

This story has the sort of plot that draws you in and that’s exactly what it did. I loved the opening and its potential to be a page turner but…

Let me start with the things I didn’t like about the book, there aren’t many. The narrator changed from chapter to chapter. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but part of the story is told from the main character, Ava’s point of view and in first person. The other half of the book is from different character’s points of view and all told in third person. I think it was this switching back and forth and in what are brief chapters which prevented me from connecting with Ava whose story this essentially is.

Having said that, I will say the story has lots of twists and turns. The chapters are short, one of the things I liked about it, and it made the pacing spot on for a mystery. I loved the setting and the author’s description of the town and area.

As the plot progressed it had me guessing about what was going on and the story does build and the conflict escalates which makes you want to read more at each sitting.

The ending…which I won’t give away, had me wondering if the author has another book planned using these characters.

If you like a suspenseful mystery with old photographs and a creepy house then this might be one to put on your to read list.

Backseat in The Dark by Milton Dewar


Backseat in The Dark by Milton Dewar
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (25 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

An about-to-be ex-husband is forced to confront his own demons, and something far worse, on his way back home, on a lonely stretch of road.

Backseat in The Dark is aptly named for the eerie suspense that drives the story.

It is often difficult to write a short story that is not only complete, but has enough suspense to keep those pages turning; however, this author has done that. The main character, Ian, after receiving the surprising news that his wife wanted a divorce, got behind the wheel angry and upset. Right away, this signals that something could go wrong. His inner dialogue inspires sympathy from a reader, and one wonders what is going to happen—nothing typical it soon seems.

His drive down a dark road, while swimming in his impassioned thoughts, creates a spine-chilling atmosphere. Is something scary and unnatural going to happen? This mood is created almost poetically, the words flowing in a way to further evoke feelings of dread. The mundane details are not so under the pen of this author. Details create the world Ian lives in, building up the sense of alarm.

Things escalate. His car breaks down on this dark road. He remembers a scary legend about a witch who was burned in this area many years before. But then she appears, right before Ian!

His reaction and what happens next serves to further develop this character, his life, his regrets, and his wishes. But will he get the chance to see all these things resolved? Predicting will only take a reader so far. This ending sweeps one into a whirlwind of surprise.

The imagery and writing gives a reader an immediate sense of urgency, making this a page-turner. Occasionally, a detail or two caused confusion, but this could also be seen as inspiring deeper thought. For such a short story, it packed an emotional punch. Recommended for those who like suspense.

Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner


Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre:Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (258 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

For the forces of evil, Sam Roberts is catnip. Even during periods of calm, Sam knows that evil is just biding its time before challenging him again. So when he is asked to defend a wealthy shut-in charged with murder, he is suspicious. Why is the largest and wealthiest law firm in town hiring an outside attorney who is a sole practitioner to represent Mr. Blake May? Sam’s client resides in the sublimely creepy Frost Home, a “haunted” mansion given a wide berth by the residents of Champaign, Illinois. The house has been engulfed in rumors of death, missing children, and mystery since before the Civil War. Blake May is accused of not only murdering his girlfriend but decimating the remains until they look like marinara. But the agoraphobic middle-aged man rarely, if ever, left his rooms. If he indeed killed Heather, why can’t the police find a murder weapon? Everyone seems to want Blake declared insane rather than acquitted. Sam and his buddy Bob Sizemore know that Heather’s grizzly fate can’t be blamed on something as mundane as murder. There is a force at work in the house, and it seems to emanate from the mirror hung in the room where the remains of the body were found. Can Sam and Bob end the Frost Home’s eerie legacy of evil?

A funny horror story? Well, it really is.

Good grief, this was a creepy-crawly story with a mystery and even a love story all mixed in together. I will tell you in advance that this is not usually a genre I would read but this was so funny I couldn’t stop. The dialog that was created between Sam, the lawyer and Bob, his friend, had me giggling out loud half the time. One funny character and one relatively serious one were great creations by Scott Lerner. Lerner also pokes a little bit of fun at his own profession here but the legal world is not the focus of his story.

This story is about an attorney being offered a big case by a big firm. He can’t let it pass because of… money, of course. Even while picking up the check he is wondering why the firm would farm it out to him. It has a huge scary haunted house in it that you can just picture. It’s about the lives of two guys still looking for love and yes, it has a little bit of horrid scary scenes. How Scott Lerner managed to put all of this together and have me reading every page, I can’t tell you. However, I can tell you that this is well-written and Sam and Bob become your friends. I have said many times that any author that can make characters your friends and/or your enemies is a talented writer. Once you are caught right up in a story with your buddies, you will never miss a word.

This one is Book 5 in his series titled “A Samuel Roberts Thriller”. Looks like Books 1 through 4 are rated really high too so they must be just as good or better. Let’s read them too and hope he’s writing Book 6.

Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day


Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day
Publisher: Kensington Publishers
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (292 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

“I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound mule.”

What a fun book full of colloquialisms like the one above. I can guarantee they are straight from Indiana because I grew up there myself. This was not taxing, just a truly enjoyable cozy. This series is set in Indiana, a great part of it in beautiful Brown County. A gorgeous place known for its charm, beautiful hills, Fall color, and artists on every corner. The tourism is very high and this makes the setting of a chef and restaurant owner fit into the story perfectly. Being familiar with Indiana does make this series fun to read but I think it would be enjoyable whether it was set on Cape Cod or in South Carolina. It’s just a really nice read.

Part of my reason for sounding so pleased with the book is that it is really well-written. It has a good plot; one that keeps you guessing. But it is her characters that make the book. Each one is not only well developed but is also an important part of the story. With all of their intertwining daily activity she creates a community we can see and one many of us can identify with.

This is Book #4 is this series called “Country Store Mystery” and Maddie has number 5 coming out at the end of July in 2018. While Book #4 could easily be read out of order, what I’d do is start on Book 1 now and get them all read up before Book 5 is out.

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai


Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (358 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past…and step into a future together.

Complications, thy name is Saidi.

I liked this book. Rai can write a heartstring-tugger of a book. I was caught up in the tale immediately and had to hold on until the end because it wouldn’t let go. The characters were interesting and fun. Saidi is a dominant personality and it shined through the book. I liked that Jackson was alpha, but not domineering.

One thing that kept me from totally loving this book was that I hadn’t read book 1. That would’ve helped to know the other characters better.

The touch of mystery added a lot to this story. I had to know what would happen next. The sexy scenes sizzled and I’m glad I read them.

If you’re looking for a hot book that’s an easy read and worth the time, then this might be the one you’re looking for.