Review: American Sherlock – Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson

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★★

G.P. Putnam’s Sons | 2020

Opening Case: How much did Fatty Arbuckle actually weigh?

Main CSI: Gil Grissom maintains “old man crush” status.

Plot Truthi-ness: Beefs and peas in a dessert trifle.


You might think that you’re getting a novel about “murder, forensics and the birth of American CSI,” when you pick up this novel. That’s exactly what I thought. And also exactly what they put in the fucking title. But why should titles ever tell you what you’re really going to be reading about, I guess?

What you’re actually getting here is a choppy, mishmash of relatively boring cases and life stories about Oscar Heinrich, the “American Sherlock.” If I had known this was going to be about one man’s life, and not a historical rundown of the evolution of forensic sciences centred around different murder cases, I probably wouldn’t have read it.

But since I did, it’s necessary to note that I have no issue with a true-life story about a remarkable human who deserves to be applauded. It’s the execution of the telling of that life where it falls apart on this one.

I think this book is best described as the trifle Rachel makes on Friends. It was almost good, but something got fudged up so no one really wanted to eat it.

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Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, #1) by Jeff Lindsay

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★★★½

Vintage Books | 2006

Opening Hook: Killer killing killers.

Main Character: The ultimate anti-hero.

Plot Twisty-ness: Only surprising if you haven’t watched the show.


I honestly have no idea what this review is going to be. Objective? Probably fucking not. I’m a huge fangirl of the Showtime series and it’s taken me basically a decade to get around to the source material, which honestly feels like a crime. Now that I have read it, I’m very confused about what I actually thought.

On one hand, the first season of the show followed this series-starting book very closely. I’m talking nearly word-for-word. The Barbie in the freezer, the nail-polish, the ice truck – it’s all there, save for the fact that Deb was cast differently than she was written. And I didn’t really like book-version Deb.

You would think that because I love the show and this was so close to the book, I would be head-over-heels after reading this.

No.

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Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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★★★½

Dutton | 2019

Opening Hook: Catching your BF bending someone else over a couch.

Plot Twisty-ness: The entitlement of the rich.

Main Character: Every millennial woman.


If I had never read Final Girls or The Last Time I Lied, would I be giving this a higher rating?? Maybe. Please don’t look at my less-than-enthused review as a reason to not read this book, because everything Sager writes is a book to read, imho.

However, this third novel by Sager is just not as strong an offering as his previous two. Again, just my fangirl opinion.

I truly do love Sager. He and I should obviously be best friends because we like all the same things. And he’s built a writing career around paying homage to those favourite influences in the most satisfying way for me as a reader.

Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby meets the United States poverty gap and healthcare. There are some elements included in the plot that are a bit misleading – is it a ghost story? Horror? Is there something satanic going on? But Sager takes that part of Rosemary’s Baby and flips it on its head to create commentary about U.S. healthcare and income inequality.

Now there’s a horror story, she says in Canadian.

That’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t want to get into spoilers.

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DNF Review: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

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★½

Imprint | 2019

DNF’d @ 53%


You know me – I generally don’t quit on books. I’m almost physically incapable of putting down a book if it means I will never know how the story unfolds. Even if I don’t necessarily like the story. It’s a neurotic trait that probably has something to do with the part of my personality that likes to know fucking everything, even the shit that doesn’t involve me.

Like, I don’t want to be involved in drama, but do I want to know about it? You bet you’re fucking ass. Tell me word-for-word what was said.

But, it turns out if the story is boring as all fucking hell, I have no issue putting it away and leaving it behind forever.

That’s the case with The Tenth Girl.

I am sorry, but this was possibly the most boring book I’ve ever read??? I’m struggling to think of something that has made my eyelids this goddamn heavy. All I can come up with is a curriculum book in tenth grade English class. I had my friend explain the book to me and I bullshit that essay like I do these reviews.

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Review: Faceless (DI Rosalind Kray, #1) by Rob Ashman

“Being psycho doesn’t make you bad, being bad makes you bad. Being a psycho and bad makes you dangerous.”

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★★★★

Bloodhound Books | 2018

Opening Hook: Face/Off without Nic Cage.

Main Character: At least she’s not on pills.

Plot Twisty-ness: Not your average YouTube makeup tutorial.


If you’re the kind of person who just can’t resist a UK crime procedural with a damaged main character and a twisted killer who masturbates a lot (like a lot,) then this is the book for you, you fucking weirdo.

Lucky for me, I’m a weirdo too, so I was totally into this first instalment in the Rosalind Kray series.

Rosalind is everything you want to be – drunk and eating junk food.

Good times.

She’s also a single mother since her husband was murdered. Rosalind carries around survivor’s guilt by the butt-load, uses alcohol just to sleep, uses casual sex with her partner to numb the pain and investigates murder as a distraction.

So, you know, everything you don’t want to be.

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Review: White Out (Badlands Thriller, #1) by Danielle Girard

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★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2020

Opening Hook: Get winter tires.

Main Character: I don’t remember.

Plot Twisty-ness: Small-town amnesia.


If you’re sick to death of this extreme heat, which I always am even before it starts, then this snowy thriller is the perfect read to cool off this summer. How’s that for a goddamn tagline, huh? I should do this shit professionally. Someone pay me. Oh, and today is the official pub day!

Alright, so I was offered this book by the author, Danielle Girard, in exchange for a review. These authors know what they’re getting into when they ask me to review their books, so I’m always honest even when it’s negative, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Fortunately for all of us, I don’t really have too much to say that’s negative about this first instalment in the Badlands series… except like two things… three things… four things… Okay, whatever, we’ll count them up at the end.

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Review: The Janes (Alice Vega, #2) by Louisa Luna

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★★★★

Doubleday | 2020

Opening Hook: Vega’s Bat-signal.

Main Character: Doing underwear yoga.

Plot Twisty-ness: Bringing that 2020 vibe.


I loved Louisa Luna’s first book, Two Girls Down, with a fiery passion that tingled my loins. Ew, don’t say loins.

But for real, I loved that book. It was one of my top five reads of 2018. So I was totally on board for a sequel because Alice Vega is one of the most bomb-ass female characters in crime fiction right now. That’s not an exaggeration.

I love her aloof, serous and damaged personality. I love that she does yoga in her underwear for breakfast and will do full body tackles of men twice her size without hesitation for lunch. She takes no shit, doesn’t play nice and has no tolerance for bullshit. Plus, she’s smart AF and every time she gets herself out of a tricky pickle I am mildly aroused. What I’m saying is, I want to be her when I grow up.

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Her relationship with quasi-partner, retired detective Max “Cap” Caplan, is sexually tense at the right levels, but also romantic and sweet in an honest way – nothing mushy or easy, or even overly-dramatic that would make me hope they both die alone.

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Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

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★★★

Delacorte Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Jamie Lee this Prom Queen ain’t.

Main Character: A Murderino Nancy Drew.

Plot Twisty-ness: Boiled chicken without seasoning.


Ughhhhhh…

Here we are again. Welcome to yet another edition of “Krystin tries to read YA!”

Aside from Undead Girl Gang, which I totally fucking loved, I feel like I’ve been trying for 84 years like that lady from Titanic to get into YA mystery/thrillers and it’s just one disappointment after the next.

That’s not to say that the books aren’t good. Okay? Calm your energy. I’m not here to shit on your genre of choice. In almost every case, it’s has been an “it’s me, not you” situation. I am just not the right audience for this genre.

I wish I was! I would love to relax with a YA thriller because the R-rated shit can get to be a bit too much. Being constantly inundated with the most heinous plotlines can warp a person who also watches too much news. This planet is a dumpster fire. Yes, I see a therapist regularly, thank you.

I feel like a YA thriller would really help me unwind. Alas, of the 55 books on my “young-adult” Goodreads shelf, I have like 3 of them.

THREE.

Overall, these books make me feel very much like…

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Review: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

Look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

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★★★★½

Mira | 2019

Opening Hook: That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.

Main Character: She doesn’t even go here!

Plot Twisty-ness: The limit does not exist.


I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure how much I was really going to connect with a novel about rich Mean Girls attending an all-girls prep school and doing outdated secret society rituals, but you know me, I have to read everything J.T. Ellison writes.

I’m pleased a punchy-punch to say this book was actually a twisty AF little thriller with a vibrant, creepy atmosphere and a steady pace that held my picky attention. I never felt like I had to skim a paragraph or skip ahead to some real action. Everything about the plotting was masterfully deliberate.

By the blurb, it could possibly be mistaken for YA – which just isn’t for me – but this novel is totally adult, full of mystery, interesting characters with shady side hustles and a little bit of death. These Mean Girls girls are worth the read.

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Review: Anything For You (Valerie Hart, #3) by Saul Black

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★★★

St. Martin’s Press | 2019

Opening Hook: Body parts in the desert.

Main Character: Clearly written by a man.

Plot Twisty-ness: What it lacks in thrills, it tries to make up using oral sex.


First things first, if you’ve never read Saul Black before (aka Glen Duncan) do not get to know him by reading this book. I would suggest reading the very first Valerie Hart novel, The Killing Lessons, and if the style works for you, then you’ve got a new thriller series to read!

I say this because Saul Black is a graphic and gritty author with dark plot points and character arcs that flow from book to book. It’s important to understand the whole character and how he writes the plot around that character, to know whether or not his writing works for you. But it works as a standalone as well, if you’re okay with missing some character building.

There’s also a lot of descriptive sex and violence. So…..

Those of us with more delicate sensibilities would call Black crude or vulgar, and it will knock you off balance if that’s not the kind of writing you are expecting or like. The rest of us will be into his writing style because it’s honest and visceral, and we like gross shit.

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