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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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: 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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Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

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★★★★

William Morrow | 2020

Opening Hook: Alien children???

Main Character: I would have divorced her.

Plot Twisty-ness: Off the rails but still moving.


Okay, listen, this book is weird AF. You’re either going to fall down the rabbit hole and have a great time with how nuts it gets, or you’re going to DNF that shit because you can’t take how unrealistic it is. It just depends on the kind of reader you tend to be or the state of mind you’re in when you read it.

For me, I am usually looking for something that’s so nuts and have never read before (fuck cliches!), and that’s exactly what I got, so I don’t mind too much that it was also off it’s goddamn rocker when it came to the plot.

This is my first novel by Sophie Hannah, but if this is any indication of the kind of crazy shit she can come up with, it won’t be my last.

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Review: The Great Pretender – The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

“Psychiatry at its best is what all medicine needs more of—humanity, art, listening, and empathy—but at its worst it is driven by fear, judgment, and hubris.”

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★★★★

Grand Central Publishing | 2019

Opening Thesis: Everyone needs drugs.

Main Diagnosis: SCHIZOPHRENIA!

Plot Researchy-ness: Up to your eyeballs in straight FACTS.


Before you go into reading this book, you must first understand the true premise. It is NOT a history of psychiatry and psychiatric hospitals, though those things are discussed to fully understand what Dr. David Rosenhan was doing. But this book is almost totally about Dr. David Rosenhan and his study from the 1970s that looked to expose how psychiatry was functioning away from public knowledge.

I admit I was kind of disappointed once Nellie Bly was discussed for only a couple of paragraphs because that is shit I showed up for. I was expecting a novel that discussed people like Bly more in-depth. I was expecting something a bit more sinister and historical. Like, give me some Geraldo Rivera at Willowbrook kind of drama.

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But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Once I got passed my assumptions, I did get into this nonfiction work, but not as much as I was hoping I would. It’s a pretty dense read, full of medical jargon, medical history (seriously, you go through the creation of all the DSM volumes) and a complete dissection and recounting of Dr. Rosenhan’s study, On Being Sane in Insane Places.

Continue reading “Review: The Great Pretender – The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan”

Review: The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan

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★★★

Spiderline | 2017

Opening Hook: Just hanging around.

Main Character: Seeming guilty might be a fetish.

Plot Twisty-ness: Too much soda.


Okay, so this wasn’t exactly a grab-you-by-the-tits kind of thriller. If that’s what you’re expecting, temper your expectations accordingly. This is slower, but eerie, like a guy walking behind you – he just gives you the creeps but it’s not like he’s done anything but be a man alone on a sidewalk. Depending on your mood, this is either going to hit you as slow and boring or as a slow-burner that is chilling and twisty.

For me, when I read this, it was slowwwwwww like watching a sloth cross the street, which in any other circumstances I would love to do because sloths are my favourite.

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That said, I feel like it’s totally on me being in a bad headspace for a slow-burning thriller considering I’ve been stuck in the fucking house since mid-March. I can’t do slow or boring or any combination therein. I need my thrillers to be genuinely thrilling, mysterious and wild if I’m going to forget I’m looking at the same walls every day, all day. HOW MANY MORE WALKS CAN I TAKE MY DOG ON? We’ll find out…

Listen, I’m very grateful for all the people doing the front-line and essential work. But also, I’m getting cabin fever so let me express that, thank you and fuck off.

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