Hanover Square Press | 2021
Filed Under: Hello, Clarice…
I haven’t read a police procedural this pure and detailed since Meg Gardiner’s last release. And y’all know how much I love Meg Gardiner. And if you didn’t, now you do because I just said it again.
If you are a fan of serial killers… wait, I don’t mean like a fan fan. That’s just weird. Get better idols, as Bailey Sarian would say. No, I mean if you are a fan of serial killer fiction – of the mystery and the pursuit and the suspense and the twisted games – then you want to read this novel.
It is a fucking fabulous police procedural. And I don’t say shit like that very often.
You want gritty? You got it. You want fucked up? It’s coming in hot. You need detailed and immersive? Buckle your seatbelt and keep your hands in the ride at all times.
But listen to what I’m saying, this is a procedural. If you do not like being in the narrative passenger seat of a police investigation, this probably isn’t going to be for you. And that’s totally legit. Why? Because all of this shit is subjective, Donna! It’s okay that we don’t all like the same things! That’s life.
Let’s get that through our collective skulls, shall we? But I digress…
This is not a thriller. This is an investigation. And in my opinion, novels that pull off a really good procedural plot with this much perfection are few and far between. And it’s a debut novel? Fucking insanity.
Continue reading “Review: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley, #1) by Nadine Matheson” →
Minotaur Books | 2021
Filed Under: Patrick Swayze’s subway ghost friend
If you wouldn’t spend a weekend camping in a probably haunted abandoned town with a nefarious past then we can’t be friends.
I’m not saying it’s at the top of my travel bucket list, but it’s definitely on there. Chernobyl? Yes, please! You wouldn’t want to go there? Minus all the radioactive nuclear issues and other terrible shit that happened, it’s got to be interesting and creepy. Perfect vacation destination! Or like just a stop on the itinerary. Please don’t make me sleep there.
Going into abandoned homes, snooping through all the stuff left behind like a time capsule – that’s a dream! A dream I’ll probably never get to do in real life, so a novel might be as close as I can get.
The Lost Village is all of these things, so fucking duh I was going to read it.
Continue reading “Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten” →
Gallery Books | 2021
Filed Under: The horrors of American health care
This is a story that can only take place in the United States. Almost anywhere else it’s like, “Oh you have cancer? Your medical treatment will not require you to remortgage your home, go bankrupt or start selling meth to pay for it.” Or in this case, write and sell opioid prescriptions in a rapidly evolving drug ring you were not at all prepared to be involved in.
But in the U.S., if your kid has rare and aggressive leukemia, you need to jump through hoops made of red tape – and also the hoops are on fire – before you even know if your insurance company is going to allow you the chance to save your child’s life.
Who thought that was going to be a solid, practical health care system? I just…
Continue reading “Review: Do No Harm by Christina McDonald” →
HarperCollins | 2020
Filed Under: A Polite Canadian
I normally wouldn’t pick up a book like this because it’s thicc and sounds more like a contemporary with hints of suspense, but it’s set around my hometown in Niagara, Ontario so how and why would I pass up reading that? Obviously, I wouldn’t because here we are.
Do you know how many books are based in the Niagara area? Like, one. This one. Why? Because let’s get real, Niagara isn’t a thriving metropolis.
Maybe it used to be, but by the time I left most areas had nicknames like “the armpit of Niagara” or “the butthole of Niagara.”
Where did I live? The fucking taint.
Like a taint, this novel is dark and gloomy; a family mystery wrapped around some community politics.
Augusta “Gus” Monet is basically a poor, aimless girl with little to her name and an abusive, shady AF boyfriend. When her grandmother dies, Gus comes into a little (seriously, very little) inheritance in the form of her grandmother’s house and whatever is inside of it, including an old dog named Levi. And the dog is honestly the best part of the whole novel, but I did spend a lot of time being paranoid something terrible was going to happen to him. If you’re the kind of person (like me) who needs to know if the dog dies going into a story, let me know and I’ll totally spoil it for you, no questions asked.
Continue reading “Review: Dark August by Katie Tallo” →
Holt McDougal | 2009
Filed Under: A Narcoleptic Fever Dream
I’ve tried a couple of times, with different authors, to read this kind of hard-boiled, noir private detective story and… it’s just not for me.
That’s putting it nicely, which is unusual for me.
So, to put it not so nicely, I think this particular genre is supposed to come across as classic, intense and pulpy serious. The private dick is a man of the streets and a man of law. He’s balancing his day-to-day life against the seedy underbelly he’s wrapped up in as he seeks justice and upholds the law by sometimes playing outside of its lines. Ugh, so gritty and dark.
But to me, it’s fucking goofy as hell.
All I can think about it “Fast Talking High Trousers.”
You can’t tell me I’m wrong! You can’t!
But supposing I was…
Continue reading “Review: The Little Sleep (Mark Genevich, #1) by Paul Tremblay” →
Jimmy Patterson Books | 2020
Filed Under: The first rule of teenage fight club is…
Well, once again a YA thriller and I just do not get along. No one is fucking surprised.
I really don’t want to sit here and write a big negative review for this novel, so I’ll keep it short and
For me, this book just didn’t work. I was relieved when it was over. And if I hadn’t been listening to it on audio, I would have DNF’d it. At most, I’ll call it a mixed bag of good and bad pieces. There’s lots of representation in this, but the writing was subpar (but that might be because of my old age,) over-dramatic and the plot was way too convoluted.
I think we can all agree this is just way too long. It’s nearly 500 pages and I have no idea why. There is literally no reason for that kind of nonsense. The base plot didn’t require that many pages and it literally destroyed the pacing.
Where was the editor on this? Does anyone know them? Were they on vacation during this? Oh, they were? Honestly, same.
Continue reading “Review: You’re Next by Kylie Schachte” →
Thomas & Mercer | 2019
Filed Under: Déjà vu
Listen, I like this series!! Maybe it won’t sound like it for the bulk of this review, but I do. I like the character of Ziba. I think she’s interesting, layered and a tough female character in this genre. But this sequel to Blood for Blood persists in my biggest problem from the first book – Ziba, and the rest of the cops, are starting to seem really fucking dumb. Ziba is described as a highly skilled criminal profiler and ex-special forces badass, but she consistently whiffs on seeing the very obvious answer to a mystery. She takes FOR👏EV👏ER to pick up a clue the reader will catch immediately. That’s a problem.
This is mostly an author issue. The being, you think you’re writing something very twisty and hard to figure out, but objectively you’re not, so the highly-skilled main character doesn’t live up to the big description she’s been given. The reader will be screaming “HELLOOO!!! How are you not getting this?!” at Ziba about halfway through.
I wish it wasn’t so. I truly do. Because this UK-based crime series is heads above other UK-crime series in a lot of ways – no recycled tropes or character types, and no fucking book covers of a woman in a red coat walking through some kind of goddamn field.
Where are you going, lady?! The crimes happened in central London! There’s nothing in that field!
Continue reading “Review: Nothing to Lose (Ziba MacKenzie, #2) by Victoria Selman” →
If your lonely, sad, and blue, the whisper man will come for you.
Caledon Books | 2019
Filed Under: Your kid’s dead imaginary friend
I’m usually super hesitant to read a book that is making the rounds on the Hype Train Express. I tend to be disappointed; closing the book only to be like, “well, I definitely read this wrong? What is everyone talking about?” (But let’s be real, I’m not actually reading the books wrong.)
Either way, none of that applies this time. To quote Bailey Sarian: Nay, nay I say! The Whisper Man by Alex North gets an enthusiastic 5-stars from me. Like so enthusiastic, it’s almost sexual.
This book legit unnerved me and I can’t say that happens very often. Because I’m dead inside? Likely. Because I read so much dark fiction? More likely. But with this one, I was turning on the lights and setting my home alarm. This was dark and twisty and creepy AF.
A few choice moments started to weave a seemingly supernatural theme into the plotline, but it was never blatant so I didn’t know what I was reading until it all came together. North kept me on the edge of my seat, tips of my toes and the end of my last nerve for the entire novel. I fucking loved it. I don’t feel like I have enough words to fully explain to you just how much I loved this, so, have this gif instead:
This is the level I’m at.
Continue reading “Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North” →
Ballantine Books | 2020
Filed Under: Amnesiac beach bum
This is such a bummer for me. I really loved Steadman’s debut novel, Something in the Water (though I’m chalking up about 33% of that to the audiobook narration, which was fucking stellar,) so I was eager to get my hands on her follow-up, Mr. Nobody.
But… *fart noises*
This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed by a sophomore novel and it won’t be the last, but it’s still a bummer.
Mr. Nobody is the most vanilla – and slightly annoying – thriller I’ve read this year.
I know I can get a bit spicy like chicken wing sauce when I write negative reviews, but then there are times like these where I’m just bummed out that I didn’t like something.
I’m Eeyore writing this fucking review right now.
That might change the further I get into writing this. Sometimes I can work up a bad attitude from nothing. It’s like magic.
Continue reading “Review: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman” →
William Morrow | 2018
Filed Under: Bondage Cabin in the Woods
This is the weirdest “true crime” novel I’ve ever read.
First, because it’s mostly a memoir about someone who was not involved in any crime at all. And second, because the crime is an attempted crime. Spoiler alert, I guess? While I’m sure it was traumatizing for the women involved, in the context of a true-crime novel, nothing happened that could fill up an entire book. And what’s weirder, the author uses the attempted crime against someone else to question-plague herself for twenty+ years about why no one ever tried to kidnap and rape her.
Like, I just…
Continue reading “Review: You All Grow Up and Leave Me by Piper Weiss” →