Posts Tagged ‘Suspense’

Best New Books of 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 10, 2014

This is my favorite blog post of the year; a chance to review my favorite new books of 2014. It is hard to narrow it to only five, but here are my selections. I love both fiction and nonfiction, especially those with lots of thrills and edge of your seat action! You never know what I might stumble across to share with you!

Destroyer AngelDestroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
Anna Pigeon is a park ranger. We think hats, nature lovers, and a big smile right? Not this park ranger. She is fierce and not someone you want to make mad. Anna and her friend Heath, a paraplegic, and Heath’s teenage daughter set out on a canoe trip with Leah and her teenage daughter. Leah designs outdoor equipment and she has a new design to make the outdoors more accessible to the disabled. This is supposed to be a trial run and a nice little vacation. Some bad guys decide to abduct Anna’s friends. Not a good idea. If you have read other Anna Pigeon books you don’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t, hold on and prepare for a wild ride.

HackerHacker by Ted Dekker
Nyah Parks is a hacker and she is in big trouble. Some bad people want her dead. Not a bad start to the newest Ted Dekker novel. He is known for his suspenseful, sometimes scary inspirational fiction. This tale starts off with a bang and hurtles forward from there. Computer technology, political cover-ups, murder, and a child’s desperate love for her mother cause Nyah to take steps that stretch our level of belief. We have heard that our brains are like a biological computer. Hacking computers is one thing, but how far would you go to save the people you love?

Denali's HowlDenali’s Howl by Andy Hall
Andy Hall more than remembers the events that occurred in Alaska in 1967; he was there. He was a child, the son of the park superintendent at Alaska’s Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. Twelve young men set out to climb the mountain, only 5 returned. This is an amazing story of survival, man vs. nature, and mountaineering. We learn not only what happened on the mountain, but also the struggle of those who tried to save them. Hall is now a journalist and he spent years tracking down the true story of this tragedy. Through survivor accounts, radio transmissions, and buried documents he has produced a gut-wrenching, white-knuckled read you cannot put down.

UndetectedUndetected by Dee Henderson
I fell in love with Dee Henderson’s books long ago and her newest series does not disappoint. Naval warfare, romance, and family are intricately entwined as we are pulled into the life of Gina Gray, an ocean researcher. Gina is a genius and her discoveries shatter what we thought we knew of ocean science. Now she finds herself fleeing a broken relationship and seeking solace with her brother, a submariner. There she meets Mark Bishop, a friend of her brother and a nuclear submarine commander. He also happens to be a widower and newly open to the idea of love again. Now she is wrestling with whether she should continue to develop her new ideas, and will her knowledge save those she loves or destroy them?

Artemis AwakeningArtemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold
Welcome to the pleasure planet Artemis. At least it used to be. This former playground for the wealthy has been lost for centuries. Long after the war that shattered the galaxies, archaeologist Griffin Dane sets out to rediscover its mysteries. And he does, but not quite in the way he had planned. Now he is trapped on a primitive planet with no way to escape. All living things on this planet were bioengineered to better serve their wealthy guests. Rescued by a huntress, Adara, and her psych-linked puma, Sand Shadow, Griffin must solve the mystery of Artemis if he has any hope of surviving. This is a wonderful new book by the author who brought us the Firekeeper series. She is a master of writing stories involving humans bonded with animals. Technology, lost civilizations, and a pretty despicable bad guy all make for some amazing science fiction.

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

October 29, 2014

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-WhittemoreThose who have read The Secret History by Donna Tartt always seem to be looking for a read-alike. That’s no easy feat, as Tartt’s blockbuster debut novel is not easily recreated due to its amazing storyline, rich prose, and creepy plot.

Along comes Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, whose explicit goal was to attract readers of The Secret History (we are a weird little cult who love this book). The author says, “I wrote Bittersweet for people like me, who love The Secret History and The Emperor’s Children; it’s a literary beach read.” Whoo hoo – get me a copy of this book!

A reviewer said Bittersweet, “evokes Gone Girl with its exploration of dark secrets and edge-of-your-seat twists.” I’m not sure I would go that far, but it is a very good suspenseful psychological thriller that keeps you wondering where it is going, and how you will get there.

Meet Mabel Dagmar, a bit of a socially awkward but bright student at an unnamed East Coast private college. Mabel, who is from Oregon, has a roommate straight from a WASP manual: Genevra Winslow, a beautiful woman from a prestigious New England family. Mabel is fascinated with Genevra, a fascination that borders on obsession. When she is invited to summer with the Winslows at their Vermont family compound (like a forested Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port), she jumps at the chance to ingratiate herself with the family. But she gets more than she bargains for when the Winslows prove to have secrets of their own, and that under their blue blood-tinged skin, they are anything but aristocratic.

Is this novel anything like The Secret History? Not really. It lacks Tartt’s rich dialogue. The setting with wealthy East Coast college students is the same, and both novels examine the lives of the New England elite. Other than that, I didn’t see many similarities. Bittersweet is literary, and dark, and gothic. I think any readers of The Thirteenth Tale would appreciate this novel. I recommend this novel if you like your stories dark and medium in complexity, and somewhat literary.

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Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

October 28, 2014

Midnight in EuropeCristián Ferrar is a Spanish (or rather, Catalan) émigré who lives and works in Paris, France. His employer is the law firm Coudert Frères, and the firm does a good deal of international work. Recently, some international cases have become more complicated due to the Spanish Civil War, “now in its seventeenth month; individuals and corporations cut off from their money, families in hiding because they were trapped on the wrong side – whatever side that was – burnt homes, burnt factories, with no means of proving anything to insurance companies, or banks, or government bureaucracies.”

At the same time, the way of life of the French Republic, with its deep democratic roots, is seriously challenged. Right-wing extremists rule neighboring Germany and Italy, and now the Spanish Republic is about to fall into the hands of Franco’s fascists and his conservative supporters. The Republic does not have many allies in the world – Mexico and the Soviet Union give their support, but other than that the international aid mainly consists of volunteers from around the globe; mostly workers, anti-fascists, social democrats, socialists, communists, and anarchists. Ferrar is also willing to contribute to the cause, and when he is contacted by a general of the Republic he sees a chance to help out. German and Italian pilots have shown the world the future of warfare, and the Spanish Republic needs anti-aircraft guns to survive. Where to find them, though? The Soviet Union turns out to be the best option. But the U.S.S.R. will not sell the weaponry. The Soviets want to hold on to the firepower they have. So the equipment has to be stolen.

A small band of idealists and hired gangsters organize the job, and they will find opposition on every level: honey traps, harbor spies, and armed servants of the far right.

Again, Alan Furst creates a mosaic of a European midnight, where people who have never before met come to share path through life as a war of ideologies engulfs the continent.

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Suspicion by Joseph Finder

August 14, 2014

SuspicionDanny Goodman is a single dad raising a teenage daughter, Abby. He is a writer, just about eking out a living. His daughter, Abby, who had been living with his ex-wife, Sarah, comes to live with him when Sarah dies from breast cancer. Danny’s latest book deal is about to collapse and he has no idea where he will find the money to keep Abby in her exclusive private school or where he even might find money for Abby’s future college expenses. Then an interesting thing happens.

Abby has befriended a newcomer to her school named Jenna Galvin. Jenna’s Dad Thomas is thrilled that his daughter has found a friend and is acclimating to her new school. He is so thrilled that he is willing to give an unsolicited $50,000 loan to Danny to get him through this rough spot. What Danny doesn’t know yet is that there will be strings attached — dangerous strings.

Apparently Galvin is connected to the Sinaloa drug cartel , one of Mexico’s deadliest cartels, and now the DEA has found out about the $50,000 gift and threatens Danny with arrest for taking drug money. How true this is, we don’t know, but the DEA leans on Danny to spy on Galvin or else!! Danny agrees to try, although he realizes that he is putting himself, Abby, and his girlfriend, Lucy, in mortal danger.

As usual with a Finder story, the pace is hectic. You will have a problem putting this book down until you find out if Danny can extract himself from the DEA’s clutches and keep his family safe. This is one of Finder’s best books.

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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

June 25, 2014

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetIn his best known novels (such as Cloud Atlas), David Mitchell uses many literary techniques—multiple points of view and storylines, radically shifting locations and time periods. But in his fifth and most recent novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Mitchell forgoes these to write a straight forward, third-person historical novel which takes place in Japan in the year 1799. At this time, the Japanese had almost entirely severed contacts with the West, having recently banished, persecuted, and executed Catholic missionaries and converts. The only Europeans allowed into Japan are the Dutch—and they are restricted to a small strip of land, Dejima, in the port city Hiroshima.

The book focuses on the experiences of young Jacob de Zoet, who has joined the Dutch East India Company to make the fortune that will allow him to return to Holland and marry his fiancé, Anna, a plan at odds with his scrupulous honesty as bookkeeper. While in Hiroshima, de Zoet encounters and falls in love with Orita Abigawa, a young Japanese woman learning (against both the folk superstitions and gender roles of her culture) the basics of Western medicine from Dr. Marinus, a Dutch physician and representative of 18th Century Enlightenment values. Because of her medical education, Abigawa is then forced into an horrific religious cult, led by the evil Enomoto.

Will Abigawa be rescued from the clutches of Enomoto and his henchmen? Will Jacob earn his fortune and return to Anna? Will he overcome Japan’s racial code and marry Abigawa?  Will Jacob and Dr. Marinus survive bombardment from an English warship? And what will happen to the escaped monkey named William Pitt?

These questions may suggest that Mitchell’s novel is a conventional suspense thriller. While suspenseful, however, the novel transcends its potboiler qualities through Mitchell’s many thematic concerns: corporate and capitalistic exploitation, the struggle between superstition and science, religious fundamentalism, and the struggle between Eastern and Western culture.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet can be read as a straight-forward adventure tale, a historical romance, and also an examination of the seeds of our own age as they began to germinate in one small place two centuries ago.

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Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner

June 24, 2014

Touch & GoJustin and Libby Denbe appear to be the ideal American family and very rich. They have a bright 15 year old daughter, Ashley, who is giving them the usual teenage problems. Then their world is turned upside down…..with military precision, when the entire family is kidnapped from their Boston home and they disappear. Their home with all their security does not stop this trio of bad guys, but strangely all their personal possessions are left in the house.

Tessa Leoni is assigned to their case. She is a private investigator for a firm responsible for the security of Denbe’s construction firm. Leoni was once a Massachusetts State trooper, but an incident two years prior resulted in the death of her husband, another policeman. Although cleared of all charges, the remnants of the case hung over Leoni and she retired to become a private investigator.

The entire case seems strange because no ransom note or phone call has been received. Leoni, the Boston Police Department and the FBI are totally baffled. With most kidnappings, ransom demands arrive quite soon. Where are they? Will time run out?

Lisa Gardner’s fast paced mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat. The plot takes you back and forth from the victim’s plight and their circumstances to the police hunt and Leoni’s investigation. Gardner introduces us to another main player, Sheriff Wyatt Foster. Foster is a sheriff in New Hampshire where the kidnappers may be headed. Enjoy this story with enough twists and turns to keep your head spinning.

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Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Sidney Sheldon

June 19, 2014

Are You Afraid of the Dark?Sidney Sheldon,  known as a legendary storyteller, novelist and screenwriter until his death in 2007, was the world’s top bestselling author who has won an Oscar, a Tony and an Edgar award.  He was the creator of TV’s classic hit programs like: The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie. The Guinness World Records 2004 heralds him as the most translated author in the world. All his novels have such gripping plots; you just do not want to put the book down till it is finished.

All around the world people are reported missing or dead. In Berlin a woman vanishes from the city streets. In Manhattan a body washes ashore, in Denver a small plane crashes into the mountains without any reason, In Paris a man falls from the Eiffel tower. At first the police think they are random incidents. But soon they discover that all four victims are connected to the largest think tank in the world: Kingsley International Group (KIG).

Two main characters of the story are Kelly Harris and Diane Stevens. They are recent widows of two of the victims. Diane is the elegant artist, who just testified against a Mob boss, and Kelly is the gorgeous model from Paris.  They meet in New York when they come to meet Tanner Kingsley the head of KIG. Tanner assures them that he is going to do his best to find out who is behind the murder of their husbands. Tanner’s brother Andrew is a genius who wins the Nobel Prize for science while trying to guide KIG into saving Third World countries from their various disasters. Tanner prefers to use the think-tank to become a world power and to become the richest man on earth. But in the meantime someone is intent on killing both women. Diane thinks it must be the Mob boss who is trying to kill her because she testified in court against him.

Initially both women do not like each other. They just tolerate each other since they are forced together for protection to stay alive. As the story progresses we see that both women have unusual talent to avoid being captured. They have to use their wits at every corner to keep alive.  It looks like the whole world is out there to kill them. They cannot trust anyone, not even their old friends. The story is full of suspense and plot.

If you like an entertaining, quick read, then read this book. And if you do like this Sidney Sheldon’s book, you will continue to read all his bestseller books because you will be hooked. Another author, Tilly Bagshawe, continues the Sheldon drama now, writing sequels to some of the original novels, but they don’t quite have the master’s touch or style like the Sheldon originals.

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Justice for Sara by Erica Spindler

June 9, 2014

Justice for SaraIt’s been 10 years since Sara McCall was murdered and now her sister, Kathleen (Kat), who was falsely accused of the murder, has returned to Liberty, Louisiana. Although Kat was acquitted of the murder, the town still holds her responsible for her sister’s death. Kat could have stayed in Oregon where she has started several successful bakery operations, but the question that has always plagued her was “who killed Sara?”

And so starts Erica Spindler’s latest thriller. Money may be involved in the murder because the McCall’s were wealthy from their oil business and when the parents were killed in an automobile accident, Sara and Kathleen inherited a lot of money. The police department is now being run by Luke Tanner, the son of Stephen Tanner, who may have been in a rush to justice when he accused Kat of the brutal murder of Sara ten years earlier. Kathleen finds Luke much more open to having a new look at the murder (and he is devilishly attractive to boot).

Spindler has spun a new and marvelous tale of deceit, murder and money in Justice for Sara. Small towns like Liberty are not going to easily forgive the person they feel responsible for a horrific crime. But Kat is determined to find the truth about her sister even if it puts her own life in danger.

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The Hit by David Baldacci

May 12, 2014

baldaccibookcover.phpWill Robie, government assassin has just completed an assignment in New York City when he is called back to Washington, DC. One of his superiors has been killed and the bureau has a strong suspicion who is responsible…..another agent, Jessica Reel. Robie knows Reel well because they trained together and topped their classes with either one coming in first or second. But now something is very wrong. Jessica seems to be working for the other side,  especially since the #2 man in Robie’s bureau has just been added to the kill list.

Robie realizes that it will become his assignment to kill Reel and knows that Reel will try to kill him first ! It will become a dangerous game between two very skilled assassins ! And there is one more complicating factor….a fourteen year old name Julie Getty. This young woman is mature way beyond her years and has sort of become Robie’s ward.  Something else just doesn’t feel right to Robie. He can’t put his finger on it because he has also received a couple of texts from Reel, as if she is trying to reach out to him.Even some of his conversations with his superiors have him wondering what is going on between the different government divisions.

Lovers of Baldacci will find him up to his usual fast pace. With a story that you will find hard to put down. It contains all the elements of International intrigue that we have come to love in his books. And there never is a mystery why his books spend a fair amount of time as the #1 book on the Best Seller lists.


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Duma Key by Stephen King

May 8, 2014

dumaskeybookcover.phpI’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I’ve loved his books since I was in high school and picked up a paperback copy of Carrie. I like his classics including Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot and It. I tend to lean more toward his horror stories than his fantasy series like Wizard and Glass. King is such an amazingly talented, unique and prolific writer. Stephen King had his own horror story unfold when he was hit by a car in 1999. Although King had published many good books after the accident, they were just okay. I worried that he might have lost the ability to write stories that were as great as he used to write. King put my worries to rest when I read Duma Key.

Although most of King’s novels are set in New England (no writer captures New England locals’ attitude and accents quite like King), Duma Key is set in Florida. Edgar Freemantle rents a beach house on Duma Key after nearly dying in a construction accident. The accident makes him an instant millionaire, but costs him his right arm and his wife of twenty-five years. During his stay at the beach house, Freemantle gets to know his neighbors, the wealthy and elderly Elizabeth Eastlake who owns Duma Key and her caretaker Wireman.

As Freemantle recuperates, he discovers his unquenchable need to draw and paint. He finds that he is compelled to paint to sooth the twitching of his missing limb. His art is so good he acquires a following in the community. As with most of King’s stories, things are not what they appear on the surface. Freemantle’s art has the power to heal and to harm. His paintings can predict and change future events.

During Freemantle’s stay on Duma Key he becomes close to Wireman and Elizabeth Eastman and discovers they all hold tragic secrets that may destroy them and those they love. It falls on Freemantle to find a way to save them all. This is classic King psychological horror with a little supernatural thrown in the mix. The book is long as most of King’s are, but the reader won’t mind because the writing is so creative and well crafted. King has written several books since Duma Key including short story collections Just After Sunset and Full Dark, No Stars, his epic novel about the Kennedy assassination, 11/22/63, Under the Dome, now a popular television series, and Doctor Sleep, the long awaited sequel to The Shining. I have devoured them all.  It’s good to be King.

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