Hey, everyone. Time for another book review Tuesday. Today I’m sharing my reviews of three recent reads. The first by an author I’ve read before, the others by “new to me” authors, although one of them is quite popular.
Because of the length of this post, I’m skipping the blurbs. I guess you could call these “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” The last book isn’t really ugly but it just seemed weird to me. Nonetheless, let’s start with the good.
Earlier this year, I read Maura Beth Brennan’s The Edge of Memory. I enjoyed it and was eager to read the sequel.
The Edge of Fear is Maura Beth Brennan’s second novel and a wonderful sequel to The Edge of Memory.
Hattie (Harriett) is now married to Eli, a local artisan. They have a three-year-old daughter, Lily. Her life is better than she ever imagined, but she begins having inklings that something is about to happen to destroy her happy family.
Then the unthinkable does. Hattie’s ex-husband, Frank, kidnaps Lily and holds her for ransom. After one attempt at giving him the money goes awry, weeks happen without any contact. That’s when Hattie decides to take matters into her own hands. She’s determined to find her daughter at all costs.
With the help of her best friend Celine, the two women set off on a journey to find the kidnapped child. What follows is a page-turning adventure as they trace Frank’s footsteps.
The character development was superb, the action well-paced, and the ending… Well, I won’t give it away.
If you haven’t read The Edge of Memory, this book could easily stand alone. For those who have read it, you’ll see familiar characters—beloved Agnes and of course, Celine. You’ll also meet new ones whom you’ll come to like, and I hope will appear in future books.
A resounding five stars for this one.
The next book I discovered through a BookBub promotion. Suffice to say, I’m glad it was free. This is probably the longest review I’ve written, so bear with me.
I wanted to like this book. I really did. The premise sounded great. A teenage girl goes out for a hike and never returns. Twelve years later, her family wants answers. Enter Emily, a former Chicago Police detective turned private investigator. She’s contacted by the mother of the missing girl and decides to travel to the small town of Stockton to investigate.
First, I’ll comment on the writing. There are numerous word echoes throughout the book. A couple of examples – the word truck was used five times in one paragraph and a sixth time in the preceding one. The name Angelica was used sixteen times in three pages. Even in an eighty-three-word author’s note, Kalis used the book’s name twice. Was it not possible to say, “this novel” or “this book?”
The author also mixed up a character’s name. Benny became his father Bucky for a couple of pages. Totally confusing.
The book also has redundancies. How many times do we need to know Emily wasn’t sure if she was going to take the case? Was it not clear Cameron was upset over the death of some of his cattle? Or that Kathy wanted to get out of Stockton but was too scared to do anything about it? Despite all that, I kept reading.
The solution was fairly predictable, but the book had several loose ends. I thought there could have been a lot more tension toward the end. There wasn’t. After building up to the fact the sheriff wasn’t on the up and up and was wary of Emily’s presence, he more or less disappeared. The unusual behavior of a local veterinarian wasn’t explained. Why throw those things in if you aren’t going to do anything with them?
Then came the unbelievable ending. I won’t say more because I hate spoilers in reviews, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Guess I should have paid more attention to the word vigilante justice in the sub-title.
On the positive side – I liked Emily’s sidekick Mike, a computer nerd who helped her out of more than one tough situation. There was also her dog Miner, aptly named for the number of holes he digs in her back yard. One line I found amusing: “All the dog needed was a hardhat and a headlamp.”
Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good and I feel I’m generous in rating it three stars (actually 2.5 rounded up to three). The use of beta readers, critique partners, or an editor would have been helpful. I won’t bother with any more books in this series or by this author.
I received an ARC of Survive The Night through Net Galley.
I’m still trying to come to grips with the mixed feelings I have about this book. Hate it? No. Love it? Absolutely not. Somewhere in between, for sure. I will say this was my first time to read anything by Riley Sager, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Charlie Jordan is a theatrical student at a small New Jersey college. Her roommate and friend, Maddy, was murdered by the campus serial killer. Charlie feels responsible because she left Maddy to walk home alone from a bar. Maddy never made it.
Trying to fight the guilt, Charlie decides to go home to Ohio, leaving behind school and her boyfriend Robbie. Because both her parents died in an auto accident, Charlie doesn’t drive, so she posts a note on the campus’s drive board, hoping for a ride. Along comes Josh who offers to take her there on his way home.
They set out around nine at night. As they enter Pennsylvania, Charlie realizes something is amiss with Josh. Is he even who he says he is? Before long, she’s convinced he is the Campus Killer, and Charlie is in for a wild ride.
The book kept me turning the pages because I wanted to learn the outcome. However, Charlie lives her life in the fantasy world of movies, something like hallucinations, so it’s hard to determine what’s real and what isn’t. She makes several stupid mistakes, beginning with accepting a ride from a total stranger. Her poor decisions were based largely because of her guilt over Maddy’s death.
As I got further into the story, it wasn’t hard to figure out the killer’s identity, although the author did throw in several twists to keep readers guessing. A plus for that. But overall, I’m left with a somewhat dissatisfied feeling. Again, I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I might consider reading this author again, but judging from this one, the books don’t merit the big price tag. My consolation is the fact I did receive a free advanced reader copy from Net Galley.