Category Archives: Minotaur Books

Review: Never Look Back by Clare Donoghue

  • Series: Mike Lockyer Novels (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 10, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 9781250046079
  • Source: Publisher

Three young women are murdered in south London, the killer becoming increasingly brazen with victim. Detective Inspector Mike Lockyer, the head of homicide, and Detective Sergeant Jane Bennett are struggling to find a connection between the victims. When the most recent victim resembles Lockyer’s own daughter, his determination to bring the killer to justice becomes stronger. Eventually, a connection is found, but not before more innocent women are killed.

Sarah Grainger was once an outgoing and social London photographer. For the past several months, however, she’s secluded herself in her apartment, attempting to allude a stalker that follows her every move. When the stalker’s actions begin to intensify, she files a complaint with the police. Recent attempts to do the same have been met with less than desirable outcomes. To Sarah’s luck, however, she’s introduced to Lockyer after the police realize her stalker’s behavior parallels that of the killer. The stalker has information he is desperate to share with Sarah, information vital to Lockyer’s homicide investigation.

Never Look Back is a cleverly written debut, the first in a series featuring DI Mike Lockyer. The character Donoghue creates in Lockyer is a crafted and dynamic one.  She reveals shades of his character slowly through his police work and his relationships with his daughter.  In this first book alone, Donoghue has wielded a character both strong and sympathetic, a characteristic demanded for a successful new series.

Additionally, Donoghue expertly captures the terror experienced by Grainger, her character brimming with fear as she faces the endless phone calls and messages left by her stalker. Readers will find themselves aware of their surroundings, looking for a person that stands out in the crowd, wary of every move they make.

The atmosphere generated is wholly chilling, the reader granted access into the consciousness of not only Lockyer and Grainger but of the stalker as well.  It will be impossible for even the most seasoned thriller reader to not get chills while reading this novel, the hairs on the back of your neck raising with each terrifying scene.  This is just the first in a new procedural series, I wait impatiently for more from Donoghue. Highly, highly recommended.

Review: The Revenant of Thraxton Hall: The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Vaughn Entwistle

  • Series: Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 25, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1250035007
  • Source: Publisher

Arthur Conan Doyle is the most hated man in London after he kills off the beloved character of Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem.”  When he is invited to come to a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research in a manor house in the English countryside, he willingly accepts the excuse to get out of the city. He’s not there merely to participate in the meeting, but to prevent a murder.  The intended victim: the lady of the house, Hope Thraxton.  A medium herself, Lady Thraxton has predicted that her own demise will take place during a seance at the manor.

Joining Doyle on this journey is his good friend, Oscar Wilde.  Together, they must painstakingly ob the observe guests at Thraxton Hall, narrowing down the suspects in an attempt to identify the killer before the murder can transpire.  Aided by his fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, Doyle soon comes to terms with the fact that things are not necessarily always as they seem.

I was immediately taken when read the premise of this novel. I’ve been a long time fan of all things Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. Be forewarned, however…Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have as big a part in this novel as fans would hope.  His presence is just enough to serve as a reminder of his existence and Doyle’s inability to separate himself with his renowned and loved character.

That said, there is still much to love and appreciate about this first book in a new series. Doyle and Wilde’s witty banter is one of them. Doyle is living the life he created for his character, Sherlock Holmes, and does so quite willingly. He uses the skills of deduction so prominently used by Holmes.  Wilde, on the other hand, is quite the character. He seems more concerned about the well-being of his wardrobe  than of Doyle and the others.  While some might find this to be annoying, I think it added a bit of humor to their already unusual friendship.

The paranormal aspect of this novel was also quite enticing.  It didn’t monopolize the storyline, it simply added a new level of fear to an already chilling scenario.

I’m excited to see that this novel is the first in a new series. While the “whodunit” aspect isn’t all that difficult to figure out, I think The Revenant of Thraxton Hall is evidence of great potential in this new series.  Recommended to fans of good, old fashioned mystery (with a touch of the paranormal)! 

Review: A Killing of Angels by Kate Rhodes

  • Series: Alice Quentin Series (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (February 25, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 125001431X
  • Source: Publisher

Psychologist Alice Quentin vowed to never work with the police again. Her last experience left her battered and bruised, both physically and mentally. Yet when Detective Don Burns asks for her help on a case, she can’t refuse.  Burns sat by her hospital bed as she recovered from the previous police case she worked on. Just as battered and bruised as Alice was, Burns deserved her help.

A serial killer is targeting  the Angel Group, a private bank originally created to help the less fortunate.  Victims are found brutally murdered, the only evidence left behind include white feathers and a picture of an angel. Alice is called in to profile the perpetrator. As she does, she experiences first-hand the corruption that surrounds London’s financial district.  People are willing to do anything, including murder, to get ahead…or to get even.

A Killing of Angels is the second book in a series (Crossbones Yard is the first) and while this is my first introduction to the series, I was able to pick up on the characters and their history with ease. Alice Quentin is a strong, no-nonsense individual who strives to do best for her patients despite an overbearing past of pain and suffering.  Her family life growing up wasn’t easy and, even as an adult, she still bears the brunt of that pain. Her brother, struggling to recover from addiction, lives with her after he was severely injured. Her mother goes on about her life as if she has no responsibility for her children’s pain, oblivious to the hurt they are experiencing, instead constantly reminding Alice about what she has done wrong in her life. It’s awe-inspiring to see that Alice’s character is able to rise up despite all of this and succeeds at helping her patients in dealing with their own pain.

What an addictive read! I was clueless to the identity of the killer until the end. I was certain I knew who it was, I would have bet on it! Good thing I didn’t because I was so far off! Talk about skilled pacing and reveal!  It is for this reason, and my respect and admiration of Alice’s character, that I plan on going back to the start of the series as I wait impatiently for the next book in this series!

If you are looking for a brilliant new psychological thriller series, this is the one for you. While I did start with the second book, I do recommend starting at the beginning (like I shall now!) to get an accurate grasp of Alice’s character. Highly recommended.

 

Review: Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (December 24, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1250039770
  • Source: Publisher

Eleven years ago, then twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius was convicted of killing two seventeen-year-old girls based on circumstantial evidence alone and sentenced to ten years in prison.  After his release, Tobias returns to his home in a small village.  His family home is in shambles; his prison sentence served not only as punishment to Tobias but his parents, now divorced, as well.

Meanwhile, detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are called to investigate a mysterious traffic accident. A woman fell from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving below her. The woman is identified as Rita Cramer, mother of Tobias Sartorius.  Is Tobias’ release somehow connected to Rita’s accident? As Pia and Bodenstein take their investigation to the small village, they are hit with silence. Everyone refuses to identify the man responsible for her “fall” although it is obvious that they recognize him.  When another girl goes missing, the past comes flooding back to this small, secretive town.  The villagers know a lot more about what has happened than they are admitting to the police. Rather than involving the authorities, they attempt to take matters into their own hands and seek vengeance not only for the current disappearance, but for the crimes committed a decade ago.

Snow White Must Die was one of the many books released last year that I didn’t have the opportunity to read and review…until now.  The wait was well worth it, for Snow White Must Die is a deeply atmospheric thriller set in a small town riddled of decades-old secrets.  Initially, the numerous sub-plots were distracting, but once it was made apparent how they are all interconnected, I was amazed at how brilliantly Neuhaus was able to pull it all together! I’m being intentionally vague about these subplots because their revelation, and execution, are key to the flow of the storyline.

Readers learn a great deal about the characters of Kirchhoff and von Bodenstein, both professionally and personally. I appreciated learning about their personal lives, allowing me to understand their motives and behaviors on a completely different scale.

Other reviewers have commented about the length and “bulk” of this novel.  Rather than releasing a second book with this character and history-building information, Neuhaus included it in the first book of the series, allowing readers to flow right into the next book. Speaking of next book, Bad Wolf was just released yesterday, allowing readers new to the series instant gratification with the first two books! Bad Wolf is up next on my reading stack; I can’t wait to once again immerse myself in the rich, atmospheric world Neuhaus has created. Highly, highly recommended.

Cozy Mystery Week Day 2: Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust

CozyMystery2013

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (December 17, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1250011043
  • Source: Publisher

Piper Prescott, recently divorced, opted to use all the money she received in the settlement to follow her lifelong dream: opening a spice shop, Spice it Up!, in her small Georgia town. For the grand opening, Piper arranged for a local chef to do a cooking demo in her store. When she finds this chef murdered, however, all her plans are ruined. To make matters worse, since she handled the murder weapon, a knife, she’s the prime suspect.

Making matters worse, the brand new police Chief Wyatt McBride happens to be the arch nemesis of her ex-husband, CJ. McBride is desperate to make a name for himself and Piper feels he will do whatever it takes to solve this case. Desperate to uncover the identity of the true killer, Piper enlists her best friend, Reba Mae Johnson, and the duo do a bit of investigating on their own.  As she gets closer to finding more answers, Piper realizes that she is the killer’s next intended victim. Will she (and her beloved spice shop!) survive long enough to bring the killer to justice?

Rosemary and Crime is an adorable and captivating Southern cozy mystery. Reading Piper’s descriptions of spices and the dishes she uses them in had my mouth watering from page one! Additionally, the small Southern town full of charm and outrageous antics had me giggling.  The characters were lively and engaging, particularly Piper! I admit to rooting for her from the beginning! Her husband divorced her after over twenty years of marriage and instead of wallowing in depression, Piper follows her life-long dream! Add a truly intriguing murder to the spin and you have the recipe for a truly delightful new cozy mystery series!

This is a must-read for any fan of culinary mysteries! Highly, highly recommended!

#Mx3 Review: The Red Queen Dies by Frankie Y. Bailey

9780312641757

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 10, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0312641753
  • Source: Publisher

The year is 2019.  Police detective Hannah McCabe is charged with investigating the deaths of two women, both killed when the drug phenol was  injected into their hearts.  When a third victim is found, a Broadway actress Vivian Jessup, all stakes are raised. Is a serial killer loose on the streets of Albany?  McCabe must find a connection between the three victims before the killer strikes again. Adding to stress is a reporter, Clarence Redfield, who always seems to have information he shouldn’t. Redfield, dead set on defaming the police investigating these crimes, printing information about  McCabe’s past and an incident that left her brother  paralyzed.

The first in a new trilogy, The Red Queen Dies creates a unique futuristic world in which many things have changed, yet many remain the same.  A drug, “Lullaby,”  created to help soldiers forget the pain and memories of war and “heal” post-traumatic stress disorder runs rampant on the streets. Global warming is still in full force and government over-spending continues.  Cell phones have been replaced with devices called ORBs, highly advanced versions of modern smartphones.

I appreciated the ties to lesser known details about Alice and Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz that wound their way into the investigation. Police procedural are pretty common, but adding these elements, and the futuristic setting, make this one stand out.

Another feature of this book I appreciated is the main character, Hannah McCabe. Because of a traumatizing experience in her childhood, McCabe is a secretive, self-protecting young woman. Instead of allowing this experience to be her downfall, she uses it in her role as police officer. She’s determined, compassionate, and dead set on justice. I am thrilled that strong, female protagonists in crime fiction is on the up-rise.

Being that this is the first in a trilogy, there is a lot of information that is revealed but not expanded upon.  While many other reviewers complained about this, I think this is a common trait in the first book of a series. So much information has to presented in that first book in order for it to be picked up in subsequent volumes.  The tidbits of information Bailey gives her readers has me clamoring for more!

Bottom line: if you are looking for an intense police procedural with a unique spin, this is the one for you! I am highly anticipating the next book in this trilogy! Highly recommended!
2013MX3

Frightful Friday: The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Have you read a chilling book this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

The featured title this week is The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton:

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 10, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1250031044
  • Source: Publisher

At twenty-two years old, Reeve LeClaire is just getting her life back to normal. A decade ago, she was kidnapped and held captive for nearly four years. Thanks to her incredibly supportive therapist, Dr. Ezra Lerner, over the last six years rebuilding her life.  When Dr. Lerner calls upon her to help another girl in a similar situation, Reeve’s decision to help “mentor” this young victim is a clear indication of her healing.

While the victim, Tilly Cavanaugh, wasn’t held captive nearly as long as Reeve,  an instant connection was evident between the two girls. Tilly’s kidnapper was behind bars and this should have elicited a sense of relief in the young girl, but something still had her terrified.  Once their bond was formed, Tilly admits to Reeve that the man behind bars wasn’t the only man complicit in her abduction. Another man, the one responsible for the cruel and malicious acts toward her, is still on the loose. To make matters worse, the elusive abductor is an expert on high-tech surveillance, allowing him to stalk Tilly, and now Reeve, reaching far deeper into their lives than thought possible.  It’s soon clear that Reeve must not only help Tilly heal from this incredibly devastating event but also protect her from the man that is still out there, a man who taunts her family and haunts her every waking moment.

To understand the sheer brilliance of this novel one must understand a bit about the author’s background.  Several years ago, Carla Norton read about a woman who was abducted and held captive in a coffin-like for seven years.  She became almost obsessed with this story, so much so that she covered the kidnappers trial and ultimately wrote Perfect Victim, an account of the case, with the aid of the prosecutor. The book was an instant success, added to the reading list for the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit and a #1 New York Times bestseller, remaining on the list for 18 weeks.  And, according to Carla herself, the story haunted her and “my first crime fiction is inspired by my first true crime.” It’s not difficult to see the connection between the actual crime and the one that takes place in The Edge of Normal.

In addition to the author’s first hand knowledge of abduction cases, the one thing that makes The Edge of Normal a truly phenomenal piece of suspense fiction is Reeve’s character. Reeve experienced a tremendous amount of abuse during captivity, abuse that has left both physical and mental scars. Despite (and due to) all of this, she decides that she will no longer be a victim. The way she took control of her life, facing her fears (both old and new) is outstanding. A truly strong and powerful protagonist, she wasn’t going to allow any other young woman to experience what she did.

Additionally, The Edge of Normal contains one of the most terrifying and sick individuals I have read about in some time. Referred to as “Mister Monster” by Tilly, Duke truly is a monster, personified. He reaches into every aspect of his victims’ lives, even after they escape.  The reader learns of his involvement within the first several pages of the book and is forced to sit back and watch as he torments his victims. His character continued to haunt me long after I finished reading this novel!

If you are looking for a brilliant suspense thriller with fast pacing, this is the title for you. Highly, highly recommended!

 

 

Review: Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain

  • Series: Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (August 13, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0312619812
  • Source: Personal copy

*Note: This title is the sixth book in a series. There may be spoilers listed in the review below. Please avoid if you have not read the previous books in the series*

It’s Archie Sheridan’s birthday and his hopes of celebrating a quiet evening with his ex-wife and kids is ruined when he is called to investigate a murder.  A body has been found in the bathroom of the Gold Dust Meridian.  Despite the fact that the indentity of the victim is unrecogniable at first, Archie soon discovers that the body is that of a DEA agent and the contact for Leo Reynolds, the son of one of the largest drug dealers in the Pacific Northwest.  Leo has beeen working with authorities to bring down his father for some time now. The fact that his contact has been murdered leads Archie to believe that Leo’s father, Jack Reynolds, may be on to their plan.

Shortly thereafter Leo disappears. It’s not an unusual occurence but his girlfriend and Archie’s close friend Susan is worried.  When Susan and Archie are invited to an invitation-only masquerade party on Jack Reynold’s island, they both see it as a unique opportunity: Susan can confront Leo about his disappearance and recent behavior; Archie can get inside Reynold’s home an potentially identify some of his cohorts. Yet the next morning, Archie wakes up with a concussion and no other knowledge of what transpired. Leo is still missing and the body count continues to climb.

Security footage from the island sheds new light on the situation. Gretchen Lowell, on the run after escaping from a mental institution, killing several during her escape, is back.  While authorities try to pin more recent deaths on Gretchen, Archie would recognize her handiwork if he saw it. Archie is closer to Gretchen than anyone, their illicit affair when Gretchen was working with authorities on the case bringing the two closer than Archie would have liked, especially now that Archie knows just how sick and twisted Gretchen can be. The recent murders are too “clean” to have been done by Gretchen’s hand; she’s known for slashing and mutilating her victims.

Despite what transpired between Gretchen and Archie in the past, seeing her on the footage renewes his deep physical attraction for her. If she is not responsible for the killings, why has she returned after being quiet for so long?

Let Me Go is the sixth book in this truly addictive series (following HEARTSICK, SWEETHEART, EVIL AT HEART, THE NIGHT SEASON, and KILL YOU TWICE).  I do not hide my adoration for this series. I’ve even named my Macbook “Gretchen” (mainly due to its bright red cover).  I’ve followed Archie and Gretchen’s sick and twisted relationship from the beginning.  Each time a new title is released, I must get my hands on a copy as soon as physically possible.  I keep my standards high when it comes to reading anything Chelsea Cain writes and I have yet to be disappointed.

In the most recent books in this series, while Gretchen doesn’t play a largely active role in the storyline from the beginning, her character is definitely a presence throughout. Archie is still recovering from his addiction to Gretchen, but in this novel his healing process has reached a climax: he must now face the guilt he holds after his actions lead to the deaths of so many, as well as the destruction of his marriage. Admitting just how involved he was with Gretchen is the final step in getting his life back to normal.  The title is most appropriate, for Archie must force Gretchen to remove the ties she has on him if he is ever to maintain a normal life.  Finally taking responsibility for his action adds a completely new dimension to Archie’s typically cold character.

When Gretchen finally makes an appearance, she’s still just as sick and twisted as she’s ever been. It astounds me how much I love her character, given how evil and tortourous she can be. This is at true testament to Cain’s writing, her abilily to create a character, a truly psychotic serial killer, who fans can’t help but love. I imagine readers cheering when her characters enter a scene, for her character has a unique charisma you don’t often see in fiction.

While many readers may crave for some sort of conculsion to Archie and Gretchen’s “relationship,” I was thrilled to see that while there is a bit of resolution, Gretchen Lowell will continue to play an ever-present role in Archie’s life.  In Let Me Go readers will see a definite shift in their relationship but any fears of a rapid conclusion are unwarranted.

I could honestly go on and on about my fondness for this series but, for fear of boring you, I’ll wrap it up with this: if you haven’t started this series (REALLY!?) then I highly encourage you to do so. Fans of this series will be handsomely rewarded with this most recent addition. Highly, highly, highly (ok, I’ll stop!) recommended!

Interested in trying out the audiobook production of Let Me Go? Sample a clip here.

Review: Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 12, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0312622945
  • Source: Publisher

Brigid Quinn is an fifty-nine year old ex-FBI agent, forced into early retirement.  She now lives with her husband, Carlo, a former Roman Catholic priest and philosophy professor, who knows literally nothing about Brigid’s violent past. Brigid lost one love due to her obsession with hunting killers and she wasn’t going to let that happen again.

She’s called into a case by FBI Agent Laura Coleman, a young agent familiar with Brigid’s past. The case involves a serial killer that stalked Route 66, a case that Brigid was never able to close. An agent Brigid trained was abducted by this elusive killer, her body never found. They have a man in custody who has confessed to the crime but Coleman is reluctant to accept his confession. She calls in Brigid without permission from her supervisors knowing full well that Brigid’s obsession with this case will force her to get answers that Coleman is prevented from obtaining.

Rash decisions put Quinn at odds with the agency, the very behavior that put her in danger and forced her into retirement. This behavior threatens her quiet, sheltered marriage and puts it, along with her very life, at risk.

Brigid Quinn is a wholly unique character. Not many thriller authors dare to write a novel featuring an “older” protagonist yet Masterman truly exceeds expectations with this one. Brigid is a hardened former FBI agent who tries so desperately to accept a quiet, routine retired life, yet her past involvement (and guilt) surrounding this case won’t allow it. Brigid is a wholly sympathetic character, the reader understanding more than she how much of a victim she is to her own fate and behavior.  She is a feisty, cocky, and smart-witted character, one that readers can’t help but root for.  This reader can’t wait for more! Highly, highly recommended.

Click here to listen to a sample of the audiobook from Macmillan Audio.

Frightful Friday: Safe House by Chris Ewan

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Today’s featured book is Safe House by Chris Ewan:

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (December 11, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 125001256
  • Source: Publisher

Rob Hale awakens in a hospital room after barely surviving a motorcycle accident. Instead of being concerned about his own well-being he asks about Lena, the beautiful blond passenger riding with him. The doctors and police insist he was the only victim found at the scene. Having lost his sister, Laura, to suicide in the last year, his family believes he is projecting memories and feelings about Laura into this fictional individual, Lena. Desperate to discover the truth on his own, he is soon joined by a private investigator, Rebecca Lewis, hired by his family to investigate his sister’s suicide. Rebecca has some secret connection to his sister, and in turn, the mysterious Lena.

Set on Isle of Man, Safe House is an extremely dynamic and well-plotted thriller. The setting, a small island in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland, plays an integral role in the storyline. With a population of near 80,000, its remote location allows residents to feel isolated, but soon Rebecca and Rob learn that even even the most close-knit locations can be overflowing with secrets.Much like the Tourist Trophy (locally referred to as the “TT”) motorcycle race the island is known for, Ewan takes readers on a full-throttle, intense ride throughout the entirety of this novel.

One of the most redeeming things (and there are many) about this book is the main character, Rob Hale. He’s your average Joe, just trying to get on with his life after the devastating loss of his sister. He doesn’t have a lucrative job (he works in heating and cooling) his passion, like many residents of the island, is motorcycle racing. It all started with a nice motorcycle ride with a beautiful blonde…and then Rob is forced to become embroiled in a truly terrifying series of events.

This is my first taste of Ewan’s writing and I must say it will not be my last. A truly heart-pounding thriller, I cannot wait for more. Highly recommended.

Author Chris Ewan on how he writes:

A sample of the audio book production from AudioGo: