Tag Archives: mystery and suspense

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A college student and diagnosed psychopath taking part in a psychological study of other psychopathic students is caught in a game of cat and mouse when one of the other students is murdered, and she must uncover the murderer’s identify before she is next in author Vera Kurian’s “Never Saw Me Coming”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis 

Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a leggings-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.

Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.

When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.

Never Saw Me Coming is a compulsive, voice-driven thriller by an exciting new voice in fiction, that will keep you pinned to the page and rooting for a would-be killer.

The Review

This was such a fantastically written and gripping thriller. The author takes the classic balance of whodunnit mystery storytelling and haunting thriller vibes and flips the script by having the targeted victims in this case diagnosed psychopaths. This is so unique, as it explores psychopathy as a diagnosis and mental health condition rather than a term just for unhinged criminal minds, while also exploring that facet of the general public’s thinking with morally corrupt characters that fit this description. The layered and complex nature of the character development is what really invites readers into this narrative, delivering shocks and twists not seen since the revelations of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

The atmosphere and tone were what really captured my attention as a reader. The author perfectly found the right blend of chilling personality traits from not just the mystery “killer”, but the protagonists of this narrative as well, and the dark humor that readers can’t help but shakily chuckle at. Readers won’t be able to help to get chills as the author delves into the mindset of these characters, and you won’t be able to help to imagine how many people you know or walk by every day, harboring these thoughts and mindsets. That’s always a good indication of a successful thriller.

The Verdict

A masterful, haunting, and engaging mystery and thriller read, author Vera Kurian’s “Never Saw Me Coming” is a must-read thriller of 2021. The unique character perspectives and chilling atmosphere are incredible driving forces to keep readers invested, and the shocking twist revelation of the killer and their motivation will leave readers falling off their seats. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Vera Kurian is a writer and scientist based in Washington DC.  Her debut novel, NEVER SAW ME COMING, is forthcoming from Park Row Books (US) and Harvill Secker, Vintage (UK)  in Fall 2021. (more on that here). Her short fiction has been published in magazines such as Glimmer Train, Day One, and The Pinch. She was born and raised in the mid-Atlantic region, before stints in NYC and LA returned her to her rightful home of DC where she’s lived for most of her adult life. She has a PhD in Social Psychology, where she studied intergroup relations, ideology, and quantitative methods. She blogs irregularly about writing, horror movies and pop culture/terrible TV. She enjoys existentialism and puppies. 

https://www.verakurian.com/

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A brother must search for his sister after a wild night at an Orange County house party leads to his sister’s disappearance, and a dangerous man prowling the streets of the O.C. looking for her in author Jason Bovberg’s “Loser Baby”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

LOSER BABY is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending. 

The Review

A gritty and surreal look into the various facets of life in Orange County, author Jason Bovberg does an incredible job of capturing the atmosphere and culture of the O.C. area and those living in it. As someone who grew up in Southern California and has family from Orange County, it was fascinating to see the setting and atmosphere come to life like that, as the O.C. has so many different layers and cultures bubbling within it, and this book really brought that to life.

Yet it was the layered approach to the book’s mystery that kept the suspense and thriller genre alive in this novel. The story really elevates the narrative by taking the original premise and mystery and flipping it on its head. The shocking twists and turns the narrative takes, and the really nuanced characters that gave this story the emotional depth that it employed, was so engaging that I was hard-pressed to put this book down.

The Verdict

A remarkable, chilling, and emotional roller coaster, author Jason Bovberg’s “Loser Baby” is a must-read novel of 2021! The mystery and intrigue the story takes plays well against the dark and seedy undertones of both the criminal elements of the area and the average people caught up in the madness the day becomes, making this story really engrossing to read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Jason Bovberg is the author of Loser Baby, the Blood trilogy (Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn) and The Naked Dame, a pulp noir novel. He is the founder of Dark Highway Press, which published Robert Devereaux’s controversial Santa Steps Out, as well as the highly acclaimed weird-western anthology Skull Full of Spurs. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife Barb, his daughters Harper and Sophie, and his canines Rocky and Rango. You can find him online at www.jasonbovberg.com.

Unfurling: A Tale of Friendship, Love, Mystery & Mayhem by Tia Ray Dhar Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A medical graduate settling into her life working in residency and feeling the lack of a zest for life finds her world rocked when a new friend is found murdered. With suspicion falling on her as they attended a conference together, she must find a way to discover what happened to her friend and clear her name in the process in author Tia Ray Dhar’s “Unfurling: A Tale of Friendship, Love, Mystery & Mayhem”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Can an unexpected turn of events, including a mystery, guide you towards a sense of purpose in your life?

Mandira Sharma (Mandy) is a recent medical graduate, feeling extremely jubilant that she will no longer have to study diligently for exams and can now start earning. She is not passionate about her residency in internal medicine and feels devoid of a general sense of purpose in life. Currently, her happiness revolves around making new friends and spending time with them, be it at her place of work or outdoor venues.

Her general sense of isolation and disinterest in her medicine residency accentuates when her two close friends go overseas, and someone she loves and cares deeply about decides to part ways.

Trying to cope with the current painful scenario — she navigates through her daily routine devoid of zest or enthusiasm.

During an endocrinology key opinion leader profiling assignment, Mandy meets Latika, a psychology Master’s Student. A friendship develops between the two ladies, stemming from shared interests. Latika invites Mandy to attend a workshop titled “What’s Your Attachment Style,” which piques Mandy’s interest. However, tragedy strikes again, when during a desolate blackout at the workshop venue, two attendees find Latika’s body floating in a pool on the premises. Inspector Geetika and her team launch an investigation into the crime’s motive and modus operandi, and the cohort of meeting attendees, including Mandy, come under the lens of suspicion.

Mandy confronts the grief of yet another loss. She decides to endeavor to assist the inspector in unraveling the solution to the mystery and bringing her friend’s killer to justice.

The plot of this novel is an amalgam of elements of friendship, love, mystery, suspense, and the unfurling of finding solace and fulfillment in a purpose or goal.

The Review

A truly unique and heart-pounding thriller, author Tia Ray Dhar has crafted a wholly original story that blends themes of isolation and loneliness with the mystery and suspense genres. The author does a great job of establishing character growth not only for the protagonist but those she builds bonds with along the journey. The themes of loneliness, depression, and sadness that so many people struggle with for a lot of different reasons felt so relevant and needed, not only to reflect the need for mental health awareness overall but to showcase the depth of the protagonist overall and their struggle to find purpose and meaning in life. 

The mystery and the clues that unravel that mystery little by little were so engaging and entertaining. The shock at the criminal’s identity will be a pleasant surprise for those who enjoy comfy mysteries, and the unique setting and character roster really brought a new level of culture and inventiveness to the narrative. The only suggestion I’d have for the author would be pacing, as the background being established felt like it took up more than half of the book, which made the mystery feel a bit rushed at certain points. Allowing for more time to let the suspense and mystery grow will greatly increase the already staggering heights of creativity the author achieves in this fantastic read.

The Verdict

A remarkable, inviting, and heartfelt mystery and drama, author Tia Ray Dhar’s “Unfurling” is a must-read novel. The suspense the author builds and the effortless way the author delves into these important themes to build their character’s growth was fun to see unfold and will have readers truly invested in Mandy’s journey as a protagonist. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Tia Ray Dhar grew up in Canberra, Australia, and Toronto, Canada, and has over 15 years of experience in content creation for biomedical and healthcare communications across India, the US, and New Zealand. The mystery and suspense genre has always enthralled her. She started her fiction reading journey with novels by renowned authors like Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Shari Lapena, Alafair Burke, Ruth Ware, and CL Taylor, to name a few. After years of reading, she decided to embark on a fiction writing journey of her own! 

She is a Goodreads author and has two published books in two different genres: A murder mystery novel titled “Unfurling: A Tale of Friendship, Love, Mystery & Mayhem” and a short self-help book called “Don’t Let Your Break-Up be Your Break-Down.” 

Her upcoming plans include publishing a romance novella, followed by few novellas and short stories in the mystery and suspense genre.

She has just started her writing journey and knows that there’s a long way to go. The creative landscape of writing is a space where we continually aspire to learn, engage, enthrall, entertain, and motivate the reader audience. 

Besides being an avid fiction reader, she loves public speaking, photography, rock music (especially from the 80s and 90s), films, theatre, and world history. One of her favorite places anywhere in the world is sitting at a window-side table in a cafe and sipping an Americano, long black, or flat white coffee while reading or writing. 

She enjoys connecting with other readers and writers and participating in social and cultural events for all age groups. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tia.ray.1848

https://www.instagram.com/tia_writer1980/

Headlines, Deadlines, and Lies by Stephanie LaVigne Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A single mother struggling to find her footing as a writer finds herself uncovering more secrets than she could have imagined while investigating genealogy studies in author Stephanie LaVigne’s “Headlines, Deadlines, and Lies”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

“It’s all in the genes, darling!” A witty quip…or a clue?

Piper Harrington is determined to find out.

As a single mom living back in her quaint hometown nestled along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Piper has all but abandoned her dream of ever becoming a professional writer. So when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity opens up at the small beach town paper where she works, she has to make a split-second decision: Go for it (even if it requires a little fib) or give up a shot at her lifelong goal.

To complicate things, in waltzes a worldly crime reporter who is easy to talk to and even easier on the eyes. Add in a demanding editor, alongside a theatrical best friend, a lively family, and co-workers who run the gamut from supportive to conniving, and things start getting tricky.

Scrambling for a topic that could keep readers hooked, Piper dives into the world of genealogy…something she knows absolutely nothing about. When her investigation turns up more questions than answers, her findings threaten to open up a Pandora’s box that can’t be closed.

A story about friendship, family, finding your passion…and the lengths we go to protect those we love.

•••

What do Bogie & Bacall, a goldfish, and a never-ending mountain of laundry have in common? There’s only one way to find out! If you love a fun, beachy read with a lovable female amateur sleuth, then you will have a blast with Headlines Deadlines and Lies; a Florida twist on a cozy mystery!

amzn_assoc_ad_type = “banner”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_placement = “assoc_banner_placement_default”; amzn_assoc_campaigns = “audible”; amzn_assoc_banner_type = “category”; amzn_assoc_isresponsive = “true”; amzn_assoc_banner_id = “0S6C9RC4J0QCW7HD2PG2”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “authoranthony-20”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “924715ead47ba754d9cc1ec8bc85b483”; //z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&Operation=GetScript&ID=OneJS&WS=1

The Review

This was a truly marvelous mystery! The author perfectly captures the warmth and wit that the cozy mystery genre often has. The relationship between the protagonist and the cast of characters felt real and relatable all at once. Getting an intimate look into the protagonist’s life as a single mother and aspiring writer was emotional and heartfelt, and the author really captured the author’s mental and physical journey as she underwent this adventure. 

The real defining moment or aspect of this novel had to be the setting of the novel. The cozy mystery novel typically conjures up a cold, wintery setting in some small New England or English town. Yet the author has flipped the script in the best way possible, taking readers to a sunny destination like Florida and still keeping the theme and tone of coziness and suspense that the genre is known for.

The Verdict

A masterful, expertly crafted, and engaging read, author Stephanie LaVigne’s “Headlines, Deadlines, and Lies” is a must-read and satisfying read. The characters immediately draw the reader in with their authenticity and charm, and the evolving mystery keeps readers invested in this narrative wholeheartedly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Stephanie LaVigne comes from a long line of mystery lovers. Her books combine quirkiness, intrigue, and adventure…plus a healthy dose of humor and wit.

She has published over 50 popular novels under her pen names in both romance and mystery, and is a regular Amazon Bestseller.

After spending years in the NYC film industry, then as a professional photographer, she eventually traded in her cameras to pursue life as a full-time writer. From hopping trains across the US to crewing a sailboat on a trans-Atlantic crossing, from mushing dogs on a Canadian dogsled to unwittingly hiking Mount Washington, she’s seen a few things and lived to tell about them. If nothing else, her life has never been dull.

She currently lives in her favorite South Florida neighborhood surrounded by palm trees, peacocks, a few wild kids, one wild husband, and a handful of incredible family members and friends. 

https://stephanielavigne.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/headlines-deadlines-and-lies-the-sunshine-state-cozy-crime-by-stephanie-lavigne