Tag Archives: mystery thriller

Girl Targeted (An Aoife Walsh Thriller Book One) by Val Collins Review

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

A newlywed wife who takes an office job whilst awaiting the birth of her daughter witnesses a horrific accident that just may point to a cold-blooded killer, and everyone in her life, including her own husband, may not be able to be trusted in author Val Collins’s “Girl Targeted”, the first book in An Aoife Walsh Thriller series. 

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The Synopsis

Office jobs can be stressful. Aoife’s may be lethal.

Aoife’s life is finally on track. She’s happily married, pregnant with her first child and has the world’s best mother-in-law. But when Aoife accepts a job as an office temp, her entire life begins to unravel.

Is one of Aoife’s colleagues a murderer? Is Aoife the next target? Why is her husband unconcerned?

Can office politics lead to murder? 

The Review

I love how the author immediately draws the reader in with their relatable character development and subtle buildup of tension that allows for those explosive moments to really shock the reader and stay with them long after the scene has ended. The rich setting and captivating mystery that surrounds the setting itself give the reader an equally magnetized pull that draws them into the mystery the same as the protagonist, who takes on this investigative role.

The character development really drove the story home for the reader. The determination and curiosity that Aoife displays are so relatable to true crime enthusiasts and journalists alike, and how she balances this with her life as a wife and mother is great world-building in my opinion. Balance this with the twisted relationship that reveals itself over time with her husband, who displays rudeness and abruptness that so many people will recognize from their own past relationships and informs the reader on how far Aoife’s narrative journey takes her over time.

The Verdict

Captivating, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Val Collins’s “Girl Targeted” is a brilliant story and a great first entry into the Aoife Walsh Thriller series. The twists this mystery takes and the dangers that Aoife comes into contact with are a great foundation for building a new heroine to tackle the mysteries and criminal dangers facing her small corner of the world. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Val Collins is the author of the award-winning psychological thriller GIRL TARGETED and the No. 1 international bestsellers ONLY LIES REMAIN, THE SILENT SPEAK and WHERE LOYALTIES LIE. All four books are stand-alone thrillers and they can be read in any order.

Val has lived in Ireland her entire life, and graduated from University College Dublin. She enjoys chocolate, going for long walks in the countryside, seeing as much of the world as possible, meeting friends, writing, and reading. In fact, she devours books at the rate of one per week, and her favourite authors range from Philippa Gregory and Sophie Kinsella to Lee Child and Linwood Barclay.

Join Val online at valcollinsbooks.com, and on social media @valcollinsbooks.

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The Line is Drawn (Mayson-Dickson Mysteries Book 1) by Jocie McKade Review

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

Two women who discover they are twin sisters must learn the secrets of their past after the only person with all the answers is assassinated and a trail of bodies begins to pile up in author Jocie McKade’s “The Line is Drawn”, the first book in the Mayson-Dickson Mysteries series.

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The Synopsis

WHEN NORTH MEETS SOUTH IT’S MURDER!

A secret twin sister? Who knew? Emme Mayson and Jackie Dickson discover they are twins, just before an assassin’s bullet kills the only man who knows everything.

Whisked away to an “off-the-books” witness protection program. With the aid of a wanted hacker, and another pitcher of margaritas, Emma and Jackie are determined to discover the truth about their parents’ secret past and why they were separated into North and South….Was it bad enough to have a man murdered to keep that secret?

Murder, mystery and family fuel the fire between two sisters so different the only thing keeping them from starting another war between the states is the need to solve the case, get their answers and stay alive.

The Review

This was an action-packed and gripping thriller. The author does an incredible job of really delving into the action and suspense right from the first page, pumping up the reader’s adrenaline and keeping the heart pounding as the immediate threat the newly introduced sisters face makes themselves known. The tension between the protagonists and the blend of humor and wit allow the atmosphere to have a sort of charm that meets the action feeling of the narrative that showcases the author’s ability to find balance within the story.

The heart of the story definitely rests within the bond and character growth of the protagonists. The attention to detail the author pays to each character and the amount of backstory the author infuses into both Emme and Jackie allows each of their personalities to shine brightly, and the conflict that arises from their stark differences and approaches to life keeps the reader invested in their story greatly.

The Verdict

Adrenaline-fueled, witty, and entertaining, author Jocie McKade’s “The Line is Drawn” is a fantastic first book in the Mayson-Dickson Mysteries series. The twists and turns in the narrative and the way these characters come together will have readers heart’s pumping, and the open-ended finale will keep readers eager for more of these dynamic sisters. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jocie worked at several jobs before landing her ideal one as a librarian, a perfect segue to becoming an author.

With a soft spot for U.S. Veterans, she chaired her local Veteran’s Oral History Project, and her work with the program led to her speaking before the project committee at the U.S. Library of Congress. She has won several awards for her non-fiction writing on a multitude of subjects.

Her fiction writing has received the Author / Ambassador at Library Journal Self-e Authors, Winner Queen of the West Reader Favorite Award, Amazon Bestseller – Historical, Double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories, and her novel Baer Truth received 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews.

Writing humorous cozy mysteries, and romantic comedy, Jocie can find humor in most everything, even when she shouldn’t. She lives in the Midwest on Dust Bunny Farm with her family. When not writing, she grows ArnoldSwartzaWeeds in her garden and RVs whenever the opportunity presents itself.

https://www.jociemckade.com/

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Parts Unknown by T.L. Hughes Review

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

The disappearance of a young woman sends a state trooper and the police department on a hunt to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and discover whether her husband has sinister motives author T.L. Hughes’s “Parts Unknown”.

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The Synopsis

It was Monday, December 28, 1959. Twenty-five-year-old Mildred Walker Torpey had mysteriously disappeared sometime between midnight and the first light of dawn. The day’s newspaper headlines boasted nothing out of the ordinary. A surprise storm with blizzard-like conditions had pummeled the working-class mill town the night before, followed by freezing rain in the early morning. No one saw or heard anything. Most didn’t even realize she was gone.

Within her circle of family and friends, Millie was known to run off with other guys for weeks at a time, but according to her, she ran purely as a means of survival—to stay clear of her hot-tempered husband Pat.

Norby O’Conner, a local and a lieutenant with the Massachusetts State Police, knowing both the woman and the shifty behavior of her abusive husband, takes immediate interest in Millie’s disappearance, suspecting murder. As the weeks turn into months with no sign or word from Millie, Norby and the local police turn up the heat on Pat. But every time he’s taken in for questioning, Pat’s a cool customer, to say the least, especially with Millie’s floozy reputation and no body to be found. What follows is an unraveling of the events that led up to that night as seen through the perspective of the three main characters, Norby, Millie, and Pat in an ultimate showdown of good versus evil.

The Review

This was a well-written and captivating thriller. The detailed writing style really helped bring the setting to life, capturing that small-town life in an era when small towns were worlds unto themselves. The chilling way the story’s murder mystery aspect plays upon the way small-town America, especially those living in poverty or near-poverty lifestyles, helped to elevate the setting of this novel.

The character development was truly top-notch in this novel. The toxicity of the relationship between Millie and Pat and the way they view one another was greatly explored using multiple POVs, and the haunting nature of the crime itself was shocking and tapped into some gothic themes that brought the Edgar Allen Poe vibes that the story emanated. The slow burn of the mystery aspect of the story helped to draw the reader in and the way each layer was peeled back during the investigation in connection with the character development was mesmerizing to behold.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, captivating, and twisted yet engaging, author T.L. Hughes’s “Parts Unknown” is a must-read suspense thriller and mystery read that you won’t want to put down. The twists and turns in the narrative were great, but the true heart of the story rested in the rich character development that not only drove the story forward but spoke to an era that was not the sitcom-perfect life that people believe it to be, but instead was an era of survival and isolation, making this a story you won’t be able to turn away from. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today.

Rating: 10/10 

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About the Author

T.L. Hughes was born in Salem, Massachusetts and was educated in Lowell public schools. Influenced by the writings of Jack Kerouac and others, and after graduating from the University of Massachusetts, he took to traveling the U.S. and Europe, eventually settling in Southern California where he lives today. Other than writing, some of his passions include listening to Jazz, Blues, and Rock and Roll music and learning how to play the saxophone. His latest novel, Parts Unknown, is T.L. Hughes’ third novel and his first crime novel.

https://outskirtspress.com/TheSojourners

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Ghost Dreams by Matthew Hughes Review

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

A thief comes into contact with the spirit of a woman who lost her child when she was wrongfully thrust into an asylum for her inheritance in the 1940s, and together with his daughter they must contend with her vengeful spirit and the men who wronged her in life in order to uncover the truth behind her child’s fate in author Matthew Hughes’s “Ghost Dreams”.

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The Synopsis

Commercial burglar Stan Winkelman encounters the ghost of Jane Manchester, wrongly confined for life in a 1940s insane asylum by a powerful family. She wants to know what happened to Harmon, the baby boy that was stolen from her.

Aided by Jeannie, his ghost-obsessed autistic daughter, Stan and Jane begin a quest to find Harmon, or his descendants. But their search will run them afoul of Andrew Bigelow, reclusive heir to the fortune Jane was robbed of.

And Bigelow is in cahoots with a murderous crew who deal in guns and blood diamonds and will stop at nothing to keep their crimes hidden.

Stan uses his burglar skills to uncover the truth, but that will draw him and Jeannie into a deadly confrontation, with the vengeful spirit of Jane Manchester his only ally. 

The Review

This was a brilliant and powerful story. The blend of crime thriller, mystery, and horror that this story infuses into itself was captivating to read. The heavy atmosphere and compelling chemistry between the cast of characters made this feel like the perfect modern-day gothic ghost story, with a tone that felt like it could have easily fit into a more Victorian-era period if not for the modern-day Washington setting. 

The heart of this narrative had to be in the mystery components of the story and the character development, especially for the protagonist. The complexity of the protagonist’s background and journey, from a thief and morally questionable history to his somewhat heroic turn to find justice and answers for the spirit of this young woman and how they bond together in the face of this tragic backstory, made this a thrilling read. The shocking series of events that unearth the truth behind not only Jane’s history but the truth behind Bigelow’s life, in general, will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, chilling, and entertaining, author Matthew Hughes’s “Ghost Dreams” is a must-read crime thriller and horror mystery read. The twists and turns in the narrative help elevate the character growth of the protagonist and the cast of characters greatly, and readers will be invested heavily as the story and mystery unravel over time. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Liverpool, his family moved to Canada when he was five years old. Married since late 1960s, he has three grown sons. He is currently relocated to Britain. He is a former director of the Federation of British Columbia Writers.

A university drop-out from a working poor background, he worked in a factory that made school desks, drove a grocery delivery truck, was night janitor in a GM dealership, and did a short stint as an orderly in a private mental hospital. As a teenager, he served a year as a volunteer with the Company of Young Canadians.

He has made his living as a writer all of his adult life, first as a journalist in newspapers, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and, since 1979, as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia.

His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’sAsimov’sThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionPostscriptsInterzone, and a number of “Year’s Best” anthologies. Night Shade Books published his short story collection, The Gist Hunter and Other Stories, in 2005.

He has won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada. His novels and stories regularly make the Locus Magazine annual recommended reading list. 

http://www.matthewhughes.org/

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Dealer’s Child (A Jade & Sage Thriller Series) by Joanna Vander Vlugt Review

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

A woman’s search for answers regarding her father’s death paints a target on her back as she seeks to uncover generations of drug dealers and ruthless criminals seeking vengeance in author Joanna Vander Vlugt’s “Dealers Child”, the latest book in the Jade & Sage Thriller Series. 

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The Synopsis

“First I will destroy you, then I will hurt the ones you love, then you’ll beg me for mercy.”

Jade Thyme delves into her mother’s free-spirited past to prove her father was murdered and hadn’t died from a cocaine overdose.

Legislative Clerk Adam Younghusband drops on Jade’s desk damning evidence regarding the island’s once feared drug dealer Oscar Cooper. Jade and Sage are targets as they uncover generations of dealers, while hiding from an arsonist determined to destroy them. From her mother’s ghost appearing on the picnic table, to a possessed typewriter tapping a warning,1968 clashes with the present as Jade uncovers a deadly secret while staying one step ahead of a murderer hellbent on revenge.

The Review

I absolutely loved this read. The author did an incredible job of finding the right balance between a crime thriller and a hint of paranormal influence and delved into the occult. The world-building of this dynamic sister duo and the investigations into their past were terrific to see come to life on the page, while the suspenseful atmosphere the author created kept readers invested in this mystery that felt like the perfect blend of real-world crime issues such as drug use and violence with more supernatural elements.

The heart of this narrative was the character development and the small yet meaningful detail the author put into the imagery of this book’s writing style. The raw and powerful themes of this narrative touch upon real-world issues that ace so many, from the violence and desperation that comes from the drug trade and addiction to the deep-seated bond the sisters share as they delve both into the modern-day mystery of their father’s death and the mystery surrounding their late mother in the past and her relationship with a gangster, made this story shine brightly. The intricate details of the imagery really made the story pop into the reader’s mind, as if watching a film come to life.

The Verdict

Harrowing, emotional, and thrilling, author Joanna Vander Vlugt’s “Dealer’s Child” is a must-read novel and a great addition to the Jade & Sage Thriller Series! The twists and turns in the narrative and the depth of the character’s journey as they evolve and grow will have readers engaged with this story immensely. The imagery and atmosphere brought the best elements of both the crime thriller and occult horror genres and found a happy medium that kept the story alive on the page. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Joanna Vander Vlugt is an indie author and illustrator. She hosts a podcast called JCVArtStudio from the Dressing Room which provides authors and artists an opportunity to tell their story–a dress rehearsal before taking their book launch or art show on the road.

Her legal thriller Dealer’s Child is a 2021 Canadian Book Club Awards finalist and The Unravelling, the first novel in her paranormal thriller series, was a 2019 Canadian Book Club Awards finalist. Her previous publications include her short essay No Beatles Reunion for the Dropped Threads 3 anthology, Beyond the Small Circle; Egyptian Queen for the Dead in the Water mystery anthology and The Parrot and Wild Mushroom Stuffing for the Blood on the Holly mystery anthology.

Joanna’s art can be viewed on Instagram @jcvartstudio

https://www.jcvartstudio.net/

https://www.tiktok.com/@joannavandervlugt_author

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Howl Once For Murder (A Baked Books Murder Mystery Book 1) by Krista Lockheart and Dorothy Danger Review

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

After a bestselling author turns up dead at his own wedding, a small town will be turned upside down as a police detective, a shop owner, and her pet search for the killer in authors Krista Lockheart and Dorothy Danger’s “Howl Once For Murder”, the first book in the A Baked Books Murder Mystery series.

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The Synopsis

Not every dog can howl . . . or solve a murder.

Adelaide and Truman—Belle Chasse’s funniest and smartest Basset Hound—are practically inseparable. And when a murder mystery comes barking at their doorstep, they band together to fight for the town they love.

After opening Baked Books with her human bestie, Georgia, Adelaide is delighted when a world-famous author agrees to sign books at their bookstore and bakery’s anniversary event. Truman’s so excited he wears a tuxedo for the occasion!

But Oscar Paris’s life as a bestselling author isn’t exactly everything Adelaide fantasized about in her wildest dreams . . .

especially when he turns up dead at his own wedding, which is regrettably Baked Books’ first big catering gig!

In this funny, charming, and exciting mystery with a sweet romance, “till death do us part” comes much too soon for Belle Chasse’s famous resident.

But with Adelaide and Truman—along with a wildly attractive police detective—on the case, this band of quirky characters, charming animal shenanigans, and puzzles to solve will leave you howling with laughter.

Howl Once for Murder is the first book in the Baked Books Mysteries series that follows Adelaide and her brilliant Basset Hound, Truman, as they solve mysteries and capture your hearts.

Though the main mystery is resolved in each book of the series, the sweet romance will start in book one and continue throughout the series.

The Review

This was the perfect murder mystery novel. The small-town, quirky cast of characters vibe the author crafted really honed in on what makes this genre so special. The citizens who take on the role of detective to solve the mystery; the lone cop trying to unmask the killer; the cadre of suspects; and the mysterious events surrounding the victim’s final days all make this a memorable story. The fun yet chilling atmosphere the author was able to conjure up made the imagery feel even more compelling. The flare of romance in this story added another layer of intrigue for readers to enjoy.

The mystery and character development were at the heart of this narrative. The twists that this narrative took and the clues that this story uncovered kept me invested in the book, yet it was the dynamic relationships the cast of characters had with the protagonist, from her bond with her pet Truman and her best friend Georgia to her budding romance with Trent and even hair-raising confrontations with the list of suspects made this story feel vibrant and alive on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, fun, and engaging, author Krista Lockheart’s “Howl Once For Murder” is a fantastic murder mystery and a grand first entry into the A Baked Books Murder Mystery series. The twists and turns in the story and the humorous dialogue between the main cast of characters serve as a great mirror image of one another, and the emotional beats in the story hone in on the emotional impact of the loss felt by those close to the victim made this a well-rounded and engaging story to behold. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Krista Lockheart writes irresistible cozy mysteries filled with humor and buzzworthy characters and plots. Her favorite activity is interacting with her readers from all over the world, and she enjoys their feedback and comments on her social media platforms. She loves good food, good conversation, and good books! Cooking is a passion, and she especially enjoys making pasta with vegetables. Chocolate, avocado, and seafood are her favorite foods to celebrate with.

Krista comes from an artistic background, and her art workshops sell out within a few hours of signup. Her work has earned cultural council grants and has been featured in newspapers, magazines, and on TV and on the radio.

In the past few months, her memoir, travel travels, and short stories were published four times in the Writer & Readers’ Magazine, and her travel tale about her expedition to Peru was the editorial feature in DRIFT Travel magazine.

She contributed a short story to a Halloween anthology and her debut novel was #1 in 12 categories on Amazon during its initial release (including in the Free Kindle Store and in New release categories).

It also earned five book awards including First Place at TheBookFest in Humorous, a Second Place and Honorable Mention at TheBookFest, a First Place award from Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, and a Silver Award from Literary Titan, along with five star editorial reviews. It was recommended by US Review of Books, and the Chick-Lit Cafe, as well as featured in the Midwest Book Review.

https://www.kristalockheartauthor.com/

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Hero Haters by Ken MacQueen Review

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

After becoming the prime suspect in the disappearance of the finalists for the nation’s highest medal of valor for civilians, one man must put himself on the line to find and save these heroes from the sinister web they’ve been ensnared within author Ken MacQueen’s “Hero Haters”.

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The Synopsis

Jake Ockham had a dream job, vetting nominees for the Sedgewick Medallion—the nation’s highest civilian award for heroism. His own scarred hands are an indelible reminder of the single mother he failed to pull from a raging house fire; her face haunts him still. Obligations drag him back to his hometown to edit the family newspaper but attempts to embrace small-town life, and the hot new doctor, are thwarted by unknown forces. The heroes Jake vetted go missing and he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearances. Aided by resourceful friends, Jake follows a twisted trail to the Dark Web, where a shadowy group is forcing the kidnapped medalists to perform deadly acts of valor to amuse twisted subscribers to its website. To save his heroes, Jake must swallow his fears and become one himself…or die in the attempt. 

The Review

This brand-new thriller from a brand new author and seasoned journalist was absolutely fantastic. The author immediately showcased the strength of finding the right balance between character growth and suspense building. The atmosphere and tension really elevated the narrative here, capturing the shocking nature of the crimes and the fight for survival that takes place. The focus on “heroes”, and how we treat our heroes in the world is a great central theme to play into this thriller and did a great job of showcasing the humanity within our heroes.

The brilliant character development and escalating suspense were so well delivered. The chemistry between Tina and Jake as the story develops adds a hint of romance into the narrative, but the complexity of the protagonist’s struggle with his brush with heroism and the blend of guilt for those that couldn’t be saved, as well as the human faults all heroes still have in their daily lives that are often ignored in the wake of their heroism, made their development so mesmerizing to read about.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, atmospheric, and entertaining, author Ken MacQueen’s “Hero Haters” is a must-read suspense thriller of 2022. The gripping blend of haunting dark web crime and the balance of morality with heroism as a whole made this such a rich and dynamic story to dive head first into, and readers will be hard-pressed to put this novel down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy or preorder by October 5th, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Before turning to fiction, Ken MacQueen spent 15 years as Vancouver bureau chief for Maclean’s, Canada’s newsmagazine, winning multiple National Magazine Awards and nominations. He travelled the world writing features and breaking news for the magazine, and previously for two national news agencies.

He has written extensively on crime, politics, disasters, both natural and man-made—and, being Canadian, on the shifting fortunes of Queen Elizabeth II and her clan. All of this is potential fodder for future fiction, though the Queen as action hero seems unlikely.

Hero Haters, set in the Pacific Northwest and rural Pennsylvania, is his debut thriller.

MacQueen covered nine Olympic Games and drew the athletic prowess of Jake Ockham, his protagonist, from tracking elite rowers in training and on podiums in Athens, Beijing and London.

He and his wife divide their time between North Vancouver and British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

kenmacqueen.com

Only Lies Remain (An Aoife Walsh Thriller Book 2) by Val Collins Review

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

The discovery of a body leads to old family secrets being unearthed, and a hunt for a killer who could very well be amongst Aoife Walsh’s family takes center stage in author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remain”, the second book in the Aoife Walsh thriller series. 

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The Synopsis

Everyone thought Danny Walsh deserted his family when his sons were young. But when Danny’s body turns up fifteen years later and his wife, Maura, is implicated in his murder, accusations and old rumours surface.

Aoife rushes in to clear her mother-in-law’s name. But why is it that Maura’s story surrounding Danny’s disappearance doesn’t quite add up?

Aoife’s investigation uncovers old secrets, long-held jealousies, and lies upon lies. With every new revelation, Aoife realises she doesn’t know her family at all. Now her new boss is acting strangely, her best friend is more and more distant and her husband is no help at all.

With her support network crumbling and her family threatened, Aoife must race to keep one step ahead of danger before more innocent lives are lost. But how will she uncover the truth when only lies remain?

The Review

This was a captivating and thought-provoking thriller. As a newcomer to the series, I was immediately enthralled with the expansive cast of characters. Protagonist Aoife is such a brilliant presence in the narrative, providing both the determination and strength a thriller’s heroine is meant to have and yet infusing the vulnerability and emotional components that make her character feel well-rounded. The balance of everyday developments in her life, from her tumultuous relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband and her desire to help her former mother-in-law, to her growing relationship with the lead investigator and the close friendship she has with Orla.

Yet it was the twisted narrative and haunting atmosphere the author built into this story that made the novel so captivating. The rich world-building and stark settings were brought to life brilliantly using powerful imagery and made it feel very cinematic in nature as if it could be turned into the newest BBC murder mystery and thriller series that takes the world by storm much like The Fall or Broadchurch. The chilling nature of the case and the personal connection the protagonist has to it allow the reader to feel the desperation and need to solve the case that drives this story forward.

The Verdict

Brilliantly written, complex yet inviting, and thoroughly entertaining, author Val Collins’s “Only Lies Remains” is a must-read murder mystery thriller. The twists and turns the narrative takes, as well as the shocking reveal of the killer and his or her motives, will have readers hanging off the edge of their seats, and the author’s skills and powerful command over the genre make her future in this industry something that cannot be ignored.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Val Collins is the author of the award-winning psychological thriller GIRL TARGETED and the No. 1 international bestsellers ONLY LIES REMAIN, THE SILENT SPEAK and WHERE LOYALTIES LIE. All four books are stand-alone thrillers and they can be read in any order.

Val has lived in Ireland her entire life, and graduated from University College Dublin. She enjoys chocolate, going for long walks in the countryside, seeing as much of the world as possible, meeting friends, writing, and reading. In fact, she devours books at the rate of one per week, and her favourite authors range from Philippa Gregory and Sophie Kinsella to Lee Child and Linwood Barclay.

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The Flower Enigma (Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles Book 5) by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey Review

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

A man and woman seeking a quiet vacation away from their busy work lives find themselves instead embroiled in one crisis to another as the small town of Magnolia Bluff experiences a new round of intrigue and terror in authors Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey’s “The Flower Enigma”, the fifth book in the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicle series. 

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The Synopsis

JJ and Jo find the ideal spot to get away from their busy work lives—Magnolia Bluff offers Flower Bed & Breakfast, a quaint country destination within the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

They pull up to the picturesque building only to discover a crowd of citizens anxiously awaiting a special podcast, created by a group of local women, to start. Flower B&B is the sponsor of today’s show in this multi-day series. The couple works through the human log jam. As they check in, they learn that a cyber-attack may prevent the show from airing.

JJ, a technology guru, is convinced by Jo to help the group meet their broadcast promise. While he’s working on the issue, Jo spots a girl in the crowd with fear in her eyes who flashes the international help sign. The teenager vanishes into the throng. Fearful young people signaling for help strikes too close to home for Jo.

Their romantic vacation becomes a journey from one crisis to the next as these vacationers help the evangelizing ladies even as risks are multiplying. Threats expand to include all the podcasters, the show location owners, and suspected missing teens.

Authorities discount the gossipy group’s allegations that Mateo Hernandez built a wall around his property for more than privacy. JJ and Jo work to assemble the necessary clues to convince Chief Jager that Hernandez is a bigger menace. Their nosing around places them both in harm’s way. When Jo is attacked it becomes personal.

This romantic getaway isn’t even close to plan. Lives are at stake, and the young couple won’t accept failure.

The Review

This was such a thrilling and fun suspense thriller of a read. The blend of cyber-thriller and the cozy mystery was such a unique and captivating angle to keep the reader invested in this story, and the fast pace of the narrative gave readers an edge-of-their-seat feeling throughout the entirety of the narrative. The authors were able to find the right harmony of atmosphere that wove both lighthearted dialogues between the protagonists and the townspeople and tension-filled moments when delving into the darker mysteries at the heart of this narrative.

What drove this story, as often is the case with great cozy mystery reads, was the rich character dynamics of the book. The story’s opening chapters reflect this greatly, as Lilly, the owner of the Inn the protagonists are staying in, immediately shows a unique small-town charm as she carries on with grand storytelling and makes hilarious assumptions about people. The blend of humorous interactions like this and the twisted confrontations that arise later on made this story so engaging.

The Verdict

Captivating, thrilling, and engaging, authors Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey’s “The Flower Enigma” is a must-read cozy mystery meets suspense thriller read and a great addition to the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles series. The rich storytelling and entertaining characters of this small town mystery will have readers invested in this narrative, and the twists and turns it takes will keep you hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Charles Breakfield is a renowned technology solutions architect with years of experience in security, cloud computer, hybrid data/telecom environments, artificial intelligence, and unified communications. He finds it intriguing to leverage his professional skills in writing the contemporary award-winning stories of the Enigma Series and the short stories he creates with his co-author.

Never one to sit still, he uses his spare time to explore books on World War II his¬tory, travel with his family, and cultural exchanges everywhere. Charles’ love of wine tastings, cooking creations on the grill like individual pizzas, and Harley riding are sometimes sprinkled throughout the Enigma Series.

Recently, Charles commented that being a part of his father’s military career stationed at various outposts, has positively contributed to the many characters in the stories. He enjoys exploring the various character perspectives and interactions pulling from real people. He accepted the challenge to try to teach Burkey humor which is also incorporated into many of the stories in an unexpected manner.

Burkey commented that If Charles is not creating a new story he paces like a caged tiger. So yes there is another story in the works. You can enjoy snippets of their stories, book trailers, audible sections, and get FREE stuff at www.EnigmaSeries.com.

Rox Burkey is the co-author of the 13 books in the Enigma Series. The prequel, Out of Poland, historical fiction released in 2021. In addition to her award winning novels and nurmerous short stories, she is a techologist by profession. She is known for helping business customers modernize and optimize customer experience (CX) with processes, technology shifts, and building roadmaps to success. Nothing makes her workday go better than for a customer to indicate she helped reach their business goals. She is adept at learning the drivers for customers and helping to measure their success as well as adjust their journey using CX principles.

Rox loves writing fiction as much if not more than her professional job. More than once she has been a featured speaker, workshop leaders, subject matter expert, interviewer, podcaster, book reviewer through RoxBurkey.com. Her favorite is writing the novels and short stories of the Enigma Series. She convinced her co-author Charles Breakfield that writing fiction is a lot more fun than white papers or documentation.

As a child, Rox jumped at the chance to lead the other kids with exciting new adventures built on make believe characters. As a Girl Scout until high school, she contributed to the community and went on to support the local Head Start program. Rox enjoys her family, cross country travel (okay international too) listening to people, outdoors activities, sewing, cooking, baking, and imagining the possibilities.

Recently Rox indicated that her humor was lousy, and Charles was helping her. You can enjoy snippets of their stories, book trailers, audible sections, and get FREE stuff at www.EnigmaSeries.com.

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