Hidden Bones – Rita Herron

A small group of teens head out to an old, abandoned, supposedly haunted house in the woods for a sleep over – the newest Tik Tok trend – only to see a figure in a window. They hurriedly flee, but one of them, Mandy, falls into a deep pit that contains bones – and they appear to be human remains… 

It’s spring break time in Crooked Creek, GA and Detective Ellie Reeves is exhausted – literally. In addition to the usual shenanigans, some teens have been breaking and entering in to places they don’t belong, leading to arrests and inevitable confrontations with parents. She swings into the Corner Café and finds close friend and confidant Ranger Cord McClain at the bar and joins him while she waits for her dinner order. Then their phones ring simultaneously as they learn that a kid has fallen into a pit at the old Hawk House. 

As they arrive, Ellie learns that her niece is the teen who fell into the pit. She and Cord quickly get her up and back on solid ground, but not before Ellie catches a glimpse of a skull and other bones that appear to be partially buried in the dirt walls of the pit. The Evidence Response Team is called and Ellie opts to call in FBI Special Investigator Derrick Fox. 

There have long been rumors of cruelty and abuse surrounding the now defunct orphanage named Hawk House, but no one to confirm or deny them. The story went that the headmaster packed up and disappeared one day, causing the place to be closed a couple of months later. But the stories were never verified – the Sheriff at the time reportedly found nothing that caused concern. Ellie and her team start to dig into the past, hoping to learn what really happened all those years ago. 

As the investigation intensifies, a search of the building turns up some horrors of its own, and more osseous remains are found. Meanwhile a woman’s brutalized body has just been found, stuffed into a plastic bag and tossed down a cliff.  Are these two separate incidents – or are they related??  As the team works fervently to find answers from killings both past and present, someone is equally determined to keep old secrets protected…and he has Ellie dead in his sights… 

Another great installment of the Ellie Reeve’s series, with hopefully many more to come!  Far-fetched, yep, absolutely, but what a great suspenseful, action-packed read – complete with diabolical bad guys and a strong, fearless female to bring ‘em down!  Don’t pick it up until you’ve got time to curl up and read – you’re not going to want to put it down!! 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley & Bookouture in exchange for an objective review. Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!

I Remember You – Brian Freeman

This was a WILD ride! 

Hallie Evers is a down-on-her-luck marketing freelancer living in Vegas and she’s having a horrible 4th of July. She’s just been fired from her current job, and her boyfriend of two years has left her for her best friend and roommate – so now she’s essentially homeless as well.  Feeling pretty despondent at the rooftop party she’s attending, she decides to snort a line of coke. She then wakes up in the hospital, after suffering a cardiac arrest. Fortunately for her, a party attendee, who happened to be a physician, saw Hallie fall and provided resuscitative measures. 

As Hallie absorbs the implications of what has happened, she notices her head feels strange. In response to her nurses questioning, the only description she can give is that she feels ‘crowded’. When her nurse asks if she had any visions, she describes seeing Poseidon with his trident.  Mystified as to its significance, she shrugs it off. But then, the vivid dreams start – and soon she sees people following her. As she is the daughter of a paranoid schizophrenic, Hallie begins to fear for her sanity. 

A next day call to her agent yields a potential high paying job. As Hallie goes to interview, she finds herself mesmerized by the photos he has displayed in his office. The scenes in the photos are very familiar – she can still taste the lobster she had at an eatery there.  The only problem is…she’s never been to Boston in her life…. And the dreams she’s having each night – they seem so familiar somehow – like she’s watching someone else’s life. 

With no idea what’s happening to her, Hallie eludes her perceived pursuers and makes the journey to Boston in hopes of learning the origin of these strange memories she has and the dreams that plague her at night. Is this a slow descent into madness due to a psychiatric illness – or something a lot more sinister??  

I have loved Mr. Freeman’s work since picking up his first novel all those years ago, and I have NEVER been disappointed. This story is no different, a page or two in and I was already hooked – and had work not intervened, would have easily read it in one sitting.  Hallie’s life experiences, and the adventures that follow her death and resuscitation make for a fascinating, frightening and fabulous read!! 

Available from your favorite bookseller on August 9th!

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, along w/ Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an objective review.  Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!

The Hidden One – Linda Castillo

It’s a beautiful Saturday in Painters Mill, Ohio and Police Chief Kate Burkholder is out enjoying the morning as she plans to pick up a handcrafted gift for her significant other. Before she can do so, she responds to a call to defuse an argument, then is summoned to police headquarters as she has visitors.  Upon her arrival, she sees three Amish elders awaiting her. As they exchange introductions, she learns they have traveled from Belleville, Pennsylvania in hopes of gaining some assistance. 

As the group settles in into her office, they explain that skeletal remains of a body were found in a field that was being plowed. The remains were determined to be that of an Amish bishop, Ananias Stoltzfus, who disappeared 18 years ago – and he had been shot. Near the remains, a muzzleloader was found, belonging to one of their people – Jonas Bowman – who was subsequently arrested and jailed for the crime.  The Elders have come to ask for Kate’s assistance in proving his innocence. As the reader is quick to learn, Kate and Jonas shared a special friendship in their teen years – before Jonas’ family moved away. 

As Kate heads to Pennsylvania to assist and old friend, she reminisces about her childhood memories with Jonas and the reader is given gradual glimpses into the complexity of their relationship within the confines of the Amish lifestyle.  Once she arrives, she meets with Jonas in jail to gain his side of the story.  He describes a contentious relationship all those years ago, between Ananias and his father, that had once split the community in two. He also admits to having words with the Bishop back then, culminating in vandalism to his property. Then two months later, Ananias disappeared, never to be heard from again – until his remains were found in that field. 

As Kate settles in and meets with the not-so-forthcoming police department, the victim’s family, and Jonas’ wife, she finds more questions than answers, along with a strong belief that Jonas is not capable of the crime and is being framed. As she continues to investigate, she suddenly finds herself fending off an attacker in the dead of night in her hotel room who nearly kills her before telling her to leave town. Now she knows for certain that Jonas is innocent, and she’ll do whatever it takes to free him and find the real killer…. 

This was my first Kate Burkholder novel and I was delighted to learn that this is the newest of a long running series! (If you’ve ever read my other reviews, you’ll know that there’s nothing I love more!) This novel also provided a fascinating glimpse into some inner workings of an Amish society and their lifestyle – all artfully wrapped into an engaging and intriguing who-dun-it! 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press Minotaur Books in exchange for an objective review. Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!

The Wedding Plot – Paula Munier

It is early summer in Vermont, and Mercy Carr is preparing herself, both mentally and physically, for her grandmothers wedding at the lavish Lady’s Slipper Inn, in just four short days.  With Mercy’s mother Grace acting as the matron of honor, Mercy herself is trying to act as a go-between for her mother and grandmother in attempts to have everything run smoothly.  Now, with her mother coming up the driveway, Mercy can only cringe and wonder what the problem is now. 

As she quickly learns, the director of the resort’s Spa, Bodhi St. George has gone missing, and Grace wants Mercy and Elvis, her retired military trained shepherd, to go and find him. To appease her mother, and perhaps her own curiosity, Mercy agrees to go and assess the situation. 

Upon her arrival, a cursory check of his Spa and office yields no clues. A look at his living quarters, however, and a chat with his landlord, have Mercy intrigued. Even more so when Elvis alerts, and Mercy finds a lockbox for a weapon, and finds the gun is gone. Then Elvis alerts to a body buried under the straw in a goat barn – and things just got a whole lot more complicated

As the murder investigation heats up, the wedding guests begin to arrive, and thankfully, so does Mercy’s boyfriend, Vermont State Game Warden Troy Warner along with his search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear. Together Mercy & Troy work to solve this murder, keep peace in two families with simmering feuds, find the missing Yogi and protect Mercy’s eccentric family who insist that the show must go on at all costs…

I absolutely love this series and the Mercy & Elvis duo.  When I first read the synopsis for this book, I was a bit surprised – they have had some stellar adventures together, but…a wedding? I needn’t have worried – it was vintage Mercy, with plenty of suspense, action, conflict, humor, romance (I LOVED the chapter header quotes!) and a wonderfully surprising ending!  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Mercy and Elvis!  This series belongs right at the top of your must-read list!  

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books in exchange for an objective review.  Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!