The Good Sister – Sally Hepworth

Fern & Rose are twin sisters, who grew to adulthood in less-than-ideal circumstances. Raised in a single parent household after their father left the family, they have each had their share of trauma as children, some at the hands of their mother, others at the hands of their mother’s suitors, and one particularly devastating accident when they were 12, and their Mom’s eventual overdose in their teen years, but they’ve always had – and continue to have – one another.  

Fern suffers from a sensory disorder, for lack of a better explanation – she is very sensitive to sounds, crowds and such – and takes the spoken word very literally.  She works in the local library, and lives in a sensible apartment by herself, close to her sister’s home.  She lives a simple, organized life, walks to work each day and is content with things as they are. 

Rose, recently separated from her husband Owen (although she does not share that fact with her sister – Fern believes he’s working abroad) lives nearby, and the sister’s share evening meals a few times a week. It’s on one of those evenings, as Rose is preparing for a month away in London with Owen, that Fern discovers Rose is trying to become pregnant, but is unable to do so.  As the sisters discuss it, Fern decides that she wants to become pregnant to carry a baby for Rose. 

With Rose away, to occupy her time and her mission to become pregnant, Fern sets her sights on ‘Wally’, the maybe-homeless gentleman who frequents the library for showers and lives in his van. The two develop an unlikely friendship that grows into more as Fern moves ever closer to her goal of carrying her sisters’ child. How she sets about accomplishing the task is both hilarious and heart-warming!  But as her pregnancy progresses, Fern begins to have second thoughts about keeping her baby, while Rose is more determined than ever to be a mother.

Told from the present in Fern’s point of view and supplemented with writings from Rose’s journal entries (as recommended by her therapist), the reader is taken on the journey of childhood to adulthood with the girls, and in their memories along the way.  But as the memories begin to diverge, the real story emerges – a tale of manipulation, co-dependence and cruelty – with the reader not knowing who exactly can be trusted – if anyone…

This book was a very pleasant surprise! I got caught up in the story quickly, lost in the troubled childhood of the characters – it took me longer than it should have to realize that all was not as it seemed in the lives of these two now grown women. A great read, with a very satisfying ending!!  I highly recommend!! 

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

In Her Tracks – Robert Dugoni

After a medical leave for some PTSD following her last case, Tracy Crosswhite is finally cleared to return to work. As she arrives for her first day, she’s promptly called to Capt. Nolasco’s office, only to learn that her Violent Crimes Squad team position was given to another detective while she was away. Her only choice is to assume to role of cold case investigator, whose present detective happens to be retiring today. Feeling cornered, Traci stops by the cold case office to get the lay of the land. 

Meanwhile, Stephanie Cole is planning on running a new jogging path at an out of the way park, before heading to a Halloween party. As she finally locates the park and sets out, she’s surprised to find that the running trail dead ends. She turns around to run back, but never makes it out of the woods. 

As Tracy gets settled and reviews some of the cold cases, a couple in particular catch her eye. One is that of the disappearance of a Seattle police officer’s daughter, 5 years ago, after playing hide and seek in a corn maze. The child was never found. More than a bit intrigued, Tracy digs into the file. Then a knock on the door brings her former partner Kins, who has just picked up the missing jogger case, and asks her to take a ride, as he lays out the situation. Together they start some interviews as they attempt to discover the whereabouts of Stephanie Cole. Tracy then recalls two of the case files in her office – also those of missing women from the same general area – and wonders if they might be related. 

As Tracy, Kins and the rest of the VCS team race against time to find a missing woman, the missing child from years ago is not ever far from Tracy’s mind.  As DNA evidence mounts, the team zeroes in on a suspect, desperately hoping to find Stephanie alive, but there’s still a piece of the puzzle missing…and time is running out…

This is another series I’ve discovered, thanks to Netgalley & Thomas & Mercer Publishers, and it does not disappoint.  A first-rate protagonist, and a fast-paced thriller make for another fantastic read from Robert Dugoni! As always, I cannot wait for Tracy’s next adventure! 

(I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.) 

The Hunted Girls – Jenna Kernan

FBI Agent Dr. Nadine Finch has just completed some training at FBI Headquarters and is returning home to the Tampa, FL Field Office and a few days with her boyfriend, when she learns of a possible new serial killer operating nearby, using her mother’s old stomping grounds to seemingly hunt his victims, with two bodies having been found in the last several days. Despite her misgivings about ever returning to the Ocala woods, Nadine feels compelled to assist. 

No stranger to serials – her mother and her uncle having been prolific killers – Nadine reluctantly agrees to assist the Ocala team as a consultant only, hoping to keep her name, and the inevitable dredging up of the past, out of the news. She also assembles her own team of investigators – her significant other, Detective Clint Demko, Dr. Juliette Hartfield, friend & medical examiner, and her administrative assistant, Tina Ruz. 

As Nadine and her team familiarize themselves with the case and the victims, it becomes readily apparent that this killer likes to starve, maim, torment, and then free his captives, only to hunt them down with a crossbow, and to watch as they are predated by alligators. As more victims go missing, Nadine realizes to her horror that she has a connection, however small, to each of the victims – and that this killer knows who she is and will not stop until he gets what he wants – and he wants Nadine…

And yet another great series that I have stumbled onto thanks to Netgalley! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and these characters. Nadine’s character is refreshing as a female protagonist who struggles at times with her own identity, and is fearful that she carries the killer gene, and therefore the capacity to kill like other members of her family have done. She’s also searching for a father who presumably left the family after her birth, but whom she suspects may also have fallen victim to her mother.  A suspenseful, ‘couldn’t put it down’ read, with some unanswered questions that have me anxiously awaiting the next of the series! 

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!!

Last Day Alive – J.R. Adler

Another great new series discovery for me, thanks to Netgalley & Bookouture.

Kimberley King is a former NYPD Homicide Detective, who’d had enough of seeing women killed, and has taken a job in small town Dead Woman Crossing, OK, where she has been working as Chief Deputy for the last year. She arrives to work to find a surprise gathering waiting to celebrate her birthday. As she and her colleagues enjoy cake and coffee, a phone call comes in about a missing child. 

Joviality quickly cast aside, Kimberley & Sheriff Sam Walker immediately head to the home of the missing child, a 10-year-old girl named Piper, where they learn that Piper has been missing for over 12 hours now.  Reportedly heading to her friend Miley’s house to spend the night, her grandparents had no clue that anything was amiss until Miley called looking for her this morning. Despite an immediate Amber Alert, and rapid mobilization of search parties, Piper is found dead the next evening. 

A heartbroken Kimberley and her team are determined to find the killer and leave no stone unturned in their search, digging up family drama and absent parents, but everyone has a verifiable alibi. Then, another call comes into the station – this time Miley is missing…

As the team re-doubles their efforts to find this child alive, Kimberley deals with some friction in her personal life, and also runs into (quite literally) a single father, with a toddler in tow. Intrigued by Caleb and his son Flynn, Kimberley accepts her first date since moving to Dead Woman Crossing, a date that has to wait until this investigation is over. But Kimberley is also conflicted about her feelings for Sam, which she’s barely begun to acknowledge. 

As Kimberley re-visits the search areas in hopes of finding something to lead their team to Miley, she stumbles across Piper’s missing bike, and promptly finds herself trapped at the mercy of a deranged killer. Can her team get to her in time? And will they find Miley?? 

I’m a first-time reader of J.R. Adler, and I am hooked! I am anxious to go back and read the first of this series to learn more about these characters. Some subtle background information provided in bits throughout the book make me think that the next book in the series is going to be every bit as good as this one, and that old ghosts may not be very far away. A great read!!