The Night Shift – Alex Finlay

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 and the local Blockbuster Video shop in Linden, NJ is getting ready to close. Stevie, the young manager is trying to control his teenage employees, to no avail. As he walks into the breakroom, to summon them back to work, he’s stunned to see one of the girls on the floor – then he’s grabbed from behind and has his throat slit. Only one of the four teens working that fateful night will survive their injuries. 

It’s now 2015 and Ella, a psychotherapist with problems of her own, receives a phone call from her old high school teacher, Mr. Steadman, asking her to come to the local hospital. There’s been another murder, this time an ice cream shop, its details eerily similar to the attack long ago, with another young girl inexplicably left alive. As Ella survived the attack all those years ago, Mr. Steadman is hopeful that she can connect with this newest victim, Jesse, over their shared trauma, because Jesse will not let anyone near her. 

FBI Agent Sarah Keller, very pregnant with twins, is sent in to assist Linden PD with this newest murder case.  As Sarah arrives in Linden, her police liaison is a young, studious Detective named Atticus Singh. They have been tasked with reviewing the old Blockbuster case and the presumed perpetrator, Vincent Whittaker, who fled the area and has never been found. 

Chris Ford, a young public defender with his own ghosts from the past, is just leaving a jailhouse visit with a client when he sees a headline scroll across his smartphone’s newsfeed about the murder. As he reads the unfolding story, his mind drifts back to the events around that fateful night in 1999, and the disappearance of his older brother – a brother he hopes to someday find. 

Each of these characters – with seemingly separate backgrounds – take turns in telling their portions of the story, and will find their lives exquisitely intertwined as the story unfolds, as Ella tries to help a young woman through her trauma & Chris continues his search for the brother he lost so many years ago. Meanwhile Sarah & Atticus are painstakingly investigating past and present murders, linked by one common denominator – did the killer really leave town after the murders or has he been hiding in plain sight all this time? 

I could NOT put this book down!! From the first page, I was completely hooked and am still reeling from the ending!  I loved these characters – their flaws, their tragedies, their resilience made for one hell of a story – and while I’d hoped for different outcomes for a character or two, the storylines we’re all expertly brought together in one hell of a story!  You most definitely need to take this one for a ride!  

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

Available March 1st, 2022

The Deepest of Secrets – Kelley Armstrong

The town of Rockton is a secret town, tucked deep into the Canadian woods, far from civilization and prying eyes. You won’t find it on any map, you can’t spot it from the air.  Originally designed as a refuge of sorts for those in need, its members live largely off the grid, with backgrounds and secrets kept safe. Each individual has an assigned job, some essential, some not, and goods, services – and alcohol – are rationed, with extra credits that can be earned.  No one questions the histories of the others…until now…

Detective Casey Duncan & her boyfriend Sheriff Eric Dalton have been Rockton residents for a while now and things appear to be changing. The “Council” – the entity that oversees the town – has not allowed anyone to extend their scheduled stay in quite a while. The volume of new residents seeking asylum has dwindled, and amongst the remaining townspeople, the pervasive worry that the Council will be shutting them down is growing. 

Casey, Eric and a couple of friends are gathered together one evening when they are summoned to some trouble in the town square. As they arrive, they see a large sign that has been posted, detailing the alleged crime that led a deputy to Rockton, putting everyone on edge. In a place where secrets are supposed to be safe, someone suddenly seems determined to expose them all. 

Casey and Eric begin an investigation, but soon the body of a female Rockton resident is found – then another townsperson claims to have escaped a similar murder attempt. Meanwhile, the Council has indeed decided to close the town, leaving Casey & Eric in charge of the dismantling of what has become their sanctuary, as they try to unveil a murderer… 

This book is the 7th in a series, and until I visited the author’s website, I wasn’t aware that it was written as a final installment, although I have fervent hopes that the author will find a way to incorporate these characters into later projects.  I’ve grown quite fond of many of them and truly hate to think this is the last I’ll read of them.  A great series and a great premise in these crazy times of ours! 

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

Black Orchid Girls – Carolyn Arnold 

It’s a beautiful Monday autumn morning in Prince William County, Maryland as Detectives Amanda Steele and Trent Stenson find themselves walking through the Leesburg State Park on their way to a murder scene.  Two hikers out early had discovered the body of a young woman, nude and posed as if on display, with stab wounds to her torso and a black orchid laid across her chest. An interview with a park ranger leads to a tentative ID of the victim, Chloe Somner, as she was well known to some of the park staff for her fascination with the ‘mystery snails’, a large freshwater snail that had been sighted recently.  The also learn that she attended a local science university. 

Interviews with her parents and friends offer little clue as to who might have wanted Chloe dead. It appears that Chloe was well liked by her peers and instructors, carried high grades and was a popular personality on campus, with a passion for protecting the environment.  A visit with her boyfriend Josh Ryder brings some unexpected news regarding their recent break up, yet Josh is stunned and tearful at the news of her death and has little information to add – and no idea as to who would have wanted to hurt Chloe.  Searches of similar crimes in the area offer no results other than a similar death over 20 years ago, that appears to bear no similarities to the case. 

Searches of Chloe’s social media yield some other avenues of investigation, including some messages that have Amanda & Trent taking a hard second look at Josh as their killer. But while he’s in police custody, there’s another death…this time it’s Chloe’s roommate.  Now Chloe & Trent are seemingly back at square one…. Who really killed Chloe…and why?? 

If you’ve read my reviews with any regularity at all, you know by now that I love murder mysteries & police procedurals, and this is no exception. I read for guilty pleasure and not to criticize the authenticity of police procedure or proofread syntax – just pure enjoyment!  So, I can’t say enough about this one either – I like Amanda’s character and am hoping to see her continue to evolve through successive novels, as her relationship with Zoe, and perhaps Trent grows!  Another novel from Carolyn Arnold that’s well work the read!! Can’t wait for #5!