I LOVED this book!

Not That I Could Tell – Jessica Strawser

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An innocent wine filled Saturday night around a campfire amongst six neighborhood women with baby monitors in hand, sharing laughter and life. But the next day, one of these women is missing, with the evidence pointing to a hasty departure – children, clothing, luggage and money all missing. Did she really leave of her own free will? Or did her estranged husband have something to do with her disappearance??

This novel takes you on an intriguing ride, as you see the investigation unfold through each of the women’s eyes.

Kristin has vanished, an event that comes to light on early Monday morning, after her estranged husband Paul, receives a call from school, reporting that the children are not there. Puzzled, he comes to the house they once shared, looking for her, only to discover that certain items are missing from the home, with evidence of a hasty departure present. Mystified, Paul calls the police.

Clara and Isabel, two of Kristin’s closest neighbors, are also stymied by her disappearance. After interviews with the investigating Detective, Claire realizes how little she truly knew about her friend, and doubts begin to fill her head about Kristin’s estranged husband Paul. These doubts are further fueled when detectives report that Kristin had researched domestic violence in the hours prior to her disappearance.

The story unfolds through the eyes of Clara and Isabel, as well as past musings of Kristin, as time passes and no evidence of Kristin’s whereabouts can be found. Clara’s doubts about Paul grow, while Isabel, whom recently lost the love of her life in a strange twist of fate, struggles with loneliness, and finds herself feeling sorry for, and drawn to, Kristin’s bereaved husband.

Is Paul a jilted husband, or something far more sinister?

I have never read anything from this author before, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! One finds herself rooting for Kristin in the hopes that she escaped safely, all the while wondering is Paul is as innocent as he seems. Izzy and Clara become close to your heart as you learn about their lives and their concerns for their missing friend. As the novel races towards a stunning and somewhat predictable conclusion, it ends with a sweet surprise that ties it all together.

I LOVED this book!!

The Tracy Crosswhite series is fabulous!!

A Steep Price – Robert Dugoni

Detective Tracy Crosswhite and crew are back in this fabulous new novel by Robert Dugoni

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Asked by a colleague to assist in the investigation of a missing young college student, Tracy Crosswhite is only too happy to help. As she begins her investigation, Tracy quickly gets a sense that this is not just a co-ed on sabbatical – but a very driven student who has seemingly disappeared, and enlists partner Kins’s help. Meanwhile, Tracy is hiding a secret of her own – she’s pregnant. While returning to the station, Tracy unexpectedly meets Andrea Gonzalez, a new detective hired by Captain Nolasco to act as the ‘fifth wheel’, and Tracy fears is meant to replace her.

At the same time, Detectives Vic Fazzio & Del Castligiano catch a homicide involving the shooting of a young advocate, Monique Rodgers, in the South Park area of Seattle. While on the scene, a young drug dealer, ‘Little Jimmy’ does a drive by and mimes shooting a gun at Faz – Faz was the detective responsible for the incarceration of his father years ago. Coincidence? Or related? Faz has also just received devastating news from the home front – his wife Vera has just been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

As these investigations continue, newly hired Andrea shoots an unarmed suspect, and Faz finds himself sidelined as stories don’t mesh, and he finds himself implicated in the shooting. Determined to continue investigating on his own, Faz finds more than he bargains for and disappears. Will his team get to him in time?

Nothing is at it seems, lives are on the line, and secrets are revealed, as both of these cases roll to stunning conclusions!

Another fabulous read by Robert Dugoni! I first discovered him, and the Tracy Crosswhite series last spring on a discounted book site. Liking what I read, I immediately bought the remaining books in the series, and was fortunate enough to receive this as an advanced reader copy. If you love mysteries and police procedural type books, the Tracy Crosswhite series is a must!!

Kellerman is in top form!

Night Moves – Jonathan Kellerman

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Milo Sturgis & Alex Delaware are back again, as they team up together to solve another perplexing case.

A family goes to dinner one night, only to return to find a corpse in their father’s study – and not just any corpse – there’s no blood, no clues as to his sudden appearance, and the victim is missing his face and his hands, making identification difficult. Milo Sturgis lands the case, and quickly asks Alex Delaware to assist. The family in question appears to cooperate, but reeks of dysfunction – the brash overbearing father, the meek timid mother, the quiet, reserved daughter, and the son who acts out loudly and inappropriately. But collectively, no one knows the identity of the body in their home, or has any idea who might have left it there…or why.

As missing persons reports eventually lead to the identification of the body, yet more questions arise, and the focus shifts to the reclusive neighbor, remembered for his unscrupulous cartoon drawings, yet rebuffs any interaction from his neighbors, or police. As Milo & Alex navigate each new lead, new motives, and long buried secrets are revealed, and the case reaches a stunning, yet unexpected conclusion! This is Kellerman in top form!

A Merciful Secret

A Merciful Secret – Kendra Elliott

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Mercy Kilpatrick is an FBI special agent living in rural Oregon. Raised in a very small town there, she remains close to her roots in her downtime, and is in the process of building a survivalist foothold deep in the mountains. As she’s leaving her mountain hideaway, she barely misses striking a child who comes dashing from the woods into the roadway, seeking help for her injured grandmother. Mercy finds a fatally injured older woman, who dies shortly after her arrival, despite her best efforts.

Meanwhile, three hours away, a similar death occurs, and the pathologist makes the connection due to the similarity in wounds. But who would want an old woman and a nationally renowned Judge with no apparent ties to one another, dead? And why?

So, begins Mercy’s next adventure. Despite being barred from the investigation due to her being a witness to a murder, Mercy inserts herself into all aspects of the case, with the help of fellow agent Ava, and boyfriend, chief of police Truman. As new clues are uncovered, and connections are made, yet another snowstorm is barreling in on Oregon, setting events in motion that will threaten all Mercy holds dear…

Kendra Elliott is quickly becoming one of my favorite new authors – her books are suspenseful, difficult to put down reads, and yet easily read – this one took me only a few hours – the perfect beach read!

A Sign from Sophie

As many of you who know me know, I’m not much for organized religion. Having lived in the deep south (North Carolina) for some time, I had the opportunity to meet many devoutly religious people – some were wonderful people, and some were the most racist, judgmental people I’ve ever come across. I do not for a second believe that your religious beliefs or practices can define you as a person. I do not go to church, have no desire to ever go to church, struggle with the thought that ‘God’ is an individual who is not only solely responsible for my life, but guides it daily, etc. However, I try to be a good person, and I DO believe that there is more than just us – fragile creatures of Earth – spinning on a blue marble in space, alone. I just cant fit my beliefs, or my assumptions, neatly into a box, as defined by a specific religion. None of them truly make any sense to me. I am at heart, a scientist. (NOT to be confused with scientologist!)

That being said, a couple of months ago, I lost my precious dog Sophie to complications from cancer. It was a quick, unexpected death for her, and while I knew it was inevitably coming, it happened with a suddenness that I did not expect. While I’m grateful that she didn’t overly suffer, and that I was with her when it happened (instead of the kids), I have found that I miss her profoundly. I don’t possess that sixth sense that some seem to have – I don’t feel her nearby – or see her in her favorite places (lying in the backyard in the sun). I have since adopted another rescue dog (a story for another time, for sure), but I still miss my sweet but stubborn Sophie terribly, and can literally count the days and hours since she had to go. (It’s been 56 days and 17 hours as I write this).

The other day, Ellie Bean (my new pup) and I went for a long walk through the nature trails that surround my neighborhood. It was a bit chilly and we were alone for the entire five miles we walked. Like most dog owners, I babble constantly to my pets, and today was no exception. I told her how Sophie and I used to take walks like this and that she and Soph would have been buddies, etc. Blah, blah, blah. I looked to the sky, told Sophie I missed her, and would love for her to send me a sign so I would know she’s okay. I also said, “you know me Soph, it cant be subtle either, else I’ll miss it”.

The next day, I had to work. I am an ICU nurse and work in an 18 bed unit. I had been hoping to care for the patients I had had before my day off, but was assigned to two other patients. Both were critically ill, on life support, with multiple medicated drips and other equipment at the bedside, so it was a crazy busy day. That morning, one of my patient’s daughters was in to see her dad, and said she’d be back later that afternoon. She did return, and she came in carrying a little ‘beany baby’ sized stuffed tan dog for her Dad. As she put in in his hand, she looked up at me and said that the stuffed dog was named Sophie, and that she was very special to her Dad. It took me a minute to realize what she called the dog, but as signs go, it wasn’t subtle. Soph had found a way to let me know she was okay.

Coincidence? Sure, maybe…but I asked for it, and I’ll take it. ♥

I LOVE YOU, SOPHIE!!

The Third Victim – Phillip Margolis

The Third Victim – Phillip Margolis

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Driving through the woods at night, a motorist slams on the brakes as something tumbles out of the forest into the roadway. It’s a female, bearing the appearances of having been held captive and abused. As she recovers from her ordeal, she remembers enough to lead detectives to the cabin in the woods where she had been held, and a prominent local attorney is arrested for the alleged crime. In another seemingly unrelated event, a pimp threatens a decorated police officer when he finds him beating one of his prostitutes, and then winds up dead himself.

High powered attorney Regina Barrister and her capable assistant Robin are hired to defend the accused Alex Mason who swears he is innocent. Despite his pleas of such, the evidence appears cut and dried, and he is ultimately convicted and sent to death row.

But Regina has been experiencing episodes of forgetfulness, that do not go unnoticed by her legal team, and they have lingering doubts about Alex’s guilt. As they delve deeper into the investigation for the defense appeal, it appears that not all things are as they seem – is Alex’s wife a grieving spouse, or is she a master manipulator? Is the rescued victim, Meredith, really the victim she appears to be? Is a decorated police officer a sadistic bully, or is he a murderer??

This book had me hooked from the very beginning and kept me guessing until the end. Full of action, suspense, and enough twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end. I couldn’t put it down!!!

Friendship and other things…

Many years ago, up in New England, I was a paramedic for a private ambulance service. I was young then, and the world of emergency medical services was exciting. We weren’t so very regulated then, and we worked hard, but we played hard too. I made some life long friends there during my years there, and had some friendships turn adversarial too. I cringe when I think about how young we were, and of some of the things that we, and I, myself did. Fortunately for me, this was all before the age of cellphones and cameras everywhere, so our exploits have all been saved to (fortunately) fallible memory.

One of those friends of mine was named Samantha – we used to call her Sam or Sammy for short. During that period of my life, we had a pretty tight knit group of friends. We worked together, hung out together on our days off, and vacationed together. I was in a relationship at the time with whom I thought was the love of my life – and yes – he worked with us as well. Being young, insecure, and fairly jealous of those who were prettier, more slender, and more fun than I was, I was constantly trying to improve myself, by emulating them – I’d try to find similar outfits, buy the same make up, etc. (I cringe when I think about some of that now – how in my young mind I thought I could improve self-worth, or improve my confidence with an outfit or a blush color…) I digress. Anyway, my jealousy and all around stupidity led to the demise of my then relationship and a particularly important friendship I had at the time – with Sammy. It was a very confusing and painful time for me in my life, and one that has lead to a fairly introverted personality for me as time has moved forward.

At that time, I felt I was the victim – Sammy had gone from being my bestie, to excluding me from things and making fun of me every chance she got. I was isolated from my circle of friends with increasing frequency, and I was fairly certain that Sammy had slept with my boyfriend. Of course it didn’t help when he asked another close friend of mine to a dance of some sort and she said yes. I felt as if she should have declined, out of respect for me. Ahhh, youth…do I miss it – being young, yes? The lack of the wisdom I now seem to possess? NO!

Time moves on – Sammy left the organization and went to work elsewhere with her then boyfriend, and I was absorbed with nursing school. Once I completed that program, I became a full time nurse, and worked sparingly for EMS. By then, my little company had been bought out by a larger one and things had changed drastically. I was not in a committed relationship of any kind, but had a casual thing going with a co-worker and found myself pregnant, shortly after we had celebrated his birthday. He denied involvement, and, rather than forcing him to acknowledge something he clearly didn’t want, I decided to go it alone, and after my daughter was born, I left EMS all together and focused on nursing. Once I made that switch, those friends/adversaries were left to the past.

That is, until Facebook came along.

Once I joined the Facebook craze, those ‘blasts from the past’ would continually populate my newsfeed. Of course, those adversarial friends became ‘friends’ too – I ‘friended’ out of curiosity as to what they and their lives were like now, and I’m more than certain they had similar curiosities as well. As time went on, Sammy and I started conversing a bit. She too had gone to nursing school, and we shared similar career paths – critical care nursing, children, back problems, a love for animals in need… I sent her a small gift when she was laboring with her firstborn, and we developed a sporadic communication – usually via commenting on one another’s newsfeeds and the occasional text or message. When her marriage fell apart, she confided in me a bit. The communication remains sporadic, and we have not yet talked person to person – via phone or in person. She has invited me to call, but…it just makes me nervous. Silly, I know, as it’s been close to 25 years since all of that childish drama happened.

Now, she’s here visiting in my neck of the woods, and she has invited me to spend some time with her and her significant other. Drinks, beach time, and chatting is the agenda. We have a lot to catch up on, and I’d guess a lot of reminiscing to do. Do I want to go? Yes, actually I do. Am I insecure about how my 50 year old body compares to my 25 year old body? Yes, absolutely! Am I insecure in general? Yes, even more so…am I going to go? I’m scared to death but yes I think I will. I am anxious to see if we can find any of that crazy tight friendship we used to have…

Wish me luck!! And send some confidence my way please!!