Leave No Trace – Sara Driscoll

FBI Meg Jennings and her partner Brian Foster, along with their dogs Hawk & Lacey, return once more as the FBI is called to assist with some murders in northwestern Georgia. Members of the elite ‘Human Scent Evidence Team’, their services are often requested for tracking in extreme circumstances, such as the Georgia Blue Ridge area. Arriving on the scene of the crime, the team learns that a Georgia State Trooper is the latest victim in a bizarre set of murders – each man killed with the single shot of an arrow from a bowhunter. In each case, there’s been no witness, and other than the arrow, no evidence. 

From the arrow, Hawk & Lacey pick up a scent and head into the woods with their handlers only to lose it after a while, as too much time has elapsed between the killing and their arrival at the scene, but not without a chance encounter with the local wildlife.  Back at the Blue Ridge PD, the team learns of a connection between the two men killed – both had links to a planned project in Blue Ridge – the building of the Copperhill Dam, which hopes to generate power and manage flooding that comes with climate change  The towns involved are in conflict regarding the construction, with some at risk of losing their homes and land as a result. 

When a third victim is killed the same way, the team re-deploys to the area, with the intent of remaining on scene to catch a killer But very quickly, the hunters become hunted with the team becoming separated after an arrow meant for Meg nearly finds it’s mark, leaving her lost and injured in the wilderness with only Hawk for protection. Meanwhile, Brian and Lacey encounter dangers of their own as they try to call for help and mobilize a search. 

Meanwhile, a killer is free to hunt again…and it will take the combined efforts of the local PD, the FBI and a profile from Quantico’s infamous BAU to find and bring this killer to justice…

This was a GREAT read, and one I couldn’t put down. Though fiction, this novel is set in real places, with geography and bodies of water as described. Additionally, each chapter header involves a snippet of Cherokee history, and how the Indians were forced from their land by the US Government via the now infamous Trail of Tears.  As a fairly new transplant to the deep southeast, I was equally fascinated and troubled by this sad piece of history. 

I give deep thanks to Netgalley & Kensington books for the opportunity to read and review this book and for the addition of another author to my ‘MUST READ’ list!!  Give it a try – you will NOT be disappointed! 

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

Breathe Your Last – Lisa Regan

Josie Quinn is back in her newest adventure, and honestly, I think this is one of the best yet! 

Detective Josie Quinn is headed to see her brother on campus at Denton University, wearing a bright pink uniform shirt (formerly white!), courtesy of a new red t-shirt her brother left in her washing machine. She’s also taking young Harris and his mother Misty to drop Harris off for his first day of preschool, and to assess the safety of the environment herself. After a quick meet and greet, Josie heads off to the campus gymnasium where Patrick is working.  

As she jokingly berates Patrick for pink shirt fiasco, she suddenly spots a young female floating face down in the pool water. As they bring the body poolside and attempt CPR, Josie is already in cop mode, and soon her colleagues and campus police arrive on scene. The building security identifies the deceased as Nysa, the star of the collegiate swim team. But how does a star swimmer drown?  

As Josie and her team begin to interview Nysa’s teammates and friends, they also begin to trace her steps, and learn from her roommate that Nysa hadn’t come home the night before. Josie, by chance, finds her backpack tossed in the woods, which yields few clues. The medical examiner confirms death by drowning in an otherwise healthy individual, and the only finding was chocolate in Nysa’s stomach. That finding, along with a bag tucked into Nysa’s backpack that contained crumbs, has Josie wondering…

The next day, Josie chances upon a fully involved house fire and stops to assist, narrowly escaping injury as she rescues a young child. The homeowner is a local celebrity and newly retired firefighter. As Josei interviews the young child, she gets a chill when the child tells her that her grandfather started the fire intentionally while chanting, ‘I am the match’.  

As the investigation goes into high gear, a couple of other puzzling events occur, one involving a fellow officer. Josie also learns of a college prank that happened in the past, where a student claimed to be able to control his victims by command, with video’s being emailed to persons on campus. Sensing a connection, Josie and her team dig deep, not realizing just how close to a loved one the killer may be…

I have to say, Lisa Regan and her Josie Quinn character were Netgalley.com finds for me, and I have LOVED every book that I’ve read! Josie and her group are spirited, strong characters, with background stories that evolve as the series goes on. While each can be read as a standalone, the storylines all come together nicely when read as a series. Great mysteries, fast paced, action packed – I can’t wait to get discover the protagonist, but yet I hate when the last page is turned!!  

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, create your profile, and start reviewing books today!!

Out Of Her Mind – T.R. Ragan

This is the second installment of the Sawyer Brooks’ series, and it is every bit as good as the Jessie Cole series, which I discovered on Netgalley in 2018! I’ve read so many fabulous books via this site lately!! 

Sawyer Brooks is a crime reporter for the ‘Sacramento Independent’ and is waiting for the AM editorial meeting to get started. New to the crime beat, she is mildly perturbed that her suggestions for stories are seemingly taken by other reporters, leaving her with little to write. At meetings end she’s assigned to follow up on the story of a vigilante group that appears to be meting out their own punishment to convicted rapists. At meetings end her boss, Sean Palmer, beckons her to follow him. He’s just learned that a skeleton belonging to a child has been found, and the two head off to the scene. 

Once on scene, Sawyer is able to glean from bystanders that the skeleton was that of a little girl, with remnants of clothing suggesting pink shoes and a shirt with hearts on it. As she peruses the scene, she realizes that the killer had cared about her victim and wanted her to rest in a happy place. But who was the little girl? Sawyer is determined to find out…

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Sawyer, her sister Harper is the member of a renegade group of women who call themselves The Crew. A group of 5, these women had all suffered abuse at the hands of a man at some point in their lives and are determined to avenge the wrongs done to them. They gather and quickly kidnap the man who was once a HS Quarterback, and the rapist of one of the women…

As Sawyer researches the potential identity of the skeleton found, she finds three young children from the area that have gone missing over the last several years, and yet another incident – a near abduction where the child was able to escape her abductor, a woman. Meanwhile, the news announces the disappearance of a 12-year-old child, Riley Addison, who went missing yesterday. Palmer reluctantly gives her a week to research possible links to past and present abductions.  

Nearby, ‘The Crew’ has imprisoned their latest victim, Myles Davenport, in an abandoned housing development, and have plans to make him beg for mercy before killing him and leaving him to the elements. He has profusely and tearfully apologized, but then a near escape shows his true colors, as he almost kills one of the women…

As Sawyer continues her investigation, the killer senses that they may be closing in, and plants evidence as a distraction, resulting in the arrest of another. But Sawyer knows they’ve got the wrong guy, and continues to dig…can she find the answers they need to find Riley before it’s too late? 

I feel like I’ve been saying this in a lot of reviews lately, but I LOVED this book! Sawyer is a sassy, upbeat character, who in spite of her childhood nightmare, has grown into a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, her sister Harper, also a victim of that same nightmare, has become a self-styled vigilante, also a presence to be wary of, with a clear understanding of her misdeeds.  While Harper is very aware of Sawyer’s work, Sawyer may just be getting an inkling of Harper’s situation, as she’s been given the vigilante story to follow as well.  All of this sounds like an AMAZING set up for the next book of the series…and I cannot wait!!!  

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

Silenced Girls – Roger Stelljes

As a preface to this review, I have to say that I discovered Roger Stelljes and his work a few years ago, after receiving an ‘authors you may like’ email from Amazon. He, within the first few chapters of that first book, became a favorite author of mine, and his character in that series, Mac McRyan, could stand up any number of characters I enjoy reading – Lucas Davenport & Harry Bosch, for example. Imagine my surprise when I discovered him here on Netgalley – and with a new character to boot! To my delight, this new character, Tori Hunter, is also amazing, and I cannot wait to read more of her exploits. I feel like I say that about a lot of books I read, but I’ve just found so many fabulous writers here!

Twenty years ago, in Manchester Bay, MN, on the 4th of July, after a night of celebrating with high school friends, Victoria “Tori” Hunter’s twin sister Jessie disappeared, her car found empty on lonely stretch of road. Despite a lengthy investigation into her disappearance, no trace of her was ever found.  Now, out of the blue, another woman has gone missing, on the same night, in eerily similar circumstances…

FBI Special Agent Tori Hunter has just finished a run around downtown Manhattan, when her doorman hands her a stack of mail.  A specialist in child abductions with the Behavioral Analysis Unit, she lives and works in NY City. As her stack of mail falls, she finds and opens a handwritten envelope, only to find a news clipping of her sister’s disappearance, and a typed note telling her to check her hometown newspaper.  Tori does so, immediately seeing the similarities to her sister’s disappearance, and swiftly makes plans to return to her childhood home. 

As she attempts to insert herself into the investigation, she initially finds herself at odds with the chief detective, Will Braddock. Desperate to be accepted, she and Will discuss their differences and are able to form an uneasy alliance. As the investigation heats up, and they begin re-interviewing people from 20 years ago, Tori wonders what the killer has done for those intervening years, and slowly identifies a string of similar murders in various other states in the Midwest. Will tentatively identifies a suspect, who later turns up dead, by suicide. The town is ready to close the case, but Tori just isn’t so sure….

I cannot say enough about Mr. Stelljes, and his writing! He grabs your attention from the first page and keeps you turning pages well into the night, just to discover what happens next!! I thought I had the killer identified fairly early, but I was all wrong.  Loaded with suspense, plot twists, a touch of romance and a strong, yet vulnerable protagonist, this book has everything you need to settle in for a long, satisfying read, and will leave you wanting more! I can’t wait to read more of Tori Hunter! 

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