Please See Us – Caitlyn Mullen

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

This novel opens as we meet a young Clara, who struggles to make enough money to live by giving Tarot readings in a seedy storefront in a downtrodden area of Atlantic City. Abandoned by her mother and cared for (the term is used loosely) by a drug addicted aunt, Clara’s life is anything but idyllic. She has just received a customer who is despondent over his niece, who has been missing without a trace for three months. He hands Clara a handkerchief that his niece used to wear for luck, in hopes of finding any kind of clue as to her whereabouts. Shortly thereafter, Clara begins to have visions of bodies in the marsh.

We then meet Lily, who, after being humiliated by a man she loved, runs home to Atlantic City, and secures a job in a spa, with the hopes of making enough money to return to NY City on her own terms. The two girls become unlikely friends and Clara eventually shares her visions of the girls with Lily.

We meet the Jane Doe’s, all 6 of them, who have left their real lives to end up in the brackish marshes of the Atlantic City shoreline, victims of an unknown killer. As they tell us their stories of pain and loss from beyond the grave, their disappearances are noticed by Lily & Clara who look for answers, , but also by Luis, a young deaf mute who parlays the information he is unable to speak of into other medium, unbeknownst to anyone.

This novel is a painful, but sadly realistic view into the lives of those individuals that we don’t see in our own lives, and rarely think about – the kids that leave home only to fall victim to drug use, sexual abuse, prostitution, hopelessness, and worse. Told in meticulous detail, you’ll think about this novel and its characters for a long time after the final page is turned, all while realizing that often, stories do not have a happy ending, even when the last page is turned. A haunting, gritty, exceptionally well written read. I cannot wait to read more from this new author!

Behind Every Lie – Christine McDonald

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

Eva Hansen is a young woman living in Seattle, WA with her fiancé Liam, a property developer. While her mother lives nearby, they seem to have a formal, sometimes strained relationship for reasons that are initially unclear to the reader. The book opens with an apparent murder – Eve, presumably covered in blood, flees the scene and is struck by lightning, later waking in the hospital with no clear memory of the incident – only vague images and sensations that waft through her subconscious, leading her and you, the reader, believing she may be responsible for her mother, Kat’s, death. The police too, find Eva to be their main suspect. But what really happened?

The story then shifts into the days/years prefacing the event, telling the tale from both Eva’s & Kat’s perspective. You see what appears to be a loving relationship between Eva and fiancé Liam, and you learn of some strife in the past lives of both Kat and Eva’s aunt Lily in their younger years, including Kat’s escape from a dangerous ex-husband. As the story progresses and more is revealed, even as Eva questions her sanity, with vague memories resurfacing in her head. The story picks up speed in a hurry rushing to a wild conclusion, even as you struggle to figure out how all of the pieces are going to fall…

Told in past and present glimpses into the lives of three women, their story gradually comes to light and just when you think you understand the events of that long ago night….another curveball or three are tossed in that have you frantically turning the pages to get to the very last page. Impossible to put down until the last page is turned!!

Follow Me – Kathleen Barber

I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review. This review will also publish to my blog, tropicaldelusions.blog, a few days before publication.

Audrey Miller is the girl next door, with her eye catching beauty and outgoing personality, as well as her success as an Instagrammer. Followed far and wide by those wishing to connect to her exuberant lifestyle, she’s created quite a fan base. But some of those fans are not as harmless as the others…

Audrey decides to make a big move, from NYC to Washington DC after she receives a job offer from a DC museum looking for a social media manager. Upon her arrival, she connects with a friend Cat, who resides in DC and the two renew their friendship. Unbeknownst to Audrey, someone else has been awaiting her arrival as well.

As Audrey settles into her new apartment and job, she finds herself the unwelcome recipient of unwanted attention, and unannounced visits from her landlord’s grandson. Then one night, she hears noises at her bedroom window, and sneaks out to see an individual running away. Flowers appear, in her favorite color. She also finds herself dealing with the subtle advances of a colleague, and the booty calls of an old lover. And then she meets Max, a friend of Cats, whom she falls head over heels for. But someone isn’t happy…

Told from the perspectives of the various characters, including a stalker identified only as Him, we gain depth into the individual quirks of each character as well as the moments that drive them. I would almost call this a young adult read, particularly as it relates to the dangers of social media posting, and how much is too much.

I found this to be a quick, engaging & enlightening read, with a gentle reminder – do you really know who your friends are??

A Cold Trail – Robert Dugoni

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Tracy Crosswhite & husband Dan O’Leary have returned to Cedar Grove for a short stay while their Seattle home is renovated, with their two-month-old daughter, Daniella, in tow. While difficult for Tracy after the death of her sister, she and Dan do want their child to know her parent’s roots. With nanny, Therese, present as well, Tracy is still trying to decide if she wants to return to detective work or become a stay-at-home Mom. While police work is in her blood, she worries of the inherent danger of the job. Dan, meanwhile, is assisting a client with some legal issues pertaining to his business in Cedar Grove.

While out on a date night, Tracy runs into retired Cedar Grove police chief, Roy Calloway, who appears to be back in uniform. Puzzled, Tracy stops into to see him the next day and learns that active chief Finlay Armstrong has been sidelined after the house fire that had killed his wife, Kimberly. The fire has been ruled arson. An autopsy has revealed that Finlay’s wife died of blunt force trauma to the head. She also learns that Kimberly had been writing a book about the murder of teen-ager Heather Johansen, which had been attributed to the murderer that had killed Tracy’s sister Sarah all those years ago. This is complicated by the fact that Finlay Armstrong had dated Heather all those years ago. After a discussion about the case, Roy asks Tracy for her assistance with the murder investigation.

Torn between mothering and assisting, Tracy finds herself interested in the case, and agrees to assist, much to her husband’s dismay. It’s in reviewing her sisters old high school diaries that Tracy inadvertently finds her first clue. As Tracy begins her present day investigation, another murder is linked to the case – but how do these pieces fit together – and why? Meanwhile Dan’s case uncovers some pretty interesting information that may somehow tie his case into Tracy’s investigation. But the deeper Tracy digs, the more unsettled a killer gets – and that killer will do anything to keep his 25-year secret safe…

I have loved this series since I first discovered it, and this latest addition is no exception! Reminiscent of JT Ellison’s Taylor Jackson series, this series delivers with great characters, a believable mystery, plenty of suspense and a fabulous heroine in Tracy! I couldn’t put it down! Robert Dugoni has been added to my ‘must read’ author’s list!!

I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review. This review will also publish to my blog on its publication date of 4 Feb 2020.