Suspense

“The Alibi Man” by Tami Hoag

Book Cover - The Alibi Man

 

Bestselling suspense author, Tami Hoag, began her professional writing career in the romance genre, but stretched that framework to include everything from comedy to suspense. Her strong female characters were savvy, contemporary types and readers connected.

 

As Hoag’s work shifted into the thriller/suspense realm, it reflected the rising audience interest in forensics and began to include more of the graphic details of the crime scenes and the violence visited upon the victims. Today, her bad guys are darker, more depraved, and her heroines more likely to engage in the kind of retribution that would raise the eyebrows of the faint-hearted. 

 

“The Alibi Man” returns former undercover cop, Elena Estes, to the hard, fast world of Palm Beach society and the nasty secrets lying beneath the surface. When a fellow horse groom and marginal friend is found murdered, Elena is drawn back into the life she’d like to forget and must deal with buried emotions she thought she had hidden from the world. Elena is grippingly portrayed as a deeply tortured soul, and we feel her pain as her personal life is laid before us chapter, by aching chapter.

 

The action in “The Alibi Man” is fast-paced, filling the pages with cold-blooded crime figures snipping off body parts, drug/sex parties, handsome polo stars, and a cop boyfriend.

 

The plot weaving the colorful characters together is less successful, only because I don’t quite buy that the rich and powerful would be dumb enough to get themselves into such stupid personal messes. One at a time, yes, but collectively? However, the name of the book may tell it all. Supreme arrogance probably dictates the need for an Alibi Man. Great read for Hoag fans, with graphic language and adult situations.

 

Written in 2007, “The Alibi Man” was followed by “Deeper than the Dead,” “Secrets of the Grave,” and “Down the Darkest Road.” “The 9th Girl” will be published in June, 2013. Hoag has written over thirty books, with fifteen consecutive titles hitting the NYT bestseller lists. “Night Sins” was made into a memorably chilling TV movie in the late 90s and is still shown in re-runs.

 

For more information about Tami Hoag and her books, visit www.tamihoag.com

 

 

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“Proof” by Jordyn Redwood

Book Cover - Proof Lilly Reeves is an ER doctor who chooses to live alone. She stays in shape, attends martial arts classes, owns a gun, and has three locks on her front door. She is a caring doctor, good at her job, and well liked by her colleagues. She has a close friend and a nice guy who wants to date her. None of that prevents her from being attacked and raped in her own home. And she may be the fifth victim of a serial rapist.  

She accidently discovers the identity of her attacker at work, but when she makes her accusations, DNA testing proves her wrong and she in turn, is accused of being unstable. Even her friends begin to doubt her sanity. At first, Reeves thinks she has it all together, that she will be fine as soon as the rapist is behind bars. But, that is far from reality.  

There are multiple twists and turns as the rapist proves to be more cold-blooded than anybody could have imagined. Reeves speeds ever downward, trapped in her despair and acts of self-destruction. Her friends, along with the policeman assigned to the case, do their best to help, but Reeves doesn’t want to be helped, especially when the worst news possible is revealed. This is a faith-based book, with a Christian perspective as how best to handle the many issues that arise, but to Redwood’s credit, the true-to-life discussions have non-believer Dr. Reeves standing firm, several times.  

“Proof” is a debut novel, but compares favorably with more established medical thrillers. ER procedures as well as difficult deliveries are meticulously written, yet easy to read. The medical oddity that identifies the killer is well-researched and thoroughly fascinating. The lead characters are fully developed and realistically supportive. “Proof” does not shy away from the subject, but it does not actually contain a violent re-enactment of the rape. Rather, it is an absorbing study in how a woman and the people who surround her, deal with the challenging aftermath of that rape. This is an honest, Christian look at a serious problem.  

The Twitterverse is a terrific place to discover new authors. I ‘met’ Jordyn Redwood because of her blog, “Redwood’s Medical Edge.” Jordyn is an ER nurse who created the blog in order to help authors write correctly about medical details in their work. On Fridays, many writers/reviewers on Twitter share a heads-up about good research sources; Redwood’s column is an excellent place to find great information about life in an ER. In addition to doing her own columns, she has guest bloggers who address certain areas of interest related to the medical field, as varied as Civil War medicine and neonatal emergencies. Great blog.  

“Proof” is the first in the ‘Bloodline Trilogy,’ and was nominated for the Carol Award. The second book in the series, “Poison,” was released on February 1, 2013.  

For more information, please visit www.jordynredwood.com    

 

 

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“Stone Cold” by Robert B. Parker

Book Cover - Stone Cold

 

Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books and regrettably, I did not pick up a single one until Jesse Stone (the police chief in Parker’s nine book Stone series) appeared in the form of Tom Selleck in a movie of the week titled, "Stone Cold." My bad.

 

In both book and movie, Stone, formerly an L.A. cop, is now the police chief of Paradise, a seaside Massachusetts town. He has baggage that many readers have sympathized with over the years: failed marriage, complicated relationship with the ex-wife, issues with drinking, and an inability to escape from himself in a town where everybody knows your name.

 

And, in this town, some nasty crimes are taking place…not only a spree of seemingly random murders, but also a teenage rape. Stone’s handling of both cases is intensely personal; he wants to understand the suspects, but also needs to help and avenge the victims. He sometimes steps outside the law to do that when the law doesn’t quite deliver the justice deserved.

 

Luckily for Parker fans, the TV movie script does not stray far from the crisp dialogue that characterizes the book. Stone is a man of few words until it’s necessary to expand his generally monosyllabic responses. His thoughts, however, are deeper and richer, and the feeling that Selleck expresses by a glance or a frown on the small screen, Parker describes in full measure on the printed page.

 

There is a hint at discord with the town council, but in “Stone Cold,” it’s not overplayed.  The council members want information about ongoing cases, but Stone doesn’t feel it necessary to share and the scene is set for more problems in future books. Crime waves make people fearful about living normal lives and random killings are even more frightening, so it would be normal for a mayor and council to be actively concerned and want to reassure the townsfolk that it’s safe to go out at night. It’s just that Stone knows better than to let the council control the department decisions.

 

An easy connection exists between Stone, Molly, and Suit, the local law enforcement team. They protect each other and play the role of a family that Stone doesn’t have. To get through some of the deeper issues, he sees a shrink by the name of Dix, who at times is also a sounding board when Stone wants a psychological profile done of a suspect. The interplay of the principal characters is so realistically portrayed that while “Stone Cold” is a stand-alone book, it would be interesting to go back to the beginning of the series to see how these relationships began and subsequently developed.

 

Sadly, Robert B. Parker passed away in 2010 at the age of 77, discovered by his wife at his desk, having been in the midst of writing a novel. In addition to the seven TV movies inspired by the Stone series, there was a weekly TV show, “Spenser for Hire,” based on the character of the same name in other Parker books. The Parker estate has decided to continue the hugely successful work of the ‘dean of American crime fiction’ with new Stone and Spenser books written by people who worked closely with him in TV and film.

 

Visit www.robertbparker.net to learn more about the man, his books, and his legacy.

 

 

 

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“Scarpetta” by Patricia Cornwell

Book Cover - Scarpetta

Kay Scarpetta is a celebrated forensic pathologist who has taken an assignment in NYC. Her resume includes solving unusually difficult cases by painstaking attention to detail and determined exploration of every possibility. This time her patient, Oscar Bane, isn’t dead. And, he has demanded her world-renowned expertise and integrity be used to exonerate him. The case gets more bizarre with each fingernail clipped, each bruise examined. Oscar Bane has been injured during the course of the murder of his girlfriend, which he swears he did not commit.

 

Patricia Cornwell reinvented the forensic thriller genre over twenty years ago and during the intervening time has earned the Edgar, Creasey, Gold Dagger, Anthony, McCavity, Sherlock and Galaxy British Crime Thriller of the Year Awards. In each book, the reader is privy to the grisly reality of autopsies, the intimate invasion of the body in order to uncover how the victim died, as well as clues to the identity of the killer. Those twenty years have generated many technological advances in forensic science and as each is unveiled in real-life, Cornwell incorporates them into Scarpetta’s well-equipped labs.

 

The anchoring story in “Scarpetta” addresses the invasive power of the internet. Lucy, a computer phenom who is fiercely protective of her aunt, zeroes in on people who have been slandering Scarpetta online with sleazy photos and ridiculous articles. Cornwell’s message is that we are all vulnerable to the baseless smear campaigns that exist on some sites only to snag more readers and keep them hooked.

 

“Scarpetta” (#16 in the strand) is sometimes darkly disturbing, because the dialogue is so matter of fact, so real. It often seemed as if I was eavesdropping, listening in on private, painful conversations between Scarpetta, her niece, Lucy, her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley, and the investigator and former friend, Pete Marino. No matter the existing murderous storyline, their complex interactions have evolved in true-life fashion during the twenty books in the Scarpetta series.

 

There are well-developed, sometimes creepy, supporting characters, mature subjects, surprising plot twists and turns, and plenty to satisfy Cornwell fans.

 

For more information about Patricia Cornwell, her books and other series, visit www.patriciacornwell.com  The site is interactive, with something to find on every page.

 

 

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“The Reincarnationist” by M.J. Rose

 

"The Reincarnationist"

by M.J. Rose

 

A blinding flash from an explosion sends photojournalist Josh Ryder back into another era and into the life he left behind, over 1600 years ago. When he recovers from his near fatal injuries, he is back in the present, but his 21st century world has changed forever.

 

“The Reincarnationist” takes the reader on a quest to get to the root of Josh’s desperately disturbing images, a quest that uncovers a forbidden love in the time of ancient Rome and secrets that could change how the past merges with the present. Secrets for which people are willing to kill, no matter what the century.

 

Meticulously researched, “The Reincarnationist” delivers. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, you will be intrigued by the plotting, the characters and the flashbacks between the centuries. And, you will completely believe that love has the power to reach across the ages to bring answers to the future that must be revealed.

 

I have a moviegoer’s approach when reading a work of fiction. I see the action and hear the dialogue as if I’m sitting in a movie theater and I become immersed as if I’m one of the participants. If the scenes don’t come alive for me, the author has left something on the editing floor.

 

In the case of “The Reincarnationist,” M.J. Rose has created an emotional, mental and visual canvas, a work easily transferred to the small or large screen. I hope that one day a movie producer will see the potential in this intelligent, fascinating tale. I’d love to have the DVD next to the book on my shelf.

 

"The Reincarnationist" was the first in this series. It was followed by "The Memorist," "The Hypnotist," and "The Book of Lost Fragrances," all as great as the first! Read the review of "The Book of Lost Fragrances" here.

*For more information about MJ Rose and her books, visit http://mjrose.com/content/

 

 

 

 

 

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