REVIEW: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK By Michelle McNamara

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Publication Feb 27, 2018 By Harper
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.”

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth.

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Riveting. Chilling. Fascinating. I could go on with the adjectives to describe this incredible work of nonfiction but you get the idea. It’s very rare that I come across a book, especially a nonfiction one, that literally made my heart race while reading certain scenes. Like others have mentioned, I couldn’t read this at night. To say it’s scary doesn’t seem to do Michelle’s writing justice, but it’s absolutely how I felt while reading about this elusive rapist/killer.  She has created a brilliant work of investigative journalism that was, at times, terrifying, yet utterly gripping to read. I couldn’t put it down. When I wasn’t reading I was busy looking over my shoulder, checking the doors and windows and thinking about all the unsuspecting victims and communities he terrorized . It’s unfathomable on many levels….not just the crimes he committed but how he’s managed to continuously elude authorities. At times, he had been right there in front of them and yet he managed to vanish.

Michelle’s passion for her work and yes her obsession with finding this killer came alive through her evocative prose. I often felt that I was there with her, looking over her shoulder, reading the case files and notes. When the narrative went back in time to the various crime scenes, I felt I was walking alongside the detectives as they hunted this killer. Her writing captured the essence of everyone involved in this story and that includes the killer and his victims. For this reason, there may be many people who may not be able to read the scenes she describes; there is an abundance of rape victims whose stories she delicately details along with the murders he escalated to. This is integral to the story but never gratuitous. She perfectly balanced these details, however, with glimpses of her own life which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. She became a friend who invited me into her world which makes the fact that she died before finishing this book all the more tragic.

Something to keep in mind, the narrative does jump around in time quite often and not always in a sequential order. I’m not sure if this is indicative of the way Michelle was researching the story or that pieces were put together by the editors after her death. However, the fact that I was a little confused at times didn’t take away from the impact of the narrative. I often think the sign of a great book is one that not only teaches me something but also elicits a wide range of feelings within myself; I’ll Be Gone In the Dark has done both. And the ending…perfection.

Many thanks to HarperCollins via Edelweiss for my copy

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is one I HAVEN’T read….

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First Published in 1938, Rebecca has NEVER went out of print! 

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

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So, hear me out friends! This week’s post is all about a read that’s quite possibly been on my tbr the longest…am I the only one out there who hasn’t EVER read Rebecca?? I hope not because I thought it might be fun to open this pick up to a future discussion post with all of YOU! Anyone who’s interested in reading Rebecca and joining in on the discussion post would be welcome…you don’t have to be a blogger, you just have to be a reader:) I’m thinking a tentative date to have this read and my discussion post up will be Thursday, April 12th. I can’t wait to FINALLY read this and no longer feel left out. Looking forward to (hopefully) chatting with you all!

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Laura at Snazzy Books

Holly at Dressed to Read

 

Sneak Peek: THE HUSH By John Hart

Happy Publication Day to John Hart! I’ve got an exciting sneak peek of chapter one of The Hush, his highly anticipated sequel to The Last Child. The book publishes today, Feb 27, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

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CHAPTER ONE  

Johnny woke in the crook of a tree under a diamond-studded sky. The hammock around him was worn nylon, and the great oak a hundred feet tall. Even at sixty feet, its trunk was thicker than Johnny, its branches bent but strong. Johnny knew every one of those branches by feel: the worn spots from his feet and hands, the way they leaned out from the trunk and split like fingers. He could climb the tree in total blackness, find his way past the hammock to smaller branches that bent beneath his weight. From there he could see the moon and the forest, the swamp that rolled off to the south. This was his place—six thousand acres—and he knew every stream and hill, every dark pool and secret glade.

He didn’t always sleep in the tree. There was a cabin, but it felt heavy at times. He’d built it himself, so it wasn’t the shape or size of it that pushed him, like a wind, to the ancient tree on its splintered hill. It wasn’t the dreams or memories or any dark thing others might suspect. Johnny came for the views, and for the way they connected him to the land he owned. The tree grew from a knob of stone and soil that rose from the swamp to join a span of similar hills that cut a line between the wetlands and the thin-soiled higher ground that notched into the far, north cor- ner of Raven County. From the hammock’s crook he could see beyond the swamp and across the river. Climb another thirty feet, and he could see a glint of light that was the tallest building in town. That was eighteen miles in a straight line, thirty-seven if you had to drive. Roads this far north were twisted and crumbled, and that was fine with Johnny. He didn’t care for people on his land, and had fired once on hunters too antagonistic to leave when asked politely. He didn’t plan to hit them— they’d be dead if he had—but black bear had a special place in Johnny’s heart, and two mothers had been killed with cubs still in the den. Because of that, he marked the borders and tracked hunters, in particular, with sleepless determination. Police, of course, didn’t see it his way, and neither did the courts. After the shooting, there’d been a few months in jail and a firestorm of media. That was because reporters never forgot, and to most he was still the same dark-eyed child they’d made famous ten years earlier.

But Johnny didn’t care if people thought him dangerous or strange. It hurt to see the worry on his parents’ faces, of course. They wanted him in the city and between four walls, but deep down they understood how life had lifted him from the dark pages of his youth and brought him to this special place. And it was special. He could taste it on the breeze, see it in a sky so heavy with stars, it made his eyes water to look up and marvel at the relentless depth of it. Beneath all that pure, white light was a purple forest that moved with a rhythm as familiar, now, as the beat of Johnny’s heart.

This place. His life.

Leaving the hammock, he let his hands and feet find their way to the smallest branches that would still take his weight. The trunk was thin so high, the horizon a purple line darker than the rest. He studied the canopy, then moved up the tree until the trunk was small enough to cup with both hands, and then with only one. It was dangerous to climb so high, but Johnny had a reason.

He was looking for fire.

There’d been fires in the wood before: campfires and lightning strikes; a burn, once, from a hunter’s dropped cigarette. Fires like this were different because Johnny, the next day, couldn’t find a trace of them, not a charred twig or a burnt blade.

And he’d looked hard.

The first time it happened was just like this: a cloudless sky and whisker of smoke. He’d gone higher for a better look and seen a glimmer halfway up a distant hill that was two down in the line of peaks that ran north and west. Three sides of that hill sloped gently beneath a layer of pine and scrub; the side facing Johnny was a slab of weathered stone. Near its base, boulders littered an area the size of a city block, and from that ruin the rest of it rose: sheer walls and slopes of scree, then more piled stone and knuckles of trees before the final wall of broken granite pushed free. That’s where the fires were, somewhere on that weather-beaten face. In three years he’d seen the fire eleven different times. This was the twelfth, and Johnny took his time watching it. Paths ran between the boulders and up the shattered face, but the paths crossed and doubled back and petered out. It was easy to get turned around, so he gauged angles and approaches. He pictured the route he would take, and when he left the tree, he did it quick and sure, dropping the last eight feet and rising at the run. He was barefoot in cutoff jeans and no shirt, but his soles were hard as leather and his eyes sharp from years in dark woods. And this night wasn’t close to dark. Stars speckled the sky, and from beyond the river a half-moon rose. Even then, most would find it hard to move at such speed, but when Johnny ran, it was for real.

And he was running hard.

A footpath took him to the river, and when the water spread, he followed a ridge that carried him to the second hill and up it in a hard, fast climb. At the top he paused, looking for smoke. The wind was right, and for a moment he thought he was too late, that the fire was dead and whoever built it, gone. It had happened before—a sudden void of scent— and when it did happen, he wanted to throw caution to the wind and run blind, if that’s what it took. The fire was a riddle, its builder a ghost. But life in the forest taught lessons beyond readiness and speed. Patience had its place, as did stealth and simple faith, and Johnny trusted his senses.

The fire builder was no ghost

The smoke came again in the final valley, a downdraft that tasted of wood ash and charred resin. Creeping to the edge of the trees, Johnny studied the open ground and boulders tumbled like flung houses against the root of the hill. Paths ran between them, and in places they touched to form cathedral vaults. Beyond the boulders, the trails were narrow and twisted, and Johnny let his eyes move up and down the dark lines they cut through trees and scree and along the foot of the lower face. Other trails showed higher up, but they were faint in the moonlight, and not so much paths as ledges. Johnny looked for fire on the face, but couldn’t find it.

Halfway up, he thought, nearer the east side than the west.

Problem was, the fire seemed to move. Last month it was higher up and farther west; the one before that, dead center above a rockslide shaped like an inverted V.

Crossing a final stretch of broken ground, Johnny took the main draw through the boulders. Side trails split off three times before stone met above his head, and the path narrowed. When it got tight, Johnny angled his shoulders and trailed fingers over the walls, feeling a vellum of fur and fine hairs left over the years by bear, coyote, and deer. Once around a final bend, the stone rose up to form a secret place that might have been there, unchanged, since the dawn of man. Johnny peered up a narrow chimney and saw a slash of pale stars. After that, he followed the right-hand trail, twisting up the slope as boulders dropped away. He was on a ridgeline beneath a final belt of woods. Still no sign of fire.

“All right, then.”

He worked through the trees to a slope of scree at the base of the cliff. Rock shifted as he climbed, and twice he fell. After ten minutes he peered down, dizzy from a sense of sudden wrongness. There was too much space beneath him, too much purple stone and empty air. Look- ing again, he saw a notch in the tree line that should be beneath him, but had somehow shifted left. It felt as if he’d gone blank and climbed a hundred yards without knowing it. Leaning out, he tried to determine exactly where he was. Higher than he should be, and farther right.

No problem, he thought.

But that was not true. The slope was too steep, the scree as slippery as scales piled one atop the other. A hundred feet up was a stand of scrub oaks and pine. Beyond that, a footpath followed the base of the lower cliff and led to a series of ledges that twisted upward to the final cliff beyond. Johnny was too high and too far right, pinned on a section of slope he avoided exactly because it was so dangerous. He told himself it was a simple mistake, that he’d rushed the climb, that things looked dif- ferent in the false light of 4 a.m. He said it twice, but didn’t believe it. He’d been up the face seven times with no problem.

Now this.

Moving with care, Johnny tried to work his way off the pitch. He looked for the largest stones, the most stable holds. Twelve feet across, his foot slipped, and twenty feet of stone disappeared beneath him. Johnny felt it go, then was gone, too, the sound like a freight train as he saw the fall in his mind: hundreds of feet, near vertical, then trees and boulders, an avalanche of scree heavy enough to bury him alive.

But Johnny didn’t die.

Fifty feet down, he slammed to a stop, bruised and bloodied and half buried. It took time to think through the hurt and figure out if the chance yet remained to die. The hill above was swept clean. Around him, loose stone mounded against a two-foot lip of solid rock, beneath which was a drop long and steep enough to kill most any man alive. Johnny looked left and right, and that’s how close it was—a foot or so, or maybe inches.

Dawn was a blush in the trees by the time Johnny limped to the small, square cabin and let himself inside. His bed took up space near the stone fireplace, and he fell into it, hurting. When he woke, it was three hours later. After dropping his clothes in a corner, he went to the creek to wash off dust and blood. He bandaged the worst of the cuts, then pulled on jeans, boots, and a shirt. At the door, he checked his face in a four-inch mirror. The eyes that stared back were as still as glass, and so unflinching that few people looked into them for very long. At twenty-three, Johnny didn’t smile without reason or waste time on people he found insincere. How often could he hear the same questions?

How are you, son?

Are you holding up okay?

For ten years he’d endured one version or another of the same pointless phrase, knowing, as he did, that people sought the darker currents that ran beneath.

What did you see in those terrible places?

 How messed up are you, really?

Those were the people who risked the darkness of Johnny’s eyes, those who asked the questions and looked deep, hoping for a glimpse of the boy he’d been, the glimmer of wildness and war paint and fire.

Thirty minutes later, Johnny left the cabin, pushing south into the swamp, and from there across tendons of dry ground until he reached the ruins of a settlement once owned by freed slaves and their descen- dants. Most of the structures were rotted and fallen, but a few buildings still stood. When people asked about Hush Arbor, this was the place they meant: the cemetery, the old houses, the hanging tree. Few understood how large it really was.

Unlocking one of the sheds, Johnny backed out a truck that was white and dented and a half century old. From there, it was two miles to a metal gate. Once through it, he merged onto a state road and turned up the radio, scrolling past gospel and talk radio and local sports. Near the bottom of the dial he found the classical station out of Davidson Col- lege, and listened to that as hills spread out and the city rose. Johnny knew every street corner and neighborhood, every monument and cobbled drive and twist of asphalt. In three hundred years, Raven County had seen its share of loss and conflict. Sons had gone to war, and died. There’d been riots, depression; parts of the city had burned.

Johnny drove past the courthouse and stopped at a light, watching how people held hands and laughed and admired their reflections in the burnished glass. A block later he angled to the curb where the old hard- ware store touched the sidewalk and women gathered to look at potted plants and tomatoes and wooden trays stacked with beans and corn and peaches. Nobody noticed Johnny until he stepped from the truck; and when it started, it started small. A young woman blinked, and another one noticed. By the time Johnny edged past, four of them were staring. Maybe it was the way he looked, or his history with the town. Whatever the case, Johnny kept to himself as he pushed through the door and made eye contact with the old man behind the glass-topped counter at the rear of the store.

“Johnny Merrimon. Good morning to you.” “Daniel. Morning.”

“Sorry about the welcoming committee.” Daniel dipped his head at the front window. “But two of them are pretty enough, and about your age. Maybe you shouldn’t rush past so quick and determined.”

Johnny nodded, but didn’t respond. It wasn’t that he didn’t like a pretty girl—he did—but Johnny would never leave Hush Arbor, and few women were interested in life without power or phone or running water. Daniel didn’t seem to know or care. He waved at the ladies beyond the glass, then put his eighty-watt smile back on Johnny. “So, young Mr. Merrimon. What can I do for you this fine day?”

“Just the ammunition.”

“Got a new four-wheeler out back. I can offer a good deal.” “All I need are the cartridges.”

“Fair enough. I like a man who knows his own mind.” The old man unlocked the counter and removed a twenty-count box of .270 Winchester. “Twelve gauge, too?”

“Same as always.”

“Bird shot, then. Number seven.”

Daniel put two boxes on the glass, and a tuft of white hair rose at the crown of his head. “What else?”

“That’ll do it.”

Johnny paid the exact amount from long habit, and had both boxes in his hand before Daniel spoke again. “Your mother asks about you, you know.” Johnny stopped, half turned. “She knows you come here, and that it’s a monthly thing. Now, I know it’s not my business—”

“It’s not.”

Daniel held up both hands, his head moving side to side. “I know that, son, and I’m not the kind to interfere—I hope you can accept that about me—but she comes here asking about you, and damn it . . .” The old man broke off, struggling. “You should really call your mother.”

“Did she ask you to tell me that?”

“No, she didn’t. But I’ve known you since you were six, and you’ve never been the selfish kind of boy.”

Johnny put the boxes down. He didn’t mean to sound angry, but did. “We have a good thing here, Daniel. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, but—”

“Most of what I spend in town I spend in your store. It’s not much, I know, just cartridges and salt, fishing gear and tools. I come here because you’re local and you’re nice, and because I enjoy it. I really do. We smile and talk rifles. You ask what I do up in all that wilderness, and I give you the best answers I can. A joke between us is not a rare thing, either.”

“Johnny, listen—”

“I don’t come here for advice about girls or my mother.” It was the hardest voice, the darkest eyes. It wasn’t fair to unload on Daniel, but Johnny lacked the will to walk it back. “Look, I’ll see you next month, okay?”

“Sure, Johnny.” The old man nodded, but kept his eyes down and his mouth bent. “Next month.”

Johnny pushed his way from the store, not looking at the women still gathered on the sidewalk. He settled into the truck, closed his eyes, and wrapped his fingers around the wheel.

Shit.

He was forgetting; he could feel it. Forgetting how to relate, to be a part of . . . this.

Johnny opened his eyes and looked at the old man and his store, at the stretch of sidewalk and traffic, the pretty girls who still looked his way and giggled and whispered and stared. One of them was Daniel’s granddaughter, who was twenty-two and pretty as a picture. The old man had tried to set them up once, six months ago.

Johnny had forgotten that, too.

So Johnny made a choice, and it wasn’t an easy one. In spite of what the shopkeeper said, selfishness had nothing to do with Johnny’s long absences from his mother’s side. When she looked at her son’s face, she saw the daughter, killed young, and the husband who’d died trying to save her. Johnny knew that truth because he faced it every time he chose to confront a mirror.

This is how my father stood.

This is how my sister would appear.

That all made sense, but Johnny was forgetting, too—not just how to live a normal life, but also the sound of Alyssa’s voice, the secret looks only a twin could understand. The past walked beside him as a shadow might, and every day that shadow stretched and thinned, the memories of childhood and family and how good it all had been. Johnny feared that when enough days had passed, the shadow would fade and pale until it was simply gone. Johnny dreaded that day more than anything else, so in the end, he did what the old man said.

He went to see his mother.

Catherine Hunt lived with her second husband in a small house behind a picket fence. Two blocks from the library and the original court- house, it filled a shaded lot on the corner of Jackson Street and Bank. It had a good porch, good neighbors. Pulling to the curb, Johnny studied the bright windows, the gleaming paint.

“Are you staking out the place?”

Johnny’s stepfather came around a boxbush the size of a small car. He wore blue jeans and leather gloves, was dragging a tarp full of lawn clippings.

“Aren’t you supposed to be out catching bad guys?”

“No bad guys today.” Clyde Hunt dropped the tarp and opened a gate in the fence. He was in his fifties and fit, and wore his hair short. Clyde leaned on the passenger door, then dropped an eyelid and pushed a hand through the open window. “How are you, son? It’s been too long.” The big detective leaned closer, squinting. “Goddamn, Johnny. What happened to you?”

“It was nothing. Just. You know . . .”

Johnny retrieved the hand, but couldn’t stop his stepfather from looking more closely with those cop eyes of his. He saw the abrasions and the scratches, the way Johnny sat with one shoulder rolled inward.

“Step out of the truck, Johnny.” “I just came to see Mom—”

“Your mother’s not here. Come on, now, son. Step out of the vehicle.”

Johnny thought about it, then switched off the engine and stepped from the truck. Clyde peeled off the leather gloves and watched him onto the sidewalk.

“You look a little busted up. What happened?” “Nothin’.”

“Doesn’t look like nothing. Is it the ribs?” “Why would you ask that?”

“Don’t bullshit me, son. I saw the way you were sitting, the way you walk. You don’t think I’ve had cracked ribs before? Come on, now. Let me see.” Johnny looked the length of the street, then lifted the shirt on one side. Clyde whistled low. “Goddamn, son. That’s a hell of a lot of damage. Was it a fight?”

“A fall.”

Clyde studied Johnny’s face, and the doubt was hard to hide. There’d been fights before: trespassers, the two hunters, the four months in jail. Johnny was stubborn, and rarely backed down. It caused problems. “Come inside, I’ll patch you up.”

Johnny lowered his shirt. “That’s not necessary.” “It wasn’t a suggestion.”

Accustomed to obeyed orders, the big cop turned without looking back. Johnny watched him for three steps, then trailed him up the gravel walk and onto the shaded porch. Inside, they followed a broad hall to the master bath.

“Take off the shirt. Sit.” Clyde pointed at a stool in front of a sink and mirror. Johnny shrugged off the shirt and kept his eyes down as his stepfather rustled in a cabinet for hydrogen peroxide, ointment, and ad- hesive bandages. When he straightened, he stood for long seconds, watching Johnny stare at the floor, the wall, his hands. “Your mother does the same thing sometimes. Not as much as she used to, but it still happens.”

“What are you talking about?”

Clyde sat, and his voice was softer. “The way she gathers herself before facing the mirror. It’s just in the mornings, really, and just for a second or two.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” “Don’t you?”

Johnny faced the mirror and in his reflection saw the face of a dead twin. “Next week it will be ten years since we found her.”

“Thursday, I know.”

“Do you ever talk about it?”

“With your mother? Sometimes. Not like we used to.”

Johnny looked away from the mirror. “Where is she?” he finally asked.

“Your mother’s at the coast with some lady friends, and it’s a good thing, too. She’d have a heart attack if she saw your back like this.”

“It’s bad?”

“You haven’t looked?” Johnny shook his head. “Go on, then.”

Johnny twisted on the stool, saw bruises and dried blood and ripped skin.

“You’ve bled through the shirt,” Clyde told him. “I’ll give you another one.”

“Thank you.”

“This next part’s going to hurt.” He palpated the ribs, the spine. “Just hold still.” Johnny did, but it was hard. “All right. I don’t think any ribs are broken. Cracked, maybe. Definitely bruised.”

“Are we finished?”

“Not yet.” The cleanup took another ten minutes. When it was done, Clyde pulled a shirt from the closet and tossed it to Johnny. “You could probably use a few stitches, but the butterfly bandages should do the job if you take it easy for a few days. No pulling, all right? Don’t chop any wood or climb that damn tree.” Johnny shrugged into the shirt. Clyde leaned against the wall. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“It was just a fall. A careless mistake.”

“I’ve seen you make mistakes. None of them have ever been care- less.”

“This one was. Just stupid, really.”

“What about life in general? You doing okay?” “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“How about money?”

 

“The money’s fine, too.”

“How is that possible, Johnny? You don’t work. You don’t have plans to work.”

“Dad’s life insurance—”

“Your father’s life insurance, right. Let’s talk about that. You got a hundred thousand from the insurance company when you were thirteen. By the time you turned eighteen, it grew to what, about one- twenty? How much have you spent on lawyers? All of it?”

“I’m fine, Clyde. Really.”

“We’re here for you, son. Let us help you.” “I said I don’t need money.”

“Only because you live on berries and roots and snakes . . .” “It’s not like that, and you know it.”

“Okay, you have a garden. That’s nice. What if you couldn’t hunt or plant? What if you’d cracked your spine instead of a few ribs? What if that great swamp just swallowed you whole?”

“It didn’t. It won’t.”

“You can’t live like this forever.”

“Says who?” Johnny stood. “Listen, I appreciate the bandages and all, but I have to go.”

Johnny pushed into the hall, but Clyde caught him before he got to the front door. “Come on, Johnny. Wait, wait, wait.” Johnny did, just a second. But it was enough for Clyde to turn him, wrap him gently. “We just love you, son. We miss you and we worry.” He stepped back, but kept his hands on Johnny’s shoulders. “There’s no judgment here. Look at me, all right.” Johnny did, and felt the anger ebb. “Anything you need: if you want to come home, if you need money.”

“Listen, Clyde—”

“You want to go, I know. I can see that, too. It’s always Hush Arbor, always the land. Just tell me one thing before you leave. Help me under- stand.”

“What?”

“Why do you love it so much?”

He meant the silence and the swamp, the lonely hills and endless trees. On the surface it was a simple question, but Johnny’s past had branded him in a way few could ignore: the things he’d believed and leaned upon, the way he’d searched so long for his sister. If Johnny spoke now, of magic, they’d think him confused or insane or trapped, somehow, in the delusions of a difficult past. Without living it, no one could grasp the truth of Hush Arbor.

Johnny wouldn’t want them to if they could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING?

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Happy Monday everyone! I’ve been on a reading spree lately with some really fantastic reads that I can’t wait to share with you. I think my plan of not continuing on with books I’m not enjoying is really paying off because I’ve had the best time reading lately, staying up late and not even caring about the lost sleep! What I’m also excited about is the variety of books I’m reading, many I might’ve passed by before but am giving a try and it’s paying off. On the movie front, we saw Game Night yesterday and both thought it was great. Funny and pure entertainment as only Jason Bateman can do. Two thumbs up for that one!

RECENTLY READ…

I’ll Be Gone In the Dark  (Feb 27) was a page turning, chilling account of one woman’s search for the serial killer she called The Golden State Killer. I’m no longer going to my mailbox in the dark after reading this…(my review will be up Friday but consider this a must read!)

Kill the Angel (Feb 20) was one of my most anticipated sequels for 2018. I loved Kill the Father  last year but this one seemed to be missing something for me. It was less complex and the main characters who made Kill the Father so great felt stagnant in this one. On a positive note, the ending was a nice surprise.

The Family Next Door (March 6) was my most recent read and I read it in about a day. This is one I would’ve passed by a few months ago as it’s touted as a domestic suspense and I tend to steer clear of most of those; however, this was getting rave reviews from trusted bloggers so I had to take a closer look and I’m so glad I did. I predict this will be a big hit so you might want to add it to your tbr’s now! I’ll have my review up next week.

CURRENTLY READING…

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The Broken Girls  (March 20) Another one I’m really surprised to find that I’m not only enjoying, I can’t wait to get back to it and find out more. Typically I don’t enjoy alternating timelines or ghost stories BUT both are keeping me glued to the pages of this one. It alternates between 1950 and 2014 and I’m equally invested in both as well as the underlying mystery.

UPCOMING READING POSSIBILITIES…. 

The Italian Party  (March 20) I would read this for just the cover and title alone but I love that it’s described as “A smart pleasure” and “sharply funny” and the blurb mentions charming spies and prosecco so I’m sold!

Every Note Played (March 20) I’ve read and loved Lisa’s books in the past so I’m very much looking forward to this one featuring a pianist with ALS. There’s always great depth and emotion to her books so I’ll have my tissues ready.

What have YOU read recently? Feel free to leave a comment and share what you’ve read and loved (or not) or what you’re looking forward to reading!  

HAPPY READING!

 

BLOG TOUR EXTRACT: BLUE NIGHT By Simone Buchholz, translated By Rachel Ward

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz , published by the wonderful Orenda books this month

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After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles – Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…

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I’m happy to bring you an extract from this exciting read…

 

 

Always follow your heart. Or bury it at Wounded Knee.

My dad liked to trot that one out whenever I asked him what I should do. An old Native American proverb, I guess those boys had a snappy one-liner for every situation.

My heart says: Sit down and hold his hand. He doesn’t look as though he’s got anyone else to do it. I can recognise a lonely face from ten miles off.

The hand is warm and dry, and surprisingly soft for its size – it’s a proper paw. I try to put both my hands round it. Ridiculous.

He was brought to the ward in the early morning, just after four. There are multiple fractures to his arms, legs and ribs; his right clavicle is smashed. There’s a thick bandage round his right hand. The nurse says he’s lost his index nger, but you can’t just lose an index finger. He has no head injuries and his lungs aren’t damaged. His kidneys are swollen but basically working. There’s a single main doorway in his neck. That’s where the drugs go in – the glittering disco stuff from the bags hanging on the drip stands. He’s getting something to make him sleep and presumably all kinds of stuff for all kinds of pain. It’s clearly working ’cos he looks strangely peaceful, and his face is unscathed, apart from a few scratches from the asphalt.

Forensics took his clothes; he had no papers on him.

He’s really tall: with all the splints on his arms and legs he hardly fits the hospital bed. His hair shines silver-grey and it’s close-cropped at the sides, a bit longer on top. His face is one of those angular models that men only grow into at a certain age. I’d put him at early- to-mid fties. A man in his prime, if he weren’t so broken.

Yeah, if he weren’t so broken, he’d look a bit like a tall George Clooney.

The machines on the wall behind his bed start beeping. A nurse comes in and presses a few buttons. She smiles sympathetically around the room, as if I were a relative, even though she knows I’m not.

That keeps happening to me.
I don’t always react to it very well.
‘What was he wearing?’ I ask her. ‘Before the gown, I mean?’ She switches to her smile, question marks blinking dully in her eyes.

OK. Sorry.

‘Where was he found?’
‘I don’t know exactly,’ she says. ‘Somewhere near here.’
Her stare is getting harder.
She seems to resent me: even if I’m not a relative, I could at least act like one.
She idly moves a few things from one side of the bed to the other, then hastily leaves the room before I can ask any more impudent questions.

I stay beside the tall, sleeping man and look at him.

I stay by him until the clouds finally seize power in the sky and it grows gradually dark; then I head home.

As I get out of the taxi in my road, cold rain falls on my head. Yellow light rolls from Klatsche’s window..

Simone Buchholz Picture

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Don’t forget to check out more reviews on the tour

BLUE NIGHT Blog Tour Poster

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: KILLED By Thomas Enger, Translated By Kari Dickson

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Killed by Thomas Enger, published by the wonderful Orenda books and available Feb 28, 2018. 

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Henning Juul sits in a boat on a dark lake. A man with a gun sits opposite him. At the man’s feet is a body that will be soon be dumped into the water. Henning knows that the same fate awaits him. And he knows that it’s his own fault. Who started the fire that killed Henning’s young son? How is his sister, Trine, involved? Most importantly, who can be trusted? Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-waited finale of the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned but always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and one of the most chilling, dark and moving crime thrillers you may ever read.

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Killed is the fifth and final installment in Thomas Enger’s Henning Juul series and one I’ve been highly anticipating since the jaw dropping conclusion to last year’s Cursed . This series is some of the best Nordic Noir I’ve read and Henning Juul is one of my favorite protagonists. I first met Henning in the second book , Pierced, when he was still recovering from the aftereffects of being burned in a fire at his apartment – one in which his young son Jonas tragically died.

Killed continues with Henning’s long search to uncover and make pay those responsible for setting the fire and he’s ever so close to getting those answers. After years of using and honing his investigative journalist skills, Henning has managed to piece together most of the puzzle but time is running out because those he seeks also want to get to Henning and silence him once and for all. As you can guess, Killed is a skillful game of cat and mouse which kept me in suspense while shocking me with twists, surprises, and yes deaths of people I didn’t see coming! Thomas Enger really held nothing back in this story and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Of course, I won’t give anything away in regards to plot and the ending but I will say that while the author does a wonderful job of bringing new readers up to speed with the finer details of the story, I still highly recommend starting at the beginning of the series with either Burned or Pierced and continue in order to fully immerse yourself in the backstory as well as getting to know Henning. I did miss reading book 3 (Scarred) and I have a feeling that’s why I was a little confused about a particular aspect in Killed. That being said, if you like Nordic Noir and you haven’t yet tried this series, by all means give it a try, I think you’ll be happy you did.

Granite Noir Fest 2017

 

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about

the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

For more information about KILLED or to book an interview with Thomas Enger, please contact Karen Sullivan: Karen@orendabooks.co.uk, 07702 628 230 or Sophie Goodfellow: SophieG@fmcm.co.uk, 07719 007146.

Don’t forget to stop by and check out other reviews on the tour!

Killed Blog Tour Poster

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

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Published Aug 2016 By William Morrow 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

*****

Why oh why did I resist reading this book for so long??!! This is another rom-com style book that has consistently gotten raves from fellow bloggers (most recently Amanda at Hanging with Amanda) and has a high Goodreads rating, yet I still passed it by. Maybe I was just meant to wait and read it last weekend after finishing and being terrified by I’ll Be Gone In The Dark (2/27, review coming next week); I knew I HAD to have a light, fun read to counteract that one.  This fit the bill perfectly and caused me to stay up way past my bedtime reading.

Possibly what made me resist reading this until now was my assumption that I’d heard this story before. A guy and girl hate each other, throw insults back and forth, and then somehow they each magically forget all the bad words and insults and fall in love. This isn’t that book. Yes, Josh and Lucy don’t like each other but their “hatred” for each other just scratches the surface of their relationship and the way Thorne wrote these characters and their banter was just so funny, witty, and down to earth. I immediately liked both of them and was pulled into the story with pacing that was fast and snappy and dialogue that zinged. I read it in about a day and I just loved it. It’s the perfect read if you’re looking for a crime fiction break or want a smart with substance lighter read to add to your summer tbr. Also, I listened to part of it on audio and the narrator was great!

HAPPY READING!!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Laura at Snazzy Books

Holly at Dressed to Read

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Diana at A Haven for Book Lovers

 

REVIEW: SUNBURN By Laura Lippman

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Published Feb 20, 2018 by William Morrow 

One is playing a long game. But which one?

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through.

Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal.

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Isn’t that cover fantastic?! It’s what drew me to take a closer look at this one and then to go against my self-imposed ban on psychological suspense/thrillers. I’ve been wanting to read Laura Lippman for a few years so this seemed like the perfect time to give her a try.

From the opening pages I was very taken with the whole cat and mouse vibe this story has going on! Within the first 50 pages I realized it reminded me of the tone of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (loved). That is, no one was especially likable or trustworthy but I couldn’t stop reading . In Sunburn, you have Polly AKA Pauline and Adam, both with rather shady pasts and even murkier intentions in their current situations. In an effort to be concise and quick I’ll sum up my main points about what I really enjoyed…

  • The web of deceit playing out between Polly and Adam left me off balance with not knowing who to trust
  • The story is told in alternating perspectives (POVs) between Polly and Adam with a sprinkling of other POVs which surprisingly didn’t bother me
  • The instability of the characters….who was playing who?
  • Lippman’s ability to tease the reader with tidbits thrown here and there, creating heightened confusion and layers of questions
  • Small town setting
  • This story felt original and had me guessing about everyone’s motives and end games
  • The ending…loved it and NOT what I expected.

What you should know before diving into this one is, it’s a SLOW BURN of the highest level. I’m not saying that in a negative way, only that if you’re looking for a fast paced thriller this isn’t it. This novel is high on introspection depending on the POV and Lippman takes her time peeling away the layers of the characters and story. It works. I think many readers are going to love this and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for  psychological suspense with an underlying mystery and an intriguing game of cat and mouse

Many thanks to William Morrow via Edelweiss for my copy

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

 

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

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Published April 2005 by Grand Central Publishing

My Rating: 4/5 stars 

Julie Barenson’s young husband left her two unexpected gifts before he died: a Great Dane puppy named Singer and the promise that he would always be watching over her. Now, four years have passed. Still living in the small town of Swansboro, North Carolina, 29-year-old Julie is emotionally ready to make a commitment to someone again. But who? Should it be Richard Franklin, the handsome, sophisticated engineer who treats her like a queen? Or Mike Harris, the down-to-earth nice guy who was her husband’s best friend? Choosing one of them should bring her more happiness than she’s had in years. Instead, Julie is soon fighting for her life in a nightmare spawned by a chilling deception and jealousy so poisonous that it has become a murderous desire

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Well here’s an author I haven’t yet featured on my TBT! I’ll admit, I haven’t read many  Nicholas Sparks books but I really liked this one and The Notebook. The Guardian  is completely different from The Notebook with a darker tone and an underlying mystery/sinister feel. I actually have this one in hardcover on my bookshelf at home and it caught my eye the other day because I can’t remember anything about the story except that it kept me on the edge of my seat and I remember thinking that this didn’t seem like a Nicholas Sparks book. Even the blurb hasn’t triggered my memory…I now really want to know who ended up being the bad guy/good guy! Maybe it’s time for a re-read of this one. I do remember loving the dog so that’s a big plus in my book. So if, like me, you haven’t read many Nicholas Sparks’ books, give this one a try, I think you’ll be surprised at how good it is.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Laura at Snazzy Books

Holly at Dressed to Read

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Diana at A Haven for Book Lovers

 

REVIEW: THE GREAT ALONE By Kristin Hannah

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Published Feb 6, 2018 By St. Martin’s Press

Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown. In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

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 I finished this book last week and while I typically try to write my reviews right away, I struggled with my feelings about this one so I’ve put it off for a week and I’m glad I did. If I would’ve wrote it immediately I might have focused too much on my feelings about the ending; however, with a little time and perspective I think I have a clearer understanding of why I feel so torn about parts of this book.

Enough vagueness, let me be more specific. The blurb, which I heavily edited from Goodreads (this is really all you need to know), gives you the bare bones of the story. What Hannah so brilliantly manages to do is to take that set up and place the reader right there in the Alaskan setting with the Allbright family. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was mesmerized by the Alaskan setting and the way the author was able to place me there….I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I felt the cold, I saw the beauty. I’m not sure that’s ever happened to me before, where a setting has so completely captured my attention and made me feel the suspense and drama of the surroundings that are at once beautiful yet deadly.

Then we have the Allbright family and really I don’t know where to start with them. The level of dysfunction and domestic violence prevalent in their family dynamics was heartbreaking, yet infuriating, because as a reader it’s very hard to read about the details of the abuse that Ernt (a former POW) inflicted on Cora and then having a child, Leni, be witness to it and becoming the caretaker of her mom while trying desperately to not rock the boat with her dad…her life was truly “walking on egg shells” on a daily basis.  Add to that Leni’s struggles with her new life in the harsh Alaskan setting and here was a character I was rooting for and as a result I could. not. put. this. book. down! Was the domestic abuse over the top as many reviewers have discussed? In my opinion, no. Yes, it was very difficult to read but as someone who worked in social work, foster care to be exact, the domestic abuse cycle and trauma to Leni and Cora was (unfortunately) realistic to me.

In terms of another major aspect of this novel that I loved were the supporting characters. Hannah has crafted a small group of townspeople who inhabit the little Alaskan village and my absolute favorite was Large Marge. Seriously, I would’ve taken so many more chapters about Large Marge verses some of the extended storyline chapters toward the end. Hannah’s ability to craft secondary characters with intricate subplots is just superb.

This, however, brings me to my critique which honestly I feel torn writing about because overall I was captivated by this story.  In fact, I read the first 70% of this like a madwoman and then literally there was a shift, slight but there, in which the narrative began to feel bogged down with descriptive details in what felt like a much slower pace. Add to this some questionable character motivations and actions, one which felt like a glaring misstep that was put in to force the plot and you have my reasons for feeling so conflicted. I do question whether my expectations were too high, am I being too picky? Perhaps. I just read (and loved) The Nightingale in November so it was fresh in my memory, but unquestionably this is a completely different book, wonderful in it’s own right which needs and deserves no comparison to any other.