Book Reviews: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker and The Eyes of Pharaoh by Chris Eboch

Emma in the Night
Wendy Walker
St. Martin’s Press, August 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-14143-9
Hardcover

From the publisher—

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

When two sisters vanish one night, Cass watches the aftermath on TV, the interviews with her mother who, somehow, makes it all about herself. It has always been about Judy Martin and her need to be the center of attention is at the core of the emotional distance between the sisters. Given that distance, why were they both gone?

FBI forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winters and Special Agent Leo Strauss worked the case when the girls disappeared three years ago and they’re drawn back in now that Cass has returned out of the blue. She has a strange tale to tell and there are inconsistencies but, of course, the big question is where is Emma? Were the two girls together all those years or not? The answers that begin to trickle in are increasingly disturbing and you can’t help wondering what has really brought Cass back to her family.

Creepy, that’s the paramount feeling I had while reading this and the author’s evocation of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder brought to mind such infamous people as Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman who drowned her kids in the car so she’d be unencumbered in her pursuit of a man. This disorder doesn’t get a lot of serious attention but perhaps it should. Nicely done, Ms. Walker!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

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The Eyes of Pharaoh
Chris Eboch
Spellbound River Press, February 2017
ISBN 978-1-945017-27-8
Hardcover
Also available in trade paperback

From the publisher—

The Eyes of Pharaoh, 1177 BC: During the reign of Pharaoh Ramses the Third, Seshta, a 13-year-old dancer in the Temple of Hathor, dreams of becoming a famous entertainer. Horus, the brother of her heart, is content as a toymaker’s apprentice. Reya, at 16, has joined Egypt’s army with hopes of becoming a hero. Despite their different paths, nothing can break the bonds of their friendship. Yet when Reya hints that Egypt is in danger from foreign nomads, Seshta and Horus don’t take him seriously. How could anyone challenge Egypt?

Then Reya disappears. Seshta and Horus set out to find him–and discover a darker plot than they ever imagined. To save their friend, Seshta and Horus spy on merchants, soldiers, and royalty, and start to suspect even The Eyes of Pharaoh, the powerful head of the secret police. Will Seshta and Horus escape the traps set for them, rescue Reya, and stop the plot against Egypt in time?

I’ve had a love affair with ancient Egypt for so long I can’t remember how or when it started. When I had a chance to spend a week there in 1989, I found the modern country just as fascinating and wonderful and I’m sorry I’ll probably never get back there, also sorry for the political troubles that plague those wonderful people. Anyway, I’m always delighted to read any fiction or nonfiction about Egypt, especially set in ancient times and The Eyes of Pharaoh hit just the right spot with me.

Most of the mysteries I’ve seen set in this civilization are adult, which is great, but it usually means the characters are officials or slaves or high society, not so much the general population. These teens are a good cross-section, if you will, with a temple dancer, a soldier and a servant’s son, and I think that really added to my enjoyment because they’re not yet mature enough to be leery of risk and adventure and they’re comfortable with day-to-day life among the common people. One of the trio has gone missing and the other two are determined to find him. ‘Nuff said.

Because I love Egypt and its history so much, I wholeheartedly approve of anything that might entice young readers to fall under its spell and this book would be an excellent introduction. And, for those of you who aren’t so young anymore, you should give this a shot for rousing exploits and a darned good mystery 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

Book Review: Notorious by Carey Baldwin

NotoriousNotorious
A Cassidy & Spenser Thriller #3
Carey Baldwin
Witness Impulse, April 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-238709-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

The woman everyone loves to hate is dead.

Dallas socialite Cynthia Langhorne is infamous for her beauty, her philanthropy, and her home wrecking–until she’s found shot through the heart and posed nude at a fundraising ball. The case is high profile, and there’s a bigger problem: Cindy is the wife of a decorated FBI special agent–the prime suspect in her murder.

When the Bureau sends FBI profiler Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy to Texas on behalf of Dutch Langhorne, the special agent-turned-suspect, they’re suspicious of the very man whose interests they’re supposed to protect. But with a psycho hitman on their heels and a trail of evidence leading up the food chain, it quickly becomes clear this is no ordinary case. The truth points to someone–or something–larger than Spenser and Cassidy ever thought possible. Solving this case is no longer a matter of clearing Dutch’s name–it’s a matter of national security.

A quick peek at the last few pages of Notorious tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the inner characters of Atticus Spenser and Caitlin Cassidy and why their story is worth reading if character is important to you as a reader. There’s some very strong plot here, too, but I really thought the players were the major draw. FBI/police tales can be exciting and full of suspense but, bottomline, the people can make an individual story stand out.

(Mind you, I’m not recommending you flip to the end because it would undoubtedly spoil the story for you. I’ve been known to do such things but it’s usually because I’m getting bored. No reason to worry about that here.)

Little touches in the plot of Notorious make a difference, too. As an example, it’s no surprise when the husband of the murder victim becomes the prime suspect but there’s a certain sadness in the lack of understanding between husband and wife. In those few moments before Cindy’s death, we see the longing for her husband’s attention and his seeming dismissal of her, his not caring that she’s probably heading to an assignation, but it soon becomes obvious that Dutch truly didn’t know how bad things had gotten between them. That’s probably one of the great truths of a failed marriage.

And, of course, Cindy’s murder is just the tip of a very large and dangerous iceberg as Caity and Spense soon find out. Asked to look into the situation because a colleague is involved, they discover that nothing is as simple as it first seems and the machinations and repercussions will reach the highest echelons of the FBI and beyond.

Carey Baldwin is an author I haven’t encountered before but I now know she’s got a sure hand with a thriller and she has also made me want to know more about Caity and Spense. Fortunately, there are two previous novels I can check out while I wait for a fourth.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2016.

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About the Author

Carey BaldwinCarey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. She loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers.

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